Heat's Cole celebrates after scoring the go ahead basket against the Bulls during the fourth quarter in Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Miami

Heat exercise option to keep Norris Cole for 2014-15 season


source: Reuters

Norris Cole is entering his third NBA season, but has already proven to be a key contributor on two straight championship teams for the Heat. Not surprisingly, since he’s still playing out his rookie contract and is considered to be still-developing talent at an extremely low price, Miami exercised its option to keep Cole under contract for the 2014-15 season.

From the official release:

Cole has appeared in 145 career games (six starts) and averaged 6.1 points, 2.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 19.7 minutes while shooting 40.7 percent from the field. Last season, he led the Miami reserves in assists 37 times, steals on 29 occasions, points 12 times and in rebounds and minutes six times each. In his two seasons with the HEAT, Cole has helped Miami capture back-to-back NBA championships, appearing in 40 postseason games while averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 14.7 minutes of action.

Cole was originally drafted by Minnesota in the first round (28th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft before his draft rights were acquired by the HEAT in a draft night trade.

Under the rookie scale, Cole is set to make just over $2 million in 2014-15, and will need to have a qualifying offer extended of just over $3 million the following season for Miami to retain his rights as a restricted free agent (salary data via HoopsWorld).

This move was a mere formality, but it doesn’t come without a level of interest.

By now you’re probably aware that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts next summer to become unrestricted free agents, or (more likely) sign longer-term deals to stay in Miami. The Heat brain trust set up the rest of the contracts on the roster with this not-so-small fact in mind, and up until today, no one was guaranteed a single dollar of salary beyond the upcoming season.

That’s right — the Heat potentially were at a completely clean slate from a salary perspective beginning next summer. That’s no longer the case, however, after Cole became the first to officially get locked in for the 2014-15 season.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.