“I think it’s open,” Heat forward Josh Richardson said. “The last decade basically it’s been LeBron out of the East every year. I feel like everybody feels they kind of have a clean slate to go ahead and attack this year with more of an open chance.”
And that means the Heat. Richardson and Kelly Olynyk are among the several players in Las Vegas to attend summer league games and check in on Tuesday’s players association meetings.
Richardson was asked what surprised him most about free agency and it wasn’t James’ decision to leave his old team rather one player’s decision to stay with his old team.
“The biggest thing that surprised me, probably (Paul George) staying in Oklahoma City,” he said. “I thought he was leaving.”
Olynyk agrees the conference is more open but he warns a lot of teams are hunting to replace the Cavaliers in the Finals. Cleveland has come out of the East four consecutive years, a streak that matches Miami’s from 2011-2014 when James played for the Heat.
“It definitely opens up a little bit, but there’s still a lot of great teams,” Olynyk said. “It’s only one player gone.”
Could one of those be the Miami Heat? The Heat have been quiet during free agency, which was not unexpected. Miami entered $18 million over the salary cap and Pat Riley knew if he were going to make any moves it would have to be through trades and, so far, none have materialized.
Still, the Heat, including Richardson and Olynyk, believe Miami has enough within to improve from its 44-win 2017-18 season, which had them No. 6 in the East. Miami then lost to Philadelphia in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think we’re still a playoff team in the East, definitely,” Olynyk said. “We have a way to go. But if we keep building on last year and hopefully improve. … take our shot at it.”
Richardson took that one step further.
“Yeah, definitely,” Richardson said. “We felt like that last year. With No. 23 out of there it’s a little tough but I think we’re contenders.”
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 email@example.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.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“Contrary to what people might think about us trading him, we haven’t offered him to anybody really, to be honest with you.”
Whiteside is owed $52.5 million the next two seasons, the final two of a four-year, $98.4 million max contract he signed two summers ago. His production has declined, bottoming out in the playoffs when he averaged 5.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in just 15.4 minutes per game during the Heat’s 4-1 series loss to the 76ers in the opening round.
“You go through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out,” Riley said. “I’ve been through this for 50 years.”
Riley then compared the situation to his relationship with his wife, Chris.
“This is like walking into my house and Chris yelling and screaming at me and I don’t talk to her for two weeks and we get together and carry on for another four years.”
Spoelstra has frequently become frustrated with Whiteside during Whiteside’s four seasons in Miami, unhappy when his lack of maturity would spill over onto the court. That relationship appeared to fracture last season as Whiteside’s playing time decreased, especially in the fourth quarters when Spoelstra would sometimes go small, often playing Kelly Olynyk – whose skills and versatility fit the NBA game nowadays better than Whiteside’s low-post, back-to-the-basket style – while leaving Whiteside on the bench.
That caused Whiteside to complain about his lack of playing time and his involvement in the offense. That frustration peaked in March when the Heat fined their center for a profanity-laced rant about his lack of playing time. Whiteside then expressed his dissatisfaction about how he was being used by Spoelstra following the postseason.
Riley said, following the season, Spoelstra and Whiteside needed an “intervention” and he would be the one to facilitate the meeting.
“Two months ago I said that and there has been movement,” Riley said early Friday morning. “I think you need to let a season sort of end and then you need to let how the season ended, which was on a negative note, not just from our players, they were disappointed, our coaches were disappointed. Anytime you lose in the first round there’s a lot of emotion. Whatever happened then was two months ago, you move on and you make the best of it. I think that’s where we are right now.”
But don’t mistake that for Pat Riley sitting on a yacht off some tropical island and a “closed” sign being hung on the offices at 601 Biscayne Blvd.
The Heat certainly are open for business as the NBA’s offseason officially kicks off with Thursday’s draft and then hits a frenzied pace 10 days later with the start of free agency. Somehow, the Heat will manage to join the party – they seemingly always do – but will they become bystanders or can they find a way to become the life of the party?
Recent history has not been kind to the Heat. Miami has entered the last two summers full of hope and optimism just from getting sit-downs with the two most coveted free agents – Kevin Durant in 2016 and Gordon Hayward in 2017.
Admittedly a longshot both years – more so with Durant – Miami had to settle for Plan B, in both cases. In 2016 – and after losing Dwyane Wade – that meant basically starting over by offering one-year deals to lower-level free agents and develop its young core of Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson. Last summer that meant holding onto free agents from the previous summer that showed promise – James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington – and picking up a nice supplemental part, which the Heat did with the solid signing of Kelly Olynyk.
Which brings us to the summer of 2018.
After watching Durant being convinced to chase rings at Golden State and Brad Stevens convincing Hayward to turn back the clock to his college days in Boston, could the Heat be looking at having failed to meet their highest expectations for the third consecutive summer?
Miami has been as much a victim of its own success and Riley’s reputation as anything else. Few teams ever even make the final cut when it comes to the summer’s biggest catch, but the Heat seem to every year. They did in 2010 and capitalized, leading to two titles and four consecutive Finals appearances, which raised the bar even higher. They did again the last two summers, although the outcome was far less satisfying than 2010.
For every LeBron James and Chris Bosh there is a Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward. And while some may look at it as if Riley is losing his touch, just by getting in the door every year shows his reputation remains intact.
Throwing a bag of championship rings on the table still resonates.
