More sanity to free agency could benefit Miami Heat if they look to bring back both James Johnson, Dion Waiters

James Johnson and Dion Waiters will sit and wait to see what are their best options as the free agency period moves along.

Meanwhile, Dion Waiters and James Johnson sit back and wait.

The Miami Heat’s top two free agents were under the radar during the early hours of free agency, which was otherwise busy and brought a few surprises.  As a handful of players agreed to terms with the majority returning to their original teams, the Heat – and their free agents – were quiet.

Miami was preparing for their Saturday morning meeting with Gordon Hayward and Waiters and Johnson were waiting for the dust to settle to see where they fit in. And with the early signs that some sense of sanity may be returning to the process, that should be good news for the Heat.

The Heat will wait for Hayward’s decision before making their next move. After sitting down with Miami, the small forward will meet with the Celtics on Sunday and his original team, the Jazz, on Monday. But if Pat Riley gets a sense of what Hayward will do today he might proceed with the rest of his plan, which certainly will include one or both of Miami’s top free agents.

Outside of the two max deals – Stephen Curry agreeing with the Warriors for $201 million and Blake Griffin returning to the Clippers for $173 million, both for five years – the deals seemed reasonable and measured. This could benefit the Heat when it comes to Waiters and Johnson.

The only teams showing initial interest in either player was the Clippers with Johnson. But that likely ended when Griffin agreed to return. So both players are sitting out there without any reports of scheduled meetings.

The Heat certainly will talk to both but their interest in bringing them back could vary. If Hayward buys into the Heat’s sales pitch, that should leave enough money to re-sign either Johnson or Waiters and all signs point to then bringing back Johnson because of the need of a power forward. And on Friday Johnson told the Miami Herald he is “a patient guy” and the Heat “can take as long as they want” with Hayward.

Johnson’s willingness to stand by while Miami conducts its initial business is a great benefit to the Heat and eases the concern they could lose him over the next few days.

Waiters’ situation is a bit more complicated. He has not spoken to reporters recently and although, like Johnson, he has said several times since the end of the season his preference is to return to Miami, the test would come if he received a decent offer in the next couple of days.

Miami will be willing to let Waiters walk if it reels in Hayward, the tricky part will be circling back to Waiters if Hayward chooses Boston or Utah. The Heat’s ‘Plan B’ is more and more looking like re-signing both Johnson and Waiters to a manageable number and having extra cap space to either bring back Wayne Ellington or pursue another free agent.

Other than Curry and Griffin, the deals announced early Saturday were reasonable compared to the first-day frenzy last season. Riley recently called those contracts “out of whack.”

And with little buzz surrounding Johnson and Waiters, if Miami opts to bring back both perhaps it could get them for $22-$25 million combined. That could leave the Heat with $14-$17 million available to add another very valuable piece depending on what they do with Wayne Ellington and if they release Josh McRoberts to stretch his contract.

[2017 Miami Heat Free Agency Primer: What you need to know about the Heat’s salary cap situation]

[Add ‘culture’ to the Miami Heat’s list of selling points in free agency]

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More starting to believe Clippers forward Blake Griffin could sign with Miami Heat

Blake Griffin of the LA Clippers scores against the Wizards during a game at the Staples Center in March. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin to the Miami Heat is becoming a popular theme.

While many believe deep-pocketed owner Steve Ballmer will not let the five-time All-Star leave the Clippers, some are saying the Heat is a very real destination.

Griffin has informed the Clippers he will be declining his option for $20.1 million next season and enter free agency. Griffin will be seeking a max contract starting at around $29 million and the Heat with at least $35 million to spend once they release Chris Bosh will have the means to reel in what would be considered a ‘whale.’

But is Pat Riley willing to offer Griffin a max contract?

Lee Jenkins, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated who covers the NBA, said today on The Herd with Colin Cowherd his guess is that Griffin, 28, will leave L.A. for Miami. Griffin, a 6-foot-10 power forward, averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season while shooting 49.3 percent. He limited players he guarded to 43.6 percent shooting – 2.9 percent under than their normal percentage.

The biggest gamble is Griffin’s health. He has missed 80 games in the last three regular seasons combined and the last two years his postseason was cut short, including playing in just three games in the 2017 playoffs because of a toe injury. In 2016 Griffin partially tore his left quadriceps tendon in Game 4 of the Clippers first-round series and did not return.

Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Griffin for a season in L.A., believes his former teammate will sign with the Clippers or the Heat. But he does believe the odds are better of both Griffin and teammate Chris Paul returning to the Clippers.  And then there is Bleacher Report, which predicted Griffin will sign with the Celtics.

Griffin is eligible to re-sign with the Clippers for five years and about $175 million. If he leaves, the most he can make is about $127 million over four years with another team.

While a healthy Griffin is one of the best power forwards in the league, it would require a major chunk of Miami’s money to sign him. The Heat have expressed their desire to re-sign their own power forward, James Johnson, who would cost about half as much as Griffin, probably a little less than that, in the first year of his deal.

If the Heat signed Griffin the ideal scenario would be to bring back guard Dion Waiters. But it would take some work for Pat Riley and GM Andy Elisburg to find an additional $5 million or so to make that happen. Miami can get to about $39 million under the cap by stretching Josh McRoberts’ contract.

[Miami Heat players snubbed in voting for All-Defensive teams]

[2017 Free Agency Preview: What will it take for the Miami Heat to re-sign James Johnson?]

[Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni beats out Heat’s Erik Spoelstra, Spurs’ Gregg Popovich for Coach of the Year]

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

 

 

Mailbag: Gordon Hayward AND Blake Griffin? Miami Heat fans can dream, can’t they?

Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz dribbles away from Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers during a 2014 game at the Staples Center. (Getty Images)

The peak of the NBA offseason is less than five days away and Miami Heat fans are anxious to see what Pat Riley will do.

The Heat could have $35-$39 million to spend in free agency. How will they spend it? We look at ways in this week’s 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 Evan Cohen (@EvCoRadio) who you can hear on Sirius XM radio and ESPN West Palm Beach: Since (Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin) would have to take less to leave their respective teams, is there any chance u could see them going even lower to play 2gether?

The trend started in 2010 when the Big Three came to Miami and each took a little less to help the Heat bring back Udonis Haslem and chase a few other players. And Kevin Durant has said he will take less this summer to help the Warriors bring back as many players as they can.

So, yes, I believe certain players could make a sacrifice, but to a point.

Griffin has informed the Clippers he would be declining his player option for $20.1 million next season. Hayward is expected to do the same with his Jazz contract that would have paid him $16.7 million.

Both came into the league in 2010 and as players who been in the league for seven years are eligible to re-sign with their own teams for five years and about $175 million. If they leave, the most they can make is about $127 million over four years. Both deals would start at about $29 million.

Other than Miami, the only team I could see attempting to sign both is Boston, but the Celtics appear more interested in adding Paul George, which would mean room for just one of the two. As for the Heat attempting to fit in both, that would be difficult.

The Heat have about $35 million available ($39 million if they stretch Josh McRoberts’ contract). Say Hayward and Griffin agreed to start at $25 million – and that would take a hard sell – Miami would have to clear about $10-$11 million in cap space. Miami now would have to pull off a sign-and-trade (or two) that means giving up some combination of Wayne Ellington, Justice Winslow and Tyler Johnson, if the other team agrees.

If they came in around $48 combined, shedding and extra $8 million or so would not be as difficult or crippling to the team.

From @KevinMarin27: Thoughts on possible Dragic-Wade-Hayward-JJ-Hassan lineup for next season….

Dwyane Wade is headed back to Chicago. Even the Bulls dealing Jimmy Butler is not going to force Wade to turn down $23.8 million. Now, could Wade eventually be bought out and return to Miami? That’s a possibility. But when is that going to happen? Do the two come to an agreement early or do they wait and try to get something for Wade around the trade deadline?

The other four just could be the Plan A Riley was talking about (then maybe stick Josh Richardson at shooting guard). Andy Elisburg might have some work to do to fit in Hayward and James Johnson under the salary cap but it is possible if both make a minor sacrifice or Miami opens space with a sign-and-trade with Utah if Hayward really wants to play for the Heat.

