Barry Jackson

Heat signs forward; Winslow impressing; Olynyk notes

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives against Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, December 27, 2016.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook drives against Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Tuesday, December 27, 2016. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Updated from earlier today with news on the addition of a 19th Heat player:

The Heat signed 6-8 rookie forward Erik McCree, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in three seasons at Louisiana Tech after transferring from Murray State. McCree went undrafted in June.

McCree is a long shot to stick and could end up on the Heat's minor league team in South Dakota. Miami now has 19 players under contract, one less than the maximum permitted for training camp.

In his 99 games at Louisiana Tech, including 98 starts, he averaged 29.1 minutes while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three-point range and 73.5 percent from the foul line. He became just the sixth player in school history to record at least 1,400 points and 700 rebounds in just three seasons.

During his senior season, he averaged 17.7 points and 8.9 rebounds and shot a career best from the field (47.6 percent) and from three-point range (36.2 percent, 54 for 149) while earning All-Conference USA First Team honors.

McCree, an Orlando native, registered 13 double-doubles, the second-most in the conference and the fifth-most by a Bulldog during a single-season over the last 25 years, including a streak of five-straight, becoming the first Louisiana Tech player to accomplish the feat since Paul Millsap in 2005.

Additionally, he finished last season as one of only four forwards in the country to connect on at least 200 field goals, 50 three-point field goals and 125 free throws. Before transferring to Louisiana Tech, McCree appeared in 24 games as a freshman at Murray State.

Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol, a former UM assisstant, told the News Star of Monroe, La. this about McCree before the NBA Draft in June:

"People are finding out about him, he really loves the game. He loves to find ways to improve and he spends as much time as necessary to give everything he’s got to be best he can be. As a player, he’s in that category of what so many NBA teams are looking for, he’s that versatile forward. He has that size and athleticism, where he can rebound, but he’s a guy that can really stretch the floor and shoot the three at an efficient rate. I think he can do this at the highest level, that’s the feedback I’m getting.

"But also he’s a really good person. Teams are looking for great representatives, looking for somebody who can do things correctly on and off the court. Drafted or not, he’ll have great opportunities to make the NBA through free agency and tryouts. They’re going to find out how he can help their team. It’s up to those teams to decide if that’s the draft pick they want to use at that moment."

Now more Heat notes, a little more than a week before the Sept. 26 start of training camp:

• A source said Justise Winslow, back from shoulder surgery that sidelined him most of last season, “has been off the board with his commitment this summer” - both in time invested in the gym and a diligence about developing his game, including his shooting.

Miami is expected to guarantee Winslow’s $3.44 million salary for 2018-19 by the Oct. 18 NBA deadline.

Winslow will compete with Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder for the starting small forward job.

He’s determined to improve his shooting; in 96 career games (including just 18 last season), he shot 40 percent from the field and 25.8 percent on threes (39 for 151).

• The Heat hopes Kelly Olynyk’s comfort shooting in Boston’s arena carries over to AmericanAirlines Arena.

He shot 41.1 percent on threes at home last season, just 29.5 percent on the road.

He shot 53.4 percent on all shots, all locations, in the fourth quarter, which is encouraging.

But this is worrisome: Players guarded by Olynyk shot better against him (46.8) than they did overall (45.9).

Justise Winslow discussed his health Saturday, June 3, 2017 at the Mountain Dew tournament at Bayfront Park.

But the Heat believes he’s a good defender who has the potential to get even better here. (And that’s absolutely no criticism of Boston; the Heat coaching staff and Pat Riley have enormous respect for Celtics coach Brad Stevens and his staff.)

• Though Olynyk’s contract was widely reported at four years and $50 million, it can be as low as four years and just over $46 million if he doesn’t meet certain incentives.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported last week, Olynyk will earn another $1 million this season if he plays 1700 minutes - something he has never done before.

Olynyk played between 1395 and 1538 minutes each of his four seasons in Boston. Because he fell short of that total last season, this incentive is deemed “unlikely to be earned” for purposes of tabulating Miami’s cap commitments and thus doesn’t need to be factored into Miami’s cap entering the season.

As Marks reported last week, Dion Waiters will earn $1.1 million in incentives if he plays in 70 games; he appeared in 46 last season.

• If you missed it amid an NFL Sunday, Goran Dragic scored 35 points in leading Slovenia to its first EuroBasket championship in a victory over Serbia in Turkey.

Dragic, named tournament MVP, missed the closing minutes because of cramping.

Slovenia coach Igor Kokoskov, an assistant with the Utah Jazz, said Dragic “couldn’t play for a quarter. He was cramping on the side, he was laying on the floor. It wasn’t my decision, it was just the body. His body was quitting on Goran.”

New Heat big man Kelly Olynyk speaks to reporters on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 at Miami Dade college.

Still, this isn’t of great concern to the Heat, who could opt to give Dragic some days of rest during training camp.

• Forward Jarred Sullinger, who visited with Riley in Heat offices in March, signed a two-month (yes two month) deal for $300,000 in China. Though Riley was intrigued, Sullinger wasn’t in shape when he visited and the Heat never made an offer.

• The Heat has two roster spots left for camp and at least one is expected to go to a developmental player. (See above for more on the player they signed Monday evening, after this post.) Miami, which has 18 players under contract, has committed one of its new two-way contracts to Michigan point guard Derrick Walton Jr.

It’s possible the other ultimately could be used on Central Florida rookie guard Matt Williams Jr., whose regular contract can be converted into a two-way.

Incidentally, Josh Richardson signed his four-year, $42 million extension on Monday. We reported on that, with lots of details, here last week.

We’ll have a bunch of Heat stories this week, so please check back. And here’s my Dolphins post from this morning with lots and lots of postscripts and nuggets and interesting metrics from Miami’s opener and a Lawrence Timmons update...

Here’s most everything Adam Gase had to say during his Monday 3 p.m. news conference... We’ll have three more Dolphins posts here later today... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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