Victor Oladipo

Heat Notes: Lowry, Oladipo, Love, Zeller, Haslem

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra recently raved about Kyle Lowry‘s performance in a new role off the bench after the veteran guard returned from a nagging knee injury that sidelined him for 15 games, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

I think that month of really dedicating himself to getting healthy, getting his leg right, has paid a lot of dividends,” Spoelstra said. “In the minutes that we’re playing him right now, he looks fantastic. And then we’ll just continue to monitor him and we’ll see when we can take the next step.”

As Winderman notes, Lowry has averaged 10.0 points, 4.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds on .586/.579/.833 shooting in five games (24.9 minutes per night) since he returned. The Heat have gone 4-1 in those contests. Lowry is officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s important matchup with Brooklyn, Winderman adds.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Lowry might not be starting, but he has played the entire fourth quarter in each of the past two games, both victories, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). “Just getting us in sets, slowing us down, getting us to cohesive triggers and he’s being so vocal right now,” Adebayo said of Lowry’s value. “It’s vital for our team. It’s the end of the year. He had some time off, so I feel like he’s really fresh. It’s good to have a fresh Kyle Lowry out there.”
  • Victor Oladipo has been a healthy scratch in three of the past four games — the one game he played was when Lowry sat out the front end of a back-to-back. He says the role reduction caught him off guard, but he’s trying to stay positive and be ready when called upon, Chiang writes in another story. “I wish I could answer,” Oladipo said of his reduced role. “It’s not something I’m used to. So I’m not really sure how to go about it. Like I said, I’m just focused on improvement and getting better.”
  • The Heat will only have Non-Bird rights on veteran big men Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, but that might be enough to bring them back without using their taxpayer mid-level exception, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The Heat could offer up to 120% of their current salaries, which would be about $3.7MM for Love and $3.4MM for Zeller, with the veteran’s minimum for both players projected to be worth $3.1MM, Jackson notes. Miami used its biannual exception to sign Love, so it will not be available in 2023/24.
  • Couper Moorhead of takes an in-depth look at the 20-year career of big man Udonis Haslem, sharing stories from teammates, staff members and coaches. The 42-year-old is retiring at the end of the season.

Southeast Notes: Lowry, Robinson, Clifford, Davis

The Heat are trying to manage Kyle Lowry‘s knee issues and he’s trying to adjust to a second-unit role. Erik Spoelstra is seeing some benefits from Lowry coming off the bench, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

“We’re trying to figure this out, and it’s really more of a health issue than it is a performance issue or even strategy concern,” the Heat coach said. “Want to make sure that he continues to feel good and then we can hopefully scale more minutes. But what we saw the other night was one of those great benefits and luxuries of having a Hall of Fame point guard be able to organize that group.”

Lowry has averaged 19.5 minutes the last two games. The Heat have listed him as questionable for their game against Chicago on Saturday.

We have more Southeast Division tidbits:

  • Restoring Duncan Robinson to the Heat rotation is unlikely at this point, as Winderman explains in his latest mailbag. Robinson’s best shot at minutes would be to have Kevin Love and Gabe Vincent removed from the rotation, since Max Strus and Victor Oladipo are also fighting for playing time.
  • The Hornets have won only 22 games and they’re currently on a four-game losing streak, but coach Steve Clifford is still riding his players hard and warning them to not mentally check out the rest of the way, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. “I want us to try to play to win,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of individual messaging with guys about what they can concentrate on. I don’t want to just play it out. I don’t want to do that. I don’t think that’s smart to do.” Clifford’s status beyond this season is questionable with Michael Jordan looking to sell his stake in the franchise.
  • Lottery pick Johnny Davis hasn’t impacted the Wizards’ season but he’s received some notable playing time in the last two games. He enjoyed his best game of the season against Detroit with 11 points and five rebounds in a 19-minute stint, Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes. “He’s just kind of found a rhythm on the court, off the court (and with) NBA life,” Corey Kispert said. “It’s all hard to adjust to. He kind of settled into his daily routine. When your headspace is right off the floor, then your game just kind of follows.”

Heat Notes: Oladipo, Yurtseven, Zeller, Butler

Wednesday marked the first time this season that Heat guard Victor Oladipo was kept on the bench when he was healthy enough to play, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Oladipo has missed 33 games with a variety of injuries, but he was a DNP-CD against the Grizzlies even though Miami cruised to a 19-point win.

Chiang points out that Oladipo has been ineffective since the All-Star break, shooting just 35.6% from the field, and the Heat have been getting outscored during that time by 8.4 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. Still, coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters that he didn’t intend to bench Oladipo entirely, and his absence was a result of trying to figure out rotation minutes now that the team’s injury issues have subsided.

