Tyler Johnson

Devin Booker, Tyler Johnson Done For Season

A pair of Suns guards won’t appear in the final three games of the season, as the team has shut down Devin Booker and Tyler Johnson.

Jordan Schultz of ESPN.com first reported (via Twitter) that Booker, who suffered an ankle sprain during Wednesday’s loss to the Jazz, wouldn’t return this season. Shams Charania of The Athletic confirmed as much today (via Twitter).

The former lottery pick had been on a tear lately, scoring 48 of more points in three of his last five games. However, with the Suns only playing for lottery positioning and Booker’s five-year, maximum-salary extension set to go into effect this July, there was no reason for the club to push him to get back before next Wednesday.

As for Johnson, the 26-year-old combo guard, acquired from the Heat at the trade deadline, underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee on Wednesday, the team announced in a press release. The Suns gave no indication of his recovery timeline, but I’d expect him to be ready to go for the 2019/20 season. He hadn’t played for Phoenix since March 13.

Johnson could technically become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but is far more likely to opt into the final year of his current contract, which is worth $19.2MM+.

With Booker and Johnson sidelined, players like Elie Okobo, De’Anthony Melton, and Jimmer Fredette could get a long look in the backcourt during Phoenix’s final three games.

Pacific Notes: Bagley III, Ball, Johnson

There’s no set return date scheduled for Marvin Bagley III but the standout Kings rookie has at least returned to basketball activities, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento tweets. Bagley has been sidelined since spraining his left knee on Feb. 27.

Earlier this week, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee wrote about the 20-year-old’s recovery status after a scary injury, noting that he was “feeling good” and walking without a limp. That’s good news for a Kings team on the outside of the postseason looking in.

The ninth-seeded Kings have managed to keep their heads above water in their pursuit of a playoff berth since Bagley has been out, managing .500 basketball in the four games that they’ve been without him. In 10 February contests, Bagley averaged 17.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • We wrote yesterday that Lakers coach Luke Walton said there was a chance point guard Lonzo Ball would miss the remainder of the season. Now, in the wake of the announcement that forward Brandon Ingram will miss the final month of the season, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the “expectation” is that Ball will also be shut down following a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
  • The addition of scrappy veteran Tyler Johnson has brought a new sense of stability to the young Suns, Katherine Fitzgerald of The Arizona Republic writes. Head coach Igor Kokoskov anticipates that the 26-year-old trade deadline acquisition will start at the point guard position for the rest of the season.
  • The Lakers will not fine Rajon Rondo for sitting in a courtside seat removed from his teammates, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports. “I was just in my head contemplating the game. That’s kind of what I do. I don’t think I have to explain myself as far as my relationship with the team, the players and the coaches,” Rondo said.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Crawford, Johnson

The NBA has rescinded DeMarcus Cousins‘ technical foul for tossing Jeremy Lamb‘s shoe during Monday’s game against the Hornets, a source tells Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Cousins tossed the shoe out of bounds and was upset with the referee calling the technical.

“Next time I’ll just step on the shoe and roll my ankle, break it, tear an Achilles,” Cousins said after the game. “Just leave it out there next time. I guess that’s what they want. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Cousins missed nearly a year while rehabbing from an Achilles injury. He’s appeared in 14 games for the Warriors so far this year and he’s been called for five technical fouls outside of the shoe-tossing experience. In his career, Cousins has received 123 technical fouls and has been ejected on 13 of those occasions.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Jamal Crawford doesn’t necessarily feel like this will be his final season in the league, as he tells Sekou Smith of NBA.com. “I can keep going and going. And I will, as long as someone feels like I can bring something to the table, I’ll be here. No limits,” Crawford said.
  • Crawford added (in the same piece) that he is enjoying his role as a veteran on the Suns despite not receiving the same type of opportunity that he’s been accustomed to. “I know I can still play at a high level, and can do much more then I am on the court,” he said. “But this particular role at this time has turned into me trying to help others grow their game, and not about my own personal whatever … and there is a beauty in that as well.”
  • Tyler Johnson is still getting adjusted to life on the Suns, but he’s embracing the challenges of learning a new system, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. “Just like any big transition in your life, it’s going to take a minute to get settled,” Johnson said. “But I think it’s just how you approach it. You can look at things as a negative…or you know, you can embrace it. And that’s what I’ve chosen to do, is just embrace it and I know good things will come from it.”

Heat Trade Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington To Suns

6:27pm: The trade is official, according to a tweet from the Suns.

