Capitals

Miami Heat sign Chris Andersen to 10-day contract

Miami Heat sign Chris Andersen to 10-day contract

MIAMI (AP) Chris Andersen wore a stars-and-stripes headband Sunday morning, showed off the colorful array of tattoos that stretch from his neck to his ankles and virtually all spots in between, and spoke about himself in the third person.

He's got 10 days to make an impression on the Miami Heat.

Seems like he's already off to a good start.

The veteran forward-center signed a 10-day deal with the Heat on Sunday and worked out with his new club for the first time. For a team that's looking for rebounding help, Andersen - who hasn't appeared in an NBA game since playing with Denver last March - is hoping that he will be the answer.

``This opportunity and being with the defending champs, it's a dream come true,'' Andersen said. ``They're taking a chance with me and I'm here to give them everything I've got, defensively, diving on the floor, blocking shots, you know, the usual that a Birdman does and what Birdman brings.''

Birdman is the nickname he's had for years.

The Heat are more than a little curious to find out if he can still fly.

``Typically, you're not able to get a player of his caliber at this time of year,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``But three years ago he was the best in the game coming off the bench at his position, as a shot-blocker and a rebounder. We've always liked him. We had him in our camp a long time ago, when he was just coming up in this league, pre-tattoo, and we liked him back then. Ever since then we've searched for ways to get him back.''

The Heat worked Andersen - who has averaged 5.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 482 NBA games - out earlier this month, around the time they were starting a six-game road swing. They didn't sign him immediately, but Andersen was doing two-a-day sessions in Miami while the Heat were gone and in essence scouting the way they played from studying their games closely during the trip.

If all goes well, Andersen is expected to make his Heat debut on Wednesday when Miami hosts Toronto.

``We love guys with chips who feel like they've got something to prove for a lot of teams not giving them an opportunity,'' Heat forward LeBron James said. ``Hopefully he plays with that type of intensity.''

Andersen's past - and in some respects, his present - is dotted by off-court issues.

He was barred from the NBA for just over two years because of substance-abuse issues, and had his home in Colorado searched last May as part of an investigation into what was described as Internet-related crimes against children. He was excused from team activities by Denver to deal with the investigation, and the Nuggets waived him through the amnesty clause in July.

``There has been an investigation and I have cooperated fully with the authorities in Denver,'' Andersen said. ``I am not the target of the investigation and no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed against me. I'm grateful for this opportunity that the Miami Heat has given me.''

Speaking before his team played Oklahoma City on Sunday night, Denver coach George Karl said he was ``very happy'' that Andersen is getting a chance with Miami.

``Bird knows we've given him very good endorsements,'' Karl said.

Spoelstra did not address Andersen's off-court questions specifically, though insisted that Miami has no qualms about bringing him into the mix.

``We've done enough research on him. We feel he fits in very well,'' Spoelstra said.

And yes, Heat president Pat Riley's preference for players to not wear headbands - a policy that has been relaxed a bit in recent years - will not apply to Andersen.

He asked for permission, and apparently got it in a mildly comical manner.

``I was told about the code of conduct around here,'' Andersen said. ``I went into Pat Riley's office and I asked him if it was cool if I could wear my headband, because I do a sweat a lot. And he was like, yeah, because he didn't want me perspiring on his nice floor.''

No, what Riley wants is for him to rebound on his nice floor.

Rebounding has been a major question for the Heat in recent weeks, even while the team has held on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference race. So the team made roughly 21 feet worth of moves on Sunday, signing both Andersen and Jarvis Varnado to 10-day deals - it's Varnado's second such contract with Miami - and recalling another big man, Dexter Pittman from the NBA Development League team in Sioux Falls.

Miami entered Sunday ranked 29th in the 30-team NBA in rebounds per game.

``I'm here to help assist in any kind of rebounding or defense that I can provide to an already outstanding team who are defending champions,'' Andersen said. ``And I'm just ecstatic to be here and I'm ready to get back to blockin' and rollin'.''

Andersen said he had his left knee scoped in August, but has been able to work out in Texas and Colorado while waiting for an NBA team to call. He didn't reveal how good the knee feels now, though pointed to his tattoos as evidence that he's got at least some level of pain tolerance.

``That ain't gonna keep the Birdman from flyin' and getting in there and getting some rebounds and bangin' and playin' hard,'' Andersen said. ``As you can see, I'm pretty much accustomed to pain. But it ain't gonna stop me from coming out here and assisting these champions and trying to help them win another championship.''

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Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

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USATSI

Caps GM Brian MacLellan addresses latest Andre Burakovsky trade rumors

Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky dodges trade rumors like Indiana Jones escaped giant rolling stones.

When Burakovsky made it through the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline still with Washington it appeared he was here to stay a while longer. He even played better down the stretch. But that might not have been enough to save him. 

Multiple NHL sources said Wednesday that Burakovsky would likely be dealt at this weekend’s NHL Draft in Vancouver. There is no question he is drawing interest from teams around the league.  

“We'd like to keep him around, but obviously his name is out there a little bit, so we do talk to some teams about him,” Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said in a conference call on Thursday. “But we're not going to move him unless we get something we're comfortable with back.”

MacLellan, as blunt a general manager as there is in the NHL, might be employing semantics there. The Capitals are trying to get what they can and won’t undercut their own leverage by saying Burakovsky is out the door.

Burakovsky has frustrated coaches and executives alike in Washington. He flashes great potential and has the pedigree to be a solid middle-six forward. But he’s been stuck on 12 goals three years in a row and can’t seem to find a consistent role. Last year he was a healthy scratch six times. 

Injuries played some role in that in previous years. But Burakovsky hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities, either. Yet he has also come up with some incredible goals. Three times he’s scored in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. No one can forget his goals against Tampa Bay in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final that secured Washington’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final. He’s also entering his age-25 season and had 17 goals in his second season in the NHL. 

But with a $3.25 million qualifying offer due Monday and the salary cap possibly tighter than expected, Washington might not have a choice even if it has a last-second change of heart on trading Burakovsky. 

It’s not know exactly what kind of deal the Capitals are pursuing: A one-for-one deal with a player who has his own issues? A mix of draft picks and prospects who won’t contribute to a team in “win-now” mode? Washington could always pull back – as they did at the deadline. But without knowing what MacLellan feels he needs from a Burakovsky trade it’s hard to know what would give him another chance to stay.

MacLellan wouldn’t even commit to tendering Burakovsky that $3.25 million qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline. He said Washington will take a look at the salary cap once the NHL gets around to announcing it hopefully by Saturday at the draft. Then they’ll check back with the agents of all their RFAs – Jakub Vrana is safe - and decide how to proceed. 

But if they don’t qualify Burakovsky, the one other RFA they have the rights to who would draw interest around the league, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign anywhere. Hard to see how that benefits the Capitals to lose an asset they claim to value for nothing. Time is running short.

“Andre had a frustrating year this year, but I think he finished it up well,” MacLellan said. “I think from the trade deadline on, I thought he had a good playoffs. We like the player. There's been some inconsistencies there, but when he's on his game, he's a good player.”

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Uncertainty over NHL salary cap has Caps GM Brian MacLellan frustrated

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Uncertainty over NHL salary cap has Caps GM Brian MacLellan frustrated

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan had a number in his head. It is the most important one for any NHL executive heading into the offseason: $83 million. 

That was the expected salary cap for the 2019-20 season and – with some small margin for error – the amount MacLellan and his staff used to formulate their offseason plan. But it is June 20 and the number that was originally at $83 million could drop to as low as $81.5 million, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. 

Given that Washington has some carryover for bonuses and overages from last season worth about $1.150 million, it could be working with a cap number as low as $80.35 million. That is not ideal for a team where every dollar could spell the difference between upgrading its middle-six forwards or adding a veteran fourth-line player. 

The NHL is expected to come to an agreement with the NHL Players’ Association soon and let teams know the number by Saturday, the second day of the entry draft in Vancouver. That’s a few days later than normal, however, and forces GMs to make decisions during the draft regarding trades and picking prospects they otherwise might not.   

"It's frustrating. We've been projecting using that 83 (million dollars) number for the last part of the year,” MacLellan told reporters in a conference call on Thursday. “At some point, we switched back to the 82.5 because there was some rumblings there, and now it seems to be going back a little further. I know it seems like it's not a large amount of dollars, but it does impact teams that are right at the number as far as salary.”

On an $82 million cap, the Capitals have about $9.7 million in room according to the great web site CapFriendly.com. But they need to sign restricted free agent Jakub Vrana and add four other bottom-six forwards and a depth defenseman. That is an extremely tight fit and might rule out some free agent options MacLellan had interest in. 

The free-agent “interview” period begins Sunday when teams can talk to agents of pending free agents and gauge what their demands will be and if they are a fit when the market opens on July 1. 

That, in turn, effects negotiations with Vrana and any other RFAs (Andre Burakovsky, Chandler Stephenson, Christian Djoos) that Washington might want to bring back. Burakovsky is likely to be traded at the draft this weekend, according to multiple NHL sources with knowledge of Washington’s thinking. A further budget crunch would seem to seal his fate.  

MacLellan wouldn’t confirm that and even said “we like the player.” But Burakovsky is due a $3.25 million qualifying offer by Monday so the decision might have been made for them. If the cap is the worst-case scenario ($81.5 million) the Capitals are in a real bind. But they’d like to know for sure.   

“When you see it go down to maybe 81.5, I think there's a pause on our part,” MacLellan said. “We want to see the number before we move forward because it's going to affect our roster decisions even on the bottom end - on fourth line and what we have to do going forward because the margins are that slim for us."

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