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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Hayward’

A Preliminary Look at the Upcoming Miami Heat Free Agency

May 9th, 2017 3 comments
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The Miami Heat pulled off perhaps the greatest turnaround in NBA history this past season, under perhaps the most challenging of circumstances. After losing Dwyane Wade to free agency and Chris Bosh to a possible career-ending medical condition, it was always going to be an uphill battle. Persistent injuries along the way only increased that burden.

And yet, despite an exasperating 11-30 start to the season, the Heat pulled off an unprecedented reversal in its final 41 games, posting a 30-11 mark that was good for second-best in the league and made it the first team to ever fall more than 12 games under .500 and climb all the way back to even.

During those final 41 games, despite the lack of a (current or former) All-Star anywhere in the rotation, despite losing more games to injury than any other team, despite being forced to count a comically-undersized undrafted rookie and a pair of discarded free agent retreads among its starters, the Heat posted an astounding offensive efficiency (109.7 points per 100 possessions) that would, projected over the course of a full season, have ranked second best in its history.

They did it by employing the most fundamental of basketball principles: drive, and kick.

The Heat drove to the basket more than any other team in the NBA this season (35.1 times per game), and no single pair of teammates did it more frequently than Goran Dragic (11.9 per game) and Dion Waiters (11.0 per game). Only two players in the league averaged more drives per game than Dragic (Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schroder) and only two others more than Waiters (John Wall and Russell Westbrook).

What made the philosophy work so well for the Heat was not that they were lethal scorers at the rim. They weren’t. Waiters, in fact, shot a rather awful 42.8% when driving this season. What made it work so well is that they both passed so much. When they drove, they passed the ball a combined 44% of the time.

Dragic and Waiters each became exceptionally proficient at collapsing the defense to stop their penetration, then passing back out to create open looks for teammates — which for the Heat led to numerous easy chances at the rim for Hassan Whiteside, and tons of open 3-pointers for its well-spaced perimeter shooters.

So, with such a strategy, it would make sense that the Heat’s 3-point shooting success would correlate strongly with its overall success. Miami shot what would be an NBA-best 41.0% on 3-pointers in its 41 wins, and what would be an NBA-worst 31.7% in its 41 losses.  Read more…

Miami Heat Interested In Serge Ibaka?

February 13th, 2017 5 comments
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Update (05/03/17): According to Mike Scotto of BasketballInsiders, the trade proposal the Heat offered for Serge Ibaka included Tyler Johnson and salary fillers. A Heat offer of Tyler Johnson and fillers for Serge Ibaka is not at all hard to believe, but perhaps suggests Heat were more hopeful than serious about acquiring Ibaka. 

Pat Riley never wanted to match the offer sheet Tyler Johnson signed with the Brooklyn Nets last summer; he didn’t want to lose the flexibility that came with paying out the $19.2 million salary for each of 2018-19 and 2019-20 that his contract demanded. Owner Micky Arison overruled Riley; he didn’t want to lose Johnson in exchange for nothing. This trade would have placated both Arison (creating value in exchange for Johnson) and Riley (unloading the huge cap hits in the final two seasons of Johnson’s contract).

The Heat were therefore really trying to accomplish two things — acquire a player who could be a long-term fit (Ibaka) AND, perhaps just as importantly, offload an unwanted contract (Johnson). But it’s not hard to see why the trade never went anywhere. First, Johnson would need to have approved of the trade, which he may or may not have done. Second, the Raptors would have had to agree to take on Johnson, who has salaries of $5.6 million this season, $5.8 million in 2017-18, $19.2 million in 2018-19 and $19.2 million (player option) in 2019-20, plus a 15% trade bonus. Johnson, by rule, would have needed to have been paid his full $4.0 million trade bonus in every realistic trade scenario – which would’ve been paid by Heat, but would’ve increased the cap hits for the Raptors. The Raptors would’ve therefore had to agree to accept not only Tyler Johnson, but also cap hits of $7.0 million this season, $7.2 million in 2017-18, $20.6 million in 2018-19 and $19.2 million (player option) in 2019-20.

Possible? Sure. Realistic? Not really. And the Heat knew it. But there’s no harm in trying. 

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“We’re dealing with that word that you hate to use — that we have to rebuild. But we will rebuild. Quick. I’m not going to hang around here for three or four years selling this kind of song to people in Miami. We have great, great fans. They’re frustrated. They’ve been used to something great over the last 10 years, and so right now we’re taking a hit. I think we can turn this thing around… You can use that word rebuild. But we’re going to do it fast.”

That was Heat president Pat Riley two months ago, conceding to WQAM’s Joe Rose that after nearly a decade of success, his organization would finally need to initiate a true rebuild. His team was in the midst of an excruciatingly painful season that started with the shocking (if not altogether unpredictable) departure of Dwyane Wade, followed by the gut-wrenching loss and stunning war-of-words with Chris Bosh, followed by a depressing 11-30 record that culminated with a demoralizing wire-to-wire loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks exactly one month ago today.

What followed could well be the most extraordinary 13-game winning streak in league history.

The streak helped to stave off what many believe would have been a Heat firesale at the Feb. 23rd trade deadline.

While Riley’s willingness to sell of pieces such as Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside was likely always overblown, the consensus now seems to be that the streak has flipped Miami from sellers looking to trade pieces for future assets to buyers looking to solidify a potential playoff push.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. The streak revealed some possible building blocks for the future, but it wasn’t necessarily real. Or sustainable. The Heat still need to reload. And, as Riley said, they need to do it quickly.

The reasons why are readily transparent.

The Heat figure to have a ton of financial flexibility this summer.

Based upon the league’s current $102 million cap projection for next season, Miami currently projects to have as much as $13 million in available cap space (assuming Josh Richardson’s non-guaranteed minimum salary is retained). With Bosh relief, the total will grow to $38 million. It could grow further, to $40 million if Dion Waiters were to decline his player option ($3.0 million), to $41 million if Willie Reed were to do the same ($1.6 million), to $44 million if the Heat were to waive and stretch the salary of Josh McRoberts ($6.0 million).

From that, the cap room required by the Heat’s first-round draft pick (assuming Miami keeps it) would need to be subtracted. It the Heat continues to hover around the playoffs, the pick would cost another $1.5 million or so in cap space, leaving Miami with anywhere from $37 million to $43 million with which to attack free agency next summer.  Read more…

Gordon Hayward Could Become Most Interesting Man in NBA This Summer

December 30th, 2016 No comments
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Update (3/2/17): The Utah Jazz lost a potentially significant opportunity to ease its future cap sheets when it couldn’t come to agreement with George Hill on a renegotiation and extension by the Mar. 1, 2017 deadline, one that could’ve paid out up to $88.7 million in new money in exchange for a commitment through the 2019-20 season. The Jazz would’ve been able to frontload $13.6 million of that payout to this season – reducing future season payouts to no more than $23.3 million in 2017-18, $25.0 million in 2018-19 and $26.8 million in 2019-20, an effective per season cap hit reduction of about $4.5 million – and reduce the commitment to just three new seasons.

Instead, Hill will reportedly be gunning for a maximum contract in free agency. The Jazz will be able to offer him a contract of up to five years in length, but they surly won’t be willing to give the soon-to-be 31-year-old any more than the four seasons other teams can offer. The most Hill can get with any other team: 4 years, $131.6 million. It remains decidedly unclear as to whether the Jazz, or any other team, will give it to him. Is Hill truly that valuable (or even anywhere close to it)? If you feel he is, it could subtract at least an extra $4.5 million (for a contract that has an equivalent $88.7 million payout over the next three seasons), and maybe as much as $7 million (for a max contract), from Utah’s cap sheet in future seasons. 

A key number for the Jazz in its negotiations with Hill next summer: 4 years, $103.8 million. That’s the point at which the contract would produce an equivalent payout over the first three years as that which Hill apparently rejected. Anything below that and the Jazz will have been better served over the next three seasons by not signing Hill to a renegotiation and extension, albeit in return for a very costly fourth-year guarantee. Anything above that and the Jazz lose out. 

It’s difficult to imagine Hill will break $103.8 million over four years on the free agent market. But, by rejecting a renegotiation and extension of up to $88.7 million over three years, he clearly thinks he can. 

How much it takes to re-sign Hill will have implications for how the Jazz proceed in constructing the rest of their roster, including what they might offer Gordon Hayward if he qualifies for a designated player veteran extension this summer in the unlikely event he earns All-NBA honors and exercises his player option (if he doesn’t, what the Jazz will offer is clear – the full max), whether they will look to trade Derrick Favors, whether they will retain Boris Diaw, how they will approach negotiations with Rodney Hood, etc.

