Should the Heat Build Around Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside?

February 12th, 2016 No comments
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The foundation of the Miami Heat’s future championship aspirations was supposed to rest largely on the shoulders of point guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside.

Dragic was supposed to be a catalyst for the Heat offense, as he was for a Phoenix Suns offense that ranked eighth in the NBA in 2013-14 and seventh through the All-Star break last season before being traded to Miami. He was supposed to allow the Heat to play at pace, having flourished in transition with the Suns. He was supposed to be a force in the pick-and-roll, having been, statistically speaking, the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the NBA two seasons ago.

Whiteside was supposed to rampage through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot, 7-inch wingspan to wreak havoc on both ends of the court. His superior shot-blocking, shot-altering and rebounding were supposed to make him the dominant defensive anchor the Heat has long-since coveted. His undeniable potential in the pick-and-roll and developing low-post game were supposed to make him an emerging offensive threat.

Things haven’t necessarily gone as planned.  Read more…

Heat Trade Mario Chalmers to the Memphis Grizzlies

November 10th, 2015 No comments
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The Miami Heat announced Tuesday night that it has traded veteran guard Mario Chalmers to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Heat, in a four-player swap, sent Chalmers and forward James Ennis to the Grizzlies in exchange for guard Beno Udrih and forward Jarnell Stokes.

The financially-motivated trade will save the Heat a projected $7.8 million.

The Heat had a team salary of $92.4 million coming in the trade, which put it $7.8 million over the NBA’s $84.74 million luxury tax threshold. Exceeding the tax threshold could prove very costly for the Heat.

If the Heat exceeds the tax threshold, it would become the NBA’s first team to ever pay the “repeater tax,” which adds an extra $1 for every dollar by which a team is over the luxury tax threshold, over and above the incremental tax rates that would apply.

For every dollar by which the Heat exceeds the tax level this season, it will need to pay at least $2.50 in taxes. That rate increases to $2.75 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $5 million, increasing further to $3.50 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $10 million, increasing further to $4.25 per dollar for any incremental by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $15 million, and increasing an additional $0.50 for each $5 million increment thereafter.

The final tax tally is calculated based upon the Heat’s team salary as of the start of its last regular season game, which prompted months of speculation that Pat Riley would attempt to shed Chalmers’ $4.3 million salary to reduce the team’s burden. Chalmers was reportedly made available in trade throughout the summer, with the Heat asking for essentially nothing in return.  Read more…

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Heat and Grizzlies Discuss Potential Mario Chalmers Trade

November 3rd, 2015 No comments
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ESPN reported earlier today that the Miami Heat has had discussions with the Memphis Grizzlies regarding point guard Mario Chalmers.

The Heat currently has a team salary of $92.4 million, which puts it $7.8 million over the NBA’s $84.74 million luxury tax threshold. Exceeding the tax threshold could prove very costly for the Heat.

If the Heat exceeds the tax threshold, it would become the NBA’s first team to ever pay the “repeater tax,” which adds an extra $1 for every dollar by which a team is over the luxury tax threshold, over and above the incremental tax rates that would apply.

For every dollar by which the Heat exceeds the tax level this season, it will need to pay at least $2.50 in taxes. That rate increases to $2.75 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $5 million, increasing further to $3.50 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $10 million, increasing further to $4.25 per dollar for any incremental by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $15 million, and increasing an additional $0.50 for each $5 million increment thereafter.

At $7.8 million above the tax line, the Heat is facing a projected tax bill of $20.1 million.

Adding that potential $20.1 million to the $92.4 million in salary obligations to the team’s current players, as well as the $2.7 million in cash the Heat has already surrendered in trade and the $216K it has already paid to the departed Shabazz Napier, yields total projected payroll and related obligations of $115 million.

The most the Heat has ever paid was $103 million in 2013-14.

The final tax tally is calculated based upon the Heat’s team salary as of the start of its last regular season game, which has prompted months of speculation that Pat Riley would attempt to shed Chalmers’ $4.3 million salary to reduce the team’s burden.

The Grizzlies, however, are operating above the NBA’s $70.0 million salary cap and do not have a large enough exception to take on Chalmers’ salary without sending back salary to the Heat.  Read more…

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Miami Heat Enter 2015-16 Season As Most Enigmatic Teama in the NBA

October 26th, 2015 No comments
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The Miami Heat may well be the most enigmatic team in the league, as we head into the 2015-16 NBA season.

