« UM player suspended and status in serious jeopardy; Heat signs four interesting prospects after the draft | Main | Whiteside, others to test Riley's success getting players to sign for less; UM fallout; Dolphins, Marlins nuggets »

Midnight Friday night: Heat works on Durant meeting; With one player already suspended, an update on where UM stands in investigation into possible NCAA violations; A look at five Heat signings today

Midnight update: As we've reported for months, a pursuit of Kevin Durant has been paramount in all aspects of the Heat's planning for this summer. And now the Heat is working on getting a meeting with Durant when free agency begins July 1.

According The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant and his agent at Roc Nation "are working to solidify invitations" with the Heat, Warriors, Spurs, Celtics, Clippers and his current team, Oklahoma City.

Woj reports Durant will have those meetings with teams at one location, likely in New York.

Woj says the Thunder remains the front-runner to sign Durant but that the Warriors have Durant's attention more than any rival suitor.

It appears the Heat wants to determine whether it has a chance to sign Durant before proceeding with Hassan Whiteside, who is lining up meetings (with Dallas and potentially others) shortly after the start of free agency.

Besides Dallas, the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State and Boston are among other teams who reportedly have interest in Whiteside.

The Heat will enter the offseason with about $42 million in cap space, not including cap holds for Dwyane Wade and the team's other unrestricted free agents.


Posting this updated story from me and Peter Ariz after our earlier exclusive on this:

The University of Miami has been investigating at least four football players to determine if they violated NCAA rules when they struck deals with a local car agency to use luxury vehicles, multiple sources told The Miami Herald on Friday.

One of those players, linebacker Juwon Young, was suspended indefinitely from the football team on Friday for violation of department rules and his status for the 2016 season is very much in doubt.

One of the others players being investigated by UM, defensive end Al Quadin Muhammad, has not been cleared by the compliance department, according to a school source.

UM also is still investigating at least two other football players in this matter, but their identities were not confirmed.

Two officials inside UM’s football program expressed optimism that Muhammad and those unidentified players would be cleared to play next season, but another UM official said that could not be said with any degree of certainty yet because the matter is still being investigated.

But it is known that quarterback Brad Kaaya is not among the players under investigation.

Though there is no ongoing NCAA investigation into this matter or anything involving UM athletics, the UM internal investigation comes months before the conclusion of UM’s three-year NCAA probation as a result of student athletes receiving illegal benefits from imprisoned former booster Nevin Shapiro.

That probation, which included the loss of nine football scholarships and other penalties, is scheduled to end in October.

According to a school source, UM is not concerned about its probation being extended, or new discipline from the NCAA, even if the players are found to have committed NCAA violations.

If UM determines that violations occurred, the university will inform the NCAA and tell the NCAA what it would do to discipline the athletes. That punishment would then be administered if it meets with the NCAA’s approval.

Young, who was expected to get playing time this season, was suspended partly because he was not honest with UM officials when questioned about the use of the luxury car, according to a source. It was unclear whether Young paid for the vehicle or intends to.

Multiple people inside the UM football program do not expect Young to be on the team this season. One source cautioned that he's in limbo and it's still possible he could return.

Another source said a former girlfriend of Young’s informed UM about Young’s involvement.

After appearing in four games as a freshman in 2014, Young had 57 tackles, including three for loss, one interception and one forced fumble in 10 games last season.

He was expected to get playing time this season, potentially behind freshman revelation Shaquille Quarterman at middle linebacker or behind Darrion Owens and Mike Pinckney at weakside linebacker.

Muhammad has not been cleared, but he remains on the team, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Muhammad is expected to start at defensive end if he's cleared. He had 54 tackles and five sacks last season and is UM's best pass rusher, a key cog in defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s attacking defense.

Muhammad, who considered turning pro after last season, missed all of the 2014 season because of a one-year suspension for punching another student in the face in the Sun Life Stadium parking after the spring game. That penalty was doled out by the university, not the athletic program. He was suspended for the 2015 opener because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.

No current UM basketball players are being investigated in the luxury car matter, according to two school officials.

At the conclusion of spring practice, coach Mark Richt warned his players not to do anything they would regret and not to associate with “fools.”

But since that time, running back Mark Walton was arrested on a DUI charge and suspended. The school has not announced his reinstatement or whether he will be suspended for a game, but he is thoroughly immersed in team activities. 

Miami Herald sportswriter Susan Miller Degnan contributed to this report.


Left without a pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, the Heat went looking for undrafted gems in the early hours Friday morning and signed several prospects to fill its roster for Summer League play in Orlando and Las Vegas.

Though nothing was announced, five Heat signings were disclosed: South Carolina small forward Michael Carrera (confirmed by agent Seth Cohen), former St. John's power forward/center Chris Obekpa, Louisiville shooting guard Damion Lee (announced by his university) and Toledo center Nathan Booth (reported by Sheridan Hoops) and Hawaii center Stefan Jankovic.

Carrera averaged 14.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal per game for the Gamecocks last season. He's considered a very good defender and his three-point game improved dramatically last year, with Carrera shooting 40.5 percent on threes (51 for 126). He shot 44.9 percent from the field overall. Carrera will play for Venezuela in the Olympics this summer, Cohen said.

"When I speak to NBA people, they say his relentless approach to every possession, and his ability to defend from the 1 to the 4, coupled with his long-distance shooting, is what makes him attractive," South Carolina coach Frank Martin told The State in Columbia, S.C.. "Unbelievable teammate."

Obekpa, a 6-10 center from Nigeria, led Division 1 in blocks as a freshman at St. John's (4.0 per game) and averaged 2.9 and 3.1 blocks the following two seasons. He averaged 5.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in his final season at St. John's (2014-15).

He then transferred to UNLV but sat out last season, in accordance with NCAA transfer rules, and decided to turn pro after the season. Obekpa has worked to develop a mid-range jump shot.

Lee played four years at Drexel, then enrolled as a grad transfer at Louisville, where he averaged 15.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and shot 42.8 percent from the field and 34.1 percent on three-pointers.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino told The Louisville Courier-Journal recently that Lee must develop his three-point shooting but is “pretty sound in most areas. He’s improved his pick-and-roll offense and his passing. He’s not as athletic as Terry Rozier, but one thing he does have is size.”

Booth, 6-9, averaged 19.3 points and 9.0 rebounds last season and shot 49.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent (33 for 88) on three-pointers.

Miami also added former Hawaii standout Stefan Jankovic, a 6-11 center who averaged 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season.

Even though former NFL receiver Chad Johnson announced on Twitter that he will play for the Heat's summer league teams, a Heat spokesman said that is not true.

Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson have said they will play in at least a portion of summer league. So will point guard Briante Weber.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz