Some pre-draft Heat chatter:
### For the second time this week, a national media outlet has reported the Heat’s desire to shed salary. In the wake of ESPN’s report that Miami is trying to dump Mario Chalmers (due $4.3 million next season) and Chris Andersen (due $5 million), CBS’ Ken Berger said the Heat is open to trading the 10th pick if it helps them unload salary. Berger mentioned Josh McRoberts, who’s owed $17 million over the next three years.
Just a thought: If there’s no player at 10 that Pat Riley feels strongly about, he could trade the 10th pick and a veteran (Chalmers or McRoberts or Andersen) and trade back in the first round, then get a skilled-shooting two guard or small forward in the late teens or 20s --- perhaps UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn, Georgia State’s RJ Hunter (if still on the board) or Virginia’s Justin Anderson.
The reports of the Heat's desire to trim payroll would mean two things:
1) Miami wants to be able to pay Dwyane Wade a substantial amount next season without incurring a huge luxury tax bill.
2) If the Heat can't come to a deal with Wade, it wants to have some cap space to fill out a roster around Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic (presuming he re-signs) and Hassan Whiteside. If Wade and Luol Deng leave, and if the Heat dumps Chalmers and Andersen without bringing money back, and if Miami re-signs Dragic, it could have around $11 million in cap space, depending on Dragic's first-year salary. But if Deng opts in, Miami wouldn't have any real cap space in this scenario.
### ESPN's Chad Ford speculated tonight that Charlotte's acquisition of Nic Batum from Portland today "probably" means the Hornets will take Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky 9th. "Charlotte told Kaminsky reps they are high on him," ESPN's Andy Katz said. (The Hornets also acquired guard Jeremy Lamb from OKC, according to a Tulsa TV station.)
This means Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker could be available to Miami at No. 10, if Miami wants him, unless Detroit takes him at No. 8. Booker said that Pat Riley told him last month that Riley would envision him backing up Wade and learning from him.
### Berger said rival executives “are split” on whether Wade will stay in Miami. He said one Western Conference executive told him "there are strong indications Wade is gone, with Cleveland and the Lakers chief among his likely destinations.” [My quick aside: Difficult to see him going to Cleveland for exception money.]
But Berger said another Western Conference official predicted Wade will stay in Miami. "I don't see why they'd argue and fight after what they've both done for each other and for that franchise," the exec said.
Associates of Wade remain uncertain how this will turn out. Though they say they won’t be the least bit surprised if he leaves --- and so none of us should be, either -- it’s still hard for me to believe that the Heat would allow its signature player to leave acrimoniously.
### Amid reports from ESPN’s Chris Broussard and RealGM.com that the Heat has interest in Monta Ellis (who’s reportedly opting out), keep this in mind: The Heat could afford Ellis only if two of three leave among Wade, Dragic and Deng (who will become a free agent unless he invokes an opt-in by Monday, which he hasn’t to this point).
And also keep this in mind: The Mavericks reportedly were troubled by Ellis' moodiness and reportedly have no interest in re-signing him.
On the plus side, Ellis would A) be cheaper than Wade (Ellis opted out of $8.7 million and might get around $10 million next season); B) he would be a fit in an up tempo game that the Heat wants to implement; and C) his 19.3 scoring average is the highest in history among players that have never been an All-Star.
Wade ranked 11th in the NBA in scoring at 21.5 points per game last season. Ellis ranked 19th at 18.9.
Wade missed 20 games last season; Ellis missed two.
If Wade opts out as he prefers, he would jump to the front of the class of unrestricted free agent shooting guards, along with Danny Green (Dallas reportedly plans to target him), Wes Matthews, Aaron Afflalo, Ellis and Lou Williams.
### The Heat hasn’t informed Michael Beasley if it’s picking up his $1.3 million team option for next season. The Heat has until midnight Monday night to make that decision.
### The Heat never brought in Duke’s Justise Winslow for a workout, believing he wouldn’t fall to them at 10. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said even though he wouldn’t expect Winslow to slip to 10, “it wouldn’t shock me. An elite athlete with speed, size, power and strength. Measures as a two-guard at 6-5. He’s a winner.
“The flip side is how much was it done in the 12 games at the end of the year when he was playing power forward. Bigger, slower guys were trying to stay in front of him and it was an impossible task. A coach will have to play him creatively on offense. He doesn’t have a mid-range game right now."
### Some asked us how the Heat can justify paying Goran Dragic so much money. But keep in mind that when the cap jumps dramatically in 2016, $17 million to $19 million will be the going rate for players of his caliber. (Heck, an executive told The Sporting News that DeMarre Carroll can expect to get more than $15 million.)
And the Heat simply cannot risk losing Dragic --- a third-team All-NBA selection in 2013-14 --- after trading two future No. 1 picks.
As we noted in the last post, we’re told the Dragic camp fully expects a Heat offer of between $90 million and $100 million over five years. If Miami doesn’t offer that, it would be a surprise to them.
Offering $80 million or even $85 million over five would leave the Heat at risk because other teams could offer a maximum of $86 million over four. And even if Dragic is offered only, say, $75 million over four years by another team, the Heat needs a market-value fifth year salary to entice Dragic to stay.
Both the Heat and Dragic remain optimistic a deal will get done.
### For those wondering about Deng potentially opting out of a $10.1 million salary next season, keep in mind that a player with nearly identical scoring and rebounding stats last season (Thaddeus Young) just opted out of a near identical salary ($10.2 million) from the Nets. Though Young, at 27, is three years younger than Deng, he has never been an All-Star, something Deng has achieved twice.
### Quick TV note: ESPN has chosen Jay Williams to replace the jettisoned-Bill Simmons on its NBA Draft set, alongside Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Jalen Rose.
Please see the last post for a lot more draft stuff... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz