Heat president Pat Riley felt it was time to invest in his own roster after he failed to sign top-level free agents in recent years, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. “Once we didn’t land Kevin Durant or didn’t land Gordon Hayward, then it was time to sort of move on from searching for room and at the same time holding your other players hostage,” Riley said. “To move into a two- or three-year window with young players that we drafted and others who we thought were on-the-brink-to-make-it veterans that hadn’t made it somewhere else. What we came up with and what we found out is that we have a very, very competitive team.”
The Heat missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years this spring, heading into the offseason with more questions about their roster than answers.
The steady decline in playing time for Hassan Whiteside, potential position change for Justise Winslow and important draft in June are among Miami’s biggest factors to address, and that’s without including Goran Dragic‘s player option decision or Dion Waiters‘ major weight loss goal.
“I would like to continue to grow within that point guard role [next season], but I don’t want the narrative to be between me and Goran, us fighting for that position,” Winslow said, as relayed by David Furones of the Sun Sentinel.
Winslow started at point guard with Dragic sidelined for part of the season, then failed to find a defined role upon his return.
Miami has a strong coaching staff and front office regime capable of turning the ship around, but the absence of future Hall-of-Famer Dwyane Wade will surely leave a void. The team will look to regroup in the offseason with hopes of contending for the playoffs next year.
“The time without him was different, but I think we showed ourselves that we’re capable,” Heat guard Josh Richardson said of Wade. “We’re all wiser, better basketball players, so I’m excited to see how this summer and everything plays out.”
There’s more today from the Southeast Division:
- The Heat could benefit from waiting one year before striking in free agency, Ira Winderman writes in his mailbag for the Sun Sentinel. Aside from lacking cap space (unless Whiteside and Dragic opt out), Miami could use next season to further develop the likes of Richardson, Winslow, Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr. before placing a major focus on the open market.
- Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines the potential landing spots for Hornets guard Kemba Walker, who’s set to enter unrestricted free agency in July. Along with the Hornets, Walker has been linked to the Knicks, Mavericks and Pacers throughout the season. “I have no feeling right now, I don’t know,” Walker said of his impending decision, according to ESPN. “Honestly, I don’t know what to expect. I guess it’s a lot of different emotions bottled up into one. I’m not sure. I don’t know.”
- The Hornets must show Walker how they’re going to win next season and beyond if they hope to re-sign him this summer, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. “I want to win; I want to win,” Walker said during his player interviews. When asked what the Hornets need to do in order to keep him, Walker replied, “They know,” according to Bonnell.
2:28pm: Members of the Lakers’ front office will travel to meet with Williams sometime after Game 2 of the Sixers’ playoff series, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
2:14pm: The Lakers have received permission to talk to Heat assistant Juwan Howard about their head coaching vacancy, tweets ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. An interview will probably take place next week, she adds.
Howard is the third name to appear in the Lakers’ coaching search since they parted ways with Luke Walton on Friday. L.A. also plans to discuss the job with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue next week and has gotten permission from the Sixers to interview assistant coach Monty Williams.
Earlier today, we told you that Howard and Jamahl Mosley will interview to replace Larry Drew in Cleveland
1:32pm: The Cavs also plan to interview Utah’s Alex Jensen and Portland’s David Vanterpool when their teams are done with the playoffs, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link).
12:55pm: Heat assistant Juwan Howard and Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley will be the first two candidates to interview for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Both interviews are expected this week.
Cavs GM Koby Altman plans to go through a long list of candidates before hiring a replacement for Larry Drew, Woj adds. The team will start with assistant coaches on teams that didn’t reach the playoffs.
Howard has been part of Erik Spoelstra’s staff in Miami since retiring from the NBA in 2013. Mosley was an assistant in Cleveland for four seasons before leaving for Denver in 2014.
At a press conference today, team president Pat Riley said he would have signed both players for two seasons instead of four if Miami had been able to land free agent targets Kevin Durant or Gordon Hayward. Once Durant picked the Warriors and Hayward signed with the Celtics, Riley agreed to longer contracts with both Johnson and Waiters.
“On July 1, I didn’t want to be left with nobody,” he said. “After five days of Gordon having to make a decision, I didn’t want to lose some players we had. I do know James had a deal [elsewhere if Miami didn’t sign him]. It was my decision. I didn’t want to lose all three of them.”
“We weren’t thinking of room after we lost Kevin Durant and Hayward,” Riley said. “We were thinking we had that 30-11 team come back [Miami’s record in the second half of the 2016/17 season]. We thought the contracts we gave were long-term contracts. That’s on me. You can put that all on me. We didn’t land Hayward and I didn’t want [to lose] the other two guys.”
