With Goran Dragic coming off a terrific season, Heat president Pat Riley made clear in April that his team doesn’t need a point guard.
“Everybody in the top seven is point guards,” Riley said of next Thursday’s draft. “And since we don’t need a point guard, I’m glad we’re not at the top of the lottery where I don’t have to make that decision.”
But the Heat is doing due diligence in case summer roster machinations necessitate the acquisition of a new backup point guard, or if the Heat decides to invest time in a developmental No. 3 point guard.
To that end, the Heat has booked private workouts with several point guards, including Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe and Syracuse’s John Gillon, who are both expected to go undrafted.
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What’s more, the Heat on Thursday dispatched Keith Askins, the team’s director of college and pro scouting, to watch a workout for North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith. The Knicks, who pick eighth, were among several other teams who reportedly attended that workout on Thursday.
Though Smith is expected to be gone before the Heat picks at No. 14, ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told me that among the draft’s expected top 10 picks, he wouldn’t be surprised if Smith fell. “Very good season but dismal end to his one season at N.C. State,” Fraschilla said.
Smith, 6-3, averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds in his one season at North Carolina State. But he shot 12 for 37 in the Wolfpack’s final three games against Virginia and Clemson twice (to end the regular season and open the ACC Tournament). Over N.C. State’s final six games last season, he had 25 turnovers and 21 assists.
ESPN’s Chad Ford has Smith going ninth to Dallas in his latest mock draft.
“Smith's combination of elite athleticism and offensive firepower makes him a very attractive draft prospect,” Ford said. “He's an explosive leaper who can finish high above the rim. He's quick off the bounce and excels at getting to the rim, and he showed an improved 3 by shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc this season. However, he can be turnover-prone, his midrange game is a work in progress (he shot just 30 percent on 2-point jumpers), and he seemed unable to lead a fairly talented Wolfpack team to the NCAA tournament. Still, if Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are off the board, Smith is right there with De’Aaron Fox as the next-best point guard in the draft and should go in the Nos. 3-9 range.”
Among point guards who are being summoned by the Heat to AmericanAirlines Arena for workouts:
• Briscoe: The 6-3 guard averaged 12.1 points and 4.2 assists in his second and final season at Kentucky, shooting 47 percent from the field but just 28.8 percent on threes.
“As a freshman, Briscoe started on our board as a potential first-round prospect, but he never really developed a reliable NBA skill,” Ford said. “Although his shooting improved a bit, he is widely considered a tweener without a position. It's possible he'll be drafted in the second round, but most likely he goes undrafted.”
Kentucky coach John Calipari told Wildcats reporters that Briscoe is rising as a prospect. “People are really impressed, more impressed with his shooting than a year ago. I think people are looking at him now and saying, ‘Wow, he is better than we thought.’ ”
• Gillon. After transferring from Colorado State, the six-foot Gillon averaged 10.5 points, 5.4 assists and 2.1 turnovers in his one season at Syracuse.
Oddly, he shot better on threes last season (41.5 percent/54 for 129) than two-pointers (40.2). He shot 86 percent on free throws, including a school-record 48 in a row and scored 43 points in a win over North Carolina State. He hit a last-second 3-pointer to lift Syracuse to an upset of Duke. But he mystified coaches by attempting a combined three shots in NIT games against UNC-Greensboro and Mississippi.
The Heat also has invited Kansas’ Frank Mason III for a workout, but it’s unclear if that will happen. Mason, expected to go in the second round, received the Naismith Trophy for the top men’s college player this past season, averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds as a senior for an elite program and improved his shooting dramatically, from 43.4 as a junior to 49 percent as a senior.
What’s more, he hit 47.1 percent of his threes as a senior (82 for 174).
But his height (5-10) works against him.
Miami doesn’t have a second-round pick but has up to $3 million available, per NBA rules, to use to trade for one.
Miami also invited Duke’s Frank Jackson – a potential late first-round pick – for a visit but he cannot work out for teams because of underwent foot surgery on May 24.
Also, a source confirmed Russian News agency TASS’s report that the Heat has inquired about CSKA Moscow star Milos Teodosic, considered by some general managers to be the best professional player outside the NBA.
Teodosic, 30, who cannot sign with an NBA team until July 7, is seeking a three-year deal in the $25 million to $30 million range, according to The New York Post. It seems unlikely the Heat would commit that type of cap space to a point guard barring something unexpected. The Nets reportedly plan to pursue him.
Combo guard Tyler Johnson was essentially Miami’s backup point guard this season, and Josh Richardson also has experience at the position. Both are under contract next season. Dragic has three years remaining on a five-year, $85 million deal.
With the NBA permitting teams to keep two additional players on two-way contracts next season, the Heat now will have the ability to develop a young point guard on its D-League team in Sioux Falls, S.D., and retain his rights.
The Heat previously invested considerable time in point guard prospect Briante Weber, but he left the Heat’s D-League team last February to join the Golden State Warriors and later, the Charlotte Hornets, who now have him under contract.
Here are some Dolphins items from the final day of the team’s offseason program.