Barry Jackson

One of his former coaches assesses Butler. And Heat working on snag in deal

Miami Heat’s ‘training camp will be about more competition,’ says Riley

Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early Friday, June 21, 2019, in Miami.
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Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early Friday, June 21, 2019, in Miami.

A six-pack of Heat notes as Miami tried on Sunday night to complete the financial components of a Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade that the Heat, Butler, and Philadelphia have agreed to:

So what is the Heat potentially getting in Butler, who has agreed to a four-year, $142 million contract pending the execution of a sign-and-trade?

I spoke to a veteran NBA assistant coach who coached Butler multiple seasons and he expressed admiration for both the skill set and the intangibles.

“He’s right there among the toughest players I’ve ever coached if not the toughest,” said the coach, who has coached more than a decade in the NBA but wasn’t authorized to discuss a player no longer on his team.

“He’s unselfish, he plays defense, he gives 100 percent all of the time, he’s smart. He brings the kind of energy on the court that you want as a coach. He brings it every night, is everything a coach wants. He’s a throwback, would run through a wall [for the good of the team].”

And how is he as a teammate?

“I’ve read that he’s a bad teammate, but that’s not accurate,” the coach said. “He can be tough and demanding, but he’s not some raving lunatic.

“If the coach says, ‘This is what we’re doing,’ he expects that to be done. I could see him grating on teammates but it shouldn’t. Jimmy doesn’t go after guys like LeBron [James] can. LeBron curses [at] guys. Jimmy will get after you but won’t do that.”

The coach’s assessment of his game: “He gets to the line, can post up, great mid- range shooter. Can play the two, three, four, even the five [in stretches if a team wants to go really undersized]. You can put him at the four [power forward] and he won’t complain.

“At two [shooting guard], he can post up smaller guards. He’s quicker than most threes [small forwards]. He can lead an offense. He can create. He can guard as well as anyone, can guard ones, two, threes and fours and stay within defensive concepts. He will chase a guy down and poke the ball from behind.”

Where can he improve? “He can hits threes but that’s not [a strength]. Probably the biggest area [for improvement] is shooting with range.”

▪ With Miami needing to move additional money to complete the Butler trade, a source confirmed to The Miami Herald that Dallas asked for Derrick Jones Jr. and Kelly Olynyk in a trade with Miami, but the Heat said no to the request for Jones (at least as of midnight Sunday night).

Unless the Heat changes its mind, Miami would need to find a third team to absorb enough salary to fulfill salary cap requirements of the Butler trade. That could involve moving Goran Dragic; according to The New York Times, Dallas didn’t want Dragic because of other moving parts in free agency.

Josh Richardson already has been told he’s been traded to Philadelphia in that Butler deal with Miami, according to a league source.

The Heat has gone too far to let this deal fall through, and it would be surprising if it did fall through.

Quick stuff: Philadelphia also expressed some interest in Bam Adebayo but Miami didn’t want to trade him and it became a moot point with the 76ers getting a commitment from Al Horford. Richardson was Philadelphia’s priority.... Pat Riley wasn’t the only strong supporter of this deal. We’ve been repeatedly told that Erik Spoelstra is a big admirer of Butler.

The Heat can fill out its roster with a veteran or two on a minimum deal or with part of Miami’s $5.7 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

But because the Heat will be hard capped at $138 million as a consequence of the Butler deal, much of that exception can be used, as cap expert Albert Nahmad noted, only if Miami uses the stretch provision to spread Ryan Anderson’s camp hits over three years (at $5.2 million per season instead of $15.6 million all at once).

Potential options for low money deals include Isaiah Thomas (coming off a lost year for Denver with 12 games), Vince Carter, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, Shelvin Mack, Nik Stauskas, James Ennis, Lance Stephenson, Iman Shumpert, Omri Casspi, Alec Burks, Jerryd Bayless, Ian Clark, Jodie Meeks, Thabo Sefolosha and Troy Williams.

Former Memphis coach Dave Joerger, talking about the Heat’s acquisition of Butler on ESPN: “He’s always been an Eastern Conference player. This fits for him, fits his style, fits the organization. It’s going to be his team. He’s going to have a ball. They are going to be better for it.”

As we reported earlier this year, the Heat has interest in Washington’s Bradley Beal. And the Internet fed that rumor on Sunday, including former NBA forward Matt Barnes declaring, during an appearance on ESPN, that the Heat is trying to pair Butler and Beal.

But Beal told Wizards media this offseason that Washington ownership and management has assured him he won’t be traded.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said “Washington’s position is they can offer him an extension at the end of July, and I’ve been told that has been their goal, to re-sign him and keep him. Miami doesn’t have the assets to do a deal for any player of that caliber.”

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