Could Sacramento Kings be a landing spot for Heat’s Tyler Johnson?

Miami’s Tyler Johnson reacts during a game against Washington on March 6. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – With Sacramento looking to add a shooting guard and losing out on their first choice, could the Kings be a landing spot for the Heat’s Tyler Johnson?

The Kings gave restricted free agent Zach LaVine a four-year, $78 million contract offer that the Bulls matched, leaving Sacramento with about $19.5 million in cap space and still looking for an additional shooting guard. Reports then surfaced Sacramento was preparing to pursue Celtics free agent guard Marcus Smart, but that was shot down and no offer has come so far.

The Kings apparently are not giving up, and Tyler Johnson could be a backup plan if nothing else materializes.

Johnson, whose contract is about to spike to $19.25 million in 2017-18 and has two years remaining, would be cheaper than LaVine seeing the annual payout would be about the same but Johnson would have two fewer years on his deal. Johnson grew up about 120 miles south of Sacramento, in the Bay area, and attended college at Fresno State.

Although the Heat have been dormant since July 1, that doesn’t mean Pat Riley isn’t on the phone. The main objective is to clear cap space, which still would benefit Miami this late in the game with free agents Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem still unsigned and reports surfacing the Heat have met with Carmelo Anthony, who will sever ties with Oklahoma City either through a trade, the NBA’s stretch provision or a buyout.

Freeing up $19 million would put the Heat about $1 million below the salary cap but more importantly about $23 million away from the luxury tax threshold, allowing Riley and the Heat more flexibility to bring back their free agents along with having the option to offer minimum or exception money, depending on what they pay Wade, to other players.

Additionally, Miami would fall about $11 million under the 2019-20 projected salary cap of $109 million. The 2019 free agency class is one of the richest in recent history and although $11 million won’t buy a superstar, it does put the Heat closer in case it can move more money or, at the very least, it allows them to add a solid player.

The other benefit to trading Johnson is it helps alleviate the logjam at shooting guard that could include Dion Waiters, Ellington, Wade, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder. Richardson, who played shooting guard for most of 2017-18, is expected to start at small forward this season.

The Kings are loaded with youth in the backcourt with three of their top four guards – point guards De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III and shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovich – having just one-year in the NBA. Shooting guard Buddy Hield has been in the league two years. Bogdanovich was Sacramento’s second leading scorer last season with 11.8 points per game.

Johnson, who also can fill in at point guard, has played four seasons with the Heat. His scoring slipped to 11.7 point per game last year after averaging 13.7 in 2016-17, when he came off the bench in all 73 games he played.

[Heat coach Eric Glass says Derrick Walton Jr. still contributing despite shooting woes]

[Erik Spoelstra says he, center Hassan Whiteside are in constant contact; adds relationship ‘isn’t what it seems on the outside’]

[What do you need to know about new Heat two-way contract player Duncan Robinson? He’s not just a shooter]

[Heat GM Andy Elisburg had advice for Cavaliers GM after losing LeBron: ‘It ends, and you have to start again’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

As the offseason continues, we update where Heat stand in free agency and the trade market

Heat president Pat Riley still has some decisions to make this summer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – More than one week into the start of a new NBA fiscal year and, as expected, the Miami Heat remain the same team they were when free agency kicked off July 1.

The Heat are one of the handful of teams who have yet to make a move since the calendar turned to July. The only announcement coming from the Heat in recent weeks was the signing of forward Derrick Jones Jr. to a standard NBA contract.

But any future moves by president Pat Riley will be made with the luxury tax in mind. With about $120 million committed to 11 players for the upcoming season, Miami is about $4 million away from crossing that luxury tax threshold and that is something the Heat would like to avoid, especially for a team that is not a contender.

The luxury tax comes into play in several scenarios.

The Heat are one of three teams that have been linked to Carmelo Anthony, who will part ways with Oklahoma City. If the Thunder is unable to trade Anthony, who is due $27.9 million this season, he could be available for a minimum contract. The Heat’s issue is two-fold: Where would Anthony fit in with a roster that is deep with rotational players and where does Miami stand with Wayne Ellington?

