Miami Heat mailbag: Are there any players like James Johnson or Dion Waiters out there to sign this year?

Miami’s James Johnson and Wayne Ellington celebrate during a game at Detroit last season. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Free agency is two weeks away and teams are ramping up for the frantic first few days. But after the high profile players are signed, several mid- to lower-level free agents will be available.

This is where the Heat had success last season and chances are they will be on the hunt for another James Johnson or Willie Reed or Dion Waiters again this year.

That brings us to one of the questions in today’s Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From @AsherWildMan6: Let’s just say Riley and the Heat catch a Whale. Last year we signed J Johnson, Waiters, Williams, Ellington, Reed to small deals to see them all out perform them. Who could be potential low cost one year investments to fill out a roster that are looking for a place to rebuild their value like guys listed above?

Nobody got more bang for their bucks than the Heat last season when it came to the lower priced free agents. Of the five players you mentioned, Wayne Ellington cost the most at $6 million. The Heat have the option as to whether they want to bring back Ellington at the same price but James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Willie Reed all will receive substantial raises after one season in Miami. Derrick Williams was released and finished out the season with Cleveland.

This season, the Heat should have room to fit in a similar lower priced free agent or two if they add one max player or brings back both Waiters and Johnson. The money could be left over from their cap space or be from the $3.3 million and $4.3 million exceptions they have available.

With that said, here are a few players that could fit into that category:

Luc Mbah a Moute, PF, Clippers (6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg); Marreese Speights, C, Clippers (8.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg); Jonas Jerebko, PF, Boston (3.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Joe Ingles, SF, Utah (7.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg); Omar Crispi, SF, Minnesota (11.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Shelvin Mack, PG, Utah (7.8 ppg, 2.8 apg.

From @OS_KeepinItReal: With all this talk about free agency and possible trades, do you think the Heat roster will have as much turnover this season as last?

No. The Heat had seven new players on their roster at the start of the season and at the end after Okaro White took Derrick Williams’ spot. But last year it was necessary after Dwyane Wade left and the organization decided it was starting a rebuild. This year depends a lot on its free agents but if every player who can become a free agent does (including Chris Bosh) that leaves room for six new players. But I believe the Heat’s roster will include three or four new players.

[Alonzo Mourning on Pat Riley’s attempt to turn Miami Heat into a contender: ‘This is going to be special’]

[LeBron James’ career may end with an L.A. story, but Heat fans would welcome him back with open arms]

[A look at each player on Heat’s 15-man roster: Who will be back next season?]

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Five biggest disappointments of the Miami Heat season: The final night says it all

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra minutes after learning his team would not be in the playoffs. (FOX Sports Florida)

The final night of the 2016-17 featured jubilation and heartbreak.

Kind of like the entire season.

But in the end, the Miami Heat were on the outside looking in at the playoff picture.

Though Miami has so many reasons to be proud of what it accomplished and can look back at so many special moments, there were some disappointments.

Here are our top 5.

Injury bug

The Heat led the league with 328 player games lost during to injury/illness, including Chris Bosh missing the entire season. Coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to come up with 22 different starting combinations. Every player with the exception of Tyler Johnson, Udonis Haslem and Okaro White started at least one game. Among the projected starters: Justise Winslow missed 64 games, Dion Waiters sat for 36 and Josh McRoberts, who could have secured the starting power forward spot, was injured for 60.

Justice Winslow’s lost season

The Heat had high hopes for their second year player out of Duke. Winslow showed such promise his rookie year after being the 10th overall pick. He worked on his jumper during the offseason and was ready to take over the starting small forward spot. But then the season started and Winslow could not stay on the court. First it was a wrist injury that forced him to miss 16 games, then shoulder surgery Jan. 5 that ended his season. And to top it off Winslow regressed with his shooting, ending the season with a .356 percentage.

Derrick Williams not working out

Williams signed a one-year contract for more than $4.5 million and then led the team in minutes in the preseason while starting five games. But once the season started he was out of the rotation, playing just three minutes in the first seven games. Williams had his opportunities, starting 11 games, but by January it was clear he was no longer a part of the plan. Williams was waived Feb. 6, joined the Cavaliers on a 10-day contract and eventually signed with Cleveland for the rest of the season.

