Greg Oden to Sign with the Miami Heat

August 3rd, 2013 10 comments

Greg Oden will resume his NBA career as a welcomed member of the Miami Heat.

The No. 1 pick from the 2007 NBA Draft, who has been out of the league since a Dec. 5, 2009 appearance with the Portland Trail Blazers, agreed to terms with the two-time defending champions on Friday, ending months of suspense over where the center whose career has been decimated by a series of knee problems would be attempting his comeback.

The Heat were long perceived as the frontrunners to land Oden, and now have their coveted 7-footer to help them try for a third straight title. Oden has agreed to a one-year deal worth approximately $1 million.

Those who watched Oden during his one season at Ohio State need no reminder of what he’s capable of when healthy. His NBA career, limited to just 82 games over five seasons, has been far less substantive. But he has nonetheless dominated in his short bursts.

Through the first 21 games of the 2009-10 season, Oden’s most recent in the NBA, he averaged 22.3 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per 48 minutes while shooting 61% from the field, including a 13-point, 20-rebound, 4-block performance against Miami in his last full NBA game. He was looking very much like the game-changing talent he was supposed to be. He got into foul trouble a little more than he should have, but he showed enough flashes of brilliance in his modest playing time to convince most NBA observers that he was well on his way to living up to the burden of being a first overall draft pick.

That’s exactly the sort of production the Heat covets at the center position.

Oden wasn’t courted by the Heat because they wanted something more than the back-to-back championships to rub in everyone’s faces. They signed him because they need a center. They signed him because of Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Tim Duncan. They signed him because Chris Bosh is too frail and Udonis Haslem is too short. Oden has legitimate value.

Of course, even the most optimistic Oden fans will concede that the Heat are not getting the former Greg Oden. His past accomplishments hold little predictive value for his return to the court more than three years later. His injury history is unprecedented for a pro athlete.

Maybe it has just been a series of highly unfortunate events, connected to each other in a way that a small change – whether it be to his gait, to his weight, or whatever else – can fix. Or maybe they’re interconnected, the continued failings of a body that just can’t cope with the stresses professional basketball places upon it, dating back to a broken hip in his childhood and continuing indefinitely through a kinetic chain of side effects.

Most believe it’s the former. But if it’s the latter, the rest of the league is in serious trouble.  Read more…

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Joel Anthony Trade Would Make Financial Sense

July 29th, 2013 2 comments

The speculation surrounding the fate of Greg Oden is intensifying.

One microfracture surgery is usually enough to scare most teams off, let alone three in less than five years. But the former No. 1 pick is not short of suitors as he attempts his latest comeback.

The 25-year-old worked out for Miami, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Sacramento in Indianapolis last week. He reportedly looked “lean” and moved “quite well.”

Teams will be asked to make formal offers early this week.

Oden is thought to be favoring Miami and New Orleans. New Orleans can offer as much as the $2.474 million remaining of its Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception. The Heat can offer up to the $3.183 million Taxpayer Mid-Level exception.

Miami would love to get him for the minimum, but they may be required to match a potential Pelicans bid. In Miami’s case, the actual cost would be much more than for the Pelicans. A $2.474 million offer would cost the Heat $8.659 million when considering the tax.

New Orleans could further attempt to out-muscle Miami by offering a guaranteed two-year contract. It would be a calculated gamble for the Pelicans, at a total cost of $5 million. For the Heat, the addition of a second year at those levels would cost, at the very least, another $10 million under the current construct. That’s two years and roughly $19 million.

That’s a lot for Miami to spend on a man who has thus far only ever proven that he is very tall, that he is very talented, and that his body has been unable to withstand the rigors of NBA play. There’s simply no way the Heat is going to offer it up without some key protections — among them that their obligations be reduced in the event of re-injury and that Oden be unable to opt out after just one season. But even if they do get those protections, even if they do offer up the contract, even if Oden does accept, and even if he does prove healthy, it’s still monumentally expensive for an owner trying desperately to keep his team together.

The more likely scenario for the Heat is a one year minimum salary offer. But, even still, the Heat’s team salary would reach an all-time record $107 million.

There is one clear way in which to lower the team’s total cost no matter what type of contract the Heat offer – trade Joel Anthony.  Read more…

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Analyzing a Potential Miami Heat Offer to Greg Oden

July 26th, 2013 2 comments

To some extent, the Miami Heat’s back-to-back NBA championships validate the organization’s “position-less basketball” approach. Success is sports’ ultimate argument-ender. It sets everything right.