So how will 2018 play out? The Heat enter this offseason in a much different place with no flexibility and few assets to offer as major trade bait. And this free agency class is top heavy with Durant, James, Chris Paul, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins leading the way, with James, George and Cousins the realistic choices to switch teams.
And even without anything to offer, Riley still likely will get a sit-down with James. But getting in the door and closing the deal are two very different things. The only way James returns to Miami is for Riley and Andy Elisburg to pull off a stunning sign-and-trade that would involve convincing James the Heat are on the cusp of contending and then convincing Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to once again deal with Riley.
There is a better chance of Cleveland becoming the No. 1 tourist destination in the country than that happening.
Players like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, C.J. McCollum, John Wall and Andrew Wiggins to name a few could be explored. Any one of them would immediately become the best player on the Heat if acquired.
Yes, the pressure is on Riley to improve this team. The optics of bringing back this roster, one that won 44 games and lasted just five games in playoffs, intact would not be good. But Riley may have no choice and he raised that possibility following the season,.
I expect Riley to pull off some kind of deal to shake up this team even if it means putting the franchise in a better position for the future. Making a significant move, though, will be very difficult. Heat fans may be left wanting for more – for the third consecutive year – but even Riley may not be able to work that magic this summer.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
From @TheSpencerG: If Heat were to get Kawhi how do we stay competitive w/o giving up too much?
Several questions about the possibility of trading for San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, as you would expect. A couple centered on the price to acquire one of the top five players and arguably best two-way player in the league when healthy.
Everything has been speculation but the most widely reported deal when it comes to the Heat is Miami sending Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo to San Antonio for Leonard and Patty Mills. With Leonard set to make $20.1 million and Mills $11.6 million, this deal would work. But what becomes the real gamble, even if both sides agree, is Leonard can opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent next season.
Without a guarantee from Leonard, it’s unlikely the Heat makes this move and gives up their three most valued young assets and the foundation of the future. Even if Miami believed it had a chance to retain Leonard and sign him to a long-term deal, that would have to be predicated on Leonard liking what he sees during the season and believing the Heat are on the cusp of contending. But with a nucleus of Leonard, Mills, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade (if he returns), and Wayne Ellington (if he re-signs) just how good is this team?
Without some kind of assurance from Leonard, the Heat would have a difficult time pulling the trigger on this deal. But if Miami could get Leonard to commit (and, yes, that still comes with a bit of a gamble), it’s a deal the Heat definitely will think seriously about making.
From @Shadow_Knight3: Should Heat try to take a chance at Parsons which includes the 4th pick of the Draft.
Before answering this question let me say that nothing has been reported of talks between the Heat and Grizzlies. But a variation of one trade has been speculated so we’ll address it.
Memphis reportedly is so desperate to dump Chandler Parsons that they are willing to attach the No. 4 overall pick to a deal. A high price and one that is hard to believe depending on the return. Chandler, a 6-foot-9 small forward, was one of the worst signings of the summer of 2016 (and there were plenty) when Memphis gave him a four-year maximum contract worth $94.8 million. If the numbers sound familiar they should because it’s very close to the deal the Heat gave Whiteside that same summer.
The Parsons signing has been more disastrous for Memphis than the Whiteside signing has been for the Heat. He has played in just 70 games the last two seasons and is averaging 7.1 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 40.1 percent.
But just how desperate are the Grizzlies to dump that salary and could the Heat jump in to try to steal that pick? The more likely deal would be Parsons for Whiteside straight up. Two bad contracts traded for each other. The other big issue is then what does Memphis do with Marc Gasol, another bad contract, who is due to make 49.7 the next two seasons? And how would that help the Heat? As difficult as it was to watch Whiteside during the playoffs, he has given the Heat much more in the last two seasons than Parson has given the Grizzlies and that would solve nothing when it comes to the Heat’s salary cap situation.
Which means anyone who believes the Grizzlies would take Whiteside’s contract for Parsons and the No. 4 pick is delusional. Memphis is looking to dump a bad contract and does not want one in return. But let’s play along and say Memphis is that desperate, do the Heat have what the Grizzlies want to make the deal? The deal certainly could have to include some combination of Richardson, Winslow and Adebayo. But it is enough for Memphis to give up the chance of drafting Luca Doncic or Jaren Jackson Jr., or Mohamed Bamba or Michael Porter? And do the Heat believe a transformative player will be around at No. 4?
From @GajjarRahi: Who’s your starting SF in the future? Justice or Jrich?
A lot depends on the makeup of the roster but if both players are a part of the future, the Heat would ideally like to see Richardson at shooting guard and Winslow at small forward. But that is a big if with both being valuable trade assets and the Heat looking to upgrade the roster.
From @jphillips19915 Jun 17: Will we make a move Thursday night?
Oh yeah, there is a draft Thursday. Anything is possible as we discussed above with the reports concerning the Grizzlies, but the most likely scenario is Miami possibly obtaining a second-round pick. The tricky part is unless it is for a player, the deal could not be announced until July 1, which is when the Heat would have the money to trade for a pick in the second round.
Decisions over the past two years have helped put Miami in this position. Signing Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Josh Richardson to four-year deals that combine to cost them $200 million last summer, and investing $98 million in Hassan Whiteside and $50 million in Tyler Johnson the previous summer has left the Heat with very little wiggle room to make changes to their roster. Continue reading “Here’s how Pat Riley defended the roster decisions the Heat made last summer”