Barry Jackson

Heat updates on Whiteside, Conley, Butler and last-minute predraft visits

Kevin Porter Jr.: ‘A lot of people say I’m one of most talented in the draft’

Kevin Porter Jr. had a disappointing freshman season for the USC Trojans, but the wing still should be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He could be a high-ceiling option for the Miami Heat at No. 13.
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Kevin Porter Jr. had a disappointing freshman season for the USC Trojans, but the wing still should be a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA draft. He could be a high-ceiling option for the Miami Heat at No. 13.

A quick six-pack of Heat notes on a Monday night:

In a decision that has been fully expected, center Hassan Whiteside intends to opt into the final season of his contract barring something completely unforeseen developing in the coming days, according to a league source.

Whiteside stands to make $27.1 million next season and plans to inform the Heat in the days before the June 29 deadline. Once he formally opts in, the Heat will be about $4 million over the projected $132 million luxury tax threshold, factoring in Miami’s first-round draft pick and forward Ryan Anderson’s expected buyout.

Whiteside, who would like to play more than the 17 minutes he averaged during the final 19 games but never complained publicly about it, said of his opt out after the season that he was “definitely going to weigh my options. It’s definitely a decision I got to make and do the best for me. I feel like if I’m playing, I’m going to produce so it will take care of itself.”

Whiteside, who lost his starting job to Bam Adebayo when Whiteside was injured, said in April: “I don’t think I’m a 20-minute guy. I average what, 20 minutes? So I think I can play more and I can do more. So I definitely think what I bring to the game is at a high level for my position. You know, I led the league in categories that you would want a big man to lead the league in. I feel like I can keep doing that.”

The Heat and Memphis Grizzlies had a discussion about a trade involving Mike Conley Jr., but the sides did not see eye-to-eye on trade compensation and the discussions went nowhere, according to a league source.

In the meantime, Utah has emerged as the front-runner to trade for Conley, according to The Athletic.

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The Heat and Memphis did not rule out further Conley discussions down the road.

Jimmy Butler likes the Heat and would have interest in taking a meeting with the Heat in free agency, as the AP’s Tim Reynolds reported and colleague Anthony Chiang also was told in recent weeks.

With the Heat set to select 13th in Thursday’s NBA Draft, Miami brought French forward Sekou Doumbouya to AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday for a last-minute workout and visit, according to a league source.

Doumbouya originally wasn’t sure if he would be able to visit with the Heat because of timing issues but ultimately decided to visit the Heat and several other teams.

ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony has Doumbouya going ninth in his mock draft, with Miami selecting Kentucky power forward P.J. Washington 13th.

“Doumbouya rebounded from a slow start with a very productive season in Pro A France since returning from a hand injury,” Givony wrote. “He has outstanding physical tools for a modern-day NBA forward — particularly defensively, where he shows significant potential — and he has a projectable skill level offensively.

“Doumbouya validated that strong performance with an impressive showing at his pro day in Dallas this month followed by good private workouts with teams in the mid-to-late lottery.”

As we reported last week, Indiana swingman Romeo Langford — who has been limited physically in the wake of offseason thumb surgery — also met with Heat officials in Miami over the past couple of days.

Unlike some teams, the Heat does not announce any of its pre-draft visits.

The Heat, which drafted Bam Adebayo out of John Calipari’s program two years ago and believes Kentucky players are well-prepared for the NBA, already has shown interest in Washington and Wildcats swingman Keldon Johnson.

But do not discount a third Kentucky player — guard Tyler Herro — as a possibility at No. 13. He recently worked out for Miami.

Givony has Herro going 14th to Boston — one spot after Miami — and said: “Herro has slowly moved up draft boards with strong workouts and interviews, given the dearth of shooting in a league that desperately covets dynamic players in his mold.”

Incidentally, Givony has several players who auditioned for the Heat falling below Miami’s pick, including Langford (15th), Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke (17th), Kentucky’s Johnson (18th) and Southern California’s Kevin Porter Jr. (27th).

Former UM forward Dewan Hernandez canceled his Saturday workout with the Heat because he had too many workouts scheduled and because of scheduling issues, according to a league source.

He auditioned for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, his 15th private predraft workout.

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