James Jones to sign with the… Heat?

James Jones could be a nice option for the Heat at the minimum

Here’s an interesting idea: re-sign James Jones to a minimum contract after he is waived prior to June 30.

It could make a lot of sense for both parties.

It feels terrible when I think about the Heat surrendering $1.856 million to a player that will no longer be on the roster in the coming season – perhaps the most critical from a cap space efficiency perspective in team history.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about it. But wouldn’t it feel at least slightly more palatable to employ his services, even as an end-of-the-bencher, at the very same $1.856 million against the cap?

For James, it makes a world of sense too. He loves Miami. He loves the Heat. He could find himself having a much bigger role next season than in seasons past, with Robert Dozier perhaps to be his main competition at the small forward reserve position. And the money isn’t as different as you’d think.

James originally signed his contract on July 9, 2008 expecting to make $4.65 million next season. It seems clear now, however, that he will be paid his more modest buyout price of $1.856 million. Add to that the $1,146,337 he’d be making on a minimum contract, and he’d be accumulating total compensation of $3,002,337 next season. That’s 65% of his original contract, in which he was clearly overvalued. Not too shabby.

The most practical aspect about this situation is the timing. If the Heat does bring Jones back at the minimum, it would need to be at the end of the off-season. That would give James the vast majority of the summer months to seek more lucrative employment elsewhere. If nothing suits his palate, the Heat could get a quality reserve at a position in which depth is projected to be thin and Jones could get to play in the city he loves.

Here’s a look at the logistics.

In order for the Heat to release Jones, the team must first request 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 is 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.

I understand this may be an unpopular sentiment amongst Heat fans, but the man can still drain a three-pointer. His 41% last-season mark and his 40% career mark are both tops on the Heat’s current roster (excluding Shavlik Randolph’s all-time NBA-record career three-point average of 100%, on exactly one shot). There’s always space for such a man on my roster.

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