MIAMI (AP) — James Johnson is back with the Miami Heat, and has cashed in after a breakout season.
Johnson agreed to terms Thursday night on a four-year deal that could be worth more than $60 million, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it hasn’t been formally announced. And that move came hours after Miami struck another four-year deal with free-agent Kelly Olynyk.
Johnson had said for months that he wanted to remain in Miami — and based on that salary, the Heat clearly had no desire to let him go elsewhere.
Johnson revived his career in Miami last season, averaging 12.8 points — his best, by far, in his eight NBA years. He shed 40 pounds and finished sixth in the league’s Most Improved Player voting. He made $4 million last season, which was the best salary of his career.
That’ll be dwarfed by the new deal.
Keeping Johnson and Dion Waiters, who agreed to a four-year deal Wednesday, were big priorities for Miami this summer. And they became even bigger priorities after the Heat missed out on landing Gordon Hayward, the All-Star forward who will sign with Boston.
“The band is back,” Heat point guard Goran Dragic said.
Not yet, it isn’t. At least, not completely.
Miami is still exploring ways to clear some salary-cap space in an effort to retain guard Wayne Ellington. The Heat have to make a decision on his $6.3 million option for next season by the close of business Friday, or risk him being picked up by another club through waivers.
But Ellington’s status is the last big question for the Heat this summer. The most likely Heat player to get traded to create the needed space is Josh McRoberts, who has played in only 81 games during his three injury-plagued seasons in Miami.
McRoberts is due to make just over $6 million next season.
And the band Dragic referred to is getting a new player in Olynyk, who spent his first four NBA seasons with the Celtics.
A 7-foot center with 3-point range, Olynyk was mostly a reserve in Boston. He averaged 9.5 points in 278 regular-season games and shot a career-best 51 percent last season.
Olynyk had a run-in with Heat center Hassan Whiteside in 2015. Whiteside elbowed Olynyk in the head and was suspended for a game, though tracked down Olynyk’s number and offered an apology.
And now they’ll be teammates.
“He’s a good guy,” Olynyk said after the apology.
The Heat value the corner 3-pointer, as many teams have in this NBA, and Olynyk could be a huge addition on that front. According to the NBA’s stat-tracking page, Olynyk was 18 for 32 this past season on corner 3-pointers — and was also a strong finisher at the rim, connecting on 73 percent of his tries in the restricted area.
Olynyk had a pair of 26-point games for the Celtics last season, including one in Game 7 of Boston’s second-round playoff win over Washington.
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