Ellington remains a free agent, and the top unrestricted free agent according to some. The fact that Ellington, one of the top 3-point threats in a league that values 3-point shooters, remains on the market is surprising. The Heat could still be hoping to make a trade to shed some salary to bring back Ellington at a higher price (but certainly not close to the $10.9 million they could pay him). If not, will Ellington settle for something close to the $6.3 million he made last season, whether it is with the Heat or another team?

For every dollar the Heat exceeds the $123.733 million luxury tax threshold up to $4,999,999 they pay a tax rate of $1.50. From $5 million to $9,999,999 over they pay a tax rate of $1.75, from $10 million to $14,999,999 they pay a tax rate of $2.50.

If the Heat matches Ellington’s contract from last season and pays him $6.3 million, he would in essence cost them about $9.8 million because of their luxury tax bill. If they were to give him his max of $10.9 million he would cost them more than $23 million.

That is not happening.

And remember, money has dried up around the league. Just three teams – Atlanta, Brooklyn and Sacramento – have space remaining of any significant. With all three building with youth, it is unlikely they would have a need to sign the 30-year-old Ellington?

One caveat: Every team has until the end of the season to get back under the luxury tax line. So, Miami could be willing to go over that line at the start of the season to a certain point with the confidence they can make moves by the trading deadline to get back under.

Other things to watch as the summer progresses when it comes to the Heat:

Kawhi Leonard: This story will not go away even though many believe Leonard could play out the year in San Antonio. Still, talks can continue for months, which means we will be hearing Leonard rumors throughout the summer. Whether the Spurs turn to the Heat and the Heat are willing to give up most of their good young players remains to be seen.

Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem: Both players are contemplating retirement and the Heat are awaiting their decisions. Haslem would return on a $2.4 million veterans minimum and the Associated Press reported Wade is seeking the Heat’s $5.4 million mid-level exception. That decision could be tied to what happens with Ellington and any luxury tax implications.

Hassan Whiteside: It is looking more and more unlikely that the Heat are able to move Whiteside and the remaining $52.5 million on his contract. Two teams that could have been trade partners for a 7-foot center came off the board this weekend. The Trail Blazers brought back Jusuf Nurkic on a four-year, $48 million contract on Saturday and today it is being reported the Bucks are signing Brook Lopez to a one year deal.

Veteran minimums: The Heat already have too many rotational players but Riley still will look for any bargains that might fit this roster. And several intriguing names remain on the market including Parker, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas and Rodney Hood. Parker, Smart and Hood are restricted. The possibility of any landing with Miami is remote unless moves are made to free up cap and roster space.

[No one will ever see John Crotty’s debut as the Heat TV analyst]

[Three takeaways: Heat routed by Pelicans; Eric Glass calls performance ’embarrassing’]

[Heat’s Dan Craig named assistant for USA National Team camp]

[Heat video room has produced long line of successful NBA coaches, executives – is Eric Glass next?]

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Mailbag: Is trading for Jimmy Butler worth the risk for Heat?

Miami Heat NBA basketball team president Pat Riley talks to the media during a season ending press conference in Miami, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com.

@adrianw743: What’s a fair offer for Jimmy Butler?

Anthony Chiang: It all depends on whether Jimmy Butler would commit long-term to the Heat. This is very much like the Kawhi Leonard situation. According to a recent report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, Butler is “frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates — specifically Karl-Anthony Towns” and does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves. Like Leonard, Butler can become a free agent next summer and leave to another team if Minnesota hasn’t traded him by then. But it’s important to note that the Timberwolves would have to be convinced there’s no way they can repair the relationship before turning to trade possibilities. A trade is probably the last resort at this point. Anyway, if Butler does give the Heat a long-term commitment, everything should be on the table to make a deal work. The Tom Thibodeau-led Timberwolves would probably want a defensive minded replacement for Butler, and Josh Richardson fits that mold perfectly. But in order to make salary matching work, Miami would need to include more than that in the trade.

If Butler does not want to give the Heat a long-term commitment, trading away part of the young core for one season of Butler makes little sense … unless the Heat are willing to bet on themselves in getting him to stay similar to what Oklahoma City accomplished with Paul George. Is that a risk Miami is willing to take? If the Leonard situation is any indication, no. But you have to wonder, what do the Heat really have to lose by taking this risk? Yes, a part of their young core. But worst case scenario, Butler leaves after one season and all of a sudden Miami has cap space to work with. As Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti (or A Tribe Called Quest) once said, “Scared money don’t make none.”

@iebrahim81: What’s the buzz around re-signing Winslow? We have two seasons left of him before he becomes a RFA.

Anthony Chiang: Actually, the Heat have one season left before Justise Winslow becomes a restricted free agent. If Miami does not extend Winslow’s contract between now and the 2018-19 regular-season opener, he will become a restricted free agent next summer. What will Winslow be looking for in a new deal? Well, Utah’s Dante Exum just agreed to a 3-year, $33 million contract extension. That’s probably close to what it will take to extend Winslow. The problem is the Heat already have $118 million committed to nine players for the 2019-20 season, and the salary cap is projected at $109 million. That means Miami is already capped out, which leaves little room to extend Winslow if other salary can’t be shed.

[As Wayne Ellington watch continues, an updated look on where Heat and Ellington stand]

[Former Michigan star Duncan Robinson impressing Heat with his basketball IQ, 3-point shooting]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

What are Heat’s trade options now when it comes to Hassan Whiteside, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler? An update

Reports say Jimmy Butler (right) is not a big fan of teammate Karl-Anthony Towns and may want out of Minnesota. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – With the free agent market drying up, teams now will start re-assessing their trade options, something the Miami Heat were forced to do from the start.

The Heat were not a player in free agency this season with a roster that comes in about $18 million over the salary cap. That left Pat Riley’s lone avenue to upgrade the team through the trade market, which even for Riley will be difficult given the makeup of the roster.

Here are where things stand with three names when it comes to the Heat:

Hassan Whiteside: The biggest question surrounding the Heat this summer is if Riley will be able to pull off a deal involving Whiteside.

The market for Whiteside and the $52.5 million remaining on his contract was not great to start with and has diminished following the draft and free agency. Less than a month ago Phoenix, Dallas and Washington were looking for big men. Now, all three have found their center with the Suns drafting DeAndre Ayton, the Mavericks agreeing with free agent DeAndre Jordan and the Wizards and Dwight Howard ready to strike a deal now that Howard has finalized his buyout with the Nets.

That leaves two teams that still could be looking for an upgrade in the middle: Milwaukee and Portland.

The Bucks are waiting for someone to offer restricted free agent forward Jabari Parker and then must decide if they want to retain Parker and at what price. The Heat could try to work out a deal involving Parker but any sign-and-trade would put Miami into the hard cap. Any trade with Milwaukee, whether for Parker or not, likely would include center John Henson.

The Blazers have shown interest in Whiteside before and their starting center, Jusuf Nurkic, is a restricted free agent. The two players have similar numbers but Whiteside is a better rebounder and defender and would be a better fit for Portland.

The Heat would like to finding cap relief while upgrading the roster in any trade involving Whiteside. That will be very difficult.

Jimmy Butler: A new name has entered the trade market with Tuesday’s report that Butler is fed up with the attitude of his Minnesota teammate Karl-Anthony Towns and is unlikely to sign an extension with the Timberwolves.

Butler, though, presents the same problem as Kawhi Leonard. Butler will make $18.7 million this season before a player option in 2019, which means he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer. And with reports that Butler and Boston’s Kyrie Irving would one day like to play together, trading for Butler also is a risk.

The biggest issue, according to NBA sources, is Miami is unwilling to risk losing all its best young players for what could be a one-year rental, which could be the case with Butler. But a year ago, nobody thought Oklahoma City had a shot of retaining Paul George after acquiring him in a trade, and even after a season that ended in disappointment George re-signed with the Thunder.

So, would Riley take that risk with Butler and trade some combination of his young players (Josh Richardson certainly would have to be in a Butler deal) if he received at least a confirmation that the Heat would have a chance to retain him next summer? Perhaps.

Kawhi Leonard: The Leonard trade rumors have cooled a bit with the Spurs willing to be patient. The latest is Leonard may not be so keen on teaming up with LeBron James on the Lakers and now the Clippers could come into play if San Antonio is willing to deal with a Western Conference team.

If not, Miami probably could get into the conversation but would fall in behind the Sixers and Boston – do not believe the reports the Celtics completely are out of the Leonard talks, not with their abundance of young desirable players and draft picks. Philadelphia is building a package around Dario Saric, Robert Covington and first-round picks, likely including Miami’s unprotected 2021 pick the Sixers received from Phoenix.