While I have chosen to focus solely on Hayward in this post, how the Jazz choose to manage their entire roster this summer will be equally fascinating.

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It’s tough to get a great read on where exactly the Utah Jazz stand.

They’ve got an undeniably talented and youthful core which has the potential for excellence. They’re one of four teams which rank top 10 in the NBA in both offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. And they have a top 10 NBA record.

On the other hand, they sit in the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff standings and aren’t really in the same class as the top three. They haven’t won a single post-season game since 2010. And they’ve been waging a losing battle against injury for years, which makes it nearly impossible to tell just how good they can be.

The lack of clarity is becoming a serious problem for the small-market organization, as it navigates whether it’s even possible to pay its five when-healthy starters — George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert – within the confines of a luxury tax threshold which they have been historically adverse to cross.

Gobert already got his big-money extension this past October – a four-year, $94 million payout that kicks in next season. His fate is secure.

Hill and Favors are each currently eligible for extensions of their own, ones that could leverage Utah’s $13.6 million of available cap space to renegotiate their current salaries as the baseline for it.

Favors is five years younger than Hill and still very much in his prime, but he’s also under a low-value contract through next season and could be the odd man out if there is to be one. Among the team’s when-healthy starters, his long-term tenure in Utah would appear the least secure. So he’s not likely to get an extension.

Hill is a guy the Jazz would love to renegotiate and extend, and they can make a offer to do so — one that pays out up to $88.7 million in new money in exchange for a commitment through the 2019-20 season, which, for the Jazz, would: (i) deflect $13.6 million of the associated future cap hits by paying it out this season (effectively a cap savings of $4.5 million per future season), (ii) render $4.2 million of that $13.6 million as essentially free (since the Jazz are below the salary floor, they’d need to pay that $4.2 million out anyway), and (iii) reduce the maximum term of the deal for the soon-to-be 31-year-old to three new seasons. But he seems to prefer to hash things out in free agency, where he can make his decision alongside his close friend Hayward does (and tack on up to two additional years onto his deal if he stays).

Hood will be eligible for an extension of his own starting this coming July, which would kick in when his rookie-scale contract expires at the end of next season. He’s a solid two-way talent. He won’t be cheap.

And then there’s Hayward, the heart and soul of the franchise, who will become a prized free agent this summer if he declines his $16.7 million player option by his June 29 deadline.

The last time Hayward hit the open market, as a restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, talks with the Jazz broke down to point where he was forced to pursue other options. Utah could have kept him off the market had they negotiated a contract extension the prior October, but Hayward was reportedly seeking a four-year deal valued at $50 million while the Jazz reportedly held firm at $48 million. The hard line ultimately proved costly.

Rather than even attempt to negotiate a new deal that could have extended as long as five years the following July, the Jazz made known its intention to match any offer sheet Hayward signed. He went on to sign a four-year, $63 million max offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets on July 10, 2014. To make the deal particularly unpleasant for Utah, the Hornets threw in a 15 percent trade kicker and a player option on the final season. They matched anyway.

Nearly three years later, that contract sets Hayward up for one of the league’s most intriguing summer scenarios. Read more…

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The Death of The Free Agency Rebuilding Plan?

December 21st, 2016 2 comments
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The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced last week that they have reached agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the deal is ratified by both sides, which is a formality, the league will be assured of labor peace for at least the next six years.

At the highest of levels, not much would change in the new deal.

The split of league-wide revenues will remain the same – the players will be virtually assured to receive a 51 percent share (as they are in the current agreement). The salary cap will be calculated the exact same way. The luxury tax will be calculated the exact same way, and teams will be penalized just as severely for crossing it.

Rather than pushing for sweeping changes, the NBA was clearly focused on one thing — stopping superstar players from leaving their teams in free agency. Since 2010, several top-tier players have left as free agents, including LeBron James and Chris Bosh (2010), Dwight Howard (2013), and Kevin Durant (2016). Carmelo Anthony (2011), Chris Paul (2011) and Kevin Love (2014) also forced trades under the threat of leaving their teams with nothing in free agency.

To stop the flow, the league created new rules that provide huge financial incentives for a select group of top-tier players to stay with their existing teams – rules with which the players (the union for whom was led by the players who would benefit the most) were more than happy to oblige.   Read more…