Tyler Johnson

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.”

Heat Notes: Cap Space, Tyler Johnson, James, Wade

The Heat are looking at a potential salary crunch in the 2018 offseason, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The NBA informed teams this week that the salary cap is projected to rise to $101MM next season, an increase of about $7MM, but will only go up to $102MM the following year. That’s a concern to the Heat because of the offer sheet they matched for Tyler Johnson last summer. Johnson’s cap hit will increase from $5.9MM next season to $19.2MM in 2018/19 and 2019/20. That will not only squeeze the Heat’s cap room next summer, it may affect their strategy for this offseason.

Miami expects to have roughly $36MM available once Chris Bosh‘s $25.3MM salary is removed for medical reasons. The Heat have $49.4MM committed to four players for next season, and Josh McRoberts has a $6MM player option that could push that figure to $55.4MM. In addition, there are team options that will probably be exercised on Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, which would increase the total salary to $59.5MM. Four cap holds will add $3.3MM, and possibly more depending on where the team drafts. Miami also has a $6.3MM team option on Wayne Ellington that could cut into cap space, as could the desire to keep free agents Dion Waiters and James Johnson.

  • Tyler Johnson is trying to prove he’s worth his four-year, $50MM deal, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. In his first season under the new contract, the third-year combo guard is posting career highs in points (13.6 points per game), rebounding (4.0) and assists (3.2). His scoring average is second to to the Thunder’s Enes Kanter among players who haven’t started a game. “I’m trying to find that consistent balance of being a dependable player every single game,” Johnson said. “I know where I want to get to as a player and this is just a stepping stone of where I can be at. I know there is a huge ceiling I can get to. This year, what I’m most proud of is trying to figure out ways to try to get there. Before, it was just a dream. Now I understand how to get there.”
  • LeBron James was reportedly working on the 2014 Sports Illustrated piece announcing his return to Cleveland as then-Miami teammate Dwyane Wade sat just a few feet away. Details of that incident are part of a new book, “Return of the King” by Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin and were shared by Anthony Barstow of The New York Post. According to the authors, James was revising the article as the two stars were flying from Las Vegas to Miami on a Nike-owned jet.

Heat Notes: Free Agents, Waiters, Wade, T. Johnson

The surprising Heat may be able to keep this year’s team together and still have cap room to be players on the free agent market, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. With team president Pat Riley saying at the All-Star break that he would use the rest of the season to evaluate which players will be kept, Jackson assesses the situation for several impending free agents:

  • James Johnson should get at least $10MM annually after his best NBA season, and possibly a contract similar to Evan Turner‘s at $70MM over four years. Johnson loves the team and the city, and the organization wants to bring him back.
  • Dion Waiters is also enjoying a breakthrough season and wants to sign a long-term deal with the Heat. But if Dwyane Wade stays in Chicago, there will be little competition at the shooting guard position in free agency and Waiters could get an offer of $14MM per year or more.
  • Wayne Ellington‘s $6.3MM deal for next season doesn’t need to be guaranteed until July 7th, the first day after the moratorium is lifted. The Heat will know where they stand with free agents before making that decision.
  • Willie Reed can opt out of hiss $1.5MM deal, and Miami may need to use part or all of its $4.3MM room exception to keep him.
  • The Heat have Bird rights on Luke Babbitt, so if he re-signs he will only count $1.47MM against the cap regardless of his salary.

If Chris Bosh is cleared off the cap as expected, Miami will have about $41MM in available space, with three small cap holds. If the Heat elect to keep Ellington and Babbitt, while using the room exception for Reed, that figure will be closer to $33MM. Jackson expects Riley to use that money to chase top-level free agents before committing to any of his current players.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat aren’t sure when Waiters will return from a sprained ankle he suffered Friday, Jackson writes in a separate story. Waiters was on crutches after the game and has been ruled out for today’s contest with Portland. Coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s too early to talk about when Waiters might play again. “He’s young. He heals fast,” Spoelstra said. “He healed very fast from the last one and he rolled that one all the way over. There’s no way to really tell until we get through this process. We’ll see how he feels after this weekend.”
  • Wade is turning aside questions about free agency, but Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel envisions a scenario where the veteran guard could return to Miami next season. If Wade opts out of his $23.8MM deal, Miami could create additional cap room by trading Tyler Johnson, possibly to the Nets, who made the four-year, $50MM offer that the Heat elected to match.

