Barry Jackson

Heat summons another top ACC draft prospect; Heat linked to Gordon Hayward

Notre Dame’s Austin Burgett (20) shoots over Wake Forest’s John Collins (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sun., Jan. 31, 2016, in South Bend, Ind.
Notre Dame’s Austin Burgett (20) shoots over Wake Forest’s John Collins (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sun., Jan. 31, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. AP

The Heat, which is bringing in select players for pre-draft workouts, has booked a session next Wednesday with Wake Forest power forward/center John Collins, according to a source.

Collins, from West Palm Beach, averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds as a sophomore for Wake Forest last season.

But he isn’t a traditional stretch four (power forward). His range extends to about 15 feet, according to one evaluator, but he doesn’t have a three-point game (0 for 1 on threes last season).

Some evaluators have Collins being picked in the range of Miami’s first-round pick at No. 14 or after that.

“Collins was one of the most efficient low-post players in college basketball,” ESPN’s Chad Ford said. “He's a good athlete, rebounder and shotblocker with a soft touch around the basket. And he's only 19 years old. Teams want to see him increase his range on his jump shot, but the rest of the tools are there. He's projected in the Nos. 14-20 range.”

Two scouts offered differing views on Collins; one was bullish on his skills, particularly his post-up game and rebounding ability; but the other viewed him as a late first-rounder because of offensive limitations and questions about whether he can guard centers.

▪  This Friday morning tweet from ESPN’s Marc Stein will get Heat fans excited: “Volume is rising on the whispers that the team worrying Utah in Gordon Hayward's free agency is Miami as much as Boston.”

An associate of Hayward said several weeks ago that he hadn’t heard Miami was particularly on Hayward’s radar and viewed Boston as the next-best option if he left Utah, which obviously wants to keep him. But a source connected with Hayward said this morning that Hayward now has interest in the Heat, as well as other teams. (The Heat should by no means be called the favorite - Utah warrants that position - but Miami is positioned to at least be in the mix.)

But Heat president Pat Riley can be very convincing, and it won’t be surprising if he gets a meeting with Hayward. And if Riley gets a player in a room, anything can happen.

Remember: Remember, Hayward can get five years and $179.2 million if he stays in Utah, four years and $132.9 million with another team.

His max first-year salary would be $31 million.

Without Hayward, the Heat would have between $37 million and $40 million in cap space, not counting Dion Waiters and Willie Reed (who are opting out) or Wayne Ellington, whose $6.3 million salary is not guaranteed if the Heat releases him before July 7.

Hypothetically, if the Heat landed Hayward with a salary of $31 million next season, that would leave Miami with $7 million to nearly $9 million in space (the higher amount if you don’t count required $815,000 cap holds for open roster spots up to 12, which will eventually be filled by actual players).

But if the Heat releases Josh McRoberts and stretches his cap hit to $2 million for each of the next three years instead of $6 million next season, then the Heat could have between $11 million and close to $13 million in space after signing Hayward.

That second amount might be enough to re-sign James Johnson or Dion Waiters, but not both.

The Heat would like to keep Johnson and Waiters, with that potentially changing only if Miami can land an All-Star caliber player.

Hayward, 27, was an All-Star for the first team this season. A 6-8 small forward, he averaged 21.9 points and shot 47.1 percent from the field.

We mentioned here last week that Hayward, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap are the three high-end free agents of interest to Miami. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant obviously would be, too, but the Heat doesn’t expect to get either of them.

Please click here for a bunch of Friday Dolphins nuggets and please click here for my Friday Marlins post, with news on Giancarlo Stanton, trades, more history for Edinson Volquez and Marlins draft possibilities.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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