Udonis Haslem

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Winslow, Wade, Haslem

The Heat, one of two teams that entered Thursday’s draft without a pick in either round, explored the possibility of trading into the draft. However, team president Pat Riley told reporters late last night that the team didn’t feel it made sense to pay the asking price for a second-round selection.

“Every second-round pick cost two second-round picks or a future second-round pick and cash,” Riley said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Although the Heat didn’t make any moves on draft night, Riley said the club has engaged in a “lot of discussion with a lot of teams about a lot of players,” according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Riley also discussed several other offseason topics during his session with the media, so we’ll round up the highlights below, via Winderman:

  • According to Riley, the Heat have yet to offer Hassan Whiteside to any teams in trade talks. “I expect a lot of out Hassan, contrary to what people might think about us trading him,” Riley said. “We haven’t offered him to anybody, really, to be honest with you. So you go through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out.” Of course, Riley’s comments could reflect a lack of a market for the veteran center.
  • Riley denied that Justise Winslow was offered in trades leading up to the draft. However, Winslow is believed to be available in the right deal.
  • Riley confirmed that the Heat will try to find a way to keep Wayne Ellington, though he acknowledged potential luxury-tax concerns, hinting that Miami likely wouldn’t be able to match an aggressive offer from another team.
  • The Heat don’t know yet whether Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem want to continue their respective careers, but they’d be welcomed back if they want to return to the Heat. “They’ve been together forever and they also deserve the respect to sit and wait on this thing. And so there’s no rush,” Riley said.
  • Given the Heat’s lack of cap room, Riley isn’t necessarily expecting an action-packed offseason for the club. “I don’t know if there are going to be any midnight meetings (at the start of free agency),” Riley said (Twitter link). “Not this year.”
  • Dion Waiters continues to recover from ankle surgery, but the Heat are hoping that he’ll be ready for training camp, says Riley.

Haslem May Play Overseas To Continue Career

Udonis Haslem has only suited up for one team in his 15-year NBA career, but if he wants to continue his career, he may need to do it outside of South Beach. The longtime Heat big man said he may play in China or Europe as he seeks more playing time, Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes.

“I know they want me to come back, but there’s also the selfless part of me that gives, gives, gives and a part of me that says I’ve got to start thinking about myself sometimes,” Haslem said. “That’s where I’m at. That’s the dilemma for me. I’ve got to start thinking about myself. I love being around the guys. I enjoy giving life to the guys. I enjoy working out with the guys, and I enjoy seeing the things we do off the court manifest on the court and having success. But you know at the end of the day I still go home a little bit frustrated because I can still play. Part of that is deciding whether I want to deal with that.”

The 38-year-old has taken on more of a mentor and leader role with the Heat in recent seasons. Haslem has played in just 67 games the past three seasons and averaged just 0.6 PPG and 0.7 RPG in 2017/18. While Haslem admits he’s no longer capable of playnig 30-plus minutes each game, he believes he can contribute something of value.

Haslem also noted that if his former teammate, LeBron James, entertained the idea of returning to Miami, he would be part of the recruitment to lure him back. Haslem and his longtime teammate and friend Dwyane Wade reunited this past season when the Cavaliers traded the veteran guard back to Miami. Like Haslem, Wade has yet to make a decision on his future. At the end of the day, Haslem supports his friends, but also wants to make the best decision for himself.

“As a friend I support LeBron in any decision he makes. So we’ll see,” he said. “Am I going to be a part of the recruiting process? Hell yeah. If we talk I’m going to throw it out there. But you just never know.”

Heat Notes: LeBron, Draft, Haslem, T. Johnson

The Heat are often mentioned as a potential destination for LeBron James if he decides to leave Cleveland, but Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel doesn’t believe such a move is realistic. Miami, of course, is where James went the last time he parted ways with the Cavaliers. He spent four seasons with the Heat and combined with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to reach the NBA Finals each year.

However, a reunion is extremely unlikely, Winderman notes. The Heat don’t have any cap space to work with and would need to have a massive sell-off or have James opt in and engineer a trade. Winderman estimates Miami would have to part with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo and the high salary of either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, which would leave LeBron with a worse supporting cast then he has now in Cleveland.

There’s more news from Miami:

  • Without a pick in this year’s draft, the Heat can’t get prospects to come to Miami, so scouts are going on the road to see them, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Team representatives are headed to Bradenton, Florida, New York City, Atlanta and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this week to attend workouts being held by agents and trainers. Next week, the scouting staff will be at seven workouts in Los Angeles and one in Las Vegas. “We go there not only to watch that workout, but we also would use that as a mini-Chicago [draft combine], where we interview players,” VP of Player Personnel Chet Kammerer explained. “It’s not us running the workouts, but we’re going to get to look at as many people as we can among our staff.”
  • At age 38, Udonis Haslem hasn’t decided if he will return for another season, but he continues to work out as if he’ll keep playing, Winderman relays in another story. “When you get to this stage of your career and life, you either do it or you don’t,” Haslem said. “You can’t really turn it on and off. It becomes a lifestyle.” Interviewed Saturday, Haslem repeated that he has no interest in coaching but would be intrigued by a front office position.
  • Tyler Johnson won’t try to change his game to live up to the salary increase that’s about to kick in, writes Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald. The backloaded offer sheet Johnson received from the Nets two years ago increases from $5.88MM this year to $19.25MM in each of the next two seasons. “It doesn’t bother me,” Johnson said. “It’s just a nicer paycheck when I go home.”

Heat Notes: Dragic, Haslem, Spoelstra, Lottery

Goran Dragic has retired from international basketball, but he might be persuaded to change his mind for the 2020 Olympics, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. After helping Slovenia capture the European championship last summer, Dragic plans a much more relaxed offseason this year.

“The people from the federation have been here in Miami; they tried to persuade me,” Dragic said. ‘We had a good meeting. I said my body at that time, I need to think about myself and my career. I gave to my country everything I had. Now it’s time to end.”

Dragic, who turned 32 last week, is hoping a few months of rest will pay off next season. He played 75 games this year, but his numbers declined across the board in scoring, assists and field goal percentage.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Udonis Haslem appeared in just 14 games this season, but Dragic says the intangibles he provides makes him worth a roster spot, Jackson adds in the same story. “It’s really tough to explain to people outside what he means to this team,” Dragic said. “Everybody is looking, ‘OK, he’s not playing’ but they don’t know how much he brings to this team, especially with his experience and leadership. A lot of guys in this locker room need leadership like UD, especially Hassan [Whiteside]. I think UD can provide that. He’s there where usually some guys would not be, in the toughest moments, when you need something, he’s there. That’s why everybody loves him.” Haslem, who will turn 38 in June, is headed into free agency and hasn’t decided if he wants to play another season.
  • Don’t expect a coaching change in Miami as long as Pat Riley remains the team president, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Erik Spoelstra is closely tied to Riley’s philosophy, Winderman notes, and the current roster probably wouldn’t fit together without him in charge.
  • The Heat won’t be involved in Tuesday’s lottery, but the results could affect them for years to come, Winderman points out in a separate piece. The lottery will help determine the balance of power at the top of the East, with the Cavaliers owning the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder and the Lakers’ first pick headed to either the Sixers or Celtics. Those teams could add to their talent base or they could use a high lottery pick as a bargaining chip if the Spurs decide to trade Kawhi Leonard.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Haslem, Van Gundy

According to general manager Mitch Kupchak, the Hornets have no immediate plans to blow up their roster. As Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes, recently appointed head coach James Borrego will approach his first season with the team under the assumption that there is no dramatic overhaul right around the corner.

I’m excited about that current group as it stands right now. I think our biggest room for growth is the internal development piece,” Borrego said. Given the Hornets’ lack of financial flexibility – they have $120 already tied up for next season – they may not have any other choice.