Heat Notes: Riley, Dragic, Trade Deadline, Waiters

The Heat’s recent hot streak hasn’t changed the fact that this will be a crucial summer for the organization, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami won 14 of its last 16 games before the All-Star break to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. But Winderman says team president Pat Riley will have bigger issues than the postseason to consider when he decides what moves to make before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Heat will probably enter the offseason with Chris Bosh‘s salary-cap space reclaimed and with the knowledge that Tyler Johnson‘s cap hit will balloon from $5.9MM next season to $19.2MM in 2018/19. That creates a sense of urgency for a big move this summer. Miami will also have its draft pick this season, although the team appears out of the running for a top choice, but two of the next four Heat first-rounders belong to the Suns from the Goran Dragic trade.

There’s more this morning out of Miami:

  • Dragic, who once seemed a likely trade candidate because of his contract and the Heat’s poor record, has become indispensable as a team leader, Winderman writes in a separate piece. With Miami contending for a playoff spot, Dragic’s salary of more than $54MM over the next three seasons doesn’t seem nearly as oppressive. “Winning means something to him,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. “And that’s where you start with leadership, is bringing other people with you to make winning that important. And it’s uncomfortable for the majority of leaders, to take that first step. And that’s where he’s been very open to his growth.”
  • The Heat are focused on making the playoffs and are more likely to be buyers than sellers as the deadline approaches, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald asked two Eastern Conference scouts to rate Miami’s roster. They believe Dion Waiters will get offers of $10MM to $12MM per year when he hits free agency this summer, James Johnson is better than anyone believed and will probably get at least $10MM per year as a free agent and Tyler Johnson’s production is warranting the four-year, $50MM offer that the Heat matched last summer.

Florida Notes: Ibaka, Ross, Wade, Riley

The Magic are viewing last summer’s trade for Serge Ibaka as a “calculated risk” that didn’t work out, relays Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. To obtain the veteran power forward, Orlando sent Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova to Oklahoma City, along with the 11th pick in the 2016 draft, which became Domantas Sabonis. Less than a year later, the Magic shipped Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a pick that will fall toward the end of the first round. Ibaka played 56 games for the Magic, averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per night, but the team was just 21-36 with him on the roster.

“I think if you go back in time, you look at what was needed for us in the frontcourt and some of the voids we thought we had on the roster,” explained GM Rob Hennigan. “Then, you balance that with the logjam we had at the two guard at the time with Evan [Fournier] and Victor, we felt like it made sense. Sometimes you have to take a few shots down the field. Sometimes it pans out; sometimes it won’t. I applaud our aggressiveness. I think given the same situation, circumstantially, we would make the same trade. Sometimes, things don’t work out as you plan. I think it’s important to be proactive in trying to rectify that too.”

There’s more NBA news from the Sunshine State:

  • Ross was inactive for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the Magic. The team wasn’t notified before game time that both players passed their physicals and the deal was finalized, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • The Heat had been tied to Ibaka in trade rumors, but weren’t interested in trying to top Toronto’s offer, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. They were reluctant to give up much for a player who will be a free agent after the season and who may be older than his listed age of 27. Also, Miami wasn’t able to offer a first-round pick this year because its 2018 first-rounder may be shipped to Phoenix. Winderman notes that Tyler Johnson can block any trade until July and that most of the roster wouldn’t have enticed the Magic. The writer believes Josh Richardson would have been Miami’s best offer.
  • A call from Heat president Pat Riley might have convinced Dwyane Wade to stay in Miami, the Bulls star says in a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wade opted to sign with Chicago last summer after negotiations with the Heat stalled. “I love Pat and I know he loves me,” Wade said. “The fact that we didn’t talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn’t show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.”
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