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A Preliminary Look at the Miami Heat Offseason

April 22nd, 2015 No comments
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I have another request as well. I write primarily for myself. I don’t do it for recognition. I don’t get compensated for it. I write posts which I believe are unique, more in depth and more insightful than I can otherwise find elsewhere. I hope you agree. It therefore feels rather awful to see my work being exploited for the personal gain of others. If you would like to leverage it, I ask that you please properly source it (or, at the very least, donate).

“I know one thing about the Miami Heat organization. We don’t just sit around and hope. We get to work.”

That was Dwyane Wade speaking to the media, describing what his team’s front office will do this summer to improve upon a team which, despite the loss of its best player and the significant injuries it thereafter endured, still managed to grossly underachieve along the way to its first pre-playoff exit since 2008.

But it won’t be easy. Pat Riley will face severe salary cap limitations and luxury tax restrictions as he sets out to improve the Heat’s roster.

All 15 players on the Heat roster are under contract through next season, but the status of seven of them has yet to be determined. Wade, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic have player options which need to be exercised by June 29, Michael Beasley has a team option on his minimum salary contract which needs to be exercised by June 29, and James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Henry Walker have non-guaranteed minimum salary contracts that can be terminated cost-free at any point prior to August 1. Hassan Whiteside also has a non-guaranteed contract at the minimum salary, but his status as a continuing member of the Heat organization is certain.

Assuming Wade exercises the option on a contract that will pay him $16.1 million next season (as he has said he will do), the Heat will start the offseason well above the projected $67.1 million salary cap unless two things both happen: Luol Deng declines his $10.2 million option and Goran Dragic leaves.  Read more…

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NBA Issues Updated Salary Cap Guidance to Teams

April 17th, 2015 No comments
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I have a request. I write primarily for myself. I don’t do it for recognition. I don’t get compensated for it. It feels rather awful to see my work being exploited for the personal gain of others. If you would like to leverage it, I ask that you please properly source it (or, at the very least, donate).

At the Board of Governors meetings in New York, NBA teams were advised that the league expects the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1 million figure to $67.1 million next season and $89 million in 2016-17, while the luxury tax is expected to increase from its current $76.8 million figure to $81.6 million next season and $108 million in 2016-17.

The figures are non-binding forecasts that have been circulated several months before the official salary cap and luxury tax threshold for the 2015-16 season are announced on July 8 following a league-wide audit (that is what July Moratorium is for).

As part of the audit, accountants jointly appointed by the NBA and the players’ association will finalize the total revenue haul for the past season and, on that basis, project the revenues for the year ahead.

They will then take 44.74 percent of that projected amount, subtract projected benefits, and divide by 30 (the number of teams in the league) to get the salary cap for the season ahead. Adjustments are then made to the cap if players received way too much, or too little, in salaries and benefits for the then prior season relative to the finalized revenue figure; this serves as a mechanism to maintain the integrity of the agreed-to revenue spit between owners and players. The luxury tax uses a similar formula, but is based on 53.51 percent of projected revenues.

The latest projections suggest that the revenue haul for this season is expected to be much stronger than originally forecasted.

The league initially forecasted revenues for the 2014-15 NBA season of $4.66 billion when the current collective bargaining agreement was drafted back in 2011. The forecast was revised upward to $4.71 billion last July, off of which projection the salary cap was based. Today’s announcement suggests the league is now expecting that when they are finalized in July, revenues will come in at approximately $4.77 billion.  Read more…

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With Injuries Mounting, Should the Miami Heat Tank?

April 4th, 2015 7 comments
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Update (4/15/15): The Heat finished the season with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs by one game. The fate of their 2015 first round draft pick – which is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers, subject to top-10 protections – will be determined by the draft lottery, which will be held on May 19th. With the tenth seeding for the lottery, the Heat will have a 1.1 percent chance to draw the first overall pick, a 1.3 percent chance at the second overall pick, a  1.6 percent chance at the third pick, an 87.0 percent chance at the tenth pick, and a 9.1 percent chance to receive a pick which would need to be sent to the Sixers. 

