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’]

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

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and center Hassan Whiteside. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – Perhaps it wasn’t quite an intervention as Pat Riley suggested, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and his embattled player, center Hassan Whiteside, have been in communication all summer.

And Spoelstra says that relationship is not what it appears to be.

“I have absolutely been in touch with Hassan,” Spoelstra said following the Heat’s summer league practice Wednesday at The Clark High School in Las Vegas.

“We’ve gotten together for lunch, in constant contact on the phone and in texts. Like many things in this league, it’s not what it seems on the outside. It’s pretty normal NBA life. I’m looking forward to the start of the season with a healthy Hassan. I know he’s looking forward to that. And we still have a good part of the summer to get better.”

Following the season, after Whiteside spoke out several times about his frustration over lack of playing time, including one profanity-laced outburst that cost him an undisclosed fine from the organization, Riley said Spoelstra and Whiteside needed an “intervention.”

Said Riley: “The disconnect between he and Spo that’s going to take a discussion between them and it’s going to take thought on the part of coach and also Hassan.”

Whiteside is the Heat’s highest paid player, signing a four-year, $98.4 million contract two summers ago. He still is owed $52.5 million the final two seasons of the contract.

Spoelstra was much easier on Whiteside during his season-ending news conference, saying he thought the narrative and story lines about Whiteside were “unfair,” adding “I love working with Hassan.”

Whiteside’s numbers declined during the regular season to 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds while playing 25.3 minutes per game, a dip of more than seven minutes per game from the previous year when he led the league in rebounding.

Then he was a total non-factor in the postseason, averaging 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds while playing just 15.4 minutes per game as the Heat were eliminated by Philadelphia in five games.

Now, Spoelstra believes the difference will be a healthy Whiteside. The 7-foot center missed 28 games last season, including 18 because of separate left knee bruises. He sat for nine games in March after injuring his left hip.

“I think Hassan having an opportunity to start off the season healthy will be a really big boost for us,” Spoelstra said.

But it isn’t just a healthy Whiteside that has Spoelstra looking forward to this season despite the fact the Heat have yet to make a move with the exception of signing Derrick Jones Jr. to a standard contract. Riley continues to explore trade options but nothing has materialized.

Spoelstra cited the return of guard Dion Waiters, who played 30 games before having ankle surgery; swingman Rodney McGruder, who played 18 after undergoing surgery in October to repair a stress fracture in his leg; and James Johnson, who had surgery to repair a sports hernia surgery following the season, as optimism that the team will be better.

Miami finished last season 44-38 and sixth in the Eastern Conference.

“I look at all those guys that had some injuries that they were dealing with last year as opportunities,” Spoelstra said. “In my mind, you’re almost adding a new player, adding a Derrick Jones, adding a Rodney McGruder, adding a Dion Waiters, adding a healthy Hassan Whiteside. Having a fully healthy James Johnson. These are new players you’re adding into the mix of already a playoff team. That’s something that’s exciting to me.”

Spoelstra also pointed to the improvement made this summer by center Bam Adebayo and Jones.

“We feel really good about our roster,” he said. “We love the internal growth we’ve had. Guys have had tremendous summers already. You’ve seen the improvement that Bam has made in terms of his skill level and running an offense through him. Being a little bit more offensive minded.

“We have great opportunities for internal growth. We have a lot of the guys returning. … we think the continuity and the corporate knowledge we bring from one season to another can really help. What we’re seeing is a lot of turnover every single offseason with a lot of teams. That’s not the easiest thing to manage. We bring some familiarity which we think can be a help.”

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

[Where has Heat second-year center Bam Adebayo shown the most improvement this summer?]

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

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What’s in store for the Miami Heat this offseason? A roster breakdown with a look at what’s next for each player

MIAMI — The Heat entered the offseason with a lot of questions surrounding their roster and very little financial flexibility to make significant changes.

Excluding cap holds, the Heat have 11 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $120 million. That puts Miami way above the $101.9 million salary cap and very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line.

Unable to sign players into space because the Heat are capped out, they will have to rely on exceptions, minimum contracts, the power of Bird rights or even trades to fill out their roster.

