Tyler Johnson

Florida Notes: Wade, Johnson, Isaac

Dwyane Wade said the Heat can make a strong push toward postseason success if the team relies on its big men to be aggressive offensively, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

In his lone season with the Bulls and half a season with the Cavaliers, Wade did not have the luxury of a dominant presence in the paint. In Chicago, Robin Lopez was the primary center; in Cleveland, Kevin Love was more of an outside player. If the Heat bigs can play with the presence of past Wade-led teams in South Beach, he expects good results.

“When you got bigs like Hassan [Whiteside] and you got bigs like Bam [Adebayo] rolling to the basket, when they’re setting screens, you’re going to get into the paint,” Wade said. “Either all the way to the rim, some guys floaters, some guys pull-ups and lobs. Me, especially, I’m just getting back comfortable with it.”

Check out other news and notes from Florida’s NBA teams:

  • Tyler Johnson has played well since the Heat returned from the All-Star break, In two games back, Johnson posted 15 points in a loss to the Pelicans and 23 points in a win over the Grizzlies. He is 12 for 22 from the field in that stretch. Johnson admitted his struggles before the break were due to pressing for results, per the Sun-Sentinel. “I think before the break, I was settling for too many jumpers and trying to shoot my way out of a funk instead of doing what I do best [and] being an attacker,” Johnson said.
  • Jonathan Isaac has seen limited action in two G League contests with the Lakeland Magic as he resumes his comeback from an ankle injury. NBA.com’s Josh Cohen writes that Isaac is happy to shake off the rust with Lakeland before returning to Orlando. “I think it’s great, just getting back into things,” Isaac said. “I don’t take this time that I’m here for granted. I can still see I’m rusty. I missed some reads and stuff like that on defense and not being 100 percent there. Definitely will take this time for what it is.”

Eastern Rumors: Afflalo, Thompson, Johnson, Wizards

Arron Afflalo could be a target for the Raptors if he reaches a buyout agreement with the Magic, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Afflalo played for the Nuggets when Raptors president Masai Ujiri was there, while current Magic president Jeff Weltman is Toronto’s former GM, Lewenberg notes. The career 38.6% 3-point shooter would give the Raptors some insurance at the wing, Lewenberg adds. Afflalo has appeared in 43 games with the Magic, averaging 3.2 PPG in 12.9 MPG. He signed with Orlando last summer on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

In other developments around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks are an unlikely destination for Klay Thompson during free agency in 2019, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays though an Adrian Wojnarowski podcast. The Warriors shooting guard wants to continue to play in a warm weather city, he told Wojnarowski. “It’d be weird leaving the Bay Area. I believe I’m going to be there for a very long time.,” he said. “I can say that truthfully. But a lot can happen the next two years. It’s going to be hard to leave California when it’s sunny like this.”
  • The Heat are expected to seek offers for combo guard Tyler Johnson as early as this summer but his contract provisions will make that difficult, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains. Johnson will make $19.2MM in each of the final two years of the backloaded deal, plus Miami would have to pay a $3.2MM trade kicker, Jackson continues. Any team trading for Johnson this offseason would have to take on the additional $1.6MM cap hit in each of the next two seasons. Miami matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Johnson during the summer of 2016.
  • The Wizards need to do a better job of communicating with each other to avoid locker room controversies, Chase Hughes of NBCSports.com writes. The team does not have any unresolvable issues, according to Hughes, but problems like the tension between John Wall and his teammates need to be addressed privately rather than through the media or social media channels, Hughes adds.

Heat Exploring Deals For Wing Help

The Heat are exploring the trade market for help on the wing, and they’re among the teams that have expressed interest in Hawks swingman Marco Belinelli, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. While Miami has interest in Belinelli, he’s one of several wings that the team has done due diligence on, Jackson notes.

Here’s more on the Heat, as they consider their trade options:

  • Although the Heat want to add a wing player, they’re not desperate to make a deal before Thursday’s trade deadline, according to Jackson, who says he’d be surprised if the team parts with Justise Winslow for a rental.
  • Despite having signed Joe Johnson when he was bought out by Brooklyn two years ago, the Heat wouldn’t be the favorites to land the veteran forward if he’s waived by the Jazz this month, says Jackson.
  • The Heat were identified this week as a team that has expressed interest in DeMarre Carroll, prompting Jackson to explore whether Miami might be interested in trading Winslow and Tyler Johnson to the Nets in exchange for Carroll. It’s an interesting idea, since the Nets originally signed Johnson to his current contract, which will get much more expensive in 2018/19. Such a deal would allow the Heat to save some long-term money and would net Brooklyn another former lottery pick. However, Brian Lewis of The New York Post says the Nets have no plans to make that swap.

