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Miami Heat change starting lineup

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It’s always fascinating to keep up with lineup changes in the league. One change can make or break a player’s career. Sure, superstars will always get big money and big minutes, but plenty of players who are the 4th or 5th best starter on a team are a coach’s decision away from being bumped to a 6th or 7th man role, and suddenly that huge contract they hoped for in the future is in doubt. And before you ask, no, the photo above doesn’t really have anything to do with lineup changes. It’s just an enjoyable photo. As for the Heat, here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk were back in the Miami Heat’s starting lineup for the first time since October and Justise Winslow was shuffled to the bench when the Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.

Without comment from coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat announced the shuffle an hour before the opening tip, a switch that also moved first-round pick Bam Adebayo back to the bench after he had been starting in the injury absence of center Hassan Whiteside.

Olynyk’s only previous start had been the season-opening Oct. 18 road loss to the Orlando Magic, when he started alongside Whiteside in the power rotation.

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Hassan Whiteside out with knee injury

The Miami HEAT announced today that center Hassan Whiteside will begin rehab immediately due to a left knee bone bruise. The rehab process will include a strength and conditioning program over the next one-to-two weeks.

Whiteside has appeared in 15 games this season averaging 14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 1.60 blocks, 1.07 steals and 26.8 minutes while shooting 58.1 percent from the field. Among league leaders, he ranks third in rebounding average and tied for ninth in blocks per game.

No Hassan Whiteside tonight vs Knicks

The Heat visit the Knicks in New York tonight, and they’ll be without one of their best players. Here’s the Palm Beach Post with the latest:

No Hassan Whiteside tonight vs Knicks

Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who missed practice Saturday because of soreness and swelling to his left knee, will sit out tonight’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden because of the same lingering injury.

Whiteside, who missed five games earlier this season after banging knees with Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the season opener, has played just 40 minutes the last two games, none in the fourth quarter. Coach Erik Spoelstra has said the reduced playing time was not because of the knee but it was clear that Whiteside at times appeared affected by the injury.

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A key member of the Miami Heat, after receiving a relatively huge new contract, has been struggling this season. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

Heat forward James Johnson struggling this season

Forward James Johnson continues to struggle. He was 1-for-5 in 27 minutes Wednesday.

Johnson, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract, has been unable to come close to his production of last season, and he is hard-pressed for an answer.

“I’m killing myself every night, every day. It’s just been terrible performances out of me and not just from an offensive standpoint, the defense,” he said. “Our second unit, Tyler and me, we should come in and have that same affect we had last year and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Spoelstra said he is confident Johnson will get back on track: “We believe in James. It’s still early. He cares and he wants to do the right play. He’s a giving player. … I think it will work itself out if we simplify his mind.”

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Okaro White undergoes foot surgery

Miami Heat forward Okaro White has undergone surgery to repair a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot. The 85-minute procedure was performed by Dr. Thomas San Giovanni and HEAT team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Doctors Hospital.

White has appeared in six games (four starts) with the HEAT this season averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes while shooting 43.8 percent from the field.

A timetable for his return has not been set.

The Heat are 6-8 this season and have lost their last two games. They’re led in scoring by Goran Dragic (19.9 ppg), Dion Waiters (16.6 ppg), Hassan Whiteside (15.7 ppg), James Johnson (11.8 ppg) and Tyler Johnson (10.3).

Heat guard Dion Waiters is out today, for a great, joyous reason. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

Dion Waiters misses game due to birth of daughter

Dion Waiters was away from the Miami Heat for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center for the birth of his daughter.

Waiters remained overnight in Denver after Friday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center and then returned Saturday to South Florida.

He then posted a photo Sunday on his Instagram feed holding the hand of his newborn daughter, Dior Raina Waiters, with the caption, “Welcome to this crazy world baby girl.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the specifics of missing the game against the Clippers was planned in advance.

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John Crotty to do Heat TV next season

Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting Heat broadcast news that will take effect next season:

John Crotty to do Heat TV next season

John Crotty is moving over from radio to television.

