How Can Miami Heat Sign Hassan Whiteside AND Kevin Durant?

July 3rd, 2016 No comments
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This post was written lightening quickly at the request of readers. There is no lead-in, no explanation and no context. It just contains the raw numbers that readers were asking for.

The Miami Heat 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 $94.4 million salary cap announced yesterday by the NBA, the Heat would have — after subtracting that $49.8 million, the $1.2 million cost to retain the right to re-sign Tyler Johnson to a contract that exceeds the cap, and necessary roster charges — up to $42 million or so of cap space with which to spend on free agents.

On July 1, free agent agent Hassan Whiteside announced that he will re-sign with the Heat. The deal is tentatively scheduled to be for the max, with a starting salary of $22.2 million and a total payout of $98.4 million. He can make the signing official starting on July 7th. The signing will reduce the Heat’s cap space available to any one player to $18.9 million.

Earlier today, we also learned that the Brooklyn Nets will extent a four-year, $50 million offer sheet to Tyler Johnson. The contract will pay out $5.6 million in the first year, $5.9 million in the second year, then jump to $18.9 million in the third year and $19.6 million (subject to a player option) in the last. Once he signs the offer sheet, which he can do starting July 7th, the Heat will have three days to decide whether to match. Until it decides, Johnson will continue to count $1.2 million against the cap. Once (and if) the Heat matches, he will cost $5.6 million. If the Heat decides not to match, he will cost nothing. The Johnson decision therefore has ramifications for another free agent the Heat is currently pursuing: Kevin Durant.

But would it be possible for the Heat to sign Kevin Durant, now that it has secured Whiteside?

Durant coming to the Heat is an extreme long-shot. He would need to be pass up opportunities with such teams as the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and his hometown Oklahoma City Thunder, among others. But if that were possible, would it be mathematically possible as well?

Durant’s maximum salary would be $26.5 million. With Whiteside at $22.2 million, the two figures alone total to $48.7 million. That’s way above the Heat’s $42 million of projected cap room, and that’s before even dealing with Dwyane Wade.

So, how can the Heat acquire the necessary cap space for Durant?

There are three likely scenarios:  Read more…

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NBA Salary Cap for 2016-17 Set at $94.143M, Tax at $113.287M

July 3rd, 2016 No comments
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On Wednesday July 7 at 12:01 a.m. ET, the NBA’s 2016-17 season begins. That’s when the league’s salary cap, luxury tax threshold, maximum salaries and other figures all adjust to their new values; when free agents can be can signed; and when players can be traded.

Most NBA business ceases for the first several days of July as the league conducts its annual audit to determine its revenues from the previous season. With that figure in hand, the league huddles with the players association to project revenues for the coming season, and uses it to calculate the new cap, tax and related figures.

Revenues for the 2015-16 season from the national TV rights deals with ESPN/ABC and TNT were pre-set when the deals were signed back in 2007, at $1.03 billion.

Revenues from all other sources blasted higher to $4.26 billion, up nearly 11 percent from the previous year (the highest annual growth rate for the league over a full season in more than a decade), smashing projections for the season issued last year at this time (off of which the salary cap was based) by a whopping $247 million!

Where did all that growth come from?

Gate receipts spiked, along with related concessions and merchandise sales, thanks in large part to the Golden State Warriors’ record-breaking 73 win season and long playoff run as well as the retirement tour of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant.

Commissioner Adam Silver also landed several new sponsorship deals and extensions of existing arrangements at rates that far outpace their previous amounts.

Anheuser-Busch InBev extended its partnership with the NBA, which began in 1998, for another four years in December. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the new deal, which kicked in immediately, is considered to be among the league’s largest.

PepsiCo replaced Coca-Cola as the league’s official beverage partner after 29 years, in a five-year deal struck in April 2015 that kicked in this past season. Financial details were not disclosed, but PepsiCo is also considered one of the league’s largest sponsors.

Verizon replaced Sprint as the league’s sponsorship content provider in November, signing a contract worth around $400 million over three years. 

Tissot partnered with the NBA in October as the league’s first ever official timekeeper, signing a contract worth around $200 million over six years.

State Farm in January extended its multi-million dollar partnership with the NBA for six more years.

International revenues also boomed.

