A six-pack of Heat and Canes notes on a Wednesday:
• The Heat made a couple of moves the past two summers that could allow them to have a couple of players at either bargain cap hits or salaries should they develop.
They smartly gave Josh Richardson a three-year deal in 2015, meaning they have him at great value (less than $1.1 million) for this season and next.
And say Luke Babbitt blossoms as Miami’s starting power forward; because he has Bird Rights and a low salary ($1.2 million), Miami next summer can exceed the cap to sign him, with a cap hit of only $1.8 million.
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Heat guard Goran Dragic believes Babbitt, acquired from New Orleans for a conditional 2018 second-round pick, will end up being a steal.
”Everyone looks at the stats [40.3 percent career three-point shooter], but he gives us so much more, spacing that [allows] others to play much easier,” Dragic said. “Maybe some fans don't see that.”
Babbitt has been up and down as the Heat’s starting power forward, averaging 7.5 points and 2.5 rebounds and shooting 37.5 percent on threes.
If the Heat wants, it can keep guard Rodney McGruder for $874,000 and $980,000 the two seasons after this one.
Willie Reed has a player option for next season, though it has been reported on national web sites as a team option.
• Here’s where Heat players rank among the league leaders early in the season:
Scoring: Goran Dragic is 27th (20 points per game) and Hassan Whiteside 31st (19.8).
Rebounding: Whiteside is second at 13.8, behind only Detroit’s Andre Drummond (15.5).
Field goal percentage: Whiteside is 10th at 60 percent.
Blocks: Whiteside is second at 3.0 per game, behind Atlanta’s Dwight Howard at 3.3.
Assists: Dragic is 12th at 7.0.
Minutes: Justise Winslow is 10th, tied with LeBron James at 36.5.
• UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said one reason Gus Edwards started against Notre Dame (and got the first carry) is because “Gus has worked his butt off as well as Travis Homer and I've been trying to find a way to get them involved in the game.”
Edwards has 16 carries for 126 yards, a 7.9 average this season.
One drawback, Brown said, is “Gus isn't the most natural when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield. Mark Walton and Joe Yearby are more natural at that.”
Brown wants more physicality from this offense and said of fullback Marquez Williams: “He's probably one of the best fullbacks I've been around. Don't tell him I said that. He's by far the most physical guy we have on offense.”
• Tight ends coach Todd Hartley, on his freshmen tight ends Michael Irvin Jr. and Jovani Haskins: “Mentally, they’re not as far along as Chris [Herndon] and David [Njoku]. Physically, they’re just fine. Michael is a little more flexible as far you can probably flex him out and put him in the backfield. Jovani is more your typical tight end, a little bit bigger. Not every tight end is the same.”
• Some thoughts today from UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz: “[Freshman linebacker] Zach McCloud has really improved as the year has gone on, become more comfortable in his role….
“Over the course of October, there’s no doubt [backup linebacker CJ] Perry is contributing more. Darrion Owens is starting to contribute more and more. We need to get Mike Smith involved more, to get the young guys through the dog days of the season….
“We’ve been trying to push [freshman cornerback] Malek Young more and more into the game. He’s going to be an outstanding player for us. He’s very fast… [Michael Jackson] is still developing at corner.”
Diaz said “how we set edges and our toughness” are heavily factored into deciding which cornerbacks will play.
• Cornerback stuff: Mark Richt said Corn Elder (thumb) will play Saturday against Pittsburgh. Adrian Colbert is out indefinitely with a broken forearm… Though Miami Columbus 6-0 cornerback Christopher Henderson dropped his oral commitment to UM, he’s still considering the Hurricanes and UM is still very interested. Rivals rates him the 20th best cornerback in the class. According to a Georgia recruiting web site, Florida is the leader, with Tennessee and UM tied for second.
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