We are exactly six months away from what could be one of the most exciting spectacles in sports history.
A spectacular convergence of talent and salary-cap space will finally take place next summer when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and other sought-after players all become unrestricted free agents.
So will begin the most highly anticipated and significant free-agency period in N.B.A. history. With it comes the potential to reshape the N.B.A.’s power structure for the next decade.
What makes 2010 stand out is the number of teams that cut their payrolls in anticipation of this year’s free-agent class. A half-dozen teams — an unusually high number — have created substantial cap space for themselves. At least a few of those teams are looking to sign not just one free-agent star, but two.
Only one team has positioned itself to possibly sign three: the Miami Heat.
Next summer will be the culmination of a Pat Riley vision which will have been nearly three years in the making.
The Heat won the title in 2006, it’s first ever, but had since suffered through a season and a half of disappointing basketball, due in large part to an aging supporting case, injuries to star players, complacency throughout the rotation, lack of conditioning, and whatever other excuses could be found.
Going nowhere fast, the struggling Heat launched a divine plan in the winter of 2008 to clear off enough cap space to sign two maximum level free agents. In the midst of a 15-win season, Riley stepped down as head coach and launched a large-scale rebuilding process predicated entirely on the summer of 2010, even though it came at the expense of two lost seasons during Dwyane Wade’s prime.
It was a huge risk to mess with Wade as he headed toward his own free agency, but Riley had been watching and doing research. He knew what nobody else seemed to know – that for any struggling team in a desirable market, the summer of 2010 was the next best chance to built a perennial powerhouse. He knew he had a glamour destination to offer, the lack of a state income tax in Florida, a history of stability and success, seven championship rings to leverage, and Dwyane Wade. Riley crunched the numbers and thought he could get close to clearing three maximum salary spots, or at least get so close that he could sell it.
He has now gotten close enough to make it possible to pull off the major score. The Heat could be on the verge of something truly special.
And so, with that, I have decided to start this blog to show Miami Heat basketball fans, and fans of the N.B.A. in general, exactly how the salary cap works, how it will impact the Heat in the summer ahead, and explain all the machinations that transpire as we careen toward the biggest few months in South Florida sports history.
I am nobody special. I have no inside sources. I have no direct relationship with any member of the Heat organization.
I am just a huge Miami Heat fan who has leveraged nearly a decade of experience as an investment banker, specializing in large-scale mergers and acquisitions advisory to many of the world’s leading technology companies, to read through and understand the N.B.A. Collective Bargaining Agreement and utilize all league contacts and resources to make myself as much an expert on technical matters of the N.B.A. as possible.
In the months ahead, there will all kinds of speculation, rumors and reports. Some will be true. Most will not. Questions will surface about what is possible, what needs to be done to make it possible, and how everything will need to be done to make it all work. It is my goal to provide the necessary clarity. I will undoubtedly start slow, with no reader base, with some awful and unfocused postings, but I hope to eventually catch my stride as we get closer to the start of free agency.
It is my hope to keep this blog up and running just long enough to take you through the crazed summer of 2010, and terminate it with a post that attempts to express that which cannot be expressed with the written word – the unimaginable vindication of Pat Riley’s vision, the creation of a basketball dynasty, and the shear joy of helping to produce some of the most knowledgeable N.B.A. basketball fans in the country.
I will kick things off by showing you exactly how the salary cap is calculated, and exactly how the Heat is positioned against it for this year and beyond.