DETROIT – The agent for Heat guard Wayne Ellington has had conversations with Heat officials regarding his limited role and his future with the team, two people briefed on the conversations said this week.
According to a team source, the Heat is aware that Ellington wants to play. But the Heat conveyed to Ellington’s camp that it values Ellington and no promises were made.
Ellington’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, declined to comment about the matter on Wednesday.
Ellington told the Miami Herald previously that he would not rule out going to Heat management and asking to trade him to a team where he can play more. Ellington, signed to a one-year, $6.3 million contract, has the right to approve any trade.
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Dealing Ellington might make sense for Miami because the Heat’s current tax bill would be $9.7 million if payroll isn’t lowered by the final day of the regular season. But there is no ownership edict to get back under the tax line and that would be difficult to achieve anyway.
One challenge with dealing Ellington is that Miami might need to take a contract back. Only a few teams can absorb a contract such as Ellington’s without sending money back to Miami. One is Sacramento, which has $11 million in cap space. Detroit, Denver and Charlotte have trade exceptions exceeding $6 million.
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 7.
A buyout would be another option.
One season after setting the NBA record for most three-pointers by a reserve with 227, Ellington has been a healthy scratch in 17 games and has played only 39 minutes since Dec. 4.
He was used late in Tuesday’s blowout loss at Milwaukee — after not playing in eight games in a row — and hit three of five three-point attempts in 7:42 of game action.
“It’s been really hard,” Ellington reiterated to The Athletic this week, echoing previous comments on the matter. “I’ve felt all different types of emotions: hurt, anger, all the way down the line. Upset. All that kind of stuff. I’m a warrior, though. I’m going to keep on fighting… You can keep on saying [it’s a long season], but, [expletive], we’re halfway through.”
Heat players had the day off on Wednesday, and the organization declined to offer an immediate comment on Dion Waiters’ public venting about lack of playing time after Tuesday’s 124-86 loss to Milwaukee.
“[Expletive] patience!” Waiters said after playing 11:56. “I want to play. I’ve been patient long enough. What do I got to be patient for? Come on man. I’ve been patient. I think everybody knows that. It’s time. What are we waiting for? If I’m out there, play me.”
Waiters then made clear that “the next step is being back in the starting lineup, [expletive] like that. Patience has run out. I’m tired of this. Get back to my regular self.”
Since returning from ankle surgery, Waiters wasn’t used in two games and played only 10, 24, 20, 9 and 12 minutes in the other five. He was the 11th Heat player to enter Tuesday’s game.
▪ For all of Dwyane Wade’s greatness offensively, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned his work on the other end of the court in celebrating his career before Tuesday’s game.
“When he dials it up defensively, it’s amazing some of the things he can do, whether it be blocking shots, getting in passing lanes, getting steals,” Budenholzer said. “His athleticism, his anticipation. I would include Dwyane Wade as one of those guys that what he does defensively probably is not discussed [enough] — maybe the blocked shots, because I know he’s one of the top ever — but some of the steals. I’ve been on the wrong side of those steals too many times. He’s been great for our sport.”
▪ CBS Sports Network said it will have live coverage of the Marquette ceremony honoring Wade at halftime of the Providence-Marquette game at noon Sunday in Milwaukee. Wade has permission to attend the ceremony, which comes on a Heat off day. Miami plays in Chicago on Saturday night and at Boston on Monday night.
▪ Five days after attempting 10 first quarter shots against Boston, James Johnson didn’t attempt a shot in 21 minutes Tuesday and credited Milwaukee’s defense. “We got a lot of guys who can put the ball in the bucket,” he said. “I take wherever I can get it.”
Here’s my Tuesday piece on how Justise Winslow’s work in 12 games at point guard compares to other NBA point guards in various categories and the looming decision when Goran Dragic returns next month.