Trevor Ariza

Lakers To Sign Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard

The Lakers are set to add three old friends as they prepare to mount another hoped-for deep postseason run for the 2021/22 season.

The team appears to be adding some much-needed perimeter shooting and big man depth after trading away wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, big men Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma and its No. 22 pick in the 2021 draft to the Wizards in a deal for the max salary of future Hall of Fame point guard Russell Westbrook last week.

The club will add free agent shooting guard Wayne Ellington on a one-year contract, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

The oft-traveled Ellington, 33, was most recently knocking down jumpers for the bottom-dwelling Pistons during the 2020/21 season. Ellington averaged 9.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.5 APG on .441/.422/.800 shooting. He was last with the Lakers during the 2014/15 season.

Los Angeles will also bring back a pair of prior Lakers champions. 2009 champ Trevor Ariza, a two-way forward, is set to re-join L.A. on a one-year deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Ariza, 36, was most recently with the Heat following a mid-season trade from Portland during the 2020/21 season. He played in 30 games with Miami, starting in 27, and averaged 9.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.6 BPG across 28.0 MPG. He posted a solid shooting line of .411/.350/.773, and is a career 35.2% shooter from deep on an average of 4.1 attempts.

Ellington and Ariza should add reliable bench shooting behind the Lakers’ big three of Westbrook and All-Star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Ariza remains still a solid defender, though he is no longer at the same level of his prior Lakers days.

2020 champ Dwight Howard will return to the Lakers as well, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The Lakers opted not to retain Howard after he and JaVale McGee helped proved rim-rolling and defensive moxie in the post during the team’s 2020 title run, and Howard signed on with the Sixers as All-Star Joel Embiid‘s prime backup for the 2020/21 season.

Howard, 35, has proven he can still be a sneakily-effective reserve center even in his NBA dotage, especially during the regular season. Howard averaged 7.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 0.9 BPG (plus a less-great 2.9 FPG) for Philadelphia in just 17.3 MPG.

Ellington, Ariza, and Howard will all be signing one-year, minimum-salary contracts, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Rumors: DeRozan, Oubre, Gay, Ariza, Butler

The Heat, who are reportedly considered the frontrunners to land Kyle Lowry in free agency, may also be eyeing another longtime Raptors guard.

Multiple reporters and outlets, including Marc Stein, Five Reasons Sports, and The Miami Herald (all four Twitter links), have suggested that the Heat are exploring ways to add free agent guard DeMar DeRozan. Miami has pursued DeRozan multiple times over the years, even inquiring on him earlier this season, and the veteran holds the Heat in high regard, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

However, landing DeRozan won’t be easy, since Miami has no clear pathway to acquiring both Lowry and DeRozan via sign-and-trade.

There has been some speculation about the possibility of DeRozan taking a discount to play for the Lakers or Clippers — if he’s open to that idea, it would open the door for the Heat to make a similar path. However, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said on The Alex Kennedy Podcast that he’s not sure DeRozan – who earned $27MM this past season – would be willing to settle for the mid-level.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat tried to acquire Kelly Oubre at this year’s trade deadline and figure to be interested in him again as a free agent, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, Jackson views it as an unlikely match, since Oubre will likely want more than mid-level money.
  • Jackson also names Rudy Gay as a free agent forward who will receive interest from the Heat this week (Twitter link). Miami may look to re-sign Trevor Ariza too, Jackson adds.
  • There’s optimism that the Heat and Jimmy Butler will be able to reach an agreement on a contract extension this offseason, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Butler’s maximum extension would be a four-year deal worth up to a projected $181MM.

Free Agency Rumors: Lowry, Dragic, Ball, Lakers, DeRozan, McGee

Miami is a legitimate option for Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source tells Reynolds that the Heat “have his attention and have had it for a while.”

Lowry will be among the top point guards on the market when free agency begins Monday, with the Pelicans, Mavericks and Sixers all likely to be heavily involved. Toronto may also make a strong bid to hang onto Lowry, who has been with the organization since 2012.