Record against the Knicks, Magic, 76ers

The Heat had success against some of the league’s best teams this season, beating Washington four times, Cleveland three times, Houston twice and Golden State once. But it was games against some of the worst teams in the league that cost the Heat a playoff spot. Miami lost seven times to Orlando, Philadelphia and New York, three of the six worst teams in the league. And four of those were at home. Miami was 1-3 against the Magic, 1-2 against the Knicks and split four games against the Sixers.

The bittersweet ending

Very few nights in Heat history had the emotional swing of Wednesday. Miami took care of its business, disposing of the Wizards and finally reaching the elusive .500 mark. But the out-of-town news was grim. While Heat fans knew the Pacers and Bulls were having little trouble in their games (one of them had to lose for Miami to sneak into the playoffs), Heat coaches and players resisted the temptation to scoreboard watch. When the Heat game ended Chicago was closing out Brooklyn. Then the players watched the final few minutes of Indiana’s win over Atlanta which ended their season.

[Is Heat owner Micky Arison telling us something by posing with James Johnson, Dion Waiters?]

[Five biggest moments in a Miami Heat season in which 13 was not such an unlucky number]

[Miami Heat awards: Goran Dragic’s leadership, consistency, grit earn him team MVP]

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Derrick Williams: ‘Every single word Pat Riley told me was the truth’

Cleveland Cavaliers' Derrick Williams, left, drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Jason Terry in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 102-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Cleveland Cavaliers’ Derrick Williams, left, drives past Milwaukee Bucks’ Jason Terry in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 102-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

MIAMI — Based on expectations entering the situation, forward Derrick Williams’ quick stay in Miami was a disappointment. But both sides agree that it was productive.

After signing a one-year, $4.6 million contract with the Heat as a free agent this past summer, Williams struggled to earn a consistent role in the rotation and did not play at all in 25 games per coach’s decision. The Heat eventually released the former No. 2 overall pick on Feb. 6 to make room for Okaro White on the 15-man roster, and Williams signed a 10-day contract with the defending champion Cavaliers three days later. Continue reading “Derrick Williams: ‘Every single word Pat Riley told me was the truth’”

Miami Heat happy for Derrick Williams after his impressive debut with the Cavaliers

Cavaliers forward Derrick Williams scored 12 points in his Cleveland debut, a loss Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Cavaliers forward Derrick Williams scored 12 points in his Cleveland debut, a loss Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

NEW YORK – Derrick Williams played just more than 15 minutes and scored five points in his last 12 games with the Miami Heat.

On Thursday, three days after he was released by the Heat, Williams signed a 10-day contract with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and later that night he scored 12 points as the first man off the bench. Williams hit all three of his shots and made 6-of-8 free throws during Cleveland’s 118-109 loss at Oklahoma City.

“This is my first day, but you can just feel the energy as soon as you step in the locker room,” Williams told reporters Thursday. “Everyone is ready to play. That’s the championship mentality everyone has here.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra texted with Williams before and after the game.

“I was happy for him,” Spoelstra said. “I sent him a congratulations after, even though they lost. It was good to see. So much of this league is about preparing yourself mentally and physical to being in top shape and then be ready for the right opportunity at the right time and hopefully this is what that is.”

Williams, who signed a $4.6 million contract with the Heat last summer, was released when Miami signed rookie Okaro White to a two-year contract. Williams played 25 games for the Heat, starting 11, and averaged 5.9 points. Williams, who appeared to have earned playing time in the preseason, quickly fell out of the rotation and did not play the first five games of the season. He had 25 games in which he did not play because of a coach’s decision.

Williams, though, praised the Heat, and President Pat Riley, upon his departure.

https://twitter.com/DWXXIII/status/828662073089523712

“He really approached the last few months in the right way and that’s why we both felt we benefited from it,” Spoelstra said. “It was great having him around. He embraced our culture work ethic got in tremendous shape. That will allow him now moving onto the next spot that he’s ready and the next part is what this league about, the right place at the right time and the right opportunity. It could be different on different teams.”

Goran Dragic, who wished Williams luck on Social Media, was happy to see his former teammate make an impact in his first game.

“Really happy,” Dragic said today. “He’s a great guy, great teammate, everybody loved him here. Unfortunately he didn’t have an opportunity here but we all know he can play. Maybe sometimes you just need to find the right fit. Judging from last night maybe he found it.”