Miami could top that Sixers offer but, again, the biggest issue is the Heat could lose all its best young players for what could be a one-year rental. Miami will not part with Richardson, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow for a player who is set to enter the market as a free agent next summer. Miami could seek some kind of commitment from Leonard but even then nothing is guaranteed.

[As Wayne Ellington watch continues, an updated look on where Heat and Ellington stand]

[Former Michigan star Duncan Robinson impressing Heat with his basketball IQ, 3-point shooting]

[Three takeaways: Heat find 3-point range early, defeat Lakers for first summer league win]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

Mailbag: Why have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?

Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson (8), James Johnson, second from left, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Josh Richardson (0) talk on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 129-102. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com. Continue reading “Mailbag: Why have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?”

Time move on Heat Nation, LeBron James is not walking through that door anytime soon

It’s time to move on from the idea of ever seen LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform again. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For those who still believed LeBron James: The Sequel was coming soon to an arena on Biscayne Blvd., it’s now time to move on.

The Chosen One has chosen to forgo the final year of his Cleveland contract that would have paid him $35.6 million, to pursue bigger and better things as he enters the final quarter of his career.

Bigger and better things that almost certainly do not include the Miami Heat.

James informed the Cavaliers of his decision earlier today, according to several reports, and will hit the open market at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, which surely will add another layer of crazy to what every year is a fascinating NBA free agency period.

The decision (as opposed to The Decision III, which is coming soon) is not what Heat Nation wanted to hear. LeBron has essentially eliminated any teams over the cap as his future employer, which realistically reduces his options to the Lakers, Cavaliers and an outside chance Philadelphia jumps into the mix. The Cavaliers can offer James a five-year deal worth more a little more than $200. Any other team with space can sign him for four years and about $150 million.

LeBron taking his talents to South Beach for a second time in eight years had a much better chance of happening if he picked up that final year of his deal. That would have expanded the pool of teams to those over the cap, which would have put the Rockets and Heat at the top of the list, although Miami probably still would have been a distant second.

Miami is $18 million over the projected $101 million salary cap for the 2018-19 season and that’s with 10 players and before any decisions are made on Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Wayne Ellington. Just by rounding out their roster with minimum deals that would put the Heat close to $125 million.

James’ next max contract will come with a starting salary of $35.4 million. So, to add LeBron as a straight up free agent, and not in a sign-and-trade, the Heat would have to shed at least $53 million in salary.

Not happening.

As for a sign-and-trade, that, too, is very difficult because it triggers the hard cap, which is projected at $129 million. Teams receiving the free agent in the sign-and-trade deal — in this case the Heat — can’t surpass the $129 million apron at the end of the trade. Because of this, Miami would have to send out at least $31 million to take James’ $35 million salary back in a sign-and-trade.

Even if the Cavaliers wanted the Heat’s three youngest assets with the most potential – Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow – their 2018-19 salaries come to $16.7 million. The Cavs are not taking back another $14 million in long term salaries, especially if it is to help out the Heat. If Cleveland is going to lose LeBron, it certainly would rather see him go West.

If LeBron opted in it would have been a signal that a trade was lined up, probably meaning he was headed to either Houston or Miami. But even then, Houston is a much more attractive option with their backcourt of MVP James Harden and free agent Chris Paul, who, along with Wade, is part of LeBron’s inner circle when it comes to his peers. LeBron then would have formed a Big Three that could have challenged Golden State’s stranglehold on the league.

Some, though, might still believe the Heat have a chance and LeBron still could request a sit down with Pat Riley. And because we are talking LeBron and Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg’s magic calculator, perhaps it is foolish to completely count out the Heat until LeBron’s signature is on a contract with another team’s logo in the header.

Any news surrounding LeBron goes viral. But any LeBron news leading up to his free agency tends to break the Internet.

LeBron was in Miami last weekend, attending his son’s basketball game and the Internet was wild with speculation. He also was spotted in Brickell. The craziest speculation was an unconfirmed report that LeBron was involved in some clandestine meeting with Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during the week.

But this is not 2010. The Heat are not flush with money and Miami does not have bargaining chips like a Wade in his prime or Chris Bosh to entice the best player on the planet.

