If the Hornets were to fall out of the playoff picture, they could explore the trade market for 2019 free-agents-to-be like Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky, per Bonnell. However, it would require a major slump to slip out of the playoff race in the East, where the ninth-seeded Heat have an 11-16 record.
Trevor Ariza isn’t the only veteran trade candidate the Lakers have looked into acquiring, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney details, the Lakers have also been eyeing players like Wayne Ellington and Terrence Ross as they look to shore up their depth on the wing.
Rival executives tell Deveney that the Lakers have been among the “most aggressive pursuers” of trades in the early going this season. While the front office doesn’t want to give up its top young prospects for a short-term fix and likely won’t make a deal that compromises the team’s 2019 cap flexibility, the Lakers want to fortify their rotation in order to give this year’s club a chance to make a deep playoff run, writes Deveney.
Ellington, who signed a one-year, $6.27MM deal with the Heat during the 2018 offseason, has the power to veto any trade, but might welcome a move to a contender if Miami continues to struggle. Sources tell Deveney that the Heat would be open to sending the veteran sharpshooter to a playoff team for a first-round pick — that’s a lot to ask for a role player on an expiring contract, but if the pick has protections and Miami takes back an unwanted contract, it may not be unrealistic.
Meanwhile, although Deveney identifies Ross as another potential target, he concedes that the 27-year-old Magic swingman may have too much value to be a realistic option for the Lakers, given what Los Angeles is willing to surrender in a potential trade. Ross, who is also in a contract year, is enjoying the best season of his career, with career highs so far in PPG (14.1) and FG% (.453), among other categories.
There has also been chatter that the Lakers may pursue another big man, per Deveney, though he acknowledges that’s unlikely. There aren’t as many viable frontcourt targets on the trade market, and after signing Tyson Chandler earlier this season, L.A. probably has a stronger need for wing depth.
After a decade and a half as competitors and teammates, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are preparing for their final meeting tomorrow night, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Wade, who hasn’t relented on plans to retire after this season, will travel with the Heat to meet LeBron and the Lakers in L.A.
“It’s bitter, and it’s sweet,” James said. “It’s sweet and sour. The sweet part about it is I’ve always loved being on the same floor with my brother. We struck up a relationship together at the combine in 2003, and it started from there. And the sour part about it is that this is our last time sharing the same court.”
James was destined for stardom as the top pick in the 2003 draft. Wade was taken at No. 5 and quickly established himself as an All-Star in Miami. They won a pair of championships as teammates with the Heat, then briefly reunited last season in Cleveland. Wade’s retirement will leave Kyle Korver and Zaza Pachulia as the only other active members of the 2003 draft class.
“The older I get and the more I’m in the game, I gain even that much more respect for these guys — the legends that we’re starting to lose along the way,” said Lakers center Tyson Chandler. “… You cherish every moment you get to compete against those type of competitors.”
There’s more Lakers news to pass along:
- Brandon Ingram‘s sprained left ankle will keep him out of action longer than expected, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. The team’s second-leading scorer at 15.2 PPG, Ingram will miss at least another week. “We really just miss the fact that we keep losing out on a great opportunity for our team to kind of find that rhythm together,” coach Luke Walton said. “Every time we start to find a little bit of a rhythm, we lose a big piece.”
- Rajon Rondo is still experiencing swelling in his broken right hand, tweets Mike Trudell of NBA.com. However, the swelling is considered normal and isn’t a sign that Rondo’s recovery will take longer than expected. He was given a four- to five-week projection to return after the November 15 operation.
- A brief experience with the Memphis Tigers provided Walton with the inspiration to become an NBA coach, relays Jason Munz of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Walton joined a former Arizona teammate on the college team’s staff during the 2011 lockout. “I went back and played for a few years after that,” Walton said, “but it was pretty evident to me after that that coaching was what I wanted to do when I got done playing.”
In last night’s loss to the Magic, Heat center Hassan Whiteside left the bench early during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter and did not return. Per ESPN, head coach Erik Spoelstra was not given an explanation at the time, surmising that Whiteside was “probably extremely upset like we all are.”
However, teammate Dwyane Wade provided a more detailed explanation, telling reporters that Whiteside simply left the bench area to return to the locker room early because he had to go to the bathroom, which Whiteside confirmed today, per David Furones of the Sun-Sentinel.
“I didn’t know it was going to be as big of a deal as it was. I couldn’t hold it. My stomach was bothering me,” Whiteside said. “I had to go to the bathroom. I’m sorry if that makes me a bad guy.”
Despite Whiteside’s explanation, Spoelstra apparently still wasn’t happy, perhaps not believing that the center’s absence was completely caused by stomach issues. Per Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Whiteside was disciplined internally.
“It’s totally unacceptable behavior by Hassan,” Spoelstra said. “We handled it, as a team, in the locker room today. That’s all any of you need to know.”
