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Report: Heat matching Nets’ $50 million offer sheet for Tyler Johnson after trading for Pelicans’ Luke Babbitt


The Nets dug themselves in a hole with years of shortsighted moves, so talent acquisition has become a major challenge in Brooklyn.

Especially because other teams aren’t helping.

The Trail Blazers matched the Nets’ $75 million offer sheet for Allen Crabbe, and now the Heat will match Brooklyn’s $50 million offer sheet for Tyler Johnson.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Johnson will make $5,628,000 next season, $5,881,260 the following season and an average of $19,245,370 the two years after that. This puts pressure on the Heat to make a splash in 2017 free agency while Johnson’s cap hit is still low. Building around him in 2018 and 2019 will be a major challenge if a core isn’t already set.

Matching will immediately raise Johnson’s 2016-17 cap number from $1,180,431 to $5,628,000. So, Miami pushed to complete its other major offseason business in the last few days. The Heat signed Derrick Williams, James Johnson and Wayne Ellington, re-signed Udonis Haslem and traded for Luke Babbitt.

Babbitt, a stretch four, provides insurance if Josh McRoberts remains unhealthy — or even if Chris Bosh can’t play. The 24-year-old Babbitt is owed $1,227,286 next season in the final year of his contract.

This is a piecemeal roster built around Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow after Dwyane Wade‘s departure. But at least the Heat have guaranteed no 2017-18 money to Williams, James Johnson, Ellington or Babbitt. With Tyler Johnson’s cap hold low, Miami projects to have about $18 million in 2017 cap space. That’s not max money, but the salary Wade was seeking would’ve completely eliminated the Heat’s cap space.

Tyler Johnson, a combo guard, keeps Miami competitive in the short term — not as much as Wade would’ve, but the 24-year-old Johnson can play. He’s athletic and has a nice feel for the game. Most importantly, the Arenas rule forced Johnson’s unconventional contract structure, giving the Heat a 2017 flexibility that was impossible to work into Wade’s deal.

But flexibility goes only so far. Look at the Nets. They now have more money left to spend than they know what to do with, and most top free agents have already signed.

The Heat, justifiably, feel they’ll have better luck with free agents in a deeper class next year. But the clock is ticking until Johnson’s salary skyrockets and causes another jam.


NBA players’ union votes to support formation of G-League union

Kyrie Irving
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Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.

The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.

The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.

Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.

The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.

In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Chris Paul remains the union president.

Check out Dr. Dre’s Kobe Bryant tribute

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CHICAGO — In a weekend filled with spectacular tributes to Kobe Bryant, this one stood out.

Legendary rapper, songwriter, record producer, and businessman Dr. Dre — a guy who grew up in Los Angeles — released a tribute that stood out (and was highlighted on TNT). Dre did this with Gibson Hazard and Jackson Bannon.

Kobe’s public memorial service takes place Feb. 24 at Staples Center.

Giannis Antetokounmpo on team’s All-Star plan: Attack James Harden

Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden
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CHICAGO – James Harden has griped about Giannis Antetokounmpo winning Most Valuable Player last year.

After his team lost to Harden’s in the All-Star game Sunday, Antetokounmpo got in a dig at Harden.

“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said of his team’s strategy late. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”

Harden is not a good defender. But this is playing right into his hands. He’s at his best in isolation, especially in the post. He faces far more difficulty when run through actions off the ball or trying to keep up in transition.

Down the stretch, Harden defended more effectively than usual. Not great, but above his usual standard. Good enough for LeBron James‘ team to win.

At least, as Giannis previously noted, the MVP trophy is at his house.

Report: John Beilein expected to decide on future as Cavaliers coach by Tuesday

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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John Beilein is considering resigning as Cavaliers coach.

They play Friday.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN on Sunday night:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and John Beilein have discussed the possibility of the coach stepping down before the end of the All-Star break, and Beilein was expected to reach a decision in the next 24-48 hours, league sources told ESPN.

This is part of the larger problem with Beilein, but this wouldn’t be a difficult transition. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff already does so much. And players see Bickerstaff – who previously head-coached the Grizzlies – doing so much.

In his long career as a college head coach, Beilein never had a player on a clear NBA track from the moment he arrived on campus. Beilein has so little first-hand experience with NBA players’ temperaments, which can include disrespecting a head coach and turning to an assistant.

With this report public, it’s hard to see how Beilein maintains any credibility with Cavs players if he returns. When players know the coach is finished by the end of the season, they sometimes take license to rebel. Add the dynamic of knowing Beilein considered resigning earlier, and the last couple months of the season could be even messier than the first few.

At best, everyone would accept this miserable arrangement will end soon enough. Players would tune out Beilein and not make waves. And that’s at best! Not an ideal way to develop young players like Darius Garland, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr.