Miami Heat

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Seven Southeast Trade Candidates To Watch

The NBA trade deadline is just over three weeks away, and there’s no shortage of players around the league who could change teams. Over the next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of those top trade candidates, breaking them down by division.

While our focus will be primarily on teams expected to be sellers at the deadline, our lists may also include some players on contenders who could be used as trade chips when those teams look to make upgrades.

We’re examining the Southeast Division today, so let’s dive in and identify seven players who could be on the move on or before February 8…

  1. EvanFournier verticalEvan Fournier, SG (Magic): Fournier has been the subject of several trade rumors already in 2018. Marc Stein of the New York Times said this week that rival executives expect Orlando to actively shop him; Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders suggested last week that Fournier is the Magic player drawing the most trade interest from rival teams; and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier in January that the Pistons pursued a deal for the veteran sharpshooter. Fournier, who is scoring a career-high 18.0 PPG this season to go along with a very respectable .396 3PT%, would certainly be an intriguing addition to a contender, but his contract may complicate matters. He’s owed $17MM annually through at least 2019/20, with a $17MM player option for 2020/21. Matching that salary with contracts the Magic are willing to take on won’t necessarily be easy for Fournier’s suitors.
  2. Nikola Vucevic, C (Magic): Vucevic, Fournier’s frontcourt teammate, has the more palatable contract of the two — he’s earning $12.25MM this season and then will make $12.75MM in the final year of his deal in 2018/19. That single year of control beyond this season may make him attractive to teams that want more than a rental but prefer not to make long-term commitments. Vucevic is also enjoying a nice bounce-back year after struggling in 2016/17, averaging 17.4 PPG and 9.3 RPG. He has even added a semi-reliable three-point shot to his game. However, a broken hand suffered last month throws a wrench into the Magic‘s chances of moving Vucevic. That injury is expected to sideline the big man for six to eight weeks, which would put him on track to return around the time of the deadline, or right after it. Any team with interest in Vucevic will be keeping a very close eye on his recovery process over the next few weeks.
  3. Dewayne Dedmon, C (Hawks): While DeAndre Jordan‘s name has popped up in trade rumors more frequently, Dedmon looks to me like a more prudent investment for teams targeting centers. With an increased role in Atlanta this season, Dedmon is enjoying a career year, posting 10.8 PPG and 7.8 RPG. And after attempting just one three-pointer in his first four NBA seasons, Dedmon has made 16 of 39 (41.0%) from outside in 2017/18. Although he missed 19 games with a left tibia stress reaction, Dedmon is back on the court now, and at $6MM, his cap hit makes him an attractive target for contenders with potential luxury-tax concerns and a need at center, such as the Cavaliers and Bucks. The only downside is that his $6.3MM player option for 2018/19 means he’ll probably opt out this summer and would be a rental for any club acquiring him.
  4. Ersan Ilyasova, PF (Hawks): Like Dedmon, Ilyasova has a reasonable $6MM cap charge for this season, and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer. However, Ilyasova figures to receive interest from teams looking for a different sort of skill set — he won’t offer much rim protection or rebounding for a big man, but Ilyasova’s ability to shoot three-pointers (.393 3PT% this season) is valuable for a club looking to stretch the floor and give another frontcourt player more room to operate down low. A return to the Sixers might make some sense for Ilyasova. I could also see him fitting in with the Thunder in the role that Patrick Patterson has struggled to fill. Ilyasova is unlikely to push a team over the top, but he’s the sort of player who should be capable of making an important shot or two in the postseason.
  5. Marco Belinelli, SG (Hawks): Speaking of shot-makers, teams in need of outside shooting may prefer a backcourt option like Belinelli over a stretch four like Ilyasova. The Italian swingman has been as effective as ever from three-point range this year, making 39.2% of his attempts, and playing for a new team is unlikely to derail him — he’s currently suiting up for his eighth NBA squad, so he’s accustomed to bouncing around. At $6.6MM, Belinelli is yet another Hawk with an affordable expiring deal, and I expect him to be on the move in the coming weeks if Atlanta can extract a solid second-round pick from a trade partner.
  6. Marvin Williams, F (Hornets): Identifying the top trade candidates on the Hornets is tricky. Some of the team’s higher-paid players, including Nicolas Batum, have negative trade value, but Charlotte likely won’t want to move a bargain like Kemba Walker or a prospect like Malik Monk. If the team wants to cut long-term costs and avoid flirting with the luxury-tax line again next season, Williams would make the most sense as a trade chip. He’s well-compensated, but at $14MM in 2018/19 and $15MM (player option) in 2019/20, his contract isn’t as pricey or as lengthy as Batum’s. Williams is also enjoying an excellent season as a three-and-D wing in Charlotte, with career highs in FG% (.485) and 3PT% (.448). There haven’t been many rumors swirling around Williams yet, but the Hornets are generally active at the deadline, and the former UNC standout is one of a small handful of Charlotte players that would appeal to contenders — and that the Hornets might be open to moving.
  7. Hassan Whiteside, C (Heat): Whiteside’s super-sized contract, which will pay him $25.4MM next year and features a $27MM+ player option for 2019/20, would be a major roadblock to a deal. There have also been no legitimate indications that the Heat are interested in dealing him. Still, Bam Adebayo has been impressive in his rookie season, and Miami’s go-to fourth quarter lineups no longer include Whiteside. Since returning from his knee injury last month, Whiteside has averaged just 23.6 minutes per game, way down from the 32.6 he averaged last season. I don’t expect Whiteside to go anywhere at this point, but there are hints that the Heat would consider the possibility.