Riley covered a wealth of topics during today’s session with the media. Here are a few, courtesy of Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald:
- Even if the Lakers were to make an offer, Riley won’t consider going to L.A. to take over for Magic Johnson. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team,” he said. “I have a lot of friends inside the organization. … But I’m not going to be a part of that.”
- Riley wants coach Erik Spoelstra to find ways to get Whiteside and Bam Adebayo on the court at the same time. Despite being Miami’s highest-paid player, Whiteside averaged just 17 minutes per night over the final 19 games.
- Riley said Waiters was slowed all season after ankle surgery and was “playing this year on 1 1/2 ankles.” He added that conditioning will be vital for Waiters next season. “I talked to him yesterday,” Riley said. “He knows. He has five months. If he gets his conditioning to world class condition, he can get back [to where he was for 25 excellent games two years ago]. I’m confident he will do it. His career is on the line.”
- No matter what happens, tanking won’t be part of the Heat’s plans, Riley insists, noting how hard it is to fall into the bottom five in the league.
- Riley encourages Udonis Haslem to take some time to decide whether he wants to return next season. Haslem has barely played over the past three years, but the Heat are willing to give him a roster spot for the veteran leadership he provides.
- Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten, who were both signed through 2020/21 in the closing days of the season, may have a future with the team. “I give Duncan and Yante As,” Riley said. “They dominated the [G-League] the way you want them to dominate. That was the best team in the league for a while. We think both of them can develop and you don’t know how far they can go.”
- Unless they get lucky in the lottery, the Heat will have the 13th pick in the draft, but Riley is optimistic they can find a contributor there. “I am not going to name names, but I’ve seen 30 players that are very good players,” he said. “At 13, I do think we would get something equivalent to who we have on our team right now, Bam, Justise [Winslow], Josh [Richardson] and Derrick Jones Jr.”
- Riley called Dwyane Wade‘s final season “pure love” as the Heat said goodbye to their all-time leading scorer.
The NBA’s draft order is determined by the league’s reverse standings for that year, with the first four spots in the draft up for grabs via the lottery. However, when two teams finish the season with identical records, an additional step is necessary.
In order to determine which of those tied teams will move ahead of the other(s) in the draft order, the NBA conducts tiebreakers via random drawings. The league completed the random drawings for 2019’s tiebreakers today, and we have the results below. Let’s dive in…
Tiebreaker No. 1:
- Teams: Phoenix Suns vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63)
- Draft positions: 2-3
- Winner: Cavaliers
Tiebreaker No. 2:
- Teams: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49)
- Draft positions: 7-9
- Winner: Pelicans
- Second place: Grizzlies
- Note: Grizzlies’ pick will go to Celtics if it falls outside top eight; Mavericks’ pick will go to the Hawks if it falls outside top five.
Tiebreaker No. 3:
- Teams: Sacramento Kings vs. Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets (39-43)
- Draft positions: 12-14
- Winner: Hornets
- Second place: Heat
- Note: Kings’ pick belongs to Celtics (or Sixers if it’s No. 1).
Tiebreaker No. 4:
- Teams: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic (42-40)
- Draft positions: 16-17
- Winner: Magic
Tiebreaker No. 5:
- Teams: Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs vs. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
- Draft positions: 18-20
- Winner: Pacers
- Second place: Spurs
- Note: Clippers’ pick belongs to Celtics.
Tiebreaker No. 6:
- Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Boston Celtics (49-33)
- Draft positions: 21-22
- Winner: Thunder
Tiebreaker No. 7:
- Teams: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets (53-29)
- Draft positions: 25-26
- Winner: Trail Blazers
- Note: Rockets’ pick belongs to Cavaliers.
Teams’ lottery odds didn’t really change as a result of today’s tiebreakers. In instances where two or more lottery teams finish with identical records, the lottery combinations are split evenly among them, with the tiebreaker winner getting one extra combination if there’s an odd number.
However, today’s results were still important. As a result of ending up at No. 8, for instance, the Grizzlies now have a 57.4% chance of retaining their own top-eight protected pick, something they don’t really want to do unless it jumps into the top four.
The Celtics, who already have three first-round selections for 2019 and would prefer to roll that Memphis pick over to 2020, will get it if it falls outside of the top eight. There’s only a 42.6% chance that will happen. The Grizzlies’ result was the only good news today for the Celtics, who lost their other three tiebreakers.
The pre-lottery 2019 draft order for the first round is listed below. For more information on the lottery odds for the top 14 teams, be sure to check out our recap from Thursday, as well as our glossary entry on the draft lottery. This year’s lottery will take place on Tuesday, May 14.
- New York Knicks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Phoenix Suns
- Chicago Bulls
- Atlanta Hawks
- Washington Wizards
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Note: The Celtics will receive this pick if it falls out of the top eight (42.6% chance).
- Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)
- Note: The Mavericks will keep this pick if it moves up into the top four (26.2% chance).
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Charlotte Hornets
- Miami Heat
- Boston Celtics (via Sacramento Kings)
- Note: The Sixers will receive this pick if it moves up to No. 1 (1.0% chance).
- Detroit Pistons
- Orlando Magic
- Brooklyn Nets
- Indiana Pacers
- San Antonio Spurs
- Boston Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers)
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Boston Celtics
- Utah Jazz
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Cleveland Cavaliers (via Houston Rockets)
- Brooklyn Nets (via Denver Nuggets)
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors)
- Milwaukee Bucks
Information from Tankathon.com was used in the creation of this post.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside isn’t the only Miami veteran with a player option decision to make this offseason. As Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes, point guard Goran Dragic will also need to make a choice as to whether he will opt in to his $19.2MM salary for the 2019/20 season or test the open market.
Dragic believes it’s still too early to make a decision on next year, stating that he will first need to speak with his family and agent to determine what the best next step will be. “There’s a lot of factors,” Dragic said. “I’ll try to do what is best for my career, for my family. It’s going to require to talk a lot and see from there what’s going to be best.”
When specifically asked whether the player option decision will be a difficult one, Dragic had a straightforward response. “I mean, if it would be a simple decision, probably I would already know now. So, yeah.”
There is more out of South Beach tonight:
- Within the same article, Chiang also notes that the Heat, tied for the best record among lottery teams, only have a 4.7 percent chance at landing one of the top-four picks in this year’s draft (1.0 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, 1.1 percent chance at the No. 2 pick, 1.2 percent chance at the No. 3 pick, and a 1.4 percent chance at the No. 4 pick).
- In a Q&A piece, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel notes that the Heat probably made a bad decision when they decided to let Rodney McGruder go for financial reasons. The Heat have built their organization on the premise of a certain culture, and making a decision premised on finances rather than basketball flies in the face of that culture.
- In another piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman writes that 16-year veteran forward Udonis Haslem will need some time to decompress before deciding whether to return for another season. Head coach Erik Spoelstra hopes Haslem returns, saying “He’s sacrificed as much as anybody, obviously. But UD can still play. He still can. We see it all the time in practices. We have a bunch of young bigs that he’s really taken on ownership to mentor and to help develop and everything.”
The Heat have filled the final open spot on their 15-man roster by signing guard Kendrick Nunn, the team announced today (via Twitter). No corresponding roster move was necessary to make room for Nunn, whose deal with Miami was first reported by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
An undrafted rookie out of Oakland University, Nunn signed a camp deal with the Warriors last summer and spent the preseason with Golden State before reporting to the team’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.
In 49 G League games this season, he averaged 19.3 PPG on .473/.335/.856 shooting off the bench, to go along with 3.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.4 SPG. Those sort of scoring numbers are nothing new for Nunn, who racked up 25.9 PPG during his last college season in 2017/18.
As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel confirms (via Twitter), Nunn’s contract resembles the multiyear pacts signed by Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson within the last few days. Those deals, which run through 2020/21, are non-guaranteed beyond this season, but include offseason trigger dates.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside has the ability to reach the open market this summer if he opts out of the final year of the four-year contract he signed back in 2016. However, he’s unlikely to get the sort of payday in free agency that would make it worthwhile to decline his $27MM+ player option for 2019/20.
Still, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes, Whiteside doesn’t view the decision as automatic, telling reporters on Wednesday that he plans to give the matter some thought in the coming weeks.
“I’m definitely going to weigh my options,” Whiteside said. “It’s definitely a decision I got to make and do the best for me. I feel like if I’m playing, I’m going to produce so it will take care of itself.”
Having been displaced by Bam Adebayo in Miami’s starting lineup, Whiteside saw his playing time dip to just 23.3 minutes per contest in 2018/19, his lowest mark since he joined the Heat in 2014. That number dropped even further, to 17.3 MPG, in the 19 games since the start of March. And while the 29-year-old didn’t publicly gripe about his role during the season, he made it clear today that he believes he’s capable of more.
“I don’t think I’m a 20-minute guy,” Whiteside said, per Jackson. “I average what, 20 minutes? So I think I can play more and I can do more. So I definitely think what I bring to the game is at a high level for my position. You know, I led the league in categories that you would want a big man to lead the league in. I feel like I can keep doing that.”
Whiteside’s overall numbers – 12.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 1.9 BPG – were down from previous years, but as he hints at, his per-minute production was strong. According to Basketball-Reference’s data, the Heat center led the league in rebounds per 36 minutes and ranked fifth in blocks per 36 minutes.