“How it played out tonight is not necessarily what I had on my card and the first guy I talked to was Vic, obviously,” Spoelstra said. “We have not been in this situation for three or four months, where we’ve had everybody available. I had every intention to play him in that first quarter.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Omer Yurtseven played just 2:11 in the first half Wednesday before being replaced by Haywood Highsmith, Chiang adds. There was hope that Yurtseven could take over the backup center role after returning from November ankle surgery, but he has struggled in his first three games back on the court. Spoelstra was visibly upset with Yurtseven’s defense in Wednesday’s game, Chiang observes, but the coach indicated that he’ll still get more opportunities. “O is working,” Spoelstra said. “He’s doing what he needs to do behind the scenes and drilling and working and preparing and watching film. There’s a lot of expectations in those minutes. But he’ll be prepared, he’ll be ready.”
  • Cody Zeller sat out Wednesday with a broken nose, but the team is expecting him back in “a couple of days,” Chiang tweets. When he returns, the veteran center will likely wear a mask, just as he did when he broke his nose last season with the Trail Blazers.
  • Jimmy Butler, who had been averaging 26.1 PPG since the All-Star break, continued his outstanding play with 18 first-half points Wednesday, but got a much-needed rest in the fourth quarter with the Heat leading comfortably, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Butler’s recent outburst has kept Miami in the race to avoid the play-in tournament, trailing the Nets by just two games with 11 left to play.“We need every bit of it,” Spoelstra said of Butler’s aggressiveness. “He’s not going to take his foot off the pedal.”

Southeast Notes: Murray, Oladipo, O. Robinson, Isaac

Hawks guard Dejounte Murray received a $500K bonus earlier this week after he converted his 123rd three-pointer, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links).

As Marks notes, the bonus was considered unlikely because Murray had never previously reached that milestone. Atlanta’s 2022/23 team salary will increase by $500K as a result, moving that number just $1.1MM below the luxury tax threshold.

The bonus will also impact Murray’s cap hit for next season, bumping it from $17.7MM up to $18.2MM, Marks adds. The Hawks were tracking the likelihood of the bonus being reached, plus they added Saddiq Bey, which is why they were motivated to make a salary-dump trade at the deadline, according to Marks.

Through 61 games (36.4 MPG) in his first season with Atlanta, Murray is averaging 21.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 6.0 APG and 1.5 SPG on .467/.362/.847 shooting. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Victor Oladipo has had plenty of highs and lows in 2022/23. He missed the first 24 games of the season with a knee injury, but he played in his 35th game on Friday night versus Cleveland and appears on track to play his most games since 2018/19, when he suffered a major quad injury. As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, Oladipo has struggled with inconsistency on offense, but has played solid defense thus far. “Everybody goes through stuff, everybody goes things,” the Heat guard said. “It’s about how you have resolve and how resilient you are, it really defines who you are as a person and defines who you are as a man. So I’m just going to continue to keep getting better and staying aggressive.”
  • The Heat signed a couple of frontcourt veterans last month in Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, which removed Orlando Robinson from the rotation. The rookie center, who is on a two-way deal with Miami, only has four active games remaining as part of his contract, so the temporary plan is to send Robinson back to the G League for playing time, Chiang writes in a subscriber-only story for The Miami Herald. The Heat have enough wiggle room beneath the tax line to convert Robinson to a standard deal if they want to, but the problem is their 15-man roster is full, so they don’t appear to be in any rush on that decision, Chiang notes.
  • Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link) believes it’s time for the Magic to move on from Jonathan Isaac, who underwent season-ending adductor surgery after appearing in just 11 games. Bianchi heaps praise on Isaac off the court and believes he has plenty of potential on it, but says his lengthy injury history makes it too risky to keep him around. Isaac missed all of ’20/21 and ’21/22 while recovering from a torn ACL, and missed a significant amount of time in his first three seasons as well. The 25-year-old’s contract for next season is partially guaranteed for $7.6MM, but it would be “silly” to bring him back and pay him his full $17.4MM salary, according to Bianchi.

Heat Notes: Standing Pat, Lowry, Butler, Yurtseven, Westbrook

There are numerous factors why the Heat have not added a veteran player via trade or free agency for nearly eight months, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Topping the list for the Heat’s lack of activity is that all of their available trade assets, except for Caleb Martin, either regressed, stagnated, or got injured. Other factors include a lack of mid-range salaries to include in potential trades, and that fact that no All-Stars on other teams lobbied for a trade to Miami.

