Draft night appears to be nothing more than a precursor to July 1 for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat this year.
Already poised to be a major player in the free agent sweepstakes that begin next week, Miami has just freed up an additional $3.4 million in extra spending money.
On Wednesday, the Heat traded guard Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick in the upcoming draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the No. 32 pick. The trade clears not only Cook’s $2.2 million salary for next season, but it also removes the $1.2 million the Heat had to budget for its first round pick.
More activity is likely, with the Heat still looking to clear additional space. The team’s first priority will be to move the burdensome contract of James Jones, but that appears nearly impossible to do. Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers could also be dealt. In the case of Chalmers, Miami need not worry about structuring a trade. A receiving team could utilize the minimum salary exception to acquire the second year guard.
Unless Miami makes a trade to move back up into the first round, it seems clear that the Heat prefers to rebuild in free agency, without the troubles of another potentially misguided first round selection.
The team still has four second round picks with which to work – Nos. 32, 41, 42 and 48. Look for Miami to construct a trade – possibly up, but more likely out – with some of them. For the rest, upon each player’s selection, he would become the property of the Heat for up to a year. The Heat is not required to offer a guaranteed contract to any of them in return. Unlike first round picks, second rounders do not reduce a team’s cap space immediately upon selection.
The draft is scheduled to start tomorrow at 7:00 pm, and should run through midnight. By the time it is over, the Heat will have gained additional clarity on its roster for next season. Center Joel Anthony is required to inform the team, by no later than tomorrow night, if he has chosen to exercise his player option in the amount of $885,120. If he does not do so, his contract will – by default – be terminated. It seems likely that Joel will opt out.
The team will decide whether or not to keep James Jones by June 30.
The Heat figures to enter the off-season with two players under contract, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, and a total guaranteed payroll of $7,672,629. With the cap projected at $56.1 million, Miami figures to have some $48,427,371 of available room. Read more…