Welcome, Miami Heat Fans!

We are exactly six months away from what could be one of the most thrilling spectacles in sports history.

An unprecedented combination of talent and suitors will collide on July 9, 2010, when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and many other highly sought-after free agents will become officially eligible to meet with member teams to discuss their futures.

So will begin the most star-studded and highly anticipated free agency in league history, and, with it, the potential to transform the NBA’s power structure for the next decade. And, perhaps, the strategy for roster-building forever.

What makes 2010 so unique is not just the quality of the free agent class, but also the number of teams that have manipulated their payrolls in preparation for it.

Of the league’s 30 teams, nine have positioned themselves to potentially create enough cap room to sign a max contract free agent: the Miami Heat, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards.

Of the nine, four have positioned themselves to potentially create enough cap room to sign two max contract free agents: the Heat, Knicks, Nets and Bulls.

Of the four, only one 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, its first ever, but had thereafter suffered through a season and a half of dismal basketball, due in large part to injuries to star players, an aging supporting cast, complacency throughout the rotation, a lack of conditioning, and whatever other excuses could be found.

Going nowhere fast, the struggling Heat concocted a divine plan in the winter of 2008, to clear off enough cap space to add two max-level free agents. In the midst of a turbulent 15-win season, Riley stepped down as head coach and launched a large-scale rebuilding process predicated entirely on the summer of 2010(1), which would come at the expense of two lost prime Wade seasons.

It was a huge risk. Patience has a price. Wade has voiced his frustration. Fans have voiced their displeasure. But this is an all-or-nothing town. And Riley is an all-or-nothing guy. He doesn’t do average. Doesn’t care about mid-level draft picks. He’s a star hunter. He has one. He needs two more. And he knows he has the tools to get it done — cap room, glamour destination, tax incentives (Florida is a no income-tax state), unparalleled credibility (with is seven championship rings), and, perhaps most importantly, Wade.

Riley has crunched the numbers, and knows he can get close to clearing three max salary spots. Close enough to sell the idea. Close enough to get all the way there if need be. Close enough, however it gets done, to pull off a major triple play. 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 NBA in general, exactly how the salary cap works, how it will impact the Heat’s goal for the summer ahead, and how all of the various machinations that will transpire over the next several months as we careen toward what could become the biggest moment in South Florida sports history will change the dynamics.

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 Heat fan who, after a decade as an investment banker (specializing in large-scale mergers and acquisitions advisory to many of the world’s leading technology companies) quit his job to come back home to his friends and family, picked up the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement and decided to read it, was fortunate enough to understand most of it, and was determined enough to seek out clarification on the parts I didn’t. My goal now is to share whatever knowledge I’ve been able to accumulate with you, to simplify complexity for the benefit of everyone.

In the months ahead, there will undoubtedly be 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 hope to keep this blog going 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 NBA fans in the country.

Go Heat!

Notes:

(1) To be fair, it may not have always been a singularly-focus, clearly defined plan (e.g., the Heat offered Lamar Odom a 5-year, $31M contract in the summer of 2009, which, had he accepted, would’ve challenged the plan). 

1 Response

  1. TKO says:

    You have done all that you said you sought out to do in this post and then some. Your blog and Twitter feed are my go-to sources for general NBA salary cap workings and strategies. Your in-depth analyses are amazing. I too have a fascination with the intricacies of the salary cap/luxury tax and how to get around them in terms of building a contender. I have definitely become more knowledgeable from reading your posts.

    I admit I was one of the haters back when Riley assembled the Big 3 in 2010 but I have built up a great deal of respect and admiration for Riley and that Heat era since then. It just shows that anything is possible if you dream big enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *