Heat Buys-Out James Jones
The Miami Heat took another step toward maximizing its salary cap space on Tuesday, when it agreed to buy out the contract of forward James Jones. It was a move that has long been anticipated.
The Heat had a June 30 deadline before the three remaining seasons on Jones’ contract became fully guaranteed. The contract was set to pay him $4.65 million, $4.97 million and $5.29 million, in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively.
Had the Heat invoked its right to terminate the contract, Jones would have received payments of $1.856 million, $1.984 million and $2.112 million, respectively, in each of the next three seasons.
Instead, the Heat did one better.
As suggested this morning, the Heat – even after moving the contracts of Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers – were projected to fall $198,764 shy of offering each member of a potential Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh trifecta a maximum contract.
While reports are sketchy at best, it appears as if Riley has cleaned up this issue quite nicely. Jones and the Heat have apparently agreed to a reduced buyout amount which would produce a 2010-11 cap hit of just $1.5 million, a $356,000 savings. The figure appears to be more than enough to accommodate any unforeseen swings in the actual salary cap, which is set to be released on July 7.
The move clears and additional $3.15 million in cap space for next season. This leaves the Heat with only $7,316,629 in contract obligations for 2010-11. Miami figures to have some $48,783,371 of available room. A potential Wade, James, Bosh trio – assuming the Heat can find takers for Beasley and Chalmers – leaves the Heat comfortably shy of the projected $56.1 million cap, with $157,236 to spare.
The move was awfully nice of Jones, who didn’t have to do it. Jones apparently reduced his guarantee from $5,952,000 to $4,809,677 over the next three seasons, a giveback of $1,142,323. I would imagine he and Riley may have an agreement in place in which Riley will offer a minimum salary contract after the team’s cap space was all used up, as a modest return for the favor.
The buyout procedure which the Heat has undertaken with Jones is somewhat complicated. In order for the Heat to have bought out Jones, the team first requested waivers on him. “Waivers” is a temporary status for players who are released by their teams. During the waiver period, which lasts seven days, any other team may claim him. If a player on waivers is claimed, the new team acquires his existing contract and pays the remainder of his salary. In the case of Jones, as with most players, this is highly unlikely – since the team claiming him would inherit his entire inflated contract.
If no team claims him, he is said to have “cleared waivers.” At this point, Jones would become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign a new contract with the team of his choice, including Miami, and the Heat would continue to pay the guaranteed portion of his terminated contract.
The move adds further credence to the notion that Wade, James and Bosh may have an agreement in place to join the Heat in the off-season. While Pat Riley is restricted from speaking to either James or Bosh until free agency officially begins at 12:00 am on Thursday morning, no such restriction exists for Wade. The three reportedly held a small summit over the weekend, which was subsequently denied.
Jones originally signed a 3-year, $23.25 million contract with the Heat on July 9, 2008. He appeared in 76 regular season games, including seven starts, during his two years, averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 14.9 minutes, while shooting .366 from the floor, .376 on 3-pointers and .831 from the foul line.