Miami Heat

Grizzlies, Wizards swipe Heat roster targets Weber, Thornton

VCU’s Briante Weber (2) drives for two points during the first half against Davidson in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015.
VCU’s Briante Weber (2) drives for two points during the first half against Davidson in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. AP

While the Heat would prefer to wait to fill its final two roster spots until the final week of the regular season to remain under the luxury tax threshold, a couple of viable options the team was interested in were snatched up by other teams Wednesday.

Heat D-League product Briante Weber agreed to a 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies and veteran shooter Marcus Thornton, who negotiated a buyout with the Rockets and was interested in the Heat, was signed by the Washington Wizards for the remainder of the season.

The good news for the Heat: There’s still a chance the organization could get Weber back.

According to two league sources, the Heat still has interest in bringing Weber back and elevating him to the “big” club, and will likely do so if Memphis doesn’t ultimately sign Weber for the rest of the season.

Odds are the Grizzlies will not keep Weber long-term because point guard Michael Conley (foot soreness) is expected to return before the end of the season.

The Heat identified Weber, a quick defensive-minded point guard, as an attractive prospect after he went undrafted in June because of ACL reconstruction recovery.

Miami signed Weber in training camp, waived him and sent him down to its D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

If the Heat loses Weber, it would be an interesting twist, considering what happened in November of 2014.

The Heat, like the rest of the league, had passed on Hassan Whiteside multiple times. But after Memphis waived him for the second time in a month, Miami jumped in.

The Heat then assigned him to Sioux Falls and brought him up to the NBA shortly thereafter before another team could take the talented center away.

T. JOHNSON STILL WORKING WAY BACK

Of course, the Heat might not need to sign another point guard at all if Tyler Johnson recovers faster than anticipated following surgery on his left shoulder on Feb. 3.

While the left-hander is still not shooting with his left hand, he’s on this road trip and involved in all team meetings, film sessions and is at every practice dribbling and shooting with his right hand.

The Heat, though, is not allowing Johnson to rush himself back, coach Erik Spoelstra said, and Johnson said his teammates are stepping in to make sure he doesn’t overdo it. Doctors initially told Johnson he would be out for three months.

“I’m still hopeful for sure,” Johnson said of a potential return in early April.

“But again, I’m not going to push it to the point where I can maybe damage it a little bit more or do anything to have a setback. I guess every day it feels better. That’s where the optimism comes from because every day I wake up and I can start to do a couple new things that I wasn’t able to do before.

“I’m going to push for that. It’s a personal goal. But the doctors and trainers haven’t given me a timetable, and they’ve said, ‘We are not going to give you a date because we could get to that time and it’s not ready.’ 

In the meantime, Johnson said his right arm is getting a lot of work and his right-handed shots are improving.

“I was eating right-handed, brushing my teeth right-handed,” he said. “I definitely notice a difference. I feel like my shooting touch has improved dramatically with it.”

GORAN ON THE GO

Part of the reason Goran Dragic is having more success pushing the pace isn’t just that his teammates are running with him more.

Luol Deng said the Heat point guard is also no longer coming back to the ball when the team picks up a defensive rebound.

“We try to get a rebound and just throw it out and start running,” Deng said.

“Those two steps of going forward instead of coming back with it, it matters. He’s getting maybe six to eight points maybe in the open floor. That’s helping him a lot with the speed of our pace.”

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