Noon: Details on three Panthers signings; Drama with Wade negotiations; Whiteside staying with Heat; Heat dealing with backcourt issues, plus Wade, shooter search, Deng; UM, Dolphins, Marlins, Panthers
Noon update: NHL free agency started in the past 20 minutes, and the Panthers have added three players: forwards Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault and new backup goalie James Reimer.
Sceviour, 27, had 11 goals and 12 assists and was a plus six for Dallas last season. He has 28 goals and 34 assists in 170 NHL games over five seasons, all with Dallas.
Marchessault, 25, had 7 goals and 11 assists in 45 games with Tampa Bay last season. He has eight goals and 11 assists in 49 NHL games with Tampa and Columbus.
Reimer's signing was a bit surprising because Florida traded for goal Retto Berra last week. The Panthers want to get Roberto Luongo more rest, and Reimer is very solid.
He was 17-14 with a 2.31 GAA for Toronto and San Jose last season. He started 37 games last season and had three shutouts.
Reimer, 28, is 85-76 with a 2.83 GAA in his career, with 188 starts over six seasons.
Reimer signed for five seasons, with salaries reportedly of $5 million the first and $3 million each of the following four.
10 a.m. update: We reported last night (see below) that a friend of Dwyane Wade said he was unhappy about how the Heat has been handling his contract talks.
And The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reports "Rival teams starting to take Dwyane Wade's free agency seriously, w/ GM's telling
@TheVertical they've made multi-year offers to his reps. Rival execs expected to speak with Wade on phone today, armed with belief his contract impasse with Heat has him considering move."
8 a.m.: Heat fans can exhale at this hour. Hassan Whiteside announced on Snapchat at around 7:30 this morning that he's staying with the Heat.
"I have played on eight teams since college," Whiteside said on The Players Tribune. "I'm not ready for a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can't wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami.""
As we reported yesterday, there was growing sentiment inside the Heat to give Whiteside a max deal even though the team was hesitant initially. And Miami relented, giving Whiteside four years and $98 million because it knew it likely would lose him otherwise.
Whiteside will make $22 million next season, leaving Miami with $20 million in cap space this summer. The Heat hopes to increase that total to $26 million if it can trade Josh McRoberts. It also wants to re-sign Dwyane Wade and add a shooter, plus at least one backup big. (UPDATE: The Herald's Ethan Skolnick said Whiteside will give the Heat some wiggle room, and take a bit less than the max, if Miami can sign Kevin Durant.)
Because the Heat is using cap space, it cannot exceed the projected $94 million cap to sign anyone except Tyler Johnson (Gilbert Arenas provision) and minimum contracts.
The Heat knows it would need to trade Goran Dragic to create cap space if Kevin Durant surprisingly picks Miami. Otherwise, it wouldn't have enough space for Durant and Wade.
The Heat also has a $2.9 million room exception that cannot be combined with cap space.
Tyler Johnson has a $1.2 million cap hit next season, no matter how big a contract he signs next season. If the Heat declines to match, that would remove the $1.2 million hit. (Please see below for a lot more on this.)
Some other developments:
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski says Pat Riley and Micky Arison will represent the Heat in Sunday's meeting with Kevin Durant in the Hamptons... We mention Luol Deng below, about the Heat not being optimistic about having the space to keep him. Woj reports the Jazz will be aggressive in pursuing Deng and that Minnesota and the Clippers also inquired.... We explain the Tyler Johnson situation below. Woj reports Johnson will start taking meetings Friday in Chicago and that Chicago, New Orleans and Charlotte have interest, with a big contract looming.
While the Heat prepared to meet with Kevin Durant in New York on Sunday, they’re also dealing with backcourt issues involving Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson and the search for another shooter. Where things stand:
• Wade is unhappy with the Heat about the approach it has taken with his contract, a friend of Wade said this week. That’s why, as ESPN reported, his agent has told Dallas, San Antonio and other teams that he’s available, though some NBA people believe Wade is simply looking for leverage.
An involved person said the Heat has been unable to tell Wade exactly what it’s willing to pay him because a lot will depend on whether it can sign Whiteside or Durant. That apparently has frustrated Wade, who wants to feel like a priority.
But let’s be clear: Miami wants to keep Wade, who said earlier this year that he intends to finish his career here. And it would be surprising if this doesn't end with Wade re-signing and both sides professing their love for each other. The possibility of him leaving cannot be ruled out, but it's still difficult to envision this.