There were several calls for dramatic action last season as a short-staffed Hornets team limped its way to a second consecutive lottery appearance. In fact, things were so dire that mid-season the club’s previous executive team even said the franchise would consider trading star guard Kemba Walker.

Among the young players that could be developed by Borrego and the rest of the Hornets staff in 2018/19 are 2017 lottery pick Malik Monk, as well as other established rotation players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 24, and third-year big man Frank Kaminsky.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards signed forward Otto Porter to a four-year, $107MM contract last offseason. With that increased salary has come increased scrutiny, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. Porter excelled as a three-point shooter in 2017/18 but was criticized for lacking aggressiveness in the fourth quarter.
  • Veteran Heat big man Udonis Haslem hasn’t made a decision about retirement yet but he does know that when that time comes, he has no interest in coaching. He would, however, be open to serving in Miami’s front office, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.
  • Some Magic fans have contemplated the idea of bringing back former head coach Stan Van Gundy. David Whitley of The Orlando Sentinel writes that a reunion with the bench boss who led Dwight Howard and company to the Finals back in 2009 would not be a good idea.

Southeast Notes: Oubre Jr., Richardson, Magic

The Wizards will have until October to offer Kelly Oubre Jr. a contract extension, but their current financial outlook makes that unlikely. As a result, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes, the 22-year-old heads into the offseason with every reason to hone his game; his performance in 2018/19 will determine his next deal.

Oubre Jr. took a step forward in his third season with the Wizards, averaging 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in a career high 27.5 minutes per contest. While those aren’t exactly max-contract numbers, he’s an intriguing young piece that could slot in alongside some highly-paid teammates as an additional component of the Wizards’ expensive, homegrown core.

The Wizards will have over $90MM tied up in contracts for John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter in 2019/20. Oubre Jr. will look to add to that figure by convincing the club to bring him back as a restricted free agent, similarly to how Porter signed his most recent deal back in 2017.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Steady improvement through his first three seasons has Josh Richardson in a position to make a name for himself in 2018/19. The swingman, who signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Heat through 2021/22, wants to take another step. “I’m capable of being a great player in this league and I think I showed flashes,” he told Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “I think I just have to do it consistently.”
  • The Magic have been strategically tight-lipped when it comes to their head coaching search, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Team president Jeff Weltman has made an effort to avoid leaks throughout the process and it’s highly likely that the team has interviewed more candidates than the few that have been reported.
  • Fifteen-year Heat veteran Udonis Haslem doesn’t have a decision as to whether or not he’ll return next season. The 37-year-old tells Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel that it comes down to “having no regrets.”

Pat Riley Talks Roster, Whiteside, Wade, Ellington

Addressing reporters at his end-of-season press conference on Monday, Heat president Pat Riley said he and the team’s front office will continue to work on improving the roster this summer, adding that he’d not bothered by a relative lack of cap flexibility heading into the offseason.

“We’re not going to stop and it doesn’t make any difference how we do it,” Riley said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. “Whether you’re a room team, whether you’re capped out, whether you’ve got a lot of guys under contract, whether you’re limited with your picks, you keep working toward your goal. That’s what we’re going to do. How we’re going to do it is irrelevant.”

While Riley said the Heat would like to keep their “core guys” together and give that group more help, he acknowledged that he’ll be open to virtually any avenue that could make the team better, confirming that no one on the roster is untouchable.

