“We’re getting younger. Finally,” says Miami Heat president about team
For two weeks, the Heat couldn’t even mention Stanford forward KZ Okpala because of NBA rules that prevented Miami from completing his draft-night acquisition.
But that’s over.
The Heat’s draft-night trade to take the 20-year-old Okpala with the second pick in the second round (No. 32 overall) is official, with the NBA moratorium coming to an end Saturday at noon. Miami acquired Okpala — from Indiana through Phoenix — in exchange for three second-round picks in 2022, 2025 and 2026.
Those three second-round picks now belong to the Pacers.
“The process has been different,” Okpala said during a conference call with reporters of having to wait two weeks to join the Heat. “It’s not what I expected, for sure. But I think it’s just all a part of the process. You just have to control the things you can control.”
Just like the Heat couldn’t discuss Okpala until the move was finalized Saturday (the first day that trades utilizing the 2019-20 salary cap could be completed), he also wasn’t eligible to play as part of Miami’s summer league team during that time. Okpala, who missed the Heat’s first four summer league games, is not expected to play Sunday against the Jazz but could make his summer debut Tuesday against the Magic in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been working out all day,” Okpala said of staying in shape over the past two weeks. “I’ve been watching the Heat summer league games and I’ve been in contact with Pat Riley and coach [Erik] Spoelstra. Yeah, I’ve been staying as close as possible.”
The Heat has at least four Las Vegas summer games remaining to play and up to six if it advances deep into the tournament.
The 6-9, 210-pound Okpala averaged 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds last season as a sophomore while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 36.8 percent on three-pointers. He did finish with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio, though, with 58 assists to 83 turnovers.
Okpala, who has a 7-1.75 wingspan and just 4.6 percent body fat based on his draft combine measurements, averaged 10.9 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman. He shot just 35.2 percent from the field and 18.2 percent on threes in his first season at Stanford, but improved those numbers by 11.1 percent and 18.6 percent, respectively, in his second college season.
“I’m extremely versatile,” Okpala said of his skill set. “I have really good feet. Defensively, I think that’s where I can contribute right away. Offensively, I can handle the ball extremely well for my size, I can get downhill, get by my first defender, finish, play-make for others and I can shoot the three.”
The Heat’s previous second-round pick came in 2015, when it took Josh Richardson at No. 40. Players whom the Heat has landed in the second round in the past include James Ennis at No. 50 in 2013, Justin Hamilton at No. 45 in 2012, Dexter Pittman at No. 32 in 2010, Mario Chalmers at No. 34 in 2008, Rasual Butler at No. 53 in 2002 and Eddie House at No. 37 in 2000.
Players taken in the second round may sign for any amount from the minimum to the maximum, but end up signing for a minimum salary most of the time. A second-round pick can also take a two-way deal, which doesn’t count against the regular-season 15-player roster limit or the salary cap.
After deciding to use the “stretch provision” when waiving Ryan Anderson to satisfy the financial requirements to complete the Jimmy Butler trade, the Heat has nine players under guaranteed contracts: Butler (a 2019-20 salary of $32.7 million), Goran Dragic ($19.2 million), James Johnson ($15.3 million), Kelly Olynyk ($13.1 million), Justise Winslow ($13 million), Dion Waiters ($12.1 million), Meyers Leonard ($11.3 million), Tyler Herro ($3.6 million, but has not signed contract yet) and Bam Adebayo ($3.5 million). Okpala would be the 10th player if he signs a guaranteed deal with the Heat, as expected.
The Heat also has four players under partially guaranteed contracts: Derrick Jones Jr. (full 2019-20 salary of $1.6 million), Yante Maten ($1.4 million), Duncan Robinson ($1.4 million) and Kendrick Nunn ($1.4 million).