Miami Heat

Heat making calls on available wing players

Atlanta Hawks guard Marco Belinelli (3) loses the ball as he drives between Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and guard Jeff Teague (0)in the first half of an NBA basketball game Mon., Jan. 29, 2018, in Atlanta.
Atlanta Hawks guard Marco Belinelli (3) loses the ball as he drives between Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) and guard Jeff Teague (0)in the first half of an NBA basketball game Mon., Jan. 29, 2018, in Atlanta. AP

A few Heat notes as the NBA’s Thursday trade deadline approaches:

• The Heat is among teams that have expressed interest in Atlanta Hawks swingman Marco Belinelli, according to league sources. And he’s one of a number of wing players that Miami has done due diligence on.

The Hawks sat Belinelli during their game against Memphis on Tuesday and have told him that he’s on course to be traded, according to multiple reports Tuesday night.

Belinelli, 31, is earning $6.6 million this season on an expiring contract.

But other teams also are interested in the 6-5 Belinelli, who is averaging 11.4 points this season and shooting 37.2 percent on threes (92 for 247).

Belinelli has averaged 9.8 points and shot 37.7 percent on three-pointers during an 11-year career.

Belinelli is making $6.6 million and the Heat’s disabled player exception is for $5.5 million. Heathoops cap expert Albert Nahmad said a contract cannot be prorated for purposes of using the disabled player exception in a trade and thus Belinelli’s contract wouldn’t fit into the Heat’s exception.

A Belinelli-for-Tyler Johnson trade would work within cap rules, but it’s unknown if the Hawks would be willing to take on the last two-plus years of Johnson’s contract, with Johnson set to earn $19.2 million next season and the season after.

The Hawks have said they would be looking for draft picks or young players in a trade.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about dealing with Dion Waiters’ prolonged absence after choosing to undergo ankle surgery.

An easier solution would be finding an available wing player earning no more than the $5.5 million exception, such as Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, Dallas’ Devin Harris, Orlando’s Arron Afflalo or Mario Hezonja or Memphis’ James Ennis.

• Though the Heat remains in communication with Memphis on Tyreke Evans, other teams seemingly have more to offer. Evans also would fit into the Heat’s disabled player exception.

• I would be surprised if the Heat trades Justise Winslow for a two-month rental player, because the Heat still sees considerable upside in the versatile Winslow and value him as a rebounder, defender and facilitator. Also, his stand-still three-point shooting clearly has improved in recent weeks.

It’s possible the Heat could move Winslow if it allowed Miami to dump Johnson’s contract.

But The New York Post’s Brian Lewis tweeted on Tuesday night: “Hearing the Nets will not be trading DeMarre Carroll to the Heat for Justice Winslow and Tyler Johnson (whom they'd given a 4-year, $50M offer sheet in the summer of 2016).”

• While the Heat would like to add a wing player, it’s not desperate to make a move before Thursday’s deadline.

The Heat believes Rodney McGruder’s return from a broken tibia will help, and Miami believes it would eventually be able to land a useful player who’s bought out by a non-contender, using that disabled player exception as a carrot.

If the Heat uses the disabled player exception, it must be used by March 12. The Heat received the exception in the wake of Dion Waiters’ season-ending ankle surgery.

The Heat would need to release or trade a player if it acquires a player using the disabled player exception.

• Though the Heat signed Joe Johnson as a buyout player two years ago and appreciates his game, Miami would not be the favorite if Utah buys him out.

Though Johnson has been a shooting guard most of his career and played small forward during his brief 2016 stint with the Heat, he has been playing more power forward with Utah over the past season-and-a-half, and the Heat already has enough of those.

Johnson reportedly has been seeking a trade.

• With Philadelphia beating Washington on Tuesday, the seventh-seeded Heat leads the eighth-seeded 76ers by just 1.5 games, with No. 9 Detroit two games back of Miami.

But Miami is just two games behind No. 3 Cleveland in the East.

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