Southeast Notes: Walker, Johnson, Vucevic

The Hornets may have permanently damaged their relationship with All-Star guard Kemba Walker, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. When news broke that the franchise was eager to unload their best player in order to clear cap space and initiate a rebuild, the 27-year-old was apparently devastated.

Bonnell argues that Walker has been a world-class representative of the Hornets, a leader on the court and in the community. The scribe also argues that he’s a part of the solution in Charlotte, not the problem, and that it was customarily clumsy for the organization to dangle him for financial relief.

Bonnell cites Charlotte’s fruitless attempt to sign Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz as a restricted free agent in 2014 and the club’s ill-advised decision to sign Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27MM deal shortly thereafter as other examples of the Hornets being managed clumsily.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat continue to be ravaged by injuries at the two-guard position, the latest one to fall being Tyler Johnson. Now, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide between two-way player Derrick Jones Jr., reserve Wayne Ellington or an out-of-position Josh Richardson.
  • Despite the temporary scare, Heat guard Tyler Johnson‘s leg injury wasn’t as bad as initially feared, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was really worried because initially it felt like my knee popped,” he said. “That’s why when I went down I started grabbing at my knee and that was what was more worrisome than anything else. I’ve never had a bad knee injury so I didn’t know what it felt like. I was just thankful once I got to the back and my adrenaline kind of went down the pain in my knee wasn’t nothing I really ever felt before. My foot was down and it just kind of got tangled up.
  • A fractured bone in Nikola Vucevic‘s hand has kept him out of action since December 23 but the Magic big man is making progress, John Denton of Orlando’s team site writes. “Little by little [the strength is returning] and the best thing is just me using my hand because that will help it. I’m just doing stuff every day. Even video games, will help because I’m using my hand,” Vucevic said.

Heat Rumors: Waiters, Johnson, Adebayo

Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters may have offseason surgery to correct his lingering left ankle issues, according to an Associated Press report. Waiters missed the final 13 games of last season due to an ankle sprain and the injury never fully healed, the AP story continues. He’s missed the last two games after re-injuring the ankle and there’s no timetable for his return. “It’s something I don’t like to talk about because there’s nothing we really can do right now but try to take care of it, get it stronger, things like that,” Waiters told the assembled media. “I don’t want to be in this predicament where it’s a little tweak, you’ve got to miss a decent amount just off a little tweak.” However, Waiters does not want to have surgery during the season, the report adds.

In other developments regarding the Heat:

  • Tyler Johnson has provided a spark with both Waiters and starting point guard Goran Dragic sidelined by injuries, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel notes. The combo guard has scored 17 or more points in three games since being moved into the starting lineup. “When Tyler’s at his best version of himself, you just see a bundle of energy and toughness and winning plays,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other media members. “It doesn’t matter necessarily how many points he scored. … His confidence is growing every single game, and you can see it. You can see it before your eyes. You can see it happening.”
  • Hassan Whiteside has returned after missing 13 games with a knee injury but rookie Bam Adebayo deserves to stay in the rotation, Winderman opines in a mailbag post. The Heat must acknowledge that Whiteside, Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk are three of their best players and Spoelstra should be able to figure out a way to utilize all of those big men, Winderman adds.
  • The club is in a much better position than last season, as Winderman points out that the Heat entered the Christmas break a year ago 11 games below .500. “I still think there’s some really good things going on with our team, despite the injuries, despite some of the adversity we’re going through,” Spoelstra said. “I like the direction we’re going.”

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Johnson, Wall, G League

The Heat should try to get Josh Richardson to sign an extension as soon as possible, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. After two NBA seasons, the former second-round pick is eligible for an extension up to four years and $42MM that would take effect with the 2018/19 season.  Even at the full price, Richardson’s starting salary that year will be $9.4MM, which could be a bargain for someone who has been a contributor when he’s been healthy.

