Derrick Jones Jr. credits Heat for holding him to ‘higher standard;’ Bam talks about playing ‘UD role’

Miami Heat guard Derrick Jones Jr., left, and Golden State Warriors forward Marcus Derrickson battle for rebounding position during a summer league game last week in Sacramento. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

LAS VEGAS – Derrick Jones Jr. will not play Tuesday when the Heat face Utah in their third game in the Las Vegas summer league, but the Heat have seen all they need from this jumping-jack forward.

Jones sprained his ankle in Sunday’s loss to the Hornets. Although the Heat list him as day-to-day, it’s doubtful Jones will play again in Las Vegas. Miami already has seen Jones’ game and confidence progress, something he says that has come because of demands that are non-negotiable with the Heat.

“I work harder than I did ever in my life when I’m with this team,” Jones said after the Heat’s practice Monday on the UNLV campus, where he spent one year of college. “They hold you to a higher standard. It’s like everybody in the organization is working hard so you don’t want to be that one guy that’s singled out – ‘He’s just in here BS-ing it and going half-ass.’

“I want to be that one that they say ‘Yeah, he’s in here every day, he’s working hard, he wants to be better.’ That’s the player I planned on being. That’s the player I am now.”

But Jones, 21, blames himself. He joined the Phoenix Suns at 19 after going undrafted out of UNLV. He played in just 36 games with the Suns over about 1 ½ years before being waived. He signed to a two-way contract with the Heat on Dec. 31.

During his time with Suns, Jones was assigned or recalled from their G League team 23 times.

“I should have held myself (with more) accountability when I was in Phoenix.” Jones said. “But I was a young kid, fresh out of college. I just had turned 19 years old. It’s something that I should have been doing. I’m doing it now.

“I realized I had to work harder. I feel like I’m one of the hardest working players on the team. I’m going to keep it going until whenever my day is done. I want to be able to feel like I worked my tail off every day, never took any days off.”

The Heat saw that commitment and rewarded Jones with a two-year standard contract he signed less than two weeks ago.

“This summer he really took it upon himself to get in the gym and work and grind,” Heat summer league coach Eric Glass said. “He became obsessed with the game. He just dominated every game he was in whether it was on the offensive boards, on the defensive end, his leadership, his attacking, he was on a different level than most of the other guys on the court and were really happy to see that.”

Jones averaged 21.3 points on 22-of-42 shooting in the three summer league games in Sacramento last week. He added 22 rebounds, six steals and four blocks.

Glass said Bam Adebayo will return for Tuesday’s 4:30 p..m. game after getting a break on Sunday. Adebayo said he played the “UD” role, referring to veteran Udonis Haslem who has been a leader and mentor in the Heat locker room for several years.

“They wanted me to be the UD of the team,” Adebayo said. “UD sits over there to be vocal and be loud, just help everybody out when they come off the court.”

[Is ‘elite shooter’ Duncan Robinson a candidate for Heat two-way contract?]

[Without LeBron in East, Josh Richardson believes Heat can go much further in playoffs]

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

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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]

Heat to face Lakers, whose players are excited to play with LeBron James

Workers remove the Nike LeBron James banner from the Sherwin-Williams building near Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Miami Heat face the Los Angeles Lakers tonight in their second summer league game. No, LeBron James will not be wearing a Lakers uniform, but he will be on their players’ minds.

James is taking his talents to Hollywood after agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers. The Lakers’ summer league team was in Sacramento when the news broke and it jolted two of LeBron’s future teammates out of bed.

Second year guard Josh Hart and first-round draft pick Mortiz Wagner both said they were chillin’ when they heard LeBron was coming to L.A.

“I was laying down in my hotel room,,” Hart said. “I really didn’t know it. …. ‘What they say?’ I was just kind of in shock. I was like, ‘Wow!’ This is the best player in the world coming to L.A. The opportunity to play with someone like that is amazing and it’s something you dream about. I’m anxious to get started.

Of course, Hart may never have that chance. If the Lakers pull off the deal for Kawhi Leonard, Hart could be one of the players headed to the Spurs. The 30th pick in the 2017 draft averaged 7.9 points in 63 games, 23 starts, as a rookie. He scored 23 points Monday in the Lakers’ 98-93 loss to the Kings in their summer league opener, sharing team-high scoring honors with Wagner.

Wagner, taken 25th overall last month, is anxious to watch LeBron as a teammate.

“I found out in my bed in my hotel room,” Wagner said. “Very excited. Anytime you get the chance to work with the greatest of all time in any job I think it’s very exciting and do and be a part of it and to see how he works and competes is exciting.”

