Barry Jackson

Miami Heat players react to the trades. Potentially difficult roster decisions await

‘I’m still chasing another championship,’ says Pat Riley

Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.
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Pat Riley speaks about his future with the Miami Heat during an interview with Dan Le Batard on ESPN's SportsCenter.

A six-pack of Heat notes on a Wednesday:

Heat players reacted with mixed emotion to the trade that will deliver Jimmy Butler to the Heat but send Josh Richardson and Hassan Whiteside elsewhere.

“I was with him [Richardson] when it happened,” Bam Adebayo told WPLG-10’s Will Manso on Tuesday night. “That’s why it was a downer. That’s my brother. But at the end of the day we have to remember it’s a business and we’re trying to win.”

Forward Derrick Jones Jr. told Manso: “We just lost one of our brothers but we gained an All-Star caliber player. We know he wants to work, and that’s what we love to do.”

On Butler, Adebayo said: “He brings a junkyard dog kind of feel. He wants to win, wants to get stops, wants to bring energy and get the crowd involved ... wants to be a star.”

Jones — who was initially reported to be going to Dallas with Kelly Olynyk in the trade — said: “ I saw my name, so yeah, I was worried. But at the end of the day, I [am not] going [anywhere]. I love it here, they love me here. I was happy, knowing they wanted me to stay here.”

The Heat made clear to Dallas that it did not want to give up Jones, according to one of the teams.

Richardson posted a message of appreciation on Instagram: “Miami, thank you. Thank you for giving this kid [an] opportunity that otherwise I’m not sure he would have gotten. Thank you to the coaches and my teammates. Thank u to the fans for embracing me. My years there have been great and I will never forget you guys. Always love!”

Richardson told Manso: “I was kind of taken off-guard a little bit, but, you know, once I talked to coach and everybody and, you know, thought about it, I was really excited. You know, I’m going to a great team, so I’m ready.

“I don’t know if I would be in the NBA if the Heat hadn’t drafted me and picked me up and gave me that chance, so, you know, I’ll be forever grateful to that team for that.”

On Wednesday evening, Whiteside also posted a farewell to the Heat and the city of Miami on Instagram: “It has been an amazing 5 years! I am grateful for the experience and opportunity that the [Miami Heat] organization provided me with. Big thanks to city of Miami and the amazing fans for making this stop in my journey worth while. Lastly to my teammates, I can not thank you all enough. It’s been a great run and I wish everyone that suited up with me in a Miami Heat uniform the best of luck in your careers and in life.”

If Kendrick Nunn continues playing at the level he played in his Heat Summer League debut on Tuesday (27 points), then Miami will face a difficult roster decision.

Here’s what it comes down to: If the Heat keeps only 14 players on standard contacts - a strong possibility because Miami must stay at or below its $138.9 million hard cap all season - would Miami be OK with five of those spots going to first- and second-year players?

That would leave Miami with only nine players with considerable NBA experience.

Of the first- and second-year players, rookies Tyler Herro and KZ Okpala assuredly will be on the team, with Miami considering Okpala a first-round talent. That would leave Yante Maten, Duncan Robinson and Nunn - if he earns a job - with three roster spots. in one possible scenario where the Heat goes heavy on youth.

But the Heat - barring further roster moves - already has nine players with more than two years of experience, excluding soon-to-be released Ryan Anderson: Butler, Adebayo, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, Jones, James Johnson, Dion Waiters.

Further trades are quite possible this week - the Heat is actively looking - but if something doesn’t happen, Miami (if it keeps 14 instead of 15) would need to pick a 13th and 14th among Maten (Heat really likes him), Robinson, Nunn, unsigned Udonis Haslem and any remaining veteran in the free agent market, such as DeMarcus Cousins.

That roster logjam - plus the desire to get under the hard cap without stretching Ryan Anderson -are among the reasons Miami continues to explore trades before finalizing the Butler trade.

The Heat - which was a huge fan of Cousins’ game before his 2018 ruptured Achilles - has been linked to Cousins again in one unconfirmed Internet report. But Miami first has to settle its hard cap situation before looking to spend money. And Cousins would need to settle for a backup role behind Adebayo.

One of Cousins’ former coaches believes Miami would be the perfect fit.

“DeMarcus is proud, he’s competitive,” former Kings and Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said on ESPN this week. “They’re always better after a major injury after the second year. You’re going to see a guy who is very motivated and in great shape. Go someplace where you will play a big role. That means to stay at Golden State, great. I would love to see him go to Miami as well.”

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan said Cousins, in the NBA Finals, “defensively, he just couldn’t move. The perception is you still have got a lot of work to do before you get back to standard form, let alone where he was before the Achilles’ situation.”

Cousins, according to The New York Times, recently dismissed agent Jarinn Akana and hired influential NBA agent Jeff Schwartz.

As we reported on Twitter (@flasportsbuzz), the Heat has reached out to the Washington Wizards about Bradley Beal and there is sentiment internally to taking on the last four years and $172 million of John Wall’s deal to facilitate a trade, according to someone with direct knowledge.

But there is no indication that Washington would be willing to do that, even with Wall out for much or all of next season with a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. Beal has said that the Wizards have assured him he won’t be traded.

Even if Washington agreed to such a scenario, Miami - with its hard cap situation -would need to send out salaries comparable to the combined $65 million that Wall and Beal would make next season. That’s possible, but a challenge.

Beal has two seasons remaining on his contract.

Former Duke and NBA guard Jay Williams offered “a big shout out to Micky Arison, Pat Riley, Nick Arison, the CEO of the Heat” on ESPN’s morning show because the Heat added Butler and has managed to stay competitive without tanking.

“This team has not lost 45 [actually 55 percent] percent of their games since 2008; they just don’t tank,” Williams said. “They do it the right way. They fight for it all day long. You talk about teams dropping games, not playing guys to get high draft picks. They were able to trade Hassan Whiteside. They didn’t like him for the culture. They landed Jimmy Butler, a guy that reminds them a little bit of D-Wade.”

Here’s my Tuesday night post with a lot more Jimmy Butler chatter.

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