Barry Jackson

Riley, Spoelstra head west to recruit Waiters

Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters battle for a lose ball against New Orleans Pelicans guard Wayne Selden Jr. (25) and guard Jrue Holiday(11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., March 15, 2017.
Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters battle for a lose ball against New Orleans Pelicans guard Wayne Selden Jr. (25) and guard Jrue Holiday(11) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wed., March 15, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

After meeting with Gordon Hayward in Miami on Saturday, the Heat on Sunday turned its attention to Dion Waiters.

Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra headed west to Los Angeles to meet with Waiters, according to a source close to the Heat free agent guard.

Waiters also has drawn interest from Chicago, the Knicks and Sacramento, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Waiters was expected to meet with several teams in California over the next day.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley talks about free agent Dion Waiters.

The Heat wants to convey to Waiters that it’s still very interested, even though it is in no position to make a large lucrative offer until Hayward decides among offers from the Heat, Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz.

If Hayward signs with the Heat for a max deal (starting at $29.7 million in 2017-18), Miami would have $5.7 million in cap space and could open up $4 million more by releasing Josh McRoberts and stretching his cap hits over three years. That $9.7 million could be extrapolated into a four-year, $42 million deal for free agents James Johnson or Waiters.

But that $9.7 million likely wouldn’t be enough to keep both Johnson and Waiters, but merely one or the other. The Heat also has the option of attempting to shed salary in trades to try to create cap space to keep both players in the Hayward scenario.

Dealing Tyler Johnson, McRoberts and Justise Winslow for no money back - and there’s no indication if Heat would consider doing this - and cutting or trading Wayne Ellington by Friday’s contract deadline would leave Miami with $20 million or so in space if Hayward signs with the Heat, and that may or may not be enough to keep James Johnson and Waiters.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley talks about the team's plans for Chris Bosh during his season-ending press conference on Wed., April 19, 2017.

If the Heat must choose between James Johnson and Waiters in that Hayward-signing-with-Miami scenario, it would be viewed as a very difficult decision, with the possibility of Miami presenting offers to both players and see who takes it. Both have strong internal support.

James Johnson made $4 million last season and Waiters $2.9 million, with both players expected to command substantial raises.

Waiters averaged 15.8 points in 44 games for the Heat last season, missing extended time with ankle injuries. He shot 42.4 percent from the field and a career-high 39.5 percent on threes.

If Hayward bypasses the Heat, then the Heat is expected to try to keep Johnson and Waiters, and potentially Wayne Ellington, using $34 million in cap space.

Miami Heat's Dion Waiters talks to the media outside the Heat's locker room about the advantage of not making the playoffs, getting to start on preparing earlier for the next season than the teams in the current NBA post season.

Ellington, if his salary is guaranteed by Friday’s deadline, would drop the Heat’s currently-available space (once Chris Bosh is cut) from $34 million to just under $28 million.

• Toronto reached a three-year, $65 million deal to keep Serge Ibaka, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. Though the Heat inquired with Orlando about Ibaka before he was dealt to Toronto last February, the Heat never had serious interest in Ibaka during this free agency period.

Here’s my post from an hour ago with a lot more Heat news, including what Gordon Hayward thought of his Heat meeting, and news on Tyler Johnson, Willie Reed and details on Boston’s Hayward pitch.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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