Miami Heat

Willie Reed tells Heat he’s opting out, testing free agency

Miami Heat forward Willie Reed fights for position under the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins during the first quarter of an NBA game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.
Miami Heat forward Willie Reed fights for position under the basket against New Orleans Pelicans forward DeMarcus Cousins during the first quarter of an NBA game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 15, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

There were plenty of moments this season when Willie Reed looked more than capable of being a starting NBA center.

We’ll find out soon just how much some people think he’s worth.

Reed, 27, has told the Heat – as most expected – that he will decline his $1.5 million player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent.

Reed still has the option to change his mind and opt in for next season before June 29. But team officials are not expecting that to happen and most around the league believe Reed could potentially double or triple what he was originally due to make with the Heat next season.

The Heat could offer Reed its $4.3 mid-level room exception. But if another team offers more money than that its hard to imagine Miami – with $38 million in projected cap space once Chris Bosh is officially released – raising the an to keep a backup center around.

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 Hassan Whitesde out he 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, who resides in Cleveland in the off-season, has remained in Miami since the season ended in mid-April working out at the Heat’s facilities. He said during exit interviews with the media he would prefer to stay with the Miami moving forward.

“We all have families,” Reed said. “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.”

SIMON TO INTERVIEW WITH BUCKS

The Milwaukee Bucks have requested and been granted permission to interview Heat assistant general manager Adam Simon, 44, for its general manager vacancy.

Simon, who began his career with the Heat in 1995 as a video room intern out of St. Thomas University, has spent 22 years with the Heat and led its D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, to its first league title in 2016. Miami has developed several key players on the roster down in Sioux Falls including Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Josh Richardson.

The Vertical reported that Simon is among a list of candidates that include Memphis Grizzlies vice president of player personnel Ed Stefanski, Atlanta Hawks special adviser to ownerwship Wil Wilcox, Indiana Pacers vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Denver Nuggets assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas and Detroit Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity.

▪ Although he hasn’t informed the Heat officially – like Reed has – that he intends to opt out of the $3 million contract he’s due to make next season, team officials believe Dion Waiters will also enter free agency. Waiters and the Heat have mutual interest in keeping the shooting guard in South Florida.

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