“Right now we have a bunch of guys that can still get better,” Riley said. “While internal improvement and development is a huge part of our organization, going outside and looking around, now is the opportunity to have those conversations — trying to find a transformative player, maybe, is probably what our challenge is going to be.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Navarro and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald:

  • Riley stated that Hassan Whiteside had “a bad year” in 2017/18, but he believes in the young center’s ability to bounce back next season, suggesting that Whiteside and head coach Erik Spoelstra need to get on the same page for that to happen. “I still think and believe Hassan can anchor in spite of what a lot of people believe,” Riley said.
  • Riley recently spoke to Dwyane Wade, but didn’t broach the subject of retirement. “I don’t like to talk to a player about retirement because when start talking to a player about retirement, guess what? He retires,” Riley said. “So I don’t want to talk to he or UD (Udonis Haslem) about retirement because I think both players are still in great shape. They both can play.”
  • There’s “no doubt” that the Heat want to re-sign Wayne Ellington, according to Riley. However, the team president admitted that it’ll be tricky to do so without going into tax territory. “If we signed Wayne, OK, next year and he takes us into the tax, then that guy right over there (GM Andy Elisburg) has 15 months to get us out,” Riley said.
  • Riley isn’t bothered by not having a first-round pick in this year’s draft, noting that he’s “not a draft pick guy” and feels like the Heat only really need a first-rounder once every two years. “We hope one of the guys we really like that we can sign on July 1 might be tantamount to a first-round pick this year,” Riley said. He also observed that when Miami can acquire a player like Goran Dragic using mid-first-rounders like this year’s (No. 16 overall), he’d “much rather have” the Dragic-type veteran than the rookie.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Miami Heat

The Heat doubled down on a committee of above-average role players last summer and have leveraged their depth into unexpected success after a dismal 2016. With an elite head coach and an established culture of winning, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have no reason to believe that they can’t continue to field a winner so long as they’re willing to invest in solid players.

The downside of a team built in this fashion, however, is that it lacks the ceiling to be truly dangerous in the postseason and the financial flexibility to change that. Not helping matters, of course, is the fact that the Heat’s highest paid player, Hassan Whiteside, could barely get off the bench in the club’s most recent first-round playoff exit.

The Heat are on pace to cross the luxury tax threshold in 2017/18 thanks to dramatic escalations in the contracts of players like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, making it inevitable that a dramatic roster move is forthcoming.

Is the on-court product good enough to justify the luxury tax expenses? Not likely, so all that’s left is for the franchise decide what direction to go when the dominoes start falling.

Luke Babbitt, SF, 29 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat brought Babbit aboard in a minor deal at the deadline and it wasn’t hard to understand why. The career 40.2% three-point shooter is an attractive niche add and he shot 44.1% on threes through the first half of the season with the Hawks. Unfortunately, he didn’t make enough of a splash in an inconsequential stint with Miami to warrant major interest from the franchise this summer. Babbit will have suitors as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and could end up plucked by a team able to invest slightly more.

Wayne Ellington, SG, 30 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2016"<strong
Ellington represents this Heat roster as well as anybody — he’s a reliable veteran that can consistently get the job done. In the hands of the right coach and surrounded by the right players, that’s invaluable. If the Heat decide to continue pushing to contend in the East, it would make sense to retain Ellington for a few more years as a solid rotation piece. That being said, simply bringing back Ellington is no small feat considering the luxury tax implications of such an investment. If the Heat suspect their window is closing, all parties might be better off if the nine-year vet latches on with another contender elsewhere.

Udonis Haslem, C, 38 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat don’t have to worry about long-time big man Haslem testing the waters anywhere other than South Beach, the question is whether or not the 15-year veteran will opt instead for retirement. Haslem seems to have enough in the tank to continue playing in his drastically reduced role and, despite the luxury tax implications making even a minimum deal painful for ownership, there’s no reason to believe the franchise wouldn’t be happy to have him.

Jordan Mickey, PF, 23 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $5MM deal in 2015
Despite cracking the team’s rotation for a few weeks last December, Mickey didn’t make much of an impact with the Heat during his first season in Miami. One thing that the young big man does have going for him, however, is that his team option is for a modest $1.6MM. At a time when the franchise will be hard-pressed to fill out its 15-man roster without going into tax territory, cheap deals will be of particular interest.

