- Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. have been effective as starters during the first two games, which further complicates the long-range plan for the Heat’s rotation, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington currently sidelined, finding enough playing time for rotation-worthy players hasn’t been an issue, Winderman continues. When those players return, Miami will have 13 players who arguably should be in the rotation, Winderman adds.
When the Kings sign Troy Williams to a two-way contract after he clears waivers today, as is expected, they’ll become the 16th NBA team to fill all 17 of their available roster spots, with 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way pacts.
Still, that will leave nearly half of the league’s teams that will still have at least one opening on their rosters, either on the standard 15-man squad or in their two-way slots.
For many clubs, that decision is primarily financially motivated. Teams like the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Raptors, and Wizards all project to have pricey luxury tax bills at season’s end, so there’s no need for them to push those projected penalties higher by carrying an extra player they won’t use.
Other teams may simply prefer to preserve some roster flexibility rather than carrying a full 15-man squad. The Lakers, for instance, aren’t close to the tax line, but have an open roster spot for now. That could allow the team to make a trade or signing later to fortify its roster without costing anyone a job.
Listed below, with the help of our roster counts breakdown, are the teams that aren’t carrying full rosters.
Teams with an open 15-man roster spot:
- Charlotte Hornets
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Golden State Warriors
- Houston Rockets
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Miami Heat
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards
- Note: The Wizards have two open roster spots and will need to fill one of them by October 30.
Teams with an open two-way slot:
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Note: The Blazers have two open two-way slots.
- San Antonio Spurs
Heat swingman Josh Richardson hasn’t expressed any dissatisfaction or requested a trade like Jimmy Butler has in Minnesota, but he has still been the subject of several trade rumors this fall since he’s viewed as the potential centerpiece of a Miami trade for Butler. Speaking to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Richardson acknowledged that the NBA is a “cutthroat business” but added that he’s trying not to let the speculation affect him.
“For like the first hour, I was hearing from everyone,” Richardson said, referring to when his name first came up in the Butler rumors. “But after that, it is what it is. I don’t get too much into it. When it first came out a little bit, yeah, it was hard to ignore.”
Richardson, who added that the trade chatter was “a distraction at first,” hasn’t demonstrated any signs of being bothered by those rumors during his first two games of the 2018/19 season. The 25-year-old has poured in 24.5 PPG to go along with 4.5 RPG and 4.0 APG so far, showing exactly why the Timberwolves insisted on including him in a potential deal for Butler.
Minnesota’s Butler trade talks are “mostly dormant” at the moment, and multiple reports have suggested that Heat president Pat Riley told his players before the season that he has pulled the plug on Miami’s involvement in those discussions — at least for now. With Butler still expected to be moved by the February trade deadline, Richardson isn’t totally safe in South Beach yet, but for the time being, he’s welcoming his increased role in the Heat’s offensive attack.
“I pretty much embrace it now,” Richardson said of being Miami’s leading man on offense, per Winderman. “I had a whole summer of it and at times it was like that last year. So I’m pretty much used to it.”
Heat president Pat Riley met with the team’s players this week and explained that he is “pulling the plug” on a potential Jimmy Butler trade, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Riley did not state a future trade was completely off the table.
The Heat and Timberwolves have discussed several packages centered around Butler in recent weeks, with Minnesota eager to acquire young players Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo in any potential deal. The Athletic’s Shams Charania (link) first reported the Heat’s plans to start the season with its current roster.
Butler played in the Timberwolves’ season opener in San Antonio on Wednesday, competing alongside Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns in the starting five. His grit-and-grind style appeals to a hardworking team like the Heat, explaining their longstanding interest in his services. It’s unclear whether Miami will revisit these discussions with Minnesota before the NBA’s trading deadline.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- Magic coach Steve Clifford believes the team has enough talent to make the postseason, Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel writes. The team features a fearsome frontcourt headlined by Aaron Gordon, Mohamed Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic.
- Jordan McRae has a leg up in the race for the Wizards‘ 14th roster spot, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington must fill that spot soon after trading Jodie Meeks, so McRae could have his two-way contract converted into a standard deal.
- The Wizards have made a series of changes to their coaching staff, the team announced in a press release this week. Robert Pack and Ryan Richman will join the front of the bench, with Kristi Toliver joining the back of the bench as an assistant. Alex McLean and Landon Tatum were also promoted to assistant coaches.
