Heat Extends Qualifying Offer to Joel Anthony
As expected, the Miami Heat has extended a qualifying offer to backup center Joel Anthony.
The move allows the Heat to match any outside offer for the restricted free agent, but also ties up an additional $1,060,120 against the Heat’s salary cap. The Heat will enter the off-season with salary obligations to four players (Beasley, Chalmers, Jones’ buyout and Anthony), in the amount of $8,376,749.
A qualifying offer is essentially a contract offer, which prevents the Heat from not offering Joel a contract and waiting to swoop in when he tries to sign elsewhere. It counts against the Heat’s salary cap as soon as it is offered. The Heat could withdraw its outstanding qualifying offer at any time, in which case Anthony would become an unrestricted free agent. The qualifying offer cannot be withdrawn after July 23 without the player’s consent.
Should the qualifying offer be withdrawn on or before July 23, the Heat would continue to hold Bird rights on the third year player, and he would continue to be charged against the cap at a reduced $854,389. Because Miami would retain his Bird rights, it would be able to utilize all of its cap room on other players and then come back to Joel. At that point, Miami would be able exceed the cap to offer Joel whatever salary he wants – all the way up to a maximum contract for a player with less than seven years of experience. If the Heat preferred to utilize the cap space elsewhere, Anthony would need to be renounced and his Bird rights lost.
If the qualifying offer were to be withdrawn after July 23, which would require mutual consent, Joel would be automatically renounced and the Heat would lose its Bird rights on the player.
While the qualifying offer remains outstanding, Joel has the right to accept it at any time in lieu of continuing to test the free agent market.
Although he can potentially accept the qualifying offer without prior notice, thus transforming the $1.06 million charge into a guaranteed contract and reducing the team’s total available cap space to a level in which it would no longer be in a position to offer maximum contracts to a potential Wade/James/Bosh trio, both history and dollars would dictate he will not do so.
Last season, Joel was in a similar situation, having been extended a qualifying offer by the Heat. When he elected to exercise his $1,000,497 qualifying offer, the Heat instead withdrew it and the two sides agreed to a minimum salary $825,497 contract instead.
Second, a qualifying offer is a one-year contract offer. With contract values projected to be sharply reduced under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement after the coming season, it would be a substantial risk for Joel not to attempt to lock in a longer term deal.
And third, cooperating with Riley would allow him to secure much bigger dollars than his qualifying offer.
For now, Anthony is a free agent and allowed to solicit offer sheets from outside teams starting Thursday. The Heat then would have seven days to decide whether to match such an offer or allow him to depart.
Jarvis Varnado, the 6’9″ power forward from Mississippi State drafted by the Heat with the 41st overall pick, figures to be a possible replacement for Joel Anthony if need be. But the NCAA’s career leader in blocked shots is far more likely to spend the season abroad while honing his skills.
Anthony finished third in the league with 3.96 blocks per 48 minutes this past season, with a combined total of 109. The 6’9″ shot-blocking specialist was signed by the Heat on July 3, 2007 to a two-year minimum salary contract after going undrafted out of UNLV. He was signed to a second minimum contract on July 20, 2009. He has appeared in 169 regular season games, all with the Heat, including 45 starts, averaging 2.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 17.0 minutes per game, while shooting .478 from the field and .668 from the line.