It is difficult to tell whether Pat Riley is building something special, or relegating his team to the atrocity of mediocrity. The current Heat incarnation is both supremely talented and deeply flawed. It is as promising as it is susceptible to the cruelties of age, injury, poor spacing and poor shooting. It has within it the potential to challenge the Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy and the combustibility to ignite a second straight pre-playoff collapse.

Riley has tossed away multiple first-round draft picks in its effort to chase down LeBron in Cleveland, much like he did to snag him and Chris Bosh five years ago. Only this time around, there is no underlying guarantee that it is going to work.

It is as possible that the Heat has mortgaged its future to build an unremarkable team that will die a slow death as it is that the Heat is in the midst of spectacular turnaround that could vault the team into the realm of the game’s elite. Where within that range the Heat will fare is not yet clear.

Read more…

Josh Richardson Signs Three-Year Contract with the Miami Heat

August 3rd, 2015 1 comment
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Josh Richardson, the Miami Heat’s 2015 second-round draft pick, officially signed a three-year, $2.4 million minimum salary contract with the team on Monday.

The parties had reached agreement on the general terms of the deal last Tuesday, but needed the extra few days to iron out a few details with regard to the third year of the contract.

Richardson’s first year salary, $525,093, will be fully guaranteed. As of right now, including the associated luxury tax ramifications, it would cost the Heat an estimated $2.0 million. However, that amount could be reduced if the Heat accomplishes its goal to reduce, or even eliminate, its tax burden before the tally is finalized at the end of the regular season.

Richardson’s second year salary, $874,636, is completely non-guaranteed unless he is kept on the roster past August 1, 2016. The contract structure therefore provides the Heat maximum flexibility for the summer of 2016. The August 1 guarantee date ensures that the team will have all of July to pursue its free agency plans before deciding whether to either keep Richardson or waive him at no cost. Keeping him would subtract just $331,165 from the Heat’s summer of 2016 cap space.(1)

Richardson’s third year salary, $1,014,746, was the source of the week-long delay. It was originally to be both non-guaranteed and subject to a team option. Instead, it will not contain a team option but will be initially non-guaranteed. However, it will become fully guaranteed if not waived on June 30, 2017.  Read more…

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Miami Heat Trades Zoran Dragic to Boston Celtics

July 27th, 2015 No comments
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The Miami Heat has traded shooting guard Zoran Dragic to the Boston Celtics, along with $1.6 million in cash to cover his salary with a $100K profit(1) and the Heat’s second-round draft pick in 2020. In return, the Heat will receive a top-55 protected second-round pick from the Celtics in the 2019 NBA draft.

The agreement comes a day after the Heat reached an agreement to trade point guard Shabazz Napier to the Orlando Magic. The Heat traded Napier to the Magic along with $1.1 million in cash in exchange for a top-55 protected second-round pick in 2016.

The second-round picks being returned to the Heat essentially have no value. The Magic and Celtics would need to have one of the five best records in the entire NBA in 2015-16 and 2018-19, respectively, for the Heat to get them. Otherwise, the obligations are extinguished.

The Heat also receives trade exceptions equal to the salary of each player: $1.7 million for Dragic(2), and $1.3 million for Napier. Miami has up to one year to utilize each exception, which can be used to acquire player(s) making up to value of the exception plus $100K in trade or on waivers without sending back salaries in return. The exceptions cannot be combined.  Read more…

Miami Heat Trade Shabazz Napier to Orlando Magic

July 26th, 2015 8 comments
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The Miami Heat has agreed to trade point guard Shabazz Napier and $1.08 million in cash to cover his base salary(1) to the Orlando Magic in exchange for a top-55 protected second-round pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The deal will be formally announced on Monday.

The second-round pick being returned to the Heat in exchange for Napier essentially has no value. The Magic would need to have one of the five best records in the entire NBA in 2015-16 for the Heat to get it. Otherwise, the obligation is extinguished.

The Heat will also receive a $1.29 million trade exception as part of the trade, equal to the amount of Napier’s total salary. The Heat will have up to one year to utilize the exception, which would allow the team to acquire one or more players with total salaries of $1.39 million in trade (or on the waiver wire) without sending back any salaries in return.

That, by all accounts, is a terrible return on investment for the No. 24 pick from the 2014 NBA draft. It means the Heat essentially traded its 2014 first round pick (No. 26), its 2014 second-round pick (No. 55), its 2019 second-round pick and $1 million in cash in exchange for one season of Napier.

Worse still: Napier showed flashes of promise during his rookie season; he was a low-cost player set to make just $1.3 million this season; and the Heat had him under team control for at least the next three years, after which he was to become a restricted free agent.

Why, then, have the Heat agreed to pull the trigger on the trade?  Read more…

Analyzing the Miami Heat’s Approach with Josh Richardson

July 17th, 2015 No comments
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Update (July 28, 2015): Josh Richardson reportedly agreed to a three-year, $2.4 million minimum salary contract with the Miami Heat on Tuesday. Richardson will make a fully guaranteed $525,093 this season. The second year, worth $874,636, will reportedly be partially guaranteed. The third year, worth $1,014,746, will reportedly be subject to a team option. 

The team option would provide the Heat the additional flexibility described below but, given the partial guarantee on the second year, the overall structure of the contract as presently constructed might not be optimal. If the second year is partially guaranteed and the third is subject to a team option, the third year must have the same guarantee percentage and schedule as the second year. By removing the team option, the guarantee percentage and schedule for each of the last two years can differ. Therefore, look for Richardson and the Heat to consider this and possibly change the structure before executing the contract. 

The Miami Heat has very much liked what it has seen thus far from Josh Richardson during summer league.

The Heat selected Richardson with the 40th overall pick in 2015 NBA draft, but the versatility and defensive prowess he displayed during summer league in many ways reflects the first-round grade placed upon him by general manager Pat Riley. Richardson was 24th overall on the team’s draft board.

So why has Riley yet to approach Richardson about a contract?

Well… The roster is still in flux. And as long as that holds true, there is no pressing need for Riley to do so… yet.

When a player is selected in the second round of the draft, he remains the exclusive property of the team that selected him until at least the September 5th immediately following the draft.

At that point, the team needs to make a decision.

In order for the team to retain draft rights to the player, it must submit to him a “Required Tender” by September 5th. The tender is an offer of a contract that affords the player until at least the immediately following October 15 to accept, has a term of one season, calls for at least the minimum salary applicable to the player, and can be fully non-guaranteed.

If the team does not issue a tender by September 5, the drafting team loses its exclusive rights to the player, and the player becomes an unrestricted free agent the following day.

The Heat really likes Richardson, and will not let that happen.

Once (or before) the tender is issued, the player has three primary options: (i) forgo the tender and instead negotiate with the team for a different contract, (ii) forgo the tender and instead seek employment outside the NBA, or (iii) accept the tender and play under its terms for the season to come.  Read more…

Miami Heat of the Future Beginning to Take Shape

July 9th, 2015 1 comment
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I have a request. I write posts which I believe are unique, more in depth and more insightful than I can otherwise find elsewhere. I hope you agree. I therefore ask that you please not simply copy my ideas without proper sourcing. 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. 

The NBA announced on Wednesday that the salary cap for the 2015-16 season has increased by 11.0 percent to an all-time high of $70 million. The tax level for the 2015-16 season has increased by 10.3 percent to an all-time high $84.74 million.

These are substantial increases from the league’s previous projections issued just last April – $67.1 million for the salary cap, $81.6 million for the tax level – predicated on the basis of exploding revenues.

What does this mean for the Miami Heat? In terms of flexibility, not a whole lot.

But it does mean huge savings for owner Micky Arison.

The Heat will likely be a taxpayer next season. And that will carry with it severe consequences.

If the Heat exceeds the tax threshold, it would become the NBA’s first team to ever pay the “repeater tax,” which adds an extra $1 for every dollar a team is over the luxury tax threshold, over and above the incremental tax rates that would apply. The repeater tax is triggered when a team has paid the tax in four of the previous five seasons. The Heat has paid the tax in three of the last four years.

For every dollar by which the Heat exceeds the tax level next season, it will need to pay at least $2.50 in taxes. That rate increases to $2.75 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $5 million, increasing further to $3.50 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $10 million, increasing further to $4.25 per dollar for any incremental by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $15 million, and increasing an additional $0.50 for each $5 million increment thereafter.

The Heat entered the summer with two primary, and in many ways conflicting, objectives: Field a competitive yet cost effective team for the 2015-16 season, and maximize cap space for a 2016-17 season during which the salary cap is expected to explode higher on the strength of a new national TV rights deal.

The measure of success in those objectives was to be predicated on the Heat’s dealings with three men: Luol Deng, Goran Dragic, and Dwyane Wade.  Read more…

NBA Salary Cap For 2015-16 Hits $70.0M, Luxury Tax At $84.7M

July 8th, 2015 3 comments
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On Thursday July 9 at 12:01 a.m. ET, the NBA’s 2015-16 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 now-completed 2014-15 season came in at an all-time record $4.84 billion, up 7.0 percent from the previous year (the highest annual growth rate for the league over a full season in the last eleven years), smashing projections for the season issued last year at this time (off of which the salary cap was based) by a whopping $132 million!

On that basis, the league then projected revenues from sources other than national TV rights to increase by the standard 4.5 percent and added them to the revenues call for in the national TV rights deals (which were set when the deals were signed in 2007), which came to a total of $5.04 billion.

To get the salary cap for the season ahead, the league takes 44.74 percent of that projected revenue amount, subtracts projected benefits, and divides by 30 (the number of teams in the league). The luxury tax uses a similar formula, but is based on 53.51 percent of projected revenues. Adjustments are then made to the cap if players received either too little or too much in salaries and benefits for the just completed season relative to the finalized revenue figure.

The players are contractually guaranteed to receive an exactly 50 percent share of initial revenue forecasts that were determined when the CBA was originally negotiated in 2011, plus or minus 60.5 percent of the amount by which actual revenues exceed or fall short of the forecasts, with a lower limit of 49 percent of actual revenues and an upper limit of 51 percent of actual revenues.

To ensure players do not receive more than their fair share of league-wide revenues, 10 percent of players’ salaries is withheld from their paychecks and deposited into an escrow account. At the end of each season, the players’ guaranteed share of revenues is compared to the amount they were actually paid in salaries and benefits. If the players received more than their fair share of revenues, then the overage is returned to the teams from the escrow account. The players then receive any escrow money that remains. To help ensure such an overage does not happen again, if there is an overage and the system is getting close to exceeding what the league can get back through the escrow system, then the following season’s salary cap (and tax level) may be reduced in order to put on the brakes.

For the 2014-15 season, $218.6 million was deposited into the escrow account.

If the players received less than their fair share of revenues throughout the season in the form of salaries and benefits, the league returns the full amount of the escrow and simply cuts the players a check for the difference. To help ensure such an underpayment does not happen again, the league increases the following season’s salary cap and tax level equal to the amount of the shortfall divided by the 30 teams in the league. The artificially inflated salary cap promotes higher spending on player salaries, and thus decreases the likelihood of a shortfall in the following season.

The system is designed such that the salary cap for each team is set at 44.74 percent of revenues, but the players are actually entitled to receive between 49 and 51 percent of revenues (the exact percentage is tied to the league’s financial performance).

In the past, this has never really been a problem. The NBA has a soft salary cap. Almost every team in the league used to exceed the salary cap by a large enough amount every season – many even exceed the luxury tax – that the players always wound up receiving their fair share of revenues. Typically, in fact, the players wound up getting far more than to which they were entitled, and the league’s escrow system would knock them back down.

Lately, however, it has become a far more significant problem. Punitive new cap rules — hard caps, increasing luxury tax consequences, etc. — coupled with more destructive roster construction models have caused teams to dramatically ratchet down their spending. For the first time ever, two teams failed to reach the league-wide minimum team salary requirement this past season. Eight teams ended the season below the salary cap (excluding cap holds). On the high end, a recording-tying low of five teams were taxpayers this year by a cumulative record-breaking low of just $26 million.

With league-wide revenues of $4.84 billion for the 2014-15 season, $180 million higher than the $4.66 billion originally forecasted when the CBA was negotiated, players were entitled to 50.39 percent of revenues, or $2.44 billion, in salaries and benefits. Throughout the season, they received just $2.38 billion, a $57.3 million shortfall.

The league will therefore return to the players the full $218.6 million from the escrow account, and cut a check for the additional $57.3 million shortfall. It will mark the largest shortfall check sent to players in league history.

The shortfall, in turn, caused an increase to the salary cap for the 2015-16 season of $1.9 million.

To arrive at its salary cap and luxury tax figures, the league took its $5.04 billion revenue projection, multiplied it by 44.74 percent and 53.51 percent respectively, subtracted projected benefits, and divided the result by 30. It then added the $1.9 million adjustment to the final tallies. On that basis, the new salary cap and tax thresholds were set.

The new salary cap has been set at $70.00 million, an 11.0 percent increase from last season. That is substantially larger than the $66.3 million initial projection from last year at this time (which contained no salary-related adjustment) and the $67.1 million project issued last April (which contained a $500K salary-related adjustment).

The new luxury tax line been set at $84.74 million, a 10.3 percent increase from last season. That is substantially larger than the $80.7 million initial projection from last year at this time (which contained no salary-related adjustment) and the $81.6 million projection issued last April (which contained a $500K salary-related adjustment).  Read more…

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