A six-pack of Heat notes on a Friday:
▪ One Heat basketball person in regular contact with Pat Riley described the team president as visibly angry in the aftermath of the James Johnson and Dion Waiters conditioning shortcomings and Waiters’ “unprofessional” behavior.
And frankly, who can blame him?
Here’s the gist of the message Riley conveyed firmly and directly to both players, per a league source: I upheld my promise to you. I made a commitment to you. But you didn’t uphold your promise to me or live up to the commitment to me.
That was a reference to the sizable four-year contracts awarded both players in 2017 after nomadic, uneven careers, plus allowing them to play last season despite not being in optimal Heat condition after returning from injuries (sports hernia for Johnson; ankle surgery for Waiters).
This was personal for Riley, and understandably so. After giving both players the most lucrative contracts of their careers (four years, $60 million to Johnson and four years, $52 million to Waiters), the least Riley could expect was that both meet the conditioning requirements established for both players. And in Waiters’ case, behave like a professional.
Waiters has been reinstated from suspension and will join the team on Monday. The Heat decided not to have him accompany the team for games this weekend in Milwaukee and Minnesota because he didn’t play last week. Johnson, too, is being left home this weekend as he continues working toward meeting Heat conditioning standards, primarily involving body fat.
▪ Here’s more background on what we’ve been told on the Waiters situation: During the preseason game against Houston last Friday, Waiters was complaining aloud about Erik Spoelstra and not getting a chance to play more, clearly within earshot of coaches and players.
And besides his behavior on the bench, a source with direct knowledge said Waiters also did not agree to do one mandatory weigh-in last week, angering Heat officials.
▪ One person in touch with the Heat’s front office said Miami has not found a team eager to trade for either Johnson or Waiters.
“That’s a hard sell to trade Waiters; they overvalued him initially when they paid him that and you would have to be desperate to trade for him,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “It would be hard to see a team saying this guy is going to help us win, with the maturity issues. And he’s a totally inconsistent player. The money isn’t [huge], but it’s a deterrence,” with two years and $25 million left on his contract.
▪ One element of Tyler Herro’s game that has surprised even the coaching staff is his ability to get to the basket. One Heat person said they believe he could be the steal of the draft. And his rebounding is going to be an asset, too; he had eight in the opener.
▪ This is a well-constructed roster, but one potential area of concern is rim deterrence when Bam Adebayo is resting or in foul trouble.
The Heat can keep Chris Silva with the NBA team as many as 45 days (off days don’t count) as long as he’s on a two-way contract. (The 45-day clock begins Monday when G-League camps open.)
And Miami can convert his deal into a standard contract in January, when the Heat -- with its current roster constitution --would have the space to add a 15th player under parameters of the hard salary cap under which it’s operating.
Silva, of course, could be signed to a standard contract sooner if Miami trades a veteran player and takes back less salary than it sends out.
Johnson also remains an option at backup center, once he’s deemed in good enough shape to play.
Kelly Olynyk, the Heat’s first power-rotation player off the bench at the moment, had two blocks in the opener and 39 in his last 80 games. Meyers Leonard, who started the opener, has just nine blocks in his last 95 regular-season games.
▪ Fox Sports Sun’s 3.5 rating for Heat-Grizzlies - equal to 3.5 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets - was the highest for a Heat opener since 2016. But it’s still well below the historically-low 8.6 local rating for Dolphins-Bills Sunday.
In fairness, NFL ratings almost always dwarf NBA ratings in home markets. And Dolphins-Bills was on free TV, whereas Heat-Grizzlies was on cable. Also, the Heat’s opener was the most watched program on English TV in Dade/Broward on Wednesday night.
Colleague David Wilson has a story on the home page on Jimmy Butler, who will miss the games this weekend because of the birth of his child.