Unless Riley can pull off a miracle that would make any other of the splashy moves he has made in his 23 years in Miami look ho-hum, it’s time to move on Heat Nation.

LeBron James is not walking through that door.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Wednesday’s question: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Thursday’s question: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?]

[Friday’s question: Does Hassan Whiteside’s contract make him untradeable?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: Does Hassan Whiteside’s contract make him untradeable?

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade talks with Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson during a game this season against the Phoenix Suns. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

    The NBA starts a new fiscal year 12 a.m. Sunday, which also signals the start of free agency and what once again will be a busy offseason. The Miami Heat may not be as big a player as usual this offseason because of roster and payroll limitations but president Pat Riley still will be busy trying to find a way to upgrade his roster, however difficult that may be.

   This week we have taken a look at the biggest offseason questions surrounding the Heat. Today we end our series with this question: Can the Heat move Hassan Whiteside or does his contract, diminishing skills and lack of maturity make him untradeable?

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Wednesday’s question: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Thursday’s question: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?]

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

MIAMI – Hassan Whiteside’s free agency was as clean and quick as any two summers ago when it took less than 24 hours for him to announce on Snapchat he was re-signing with the Heat.

But since then, Whiteside’s career has been anything but smooth.

The 7-foot center has become the poster boy for the Heat’s struggles the last two years with his four-year, $98.4 million contract front and center in any discussion about the underachieving center.

Whiteside’s career as a max player got off to a good start, leading the league in rebounding (14.1 per game) and averaging 17.0 points per game in 2016-17. But signs of Whiteside’s immaturity kept surfacing and coach Erik Spoelstra’s frustration with Whiteside kept growing. Many wondered how much more the Heat could take.

Things got worse last season as Whiteside’s numbers declined and his complaints about playing time increased. That frustration from Whiteside’s end peaked in late March with a profanity-laced rant about his lack of playing time. Whiteside questioned Spoelstra’s strategy of matching up against smaller lineups, which many times left Whiteside on the bench for the entire fourth quarter.

After averaging 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds during the regular season, Whiteside’s production bottomed out during the playoffs. Seeing just 15.4 minutes of playing time per game, Whiteside averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in the five-game series against Philadelphia.

Whiteside again expressed his dissatisfaction about how he was being used by Spoelstra following the Sixers series-clinching win.

The rocky two seasons triggered several reports that the Heat would attempt to trade Whiteside this offseason and the belief is Miami would love to get out from the remaining two years and $52.5 million of Whiteside’s deal.

Heat president Pat Riley, though, downplayed that possibility during his media availability following last week’s draft.

“I expect a lot of out Hassan,” Riley said. “Contrary to what people might think about us trading him, we haven’t offered him to anybody, really, to be honest with you. So, you got through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out.”

Riley, though, is very careful about what he says when it comes to trades. Nobody will say they are attempting to trade one of their players in case that player is not moved and he has to return. No matter how strong the reports, nobody wants a player returning thinking he is not wanted.

Riley started preparing for the possibility that Whiteside will return following the season when he declared “an intervention” was needed between Whiteside and Spoelstra and he was “going to be the intervener.”

Still, Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg will continue to explore every way to improve this roster and Riley has said no player is untouchable. But is there another team willing to take on Whiteside’s contract? And are the Heat willing to perhaps deal Whiteside for another team’s high-priced disgruntled player?

Whiteside was going to get a max contract two years ago whether it was from the Heat or another team. His skill set was much more valued then as a low post center. But the game has evolved since back-to-basket centers are becoming less of a need with teams relying on spacing and 3-point shooting. Centers like Heat backup Kelly Olynyk, who can play on the perimeter, shoot the three and pass, are desired more than Whiteside.

All of which will make it difficult for the Heat to move Whiteside, no matter the return. Right now, it appears the Heat are preparing for another season with Whiteside and Riley is working on mending the relationship between his center and his coach.

[Still hoping for a LeBron James-Heat reunion? Pay attention to Friday’s opt-in/opt-out deadline]

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Heat Mailbag: Could Wizards-Clippers trade set up deal that involves Hassan Whiteside? That & more on Winslow at the point

Maimi’s Hassan Whiteside shoots over Washington’s Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter Jr. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: Could the Wizards-Clippers trade also set up trade involving the Heat?