Internet giant Tencent started a deal with the NBA in July to provide live games and other programming in China. The pact, worth $500 million over five years, also has a revenue sharing component that could add an additional $200 million.

The story was the same on the local TV front, where both the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks started new contracts this past season.

Add it all up, and it came to an all-time NBA record revenue total of $5.29 billion!  Read more…

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With Whiteside’s Future Uncertain, Where Do the Heat Go From Here?

June 27th, 2016 2 comments
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“I really don’t think it’s about loyalty. I think it’s just about [finding] the best situation for myself. I didn’t say [Miami] wasn’t the best situation, but we’re going to see what happens. It’s not like I’m really counting the Heat out or counting on another team. It’s just open.”

That was Hassan Whiteside yesterday, talking about his impending free agency, which officially begins in less than five days.

If you’re a Miami Heat fan, it sounded rather ominous.

Perhaps it should.

Whiteside is perhaps the NBA’s most polarizing figure. He is many different things to many different people.

For many in South Florida, he doesn’t really fit the Heat culture. He can be immature. Temperamental. Inconsistent with his focus and effort. Frustratingly flawed.

On offense, he doesn’t set particularly good screens. He doesn’t pass particularly well. He turns the ball over too much. He doesn’t always make his free throws. And, generally speaking, he’s a massive presence who sucks in defenders and clogs the paint for the likes of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, making it more difficult for the team’s primary scorers to score.

On defense, he’s not a particularly strong low-post defender. He hesitates to rotate out to the perimeter. He bites on pump fakes. He chases blocks at the expense of fundamental team defense. And, generally speaking, the raw statistics would suggest the Heat is as good or better without him.

The list is long, and troublesome. And it has the Heat organization divided as to whether he is deserving of a maximum contract, which would start next season at $22 million.

But he’s also a game-changing talent. An unstoppable force in the pick-and-roll, and on the glass. Statistically speaking, the best individual defender in the game today. A possible future top 10 overall player in this league. Or better.

Which necessitates that the following questions be asked: Has the Heat handled him properly? Is the team’s approach fundamentally flawed? Is it severely lacking in vision?  Read more…

NBA’s 2016-17 Salary Cap Now Projected to Hit $94 Million

June 17th, 2016 No comments
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Salary cap projections for the 2016-17 season keep rising, backed by exploding revenues.

When the NBA announced its new nine-year, $24 billion national television rights deals with ESPN/ABC and TNT in October 2014, which kick in next season, initial projections for the 2016-17 salary cap came in at about $86 million.

When the league provided its first official guidance sixteen months later, in April 2015, the projection increased to $89 million, with the luxury tax threshold projected at $108 million.

The NBA updated its guidance for the 2016-17 season a year after that, in April 2016, this time projecting a salary cap of $92 million and a luxury tax threshold of $111 million.

Now, just two months later, the league has raised its projections once again. The NBA sent a memo on Friday afternoon to all 30 teams informing them that the 2016-17 salary cap is projected to be $94 million, while the luxury tax threshold is projected at $113 million.

Despite the substantial increase, even those revised figures appear to be slightly conservative. The league’s latest guidance is rounded to the nearest million-dollar, even though it is likely that, internally, it is utilizing a more precise (if undoubtedly preliminary) estimate. Leveraging the information provided in the memo, the more precise figure can be calculated. The league actually appears to be projecting a salary cap of $94.4 million and a luxury tax threshold of $113.6 million.

Why the $2.4 million increase in the salary cap projection over the past two months alone? According to the league, the increase was based on “business outperformance since the previous estimates.”

In short, that means that with the audit of the books for the 2015-16 season now underway, revenues continue to wildly outpace even the NBA’s own estimates. The latest cap increase suggests that in the past two months, the league has raised its 2015-16 revenue estimate by another $67 million, to a whopping $5.3 billion!  Read more…

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Miami Heat Player-by-Player Overview

May 27th, 2016 1 comment
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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 (and do so on a regular basis behind the scenes).

The Miami Heat will start the summer with just six players under contract for the 2016-17 season – Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow, Briante Weber and Josh Richardson. Those six players will cost a combined $49.8 million.

The remaining nine players will become free agents – Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Udonis Haslem, Hassan Whiteside, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire, Tyler Johnson, Joe Johnson and Dorell Wright. Those nine players will carry a combined $54.7 million in cap holds.