Here’s what the Heat have to work with this offseason, with a player-by-player breakdown … Continue reading “What’s in store for the Miami Heat this offseason? A roster breakdown with a look at what’s next for each player”

Here is what Heat center Bam Adebayo said about incorporating Euro step into his game

 

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo goes to the basket against Golden State Warriors center Jordan Bell during Monday’s summer league game in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO – Goran Dragic with the Euro step, that’s something Heat fans are accustomed to seeing.

Even Dion Waiters and at times, 7-footer Kelly Olynyk. But sight of 6-foot-10 Bam Adebayo, whose game basically is played in a box under the basket, with the ball in his hands and not only Euro stepping, but finishing and drawing the foul, was pretty common in the Heat’s summer league opener, a 79-68 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Golden 1 Center.

Adebayo went to the move several times Monday, once against big man Jordan Bell, the Warriors second round pick last year, that resulted in a successful soft floater as Bell was fouling Adebayo.

“That something I’m comfortable with,” he said. “I know it’s an easy move. I feel like I got it off today. I just got to finish plays off.”

Adebayo said he incorporated the move into his game as a senior in high school.

“Just running full speed at somebody they’re obviously going to move,” he said. “Some people are brave enough to take that hit but some people decide to just move. Incorporating that into my game helped me get easy layups.”

Adebayo, starting his second year after being the Heat’s first-round pick (14th overall) out Kentucky in 2017, had a rough night from the floor. He finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds but made just 3-of-13 shots. He got to the line 11 times, making eight.

“I know my shot is going to fall,” he said. “I just got to keep worrying about the defensive side and everything will take care of itself.”

Heat summer league coach Eric Glass agreed.

“If he’s attacking the rim we’re happy,” Glass said. “Those shots will fall eventually. He’s too good a player he works too hard. But if he’s putting pressure on the rim were happy.”

[JJ Redick returning to Philadelphia, where does that leave Wayne Ellington when it comes to Heat (and Sixers)]

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

[What does LeBron James joining the Lakers mean for the Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?]

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What does LeBron James joining the Lakers mean for the Miami Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?

The Los Angeles Lakers will welcome LeBron James to their team and the Western Conference. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Miami Heat are getting better by standing pat.

OK, that’s not what Heat followers, clamoring for Pat Riley to do something, do anything, just for the sake of making a change, want to hear. But the Eastern Conference, already considered the undercard to the heavy weight fight that is the Western Conference, just watched the Cleveland Cavaliers go from a team that has gone to four consecutive Finals to one that is headed for the lottery.

And everybody else will benefit.

LeBron James’ decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers will send the Cavs into another tailspin. The last time he left, Cleveland went from a team that won 127 games in the two previous seasons to 97 in the next four. And that means a bump for every team in the East, including the Heat.

Miami is, for the most part, free agency bystanders this summer with a roster that is about $18 million over the cap. The Heat won 44 games last season and finished sixth in a race in which the final three teams were separated by one game. Riley already has floated the idea that the Heat may have to suck it up for another offseason, bring back the same old gang and try to improve from within, which can happen with Dion Waiters expected to be healthy for a full season and young players like Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo trending in a position direction.

And with Cleveland falling back and none of the seven lottery teams in the East making any significant additions, the Heat not only clearly are one of the East’s top eight teams, their ceiling just got a bit higher and Miami will go into this season believing they are one of the top 4 teams in the East.

LeBron’s decision must have been met by some clinking of the glasses not only in Miami but in Boston (now clearly the Conference favorite), Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Toronto … especially in Toronto, which has been eliminated from the playoffs by the Cavaliers the last three seasons, the last two in sweeps.

But it could even mean more to the Heat. The Lakers are trying to swing a trade with San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard which would mean Philadelphia would not. The Sixers already have lost two key members of their rotation in free agency – Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilysova – and have struck out on LeBron. If Philly whiffs on Leonard (and somehow also loses free agent JJ Redick), then the Sixers will be holding a big bag of cash they will be desperate to spend, a scenario that could further weaken the conference and create even more distance between Boston and everyone else.

But LeBron’s decision may go even deeper. As July approached, several Eastern Conference teams were looking to make changes, tired of the same old stale results. Chief among them, Toronto and Washington. Now, what if each of these franchises feel as though they were given new life and decide a drastic move isn’t necessary?

The Raptors might just decide to stick with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and look at their 59-win season in a whole different light considering their kryptonite is out of the East.