The Wizards and Clippers made an intriguing swap Tuesday with Washington sending center Marcin Gortat to L.A. for combo guard Austin Rivers. The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan on the roster but likely are bracing to lose Jordan either through free agency (he can decline his $24.1 million option) or a trade if he opts in. Washington now is in dire need of a center to replace Gortat. Besides, after another season of underachieving the Wizards entered this offseason knowing they needed to make some changes. And even if they decide to keep their All-Star backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal intact, that probably meant more than swapping Gortat for Rivers.

The next name on the block could be 6-foot-8 Otto Porter Jr., and here is where the Heat could come into play.

[RELATED: Photos of the incredible style at the 2018 NBA Draft]

A year ago, the Wizards matched the Nets’ $106 million offer sheet for Porter. That deal has three years and $81.7 million remaining. The Heat have a center they likely are looking to move by the name of Hassan Whiteside who will be very difficult to deal considering his contract (two years remaining at $52.5 million), declining production and maturity issues.

But with the money pretty similar – Porter will make $26 million next season while Whiteside will make $25.4 – the Wizards may look at it as coming out ahead not only by acquiring a starting center but by saving on that third year. But that third year is what could cause Pat Riley some hesitation considering the Heat have just $40.7 million on the books in 2020 with the contracts of Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson expiring. Porter would add $28.5 million to that in the final year of his deal if he exercises his player option. Porter, 25, averaged 14.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season while shooting 50.3 percent, 44.1 percent on threes. And although he spent a lot of time at shooting guard his rookie season of 2013-14, Porter played about two-thirds of his minutes at small forward and one-third at power forward last season.

The Wizards, though, could go another way. With Dwight Howard and the Nets expected to agree on a buyout, Washington might pursue Howard, who would be much cheaper considering he’ll be receiving a nice fat check from Brooklyn.

From Billy Mizell: What do you think the chances are that the organization will help Justise Winslow pursue running point for the team in the future? Justise seems to have found his niche there & it seems to give him a level of confidence that was missing previously.

This is a good question and it looks like Billy saw what many of us saw last season. Although the majority of the 6-8 Winslow’s time was spent at power forward, coach Erik Spoelstra used him as a facilitator at times and he appeared to be very comfortable with the ball in his hands.

“I really enjoyed playing point guard and I think that’s something as the offseason goes on I’ll sit down and talk to Spo more about,” Winslow said a few days after the Heat season ended.

As far as taking over for Dragic on a permanent basis one day, that will be determined by any trades the Heat might make and Winslow’s progress at the position. But, yes, I believe Winslow will work hard on his ball handling skills this summer and depending on the roster makeup his role as a point guard definitely could expand next season.

[2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

Heat Mailbag: With Spurs rejecting offers from teams in West for Leonard, could Miami jump in? That & more on summer league

Heat president Pat Riley talks with the media at a season-end press conference on in April. (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

[RELATED: Photos of the incredible style at the 2018 NBA Draft]

From @royvt: Can Pat Riley take advantage of (the Spurs not listening to any offers from Kawhi Leonard from Western Conference teams)?

Reports surfaced last week that the Spurs won’t even take the Lakers’ calls and won’t consider offers from any team in the West if they ultimately decide to move Leonard.

Of course, this could all be posturing, which nearly everything you hear this time of the year is, and San Antonio’s way to drive up the price for Leonard from the Lakers. But, if San Antonio truly is set on only trading Leonard to a team from the Eastern Conference, and it rejects all offers from Western Conference teams even if they outweigh any from their counterparts in the East, where do the Heat stand?

Knocking out any potential Western Conference teams benefits everybody in the East, but that does not change the Heat’s situation that much. Acquiring Leonard still comes as a big risk for Miami, and every other team, considering he can opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent next season. Even if Miami could put together the most attractive package in the Spurs’ eyes – and that is a big if considering the assets the Celtics and Sixers have – it would risk forfeiting its entire future if it traded Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo and Leonard were to bolt next year.

The other side of this is Leonard can essentially dictate where he is traded by telling any team he will not re-sign with them next summer, which drastically reduces San Antonio’s leverage.

From @AsherWildMan6: Matt Farrell is a true PG. He graduated from Notre Dame and can shoot the three and attacks the hoop. Without knowing how long Dragic is in play as the PG, could Miami have found their PG of the future? Think he either makes the team or can be a PG of this team in 2-3 years playing sparingly this year?

