The Heat has taken its first steps in attempting to sign soon-to-be free agent Josh Smith.
Injured Heat power forward Josh McRoberts underwent season-ending knee surgery Monday morning, which allowed the Heat to apply for the collective-bargaining agreement’s Disabled Player Exception in hopes of luring Smith to Miami. If granted the exception by the NBA, the Heat would be able to court Smith and attempt to sign him for $2.6million, which is half the value of McRoberts’ salary.
Despite three years remaining on his $54 million contract, Smith was waived by the Detroit Pistons on Monday. Several teams immediately expressed interest in the power forward, including the Heat, Mavericks, Rockets, Clippers and Grizzlies. The Rockets were the initial front-runners, according to a report by Yahoo!Sports, but the Heat can offer more money and perhaps more playing time.
Smith plays the same position as McRoberts, who tore the meniscus in his right knee on Dec.12. On Tuesday, the Heat’s co-captains said Smith would be a welcomed addition to the Heat’s lineup.
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“He’s an amazing talent,” Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. “He definitely could help us. He’s another big guy who can handle the ball and make plays similar to what Josh can do.”
Smith fell out of favor with Pistons coach and president Stan Van Gundy, but Dwyane Wade said Smith could thrive in the right environment. His implication, of course, is that Miami is the right environment for the free-shooting forward.
“My initial thoughts with Josh Smith is the same as anyone’s initial thoughts,” Wade said. “He’s a very talented guy who can, in the right situation and right place, can help a team and a team can help him.
“From there, he has a decision to make. A lot of teams will be open arms for a guy like that, and we’re no different, but that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say about that until the decision is made.”
Smith is expected to clear waivers Wednesday. The Heat would need to release a player to make room for Smith on the 15-man roster. Rookie Andre Dawkins and second-year pro Justin Hamilton could be released to make room for Smith. Both players are in one-year contracts.
Wade returned to action on Tuesday against the Philadelphia 76ers after missing Sunday’s game against the Boston Celtics with a sore right knee. He aggravated a preexisting injury Friday against the Washington Wizards during a play that sent him to the floor. Wade could have played Sunday but sat out as a precaution.
“I just got some swelling out of it,” Wade said. “I banged it on the floor, so I kind of bruised it, and it swelled up.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that Hamilton was removed from Sunday’s game because of symptoms related to a concussion. Hamilton experienced a headache during the first half against the Celtics and did not return to the team’s bench after halftime. Hamilton did not play against the 76ers.
Spoelstra said nothing definitive but gave a strong indication that center Chris Bosh could miss Thursday’s game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bosh missed his sixth consecutive game Tuesday with a strained calf. The Heat’s coach said Bosh has not participated in a practice since the injury and has been spending most of his time with team trainers.
“He is doing a little bit more, but he is still not ready,” Spoelstra said.