Barry Jackson

Here’s why there’s optimism on James Johnson. And a trade Miami Heat finds unappealing

Miami Heat forward James Johnson dunks against Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric during the first quarter of in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Thursday, April 19, 2018.  Johnson underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson dunks against Philadelphia 76ers forward Dario Saric during the first quarter of in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Thursday, April 19, 2018. Johnson underwent sports hernia surgery this offseason. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

A six-pack of Heat notes:

The Heat believes James Johnson is going to be consistently better after his surgery for sports hernia surgery.

That — combined with his defensive acumen, ability to get to the basket and versatility — are among the reasons why Miami hasn’t shopped him this offseason.

“It’s something that he played through last year and it affected him for sure,” his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said of the sports hernia. “They don’t come any tougher than James. His pain threshold is unlike anyone I’ve seen.”

Johnson averaged 10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists and shot 50.8 percent from the field and 30.8 percent on three-pointers last season.

The previous season, he averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists and shot 47.9 percent from the field and 34.0 percent on threes.

The Heat rewarded him with a four-year, $60 million contract after that 2016-17 season.

But his performance was uneven at times last year and he underwent the sports hernia surgery after the season. He’s expected to be ready for training camp.

A sports hernia is a painful soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area and it most often occurs during sports that require sudden changes of direction or intense twisting movements, per OthroInfo. The website says that most athletes are able to return six to 12 weeks after surgery.

Regarding rumors about a Heat trade involving Houston forward Ryan Anderson, that’s not something that interests Miami at this time, according to a league source.

Both USA Today and ESPN have floated the idea of Houston trading Anderson and a draft pick to Miami for Tyler Johnson or James Johnson. But while that would appear to interest the Rockets, it’s not something the Heat has found appealing.

Acquiring Anderson would increase Miami’s luxury tax bill, because Tyler Johnson is making $19.2 million each of the next two years compared with $20.4 million and $21.3 million for Anderson.

James Johnson is due to make $14.4 million, $15.1 million and $15.8 million the next three seasons, but the Heat values his skill set.

It’s no coincidence that two of the Heat’s recent signings, guard Malik Newman and forward Marcus Lee, are both former Parade All Americans. The Heat, with its ability to develop players, sees value in investing in high-level athletes.

As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons noted, Lee’s “athleticism and length allow him to switch on pick-and-rolls and defend multiple positions — coveted skills in the increasingly positionless NBA.”

Lee told The Chronicle after the draft: “I’m looking for a job. Either I get this job, or I’m living on the streets. That’s the way I’m feeling right now.”

Lee, 6-9, played well at Cal last season but went undrafted.

“He’s athletic, he can run and he can block shots and rebound,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said of Lee when he entered the draft a couple of years ago before transferring from Kentucky to Cal.

“He’s active and he’s got a good motor,” ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said.

With point guard Briante Weber - who’s expected to sign a Heat contract in the coming days - there’s no question about the defense. The question remains his shot. In 45 NBA games, he has shot 40.8 percent from the field and 19.2 on threes (5 for 26).

He also must improve his ball-handling; he has 64 NBA assists and 32 turnovers, a pedestrian 2 to 1 assist to turnover ratio.

Weber played in 13 games for Houston last season (where he had a two-way contract) and five for Memphis (as part of a 10-day contract; he wasn’t resigned to a second 10-day).

Weber was Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year in his final three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth (2013-2015).

Newman and Lee will be competing with Weber and possibly one other player for maybe one roster spot. Most or all could end up on the Heat’s G-League team in South Dakota.

Udonis Haslem, who is expected to return to the Heat, on Friday opened an Einstein Bagels at MiamiCentral, a new business complex in downtown Miami.

Haslem also has ownership in a second Einstein Bagels at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami; he also has a Starbucks at that Jackson campus. Both of these are licensed agreements through JFC Miami.

He said in January that he has majority ownership in five Subway franchises and two Auntie Anne’s Pretzels franchises in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Dion Waiters has been working out at the Heat’s facility, making progress in his return from January ankle surgery.

Several veteran Heat players – including Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and others – have been working out together while many NBA players are vacationing.

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