Here are a few more potential Southeast trade candidates to monitor:

  • Elfrid Payton, PG (Magic): Rival executives reportedly expect the Magic to shop Payton and Mario Hezonja.
  • Kent Bazemore, G/F (Hawks): Bazemore is said to be drawing some interest, and the Hawks are open to listening.
  • Justise Winslow, F (Heat): Winslow has been identified as a potential trade chip and probably makes more sense in a deal than Whiteside.
  • Kemba Walker, PG (Hornets): Walker almost certainly won’t be dealt by February 8, but the Hornets appear lottery-bound and the point guard’s free agency looms in 2019, so he’s worth watching.
  • Ian Mahinmi, C (Wizards): The Wizards surely wouldn’t mind moving Mahinmi and his over-sized contract, which is out of proportion with his modest role. He has negative value though, so Washington would likely have to attach draft picks to ship him out.

Heat Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception to gain extra cap flexibility in the wake of Dion Waiters‘ ankle injury, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Today was the last day for teams to apply for disabled player exceptions for the 2017/18 season.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, a disabled player exception gives a team some additional spending flexibility in the event that an NBA-designated physician determines an injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year. Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his ankle, so if the league agrees with the Heat’s medical assessment, the team will receive a DPE.

The amount of that disabled player exception is either half of the injured player’s salary or the amount of the mid-level exception, whichever is smaller. In the Heat’s case, the DPE would be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ $11MM salary. If the Heat are granted that exception, it wouldn’t give them an extra roster spot, and the league wouldn’t reimburse the team at all if it uses the exception. Nonetheless, a DPE can be a useful tool for clubs that have already used their cap room and/or mid-level exceptions.

Assuming they receive a disabled player exception, the Heat could use it to sign a free agent to a one-year deal, or to trade for (or claim) a player with one year left on his contract. It can only be used once, so if the club uses it to sign a player to a $2.5MM deal, the remaining $3MM wouldn’t be available.

The Heat would have to use the exception by March 12, the first business day after the typical March 10 deadline. So if Miami doesn’t use the DPE to acquire a player at the trade deadline, it could still come in handy on the buyout market.

The Celtics also hold a disabled player exception worth about $8.4MM, while the Nets are expected to be granted one that would be worth $6MM.

Last Day For Teams To Sign Two-Way Deals, Apply For DPEs

January 15 is an important date on the NBA calendar. As we outlined earlier this morning, it’s the day that several of the players who signed free agent deals in 2017 become trade-eligible for the first time on those new deals. In addition to being the first day that those players can be traded, January 15 is also the last day for teams to complete certain roster moves. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Last day for teams to sign players to two-way contracts:

If you were following Hoops Rumors over the weekend, you likely noticed a flurry of roster moves involving two-way contracts. That’s because January 15 represents the deadline for teams to sign players to two-way deals. If a club doesn’t finalize a two-way signing today, it can’t do so for the remainder of the 2017/18 league year.

A handful of two-way signings reported over the weekend – including the Lakersdeal with Gary Payton II and a pair of Pistons agreements – will need to be made official today. Additionally, the Bucks, Timberwolves, and Wizards each still have an open two-way slot, as our tracker shows, so if they don’t want to leave that second slot empty all season, they’ll need to fill it today.

Salaries for all two-way players will become fully guaranteed for 2017/18 on January 20.

Last day for teams to apply for a disabled player exception:

As our glossary entry on the disabled player exception explains, the DPE is a tool that can be granted to teams by the NBA. It gives a club a one-time cap exception that can be used to replace a player who suffered a season-ending injury.

The Celtics applied for and received a disabled player exception back in the fall after Gordon Hayward went down, but the Nets didn’t file for a DPE after Jeremy Lin‘s season-ending injury that same week. They’re expected to do so by today’s deadline, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Heat are also worth watching, since they’ll be eligible for a DPE if Dion Waiters is ruled out for the season, as is expected.

Community Shootaround: Hassan Whiteside

There is an element of uncertainty to Hassan Whiteside‘s role with the Heat. One can glean at least some semblance of understanding into how Erik Spoelstra views the big man through a series of post-game quotes from earlier this afternoon, Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Spoelstra was quick to praise Whiteside after a spirited third quarter on Sunday afternoon but didn’t ultimately play him down the stretch, citing the play of the team’s second unit.

He made a big-time effort on both ends of the court. Even those offensive tips where we didn’t score, he was burning calories and expending a lot of energy. Those extra, multiple efforts are inspiring. I really believe those inspire the players coming in the game,” Spoelstra said. “[…] The next challenge is to be consistent. I love what he did in the third quarter.