The Miami Heat’s season of struggle is continuing on with full force.

Goran Dragic says his “body doesn’t feel right.” Dwyane Wade just re-injured his left knee, a few days after getting it drained of excess fluid. Luol Deng is suffering through a left knee contusion. Chris Bosh is out for the year as he recovers from a pulmonary embolism. His backup, Josh McRoberts, is out for the year as he rehabs from a torn right lateral meniscus. Hassan Whiteside is struggling through the effects of a huge gash on his right hand that required 10 stitches to close.

That’s all five Heat starters ailing during the most critical month of the regular season.

The Eastern Conference’s four-time defending champion and current eight seed is in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. And with its entire starting rotation battered, it’s unclear what damage they could cause in the playoffs if even they were to make it.

Amidst the struggles, an increasing group of frustrated Heat fans has begun to endorse an intriguing concept: Why not tank the rest of the 2014-15 season to get a better draft pick?

The Heat has already traded away its 2015 first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers (who then traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers) as part of the LeBron James sign-and-trade in July 2010. But that pick is top-10 protected through 2016, and unprotected in 2017.

The “protections” mean that if Miami ends up with a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft, the Heat would get to keep the pick, and its obligation to the Cavs would shift to the following year. If, instead, the Heat doesn’t end up with a top 10 pick, the pick would be conveyed to the Cavs and the obligation would be fulfilled. If the pick winds up shifting to 2016, the same rules would apply next year. If the pick has not been conveyed by 2016, it would get conveyed in 2017 no matter where it lands.

These “protections” serve as a protection measure for the Heat, so that they don’t give away a pick that is more valuable than it was intended to be. But they also mean that the Heat could intentionally tank the final seven games of the regular season in order to secure a top 10 pick, allowing them to keep the pick in what is widely considered to be a strong and deep draft.

Tanking could get the Heat a valuable pick in a strong and deep 2015 NBA draft(1).

Should they do it?  Read more…

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Chris Bosh Diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolism

February 21st, 2015 No comments
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Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh received sobering news on Saturday. He suffered a pulmonary embolism, which will cause him to miss the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season.

Bosh was hospitalized at South Miami Hospital on Thursday but, amid a conflicting diagnosis, underwent further testing on Friday. The diagnosis was confirmed today.

This is a serious and scary condition, but according to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, Bosh avoided a potential life-threatening situation.

“Bosh… is currently resting comfortably. Chris is OK, and his prognosis is good,” the Heat said in a news release.

40410_1A pulmonary embolism(1) occurs when a substance – most often a blood clot, as is the case for Bosh – that develops in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body travels through the bloodstream to an artery in the lung and forms an occlusion (blockage). The obstruction, which blocks blood flow through the lungs and puts pressure on the right ventricle of the heart, can be fatal.

It is rare to have a single pulmonary embolism. In most cases, as is the case for Bosh, multiple clots are involved.

Blood clotting is a normal process that occurs in the body to prevent bleeding and promote healing after an injury. The body forms blood clots when the platelets within the blood encounter a damaged blood vessel, and then breaks them down as the damaged tissue heals. However, clots can form unexpectedly, without notice, and have dangerous consequences. They can happen to anyone for a number of reasons.

Almost all blood clots that cause pulmonary embolisms are formed in a deep vein of the leg (itself called a deep vein thrombosis). A piece of the clot breaks off from the wall of the vessel in the leg, travels via the bloodstream up the body, through the right side of the heart, and lodges in an artery of the lung.  Read more…

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Heat Acquire Goran Dragic From the Suns in Three-Team Trade

February 19th, 2015 No comments
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Note: This post was moved from being an update to a previous post to a new post on its own. The words, however, are the exact same.