[A look at Bam Adebayo’s ‘wow’ workout that caught the Heat’s attention]

[Pat Riley is looking for major upgrades to Heat roster but he warns free agency movement could be limited]

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See which major free agent one site has signing with the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are expected to pursue Utah small forward Gordon Hayward, one of the gems of this year’s free agency class. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

The draft is over, which means those projections now shift to free agency.

And one of the early predictions have the Miami Heat landing the player that many believe to be at the top of their list.

Bleacher Report says 6-foot-8 small forward Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz will sign with the Heat and become another foundational piece to Pat Riley’s attempt to build another title contender.

Hayward, 27, would fit right in with the Heat, adding a shooting wing who would benefit from point guard Goran Dragic’s drive-and-kick game and help spread the floor to give center Hassan Whiteside, the league’s leading rebounder, more room to operate.

[Pat Riley is looking for major upgrades to Miami Heat roster but he warns free agency movement could be limited]

[Kentucky men’s basketball beat writer offers scouting report on Heat first-round pick Bam Adebayo]

Here is what Bleacher Report said in its analysis as to where Hayward will sign:

The smart money might suggest the Heat. Utah is a quality team mired in a wild conference, and Boston has a logjam at small forward, Hayward’s position. Miami has the weather, Whiteside and Riley going for it, with the team a star arrival away from becoming a serious contender in the Eastern Conference again.

Hayward is coming off his best season averaging 21.9 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field and 39.8 percent on 3-pointers for Utah. And the Heat have about $35 million to spend in free agency but can increase that number by “stretching” Josh McRoberts’ contract, which would add $4 million.

As a seven-year veteran, the starting price for Hayward will be around $29 million. But because Hayward did not make an All-NBA team he is not eligible for a super-max contract. The Jazz can offer him a five-year deal for around $170 million while other teams can give him four-years for $127 million.

But that gap is not as wide as it sounds considering much of that $43 million difference is reduced during that player’s fifth year if he signs with another team. And if he signs with the Heat, the absence of a state tax reduces that margin further.

Miami will be juggling how to handle their own free agents James Johnson and Dion Waiters while pursing others. If the Heat land a max free agent then they cannot afford both and may need GM Andy Elisburg to work even more magic to fit in one of their own players.

The Heat’s main competitor for Hayward appears to be Boston. But like the Heat, the Celtics will have a lot going on early in free agency.

Boston still has not given up on acquiring Indiana’s Paul George, a trade that appeared close to being made on draft night. The Celtics also have been linked to Clippers power forward Blake Griffin. Griffin recently listed Boston, New York, Phoenix and Toronto as his favorite NBA cities is a recent interview, but not necessarily where he would most want to play.

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Mailbag: Could the Miami Heat trade the 14th pick and come out of the draft with zero or multiple players?

Heat president Pat Riley, shown here with coach Erik Spoelstra, has proven he’s open to do anything with his first round draft pick.(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The countdown to the draft now can be measured in hours and not days and the speculation is heating up.

With the 14th overall pick the Miami Heat have options, although not as many as teams in the top 10 or with multiple picks. What are those options? We answer that and more in today’s 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: Do you think it’s possible that after the draft is over Miami leaves with no players? Could they draft someone for another team to acquire future (and needed) picks and or package 14 with McRoberts to unload and accumulate picks for the future?

The Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to acquire another lottery pick and who knows how many more would like to move into the top 14.

The Miami Heat have that 14th and final lotter pick in Thursday’s draft. Could they find a trade partner?

The chances of the Heat drafting a player and then moving that player certainly is realistic considering Pat Riley’s history. The only reason the Heat cannot trade that selection prior to the draft is because of their willingness to unload draft picks and teams are not allowed to trade away consecutive first round picks (the Heat did not have a first rounder last season and already moved its 2018 first rounder).

Acquiring additional picks would be beneficial considering Miami does do not possess a second round pick in the next five years starting with this draft, and along with no first-round pick next season it already has dealt their first rounder in 2021.

The Heat would love to dump Josh McRoberts’ $6-million salary. If they could make a deal to move down in the draft that would allow them to pick up a second rounder and attach McRoberts’ salary to the trade that would be win-win. The Heat do have the option of stretching McRoberts’ contract which means releasing the power forward/center and taking cap hits of $2 million for each of the next three seasons instead of a $6 million cap hit this season. That $4 million savings in July could be valuable.