The deadline for an extension doesn’t come until June 30th, and Winderman thinks Richardson might be wise to wait. If there’s no agreement, he will become a restricted free agent in July, with the Heat having the right to match any offer. The team will also have full Bird Rights, which would eliminate the possibility of a backloaded contract like the one the Nets offered Tyler Johnson. Winderman also notes that Miami will send two of its next four first-rounders to Phoenix in the Goran Dragic trade, so it can’t afford to lose a young talent like Richardson.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • With their current cap status, the Heat have little reason to try to move Johnson’s contract before it balloons in 2018/19, Winderman adds in a question-and-answer column. Johnson will make close to $5.9MM for the upcoming season, then nearly $19.25MM in each of the next two years. It’s a provision that Brooklyn threw into its offer sheet in an attempt to discourage the Heat from matching, and it was eliminated in the new collective-bargaining agreement. Winderman states that if Miami is successful with its current mix of players, the team will continue to operate over the cap and Johnson’s escalation won’t really matter.
  • With a supermax contract in hand, Wizards star John Wall has outlined several goals for the rest of his career, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. At a press conference Friday to officially announce the new deal, Wall said he wants to win a championship in Washington and become the fifth player in franchise history to have his number retired. “We definitely have a lot of unfinished business,” Wall told reporters. “I want to bring a championship here, so we’re going to keep striving to get that. I’m not going to stop until we get there. That’s why I wanted to come back to this city.”
  • The Hawks are adopting a radical approach as they take over the G League franchise in Erie, Pa., writes Chris Reichert of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Instead of finding people with G League experience to run the team, they appointed Malik Rose as general manager and last week hired longtime NBA assistant Josh Longstaff as the head coach. Because Orlando pulled its G-League team out of Erie and took its returning player rights, the Bayhawks will be part of the expansion draft August 23rd.

Pat Riley Talks Offseason, Haslem, Babbitt, More

After an eventful week of free agency, Heat president Pat Riley spoke to local reporters and addressed a handful of subject related to his team and the offseason so far. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald passed along the highlights of that session, so let’s dive in and round up some of Riley’s most notable observations and comments…

  • Riley called the Heat’s pursuit of Gordon Hayward a “no-brainer” even though it didn’t ultimately work out. “The fact Gordon had an interest in us, we felt a need to pursue that but not at the risk of [not] negotiating hard with our own free agents,” Riley said.
  • The Heat went hard after Kelly Olynyk because the team viewed a stretch four or five as one type of player the roster was lacking. Riley also suggested that Olynyk “sets probably the best screens in the NBA” and is an ideal fit alongside Hassan Whiteside or Bam Adebayo.
  • The Heat have used “every last dollar” of the salary cap, but still have the $4.3MM room exception. Still, Riley doesn’t expect the team to use that exception right away. “We have 10 guys that we really like, 11 guys or 12 who will be fighting for rotation minutes,” Riley said. “I’m going to add another room mid level guy who is going to be fighting for 10 minutes? … If something pops up that’s really good, we’ll think about using it.”
  • Asked if the Heat need to add a backup point guard, Riley replied, “Absolutely not.” The Heat president pointed to Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson as possible ball-handlers.
  • Miami wants to re-sign Udonis Haslem and is “still talking” to Luke Babbitt. However, Willie Reed is unlikely to return, per Riley.
  • When it came to the Josh McRoberts trade, A.J. Hammons wasn’t just a throw-in for the Heat — Riley likes what he brings to the table. “He’s the kind of player that fits that mold of a stretch five or four,” Riley said. “We remember him from Purdue. That happened very quickly. We made that deal pretty quickly. We already had scouting reports on him.”

Southeast Notes: Wall, Porter, Gortat, Waiters, Ball

During the Wizards‘ Game 7 loss to the Celtics, Washington’s bench was outscored 48 to 5. That glaring disparity was certainly not lost on John Wall, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. In fact, Wall’s last words before leaving the court Monday night were, “Forty-eight to five,” which he then repeated before departing with, “Our bench had five points.”

Here’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Despite the immense disappointment Wizards players are feeling after their Game 7 defeat, players expressed confidence that the team can continue to compete at a high level if it can keep its best players together. Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this offseason, is considered by teammates Wall, Bradley Beal, and Markieff Morris to be a vital part of the team’s core, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Morris tells Buckner that Porter is worth a max contract and he hopes that he gets it.
  • As reported earlier today, Marcin Gortat feels underappreciated by the Wizards and may request a trade.  More details and quotes on Gortat’s feelings can be found via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Impeding Heat free agent Dion Waiters said that the Heat do not need Lonzo Ball because they are covered at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and “other [players],”  reports Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters also offered advice for Ball: “He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to play his game. He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to make mistakes. Because I think in this game today, he’s got to be able to make mistakes and have a coach who allows you to make mistakes, and you can learn from it.”
  • Luke Babbitt‘s future with the Heat is written about by Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman concludes that, while Babbitt likely will not be an offseason priority for the Heat, the team will consider him because of his Bird Rights and skill set.