The Miami Heat’s long, arduous search for an elite point guard is now over. The Heat has acquired what it hopes is its point guard of the future in Goran Dragic.

The Heat received Dragic and his brother Zoran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team trade that involved the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Heat sent Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton and $369K in cash to the Pelicans and Danny Granger, $2.2 million in cash (equivalent to Granger’s salary for next season) and two future first round draft picks to the Suns. The Pelicans sent John Salmons to the Suns to complete the deal. Williams and Salmons will be waived by their new teams. By rule, Williams is not allowed to re-sign with the Heat.

The Heat have struggled thus far this season, their first since LeBron James left after a four-year stay in Miami to return home to Cleveland. But through the struggles has emerged a potential future star in Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. He will now have a first rate point guard off of whom to feed; the Dragic-Whiteside pick-and-roll pairing would seem as deadly as any in the league.

The addition of Dragic presents the prospect of a formidable starting lineup for the Heat, when healthy, in Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Whiteside. It figures to be as talented as any in the Eastern Conference, outside of perhaps the Cleveland Cavaliers. If things go well, the Heat could challenge for an NBA title as early as this season, a concept which seemed all but impossible after James’ departure.

But, while the upside is both massive and readily apparent, this was a risky trade for the Heat.

Miami will send Phoenix the first of its two first round picks two years after its obligation to the Philadelphia 76ers is satisfied (most likely this season). That pick is top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, and becomes unprotected in 2017 if not previously conveyed, meaning it will be sent to the Sixers in 2015 assuming the Heat make the playoffs. The pick to be sent to the Suns is top-seven protected in 2017 and 2018, and becomes unprotected in 2019 if not previously conveyed. Assuming the Heat don’t even up with one of the seven best picks in the draft in two seasons, it will be conveyed in 2017, but Miami could still wind up sending away a lottery pick.

The second first round pick goes to the Suns in 2021 with no protection whatsoever. The 2021 draft is a long ways away; there isn’t a single player on the roster whose contract extends out that far. There’s a long history of NBA teams making costly mistakes by not worrying about a seemingly distant future. One need only to imagine a scenario whereby an aging Heat team struggles to finish with one of the worst records in the NBA, only to have its premium draft pick stripped away, to see the risk.  Read more…

Goran Dragic to Miami Heat Would be Wonderful But Complicated

February 12th, 2015 No comments
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Note: In my effort to keep things organized, I have moved my update to reflect the acquisition of Goran Dragic to a separate post above. 

After LeBron James left last July, Miami Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay competitive for the following two seasons, while maintaining maximum flexibility for the all-important summer of 2016.

Riley acquiesced to those distinct courses of action by re-signing Chris Bosh and honoring his commitment to Josh McRoberts, contracts that weigh on the team’s summer of 2016 flexibility, but refusing to allow anything to increase the burden any further in filling out the roster.

The NBA has struck gold with the frivolous distraction that is professional basketball. The salary cap will explode higher than helium-sucking angels in the years to come, on the strength of an enormous burst in league-wide revenues. After a relatively tempered rise from the current $63 million to a projected $68 million next season, 2016-17 cap projections are expected to reach as high as $90 million (unless a salary cap smoothing mechanism is implemented), as the league’s massive new $24 billion TV rights deal takes effect.

With just the contracts of Bosh ($23.7 million) and McRoberts ($5.8 million) on the books, the Heat figures to have as much as $60 million of summer of 2016 cap space with which to work.

Will Riley again hit the jackpot in 2016, as he did in 2010?

Such a story could be painted: 2016 Hassan Whiteside could play the part of 2010 Dwyane Wade, the in-prime free agent superstar who loves Miami and recruits others to join him. He would be selling the opportunity to play alongside his dominant interior-oriented self and his ideally-suited perimeter-oriented frontcourt teammate Chris Bosh. He would be selling one of the NBA’s few universally appealing cities, an increasingly critical local income tax haven, as well as the organization’s track record of success.  Read more…

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Heat Re-Signs Tyler Johnson to Two-Year Minimum Salary Contract

February 8th, 2015 1 comment
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It was a simple twist of fate. Had it not been for Dwyane Wade’s third significant hamstring injury thus far this season, he would not even be here at all. And yet, it now appears that combo guard Tyler Johnson could be here for years to come, as the Miami Heat development machine has churned out another talented rookie.