And the Wizards might believe once again their nucleus of John Wall and Bradley Beal and Otto Porter (Washington already shipped center Marcin Gortat to the Clippers) is good enough to make a run.

As for the Heat, LeBron’s departure will not mean Riley is ready to close up shop and call it a summer. Riley knows he’s in salary cap hell and the only way to improve this roster is through a trade or two. If Riley can find a way to do that, whether that means moving a bad contract or even trading one of the Heat’s young assets, he will pull the trigger on any deal.

Just because Cleveland’s loss is the Heat’s gain does not mean the work is done.

Stars migrating from East to West is not new. Just a year ago, two of the East’s best players made the same journey, Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

Now, the West has all five players from the All-NBA first team, the top five scorers and seven of the top eight rebounders.

While the West has LeBron and Kevin Durant and Steph Curry and James Harden and Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis and we can go on and on and on, the East has. … Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and some nice young rising players who could one day get to that stage.

So, take a moment to celebrate Eastern Conference. LeBron is gone.

[Heat summer League preview: Expect to see plenty of Bam Adebayo]

[Heat sign Derrick Jones Jr. to standard contract, pushing roster to 11 players]

[Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19]

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2018 Miami Heat Free Agency Primer: What you need to know about the Heat’s salary cap situation

Heat players Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington and Bam Adebayo look from the bench during overtime against the Brooklyn Nets at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — With free agency upon us, here’s a look at the Heat’s salary cap situation.

Miami currently has 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million (assuming Rodney McGruder’s $1.5 million salary is guaranteed by Saturday’s deadline, as expected). That puts the Heat way above the $101.9 million salary cap, very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line and not in a position to aggressively pursue free agents. Continue reading “2018 Miami Heat Free Agency Primer: What you need to know about the Heat’s salary cap situation”

UPDATED: Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19

Heat wing Rodney McGruder’s contract is guaranteed for the 2018-19 season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Rodney McGruder is returning for a third season with the Miami Heat.

The Heat allowed the midnight deadline to pass on the contract for the 6-foot-5 shooting guard/small forward, assuring that his $1.545 million deal is guaranteed for the 2018-19 season.

McGruder signed a three-year, partially-guaranteed contract for $2.5 million in 2016. He will collect on all three years, making $543,471 in 2016-17 and $1.313 million last season.

When asked about McGruder’s return following last week’s draft, president Pat Riley was noncommittal, citing the Heat’s “tight roster.” But Riley added: “We love Rodney.”

The Heat now have 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million. That puts Miami about $17 million above the projected $101.869 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123.733 million luxury tax line.

McGruder, who turns 27 next month, played in just 18 games last season after undergoing surgery in October to repair a left tibia stress fracture. His role was limited and he averaged just 5.1 points in 16.6 minutes per game.

“Rodney was on his way,” coach Erik Spoelstra said following the season. “He was probably the most productive player in training camp and through the beginning of preseason and he had basically 80 percent of his regular season taken away from him and then a totally different role than probably he anticipated and probably what he certainly was going to earn based on his offseason and the beginning of the season.”

McGruder burst onto the scene in 2016-17, making an NBA roster for the first time on the final cut down day. McGruder, who had played two years in the developmental league and a year in Hungry, stepped in for the injured Justise Winslow and started 65 games at small forward. He finished the season playing in a team-high 78 games and averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Miami relied on him to guard some the best scoring wings in the league, including Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Paul George and Jimmy Butler.

McGruder will battle for playing time on a roster that could be loaded with shooting guards and small forwards including Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Winslow, McGruder and possibly Wayne Ellington and/or Dwyane Wade.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[With no cap space to use in free agency this summer, is planning for future Heat’s best bet?]

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

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

[Wednesday’s question: 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]

 

2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?

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)

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: Can the Heat improve through trades this offseason? We’ll shift to a different question each day leading up to the start of free agency. Continue reading “2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?”

Mailbag: How much will healthy Dion Waiters, energized Hassan Whiteside help Heat if no other roster improvements are made?

Miami Heat teammates Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters at the Miami Dolphins game Sunday against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

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.

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

Continue reading “Mailbag: How much will healthy Dion Waiters, energized Hassan Whiteside help Heat if no other roster improvements are made?”