Williams joined the Cavs a couple of weeks after LeBron James called out ownership to get him more help on the court. And although he did not mention the Warriors, the plea was a message that the Cavs need more to compete with the team they have met in the Finals the last two years.

James has been instrumental in Cleveland sprinkling former Heat players into its roster. He was joined by James Jones and Mike Miller the year he rejoined the Cavs and the team brought in Chris Andersen this year. Andersen played just 12 games this season and is done for the year after tearing his ACL.

Mario Chalmers, the Heat point guard during the Big Three era, recently had a try out in Cleveland. He has not been signed.

[Heat guard Dion Waiters to miss second straight game because of sprained ankle]

[A look at some of the Miami Heat’s most valuable trade chips as trade deadline nears]

[Heat Mailbag: Trying to predict final record; can Miami make an offer for Jimmy Butler]

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Report: After release from Heat, Derrick Williams to sign 10-day contract to join LeBron James in Cleveland

Miami Heat forward Derrick Williams (22) drives around Philadelphia 76ers guard Chasson Randle (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Miami Heat forward Derrick Williams (22) drives around Philadelphia 76ers guard Chasson Randle (5) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Derrick Williams’ next stop will be in Cleveland with LeBron James.

After the Heat released the former No. 2 overall pick Monday, Williams plans to sign a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers, according to The Vertical. Continue reading “Report: After release from Heat, Derrick Williams to sign 10-day contract to join LeBron James in Cleveland”

Updated: Heat make it official sign Okaro White to two-year deal, release Derrick Williams

 

Forward Okaro White has signed a two-year deal with the Heat. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Forward Okaro White has signed a two-year deal with the Heat. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

MINNEAPOLIS – Okaro White wasted little time making an impact when he joined the Miami Heat 20 days ago, and now it has paid off.

The 6-foot-8 forward, who joined the team Jan. 17 on a 10-day contract, signed a two-year deal today after being thrust into several high-pressure situations and handling each like a seasoned veteran.

White, 24, will take the roster spot of forward Derrick Williams, who released. The Heat tried to trade the sparingly-used Williams but found no takers. Williams signed a one-year, $4.6 million deal last summer and now Miami will be responsible for the approximate $1.7 million remaining on that contract.

White was with the Heat during the summer and for three weeks of training camp before being send to Miami’s D-league affiliate in Sioux Falls. He was promoted from the Skyforces and signed two 10-day contracts. If the Heat did not sign White for the rest of the season he would have become a free agent.

“It’s a big accomplishment in my career,” said White, the former Florida State standout. “I don’t want it to stop here. I want to keep grinding some more.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra compared White’s emergence to that of Rodney McGruder’s. McGruder made the Heat on the final cut of training camp and has started 34 games.

“He was very persistent in trying to get better with his approach starting after summer league with us then through training camp,” Spoelstra said. “Then really approaching Sioux Falls with the right mindset to improve, to get better at this craft, to get more accustomed to the Miami Heat way and he embraced all of it, the coaching and he came back a different player.”

White’s first game in a Heat uniform coincided with the start of the 10-game winning streak Miami took into Monday’s game at Minnesota, the start of a four-game winning streak.

White was asked about being the good luck charm before Miami’s victory over Philadelphia on Saturday.

“It’s been a great experience to be with a great group of guys in the locker room, being able to be back with them since preseason and being able to go on a nine-game winning streak,” he said. “It’s been a blessing, and it’s been fun.”

[Could endless turmoil in Chicago be pushing Wade (and Butler) closer to the Heat?]

[Hassan Whiteside continues ‘building’ in first season as NBA max-contract player]

[With Miami Heat back in the playoff race, team takes ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ mantra on the road]

Entering Monday, White has played in all but one game since being called up, averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 48 percent (12 of 25) from the floor including 46.2 percent (6 of 13) on 3s.

And much of that has come in the fourth quarters of close games, like against defending champion Golden State and at Brooklyn where his corner 3 with just less than a minute remaining put the Heat up for good after Miami rallied from an 18-point four-quarter deficit.

“He’s going to be a very good shooter but that’s not the emphasis right now,” Spoelstra said. “Being a committed, effort, energy defender. He’ll have enough open shots, I would never tell him not to take an open shot because I think it’s a very good shooter. I don’t want the emphasis now to become, what’s his 3-point percentage.