The Heat will therefore technically start the summer over the cap, with a team salary of $104.5 million against a projected salary cap of $92.0 million.

Here is a brief overview of how things can go from there for all 15 current Heat players.  Read more…

Can the Heat Sign Kevin Durant AND LeBron James?

May 25th, 2016 No comments
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“LeBron James promised the city of Cleveland, ‘I’m coming back to bring you that elusive title that has escaped this city since 1964.’ He never said anything about staying once he does accomplish that… I’m hearing about a return to Miami if this man wins. He ain’t going nowhere if he loses. But, if he wins, his options are open. LA, but especially Miami, a return to South Beach.”

That was Stephen A. Smith two days ago, talking about the prospect of LeBron James returning to the Miami Heat, just weeks after he said this about Kevin Durant:

“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.”

Unlikely as it may be, either James or Durant would be a game-changing free-agent acquisition for the Heat. But why either one? As long as we’re dreaming, why not both?

Why not a scenario whereby the Heat sign both James and Durant, while also also re-signing Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside, and retaining Chris Bosh?

Is it a reasonable possibility? Of course not.

But is it possible? Let’s have some fun and find out.

The concept, ludicrous as it may be, would presumably go something like this:

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder somehow blow their current 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors after two straight blowout victories, leading Durant to become so frustrated over his inability return to the NBA Finals as to consider his alternatives.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers push past the Toronto Raptors and somehow go on to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals, whereupon James decides that he has fulfilled his obligation to his hometown team and is willing to risk again enraging his local fan base for a return trip to Miami.

A summit is held between James, Durant, Wade, Bosh and Whiteside. They contemplate a possible joining of forces. The Heat organization has nothing do to with it, of course.

They use the following assumptions to coordinate a plan of attack to bring to Pat Riley on July 1st:

What is that plan of attack? Here it is, in 13 easy steps:  Read more…

Could the Miami Heat Sign Kevin Durant AND Retain Hassan Whiteside?

May 24th, 2016 No comments
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Note: This post was updated on 6/30/16 to reflect the updated salary cap figures, as detailed in this post, in light of reader requests.

“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.”

That was Stephen A. Smith, talking earlier this month about the prospect of Durant joining the Heat this summer.

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 $94.4 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 $42 million or so of cap space with which to spend on free agents.

Durant’s maximum salary would be $26.6 million. Whiteside’s maximum salary would be $22.2 million. Those two figures alone total to $48.8 million. That’s way above the Heat’s $42 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.

But is it even mathematically possible?

Let’s take a look.  Read more…

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Kevin Durant Faces an Intriguing Free Agency Decision

May 23rd, 2016 No comments
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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.

Four years ago, an upstart Oklahoma City Thunder team was blasting its way into the 2012 NBA Finals on the strength of four stud young draft picks — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden — who were each 23 or younger, supremely athletic and immensely talented. They seemed destined to stake their claim as the preeminent Western Conference powerhouse for the next decade or so.

Things haven’t worked out as planned thus far.

The Miami Heat went on to take out the Thunder in five games, in what appeared at the time to be the first of many such showdowns. But Oklahoma City then traded Harden to the Houston Rockets prior to the start of the 2012-13 regular season, after the sides couldn’t agree on a contract extension. Harden wanted a max contract that would’ve paid out $61 million over four years, while the Thunder were only willing to offer as much as $54 million.

It was a controversial decision, made as part of a long-term plan to avoid ever having to pay the league’s new and harsher luxury tax. As it turns out, though, Oklahoma City could’ve given Harden his max deal and still only have had to pay the tax for, at most, one season. The Thunder has since paid the tax twice in the three years since he’s been gone.

Over those three years, a Westbrook torn right meniscus ended any shot at a title in 2013, an Ibaka strained left calf contributed to the team’s premature playoff exit in 2014, and an improperly healed Durant Jones fracture in his right foot led to the Thunder missing the playoffs outright in 2015.

In that space of time, competition at the top end of the Western Conference stiffened. Stephen Curry established himself as the best shooter and his Golden State Warriors the best team in NBA history, while the San Antonio Spurs brilliantly reinvigorated their aging core with acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Now we’re left wondering if a team once projected as an NBA Finals mainstay can return even once.