The more likely scenario, rather than coming away with no players in this draft, is the Heat moving down to acquire an additional pick, especially considering the new two-way contracts that allow teams to keep two additional players under their control who they send to the developmental league. The Heat value the D-League and have used Sioux Falls to develop players like Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White.

Portland has three picks and perhaps it would be willing to deal Nos. 20 and 26. Same with Utah which owns the 24th and 30th picks. Or perhaps Miami could drop down a few spots to late teens and add up a second rounder.

All of this, of course, depends on how much the Heat like the players that will be available to them with the 14th pick. Miami may not be sure it if can retain James Johnson and may believe someone like Lauri Markkanen (perhaps the best case scenario) or John Collins would be more valuable than an extra pick. Or the same when it comes to Dion Waiters and perhaps adding a Donovan Mitchell or Luke Kennard or OG Anunoby.

But one thing is certain, Riley and GM Andy Elisburg will explore every option.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: If the Heat hold onto the 14th pick could that player will be in the rotation next season or do you seem him spending time in the D league?

Yes. Okay, I know that’s a bit vague but the answer is yes to both. The Heat will be active in free agency but we have no idea how that will end up. Miami may need this pick to fill out the bench whether he is a big (more likely) or a wing. We saw two years ago both of the Heat’s picks, Justise Winslow at No. 10 overall and Josh Richardson in the second round, became key contributors.

Miami has had a lot of success using the developmental league to its advantage and would have no problem sending the pick to Sioux Falls for seasoning if it believed it was warranted. But with a lottery pick, the Heat’s plans are to add a player that can remain on the Heat roster and eventually contribute. … if they keep that pick.

[Tom D’Angelo’s 2017 NBA mock draft: Best case scenario falling to Miami Heat]

[Anthony Chiang’s 2017 NBA mock draft: Should Heat spend another first-round pick on a small forward?]

 

Consensus mock draft has Indiana’s OG Anunoby going 14th to Miami Heat

Indiana’s OG Anunoby goes to the basket in a game this season at Rutgers.(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Mock drafts are all over the board when it comes to the Miami Heat’s pick at No. 14.

NBA.com studied 12 of them and found eight different players projected as the 14th pick in the June 22 draft. Three different mocks had the Heat selecting Indiana small forward OG Anunoby and two had them picking UCLA power forward T.J. Leaf and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Others projected to go to Miami: Duke power forward Harry Giles, Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen, Kentucky center Edrice Adebayo, UCLA center/power forward Ike Anigbogu and Wake Forest power forward John Collins.

The site assigned a numerical value to each mock limiting it to the 14 lottery teams and came with Anunoby being taken 14th. It had Jackson going 12th to the Pistons and Denver selecting Donovan Mitchell of Louisville one spot ahead of Miami.

That means Collins, the former Cardinal Newman High standout who at one time was linked to the Heat by three different mock drafts, drops out of the lottery. Collins is projected anywhere from No. 13 to 18 by most mock drafts.

The 6-8, 232-pound Anunoby played just 16 games last season before tearing his ACL. He is considered an elite defender and draws comparisons to Spurs’ All-NBA small forward Kawhi Leonard. He could be a steal at No. 14 considering he likely would have been projected much higher in the lottery had he not been injured.

The Heat will workout and/or interview about 50 players, according to vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer, with the process starting weeks ago at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago.

Several prospects projected to go in the middle of the first round have come through South Florida for private workouts.

Miami’s biggest needs are a power forward/center and small forward. With James Johnson and Udonis Haslem becoming free agents July 1, the only true power forwards/centers on the roster behind Hassan Whiteside will be Josh McRoberts and Okaro White. Justise Winslow is the lone true small forward on the roster. Rodney McGruder started at the spot last season after Winslow was injured.

[Mailbag: What is the best possible outcome for the Heat in the NBA draft?]

[2017 NBA Finals: 10 storylines as the Cavaliers and Warriors meet for third straight year]

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Now that Josh McRoberts has opted in, what’s next for him and the Heat?