Southeast Notes: Kanter, Millsap, Bogdanovic, Magic

The Thunder may look to free up cap space this summer to lure a superstar free agent to pair with possible 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook. Trading big man Enes Kanter could be one option, as he’s owed $17.9MM next season; however, the Heat would likely not be a trade partner, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel says in his latest Ask Ira column.

Winderman is asked if a potential Tyler Johnson-for-Kanter swap makes sense given both players’ lofty contracts. However, Johnson will make just $5.9MM next season, so a hypothetical swap would cut down Miami’s cap space from $37MM to $25MM next season. Also, the Heat will likely pursue new deals with James Johnson and Dion Waiters, and committing significant dollars to Kanter is not conducive to keeping that core intact.

While the allure of having Hassan Whiteside and Kanter manning the frontcourt sounds enticing, Winderman notes that neither man is an outside shooter, which would clog the paint for the Heat.

Here are additional tidbits of news from the Southeast:

  • A state of disarray surrounding the Hawks since 2013 has led to a flurry of roster-altering moves. Now, with Paul Millsap entering free agency, the team faces a major decision: dedicate significant dollars to re-sign a productive, but aging player or move on and construct a younger, more cost-effective team, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes. If Millsap departs, O’Connor notes that a frustrated and declining Dwight Howard would become the team’s primary option and recent history suggests he’s not suited for that role.
  • After two tough losses to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Wizards coach Scott Brooks decided to play Bojan Bogdanovic more in Game 3,  yielding strong results, per J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The former Nets forward, who will be a free agent this summer, scored 19 points in 29 minutes in Washington’s Game 3 win, prompting Brooks to admit he made a mistake not playing the sharpshooter more often. “I guess I should have gone on Twitter a few games ago, right? He’s a good player. I made a mistake, I only played him eight minutes,” Brooks quipped. “The way the game was going, we were up, things were going good and we had a chance to win the game. He’s been in a lot of big games, he’s made a lot of big shots and he’s done that for us this year.”
  • Magic interim general manager Matt Lloyd has an unenviable task of rebuilding the Orlando franchise, replacing former GM Rob Hennigan and assistant GM Scott Perry, who were fired in mid-April. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel examines Lloyd’s decorated journey in basketball, which has included working several jobs in college, befriending key cogs in the Bulls’ 1990s dynasty and earning trust among his peers. Now, he’s prepared to earn that same trust leading the Magic. “I have a responsibility to our staff,” Lloyd said to Robbins of his role as interim GM. “I know I have a responsibility to the coaches. I have a responsibility to the players. And I have a responsibility to the organization. So every day I have the job, I’m just going to do the job. And I’m not going to worry about trying to get the job.”

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Waiters, Cap Space, Whiteside

Using their cap space to keep their own free agents is a better option for the Heat than chasing Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, argues Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami will have about $37MM to spend this summer if it declines a $6.3MM option on Wayne Ellington. Issuing a max contract of more than $30MM would severely cut into that total and make it impossible for the team to re-sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters. The Heat may try to trade Josh McRoberts, who is expected to exercise a player option worth a little more than $6MM, but Winderman doesn’t expect them to find any takers. He recommends using that $37MM to keep Johnson, Waiters, Ellington and Willie Reed.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • The Heat’s decisions this summer will shape their roster for the next few years, Winderman writes in a separate piece. If Johnson and Waiters both sign three- or four-year deals, they will join Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who are all under contract through 2019/20. Those three already take up $62.7MM of Miami’s cap room for 2018/19, when the cap is projected at $102MM. Even assuming team-friendly contracts for James Johnson and Waiters at a combined $28MM, the Heat would be at $90.7MM, without considering $5.2MM cap holds for Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. Miami’s front office will have to decide soon if that core is worth locking up the salary cap for the next three seasons.
  • Despite recent comments from team president Pat Riley expressing loyalty to his players, the Heat would be willing to trade anyone on the roster, Winderman states in another column. The writer adds that Riley handled his press conference much better than Knicks president Phil Jackson did, but notes that if Dwyane Wade was allowed to leave last summer, then anyone is expendable.
  • After giving Whiteside a four-year, $98MM deal a year ago, the Heat want him to become a better low-post scorer, Winderman relays in another story. Whiteside continues to be among the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers, but the organization wants him to expand his offensive game and become a “championship” center. “Once you feed him that, he may be able to go there,” Riley said, “but you have to put him in that position. I think he has the ability to put up bigger numbers.”