We have more on the Heat:

  • They were unable to move Kyle Lowry‘s salary before the trade deadline and there’s concern how well the veteran point guard can move physically the rest of the season, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reports. Lowry has been dealing with left knee soreness and he could be sidelined for several weeks as he continues to receive treatment. He hasn’t played since Feb. 2.
  • Jimmy Butler played this weekend in both games of a back-to-back for the first time since late October, Chiang notes. However, Nikola Jovic (lower back stress reaction), Victor Oladipo (right ankle sprain), Duncan Robinson (finger surgery) and Omer Yurtseven (left ankle surgery), as well as Lowry, remained sidelined. Coach Erik Spoelstra said that, among the injured players, only Oladipo has a chance to play before the All-Star break.
  • Yurtseven will be a free agent after the season and the team hopes he’ll provide a late-season boost, much like Oladipo did last season, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Yurtseven, who underwent ankle surgery in November, has been cleared for high-impact work. “I just like the progress,” Spoelstra said of Yurtseven. “Things in our center position are trending in a much better direction, for sure.”
  • The Heat have internally discussed adding Russell Westbrook in he chooses to take a buyout from the Jazz, according to Jackson. Westbrook may not make a decision about whether to go the buyout route until the All-Star break.

Injury Notes: O. Robinson, Williamson, Bagley, Beal

Heat backup center Orlando Robinson has only missed two games since fracturing his right thumb on January 31 in Cleveland, but the rookie big man is ready to return. Robinson said that he plans to suit up on Wednesday after receiving positive news from a doctor and testing out the thumb in practice, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

The Heat have listed Robinson as probable on their injury report for Wednesday, so it sounds like the team is comfortable having him play. Udonis Haslem and Dewayne Dedmon each spent one game as Miami’s backup center in Robinson’s absence, but Dedmon has since been traded and Haslem will almost certainly remain out of the rotation as long as Robinson’s good to go.

The injury news isn’t all positive for the Heat, however. Victor Oladipo (right ankle sprain) has been ruled out for a third consecutive game, and – as we relayed on TuesdayKyle Lowry will miss at least the next three contests due to knee soreness.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Pelicans head coach Willie Green said on Tuesday that he doesn’t think the team will have its opening night starting five available before the All-Star break, per Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). Currently, four of New Orleans’ five opening night starters are healthy, so Green’s update suggests Zion Williamson (right hamstring strain) won’t be back before All-Star weekend.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III has progressed to individual work as he makes his way back from surgery on his right hand, tweets James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. The team announced on January 5 that Bagley would be reevaluated in six weeks, so we can probably expect a more concrete update on his progress sometime late next week.
  • After missing the team’s last two games, Wizards star Bradley Beal (left foot soreness) practiced on Tuesday and has been upgraded to questionable for Wednesday’s contest vs. Charlotte, tweets Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (left ankle sprain), also listed as questionable, didn’t take part in Tuesday’s practice.

Heat Notes: Lowry, D. Robinson, Crowder, Oladipo

Kyle Lowry‘s second season with the Heat isn’t turning out the way he hoped, but the veteran guard doesn’t want to be anywhere else, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Lowry’s shooting percentages have declined since last season, and he’s been involved in fewer offensive possessions than at any time in the past 15 years.

Lowry has posted four single-digit scoring outings in the last two weeks and he hasn’t played at all in the fourth quarter of some close games. He has been mentioned in some recent trade talk, but the market appears limited for a 36-year-old guard with another year left on his contract at $29.7MM.

“I’ve been in trade rumors before,” Lowry said. “I have a very nice contract that can be moved. The organization believes in me and I’m glad to be here. “I want to stay. I enjoy this place. I picked this place. I feel we have a chance to always compete for a title. With Jimmy (Butler), Bam (Adebayo), Tyler (Herro) and (Erik Spoelstra) as a coach we always have an opportunity.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Duncan Robinson, who’s recovering from finger surgery, and Nikola Jovic, who’s dealing with a back issue, are both nearing their dates for reevaluation, Chiang notes in a separate story. Both players remained in Miami for the current four-game road trip, along with Omer Yurtseven, who is weeks away from a return after ankle surgery. Spoelstra said he considered bringing Robinson along, but he can get more rehab work done at the team facility. “Duncan was really pushing to get on this trip,” Spoelstra said. “We thought about it, because the fellowship is important. But the work that he’s able to do in our facility consistently trumps that and I think it will speed up the process for them to get to that next step, most of all, which we all want.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald teams with Chiang to examine the Heat’s trade assets heading into next week’s deadline. A Western Conference source tells them that Miami still has interest in acquiring Jae Crowder from the Suns, but Phoenix hasn’t been impressed with its offers so far and other teams appear to be in better position to make a deal for Crowder. Robinson has been offered to the Suns, according to Jackson and Chiang, but Miami has shown “no inclination” to put Caleb Martin on the table for Crowder.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel also evaluates Miami’s trade potential and says the team faces a challenging decision on Victor Oladipo, who has outplayed his current $8.8MM salary and seems likely to turn down his $9.5MM player option for 2023/24.