White was asked what he has taken away from his three weeks with the team.

“You’ve got guys that care for each other in the locker room,” he said. “I think that directly correlates to the court.

“Guys had a rough beginning of the season and guys know that if you put the work in that eventually it’s going to reap the benefits of the work that’s been put in.”

Spoelstra said the emergence of forward James Johnson, “probably changed the landscape ” when it came to Williams.

“We want him now to find a place where he can be maximized,” Spoelstra said. “It didn’t work out exactly how we wanted it to.”

Williams, the second pick of the 2011 draft by the Timberwolves, used social media to express his appreciation to Pat Riley for the way he handled the situation saying the Heat president is a “man of his word.”

https://twitter.com/DWXXIII/status/828662073089523712

Williams appeared to have secured a spot in the rotation during the preseason where he started five games and averaged 9.5 points. But once the season began his playing time dwindled and soon he was out of the rotation.

Williams played in 25 games (11 starts) and averaged 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds. He shot just under 40 percent from the floor and 20 percent on 3s. But prior to playing eight minutes Saturday, he played 48 seconds in the previous nine games and in the last 27 games he has not played 17 times because of a coach’s decision.

The Heat had the option of sending White back to Sioux Falls upon the conclusion of his second 10-day contract on Sunday (teams are not allowed to sign players to three 10-day contracts). But by doing so, Miami would have risked losing him, which is how they lost guard Briante Weber last week.

The Heat opted to promote White from the Skyforce over Weber three weeks ago, a decision they say was made more out of a positional need. Weber was among the cuts on the final day of camp and was the top rated D-League prospect.

But after being named the D-League’s Player of the Month early last week, Weber signed with the Warriors, citing the Heat’s overcrowded backcourt and the fact Miami had other chances to promote the guard but he remained in the D-League. He reportedly received offers from Miami and Charlotte.

White and Weber were named to the D-League All-Star team on Monday, as was Sioux Falls center Keith Benson. White and Weber are hoping to play in the, which will be Jan. 18 (NBA All-Star weekend) in New Orleans.

The Heat are back to 15 players on the roster including three who are expected to miss the rest of the season. Forward Chris Bosh has not been with the team all season because of recurring blood clot issues and is expected to be waived at some point before the end of the season. Forward Justise Winslow underwent surgery on Jan. 5 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Forward Josh McRoberts is out indefinitely because of stress reaction in his left foot.

Additionally, guard Josh Richardson will miss his 16th game because of a foot strain. Richardson is traveling with the team for this trip and although he has not participated in contact drills, Spoelstra said that could be coming this week.

 

Three things to watch this week: With Chris Bosh day approaching, Miami Heat take win streak on road

Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat watches on from the bench against the Charlotte Hornets during game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat watches on from the bench against the Charlotte Hornets during game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The hottest team in the NBA is the Miami Heat.

Not many expected that to be the case just a few weeks ago when the Heat were the NBA’s second-worst team at 11-30. But a 10-game winning streak has changed things.

Miami (21-30) will now take that streak on the road, as it begins a four-game trip Monday in Minnesota.

Here are three things to watch this week … Continue reading “Three things to watch this week: With Chris Bosh day approaching, Miami Heat take win streak on road”

With Okaro White, Derrick Williams on team plane to Minnesota, Heat must make move by Monday

 

 

 Okaro White warming up before a recent game. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Okaro White warming up before a recent game. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MINNEAPOLIS – Forwards Okaro White and Derrick Williams traveled with the Miami Heat today, but one of the two likely will not be with the team Monday for the start of this four-game road trip.

Miami must make a move to get down to the 15-man roster limit with White’s second 10-day contract expiring today. Teams are not allowed to sign a player to three 10-day contracts.

The Heat must either sign White, 24, for the rest of the season or he becomes a free agent available for any other team to sign.

If Miami opts to keep White, then it must clear a roster spot either by making a trade or releasing a player. Williams has played in just 25 games (11 starts) and had seen just 48 seconds of action in the previous nine games before getting in for eight minutes Saturday during the Heat’s 125-102 victory over the 76ers, their 10th straight win.