Dwyane Wade, SG, 36 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
After an awkward season and a half with the Bulls and Cavaliers, Wade returned to Miami. Immediately, the franchise icon fell back into a rhythm and outplayed his minimum contract. If the Heat opt to continue competing in the East, bringing Wade back is practically essential – from a marketing point of view as much any. While he’s more than a simply symbolic figure, he’s not quite a leading man either, so a deal in the same vein as Dirk Nowitzki‘s $5MM annual with team options could be a solid starting point. If Wade is willing to sign another minimum contract, that’d be all the better for the cap-strapped Heat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Waiters, Haslem, Wade

The gamble the Heat took on Hassan Whiteside two years ago has backfired, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, and they are left with the choices of keeping him and his huge cap hit or trading him for virtually nothing. Whiteside still has two seasons remaining [including a $27.1MM player option for 2019/20] on the four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2016.

The Heat are open to dealing their starting center, but Bontemps warns they may not like the offers they get. He suggests the Mavericks might be interested if they can’t land a big-name free agent, with Dwight Powell going to Miami in return. Other possibilities Bontemps sees for Whiteside are heading to New York in exchange for Joakim Noah [owed roughly $37MM over the next two years] and the Bulls’ second-rounder or to Phoenix for Brandon Knight [$29MM over two years] and Tyson Chandler‘s expiring $13.6MM deal.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are counting on Dion Waiters to solidify the shooting guard position once he returns from ankle surgery, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters was limited to just 30 games before the January operation, and doctors aren’t sure if he will be ready for training camp or the start of the season. “I don’t think he’s felt right, physically, since when he first got here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He got in great shape, but once he injured his ankle, then he was always dealing with that. This is going to be a really important summer for him. He’s going to be here and he’ll be working a ton behind the scenes just to get his legs right, then he’ll work on the next step of getting in world-class shape and then he’ll get into the next phase of really developing his basketball skills.”
  • Veteran forward Udonis Haslem isn’t sure whether Dwyane Wade will return for another season, adding he “wouldn’t be surprised” no matter what Wade decides, Jackson relays in the same story. Haslem hasn’t made a decision on his own future, but said he would like to work in the Heat organization when he retires, although not as a coach. He added that he and Wade haven’t discussed a mutual decision. “We’ve both in situations where we have a lot of different opportunities ahead of us,” Haslem said. “Do we want to retire together? In a perfect world it would be great to finish it together. But things don’t always work out like that.”
  • After playing just 16 postseason minutes, Rodney McGruder wants a larger role next year, Jackson adds. McGruder had surgery on his leg in October and appeared in 16 regular season games after he returned in February. “I want to play,” he said. “I am happy for my teammates. I love cheering them on. I want to be playing in the playoffs.”

Heat Notes: Wade, Haslem, Winslow

The Heat will head into the offseason with a bevy of question marks after a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Sixers.

The franchise lacks the flexibility to add top talent with slightly over $116MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2018/19 season. That figure is already over the projected $101MM salary cap and dangerously close to the estimated $123MM luxury tax line.

If Miami is going to make any major changes, it’ll likely come via a trade with Hassan Whiteside coming to mind as a potential trade candidate after the big man was visibly frustrated with his role down the season’s final stretch. The big man is owed approximately $52.4MM over the next two seasons, though he has the option of hitting the market next summer if he so chooses.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade have not made their respective decisions to return to the Heat next season. The pair has long maintained that they’ve wanted to retire together and it’ll be something they discuss this offseason. “We’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer,” Haslam said (via Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald). “So we’ll figure it out.”
  • One of the positives from the Heat’s playoff run is the development of Justise Winslow, as Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays. “Justise is doing whatever it takes. This is the moment you want Justise to do well on your team, this is the moment you want him. He’s a guy that has no ego. He’s going to play his heart out,” Wade said.
  • Winslow was fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid‘s mask during Game 3, but the Heat never thought the wing’s behavior was a distraction, Winderman passes along in the same piece. “We talked to him about it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We accept the fine. He accepts it. He’ll pay for it. It doesn’t add a distraction.”