Lakers summer league coach Miles Simon said he addressed the organization’s free agency frenzy. After agreeing with James, the Lakers also have brought on Rajon Rondo, Lance Stevenson, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and renounced the rights to Julius Randle, who is headed to New Orleans.

“Before the game I just let them know everybody’s reading the Internet, watching SportsCenter, and it’s an exciting time to be a Laker,” Miles said. “We are one of the greatest franchises in sports history.

“But I told them, ‘Block that all out.’ These next couple of weeks is all about these guys and their journey and how they’re going to start to make their mark and their footprint in the NBA. This is really truly about these guys we have in the locker room wearing this uniform so they can get better and establish themselves as NBA players.”

Meanwhile, Heat summer league coach Eric Glass has no such worries as Miami remains hamstrung this free agency season with a roster that is about $18 million over the salary cap. In fact, Heat president Pat Riley is in Sacramento to watch his young players. Riley, reportedly, is looking at some trades and likely trying to shed some salaries.

Miami’s biggest moves when it comes to free agency will center on their own free agents, Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.

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

[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?]

[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”

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

Wayne Ellington established a Miami Heat single-season mark with 227 made 3-pointers last season.(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Philadelphia 76ers are bringing back guard JJ Redick.

Where does that leave Heat free agent Wayne Ellington?

Ellington, 30, is one of several shooting guards who remain on the market the second day of free agency. But with players agreeing at a whirlwind pace, money drying up and teams looking to show fiscal responsibility, it appears Ellington’s options are dwindling.

The Heat and Ellington would like to get this done. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra sincerely have a soft spot for a player who not only gives everything he has to make himself better but is as solid a person off the court as he is an asset on the court. And Ellington proved how valuable he is on the court last season when he established the Heat’s single-season record with 227 made 3-points, which was tied for sixth in the league.

But for the Heat to bring back Ellington at the $10.9 million they are allowed to pay him next year by having his early Bird rights, that would put them about $7 million into the luxury tax, and that does not include money for Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. With a team that isn’t a contender in the Eastern Conference, Miami is not likely to foot a large luxury tax bill.

The Associated Press reported 23 teams reached out to Ellington at the start of free agency although just eight had enough cap space to sign players above the exceptions. Among them, the Lakers, Suns, Phoenix have handed out significant deals. Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento have space but they appear more interested in using that for trades. Indiana has just enough room but they signed Doug McDermott.

Which leaves. … the 76ers.

Philadelphia still has about $13 million remaining in cap space and could target Ellington, whether or not they are able to acquire Kawhi Leonard. After losing Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee) and Marco Belinelli (San Antonio) the Sixers could use another shooter, especially in the backcourt on a roster that includes two guards _ Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz – who are challenged offensively when it comes to perimeter shooting.

And remember, Ellington was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and relished the opportunity to play in front of family and friends during the playoffs.

The point is coming soon where many, many free agents will start scrambling for deals. Among the shooting guards still available: Tyreke Evans, Zach LaVine, Jamal Crawford, Avery Bradley, Rodney Hood and, of course, Wade.

The chances of Miami bringing back Ellington appear to hinge on two things: Whether Wade and Haslem return (and that may not even be known for weeks or even longer) but more likely whether Riley can make a trade to move some contracts and open enough space to re-sign Ellington without crossing the luxury tax line.

[Miami Heat Summer League: Five things to watch the next two weeks]

[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?]

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

 

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

Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson (8), James Johnson, second from left, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Josh Richardson (0) talk on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 129-102. (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 have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?”

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”

Time move on Heat Nation, LeBron James is not walking through that door anytime soon

It’s time to move on from the idea of ever seen LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform again. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For those who still believed LeBron James: The Sequel was coming soon to an arena on Biscayne Blvd., it’s now time to move on.

The Chosen One has chosen to forgo the final year of his Cleveland contract that would have paid him $35.6 million, to pursue bigger and better things as he enters the final quarter of his career.

Bigger and better things that almost certainly do not include the Miami Heat.

James informed the Cavaliers of his decision earlier today, according to several reports, and will hit the open market at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, which surely will add another layer of crazy to what every year is a fascinating NBA free agency period.

The decision (as opposed to The Decision III, which is coming soon) is not what Heat Nation wanted to hear. LeBron has essentially eliminated any teams over the cap as his future employer, which realistically reduces his options to the Lakers, Cavaliers and an outside chance Philadelphia jumps into the mix. The Cavaliers can offer James a five-year deal worth more a little more than $200. Any other team with space can sign him for four years and about $150 million.

LeBron taking his talents to South Beach for a second time in eight years had a much better chance of happening if he picked up that final year of his deal. That would have expanded the pool of teams to those over the cap, which would have put the Rockets and Heat at the top of the list, although Miami probably still would have been a distant second.

Miami is $18 million over the projected $101 million salary cap for the 2018-19 season and that’s with 10 players and before any decisions are made on Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Wayne Ellington. Just by rounding out their roster with minimum deals that would put the Heat close to $125 million.

James’ next max contract will come with a starting salary of $35.4 million. So, to add LeBron as a straight up free agent, and not in a sign-and-trade, the Heat would have to shed at least $53 million in salary.

Not happening.

As for a sign-and-trade, that, too, is very difficult because it triggers the hard cap, which is projected at $129 million. Teams receiving the free agent in the sign-and-trade deal — in this case the Heat — can’t surpass the $129 million apron at the end of the trade. Because of this, Miami would have to send out at least $31 million to take James’ $35 million salary back in a sign-and-trade.

Even if the Cavaliers wanted the Heat’s three youngest assets with the most potential – Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow – their 2018-19 salaries come to $16.7 million. The Cavs are not taking back another $14 million in long term salaries, especially if it is to help out the Heat. If Cleveland is going to lose LeBron, it certainly would rather see him go West.

If LeBron opted in it would have been a signal that a trade was lined up, probably meaning he was headed to either Houston or Miami. But even then, Houston is a much more attractive option with their backcourt of MVP James Harden and free agent Chris Paul, who, along with Wade, is part of LeBron’s inner circle when it comes to his peers. LeBron then would have formed a Big Three that could have challenged Golden State’s stranglehold on the league.

Some, though, might still believe the Heat have a chance and LeBron still could request a sit down with Pat Riley. And because we are talking LeBron and Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg’s magic calculator, perhaps it is foolish to completely count out the Heat until LeBron’s signature is on a contract with another team’s logo in the header.

Any news surrounding LeBron goes viral. But any LeBron news leading up to his free agency tends to break the Internet.

LeBron was in Miami last weekend, attending his son’s basketball game and the Internet was wild with speculation. He also was spotted in Brickell. The craziest speculation was an unconfirmed report that LeBron was involved in some clandestine meeting with Riley and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra during the week.

But this is not 2010. The Heat are not flush with money and Miami does not have bargaining chips like a Wade in his prime or Chris Bosh to entice the best player on the planet.

Unless Riley can pull off a miracle that would make any other of the splashy moves he has made in his 23 years in Miami look ho-hum, it’s time to move on Heat Nation.

LeBron James is not walking through that door.

2018 Heat Offseason Preview

[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?]

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

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

 

Miami Heat extend qualifying offer to guard Derrick Walton Jr.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra talks with guard Derrick Walton Jr. during a game last season.
(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Miami Heat have sent a qualifying offer to Derrick Walton Jr. for his two-way contract, making the 6-foot-1 point guard a restricted free agent starting Sunday.

The Heat will be allowed to match any offers Walton might receive.

The move was made with the intention of bringing back Walton on another two-way contract, similar to what the Heat did with Derrick Jones Jr., earlier this month. The Heat still could offer a two-way contract to another player but would have to release Walton or Jones.

A player can’t play under two-way contracts for the same team for more than three years total. Walton just completed his first season with the Heat under a two-way deal.

Walton was signed to his two-way contract last July after going undrafted out of Michigan in 2017. He split last season between the Heat and Miami’s G League developmental team in Sioux Falls. Walton appeared in 16 games for the Heat, averaging 1.8, points 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 9.2 minutes. At Sioux Falls he played in 27 games, all starts, and averaged 16.1 points, 7.0 assists and 3.9 rebounds. He shot 90.2 percent on free throws, which was fifth in the G League.

Walton and Jones will be a part of the Heat’s summer league teams which play in Sacramento and Las Vegas in July.

Miami’s next order of business before free agency starts at 12:01 Sunday is to guarantee Rodney McGruder’s $1.5 million contract for next season.  That decision must come before Sunday.

The Heat now have seven players from the 2017-18 roster who will become free agents Sunday: Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Jordan Mickey, Jones and Walton.

Miami has 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million, including McGruder if his deal is guaranteed.

That puts the Heat above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.

[Heat Mailbag: Could Wizards-Clippers trade set up deal that involves Hassan Whiteside? That & more on Winslow at the point]

[2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?]

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