Whiteside, who averaged just 25.3 minutes per game last season, his lowest since his first season with the Heat in 2014/15, has so far logged a similar 26.9 minutes per game this season. However, both his rebound and block numbers are up, with his 13.7 RPG good enough for third in the NBA behind Andre Drummond and DeAndre Jordan.
Several teams have gotten off to slow starts across the league, most notably the Rockets, Jazz, Celtics and Wizards. The Heat are another team that has been somewhat overlooked in that conversation, as they are off to a 7-12 start. Perhaps many overlook the Heat because they are used to slow starts from them (who could forget the 11-30 first half two seasons ago?). Maybe it’s the fact that the Heat are in the Eastern Conference, which should keep them in the playoff picture throughout the entire season.
Regardless, the Heat are struggling as a result of a poor offense, inconsistent play and injuries. Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington have all missed several games. As a result, the Heat have had to mix and match lineups and rotations throughout the season, which certainly hasn’t helped their offense.
The Heat currently own the 26th-ranked offense, which is holding back a team that provides effort and defense on a nightly basis (they currently have the 11th-best defense).
As the Heat continue to get healthy and get their ideal rotation on the court, one would expect them to step things up and squeeze into the playoffs. However, with the Hornets and Pistons playing relatively well and looking like potential playoff teams, the Heat may have to battle the Wizards for that final playoff spot (assuming the Magic fall back down to earth).
What do you think? Do you think that this slow start for the Heat is just a result of injuries? Or is this a sign of things to come this season? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section!
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Even with Dwyane Wade back after his personal leave, the Heat find themselves a little short on backcourt playmakers, as Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters are all on the shelf due to various injuries. Miami has an open roster spot and could temporarily add a guard on a non-guaranteed contract to provide some depth, but has shown no interest in doing so for the time being.
While the luxury-tax penalties tied to any signing are surely a consideration for the Heat, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel suggests the team’s preference to stick with a 14-man roster for now is more about finding minutes for players who might otherwise be buried in Miami’s deep rotation.
As Winderman points out, adding a veteran point guard could have a domino effect on the rest of the lineup, potentially costing players like Wayne Ellington or even Bam Adebayo some playing time. It remains unclear when the Heat’s guards will return to action, but lengthy absences for Dragic and Johnson seem unlikely, so the club is in no rush to add reinforcements.
Here’s more on the Heat:
- The 6-11 Heat have dropped nine of their last 12 games and the need for a roster shakeup in Miami has “never been more obvious,” writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The Heat will likely contact the Wizards to check in on players like John Wall and Bradley Beal, according to Jackson, who hears that Miami holds Beal in particularly high regard. However, Jackson suggests it’s hard to imagine the Heat putting together an appealing enough package for Beal, and they’d probably only have interest in Wall if they could dump a couple of their own unwanted contracts.
- In a pair of Ask Ira features this week, Winderman dug into the Heat’s decision to sit Kelly Olynyk on Tuesday and explored the likelihood of a trade involving Wayne Ellington.
- Earlier this week, Josh Richardson was fined $25K by the NBA for throwing his shoe into the stands during a loss to the Lakers, according to a press release from the league.
Dwyane Wade isn’t open to a suggestion by Heat president Pat Riley that he play until age 40, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Wade, 36, is in the middle of his 16th and probably final NBA season, which he has dubbed a “One Last Dance” retirement tour. But Riley claimed last week that Wade still has a lot of basketball left.
“I got to get him to play another three more years,” Riley said. “I want him to get to 40. If he has a great year, he might not fall out of love with the game. He might want to just stay in it. That’s my goal.”
Wade has been away from the team on paternity leave for the past seven games and wasn’t aware of Riley’s comments until yesterday, but he doesn’t seem receptive to the idea.
“I appreciate him thinking that,” Wade said. “Could I be swayed? I don’t think so. Not at this point.”
Beyond the sentimental value Wade has to the Heat organization, he remains a productive player. In the 10 games he has played this season, he is putting up a 13.4/3.8/2.8 line in about 24 minutes per night.
Wade is looking forward to retirement to spend more time with his family, including his newborn daughter. She’s too young for an airplane trip, and Miami’s schedule won’t give Wade much free time for the rest of the season.
Wade admits that Riley can be very persuasive, saying “It’s always a chance of everything,” but adds, “I know the chance is very, very, very, very, very slim. I’ve got my mind made up.”
“I’m just going to finish this year out,” he said. “I want to get back into the groove I was in before I left, just for my body feeling great, and just continue to enjoy the game and play the game the way I know I can, even at this age, even in my role, even in my minutes.”
Wade also noted that this isn’t the first time Riley has brought up the idea of playing until 40.
“The one thing is, he said that a long time ago,” Wade said. “He always said he wanted me to play until I was 40. And even when I was 30 I laughed at him, like, ‘It’s no way possible.’ So he continues to have that. I appreciate that.”