In the end, the Miami Heat found a way to make all the cap numbers work and bring Wayne Ellington back.
On a busy Friday, a day after Chris Bosh officially cleared waivers adding $25.3 million to the team’s salary cap, Miami finalized a deal to send often-injured forward Josh McRoberts to Dallas to clear the necessary cap space to bring its leading three-point shooter back, picking up the second year of his contract for $6.27 million before the 11:59 p.m. deadline.
The Heat had to send its 2023 second-round pick and cash to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for second-year reserve center A.J. Hammons to complete the move.
In addition to bringing back Ellington, 29, the Heat announced the signings of former Celtics 7-footer Kelly Olynyk and the re-signing of forward James Johnson and guard Dion Waiters, two integral parts to last season’s 30-11 finish over the second-half of the season.
Olynyk, 26, was the first to sign his contract (four years, $50 million) on Friday. Waiters, 25, signed for four years, $52 million and Johnson, 30, signed for four years, $60 million.
Agent Mark Bartelstein said Johnson’s contract is fully guaranteed with a player option for the final season.
“Everything was an absolute dream come true; not just to sign a four-year contract, but to sign a four-year contract where I really, really feel my skills are utilized the best and where I felt most comfortable,” Johnson said late Friday evening. “It’s good to know the upper office had the same taste in their mouth and they were not willing to let [the core of last year’s team] go. We have another crack at it.”
Said Riley in a statement released by the team: “James Johnson epitomizes everything that the Miami Heat is about. He came in, made a promise to us and then fulfilled that promise by becoming a world class athlete thus leading to the best season he has had in the NBA. Today, he is being rewarded for the fulfillment of that promise.
“We will continue to push him to get him to an even higher level. His signing today, for me personally and the coaching staff, is one of our happiest signings. We are happy for James and his family as we look for him to have an even greater year next season.”
Johnson, who made $17 million his first seven seasons in the league and credited his physical transformation (he shed nearly 40 pounds) for his success last season, said the first big purchase he’s going to make with his new contract is getting gym equipment for his house.
“I’m definitely going to go get a couple treadmills, a couple bikes, just have them at the house,” he said. “Those things changed my career and really changed my life.”
Johnson and Waiters are expected to be starters for the Heat next season.
“Dion Waiters proved to us last season that we found one of the best two guards in the NBA and we are happy today to be able to sign Dion to a long-term contract,” Riley said.
“We love his game and competiveness. He is an attacker and an excellent three-point shooter as well as a defender. He is a player that has no fear in taking the last shot regardless of the outcome. We believe that continuity has shown to be one of the important things that we do by keeping a team together. Having Dion back in the fold is a big factor in keeping that team chemistry together.”
Olynyk, the new addition, figures to play a prominent role in the Heat’s rotation as one of the first players off the bench in the frontcourt.
Olynyk appeared in 75 games (six starts) with Boston last season and averaged nine points, 4.8 rebounds, two assists and 20.5 minutes while shooting a career-best 51.2 percent from the field, 35.4 percent from three-point range and 73.2 percent from the foul line.
“As soon as Kelly Olynyk became an unrestricted free agent, we pursued him,” Riley said. “He is not only a post player, he can also play away from the basket. What we like the most is that he is a playmaker, tough defender and rugged rebounder. At just 26 years old, he fits in perfect with our young core that will play together in their primes.”
The only reason Olynyk was available to the Heat was because Boston renounced his rights on July 4, the same day the Celtics received word from top free agent target Gordon Hayward he picked them over Miami and Utah.
“Heat fans, I appreciate you guys welcoming me here,” Olynyk said in an Instagram post by the team. “We’re excited. We’re ready to roll and let’s go Heat.”
▪ A Heat spokesman said Hammons, 24, will join Miami’s summer league team in Las Vegas.
Former Miami Hurricane guard Trey McKinney-Jones will also play for the Heat’s summer league team . McKinney-Jones, 26, played for the Indiana Pacers during summer league play in Orlando.
▪ Former Heat backup center Willie Reed met with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. He’s not expected to be back with the Heat.