“I believe the team that hasn’t been mentioned that much may be the dark horse in [the chase for impending free agent Kevin Durant this summer], which are the Miami Heat.
“Consider who the Heat are. You’re led by Pat Riley. You’ve got an exceptional young coach in Erik Spoelstra. You’ve got LeBron and D-Wade having captured two championships together there… Then you take into account the young guys — the Josh Richardsons, the Justise Winslows, the Hassan Whitesides… You add Kevin Durant to that equation and bring back Dwyane Wade, you’re talking instant title contention. Automatically.”
Of course, he was talking theoretically.
That which seems wonderful in theory isn’t always possible in reality.
Miami will start the summer with six players under contract for the 2016-17 season – Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow, Briante Weber ($219K guaranteed) and Josh Richardson (non-guaranteed). Those six players will cost a combined $49.8 million.
At the $92 million salary cap currently projected by the NBA, the Heat would have — after subtracting that $49.8 million, the cost to retain the right to re-sign Tyler Johnson to a contract that exceeds the cap, and necessary roster charges — up to $40 million or so of cap space with which to spend on free agents.
Durant’s maximum salary would be $25.9 million. Whiteside’s maximum salary would be $21.6 million. Those two figures alone total to $47.5 million. That’s way above the Heat’s $40 million of projected cap room, and that’s before even dealing with Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng.
The prospect of Durant in Miami, therefore, wouldn’t be easy, and shouldn’t be considered even remotely likely. But Riley has always dreamed big. In the past decade, he’s acquired LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal — arguably the NBA’s two greatest post-Michael-Jordan era players — and paired them with Wade to secure the franchise’s five NBA finals appearances and three titles.
Kevin Durant is the prize of the 2016 free agent crop, and Riley will surely take a shot. Read more…