Heat Notes: Trade Targets, Crowder, Collins, Lowry, Oladipo

The Heat are very active on the trade market, Sean Deveney of reports. An obvious area to upgrade would be power forward, with the Hawks’ John Collins a potential target. However, there’s concern within the organization that Collins may not be a great fit alongside Bam Adebayo due to his perimeter shooting issues.

The Suns rejected an offer of Duncan Robinson for Jae Crowder, but Caleb Martin could be substituted for Robinson with center Dewayne Dedmon tossed in to make the salaries work and keep Miami under the luxury tax, Deveney adds.

We have more on the Heat:

  • There are plenty of other potential trade options for a power forward but the Heat may have to include an asset or two they don’t want to give up, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. They’d certainly be willing to move Robinson’s contract and Dedmon. They may also have to add Martin or Nikola Jovic into the package, as well one or two protected first-round picks, to get an impact player at that spot.
  • While a Kyle Lowry trade can’t be ruled out, the Heat aren’t actively looking to move him, Jackson adds in the same story.
  • After hovering around the .500 mark most of the season, the Heat are a season-best four games over .500. Better health has been a factor and Udonis Haslem believes the team can go on a run, he told Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We’ve been right there. So many games coming down to the last shot even with a decimated roster,” the veteran big man said. “So sometimes you got to look within the lesson. The lesson is, I think, once we get healthy, we’re building some good habits and we’ll be able to put something together here. You look at how Boston started their first half of the season last year and it was similar. So if we get healthy, I think we’re still capable of putting something together here.”
  • Considering his past injury issues, Victor Oladipo is surprised he’s logged 30-plus minutes in eight of his last 10 games, he told Chiang. “A little bit, I can’t lie,” Oladipo said of playing extended minutes this season. “But sitting back and really reflecting, you see how much work I put in and how much I invest in my body. So it’s no surprise that I’m still feeling good, and I’m going to continue to keep feeling better as the year goes on.” Oladipo only played 25 minutes in a lopsided win over New Orleans on Wednesday.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Oladipo, Highsmith, Vincent

Heat reserve big man Dewayne Dedmon spoke to reporters on Saturday for the first time about his recent suspension, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Dedmon was suspended for one game by the team after getting into an argument with coaches on the sidelines and swatting a massage gun onto the court during play.

“I talked with [head coach Erik Spoelstra], talked with [team president Pat Riley], talked with my team, made sure we were all on the same page,” Dedmon said. “And we’re ready to move on from it… Sometimes it gets the best of you. But it’s basketball. We’re all competitors in this locker room, we all want to play and we all want to win. So that’s all that is.”

Chiang notes that Dedmon has lost his rotation spot as Bam Adebayo‘s primary backup as of late to undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson.

There’s more out of Miami:

  • The role Heat guard Victor Oladipo is playing as a defensive spark plug off the bench is exactly what Spoelstra had wanted the former All-Star to achieve prior to the regular season, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber-only link). “It’s what we envisioned,” Spoelstra said. “At the start of training camp, that’s the role we slotted for him.”
  • Heat reserve big Haywood Highsmith has performed well with starting power forward Caleb Martin injured, but Winderman notes in a recent mailbag (subscriber exclusive) that he is unsure if Highsmith will earn rotation minutes once everyone is healthy.
  • Spoelstra believes Heat swingman Gabe Vincent has evolved into a solid 3-and-D guard capable of playing either backcourt position this season, Chiang writes in another article. “He has the emotional stability to handle different roles that not every player in this league can accept,” Spoelstra raved. “He can play off the ball, he can play on the ball, he can play as a little bit more a scorer, he can be more of a facilitator if we have our full health. Those kind of guys are so invaluable in this league.” 

21 More NBA Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Sunday, January 15, which means that nearly two dozen players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Sunday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Thunder guard Isaiah Joe, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton (trade-eligible on Wednesday), and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (trade-eligible on Friday).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible before this season’s February 9 deadline, including Lakers star LeBron James. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.