Storyline: Tyler Johnson Trade?

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The Heat has told teams this offseason that Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters are available, according to two opposing front office executives who have spoken to the Heat. But the Heat knows a different combination of more attractive players will be needed to pry away Butler, who averaged 22.2 points per game for Minnesota last season.

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And unless something significant changes, it’s increasingly likely the Heat will need to wait until the summer of 2020, not 2019, to again be in position to make a franchise-altering free agent signing. That wasn’t necessarily the plan. The Heat has tried to move Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson this offseason but has not found a trade market, according to three people in contact with the team. Dion Waiters’ name also has been raised, one of these people said.

The expectation is that the Heat will explore moving the final two years of Tyler Johnson’s contract as early as this summer, but the backloaded nature of his deal isn’t the only reason that it will be difficult to achieve. In addition to making $19.2 million both next season and in 2019-20 (the final two years of his contract), Johnson confirmed he also has a 15 percent salary bonus if he’s traded. The Heat must pay that trade kicker, which would be worth $3.2 million if he’s traded this summer.

But the team trading for Johnson would need to add $1.6 million to his cap hit the next two seasons, putting that annual cap hit at more than $20 million for the team trading for him. He said his agent, Austin Brown, smartly inserted that trade kicker to make it more difficult for a trade to be completed, because Johnson is happy with the Heat. Any attempt to trade Johnson would be driven by two financial motivators: 1. The desire to avoid paying a luxury tax if the Heat re-signs Wayne Ellington, re-signs Dwyane Wade or uses a midlevel exception. 2. To increase the chance of Miami having meaningful salary cap room in 2018 or 2019. Even if Johnson is dealt for an expiring contract, the Heat wouldn’t have much cap room in 2018 unless more salary is purged.

The NBA trade deadline, Heat guard Tyler Johnson admits, has always made him “kind of” nervous. “I think my first couple years I was always on edge,” Johnson said Tuesday after practice. This year’s deadline – Thursday at 3 p.m. – was one he always thought “might present a problem down the road” after he signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets two summers ago the Heat matched to keep him. The way Johnson’s deal was structured by the Nets – to try make the Heat avoid matching it – paid Johnson $5.8 million this second season before jumping to $19.2 million each of the next two seasons. So naturally there’s always been a fear, Johnson said, this would be the time the Heat looked to move him off their books.

So it’s not likely, without including a draft choice — and Miami can’t trade a first-rounder before the 2024 draft — that Miami can just dump cap space (in the form of, say, Chris Andersen’s contract) on Sacramento. It may need to include a player of some value, and sources say Sacramento has expressed interest in Tyler Johnson, even though Johnson may miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
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January 21, 2019 | 11:45 am EST Update
Charlotte Hornets General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that the team has assigned forward Dwayne Bacon and guard Devonte’ Graham to the Greensboro Swarm, the team’s NBA G League affiliate. Dwayne Bacon has appeared in 23 games averaging 4.6 points, 1.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 10.6 minutes per game in his second season with the Charlotte Hornets. Bacon was selected 40th overall in 2017 NBA Draft by New Orleans and acquired by Charlotte, along with cash considerations, in exchange for Frank Jackson (31st overall) on draft night. The assignment to the Greensboro Swarm will mark the eighth of the 2018-19 G League season for Dwayne Bacon. He has appeared in seven games for the Swarm, averaging 20.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.1 minutes per game.
1 min ago via NBA.com
According to Kanter, his absence from two games earlier this month was the result of a stomach bug, not overeating. Last week, the center posted a picture of himself getting ready to chow down on 13 burgers on his ‘cheat day.’ He missed practice the following day and then the next two games, on Jan. 11 and 13. “It was not burgers, man. Although I ate a lot of burgers that night. It was flu, it was definitely flu,” Kanter said. “Because we just came back from a long road trip and we landed 7-something AM and I only slept like one hour. And of course, it’s New York, it’s pretty cold. So I had the flu.”
Enes Kanter has spent years – and most of last week – speaking on the injustices in his home country of Turkey. On Monday, he’ll be playing on MLK Day and honoring America’s most famous civil rights leader. The meaning isn’t lost on Kanter. “Of course man, it means a lot. Everybody, whoever fights for freedom, if you’re fighting for democracy or human rights. It shows a lot,” said the NBA’s most politically-charged player. “So it will definitely be a blessing to have that day and play that day. So it will be an honor to go out there and wear this (Martin Luther King Jr.) t-shirt and play because he fought for something very important.”
January 21, 2019 | 7:12 am EST Update
Thompson stands to make $18.5 million next season. That’s a big number to take on, even if it’s only for one year, because of the 2019 free-agent sweepstakes so many teams want to have salary-cap space for. Unless Thompson puts a team over the top, then it would probably make more sense for a team to trade for him next season. The Cavs want him around to shepherd younger players through the early stages of this rebuild. They’ll probably be able to get better assets in return for him at next year’s trade deadline. There’s also a chance the Cavs want Thompson long term, and could, therefore, keep him and offer him an extension over the summer. What he thinks: “Blake Griffin got traded. At the end of the day, if the trade is right and the pieces are guys they feel can help the franchise moving forward, I’m totally understanding. It’s a business. If you don’t have a no-trade clause, anything can happen.”
Storyline: Tristan Thompson Trade?
In chasing Davis, the Lakers may need a push from his agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who also represents James. “I’d say if the [Philadelphia 76ers offer Ben] Simmons, or with the [Boston] Celtics’ package of picks and young players, the Lakers would probably be third,” the former executive said. “One would think that [Pelicans general manager] Dell [Demps] would want a deal done around the draft [with Boston’s picks].”