- Both Wojnarowski and Lowe raved about Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, with Woj suggesting that Spoelstra could command $10MM annually as a “free agent” coach. An executive from a rival team asked Lowe last season if he thought the Heat would be willing to part with Spoelstra for a first-round pick — both Woj and Lowe agree that they wouldn’t.
With the 2018/19 season officially underway, the Jimmy Butler trade talks that were so active in the weeks leading up to opening night are “mostly dormant” for the time being, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The Heat were the most aggressive suitor for Butler during the preseason, having nearly reached a deal with the Timberwolves that would have sent Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected first-round pick to Minnesota for the All-NBA swingman. However, according to Charania, Heat president Pat Riley informed his players a few days before the regular season began that the club planned to stick with its current roster for now.
While the Timberwolves aren’t close to any deals involving Butler at the moment, trade discussions figure to pick back up at some point. Team owner Glen Taylor confirmed earlier this week that he and the 29-year-old reached an understanding — Butler will play hard for the Wolves while the team continues to seek out a trade package for him.
If and when those trade talks resume, Miami still looks like a prime landing spot. Marc Stein of The New York Times also noted earlier this week that “rumbles persist” about the Rockets maintaining serious interest in trading for Butler, despite the Wolves’ aversion to helping Houston build another super-team in the Western Conference.
Although Butler isn’t necessarily happy to still be in Minnesota, he has been making an effort to display leadership and help out his teammates by easing the pressure from head coach Tom Thibodeau, according to Charania.
“Just hoop, I told them, and I think that I can get Thibs to relax a little bit,” Butler said. “He’s never going to say anything about offense as long as you go down there and play with effort on the defensive end and get a couple stops. It’s whenever you’re not getting stops when he starts yelling. I think Thibs has calmed down a lot, and guys are playing with effort.”
Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2018 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2018/19 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Miami Heat.
- Standard contracts:
- Wayne Ellington: One year, $6.27MM. Re-signed using Early Bird rights.
- Derrick Jones: Two years, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
- Udonis Haslem: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
- Dwyane Wade: One year, minimum salary. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
- Two-way contracts:
- Non-guaranteed camp contracts:
- Charles Cooke: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Marcus Lee: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- DeAndre Liggins: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Malik Newman: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Rodney Purvis: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Raphiael Putney: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Jarnell Stokes: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Briante Weber: One year, minimum salary (waived).
- Justise Winslow: Signed three-year, $39MM extension. Third-year team option. Starts in 2019/20.
Other offseason news:
- Exercised 2019/20 team option on Bam Adebayo.
- Hired former NBA guard Anthony Carter as player development coach.
- Restructured front office.
Salary cap situation:
- Remained over the cap.
- Carrying approximately $130MM in guaranteed salaries.
- Projected tax bill of $9.72MM.
- Full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.34MM) still available.
Check out the Miami Heat’s full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.
Story of the summer:
Pat Riley and his front office didn’t have any draft picks and didn’t make any trades. The only four NBA free agents the Heat signed (Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Derrick Jones) were under contract with the team last season, and of those four players, only one (Jones) will earn noticeably more than he did last season, getting a bump from a two-way contract to the NBA veteran’s minimum.
Given the Heat’s relative inactivity, it was a move that didn’t get made that turned out to be the story of the team’s summer — or, more accurately, the fall. When Jimmy Butler‘s trade request went public in September, Miami quickly emerged as his top suitor, reportedly dangling a package that included Josh Richardson, a protected first-round pick, and Waiters for the All-NBA swingman.
The Heat and Timberwolves appeared multiple times to be on the verge of a deal, even exchanging medical information on the players involved in the proposed swap. However, Tom Thibodeau and the Wolves reportedly got cold feet, and Butler remains in Minnesota with each team’s regular season schedule now set to get underway.
The Wolves know that Butler doesn’t plan to re-sign with them next season, meaning it’s virtually inevitable that a deal will happen before the 2019 deadline. If and when it does, the Heat are in prime position to be the team on the other end of that trade. If Miami can land Butler, it won’t technically be an offseason move, but it would represent a significant roster shakeup for a club that essentially stood pat over the summer.
- Bobby Marks of ESPN.com passes along some interesting data on the NBA’s opening-night rosters, tweeting that the Nuggets, Knicks, and Trail Blazers have the youngest rosters, while the Rockets, Heat, and Mavericks are on the other end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the NBA announces that the opening-night rosters feature a total of 108 international players from 42 different countries and territories.