It’s unclear what will come of Whiteside’s time with the Heat. While he’s averaged a solid 13.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, he seems to have resigned to the fact that he may not enter games in fourth quarters.

When those guys are playing great, I don’t come in,” he said. “Those guys were playing great.”

The Heat currently sit 25-17, fourth in the Eastern Conference. That’s a dangerous spot for a team with a coach known for bringing out the most in his players.

While 28-year-old Whiteside would qualify by most accounts as the team’s top talent, they’ve played .500 basketball without him and could presumably net a piece or two to help them down the stretch if they were willing to move him.

Given that Whiteside’s current role with the squad is so unconventional, would the franchise be better off to gauge the trade market for the big man?

Weigh in on what you think the Heat will end up doing with their center below.

 

Waiters' Incentive Wouldn't Have Affected Luxury Tax

  • The Heat weren’t concerned about the $1.1MM bonus that Dion Waiters might have collected if he had remained healthy, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters needed to play 70 games to receive the incentive, which won’t happen now that he is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Miami put the bonus in his contract as a way to allow him to obtain his desired salary while leaving enough cap space to re-sign Wayne Ellington, Winderman explains, adding that the extra $1.1MM wouldn’t have pushed the team into the luxury tax.

Josh Richardson A 'Revelation'; Ways To Replace Dion Waiters

The Heat have watched Josh Richardson develop into a go-to perimeter player, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a video published at the newspaper’s website. Richardson’s numbers are up across the board and his presence has helped the team weather the Dion Waiters injury.

Richardson has averaged 12.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Heat this season, up to 17.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per in 15 December contests.

Not only has the swingman been a revelation for the positionless Heat, he’s shown an ability to hang with large NBA small forwards despite weighing just 200 pounds and playing through college as a 6’6″ point guard.

Season-Ending Surgery Expected For Dion Waiters

January 11, 5:01pm: After having received a second opinion in Los Angeles, Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his left ankle, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

January 10, 4:10pm: Heat guard Dion Waiters has been nagged for much of the season by a left ankle injury, an issue that has kept him out of action since December 22. While the club has moved forward with a non-surgical rehab program so far, Waiters recently sought out a second opinion, and a season-ending surgical procedure is one of the options he’s considering, an associate tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). No decisions have been made yet, however.

Waiters’ camp and the Heat figure to work in tandem to figure out the best approach for the 26-year-old, who has received multiple medical opinions, per Jackson. Waiters had suggested last month that offseason surgery may also be an option if he can make it through the 2017/18 campaign without having to go under the knife.

The injury has likely contributed to Waiters’ dip in production so far this season. After posting a .424 FG% and .395 3PT% in 2016/17, the former fourth overall pick has seen those shooting rates decline to .398 and .306 this year.

Waiters, who inked a new contract with the Heat back in July, is under contract through the 2020/21 season at a rate of nearly $12MM annually, so the club will be motivated to find the best long-term solution, rather than trying to rush him back onto the court. Still, ESPN’s Zach Lowe indicated in his latest piece that Waiters’ injury situation has created some tension in Miami. The two sides hope to have some clarity on the issue this week or next week, per Lowe.

No matter how the Heat and Waiters choose to address his ankle injury, the veteran guard appears extremely unlikely to cash in on his $1.1MM games-played bonus for this season. Waiters would have to appear in 70 games to receive that money, and he has already missed 10 of 40 contests.

Potential Return In Whiteside Trade May Be Limited

If the Heat decide to deal Hassan Whiteside, they may find his trade value is lower than expected, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami hasn’t expressed a desire to move Whiteside, but Jackson believes it could happen if rookie Bam Adebayo and free agent addition Kelly Olynyk continue to provide quality minutes at the center spot.

  • The Heat will face a decision soon on Derrick Jones, who has about 14 NBA days left on his two-way contract, Jackson adds in the same story. The Heat signed Jones at the end of December, and his allowable NBA service time was pro-rated. He has appeared in three games since then, averaging 5.0 points in nearly 17 minutes per night. Miami could open a roster spot by cutting A.J. Hammons, who has remained in the G League since being acquired from Dallas in an offseason trade.

Serge Ibaka, James Johnson Receive One-Game Suspensions

Raptors big man Serge Ibaka and Heat forward James Johnson have each been hit with one-game suspensions for their roles in an altercation that took place in Tuesday night’s game in Toronto, the NBA announced today. The two veterans exchanged punches midway through the third quarter.

DeMar DeRozan and Goran Dragic were also penalized for getting into it during Tuesday’s game, but they avoided suspensions. DeRozan was fined $25K, while Dragic received a $10K fine.

The Raptors will now be without Ibaka for Thursday night’s showdown with the Cavaliers, a game that Kyle Lowry is also expected to miss due to a bruised tailbone. While Toronto will be short-handed for that game, the team will gain a little more breathing room below the tax threshold with Ibaka losing a game’s worth of salary, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks details in a tweet.

As for Johnson, he’ll miss the Heat’s Wednesday game in Indiana.

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