The 6-foot Farrell will join the Heat’s summer league roster as an undrafted free agent after averaging 16.3 points and 5.5 assists his senior year at Notre Dame and being named to the All-ACC third team. He is a solid playmaker with a high basketball IQ but lacks athletic ability and is undersized. He was projected to be taken late in the second round or go undrafted.

As for his possible future with the Heat, that can be better answered after the three weeks of summer league play – Miami will participate in the Sacramento summer league July 2-5 and Las Vegas summer league July 6-17. Even if Farrell has an impressive summer, is invited to fall camp and the Heat like what they see, chances are he would be sent to Sioux Falls, the Heat’s G League developmental team. The Heat have gotten by without a true backup to point guard Goran Dragic the last two years using a variety of players to facilitate offense when Dragic was on the bench, including Justise Winslow, who started playing the position last season. Winslow and Josh Richardson are working more on their ball handling skills this summer but whether that means either will become more of an option at the point, or if the Heat decide to sign a true point guard for next season, remains to be seen.

[2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Pat Riley is on Twitter, but he does not have a burner account. Let him explain …]

[It’s easy to criticize how Heat have handled (traded) a lot of their recent draft picks, but it’s also easy to justify]

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2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?

LeBron James speaks to the media with a cast on his right hand after being defeated by the Golden State Warriors 4-0 in the 2018 NBA Finals. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The NBA starts a new fiscal year at 12 a.m. Sunday, which also signals the start of free agency and what once again will be a busy offseason. The Miami Heat may not be as big a player as usual this offseason because of roster and payroll limitations but president Pat Riley still will be busy trying to find a way to upgrade his roster, however difficult that may be.

This week we take a look at the biggest offseason questions surrounding the Heat. Today’s question: LeBron James appears to be ready to bolt Cleveland for a second time, do the Heat have a shot of bringing James back to Miami? We’ll shift to a different question each day leading up to the start of free agency.

[RELATED: Photos of the incredible style at the 2018 NBA Draft]
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LeBron James was spotted in Miami this weekend. He was seen walking in Brickell and at his son’s basketball game. What does it mean? Not much unless James was able to squeeze in a highly secretive meeting with a realtor and put in a down payment on a new home in the area.

Once again, we find ourselves in another ‘Summer of LeBron.’ James is expected to opt out of the $35.6 million player option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent starting Sunday.

From there, James and his camp will start setting up meetings. Those that appear most assured to getting in the door with James are the Lakers, 76ers and Cleveland. Several others have been mentioned as possibly getting a sit-down, including the Heat.

Miami’s odds, though, are growing longer, according to those in that business. At one time, the odds were 25-to-1 the Heat landed James. Most recently those odds are up to 40-to-1. The reason is, unlike 2010, the Heat currently lack the salary-cap space to sign James in free agency. The Heat already are close to the luxury tax line with 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due $119 million. That puts Miami about $18 million above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.

Pat Riley admitted last Friday, minutes after the draft ended, that there would be no midnight meetings and he didn’t think the Heat were “going to be in it that way because we can’t. We don’t have the cap space and we’re up against the tax, so we have to do some other things in reversing that direction.”

Realistically, the only way to acquire James would be through a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers and that would mean Cleveland having an incentive to deal with Miami, which is not likely. If the Cavs are going to lose James and are able to pull off a sign-and-trade they would want draft picks and cap space and not long-term contracts in return.

Eight summers ago, the Heat were in the driver’s seat with it came to James. They had the cap space and the ability to put together a juggernaut with James and Chris Bosh being free agents and Dwyane Wade already in place. Now, other teams are attempting to sell James on that same concept, teams like the Lakers, Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio, possibly Golden State. Teams that could have the space to sign two max players or already have a superstar in place for James to join.

As for Miami, put the Heat at the bottom of that list when it comes to the possibility of James taking his talents to South Beach for a second time.

[Pat Riley is on Twitter, but he does not have a burner account. Let him explain …]

[It’s easy to criticize how Heat have handled (traded) a lot of their recent draft picks, but it’s also easy to justify]

[Bam Adebayo leads a Miami Heat summer league roster that is up to nine players]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]