3:49pm: Bartelstein is working with the Suns to get Ellington to a playoff contender after this deal is completed, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski. While a trade is possible, the veteran sharpshooter could also be waived.

3:30pm: The Heat are also sending Wayne Ellington to Phoenix in the trade, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. That makes the deal more interesting, as the Heat are now in position for significant savings this season as well as next season.

The lottery-bound Suns likely don’t have much use for Ellington, but could flip him in another trade before the deadline, as long as they don’t aggregate his salary with another player’s.

Ellington has the ability to veto a trade, so in order to sign off on the deal, he may expect Phoenix to subsequently trade or release him. He has given his approval, agent Mark Bartelstein confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Additionally, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter), Johnson will have to waive most or all of his trade bonus to make the trade work from a salary-matching perspective if Ellington’s salary is included.

2:41pm: The Heat are in agreement with the Suns on a trade that will send guard Tyler Johnson to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Ryan Anderson will head to Miami in the deal, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

Johnson, 26, has averaged 10.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG with a shooting line of .426/.353/.693 in 44 games (25.5 MPG) for the Heat this season. Although he has been a solid role player in Miami, Johnson’s salary far exceeds his on-court production.

Due to a back-loaded offer sheet from the Nets, which the Heat matched in 2016, the fifth-year guard is earning approximately $19.25MM this season, with a 2019/20 player option worth the same amount. His current-year cap charge will increase a little more when he’s dealt, since his contract features a 15% trade kicker. That bonus will amount to another $1MM+ on his ’18/19 cap hit, assuming he doesn’t waive it. His option year will be unaffected.

Anderson, who has a $20.4MM cap hit of his own, was the only player on the Suns’ roster making more than $11.75MM this season, making him the logical returning piece for Johnson.

The 30-year-old was traded from Houston to Phoenix during the offseason and has played sparingly for the Suns, averaging 3.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 15 games (18.5 MPG). While Anderson has been a lethal outside shooter in past seasons, he has hit just 20.6% of his three-pointers this season after entering the year with a 38.2% career rate.

Anderson has a $21.26MM cap charge for 2019/20, the final year of his four-year contract, but that figure is only partially guaranteed for about $15.64MM. That will save the Heat some money next year, and they could reduce Anderson’s cap hit by $10MM+ more if they elect to release him and stretch his contract by July 10.

It’s hard to imagine Anderson will have a role in a crowded Heat rotation, but the Suns presumably plan to feature Johnson. He’s not a traditional point guard, but Johnson is capable of handling the ball and Phoenix – which lacks an answer at the point – will likely give him a chance to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Community Shootaround: Heat Roster Logjam

As we relayed earlier today, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is “sick” to his stomach about his inability to find minutes for veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington. And now that fellow guard and teammate Dion Waiters is set to return from his ankle injury, don’t expect playing time decisions to get any easier for Spoelstra.

Not counting Waiters or up-and-coming youngster Derrick Jones, the Heat already have 11 players on standard NBA contracts who log 20.5 minutes per game or more, the most of anyone in the league. And of those 12 players, seven are swingmen who play primarily on the wing (Josh RichardsonRodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Ellington, and Waiters).

In tonight’s blowout win against the Cavs, Wade logged a DNP-Illness, with the remainder of the minutes on the wing going to Richardson (32), Jones (31), Winslow (27), Johnson (26), McGruder (21), and Waiters (11).

With Wade back in the mix soon and Waiters presumably playing his way into more minutes, the question becomes whether the Heat will move on from some of the aforementioned players, such as Waiters or Ellington, or keep the roster logjam as currently constructed as insurance in the event of another injury.

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you think the Heat should try to move on from some of their wings or keep them all around for the rest of the 2018/19 season? If they alter their roster, who is the most likely wing to be moved? Ellington? Waiters? Somebody else?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Southeast Notes: Young, Johnson, Wizards, Lamb

Hawks guard Trae Young firmly believes he’ll be a better player than fellow rookie Luka Doncic, explaining his reasoning to Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated this week. The two players have been compared for months after the Hawks and Mavericks agreed to a draft-night trade in June.

“The thing with Luka,” Young says, “he’s a great player. I don’t understand why it can’t work out for both situations. I hear [Atlanta made a mistake] all the time. Luka’s a great dude, and I think he’s going to be a really good player. But at the same time, I’m going to be a better player. Just because of my ability to stretch the floor, get others involved, I think I’ll be better.”

The Hawks traded their No. 3 pick — used on Doncic — to Dallas in exchange for the No. 5 selection and a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft. Atlanta then made the decision to draft Young fifth overall and solidify him as the franchise centerpiece.

Young has averaged 17.5 points and 8.2 assists in 14 games this season, shooting 41% from the floor and 27% from downtown. To compare, Doncic has averaged 19.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest, connecting on 47% from the field and 39% from 3-point territory.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Heat guard Tyler Johnson labeled the importance of the team staying hungry for success, despite several players cashing in on new contracts in recent seasons. “I think what’s crazy is before any of us got any money, we were just some dogs,” Johnson said, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “I think that’s what the beautiful thing is. We had to just come together.”
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports details how Wizards coach Scott Brooks has consistently altered his rotation this season, keeping his players on edge. Brooks’ changes are in response to the team’s poor start to the 2018/19 season.
  • Hornets guard Jeremy Lamb will likely receive interest from multiple teams in free agency, putting his potential return after the season in question, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Lamb is averaging 12.9 points in 14 games, tied for his career-best.

 

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Kidd-Gilchrist, Wall

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have a difficult time coming up with a rotation after team president Pat Riley failed to address the logjam at several positions, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Hassan WhitesideKelly OlynykBam Adebayo and James Johnson on the roster, there aren’t enough frontcourt minutes to go around and keep everyone happy, Winderman continues. There’s also an excess of shooting guards options (Rodney McGruderDion WaitersTyler JohnsonWayne Ellington and Josh Richardson) even if Dwyane Wade isn’t re-signed, Winderman adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets are thinking seriously about going with smaller lineups more often, featuring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at power forward and Frank Kaminsky at center, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Charlotte has plenty of rotation-worthy options at small forward and shooting guard to allow those position changes to take place, Bonnell continues. If Kidd-Gilchrist logs significant playing time at power forward, Kaminsky could join an unsettled rotation at center and his perimeter defensive shortcomings wouldn’t be as much of an issue, Bonnell adds.
  • This is a pivotal season for Wizards point guard John Wall, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington points out. Following the upcoming season, Wall’s four-year, $170MM-plus extension kicks in and it’s time for him to show he can lead a major contender, Hughes continues. He must improve his field-goal efficiency and mesh well with incoming center Dwight Howard, Hughes adds.
  • Heat summer-league star Derrick Jones will struggle to find playing time, Winderman wrote in another mailbag piece. Get that info, plus other Miami notes, right here.

Heat Notes: Jones, Richardson, Waiters, Deng

Derrick Jones looked like a star in Summer League, but it won’t be easy for him to get playing time, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel in a mailbag column. Jones was the Heat’s top scorer in the Sacramento league, averaging 21.3 points in three games, along with 7.3 rebounds. A two-way player last season, he appeared in 14 games for Miami and started eight.

Jones, a small forward who signed a two-year deal in July, faces heavy competition for minutes. Josh Richardson will start at that position, and using Jones as a backup means moving Justise Winslow to either power forward or the backcourt and the Heat are already overloaded in both areas. It may take a roster move or two for Jones to get an opportunity.

There’s more this morning out of Miami:

  • In the same column, Winderman tabs Richardson as the Heat player most likely to raise his game to an All-Star level in the future. Richardson became a full-time starter last year in his third NBA season and responded with a 12.9/3.5/2.9 line. The four-year, $42MM extension that Richardson agreed to last year will kick in this season, raising his salary to $9.367MM.
  • Fans shouldn’t expect too much from Dion Waiters in his return from injury, Winderman cautions in a separate piece. Waiters played just 30 games last year before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery in January. He should improve the team, Winderman notes, but will be competing for minutes with Richardson, Tyler Johnson and possibly Dwyane Wade.
  • The Heat still have little hope of finding a taker for Johnson’s contract, Winderman adds in the same story. The Nets’ offer sheet that Miami matched in 2016 starts to balloon this year, paying Johnson $19,245,370 in each of the next two seasons and giving him the second-highest salary on the team. Winderman notes that the Rockets moved Ryan Anderson‘s similar deal this week, but Anderson agreed to a substantial giveback in the final year of his contract, which Johnson doesn’t have incentive to do.
  • After agreeing to a buyout with the Lakers, Luol Deng is unlikely to return to Miami, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Deng would find minutes hard to come by in an already-crowded Heat rotation and wouldn’t want to risk being stuck on the bench like he was in Los Angeles. Deng spent two seasons in Miami before signing with the Lakers in 2016.