Mailbag: Is trading for Jimmy Butler worth the risk for Heat?

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)

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

@adrianw743: What’s a fair offer for Jimmy Butler?

Anthony Chiang: It all depends on whether Jimmy Butler would commit long-term to the Heat. This is very much like the Kawhi Leonard situation. According to a recent report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, Butler is “frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates — specifically Karl-Anthony Towns” and does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves. Like Leonard, Butler can become a free agent next summer and leave to another team if Minnesota hasn’t traded him by then. But it’s important to note that the Timberwolves would have to be convinced there’s no way they can repair the relationship before turning to trade possibilities. A trade is probably the last resort at this point. Anyway, if Butler does give the Heat a long-term commitment, everything should be on the table to make a deal work. The Tom Thibodeau-led Timberwolves would probably want a defensive minded replacement for Butler, and Josh Richardson fits that mold perfectly. But in order to make salary matching work, Miami would need to include more than that in the trade.

If Butler does not want to give the Heat a long-term commitment, trading away part of the young core for one season of Butler makes little sense … unless the Heat are willing to bet on themselves in getting him to stay similar to what Oklahoma City accomplished with Paul George. Is that a risk Miami is willing to take? If the Leonard situation is any indication, no. But you have to wonder, what do the Heat really have to lose by taking this risk? Yes, a part of their young core. But worst case scenario, Butler leaves after one season and all of a sudden Miami has cap space to work with. As Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti (or A Tribe Called Quest) once said, “Scared money don’t make none.”

@iebrahim81: What’s the buzz around re-signing Winslow? We have two seasons left of him before he becomes a RFA.

Anthony Chiang: Actually, the Heat have one season left before Justise Winslow becomes a restricted free agent. If Miami does not extend Winslow’s contract between now and the 2018-19 regular-season opener, he will become a restricted free agent next summer. What will Winslow be looking for in a new deal? Well, Utah’s Dante Exum just agreed to a 3-year, $33 million contract extension. That’s probably close to what it will take to extend Winslow. The problem is the Heat already have $118 million committed to nine players for the 2019-20 season, and the salary cap is projected at $109 million. That means Miami is already capped out, which leaves little room to extend Winslow if other salary can’t be shed.

[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]

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Tonight’s matchup: Heat looking for consistency, to exploit Timberwolves’ suspect defense


When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn.

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 8-9, Minnesota 11-7

Justise Winslow of the Miami Heat is defended by Taj Gibson and Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves during Minnesota’s victory in Miami last month.(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)



F: Justise Winslow

F: Josh Richardson

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic


F: Andrew Wiggins

F: Taj Gibson

C: Karl-Anthony Towns

G: Jimmy Butler

G: Jeff Teague

Scouting report: This is the final meeting of the season between the two teams. Minnesota defeated Miami, 125-122, in overtime during the second week of the season. Jeff Teague led Minnesota with 23 points, Andrew Wiggins added 22. … Karl-Anthony Towns leads the Wolves in scoring with 20.4 ppg and rebounds with 11.5 per game. Wiggins is averaging 18.8 points, Jimmy Butler 16.9. … The Timberwolves are 10th in the league in scoring with 108.1 ppg but are among the worst defensive teams. Minnesota is giving up 108.2 ppg and allowing opponents to shoot a league high 48.6 percent. … The Heat were without Hassan Whiteside in the first meeting between the two teams. Dion Waiters scored 33 points. Rookie Bam Adebayo had 13 points and 13 rebounds. … Miami has won two straight and 7-of-8 in Minnesota. … Miami has a better road record (4-4), than home record (4-5) but it is coming off its best win of the season, 104-98, against the Celtics at home.

[Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters asked Hassan Whiteside to set better screens. Message received … and fulfilled]

[Short-term memory helps Heat’s Mr. Clutch – Dion Waiters – sink Celtics in final three minutes]

[How intense were Heat’s practices leading up to win vs. Celtics? Dragic called them ‘toughest practices’ in his career]

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Five takeaways: Even in a painful overtime loss to the Timberwolves, there were some bright spots for the Heat

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters, center, goes up for a shot against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson, left, and guard Andrew Wiggins during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Miami. The Timberwolves defeated the Heat 125-122 in overtime. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — A 2-3 start was enough for the Heat to call for a team meeting Sunday.

But the team meeting wasn’t enough to help Miami avoid a three-game losing streak. The Heat (2-4) fell to the Timberwolves 125-122 in overtime Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Even in a painful overtime loss to the Timberwolves, there were some bright spots for the Heat”

Tonight’s matchup: Hassan Whiteside out for Heat’s game vs. Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns,right, eyes the basket as Miami Heat’s James Johnson defends during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Minnesota 3-3, Miami 2-3



F: Andrew Wiggins

F: Taj Gibson

C: Karl-Anthony Towns

G: Jimmy Butler

G: Jeff Teague


F: Josh Richardson

F: James Johnson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: Heat center Hassan Whiteside will miss his fifth consecutive game with a bone bruise in his left knee. … Rodney McGruder is also out for the Heat. There is no timetable for his return after left tibia surgery. … Heat guard Wayne Ellington has the intention of playing Monday despite missing shootaround with an illness. … Minnesota will be without center Justin Patton, who is out indefinitely after having surgery on July 4 to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot. … Miami swept the season-series against Minnesota last year, 2-0. … Six Heat players are averaging double-digit points this season. That list includes point guard Goran Dragic, who is averaging 20.2 points on 50.6 percent shooting … Miami ranks 21st of 30 teams in the NBA with a net rating of -5.1, which is a reliable team performance measure that’s the difference between a team’s offensive and defensive ratings (OR-DR). … Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns is off to a dominant start, averaging 24.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in his third NBA season. … Based on defensive rating, Minnesota has played the worst defense in the NBA to start the season. The Timberwolves have allowed 114.3 points per 100 possessions through six games.

[Why didn’t Dion Waiters play in the fourth quarter of Heat’s loss to Celtics?]

[Heat ‘aired it out’ in team meeting to discuss 2-3 start, but Whiteside still ‘very doubtful’ for Monday’s game]

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Five takeaways: Heat move into playoff spot with win over Timberwolves, but lose Dion Waiters to injury

Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins drive to the basket against the Miami Heat Josh Richardson, left, and Hassan Whiteside, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 17, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)

MIAMI — Since falling to 11-30, the Heat have spent the past two months climbing their way back into the playoff picture.

That two-month long climb reached an important point Friday night, as the Heat (34-35) defeated the Timberwolves 123-105 at AmericanAirlines Arena to become one of the Eastern Conference’s eight playoff teams … for now. Miami’s win paired with Detroit’s loss Friday pushed the Heat into a playoff spot with 13 games remaining in the regular season.

The Heat have now won 23 of their past 28 games since falling to 11-30. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat move into playoff spot with win over Timberwolves, but lose Dion Waiters to injury”

Where would an all-time Heat roster rank compared to other NBA teams?

Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title.
Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title.

The Miami Heat have made a sizable impact on the NBA landscape since joining the association in 1988, but how would a roster of the Heat’s all-time best players stack up against other teams’ historic collections?

PointAfter, a data-driven sports-research website, created rosters of the 12 best players that have played for each NBA organization and ranked the teams based on the win shares that the players on the roster accumulated over their time with that franchise. The player were chosen based on “a combination of All-NBA team nods, All-Defensive teams earned, All-Star appearances, championship rings and overall contributions to the organization,” according to PointAfter.

The Miami Heat’s starting five features a quintet of familiar faces: Tim Hardaway at point guard, Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, LeBron James at small forward, Chris Bosh at power forward and Alonzo Mourning at center. It should come as no surprise that the “Big Three,” with their championship runs and award-winning seasons, are well represented among the Heat’s hypothetical starting five.

The Heat’s all-time roster boasts a deep bench consisting of Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Rice, P.J. Brown, Eddie Jones, Rony Seikaly, Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem. O’Neal likely lost out on a starting spot due to the brevity of his stay in Miami, while the face of the franchise Udonis Halsem’s longevity no doubt helped earn him a roster spot.

As a whole, the Heat’s all-time roster combined for a total of 549.3 win shares, placing them 21st out of 30 teams. Miami finished ahead of the Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and in-state rival Orlando Magic, among others.

Not surprisingly, the Boston Celtics feature the greatest all-time roster, led by Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Bill Russell, PointAfter says. Rounding out the top five behind the Celtics are the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. Despite the efforts of Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls ranked only seventh on the list.

For more, read PointAfter.

Could the Heat trade for Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine?

