Willie Reed, who did a fine job backing up Hassan Whiteside at center and opted out of the second year of a deal with the Heat in hopes of a bigger pay day this summer, will suit up for the Los Angeles Clippers next season and make less than he would have had stayed with Miami.
According to ESPN, Reed agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million on Tuesday to backup All-Star DeAndre Jordan. Taking into account state income taxes in California, Reed will earn less than he would have had he stayed with Miami.
Former Heat star Dwyane Wade, now with the Chicago Bulls, called the move by the Clippers a steal.
“Wait what. Willie Reed got whattt????,” Wade tweeted Tuesday evening. “Highway robbery. Keep grinding bro you deserve better!!! @LAClippers you got you one!!!”
Reed, 27, told the Heat of his intentions to test the free agent waters at the beginning of June and still had the option to change his mind and opt-in for next season before June 29.
But he never did and the Heat instead drafted Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo, signed former Celtics center Kelly Olynyk to a four-year, $50 million contract and traded Josh McRoberts to Dallas for 7-footer A.J. Hammons to help shore up its front court depth behind Whiteside, the league’s leading rebounder.
“I hope he get what he deserves,” team president Pat Riley said last week of Reed, whom the Heat liked and appreciated.
Reed averaged 5.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 14.5 minutes and shot 56.8 percent in 71 games with Miami. As a fill-in starter, though, the 6-11, 245-pounder was exceptional. In five games with Whitesde out, Reed averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and shot 68.6 percent from the field. His best game was a 22-point, 18-rebound effort in a Jan. 3 loss to the Suns.
Reed continued to work out at the Heat’s facilities even after the end of the season and expressed a desire to stay with the team.
“We all have families,” Reed said back in April after the season ended. “We all want to be a part of something special. I love this team, I love these guys in the locker room. Being here would be great. Hopefully something works out. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m just going to continue to do my part, continue to embrace this culture and embrace those guys that are around this summer as we continue to try to get better.”
Reed told Hoops Hype earlier this month his goal next season is to win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award in 2017-18.
Miami had the league minimum ($1.577 million) and a $4.3 million room-mid level salary cap exception it could have offered the backup center.
But Riley said last week his preference was to “sit tight” on the exception. If Wade’s contract in Chicago is eventually bought out, there are some who believe the Heat would offer it to Wade.
“Once we come to terms with Udonis [Haslem], we’ll have 14 players on the roster and then we’re just going to sit tight,” Riley said. “We’ll probably hold on to the room mid-level. I think what you do is you throw everything out there and you try to get as much as you can get, and before you know it you have 12 guys who need to play. We have 10 guys that we really like, 11 or 12 guys that we feel are going to be fighting for rotation minutes.
“So I’m going to add another room mid-level guy who’s going to be fighting for 10 minutes or eight minutes? There’s certain guys also that you want now to get 25 legitimate minutes a night, not 12 and then 20 and then 10 and then 28 or whatever and try to get into it consistently with some of our younger guys. But we have it [the exception] in hand and I think that’s good. If something pops up that’s really good, then we’ll think about using it.”
Haslem, 37, a 14-year veteran and captain for the Heat remains unsigned, but is expected to eventually sign for the veteran’s minimum of $2.3 million.
Forward Luke Babbitt, who started 55 games for the Heat at power forward and shot 41.1 percent from three-point range, also remains unsigned.
“We’ve made contact with Luke’s agent,” Riley said last week. “That’s a thought process we’re going to go through. We really like Luke and he can shoot the ball, so, it’s still open there.”