Justise Winslow: “I’m invested in this team, in this city”
Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow has agreed to a three-year, $39 million extension, a league source confirmed to the Miami Herald, with a team option in the third year.
Winslow, 22, and the Heat had until Monday to agree to the contract extension. If an agreement had not been reached before next week’s deadline, he would have become a restricted free agent on July 1, with the Heat having the right to match outside offers.
“I’m just excited. I’m invested in this team, in this city,” Winslow said after Friday’s preseason win over the Atlanta Hawks. “So it’s nice to get it done before the season so I can just out there and play — open mind, open heart. So I’m committed this team, committed to this city. So I’m excited heading into the season.”
With Winslow set to make $3.4 million this season in the final year of his rookie-scale contract, his new deal won’t begin until the start of the 2019-20 season. The extension runs through the 2021-22 season.
“It’s very comforting,” Winslow said when asked how it felt for the Heat to want to extend his contract. “It’s a two-way relationship. I’m committed to this team and they’re committed to me. So any relationship when both sides are committed like that, thing usually work out.
“It gives myself and my family a lot of stability going into this season and next summer. So it definitely clears a lot of things, takes some weight off my shoulders. I’m just excited. This has become my family. I’m committed to these guys and I’m all in. So I’m just ready to get this thing underway.”
Winslow, who was drafted by the Heat with the 10th overall pick in 2015, averaged 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 38 percent on threes last season.
Offensively, his three-point shooting improved markedly last season (from 20 percent to 38 percent) but his finishing skills still need work; he shot 55.8 percent on shots at the rim last season (106 for 190) and said he’s focusing on that, plus scoring “at all levels, midrange, floaters, pull ups.”
The extension will make it difficult for the Heat to include Winslow in any trade over the next year.
Why? First-round picks (Winslow was a first-round pick in 2015) who receive extensions before their fourth NBA seasons are subject to the “Poison Pill Provision,” which would make it difficult to include Winslow in a trade until July 1.
This provision means when that player is traded between the date the extension is signed and the date it takes effect, the player’s trade value for the receiving team is the average of the salaries in the last year of the rookie scale contract and each year of the extension.
With Winslow’s $39 million extension over three years, the acquiring team would take him at $10.6 million and Miami would send him out at his current salary of $3.4 million until his extension take effect on July 1.
If Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside opt in next summer, the Heat already had $119 million committed to players for the 2019-20 season even before the Winslow extension. That figure now would approach $130 million with the Winslow extension, well above the projected $109 million salary cap for 2019-20. And that doesn’t include Wayne Ellington and Rodney McGruder, who are eligible for free agency next summer.
Meanwhile, Winslow’s extension also eats into the Heat’s salary cap space in the summer of 2020, when Dragic and Whiteside come off Miami’s books.
For the 2020-21 season, the Heat now has about $72 million in commitments — to Winslow, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. The cap is projected to be $118 million for the 2020-21 season, giving Miami substantial space to add free agents in the summer of 2020 but not enough to add two max players (only one), barring clearing of additional cap space.
Winslow is the third member of the 2015 draft class to agree to a rookie extension. Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (five-year, $190 million) and Phoenix’s Devin Booker (five-year, $158 million) signed max extensions.
Over the first three seasons of his NBA career, Winslow averaged 7.5 points on 41 percent shooting from the field and 31.4 shooting from three-point range to go with 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 164 regular-season games (48 starts).
Surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder limited Winslow to just 18 games in 2016-17.
Winslow played some of the best basketball of his career in the playoffs last season. He shined in a point-forward role, averaging 9.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists in the Heat’s first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Winslow averaged 10.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in four preseason games this year. He sat Friday’s preseason finale against the Hawks to rest.
“Everything was going in the right direction,” Winslow said of getting the extension done before Monday’s deadline. “Obviously, there’s other things that the front office is dealing with, but we just stayed steady, stayed the course and got a deal done.”