Heat offseason Q&A: Bam Adebayo talks about the draft, his offseason, how Dion Waiters looks

Heat center Bam Adebayo with camp former Heat assistant and broadcaster Tony Fiorentino . (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

HOLLYWOOD – Bam Adebayo knows exactly what every NBA prospect is going through.

One year ago, the Miami Heat center was nervously awaiting the NBA draft, which will be held Thursday. Finally, 14 picks in, he heard his name called and his life changed.

Now, Adebayo, who turns 21 next month, is working religiously to improve his game with former NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace twice a week and with his Heat teammates at the team’s practice facility. He will be part of the Heat’s summer league teams in Sacramento Las Vegas with games starting July 2.

On Wednesday, Adebayo was a guest of former Heat coach and broadcaster Tony Fiorentino at the Heat basketball camp at South Broward High School.

We caught up with Adebayo for our latest offseason Q&A and talked about the draft, his offseason and received an update on Heat guard Dion Waiters, who underwent ankle surgery in January.

Q: You said you are working on your midrange game. Do you think you can morph into the modern big man with the way the game has changed?

Adebayo: “Yeah. Being versatile is a big thing for the Miami Heat. I’m willing to do that.”

Q: You’ve been working with Rasheed Wallace. How did you hook up with him?

Adebayo: “I’ve known Rasheed since my junior year of high school. We’ve worked out and just kept getting better. It’s not the first time me and Rasheed worked out. His work outs are pretty short and sweet. They’re to the point.”

Q: What did he work with you on?

Adebayo: “Just staying balanced. Everything I do with the Miami Heat, just being explosive and getting to your spots quickly.”

Q: What are you working on with the Heat?

Adebayo: “Everything. My whole arsenal. … Midrange game, low post, becoming a better player.”

Q: You said Dion Waiters has been involved in your pickup game today in Miami. How has he been looking?

Adebayo:” “He’s looking good to me. You can tell he’s been in the gym because he’s been working.”

Q: What will this team look like with Dion?

Adebayo “It can’t do anything but make us better. I feel like Dion has another unbelievable ceiling to him. So, we’re just going to keep working and every will reach their potential.”

Q: Going on vacation this summer?

Adebayo: “I went back home, that’s about it. I got to see the family, had a family reunion.”

Q: So it’s business the whole summer?

Adebayo: “Yeah, the whole summer.”

Q: What is the biggest thing you wanted to improve on from your rookie season?

Adebayo: “Be more offensive minded and aggressive. Last year I kind of sat back and looked at everybody else. They want me to be more assertive.”

Q: What’s your mentality this offseason? Did James Johnson rub off on you?

Adebayo: “I’ve always had that work ethic, just trying to get better, get one percent better. I’m trying to do that for the team and for myself.”

Q: Just about a year ago when your life changed when you were selected by the Heat in the draft. Ever think back what the last year has been like?

Adebayo: “Yeah. It’s been a wild experience. All the time I look back at it. Just building bonds from a year ago is unbelievable.”

Q: What is it like for the guys who will go through it (Thursday)?

Adebayo: “Nerve wracking. Just going through all that because it’s a process. It’s like a marathon so you build up to it. To finally get your name called it’s like a weight off your shoulders. But then you know, you’re right back to business.”

Q: You said were close to tears on draft night last year, how close?

Adebayo: “Yeah, but I had to hurry and get off the stage. So, after I got off the court I was straight.”

Q: You came out of Kentucky after one season. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the one-and-done might end in 2021, do you feel it worked out before for you?

Adebayo: “I’m glad it worked out the way it did. I got to experience college for that one year. So, it was great to me. Some guys can go straight to the NBA.”

Q: Did you see Hassan Whiteside in the Lamborghini in Italy on Instagram? Did you question how he fit into a Lamborghini?

Adebayo: “Uh, no, not really. He has his ways of doing stuff. I texted him about, ‘Why are you in a Lamborghini?’ He was like, ‘I’m just out here enjoying my life,’ which he should. He deserves it. So, we’re just seeing him enjoy his life.”

[2018 NBA mock draft: Breaking down the first 30 picks]

[This may not be the summer Pat Riley is able to work his magic, which will leave Heat fans with an empty feeling again]

[Possible NBA draft rule change could prove costly for Heat]

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