There are plenty of rumors on the eve of free agency:

  • Many teams are expected to be interested in veteran guard Goran Dragic if the Heat turn down their $19.4MM team option and make him a free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Charania doesn’t identify any of the potential suitors, but says they include “several NBA title and postseason contenders.” Miami has a deadline of 5:00pm Eastern Time today to reach a decision on Dragic, along with a $15MM option on Andre Iguodala.
  • William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic break down sign-and-trade possibilities for the Pelicans involving Lonzo Ball. The Bulls, Pacers, Clippers, Celtics and Wizards are all mentioned as potential sign-and-trade partners.
  • Dwight Howard could return to the Lakers to provide help at center, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times suggests in a free agent roundtable on both L.A. teams. Howard helped the Lakers win a title in 2020 before signing with the Sixers last offseason. Turner names Patty Mills, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Jeff Green, Iguodala, and Dragic as other possible targets. The Clippers may pursue DeMar DeRozan if he’s willing to take a pay cut, Andrew Greif states in the same piece.
  • JaVale McGee would “definitely” consider returning to the Nuggets, stating that a chance to win will be his priority in free agency, as Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post details.

Heat Rumors: Lowry, Herro, Dinwiddie, Beal, Dragic, Ariza

The Heat will have interest in Kyle Lowry in free agency, but they’ll face plenty of competition for the veteran point guard, who will have a high asking price, according to Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. A source in touch with Lowry tells the Miami Herald that the 35-year-old is expected to seek a guaranteed three-year contract worth $30MM per year.

Lowry may not ultimately achieve that goal, but he seems likely to get at least $25MM per year, per Jackson and Chiang. The Herald duo suggests a reunion with the Raptors isn’t considered particularly likely for Lowry, but he’s expected to draw interest from the Sixers, Lakers, Mavericks, and Pelicans, as well as the Heat and Knicks.

As Jackson and Chiang outline, the Heat could theoretically open up enough cap room to offer Lowry about $85MM over three years if they waive or renounce several veterans who are free agents or who have non-guaranteed salaries. They could retain RFAs Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn in that scenario, but would otherwise be limited to the room exception and minimum-salary contracts to fill out the roster.

A sign-and-trade for Lowry is another possibility and wouldn’t necessarily require the Heat to part ways with so many veterans, but the Raptors would have to approve the compensation in any deal. Miami remains unenthusiastic about including Tyler Herro in any sign-and-trade for Lowry, according to The Herald.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • If things don’t work out with Lowry, count on Spencer Dinwiddie to be among the Heat’s top targets, according to Jackson and Chiang. Chris Paul could also be an option for Miami if he opts out, though that’s likely a longer shot.
  • If Bradley Beal were to request a trade, the Heat are among the teams that would appeal to him, per The Miami Herald. However, Beal isn’t available for now and Miami wouldn’t be able to offer many draft assets if he does land on the trade block.
  • Goran Dragic isn’t likely to return to the Heat on his $19MM+ team option, but the club would have interest in re-signing him at a lower price point, according to Jackson and Chiang. Miami would also be interested in re-signing free agent forward Trevor Ariza.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Ariza, Nunn, Robinson

Unsurprisingly, Heat forward/center Bam Adebayo learned on Thursday that he isn’t a finalist for either the MVP or Defensive Player of the Year award in 2021, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.

That’s notable not because Adebayo had a realistic shot at either award, but because the value of his five-year, maximum-salary extension would have risen to $195.6MM if he had won the MVP award or $179.3MM if he had been named Defensive Player of the Year (based on a 3% salary cap increase)

The value of that five-year extension could still technically increase to $185.8MM if Adebayo is named to the All-NBA First Team. However, that’s not going to happen, so the Heat can safely pencil in $163MM as the projected five-year amount of the big man’s new contract, which begins in 2021/22.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Given how important Jae Crowder‘s contributions were in last year’s playoff run to the NBA Finals, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald wonders if Trevor Ariza, acquired during the season, can play a similar role this time around. “We might be similar players but we have different roles and different attributes about ourselves,” Ariza said. “To say I can come in and do what he did would probably be disrespectful to what he brings to teams. I’m my own individual player. I would like to think what I do is good.”
  • The book is now closed on the Heat’s 2015 acquisition of Goran Dragic, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel observes. While surrendering two future first-round picks for Dragic was a bit of a risk, the 2018 first-rounder (Zhaire Smith) had little impact and this year’s pick will fall outside of the lottery, at No. 18. It’ll go to Houston or Oklahoma City depending on the lottery results.
  • Of the Heat’s two key RFAs-to-be, Kendrick Nunn would probably benefit more than Duncan Robinson from a strong performance in the postseason, Winderman says in a separate story for The Sun Sentinel. As Winderman explains, Robinson has already established his value over the last two seasons, while Nunn’s contributions have been less consistent, and the aftereffects of COVID-19 limited his role in last year’s postseason.

