Update (6/21/16): As expected, the Miami Heat has formally extended a $1.2 million qualifying offer to Tyler Johnson. The Heat can now match any offer sheet Johnson signs with any other team, which cannot have a starting salary higher than $5.6 million. Johnson now officially reduces the Heat’s cap space by $1.2 million. If it times everything correctly, the Heat can now exceed the salary cap to retain him, whether it be by matching an offer sheet with a starting salary as high as $5.6 million or by signing him outright to a contract starting as high as a projected $6.2 million (the final figure will be determined at the end of July Moratorium).
I have a request. I try to write posts which I believe are unique, in depth and insightful. I hope you agree. I therefore ask that you please not simply copy my work without providing proper credit. It feels rather awful to see my work being exploited. If just you ask, I am more than willing to help out anyone and everyone in any way I can.
As an example, the $6.2 million figure presented in this post is my own personal estimate. It has not yet been set by the NBA, nor can it be until the season is complete. It has been projected by various other salary cap experts at wildly different amounts, with recent figures ranging from as little as $5.6 million to more than $8 million.
Tyler Johnson and Hassan Whiteside have some intriguing parallels.
Both were mid-year signees during the 2014-15 NBA season. Both have been playing under partially guaranteed, two-year minimum salary contracts that expire at the same time. Both will be free agents this July. And both represent a potential future of youth and athleticism at positions of critical need for the Miami Heat.
Despite the similarities, however, their free agency statuses are very different. Johnson’s future in Miami is far more secure, and the price it will take to retain him is far less expensive.
Johnson, like Whiteside, will be a free agent this summer, having accrued two years of service with the Heat. However, Johnson, unlike Whiteside, has accrued just two total years of NBA service, to Whiteside’s four. As such, he will face two critical restrictions that will ensure he remains in Miami.
First, Johnson will be a restricted free agent: This will give the Heat the right to keep him by matching a contract he signs with any other team.
Restricted free agency exists only on a limited basis. It is allowed only for players coming off rookie-scale contracts, and for players who have been in the league three or fewer seasons (as has Johnson). In order to make their free agent a restricted free agent, a team must submit a qualifying offer to the player between the day following the last game of the NBA Finals and June 30. The qualifying offer is a standing offer for a one-year guaranteed contract, which becomes a regular contact if the player chooses to accept it. The amount of the qualifying offer for Johnson will be $1,180,431. If the Heat extends Johnson a qualifying offer, it will have the legal right to match any contract he signs with any other team.
Second, Johnson will be subject to the Gilbert Arenas provision: This will limit what any other team can offer him, all the way down to an amount that the Heat, by rule, will be able to match. Read more…