• The Heat wants to add a shooter and plans to pursue Jamal Crawford, who reportedly will meet with Orlando on Friday.
Crawford, 36, averaged 14.2 points for the Clippers last season, shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 34 percent on threes (117 for 334). Whether the Heat would have the cap space for him would depend on several factors; it would help if it succeeds in trading Josh McRoberts, who's very much available.
If the Heat cannot sign Crawford or another one of the better free agent shooters (such as Mirza Teletovic or Jared Dudley), it will consider trading for Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy, who will make $4.8 million next season. Dunleavy, 35, returned from back surgery in February and started 30 games; he shot 40.7 and 39.4 percent on threes the past two seasons.
If those options don’t materialize, the Heat will look for a less expensive shooter such as Marcus Thornton or Wesley Johnson.
• According to Cleveland.com, the Heat also might meet with coveted Raptors free agent guard DeMar DeRozan. This would be very much in character for Pat Riley, who likes to meet with all the very top free agents. [UPDATE: DeROZAN HAS AGREED TO STAY WITH TORONTO.]
But it would be impossible to accommodate DeRozan, Wade and Whiteside without trading Goran Dragic. Miami is trying to deal McRoberts (due $5.8 million next season), which would push the Heat’s cap space to $48 million, but Miami isn’t looking to deal Dragic unless it needs cap space to add a star free agent.
The Heat might find a team willing to take on McRoberts' salary to get to the salary cap floor, but it might need to throw in a draft pick (the Heat has very few available) as a carrot.
• The Heat wants to keep Tyler Johnson and has a right to match any offer but might walk away if a team gives Johnson an offer sheet with huge salaries in the third and fourth years. No team can offer Johnson more than $5.6 million next season and $5.9 million in 2017-18, but can offer essentially anything (up to $25 million) in the final two years.
If a team is willing to pay him, say, $15 million each of the final two years of a four-year deal, that would result in a $15 million hit on the Heat’s cap each of those two seasons. (By contrast, the team making the offer would have an annual cap hit of his average salary over the four seasons combined for a contract this large).
Teams can sign Johnson to an offer sheet beginning July 7, with Miami having three days to match. Johnson is expected to let this play out, though he has said previously: “I love the Heat organization.”
His Heat cap hit next season will be just $1.2 million if Miami keeps him.
The Vertical’s Wojnarowski predicted on Dan Le Batard’s ESPN show that Johnson’s new deal will average at least $10 million a year. Welcome to the new NBA, which dawns in a couple of hours.
• The Heat would like to re-sign Luol Deng, but it’s not optimistic about having the space to do so if it signs Wade and a high-end center.
• Of UM’s incoming freshman class, everyone has enrolled except receiver Dionte Mullins (waiting on test scores) and safety Cedrick Wright. UM expects both to enroll in August.…. Eager to use a fullback at times, UM has added four of them in the past two weeks (including UM shot-putter Gian Piero Ragonesi) and now has six. Four of the six are walk-ons; former Mars Hill fullback Marquez Williams and Gage Batten are on scholarship.
• Though Billy Turner was the Dolphins’ first-team right guard throughout the offseason, the Dolphins remain hopeful Jermon Bushrod – who hasn’t yet been cleared for team drills off shoulder surgery – will become a factor there. Will he be cleared for training camp?
“I got to be,” he said. “The shoulder feels strong. It’s been a long road.”
Bushrod, a former Pro Bowl tackle, has never played guard before and “it’s not easy, but I’ve embraced the process. I’m OK with it. I’ve just got to work the technique, be a little quicker, be stouter.”
Bushrod, Laremy Tunsil, Dallas Thomas, Turner, Jamil Douglas and Kraig Urbik are competing for two starting guard spots.
• A National League scout said Thursday trade pickup Fernando Rodney (who is allowing opponents to hit just .137 against him) gives the Marlins “as good or better as any eighth inning guy, with the way he’s throwing. Really good stuff. If he commands it, he's getting outs. It's a good bullpen now.”
Closer AJ Ramos and Rodney are a combined 41 for 41 in saves with 31 hits allowed and 71 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.
• NHL free agency begins Friday and the Panthers (with $19 million in cap space) expect to add a forward or two.