Three Max Contract Players A Possibility?

What will it take for the Heat to be able to offer three maximum contracts? What does the salary cap need to be?

That depends.

Here’s what we know:

Michael Beasley would need to be traded; that should be easy to do.

Daequan Cook would need to be traded; given that Cook will have an expiring contract with a $2.2 million salary next season, and that the Heat can offer up to $3.0 million in trade, that should also be easy to do.

James Jones has a unique contract that, unless the Heat is very creative and very lucky, will be impossible to trade. He will surely be waived by the Heat prior to June 30, and his contract will use up $1.856 million of cap space.

Here are the variables:

Joel Anthony has a $885,120 player option. That’s the minimum salary for a three-year veteran. He may want to test the market to see if he’s worth more. But he’s not worth more. He’s probably not even worth that. If he declines his option, he could find himself out of a job entirely. Or, if the Heat are creative, they could retain his Bird rights, at a cap hold as low as $854,389, and give him a substantial raise after all of its cap space used up. Better still, they could renounce his Bird rights, free up additional cap space, and still give him a minimum salary contract after the team’s cap space is all used up.

Mario Chalmers has a team option for $854,389. That’s the minimum salary for a two-year veteran. That’s a small price to pay for a point guard, particularly when considering that there aren’t so many great free agent options at the position.

The Heat has a first round draft pick. Assuming the Heat locks in a draft pick in the range of 15 through 20, it’s like to carry a cap hold of between $1.1 million and $1.4 million if the Heat utilizes the pick. The Heat could instead choose to trade it.

The Heat will need to deal with roster charges. When a team carries fewer than 12 players on the roster (including players under contract, free agents included in team salary, and first round draft picks) at any time during the offseason, a roster charge is automatically added. The amount of the charge is equal to the rookie minimum salary ($473,604 for next season) for each player fewer than 12. Such charges will restrict the Heat’s ability to utilize its available cap room.

So – even if you assume that both Beasley and Cook are traded and that Jones is waived, all of which are likely to occur – there are multiple answers. The answer you like will depend on the assumptions you are making:

  • $56,298,764: Anthony and Chalmers options declined; no first round pick
  • $56,679,549: Chalmers option exercised; Anthony option declined; no first round pick
  • $56,710,280: Anthony option exercised; Chalmers option declined; no first round pick
  • $57,091,065: Anthony and Chalmers options exercised; no first round pick
  • $57,906,361: Anthony, Chalmers options exercised; first round pick utilized (at midpoint)

There are countless permutations based upon the decisions Heat management and players make at the end of June. The finalized salary cap figure for the 2010-11 season won’t be announced until the fist week of July.

But, generally speaking, if the cap reaches $57 million, the Heat’s dreams of attracting three maximum contract free agents will be very much alive.

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