Though he appeared to miscalculate teams' interest in him in free agency this summer and was forced to settle for a one-year, $2.9 million contract after most of the top shooting guards had come off the board, Waiters at least has a chance to rehabilitate his market value in a wide-open situation in Miami. With the Heat losing Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng in free agency and not expected to have Chris Bosh (blood clots) available this season, there's at least three starting jobs up for grabs and plenty of minutes to go around, particularly at the two wing spots. As a former No. 4 overall pick who has flashed some ability as a scorer during his stints with the Cavaliers and Thunder, Waiters profiles as one of the more intriguing options in an underwhelming group of wings that includes Justise Winslow, who is projected to start at either small forward or power forward, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson and Luke Babbitt. Don't expect Waiters' efficiency to improve in Miami, but he shouldn't have trouble surpassing the 9.8 points per game he averaged last season while often serving as no better than the Thunder's third option offensively whenever he was on the court.
Winslow is expected to open the season as a starter at either small forward or power forward, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports.
The offseason departures of Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng had initially positioned Winslow as an obvious choice to claim a starting role on the wing, but the versatile 20-year-old could now be a candidate to start at power forward after Chris Bosh (blood clots) failed to receive clearance for training camp and may have played his last game with the Heat. In preparation of the possibility of a Bosh absence, the Heat retained Josh McRoberts, added Derrick Williams and Willie Reed in free agency and re-signed Udonis Haslem to provide depth at power forward, but none profile as ideal replacement options in the starting lineup. As a result, coach Erik Spoelstra could choose to roll out small-ball lineups on a regular basis, which would allow Winslow to pick up more time at power forward while Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson and Luke Babbitt pick up most of the action at the wing spots. Such an arrangement would likely aid Winslow's rebound totals, but no matter how things shake out, the second-year player is set to see a noticeable increase in court time from his rookie year. While Winslow showed limited aptitude as a scorer in 2015-16, averaging just 6.5 points per game on 42.3 percent shooting from the field, there should be plenty of shots to go around now that Wade, Bosh and Deng are out of the mix, and that added volume should only aid Winslow's offensive outputs.
After seeing his past two seasons come to an early end due to blood clot episodes, Bosh failed his preseason physical earlier this week and remains without a definite timetable to return. While Bosh intimated earlier in the offseason that he hoped to get back on the court for training camp while taking blood-thinning medication, doctors weren't willing to clear him after determining that evidence of clotting still existed in his left calf. Bosh has maintained for several months that he feels healthy and said Friday that he remains hopeful for an eventual return to the court, but the Heat's unwillingness to clear him has soured his relationship with the team brass, as Wojnarowski reports that Bosh hasn't spoken with team president Pat Riley for months. Since Bosh is signed for three more years and $76 million, the Heat remain on the hook for his entire contract, and would be unable to waive him until Feb. 9 in order for his contract not to count against the salary cap. Assuming that team doctors don't budge from their assessment of Bosh's condition within the next few months, look for the Heat to release him shortly before the All-Star break, which would effectively end his NBA career.
Gordon sprained an ankle during a recent workout and could be limited when training camp opens Tuesday, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan described Gordon's injury as a "tweak" and downplayed its severity, but noted that the forward may be held out of certain drills in the early stages of camp. It doesn't appear Gordon is at risk of missing the start of the season, so as things currently stand, he looks in line to start at small forward for the Magic. He should see his stats trend upward after averaging 9.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game a season ago.
After inking a four-year, $50 million deal with the Pelicans on the first day of free agency, Hill is the leading contender to start at small forward, but with the team having Lance Stephenson, Dante Cunningham and Alonzo Gee on hand as depth at the position, Hill may see additional usage in the frontcourt. Any time he gets at power forward would likely be minimal, however, as All-Star Anthony Davis is the starter at that spot, while Terrence Jones looks to be first in line for minutes behind him.
Capela said Friday that he added about 10-to-12 pounds of muscle to his frame over the summer, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports.
With Dwight Howard departing for the Hawks in free agency this summer, Capela is poised to slide in as the Rockets' starting center, so the added muscle should prove beneficial as he fights fellow bigs on the boards. Capela's offensive game remains rather primitive and his free-throw shooting is atrocious, but he's a true difference maker on the defensive end, particularly as a rim protector. With more minutes headed his way this season, expect Capela to take a noticeable jump from his 2015-16 averages of 7.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 0.8 steals per game.
Hilliard (back) will be restricted to one practice per day during training camp, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports.
By all indications, Hilliard has fully recovered from the lower-back strain that ailed him for much of the summer, so the Pistons are just exercising some caution by limiting his practice time. He's still expected to suit up during preseason games and open the regular season as an available option off the bench. While coach Stan Van Gundy has mentioned a desire to get more minutes from his bench this season, it appears as though Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock would be first in line to see their respective roles expand.
Jackson is nursing some knee tendinitis and will be limited during training camp, Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports.
Jackson won't be held out of camp drills entirely, with Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy clarifying that the point guard will simply just practice once per day. It's likely that the Pistons are just resting Jackson for maintenance purposes rather than expressing legitimate concern about his injury, so expect him to be ready to take on a full workload by the time the season arrives. Jackson should once again serve as the Pistons' top scorer in 2016-17 after averaging a team-leading 18.8 points per game last season.
Pekovic was a consistent double-double threat for the Timberwolves from 2011-12 through 2014-15, but he was never able to truly recover after requiring surgery on his right Achilles in April 2015. He returned from the procedure last January, but played only 12 games before enduring a setback with the Achilles. With the injury still bothering him heading into training camp and not likely to improve over time, it appears the 30-year-old's playing career will come to a premature end, according to John Krawczynski of the Associated Press. While the Wolves' insurance policy will cover the remaining two years and $23.7 million on his contract, it's expected that he'll be waived in the near future to open up a roster spot for another player.
Pondexter (knee) will be targeting a return in November, although general manager Dell Demps believes that a return in December or January is more realistic, Justin Verrier of ESPN reports.
It was initially expected for Pondexter to be ready at the start of training camp, especially since he's been participating in offseason workouts, but the Pelicans recently decided to prolong his rehabilitation process. The 28-year-old hasn't played in a game since the 2014-15 season and there's even a lingering fear that he may never actually return at all after undergoing two major surgeries on his left knee during that long absence from the court.