Crotty will become the Miami Heat’s next analyst for all TV broadcasts beginning next season, the team announced today. Crotty, 48, will work alongside play-by-play broadcaster Eric Reid, replacing longtime analyst Tony Fiorentino.

Crotty, who played 48 games for the Heat in 1996-97, has been a member of the broadcast team since January 2005 when he became the Heat’s radio analyst. He will become the seventh person to serve as the TV analyst for the franchise and the second former player.

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Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting on a member of the Heat who the entire squad is rooting for right now:

The Miami Heat are keeping a popular member of the family on their minds while on their longest road trip of season.

Dan Bisaccio, an assistant video coordinator, is in South Florida while dealing with health issues. The Heat have been wearing T-shirts this week that read ’10 Day,’ which is Bisaccio’s nickname.

Spoelstra gave a “shout out” to Bisaccio, 28, on Thursday while explaining the shirts.

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Dion Waiters adding to his game

Dion Waiters is a fun player to watch. To discuss. To listen to. He’s also better than a lot of people thought he was. Here’s the Palm Beach Post with more:

Dion Waiters adding to his game

Dion Waiters has always been able to get to the rim. That has never really been a question when it comes to Waiters’ game.

But will Waiters ever become an efficient finisher once he gets to the basket? That’s the question that has followed the 25-year-old guard throughout his NBA career.

Since joining the Heat in the summer of 2016, Waiters has made improving this aspect of his game a priority. And Heat coaches have stayed on top of him about it.

It’s clear that the extra work is paying off.

Among players averaging 12 or more drives per game this season entering Wednesday, Waiters is ranked sixth in the league with a field-goal percentage of 51.4 on drives ahead of players like Ben Simmons, Russell Westbrook and even teammate Goran Dragic. And Waiters is doing it on a troublesome left ankle that’s already caused him issues this season.

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The Miami Heat have assigned center A.J. Hammons to their NBA G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Derrick Walton Jr. will also join the Skyforce as part of his two-way contract.

Hammons, who was selected in the second round (46th overall) by Dallas in the 2016 NBA Draft, appeared in 22 games with the Mavericks last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 7.4 minutes of action while shooting 40.5 percent from the field. Additionally, he was named the 2016 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big Ten First Team during his senior season at Purdue.

Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting on a very key member of the Heat:

Hassan Whiteside dealing with knee bruise

Center Hassan Whiteside will miss his second game because of bruised left knee when the Heat host the Atlanta Hawks tonight and coach Erik Spoelstra will go with the same starting five from Miami’s home-opening win against Indiana.

Whiteside sat out the 112-108 victory Saturday after bumping knees with Magic center Nikola Vucevic three nights earlier. The Heat are giving no timetable for his return, only saying he is day-to-day.

“He’s feeling better, he’s doing more but he won’t play tonight,” Spoelstra said today after the team’s shootaround. “Stay with the routine and he’s doing a great job at that.”

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Rodney McGruder undergoes surgery

The Miami HEAT announced that guard Rodney McGruder underwent successful surgery to repair a left tibia stress fracture. The 90-minute procedure was performed by Dr. Charles Jordan and HEAT team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Doctors Hospital. He is expected to begin rehabilitation in one week. A timetable for his return has not been set.

McGruder appeared in five preseason games (five starts) with the HEAT, averaging 7.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 22.3 minutes while shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three-point range.

Heat convert Matt Williams Jr deal into a two-way contract

The Miami Heat have converted the contract of Matt Williams Jr. into a two-way contract.

Williams Jr., who was originally signed by the HEAT on July 24, appeared in all six preseason games with Miami and averaged 2.2 points in 6.4 minutes of action. He scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range in a win vs. Washington on October 11. Williams Jr. previously appeared in eight Summer League games (six starts) with the HEAT in Orlando and Las Vegas and averaged 9.9 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 38 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and a perfect 2-of-2 from the foul line. He started all six games in Las Vegas with Miami and shot 45 percent from three-point range, leading the team in three-point field goals made four times, including a 5-of-8 performance from beyond the arc vs. Washington on July 10 and a 6-of-9 output from downtown vs. Memphis on July 15.