But Pat Riley knows what everybody else does. If the Heat want to win a third straight NBA title, it might be important to get some size.

His primary target is Greg Oden, because he knows a true center – particularly a dominant inside presence – still has a place, even here. He witnessed what Indiana and then San Antonio did to the Heat in the playoffs, to push Miami to seven games last season largely because of low-post presence and bigger frontcourts. He knows what Chicago could do.

Despite the clear need for depth at the center position, it has been a quiet offseason for Miami. It has felt at times that the Heat have thus far moved at a glacial pace to start the summer. Fans have been waiting for some action, something to celebrate.

In recent summers, Miami has been able to attract notable free agents such as Shane Battier and Ray Allen despite their limited cap space, but they have yet to ink even a single outside free agent yet this summer. Thus far, the team’s biggest addition has been second-round pick James Ennis, who was acquired in a trade on draft night.

The tension in South Florida surrounding Oden’s fate is palpable. The idea of Oden signing with the Heat has been a dream for some for many months, if not years.

Acquiring Oden would be a major development. But it won’t be easy.

Other teams in the mix include Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio. Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Indiana and Memphis have since fallen away as contenders. That more than one-third of the league has shown interest in Oden speaks volumes not only as to the level of talent he once had, but also to the contributions those in a position to know still believe he may be able to provide.  Read more…

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Mike Miller Agrees to Sign with Memphis Grizzlies

July 24th, 2013 No comments

Mike Miller is now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. He has reportedly committed to sign a one-year, minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies.

Despite his role in helping Miami win back-to-back championships, Miller was waived via the amnesty provision last Tuesday in a financially motivated move that saves the Heat $16.4 million on luxury-tax payments next season, and upwards of $40 million over the next two seasons.

After clearing waivers, Miller became a rather hot free agent target. The Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies, among others, were all said to be competing for his services. Most, if not all, were offering a minimum salary contract but pitching the opportunity to take on a prominent role as a perimeter specialist on a championship contender.

From a financial perspective, the Heat would have preferred that Miller be claimed on amnesty waivers. Doing so would have reduced the Heat’s obligations dollar-for-dollar by the amount of any partial bid.

Rumblings began to circulate last Wednesday that Cleveland was interested in claiming Miller, followed conspicuously by reports of the veteran small forward needing back surgery or even contemplating retirement. The Cavs were thought to be eyeing Miller as a further inducement for close friend LeBron James to sign a free agent contract in summer of 2014. The back surgery rumors appear to have been a smokescreen in order to make sure he cleared waivers. Miller wanted to play for a contender. The Cavs aren’t likely to be a contender.

Read more…

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Miami Heat Use Amnesty Provision on Mike Miller

July 16th, 2013 1 comment

It was inevitable. But it is still painful.

He made a ridiculous seven 3-pointers against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the clinching game that gave the Miami Heat the 2012 NBA championship. He made one of the most iconic 3-pointers, shoeless, in an elimination game and an incredible 11-18 overall against the San Antonio Spurs that ultimately gave the Heat their second consecutive title a year later.

Now the Heat’s affable 3-point marksman is gone, essentially gone for good, after three seasons of playing alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

The Heat invoked their one-time right to waive a player through the NBA’s amnesty provision, electing to utilize it on 33-year-old Mike Miller in advance of Tuesday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline.

It had to be done. Despite his clutch and mechanically perfect shooting stroke, Miller was the fourth highest paid player on the Heat’s roster behind James, Bosh and Wade. But there were many months during Miller’s three years in Miami when he wasn’t even the eighth man in the rotation.

The Thunder trade of James Harden, the New York Knicks refusal to match the offer sheet of Jeremy Lin, the Memphis Grizzlies trade of Rudy Gay, and now the Heat amnesty of Miller were all done for the same reason: the new CBA in operation.  Read more…

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Birdman Will Keep Flying with the Miami Heat

July 10th, 2013 18 comments

The Bird is back!

Chris Anderson will receive a one-year minimum salary deal worth approximately $1.4 million from the Miami Heat, with a player option on a second year.

When the Heat originally signed Andersen last January, they were hoping for an extra body off the bench who could bring energy, rebounding and defense. The veteran forward/center gave them much more than that.

Andersen’s “Birdman” infectiousness helped energize the Heat during their franchise-record 27-game winning streak and throughout the playoffs. He has become known in South Florida for his shocking efficiency, wildly athletic dunks and reckless intensity. What he lacks in unpainted skin he more than makes up for with a floor-burn-inducing style of play and an arsenal of eccentricities that have won over fans across the region. The decibel level at home games soared when he checked his human-wrecking-ball act into the game.

Fans spiked their hair mohawk-style, fake-tattooed their bodies. The level of detail – from the neck tattoo to the earlobe stars to the headband to the sleevework – was, at times, jaw-dropping. They imitated his signature Birdman hand gesture by interlocking their thumbs and flapping their fingers whenever Andersen threw down one of his high-flying dunks. He averaged just five points and four rebounds on the year, in less than 15 minutes of playing time, but seeing that toothy grin after he crashed into the stands trying to save a ball he had no shot at saving was always worth the price of admission.

Fans showed their love. The Birdman returned the favor, accepting a reduced salary while he certainly could have commanded better deals elsewhere. He simply couldn’t bear to leave such a good situation in Miami.

“It feels like as soon as I got into the city, I had nothing but big support for me,” he said. “Everywhere I was going, they were rooting me on. To be able to come in here midseason and collaborate with these guys and play for such an extraordinary, talented team and play with some of the best all-time players, it’s amazing.”  Read more…

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NBA Sets Salary Cap and Tax Level Numbers for 2013-14

July 9th, 2013 No comments

The NBA today announced that the salary cap for the 2013-14 season will be $58.679 million.

The tax level for the 2013-14 season has been set at $71.748 million. Any team whose team salary exceeds $71.748 million will, for the first time ever, pay an incremental tax rate based on how far it exceeds this level. The tax rate is $1.50-per-dollar for the first $5 million over, rising to $1.75-per-dollar between $5 million and $10 million over, rising to $2.50 between $10 million and $15 million over, rising to $3.25 between $15 million and $20 million over, and rising a further $0.50 for every $5 million increment after that.

The new cap and tax level go into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 10, when the league’s moratorium period ends and teams can begin signing free agents and making trades.

The amounts are considerably lower than initial projections provided last year at this time, but fall roughly in line with the latest estimates provided in early June. The league had initially forecasted a cap and tax of $60 million and $73 million, respectively, before revising downward to $58.5 million and $71.6 million, respectively.

The cap and tax levels are set by calculations based on projected amounts for Basketball Related Income (BRI) and benefits for the upcoming season. The projected BRI is negotiated by the league and players’ association. Each year the sides meet to agree on an amount.

The salary cap calculation takes 44.74% (53.51% for the tax level) of the league’s projected BRI, subtracts projected benefits and then divides the total by the number of teams in the league. Adjustments are then made if total salaries and benefits paid to the players in the season prior were significantly higher or lower, as a percentage of league-wide revenues, than was agreed in the CBA.

The math that underlies the finalized figures suggests that the league is now projecting BRI of $4.471 billion for 2013-14, a 4% growth over its all-time high revenues from last season. Those came in at $4.293 billion, a whopping 12% growth over 2010-11, the last full NBA season, but roughly $15 million short of initial forecasts.

Despite the slight revenue miss, the NBA is clearly a strong and expanding entity.  Read more…

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Could Marcus Camby wind up with the Miami Heat?

July 8th, 2013 No comments

The Miami Heat are reportedly interested in trading for Marcus Camby if they fail to re-sign Chris “Birdman” Andersen.

Camby was dealt to the Toronto Raptors as part of a trade sending Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks. The deal can’t be completed until July 10, but Camby has already told the Raptors he wants to be moved or released. He wants to play out his remaining years on a contending team.

The Raptors have already begun to shop him. There’s at least one contender he can’t play for – the Knicks. The CBA prevents him from being dealt back to his original team. That leaves the Heat as an ideal trade partner.

Whether a 39-year-old, oft-injured, 17-year veteran coming off his worst NBA season has anything left to offer a two-time defending champion is subject for considerable debate.

But here’s the thing: Trading for Camby makes a great deal of sense for the Heat. Whether or not Birdman is re-signed. And it has nothing to do with his potential contributions on the court.

To see just how valuable Camby could become for the Heat would require some salary cap sophistication.  Read more…

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For the Heat, Amnesty is a Big-Money Decision

July 7th, 2013 No comments

This post is an elaboration of a June 23 post regarding the fate of Mike Miller. It details the calculations supporting the conclusions that were drawn — that, despite public comments by Pat Riley to the contrary, Mike Miller will be amnestied — so that readers can appreciate the complexity of the situation and decide for themselves the appropriate course of action. 

Wednesday is a key day in the NBA.

It’s the league’s equivalent of National Signing Day – the day in which new contracts can be signed and trades can be executed. After more than a week of furtive negotiating, non-binding agreement, and heart-palpitating waiting, everything becomes official.

It’s also the start of the amnesty waiver window, a seven-day period that this year runs from July 10 to July 16, when eligible teams may designate eligible players for amnesty release.

Amnesty was added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that ended the 2011 lockout. Because of the new, far more onerous luxury tax consequences that will be fazed in starting next season, teams have been allowed to designate one player for waiver in a manner such that his remaining salary would not count against the salary cap and luxury tax. While amnesty eases salary-cap and luxury-tax concerns, teams still have to pay out the player’s remaining salary, including any remaining option years.

Teams are only allowed to make such designations each offseason during a one-week window starting the day after the moratorium ends. When that happens, all other teams are immediately notified by the league. They are then allowed place a claim in order to acquire the amnestied player, but only if they have the necessary cap space to do so. Teams can make either a full or partial waiver claim.

When a team makes a full waiver claim it acquires the player, assumes his full contract, and pays all remaining salary obligations; the waiving team has no further salary obligation to the player. A partial waiver claim is a bid for a single dollar amount. If no team makes a full waiver claim, the player is awarded to the team submitting the highest bid in a partial waiver claim; the amount of the partial waiver claim is then subtracted from the waiving team’s continuing obligations to their amnestied player. The minimum possible bid a team can make is the minimum salary applicable to the player for all remaining guaranteed seasons of his contract.

Fifteen of the league’s 30 teams have already utilized their amnesty provision in previous seasons. An additional one has no remaining players who qualify for amnesty.

Which brings us to the Heat, one of the remaining 14 teams yet to act.  Read more…

The Cost of Protection

July 5th, 2013 5 comments

Is there time value to draft picks? Should there be time value when built into trades?

The Miami Heat would argue that there should not. Past history would suggest the Heat would argue that, disregarding the potential talent in any given draft, a first round pick in one season is worth exactly one similarly-numbered first round pick in a future season. Possibly even less.

How do you feel? It is an interesting question in light of recent events.

The Utah Jazz have reportedly agreed to accept $24 million in expiring contracts – those of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush – from the Golden State Warriors. It cost the Warriors first round picks in 2014 and 2017 and two undisclosed second round picks.

Jefferson and Biedrins were dead weight, and Rush, after missing nearly the entire 2012-13 season with a torn ACL, is still rehabbing and surely isn’t being counted on to offer much. It was a salary dump that can’t help but make you wonder.

Think back to June of last year.

The Heat selected Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie with its No. 27 pick in the 2012 NBA draft, but then promptly dealt the SEC’s leading rebounder to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers got the big man many figured they would take with their No. 15 pick.

In exchange, the Heat received a future first round pick from the 76ers and the No. 45 pick in the second round of the draft, which Miami used to select LSU center Justin Hamilton. The first-round pick the Heat acquired was lottery protected for the next three seasons, meaning the Heat would get the pick as soon as Philadelphia made the playoffs. If they missed the playoffs in all three seasons, the pick would turn into two second round picks — one in 2015 and another in 2016.

The Heat negotiated what appeared at the time to be a nice deal. At the time of the trade, the Sixers had just made the playoffs with a lowly No. 8 seed. The teams below the Sixers in the conference were moving backwards, or at the very least sideways. The Heat had the cushion of knowing that one team above the Sixers, the Orlando Magic, was about to be dismantled. A return trip to the playoffs for Philly with a low-level seed was all but assured – a terrible outcome for a Sixers team looking to improve, but a wonderful outcome for the Heat. Miami appeared to have traded its No. 27 pick in exchange for a No. 45 pick and a No. 15 or so pick one year later. A great outcome.

But things didn’t work out as planned. Philly traded its best player, Andre Iguodala, for Andrew Bynum. Bynum never played. As a result, the Sixers slipped just one spot in the standings, from eighth to nine, but it was enough to eliminate them from the playoffs. Miami’s return on its trade went from the best it could possibly be to possibly the worst it can be.  Read more…

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