As usual, the 2018 NBA offseason featured plenty of player movement, with new rookies entering the league, free agents changing teams, and a total of 31 trades being completed between the end of the 2017/18 season and 2018/19’s opening night.
Some teams were more involved in that summer carousel than others. The Hawks, for instance, will enter the season carrying only seven players who finished last season with the team. The Suns will also bring back just seven players from last year’s squad, and that number figures to drop to six once the team completes its reported signing of Jamal Crawford, assuming Davon Reed is the odd man out.
Because teams are permitted to carry 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way deals, the maximum number of players a club could have brought back was 17. No team got that high, but the Heat and Jazz are each bringing back 14 players from last year’s rosters. Impressively, all 14 players on Miami’s standard roster are returning players — only the club’s two-way players are new.
[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Roster Counts]
While many teams turned over their two-way contract slots entirely, several clubs are bringing back those players, either keeping them on two-way deals or promoting them to their active rosters. The Nuggets, Bulls, Pacers, and Lakers are among the teams who retained both of their two-way players from last season.
[RELATED: 2018/19 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]
Listed below are the number of returning players for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, from most to fewest. Bringing back a significant number of players doesn’t necessarily lead to regular season success, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few of the teams near the top of this list enjoy fast starts due to their players’ familiarity with each other, while teams near the bottom of the list may take some time to get used to their changes.
Here’s the returning-player count for each team:
- Miami Heat: 14
- Utah Jazz: 14
- Boston Celtics: 13
- Chicago Bulls: 12
- Denver Nuggets: 12
- New York Knicks: 12
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 11
- Indiana Pacers: 11
- Philadelphia 76ers: 11
- Portland Trail Blazers: 11
- Sacramento Kings: 11
- Toronto Raptors: 11
- Charlotte Hornets: 10
- Detroit Pistons: 10
- Golden State Warriors: 10
- Note: Patrick McCaw remains a restricted free agent. The Warriors’ returning player count could increase to 11 if he re-signs.
- Los Angeles Clippers: 10
- Milwaukee Bucks: 10
- Dallas Mavericks: 9
- Memphis Grizzlies: 9
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 9
- New Orleans Pelicans: 9
- Oklahoma City Thunder: 9
- Orlando Magic: 9
- Washington Wizards: 9
- Brooklyn Nets: 8
- Houston Rockets: 8
- Los Angeles Lakers: 8
- San Antonio Spurs: 8
- Atlanta Hawks: 7
- Phoenix Suns: 7
The 2018/19 NBA regular season will get underway tomorrow, which means it’s time to get serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign. With the help of the lines from Bovada and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division, to have you weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.
Having already looked at the Atlantic, Central, Southwest, and Pacific divisions, we’re moving onto the Southeast today…
- 2017/18 record: 43-39
- Over/under for 2018/19: 45.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Wizards poll)
- 2017/18 record: 44-38
- Over/under for 2018/19: 43.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Heat poll)
- 2017/18 record: 36-46
- Over/under for 2018/19: 35.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Hornets poll)
- 2017/18 record: 25-57
- Over/under for 2018/19: 30.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Magic poll)
- 2017/18 record: 24-58
- Over/under for 2018/19: 23.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Hawks poll)
Previous voting results:
- Boston Celtics (59.5 wins): Over (53.63%)
- Toronto Raptors (55.5 wins): Over (56.95%)
- Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Under (51.19%)
- Brooklyn Nets (31.5 wins): Under (56.04%)
- New York Knicks (28.5 wins): Under (54.13%)
- Houston Rockets (56.5 wins): Over (69.33%)
- New Orleans Pelicans (45.5 wins): Under (53.4%)
- San Antonio Spurs (44.5 wins): Under (60%)
- Dallas Mavericks (34.5 wins): Over (55.16%)
- Memphis Grizzlies (34.5 wins): Under (60.87%)
- Indiana Pacers (47.5 wins): Over (62.04%)
- Milwaukee Bucks (47.5 wins): Over (73.7%)
- Detroit Pistons (38.5 wins): Over (56.36%)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (30.5 wins): Over (55.42%)
- Chicago Bulls (29.5 wins): Over (61.8%)
- Golden State Warriors (62.5 wins): Over (53.45%)
- Los Angeles Lakers (48.5 wins): Over (55.2%)
- Los Angeles Clippers (36.5 wins): Under (55.7%)
- Phoenix Suns (29.5 wins): Under (53.4%)
- Sacramento Kings (25.5 wins): Under (63.87%)