Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: ‘’I feel very comfortable with the group’’
The Miami Heat is not pushing to resume discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a Jimmy Butler trade, according to a Heat source.
In the wake of an ESPN report that a deal between the teams was close but fell apart over the weekend when Minnesota asked for more from Miami, a Heat source indicated Thursday the organization is ready to move on if need be after the Timberwolves rejected its offer and added the Heat has not initiated any further conversation with Minnesota since.
The source declined to rule out the possibility of a deal still happening with Minnesota, but made it clear Miami would not be the one initiating trade talks. With the start of the regular season less than a week away, the Heat is ready to move past trade rumors.
The Timberwolves are believed to be asking for several of the Heat’s most valuable assets: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and a first-round pick.
Minnesota also reportedly has had conversations with Houston.
Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting today, airing his feelings toward situation and management, per league sources. Butler expressed to players he would compete with them, as signs pointing to him staying with the franchise into the regular season.”
The New York Times reported Minnesota rejected a Heat offer for Butler that was headlined by Josh Richardson and a No. 1 draft pick, along with another player.
Butler’s request to be traded from the Timberwolves was made public three weeks ago.
The four-time All-Star returned to Minnesota Timberwolves practice Wednesday for the first time since asking for a trade. And Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Wednesday night that even though he returned to practice, his situation with Minnesota is “not fixed. It’s not fixed. It could be. It could be. Do I think so? No. I’m being honest with you. Do I think so? No. But is everybody going to be honest? No.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Butler, during Wednesday’s return to practice, was “vociferous and intense throughout scrimmage sessions, targeting president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates. As the GM watched on the sidelines during a scrimmage, sources said that Butler yelled to Layden: “You [expletive] need me, Scott. You can’t win without me.”
Butler, asked about that by Nichols, said: “A lot of it is true, but I haven’t played basketball in so long and I’m so passionate and I love the game and I don’t do it for any reason but to compete and go against the best. All my emotions came out at one time. Was it the right way to do it? No, but that’s raw me, that’s me at my finest, me at my purest.”
Butler is set to earn $20.4 million this season and has a player option worth $19.8 million in 2019-20. He’s expected to decline the option and become a free agent, giving him the leverage to demand a trade to a team he would re-sign with next summer.
In free agency next offseason, Butler could be eligible to sign a five-year, $190 million contract extension with the Timberwolves or any team he’s traded to. He can sign a four-year, $141 million deal with a new team in free agency.
Although the Heat isn’t projected to have cap space until the 2020 offseason, any team that trades for Butler will also acquire his Bird rights. Bird rights allow for a team to exceed the salary cap to re-sign a player.
The Timberwolves did not practice Thursday after Wednesday’s eventful session with Butler.
“It’s fluid,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said earlier this week of Butler’s trade demand. “We’re always going to do the best for the team. If that means he’s here, he’s here. If not, he’s not here. The one thing about Jimmy is if he’s here or somewhere else or here, he’s going to give you everything he has. He’s a competitor.”
Heat makes roster moves
The Heat signed guard Rodney Purvis and forward Raphiael Putney and waived guards Charles Cooke and DeAndre Liggins on Thursday. The series of transactions keeps the roster at the preseason maximum of 20 players.
Purvis and Putney are expected to end up with the Heat’s G League affiliate in South Dakota, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Purvis, who went undrafted out of Connecticut in 2017, split last season between the Orlando Magic and their G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic. He appeared in 39 games (all starts) with Lakeland, averaging 20.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals. He also appeared in 16 games (two starts) with Orlando and averaged 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 18.1 minutes of action.
Putney, who went undrafted out of UMass in 2014, appeared in 46 games (36 starts) with the Erie BayHawks of the G League last season and averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals. After his stint with the BayHawks, he played professionally in Puerto Rico and France, appearing in 15 total games (12 starts) to average 11.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.8 blocks while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.
Cooke and Liggins were both signed by the Heat on Sunday. Cooke recorded one point, two rebounds and one block, and Liggins finished with 10 points, two assists and a steal in Wednesday’s preseason win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Wayne Ellington is listed as doubtful for Friday’s preseason finale against the Atlanta Hawks. Ellington has not played yet this preseason because of left ankle soreness, but he has participated in practice this week.
James Johnson (sports hernia surgery) and Dion Waiters (left ankle surgery) remain out for Friday’s contest.