Tyler Johnson

Heat Notes: Draft, Ellington, Langford

Should the Heat enter the sweepstakes for the No. 4 overall pick? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes it depends on the cost.

The scribe isn’t a fan of the team sending away Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, or Bam Adebayo in a deal, though if a trade was structured around one of their player-friendly contracts, such as Dion Waiters or James Johnson, an additional player and the No. 13, moving up would make more sense.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat could use Wayne Ellington back, but luxury tax concerns may put him out of the team’s price range, Winderman notes in the same piece. Miami began last season with great depth in the backcourt but that’s no longer the case after the team sent Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Tyler Johnson away and watched Dwyane Wade retire.
  • Romeo Langford (Indiana) met with the Heat today, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Langford’s busy day also includes a meeting with the Pelicans. He has previously visited Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minnesota.
  • The Heat also worked out Sekou Doumbouya (France), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Doumbouya is expected to go in the lottery.

Pacific Notes: Williams, Johnson, Lue, Lakers, Clippers

The Suns made their final decision by hiring Monty Williams last week, but many new challenges await the veteran NBA coach, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

Williams, who will stay with the Sixers throughout their playoff run as an assistant, is inheriting a young roster with multiple lottery picks and a great deal of cap space to work with in free agency this summer. Among the greatest challenges with this franchise, however, remains Suns owner Robert Sarver.

In meeting with Williams and Suns general manage James Jones, Sarver promised to give Williams space and create a healthy culture within the franchise, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, this isn’t the first time Sarver has made this declaration.

“I’ve been blessed to coach alongside and play for some of the beast coaches in the NBA, and consider it a privilege to once again be a head coach with an excellent organization like the Suns,” Willams said as part of a larger statement about joining Phoenix. “It is a tremendous opportunity with a talented group of players and a loyal fan base. I will be very excited to get to the valley, connect with our team and get to work.” 

Having an experienced roster, lack of talent in the Western Conference and the threat of Sarver interfering could cause challenges for Williams, but many around the NBA have expressed confidence in his ability to turn around the Suns.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division tonight:

  • Suns guard Tyler Johnson had his 2018/19 season review published on NBA.com last week, outlining his final stats, highlights and more. Johnson was acquired by Phoenix from Miami before February’s trade deadline, being thrown into the young, hungry group more than halfway into the season.“It definitely pushed my comfort zone,” Johnson said. “It’s not something I was used to as far as being vocal. In past years, I had always been with somebody who led by example and come in and be professional and make sure I was getting my work done. Now, I’m worried about other guys and making sure they’re on top of their stuff as well. It definitely opened up by mind to a whole new set of possibilities.”
  • The Lakers would theoretically give LeBron James the keys by hiring Tyronn Lue as head coach, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times writes. James won his third NBA championship playing under Lue with the Cavaliers in 2016, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Warriors. The two share a close relationship and have great admiration for one another, a big reason why the Lakers could look to finalize a deal with Lue as early as this week.
  • This summer’s free agency period will largely determine the futures of the Clippers and Lakers for years to come, Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register writes. Both franchises could pursue the top players available on the open market, including Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.

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.