When the Heat signed Birdman in January of 2013, it had been 10 months since he had logged a minute in an NBA game. After two 10-day deals, the Heat decided to keep Andersen on board for the remainder of the season.
In 14.9 minutes per game, Andersen posted averages of 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in the regular season, and the Heat’s record following his acquisition was 39-3. In the postseason, Andersen hit double-figure scoring four times and was an important reserve throughout the Heat’s 2013 title run.
Johnson is no stranger to the buyout market. Shortly after the 2016 trade deadline, the 16-42 Nets parted ways with the elite scorer. The Heat quickly swooped in, adding Johnson to a team that eventually finished 48-34. In 38 total regular season and postseason games, Johnson averaged just under 13 points per game and helped the No. 3 Heat push the No. 2 Raptors to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Simmons walked right into the league with it in his bag. Anyone who anointed Donovan Mitchell as Rookie of the Year two months ago needs to reexamine a fun race. Simmons has Mitchell beat in defense, playmaking, rebounding and positional versatility. He tore the Cavs apart in what was almost a signature win for Philly Thursday night. His team is a much better bet to make the playoffs, albeit in the weaker conference.
And the Australian National Basketball League is looking to capitalize. The NBL has already proved to be a soft landing spot for one U.S. high schooler facing NCAA eligibility concerns in Terrance Ferguson, the No. 11 high school recruit in ESPN’s 2016 Top 100. Ferguson elected not to enroll as a freshman at Arizona, instead signing with the Adelaide 36ers. He ended up being drafted in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21 a year later, despite an up-and-down season abroad.
After benefiting from the exposure of helping Ferguson reach the NBA, the NBL has formalized a rule that should make it much easier for future prospects in his mold to forgo college and develop in Australia instead. As part of its new Next Stars program, the NBL will be adding an extra roster spot next season intended strictly for draft-eligible players such as Ferguson, the league told ESPN. Sources told ESPN those players will be paid 100,000 Australian dollars gross guaranteed (approximately $78,000 U.S.), funded directly by the league.