The University of Central Florida graduate finished his collegiate career as the school’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made (274) and became the 18th player in program history to score at least 1,000 points. He appeared in 36 games (all starts) as a senior and averaged 15.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 36.5 minutes while shooting 39.1 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from three-point range and 81.1 percent from the foul line. He set the single-season school and conference records for three-point field goals made (126) and set the Knights’ single-game three-point field goals made record after connecting on 11 against USF on January 17. He capped the season scoring the fifth-most points for a single-season in school history and earned the team’s MVP award.

The Miami Heat have waived DeAndre Liggins, Erik McCree and Tony Mitchell.

Liggins, who was signed on October 10, started in his only preseason game with the HEAT last night against Philadelphia and totaled five points, three rebounds and a steal in 26:36 minutes of action.

McCree, who was signed on September 18, appeared in two games with Miami this preseason totaling six points, three rebounds, one assist and a steal while shooting 3-of-8 from the field.

Mitchell, who was signed on October 12, did not appear in a game with the HEAT.

The HEAT’s roster now stands at 17.

The Miami Heat have signed forward Tony Mitchell and waived guard Larry Drew II.

Mitchell has appeared in 78 NBA G League games (52 starts) and averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 points, 2.8 assists, 1.28 steals and 32.7 minutes while shooting 42.5 percent from the field. He earned G League Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 while being named to the All-G League First Team and All-G League Rookie Team. The 2013 All-Star also captured back-to-back Slam Dunk titles in 2013 and 2014. Mitchell has spent the last three seasons overseas playing for a variety of teams, most recently he split last season between three teams, appearing in 35 games (13 starts) averaging 13.0 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 21.6 minutes while shooting 42 percent from the field.

Mitchell has appeared in three career NBA games, all with the Milwaukee Bucks during the 2013-14 season, totaling six points, one rebound, one assist and a steal while shooting 60 percent (3-of-5) from the field.

Drew II, who was signed by the HEAT on September 5, appeared in one preseason game totaling one rebound, one assist and a steal in 5:00 minutes of action on October 5 at Brooklyn.

Heat sign DeAndre Liggins

The Miami Heat have signed DeAndre Liggins.

Liggins, who was originally signed by the HEAT to two 10-day contracts in 2014, spent two seasons with Miami’s NBA G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, helping them capture the 2016 Championship after appearing in 34 games (33 starts) and averaging 13.0 points, 7.0 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 2.06 steals and 38.4 minutes while shooting 42.8 percent from the field, 43.4 percent from three-point range and 71.1 percent from the foul line. The two-time NBA G League Defensive Player of the Year started all seven postseason games during the Skyforce’s championship run and averaged 10.9 points, 7.7 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 2.00 steals and 37.8 minutes while shooting 41.5 percent from the field.

Liggins split last season between the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers appearing in 62 games (19 starts) and averaged 2.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.5 minutes of action. He has appeared in 119 career NBA games (20 starts) averaging 2.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 9.9 minutes while shooting 41.4 percent from the field.

The Miami Heat have exercised their fourth-year team option on Justise Winslow.

Winslow, who was originally selected by the HEAT in the first round (10th overall) in the 2015 NBA Draft, has appeared in 96 career games (23 starts) with Miami averaging 7.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 29.8 minutes while shooting 40 percent from the field. He was one of eight HEAT players to average double-figures in points (10.9) last season, marking the most for any team in the NBA. The former NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection appeared in 78 games in 2015-16, becoming just the fifth rookie to lead the HEAT in games played during a single-season. The former NCAA champion at Duke paired with Josh Richardson to become just the fourth set of Miami rookies to connect on at least 25 three-point field goals (32) and block at least 25 shots (26) during their rookie seasons. Additionally, Winslow was the third-youngest player in the league to start on Opening Night during the 2015-16 season at just 20 years, 216 days.

Heat sign forward Erik McCree

The Miami Heat yesterday signed forward Erik McCree.

The deal is likely non-guaranteed and just for training camp.

McCree played three seasons at Louisiana Tech appearing in 99 games (98 starts) and averaged 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 29.1 minutes while shooting 46.4 percent from the field, 34.8 percent from three-point range and 73.5 percent from the foul line. He became just the sixth player in school history to record at least 1,400 points and 700 rebounds in just three seasons.

