After dealing former first-round draft pick Shabazz Napier over the weekend, the Heat’s front office remained busy on Monday cleaning up the bottom of the team’s roster.
The Heat parted ways with two more players from last season’s team.
For the second consecutive day, the Heat dumped one of its players under a guaranteed contract (Zoran Dragic), and then later the team cut another player (Henry Walker) to provide some roster flexibility. The Heat shipped Dragic, Goran’s younger brother, to the Boston Celtics then, on Monday afternoon, shooter Henry Walker was released.
The separation of the Dragic brothers comes as a mild surprise. The two players were traded to the Heat as something of a package deal last season. But while Goran quickly became a star player in Miami, his younger brother played more last season for the Heat’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. With Boston, Zoran might have a better chance to earn some playing time.
With three players from last season gone in the last two days, the Heat’s roster for the beginning of training, and most likely the start of the season, started to take shape. With Dragic, Napier and Walker gone, the Heat’s roster totaled 14 players. The addition of second-round draft pick Josh Richardson, who showed well during the summer leagues, would bring the total to 15 players, or the NBA’s roster limit.
The Heat had 17 players under contract before the weekend, but an approaching deadline spurred this latest bit of offseason business. The deadline to partially guarantee the contracts of Walker, Tyler Johnson and James Ennis is on Saturday. Johnson appears safe after the Napier deal, and Ennis remained optimistic about his future with the team on Monday afternoon.
Still, one or both of those players could be released, and other moves might also be in the works. One thing appears certain, Heat president Pat Riley will keep his options open as long as possible.
Another possible option: the Heat might still be looking to shop guard Mario Chalmers, who remained the subject of trade speculation on Monday even after the Heat’s flurry of deals. Moving Chalmers off the Heat’s books could save the team millions in luxury taxes.
At this point, though, the Heat must begin to weigh the cost of slashing payroll with depth behind its stellar starting lineup (not to mention loyalty to long-time players). Chalmers is a proven veteran who can play either shooting guard or point guard. His experience would be important next season if either Goran Dragic or Dwyane Wade had to miss time.
Behind Chalmers, the Heat’s only current potential back-up point guard is Johnson, the second-year player who exceeded expectations last season and, just as importantly, was identified and cultivated by the Heat’s player-development program. Johnson handled the ball some this summer before breaking his jaw in the Orlando Summer League. Richardson also is a potential back-up point guard (he played the position his senior season at Tennessee), but he will be completely untested when the season begins.
Similar to the deal that sent Napier to Orlando, the Heat received a protected second-round pick from the Boston Celtics in exchange for Dragic. The moves cleared space for preferred bench players while also reducing slightly the team’s tax burden.
Heat fans David and Evelyn Adams donated $7,500 to The ‘V’ Foundation recently in exchange for a night at a Heat game with Miami radio personalities Dan Le Batard and Stugotz. The Adams couple will watch a game of their choice next season with Le Batard and Stugotz, and then meet Riley, the Heat’s president.
“Dan is a really smart guy, so I can’t wait to watch a game with him,” David Adams said.
David Adams, whose family has been affected by cancer, gives annually to The ‘V’ Foundation, which was started in honor of N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano. When Le Batard and Stugotz announced an auction for the charity, David and Evelyn Adams decided they would try and submit the winning bid. In a neat twist, David’s father, Bill, played high school basketball and football against Riley in upstate New York.
David Adams played football for Fort Lauderdale Piper High School, and was later a kicker for the Air Force Academy.