Miami Heat Wayne Ellington (2) looks for help from the defense of Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Miami Heat Wayne Ellington (2) looks for help from the defense of Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins (22) during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The Minnesota Timberwolves entered this season seemingly destined to improve upon a lackluster 29-53 finish to their 2015-16 campaign. With new head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau and rising stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, the future appeared bright for a franchise that hasn’t experienced a winning season since 2004-05.

Despite their promise, the trio of 21-year-olds has failed to live up to expectations so far. The T’wolves have dropped 10 of their first 14 games, and many are suggesting that it’s time for Thibodeau to make a drastic move.

According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Thibodeau is expected to look to trade one of his young stars should the losses continue to pile up. The Lakers and the Bulls are mentioned as potential landing spots for the exiled Minnesota player, but could the Heat make a play for one of Minnesota’s young talents?

Pat Riley has made it clear that he intends to add another draft pick if possible, but Riley, with his notorious win-now personality, could attempt to expedite the rebuilding process by acquiring young, proven talent instead.

The Heat have several notable assets they could move. Point guard Goran Dragic has been the name most often linked to potential deals, as the 30-year-old continues the steady play that has been a hallmark of his nine-year career. Dragic would likely hold less value to a Minnesota team that already has an established point guard in Ricky Rubio and invested the No. 5 pick in the 2016 draft in point guard Kris Dunn. Despite the redundancy at the point, if Dragic were to be packaged with a pair of fellow veterans that are outperforming their contracts, like James Johnson or Dion Waiters, it might bolster the proposal.

The Heat also have a young core of Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson they could pull from to sweeten a trade offer, though that seems unlikely.

Of the ‘Wolves young trio, it seems that Towns would be the premiere trade target, but Minnesota likely has no desire to move a player that they’re hoping becomes a franchise cornerstone. In addition, few teams, if any, would be able to put together a package that would make such a trade worthwhile to Minnesota.

Wiggins is no stranger to being dealt, despite his talent and upside, having been acquired by the Timberwolves in the Kevin Love deal in 2014. Wiggins is averaging 23.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this season and appears to be ascending toward the superstar tier of NBA players. Any move for Wiggins would likely require a superstar-caliber asset in return.

The final piece of the ‘Wolves trifecta is LaVine, the former Slam Dunk Contest champion, who is averaging 19 points and three rebounds per game. LaVine has improved since entering the league in 2014 as the 13th overall pick. Though his value may be lower than that of Towns and Wiggins, he would also likely require a sizable return if traded.

It is unclear whether the Miami Heat have the assets to swing a deal for one of Minnesota’s three young studs, and it’s surprising that the Timberwolves are reportedly willing to move any of them so early in the season. In any case, whether the T’wolves decide to keep the trio intact or the Heat refuse to put together an adequate trade proposal, it remains unlikely that Towns, Wiggins or LaVine will be taking their talents to South Beach.

Miami Heat: Our reporters’ predictions for the 2016-17 NBA season


With a bunch of new faces and no Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, this Heat’s roster is full of question marks. But Miami’s new brand of basketball should be fun to watch, as the Heat will play fast and shoot a lot of three-pointers. A core of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson should keep Miami in the playoff race for most of the season. Record: 40-42

Playoff predictions:

(Click for a larger version)
(Click for a larger version)


Although the Heat are rebuilding, they will be entertaining. Miami is athletic, is going to hoist a lot of threes, will play hard and still has Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic leading the way. But it doesn’t have Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh and all that youth means the Heat will be sitting at home when the playoffs start for just the third time in the last 14 seasons. Record: 38-44

Playoff predictions:

(Click for a larger version.)
(Click for a larger version.)


Too much depends on what the record looks like by the trading deadline in February to make much of an intelligent forecast. If Hassan Whiteside develops a more reliable offensive game and a thicker skin, Miami could be flirting with .500 by then. On the other hand, if Goran Dragic and the other guards don’t mesh into something comprehensible, Pat Riley could decide to blow the whole thing up by midseason. We’ll split the difference and say no disaster but no playoffs either. Record: 36-46

NBA schedule 2016-17: 10 must-see Miami Heat games

Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat shoots during the game against the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Arena on February 24, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat shoots during the game against the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Arena on February 24, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat may not have the same household names they’ve had in previous years — having lost Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Mario Chalmers, among others — but they’re expected to field a younger team and a faster offense, both of which should bring some excitement to the fan base.

We all knew that the Heat would be testing out their new, young core against some of the best teams and biggest names in the league, but now we also know when these must-watch events will take place.

Here are 10 must-watch games on the Heat’s 2016-17 schedule.