Durant will be 28 to start the 2016-17 season. The lanky 19-year-old rookie from the University of Texas has since collected an MVP trophy, four scoring titles, five (and soon to be six) NBA First-Team selections and seven All-Star Game appearances, but he doesn’t have an NBA title to his name.  Read more…

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Chris Bosh Status and Insurance

May 22nd, 2016 No comments
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Chris Bosh is facing an uncertain future. That the Miami Heat could receive salary cap relief in the unlikely event that he does not return to play and it is determined that continuing to play would constitute a medically unacceptable risk is now widely known (and is described in detail in this post). There is also a separate, but related, concept at play which I offer because I have no seen it detailed anywhere else: insurance.

I do have one request. I try to write posts which I believe are unique, in depth and insightful. I hope you agree that this details an idea that you haven’t seen covered elsewhere. I therefore ask that you please not simply copy my work without providing proper credit. It feels rather awful to see it being exploited. If just you ask, I am more than willing to help out anyone and everyone in any way I can.

The NBA has secured league-wide temporary total disability insurance coverage for the benefit of its member teams. Every team in the league is required to participate in the program, which covers approximately 150 players per season.

That the league-wide program is mandatory is done for a key reason: Doing so allows the insurance provider to mitigate its risk, more accurately project potential claims, feel confident it is not being asked to provide coverage for only the most injury-prone players and, ultimately, reduce the cost of coverage and make it more affordable.

Such a program is possible only in a highly regulated environment like that in the NBA, where individual payouts are limited by maximum salary rules and teams are required to spend at least 90 percent of the salary cap each season on player salaries.

Under the terms of the NBA’s insurance program, each team is required to submit for underwriting consideration five players, each of whom must be among the team’s five highest-paid players based on either the current season or total remaining salary. Teams may submit for consideration more than five players if they so choose.  Read more…

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Chris Bosh Status Remains Unclear

May 21st, 2016 No comments
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Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh is facing the harsh reality known to many who have been treated for blood clots: unfortunately, a recurrence can be common.

In February 2015, Bosh was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot which formed in a deep vein of his left leg. A piece of that clot then broke off from the wall of the vessel, traveled via the bloodstream up the body, through the right side of his heart, and lodged in an artery of his lung, blocking blood flow through the lung – a very serious, even life-threatening, condition known as a pulmonary embolism (PE).

Pulmonary embolisms can cause damage to the lung tissue, and put increased strain on the heart. This could even cause the heart to become enlarged, or in a worst-case scenario, lead to heart failure.

Bosh was rushed to South Miami Hospital, where he avoided a potential life-threatening situation.

Blood clots can form in people who have a genetic predisposition to them, but most commonly they are caused by long periods of immobility in many cases from prolonged air travel (particularly for players of Bosh’s height, 6-feet, 11-inches, where leg room is more limited), after having undergone surgery, or after having experienced a recent trauma, making professional athletes, who frequently deal with one or all of these issues, particularly susceptible.

Blood clots are treated with anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners), which prevent further blood clots from forming as the body’s normal systems work to break up the existing clot(s). Blood thinners can stop new clots from forming, stop existing clots from getting bigger, or prevent existing clots from travelling to other parts of the body. Treatment is typically continued for three to six months.

Blood thinning medications save lives. But, they also pose one possible and very serious side effect: Bleeding.

Since blood thinners slow the clotting of blood, unwanted and sometimes dangerous bleeding can occur with the use of these medications. Although infrequent, uncontrolled bleeding caused by blood thinners can be very serious. A blow to the head, for example, can cause bleeding on the brain and kill you!

Doctors and teams are therefore hesitant to allow players on blood thinners to return to contact sports, where a potential trauma could have disastrous consequences.

Bosh missed the remainder of the 2014-15 while taking Xarelto, one of a handful of the newer anticoagulant drugs on the market today.

After treatment with blood thinning medications along with adequate rest after treatment, many athletes, including Mirza Teletovic with the Brooklyn Nets this past season and Anderson Varejao with the Cleveland Cavaliers two seasons prior, have been able to resume play and go on with their careers.

Bosh returned to play start the 2015-16 season. He indicated upon his return that, according to testing, he was not aware of any hereditary issues he may have that would increase the risk for recurring episodes, leading to optimism that he could resume his career without further incident.
Read more…

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