Southeast Notes: Hunter, Magic, Hawks, Heat

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, limited to just 21 games this season due to a pesky right knee injury, has seen the knee responding well after returning to the court for Atlanta Monday, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

Kirschner tweets that Hunter will miss Wednesday’s contest against the Wizards for scheduled maintenance on the knee, but will be available on the second night of the Hawks’ latest back-to-back, Thursday against the Magic.

Hunter had a nonsurgical procedure last month to treat remaining soreness in the knee. The 23-year-old forward out of Virginia, selected with the fourth pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has averaged career highs of 15.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG in his second NBA season with the Hawks.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Though the Magic have been eliminated from playoff contention and appear to be prioritizing high lottery picks in a packed draft, there are still plenty of intriguing chemistry elements the club can evaluate among its current young players down the stretch, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic assess the offseason of the seemingly playoff-bound Hawks, including decisions facing the club on restricted free agent big man John Collins and disappointing 2019 lottery selection Cam Reddish. Kirschner and Hollinger wonder if Reddish should be flipped now should an improvement at the bench small forward position become available via trade, or if Atlanta should wait to see if he improves while still on his rookie deal. Collins has evolved into a valuable two-way contributor, and the speculation revolves more around the price point at which he will be re-signed rather than whether or not he’ll be brought back.
  • The Heat have seen a performative uptick lately, despite several backcourt absences. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald takes a look at how the in-season additions of veterans Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon, both 2021 unrestricted free agents, have benefited Miami. Ariza, 35, has started in 24 of the 27 games he has appeared in with the Heat, during which the team went 15-12. In a smaller but still crucial role as the team’s reserve big man willing to do the dirty work on defense, Dedmon has averaged 13.5 MPG across his 13 appearances with Miami — the club has gone 9-4 in those games.

Southeast Notes: Ariza, Westbrook, Robinson, Brazdeikis

Heat forward Trevor Ariza has provided a maximum payoff since being traded to Miami earlier this year, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Ariza has since earned a role in the team’s starting lineup, giving consistent production on both ends of the floor.

“Trevor’s one of the most underrated players in this league,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Ariza. “But I would say that the contending teams that had him before, he’s not underrated. He does so many things — his activity, his deflections, his ability to guard multiple positions.

“And he also has been a very underrated scorer over the course of his career.”

Ariza has averaged 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game this season, playing an average of 27.1 minutes across 23 contests. He’s provided versatility alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at 6’8″, also shooting 35% from downtown.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Wizards guard Russell Westbrook further proved that he’s still a star in the team’s game against the Mavericks on Saturday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Westbrook finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals against Dallas, shooting 17-of-30 from the floor.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examines the impressive milestone from Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson. Robinson became the fastest player to reach 500 made threes in NBA history on Saturday, finishing the game against Cleveland shooting 6-of-9 from deep. He’ll be a restricted free agent in August.
  • Josh Cohen of NBA.com examines 10 interesting basketball facts about new Magic forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who signed a 10-day contract with the team on Sunday. Brazdeikis, the No. 47 pick in 2019, holds brief NBA experience with the Knicks and Sixers.

Ariza: Miami “A Place I Definitely Wanted To Be”

Veteran swingman Trevor Ariza made his debut for the Heat on Friday, just days after he was traded by the Thunder to Miami ahead of the 2021 NBA trade deadline. The 35-year-old has now suited up for 10 different teams during his well-traveled career.

Ariza tallied just two assists in six minutes of action in Miami’s loss but he nonetheless feels capable of helping the reigning Eastern Conference champions. Despite struggling early, the Heat occupy fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 22-20 record and Ariza thinks it’ll be a good fit for him.

“This is a place I definitely wanted to be,” Ariza told reporters, including Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Twitter link).

Ariza had not played all season after he was acquired by Oklahoma City and reached an agreement to remain away from the team. In 53 games between the Kings and Blazers last season, Ariza averaged 8.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG.

Now, in his attempt to compete for a title, Ariza feels his situation in Miami is a suitable one.

“I just feel it matches my style of person,” he said (Twitter link).

Heat Notes: Dinwiddie, Ariza, Gay, Bjelica, Winslow

The Heat are among the teams with interest in Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who previously reported that Detroit is eyeing Dinwiddie as well.

Miami’s interest in Dinwiddie is curious — the Heat presumably want to make a push to get back to the NBA Finals, and the 27-year-old is considered likely to miss the rest of the season due to a partially torn ACL. It also may be tricky for Miami to make a deal with another Eastern Conference contender, lest they risk strengthening a potential playoff opponent.