Josh McRoberts #4 of the Miami Heat posts up Jordan Clarkson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 22, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Josh McRoberts made it official last week. The 30-year-old forward exercised his opt-in to return to the Heat next season for $6 million.

But there are still a few ways Miami can avoid McRoberts’ $6 million cap hit. Continue reading “Now that Josh McRoberts has opted in, what’s next for him and the Heat?”

Mailbag: How does Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts news affect Heat’s offseason plans?

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)

It’s been a week full of Heat news.

Chris Bosh and the Heat seem to be moving toward an amicable final breakup, and Josh McRoberts opted in to his $6 million option with Miami for next season. How do these storylines affect the Heat’s free agency plans? Continue reading “Mailbag: How does Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts news affect Heat’s offseason plans?”

Josh McRoberts opts in to return to Miami Heat for $6 million salary next season

Heat forward Josh McRoberts drives against Grizzlies center Marc Gasol in a game earlier this season. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

MIAMI — Josh McRoberts is back on the Heat’s books.

McRoberts has exercised his opt-in to return to the Heat for $6 million next season, agent Mike Conley told the Palm Beach Post on Tuesday. It’s the final season of the four-year, $22 million contract he signed with Miami in the summer of 2014 — the same summer the organization lost LeBron James to Cleveland. Continue reading “Josh McRoberts opts in to return to Miami Heat for $6 million salary next season”

Miami Heat Mailbag: What kind of package will it take to acquire Paul George from Indiana?

If Indiana’s’ Paul George is on the market, what kind of package would the Heat have to put together to acquire him? (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Pat Riley will explore many trade opportunities this summer to turn the Heat into a legitimate contender.

One of those could be checking into the availability of Pacers swingman Paul George. And if the four-time All-Star is on the market, what would it take to get him?

We answer that today in our 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 @PurpleBuckets: Is Winslow, Tyler Johnson, and McRoberts enough for Paul George?

Kevin Pritchard has been on the job as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations less than 24 hours. I am sure he would like to hold onto that title through at least the summer.

This is not to say the Heat should not at least kick the tires on George, who, though he averaged 28 points as the Pacers lost four close games to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, did not shoot well (.386) and was critical of teammates. But it will take a lot more than Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and dumping Josh McRoberts’ salary on Indiana. The Pacers are going to want value for their star who averaged 23.7 points and 6.6 rebounds this season and probably will start by asking for center Hassan Whiteside.

The Heat probably is not trading their 7-foot rebounding machine and defensive difference maker who can get you 17-20 points a game. Although the Heat are not anxious to trade Goran Dragic, they should see if there is a package they could build around the point guard for the rare opportunity to acquire a talent like George. But it will take a lot more than Dragic and the Heat probably do not have enough to satisfy the Pacers.

Also, trading for George would come with a risk. The Southern California native is anxious to return home and he has a player option on his contract for 2018-19. Before giving up a package of talented players you better have an assurance he is not just a one-year rental.

From @Shadow_Knight3 : if willie reed were to leave free agency, would it be possible for heat to call up Keith Benson to be the back up center?

Keith Benson

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Benson never got that NBA call up this season despite having a solid D-League season with Miami’s Sioux Falls affiliate. He was 11th in the league in scoring with a 20.5 average and fourth in rebounding with 10.5 per game. He finished third with a .602 field goal percentage

Benson, 28, has played three NBA games, all coming for the Warriors in 2011-12. He was signed by Miami in August and  appeared in three preseason games with the Heat, averaging 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10.9 minutes.

Coach Erik Spoelstra cited his upside when he was waived by the Heat about a week prior to the start of the season.

“He’s just one of those talented bigs you want to spend time with and we want to spend more time with him and see where we can take that and he’s gotten a lot better,” Spoelstra said then.

The feeling is Benson needs more seasoning, which means his chances of making Miami, or any other team, as a backup center likely cannot be answered until we see his development though the summer leagues and training camp.

[Paul Millsap plans to opt out, enter free agency this summer. Should the Heat be interested?]

[Willie Reed says returning to the Heat next season ‘would be great.’ But is it realistic?]

[Will Dwyane Wade take $24 million to return to Chicago, or could his next game be in a Miami Heat uniform?]

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