Nov. 4, 2016: Heat @ Toronto Raptors

After getting knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by the Raptors last season, Miami will have a little extra motivation for this game. The Heat’s season ended in Toronto, and the holdovers from last year’s team will likely be seeking revenge. This game takes on extra significance depending on the health and status of Chris Bosh. If Bosh were to play, it would be interesting to see what type of reaction the former Raptor would get, considering his recent time off to deal with career-threatening blood clots.

Nov. 10, 2016: Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

For the first time, Dwyane Wade will need to use the key under the mat to get into the American Airlines Arena as a competitor. Wade will bring a new-look Bulls squad with him, a team with veteran guard Rajon Rondo, Olympian Jimmy Butler and center Robin Lopez. Wade’s return alone makes this a a must-watch game, but these two teams are also projected to battle for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Nov. 28, 2016: Heat vs. Boston Celtics

Many expect the Celtics to take a step forward this season after adding center Al Horford and rookie Jaylen Brown to a side that already included All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Heat and Celtics are no strangers and with Boston touted as an up-and-coming team in the East, the Heat will look to delay a conference power shift.

Dec. 16, 2016: Heat vs. Los Angeles Clippers

With Russell Westbrook off the board, Blake Griffin is arguably the most coveted player in the 2017 free-agent class. Griffin will lead a squad with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan into Miami in a game where the Heat could well be auditioning for his services.

Dec. 29, 2016: Heat @ Charlotte Hornets

In the same way that Heat players may look to get revenge on the Raptors for knocking them out of the playoff, the Charlotte Hornets will look to even the score against the Heat. Though it is unclear if “Purple Shirt Guy” will be in attendance, the rest of the Hornets fan base will be vocal in its displeasure for the Heat. Both teams will enter the season with new-look rosters, making for an intriguing Eastern Conference contest.

Jan. 10, 2017: Heat @ Golden State Warriors

The Warriors are the NBA’s premier superteam, having signed Kevin Durant away from Oklahoma City this offseason. The Warriors are also coming off the best regular season in NBA history and nearly went undefeated at home. Though the Heat will be hard-pressed to get a win at Oracle Arena, if Goran Dragic can get the offense moving at a face pace, this could be one of the most exciting games of the Heat’s season. The Heat also have some history with the creation of super teams, giving fans another point of interest.

Feb. 4, 2017: Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Yes, the Philadelphia 76ers have been bad and, no, they likely won’t make a huge leap forward into playoff contention this year. However, first overall pick Ben Simmons has the potential to be a franchise-altering talent and, if he plays anything like he did in Summer League, he will be one of the most exciting players in the league to watch. Add in Philly’s other young talents like Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor and the team may see the light at the end of the NBA lottery tunnel.

Mar. 4, 2017: Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s always a spectacle when LeBron James returns to Miami, no matter what the Heat’s roster looks like. Coming off of an NBA title, LeBron returns this time with vindication of his decision to return to Cleveland. Since LeBron’s return to the Cavs, though, Cleveland has not won a game in Miami, giving this year’s contest an extra bit of intrigue.

Mar. 17, 2017: Heat vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

While a matchup with the Timberwolves may not jump off the schedule, Minnesota may be one of the better young teams in the NBA, boasting a core of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns. The Wolves also drafted Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick in the draft and still have Spanish Olympian Ricky Rubio on the roster. With the Heat developing their own young core, this could be a rivalry that develops into one of the best in the NBA for years to come.

Mar. 29, 2017: Heat @ New York Knicks

The New York Knicks restocked their roster this offseason, trading for Derrick Rose and signing Joakim Noah, Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings to go along with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks, much like the Celtics, are viewed as having improved, making their matchup with the Heat more intriguing.

2016 NBA free agency: Where will Luol Deng sign?

Would Luol Deng gamble on the up and coming Timberwolves? (Getty Images)
Would Luol Deng gamble on the up and coming Timberwolves? (Getty Images)

It’s hard to predict much about the Heat’s free agency endeavor considering no one knows what Kevin Durant will do and they have complicated situations trying to retain Hassan Whiteside and Dwyane Wade.

Luol Deng looks like he might be more of a contingency than a priority in Miami’s plan, despite him saying his preference is to return and Pat Riley calling him “one of our core people.” If that doesn’t work out, here are the top four destinations for Deng:
Continue reading “2016 NBA free agency: Where will Luol Deng sign?”