The Miami Heat are recovering nicely from losing Gordon Hayward.
The Heat agreed to terms with forwards Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson Thursday and are working on a trade with Dallas to dump Josh McRoberts’ salary.
The Olynyk deal, confirmed by the Palm Beach Post, is reported to be for four-years and about $50 million according to ESPN, which first reported the story. Olynyk, 26, was an unrestricted free agent only because Hayward chose to sign with the Celtics over the Heat and Jazz. The Celtics were forced to renounce Olynyk’s rights to open salary cap space for Hayward.
Soon after coming to terms with Olynyk, the Palm Beach Post confirmed the Heat were bringing back Johnson, who agreed to a four-year contract for $60 million, including a player option. During it all, the Vertical reported Miami was working on a trade which it planned to send Josh McRoberts and his $6 million salary along with a future second round pick to the Mavericks for A.J. Hammons. With Hammons, a second-year player out of Purdue, scheduled to make $1.3 million next season, the deal would save the Heat about $4.7 million, which could allow them also to pick up the $6.3 million team option on guard Wayne Ellington’s contract.
This all comes one day after Miami agreed to terms with guard Dion Waiters.
All of which proves president Pat Riley and GM Andy Elisburg have had a couple of busy days.
Olynyk is a 7-foot, 238-pound power forward/center with a solid perimeter game, nice passing skills for a big man and a 3-point shot opponents must respect. He averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 points and 2.0 assists in 75 games for the Celtics last season, shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 35.4 percent on threes. He was taken 13th overall out of Gonzaga in the 2013 draft by Dallas and traded to Boston. He has played his entire four-year career in Boston.
Olynyk played a huge role in Boston advancing to the Eastern Conference finals last season, scoring 26 points in the Celtics’ Game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards in the conference semifinals on 10-of-14 shooting. Olynyk average 9.2 points and shot 51.2 percent in the playoffs.
The Heat are acquiring a feisty, hard-nosed player with a reputation of getting under opponents’ skin to the point of sometimes crossing the line. Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. was suspended for one game during the playoffs for charging and knocking down Olynyk, who set an illegal high screen on Oubre Jr.
Golden State’s Draymond Green then chimed in on his thoughts about Olynyk’s.
“He’s dirty, a dirty player,” Green said on Uninterrupted’s Dray Day podcast. “I don’t respect guys like that. I know he’s not the greatest basketball player of all time, so maybe he feels like he got to do that, but you don’t have to do that. Just dirty.”
During the first round of the 2015 playoffs Olynyk was also involved in a play in which he dislocated the left arm of Cavaliers forward Kevin Love as they chased down a rebound.
With Olynyk and Johnson, the Heat will have a front court rotation of center Hassan Whiteside, Johnson, Olynyk and first-round draft pick Bam Adebayo. Johnson is expected to start and Olynyk likely will come off the bench, as he did for most of his career in Boston.
That would give Miami a nice second unit led by Olynyk, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder if Justice Winslow reclaims his starting spot at the small forward, Ellington if he re-signs and Adebeyo.
The Heat would be capped out if they bring back Ellington, leaving them with just a $4.3 million exception. That money, though, could be used to boost the roster with about 100 free agents still on the market.
The Heat have three remaining free agents: center Willie Reed and forwards Luke Babbitt and Udonis Haslem.
The flurry of moves virtually assures that Miami will not bring back Reed. Babbitt, though, could return on a veteran minimum contract if the Heat feel they need his outside shooting. Halsem is expected to return for his 15th season with the Heat on the veteran minimum of $2.3 million.