White was signed on Jan. 17 to his initial 10-day contract from the Heat’s D-League affiliate, Sioux Falls, when the team was granted an exception to add a 16th player. The former FSU standout has played in all but one game since joining the team, averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 48 percent (12 of 25) from the floor including 46.2 percent (6 of 13) on 3s.

He was thrust into several high-pressure situations, handling each like a seasoned veteran. And much of that has come in the fourth quarters of close games, like against defending champion Golden State and at Brooklyn where his corner 3 with just less than a minute remaining put the Heat up for good after Miami rallied from an 18-point four-quarter deficit.

The Heat have not lost since White joined the team, winning all 10 games in which he has been in uniform.

Miami (21-30) begins a four-game road trip Monday in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves (19-32).

[Hassan Whiteside continues ‘building’ in first season as NBA max-contract player]

[With Miami Heat back in the playoff race, team takes ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ mantra on the road]

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Miami Heat will begin month full of roster decisions by addressing Okaro White issue

MIAMI — February is going to be an interesting month for the Heat.

With Miami on a nine-game winning streak, the trade and transaction discussion has quieted down. The Heat (20-30) will go for 10 straight wins Saturday against the 76ers at AmericanAirlines Arena (7:30 p.m.).

But Miami will have no choice but to address several roster decisions this month. Continue reading “Miami Heat will begin month full of roster decisions by addressing Okaro White issue”

Miami Heat Mailbag: Okaro White’s future; more on Wade and Butler

Okaro White celebrates Miami's the win over the Nets last week at the Barclays Center (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Heat forward Okaro White celebrates Miami’s win over the Nets last week at the Barclays Center (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

MIAMI – This week we received several questions about Okaro White, most wanting to know what the Heat are going to do when his second 10-day contract expires on Monday.

That, and the dysfunction of the Chicago Bulls are on Heat followers’ minds.

You ask, we answer.

If you weren’t able to submit a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From @gdehoogh: What do y’all see happening with okaro at end of his 2nd 10day? If he’s signed long term who gets cut?

The Heat have a decision to make. First, I do not think there is any way they do not sign Okaro White for the rest of the season. If not, they would have to return the 6-foot-8 forward from Florida State to the D-League and any other team could then sign him. The Heat are not going to take that chance because they know he would be scooped up in a second. Besides, forget about his 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, and the fact that Miami is 8-0 since he joined the team, in the last four games he has averaged 8 ½ minutes  in the fourth quarter, with 13 points and five rebounds.

Now, how do they make room? Considering Josh Richardson is close to returning from his sprained left foot – he is doing on-court work – the Heat will have to make a roster move barring a 2 for 1 trade in the next week. The most obvious would be releasing forward Derrick Williams, who has fallen way out of the rotation as of late. Williams has had a DNP-CD in 15 of the last 24 games and he has played a total of 48 seconds in the last seven games. The move would be pretty easy considering Williams signed a one-year contract last summer for $4.6 million and Miami likely does not have any desire to bring him back.

From Olivia from West Palm Beach: Now that Butler and DWade have worn out their welcome in Chicago could we see a reunion in Miami?

I wouldn’t say they have worn out their welcome but they have turned the Bulls into the biggest circus west of New York. The Heat know what Wade is all about and if he does not opt into his contract during the summer and the two can find a nice common ground on a two-year deal, I could see the franchise’s most popular player returning.

As for Butler. … He is an immensely talented player who has developed a reputation as a Diva. He was in the middle of Tom Thibodeau’s ouster and the whole Derrick Rose mess last season. Last week, he rode Wade’s coattails piling on with the blistering comments about teammates. All of this may mean the Bulls are prepared to blow it all up and dump Butler. The Heat certainly would be interested knowing if they acquired Butler he would be coming to a franchise with much more stability and far greater leadership from the top down than the Bulls. And seeing how Wade and Butler have become BFF’s, Wade would unquestionably look to return. The biggest blockade in that plan would be the Bulls asking price for Butler. Would they take pennies on the dollar for their star or ask for Hassan Whiteside. Here’s the question: Would the Bulls accept a Goran Dragic and Justice Winslow package for Butler?

[Erik Spoelstra is not satisfied – and his Miami Heat players better not be either – with eight straight wins]

[Udonis Haslem defends LeBron James in spat with Charles Barkley: ‘He should have went at him sooner’]