On top of that, the Heat have the ability to open up some cap space this offseason, so Dinwiddie’s Bird rights wouldn’t be as valuable to them as they would be to teams without any projected room. So while it’s not impossible to imagine Brooklyn and Miami making a deal involving the veteran guard, it seems somewhat unlikely.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In the wake of Miami’s acquisition of Trevor Ariza, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald breaks down what the deal means for the team, while Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald gets some feedback from an NBA scout on the 35-year-old’s fit. Ariza has typically played the small forward position, but Jackson’s source expects him to be a de facto power forward in Miami. “In today’s day and age, Ariza can be a four,” the scout said. “There’s so little distinction between threes and fours when you look at who’s on the floor. I don’t think that’s a problem at all.”
  • Within the same story, Jackson suggests that it may no longer make sense for the Heat to pursue some veteran forwards who were previously believed to be targets, such as Rudy Gay and Nemanja Bjelica. And while LaMarcus Aldridge remains a possibility in a buyout scenario, Jackson is unsure the Spurs big man would get a ton of playing time in Miami if Kelly Olynyk continues to play well and Ariza establishes himself as a rotation player.
  • Before playing his old team for the first time on Wednesday, Grizzlies forward Justise Winslow expressed gratitude to the Heat, with whom he spent the first four-and-a-half years of his NBA career. “More than anything, I want to see those faces, just to tell them, ‘Thank you,'” Winslow said, per Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com. “Because I wouldn’t be here without their guidance and without their support. It’s no hard feelings, just a lot of gratitude from me.”

Heat, Thunder Finalize Trevor Ariza Trade

5:22pm: The Heat have officially announced the deal (via Twitter). As had been expected, the Thunder announced in a press release that Leonard would remain away from the team.

“Leonard will not be reporting to Oklahoma City and will not be an active member of the organization,” the statement read in part.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets that Ariza has been undergoing tests for the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in anticipation of a potential deal, and hopes to suit up for Miami as soon as Friday, when the Heat host the Pacers.


1:57pm: As expected, Leonard has signed off on the trade, confirms Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link).


1:32pm: The Heat and Thunder are finalizing a trade that will send forward Trevor Ariza to Miami in exchange for center Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round pick, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski notes, Leonard’s contract gives him the option of vetoing a trade, but he’s expected to sign off on the deal. Although the veteran big man likely won’t ever play for Oklahoma City, he’ll probably remain on the roster through the deadline in case he can be used in another deal, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

After starting the 2019/20 season in Sacramento, Ariza was dealt to Portland and played well for the Trail Blazers, averaging 11.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .491/.400/.872 shooting in 21 games (33.4 MPG). However, he opted out of the summer restart, then was traded multiple times in the 2020 offseason, ultimately landing in Oklahoma City. Ariza and the Thunder reached an agreement to have him remain away from the team.

Since he’s 35 years old and has essentially spent a full calendar year out of the NBA, it’s unclear how much Ariza has left in the tank, but the Heat will pay a very modest price to find out.

Leonard is out for the season with a shoulder injury and was recently fined and suspended for using an anti-Semitic slur during a video game live stream. While his $9.4MM salary for this season is guaranteed, his $10.15MM salary for 2021/22 is a team option and has long been viewed as a lock to be declined. He’s just being included in the deal to sufficiently match Ariza’s $12.8MM expiring contract.

The real asset going to the Thunder in the swap is the future second-round pick, which was one of the only picks Miami had left available to trade. Even though they won’t actually receive it for another six years, the Thunder will be happy to add that 2027 selection to their ever-growing stash of draft assets, especially for a player who didn’t play a single game for the club.

Even after trading for Ariza, the Heat will have a handful of assets to pursue other deals prior to next Thursday’s deadline, including Andre Iguodala‘s and Kelly Olynyk‘s expiring contracts, a $7.5MM trade exception, and a handful of promising young players. Because they’re trading Leonard, they’ll lose the $4.7MM disabled player exception they received after he suffered his season-ending injury, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes (via Twitter).

Miami remains about $5.4MM below the tax line and still has approximately $10.6MM of breathing room below the hard cap, Marks adds (via Twitter).

If the Thunder don’t use one of their existing traded player exceptions to take on Leonard’s salary, they’ll create a new $3.4MM TPE in the deal. They could very well be active again before the deadline, with veterans like George Hill, Al Horford, and Mike Muscala among their potential trade candidates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.