First, it was Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor.

Now, it is Johnson, whose exploits have provided promise for the future. Johnson is undersized at 6-foot-3 with a slender frame, but compensates for it with his shooting stroke, athletic abilities and determination. In his limited time, Johnson has shown excellent three-point range that can be leveraged to provide a critical floor-spacing complement to a play-making Wade in the backcourt, as well as the speed and quickness to defend opposing point guards in such a pairing. He has also shown an ability to leverage his big-time athleticism — when he attacks the rim, he’s a potential highlight every time he takes off — to create offensive for himself and others. Despite his physical limitations, Johnson’s skill-set is NBA quality and a perfect fit for the Miami Heat.

For president Pat Riley, head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat front office, Johnson, who went undrafted in June out of Fresno State, has become a scouted, developed talent. The team paid him $75,000 to attend training camp before he was waived in late October so that he could be directed to the Heat’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Johnson played well for the Skyforce, averaging 18.5 points, 4.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 49.0 percent from the field, including 42.6 percent from beyond the three-point line.

Johnson was re-signed by the Heat on Jan. 12, to a 10-day contract paying out $29,843, just before the NBA D-League Showcase in Santa Cruz. It did not amount to much. He was with the team for five games. He was inactive in one and did not play in three others. His only action was 1:44 of mop-up duty in one game, during which he scored two points on a pair of free throws, his only statistics. The Heat then chose not to re-sign him. He went back to the Sykforce on Jan. 22 as an unrestricted free agent.

Five days later, on Jan. 27, Wade strained his right hamstring. Two days after that, Johnson was re-signed to a second 10-day contract.

Johnson had two breakout performances during his second 10-day stint – producing 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in a road win over the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1, followed by an 18-point effort against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

Multiple NBA teams were circling as he again became an unrestricted free agent Sunday morning. The Heat, however, got their man.  Read more…

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NBA Announces Digital Partnership With Chinese Internet Giant Tencent

January 29th, 2015 No comments
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The NBA has formed its largest international digital partnership through an expansion of its arrangement with Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited, the league announced in a joint press release issued late Thursday night.

Tencent – a publicly-traded company with a current market capitalization of $163 billion, whose shares trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE: 0700) and whose American Depository Receipts trade over-the-counter in the U.S. (OTC: TCEHY) – will become the league’s exclusive official digital partner in China.

The new five-year pact will provide Tencent the exclusive right to stream live games, original programming and highlights to hundreds of millions of active users across its online and mobile platforms, including Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Tencent News and Weixin, the popular messaging app also known as WeChat.

The deal will provide Tencent the right to offer for the first time in China the NBA’s League Pass package, which will allow subscribers to watch a full season’s worth of games live and on-demand on their computers and mobile phones. The deal also provides for interactive gaming and the sale of merchandise.

According to The New York Times, the agreement calls for the NBA to receive a guaranteed payout of $500 million over the life of the deal, with an additional $200 million more expected through a revenue-sharing arrangement. It will start on July 1, 2015, the first day of the 2015-16 NBA season.

It remains unclear as to how much of the revenues in this new deal would be incremental to those provided in its existing arrangement, but the increment figures to be substantial. And it will have a material impact on the salary cap.

By the league’s math, an estimated annual payout of between $100 million and $140 million increases the salary cap by $1.5 million to $2.1 million, respectively, and the luxury tax by $1.8 million to $2.5 million.  Read more…

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Hassan Whiteside Is Very Much A Part of Miami Heat’s Future

January 12th, 2015 No comments
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Update (1/27/15): Hassan Whiteside is showing soft touch at the rim, developing low-post moves, and solid range on his jumpers to go along with his world-beating shot-blocking and rebounding skills. His game gets more exciting with each passing day. He is becoming one of the NBA’s elite centers. These developments imply that he is likely to command a starting salary higher than the $6.3 million projected average salary when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in two years. That, in turn, would mean that the Heat would need to carve out cap space for his contract. He would be eligible for anything up to the max, which I am currently projecting at $21 million. 

It was a simple twist of fate. Had it not been for Chris Andersen’s sprained ankle, Chris Bosh’s strained calf and Josh McRoberts’ torn meniscus, he might not even be here. And yet, 7-foot rookie center Hassan Whiteside, the Miami Heat’s mid-season acquisition, is quickly becoming the team’s most vital player.

Whiteside has become the focal point of a fan base desperately seeking out hope for the future during a painful post-LeBron-James transition. He’s rewarding us all with boundless energy, youthful exuberance, and quick ascent. In his limited experience, Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor.

Whiteside is averaging a staggering 16.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per 36 minutes played. He is shooting 69.2 percent from the field, while players he is defending are shooting just 43.3 percent.

He was never supposed to be this good this quickly. For a city so long starved for anything approaching decent play at the center position, the extraordinary exploits of the budding 25-year-old have been a joy to watch.

But Whiteside is quick to clarify one thing: He is not a rookie, at least in terms of NBA designation. And that distinction, however technical, is more significant than you may realize.  Read more…

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Memphis Grizzlies Seeking Possible Trade For Luol Deng

January 8th, 2015 No comments
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The Memphis Grizzlies, aiming to bolster their scoring and playmaking options on the wing in the increasingly competitive Western Conference, are having discussions about trading for the Miami Heat’s Luol Deng or the Boston Celtics’ Jeff Green in advance of the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

Any Grizzlies offer for Deng or Green is likely to feature the $7.7 million expiring contract of Tayshaun Prince, as well as the promise of future draft compensation to serve as an enticement to complete the trade.

It is not immediately clear how willing Miami would be to trade Deng, who is not even halfway through the first of a two-year, $19.9 million contract he signed with the Heat in the wake of LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency this past summer.

After James departed, Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two distinct and simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay in the playoff race for the following two seasons – even while the Heat’s 2015 first round pick is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers if it is outside the top 10 – but with a clear focus on maintaining flexibility for the expected availability of several top free agents in the summer of 2016.

With the Heat already at 15-20 as it begins a challenging five-game road trip out west, it is unclear as to how willing Riley might be to sacrifice the former for the benefit of the latter.

Trading Deng could, among other things, damage the Heat’s ability to make the playoffs this season as well as put at risk its ability to clear its first round pick obligation off the books this summer. The pick is top-10 protected for this season and next, and becomes fully unprotected if not previously conveyed.

But trading Deng could also provide the Heat with a far better pick — a top 10 pick — in what is presently considered to be a deep draft this summer as well as with the additional draft pick compensation to be received in the trade. That could set the Heat up quite well for the summer of 2016.

All trade proposals should surely be considered even if not ultimately pursued.

But trade scenarios are complicated.

Deng is earning $9.7 million this season, and he has a player option that would pay him $10.2 million for next season if he exercises it in June. But he also has a trade bonus which, by rule, he cannot waive, in whole or in part, except to make a potential trade legal.

Deng’s trade bonus would be valued at 15 percent of his remaining salary for the season, the amount of which would depend upon the exact day he is traded. If Deng were to be traded today, his bonus would be $840K; if he were traded at the trade deadline, it would be $480K. The amount of the trade bonus, if any, would be allocated entirely to this season.

A straight up trade of Deng for Prince would be legal, but only if Deng were to agree to surrender the vast majority of his trade bonus (all but $20K). Deng would therefore effectively hold veto power over such trade discussions.  Read more…

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