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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Mailbag: Why is it taking so long for the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington?

Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington (2) attempts a three-point basket as New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, of France, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Miami. (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 is it taking so long for the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington?”

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?]

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

 

 

Heat mailbag: Where does Carmelo Anthony fit it with the Heat (if he does at all). That & more on tanking

Carmelo Anthony cheers on his Oklahoma City teammates during the Thunder’s playoff series against the Utah Jazza in April. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – 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: Where would Carmelo Anthony fit in with the Heat?

Oklahoma City is moving on from Anthony. The question is how do they part? Will it be a trade? Will OKC stretch the $27.9 million they owe him in the final year of his deal? Do the two sides agree to a buyout?

The later two scenarios would make Anthony a free agent and available to any team – presumably for the $3.4 million veteran minimum – including the Heat.

Does an Anthony deal make sense for the Heat?

Miami has two obstacles. First, with 11 players due about $120 million, the Heat are about $18 million over the cap and just $4 million shy of the luxury tax line, something Pat Riley is trying to avoid crossing. Without any other moves, Anthony would put you closer to that luxury tax line, and that’s without Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade or Udonis Haslem under contract. And if Anthony wants to come to the Heat, one of the biggest reasons would be to play alongside his friend, Wade.

Secondly, the Heat’s roster is lacking great players but has an excess of good players who could be in the rotation. The 6-foot-8 Anthony played most of his minutes at power forward last season which means coach Erik Spoelstra would have to find minutes for Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and Anthony in the power rotation. And if the thought is to give Anthony more minutes at small forward then he’s competing with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. for playing time.

As for his role in Miami, Anthony would step in as one of the top scoring options and the Heat would find a way to hide his defensive deficiencies.

Unless a third team is involved, and Atlanta really is the only one with enough cap space, the Thunder likely are not going to trade Anthony to the Heat because Miami would then have to match Anthony’s salary in the deal and that does nothing to help OKC reduce its mammoth luxury tax bill.

So, for the Heat to sign Anthony, they need to make a trade that not only would shed salary but also include a player or two, especially one of the power forwards. Ideally, enough cap space is created to fit in Anthony, Wade and Ellington.

The best fit among the three teams linked to Anthony is Houston. There, he also gets to play with one of his friends, Chris Paul, but more importantly, he’d replace Trevor Ariza, who signed with the Suns, although it is not ideal considering Ariza is a small forward. Anthony’s role in Houston would be similar to what is was in OKC as the third option.

As for the Lakers, yes, Anthony also is close to LeBron James, but the Lakers have an overabundance of players up front. The plan is to play James at power forward with Kyle Kuzma coming off the bench. We know James will play 36-38 minutes a game. Signing Anthony could cut into Kuzma’s minutes, something the Lakers do not want to do after he had such a strong rookie season.

From DjHitbwoy: Is this the perfect season for the Miami Heat to trade and tank? With us having a 2019 first round pick we can look forward to drafting Zion Williamson and try trading Whiteside contract to LA Clippers

Didn’t we hear enough of this in 2017 when fans wanted the Heat to go against everything the franchise stands for an tank after that 11-30 start? The Heat never will enter a season with the objective to lose as many games as possible and hope for a high pick. Trading Hassan Whiteside will be challenging and may not happen this summer. If not, the Heat will work tirelessly with Whiteside to improve his game with the hopes of moving up in the standings.

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

[Heat not worried about Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot. ‘What’s important to us is he’s playing defense’ – Eric Glass]

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

[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]

 

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”

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”

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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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?”

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]