During his senior season, he led the team in points (585), rebounds (295), field goals made (202), free throws made (127) and minutes (1,047) as he earned All-Conference USA First Team honors. McCree registered 13 double-doubles, the second-most in the conference and the fifth-most by a Bulldog during a single-season over the last 25 years, including a streak of five-straight, becoming the first La. Tech player to accomplish the feat since Paul Millsap in 2005.

Additionally, he finished last season as one of only four forwards in the country to connect on at least 200 field goals, 50 three-point field goals and 125 free throws.

Before transferring to Louisiana Tech, McCree appeared in 24 games as a freshman at Murray State.

Heat sign Josh Richardson to contract extension

The Miami Heat have signed guard Josh Richardson to a multi-year contract extension.

According to the Palm Beach Post, “Richardson inked his four-year, $42 million contract extension today, the team announced. The deal, reported last week and confirmed by the Post, starts in 2018-19 and includes a player option for the fourth year. The extension was a nice birthday gift for the 6-foot-6 guard, who turned 24 on Friday.”

Richardson, who was originally selected by the HEAT in the second round (40th overall) in the 2015 NBA Draft, appeared in 53 games (34 starts) last season with Miami and averaged 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.13 steals and 30.5 minutes. He outperformed every major statistical category from his rookie campaign and was one of eight HEAT players to average double-figures in points, marking the most for any team in the NBA last season. As a rookie in 2015-16, Richardson shot 46.1 percent (53-of-115) from three-point range, the highest percentage by a HEAT rookie in team history while also tying the third-highest percentage by any rookie in NBA history (with a minimum of 100 attempts). Additionally, he shot 58.9 percent (33-of-56) during the month of March in his rookie season, marking the second-highest percentage for a single month in NBA history (with a minimum of 50 attempts) while capturing Rookie of the Month honors.

Richardson, who played four seasons at Tennessee, appeared in 136 career games (110 starts) for the Volunteers and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.08 steals and 28.2 minutes while shooting 45.6 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from three-point range and 75.8 percent from the foul line. He finished his career ranking third in school history in games played, ninth in minutes (3,802), ninth in starts, 10th in steals (147), 16th in blocks (88) and 28th in points (1,252).

Miami Heat sign Larry Drew II

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have signed guard Larry Drew II.

Earlier this month, Drew II won a gold medal as a member of the United States team at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup. He appeared in five games and averaged 4.6 points, 5.0 assists, 2.0 rebounds, 1.00 steals and 19.4 minutes while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor.

During the 2016-17 season, Drew II played in 10 games (one start) as a member of the Sioux Falls Skyforce and averaged 8.1 points, 5.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 23.5 minutes while shooting 47.7 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three-point range and 71.4 percent from the foul line. He also played internationally in Lithuania with BC Neptūnas during the 2016-17 season and in Puerto Rico with the Pirates de Quebradillas. Drew II saw action in 21 games with BC Neptūnas in Lithuanian Basketball League play and averaged 8.2 points, 5.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.05 steals and 25.2 minutes. In Basketball Champions League play with BC Neptūnas, he appeared in 14 games and averaged 9.2 points, 5.3 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.00 steals and 23.6 minutes. In six games with the Pirates de Quebradillas of the Puerto Rico-BSN (Baloncesto Superior Nacional) he averaged 7.7 points, 5.2 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 22.7 minutes.

In 96 career NBA G League games, all with Sioux Falls, Drew II has averaged 10.8 points, 7.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.48 steals and 33.6 minutes while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor, 41.6 percent from three-point range and 71.4 percent from the foul line. Drew II, who was a member of the Skyforce’s 2015-16 NBA G League championship team, holds the NBA G League single-game assist record with 23 in a win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Dec. 25, 2014.

Drew II has previously been in training camp with the HEAT in both 2013 and 2014. His lone NBA regular season experience came during the 2014-15 season when he appeared in 12 games (one start) with the Philadelphia 76ers and averaged 3.8 points, 3.7 assists, 1.2 rebounds and 18.3 minutes.

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