Long since departed were the glory days of the Big Three era, the thrill of competing deep into June, the sparkle from all the championship rings, as the 2014-15 Miami Heat staggered to the finish of a brutal season replete with injuries, exhaustion and ineffectiveness.
Despite competing in the dismal day-off-is-a-game-won Eastern Conference, the journey from LeBron’s departure to lottery arrival took just one excruciating season. It was a season paved with crushing injuries. Yet even with the season-ending meniscus tear to Josh McRoberts in November, the season-ending pulmonary embolism of Chris Bosh in February, the nicks and bruises that limited what was left of the battered rotation in the months that followed, and the 30 starting lineups head coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to utilize as a result, the Heat still managed to grossly underachieve along the way to its first pre-playoff exit since 2008.
There were plenty of issues that caused this spectacular underachievement, but perhaps the most enduring was the Heat’s inability to consistently score the basketball. It’s an issue which needs to be addressed this summer. It’s an issue which requires a multi-dimensional approach, to include both personnel and system changes.
The Heat have already secured a promising start to its rebuilding process. They’ve addressed, and rather emphatically, the two positions – point guard and center – which have troubled them most in recent years. The foundation of the Heat’s future championship aspirations rests largely on the shoulders of point guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside. Read more…
The Miami Heat officially received its expected consolation prize on Tuesday night for missing the 2014-15 playoffs by a single game: the tenth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 25 in New York City.
After finishing the regular season with a 37-45 record, the tenth-worst in the league, the Heat had an 87.0 percent chance to secure the pick.
The challenge for Pat Riley and the front office will now be to utilize the pick to identify a player who can address critical areas of need off the bench for the Heat next season, but perhaps equally importantly develop into a starter for 2016 and beyond.
The Heat has had a good deal of success with its lottery selections in the past (e.g., Dwyane Wade, fifth pick in 2003), but such success has been far from guaranteed (e.g., Michael Beasley, second pick in 2008).
This marks the twelfth time in team history that the Heat has held a lottery pick, and just the fourth since the turn of the century. The expansion-era Heat held six consecutive such picks from 1988 through 1992 (including two in 1990) and, after trading away what would become a lottery selection in 1993, two more in 1994 and 1995.
With the stakes rather high this time around, the Heat are hoping for similar success. The current Heat team is both extremely expensive and deeply flawed, with an obvious need for depth at the wing positions, in the form of players who can space the floor and play solid defense. The Heat may not have too many options to address those needs in the years ahead. It will very likely have only the smaller $3.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception with which to improve this summer and will very likely bypass using it, and a significant portion of the expected salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2016 could be allocated toward securing the services of Hassan Whiteside for the long-term. A high draft pick this year represents a unique opportunity for the Heat: the chance to snag a very good player at a very inexpensive price for at least the next four years. Read more…
“I know one thing about the Miami Heat organization. We don’t just sit around and hope. We get to work.”
That was Dwyane Wade speaking to the media, describing what his team’s front office will do this summer to improve upon a team which, despite the loss of its best player and the significant injuries it thereafter endured, still managed to grossly underachieve along the way to its first pre-playoff exit since 2008.
But it won’t be easy. Pat Riley will face severe salary cap limitations and luxury tax restrictions as he sets out to improve the Heat’s roster.
All 15 players on the Heat roster are under contract through next season, but the status of seven of them has yet to be determined. Wade, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic have player options which need to be exercised by June 29, Michael Beasley has a team option on his minimum salary contract which needs to be exercised by June 29, and James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Henry Walker have non-guaranteed minimum salary contracts that can be terminated cost-free at any point prior to August 1. Hassan Whiteside also has a non-guaranteed contract at the minimum salary, but his status as a continuing member of the Heat organization is certain.
Assuming Wade exercises the option on a contract that will pay him $16.1 million next season (as he has said he will do), the Heat will start the offseason well above the projected $67.1 million salary cap unless two things both happen: Luol Deng declines his $10.2 million option and Goran Dragic leaves.
Dragic will opt out of the final year of his four-year contract that would have paid him $7.5 million. He has indicated that he enjoys Miami, and will remain with the Heat if his financial goals are met. The Heat paid a steep price to get him, headlined by two future first round draft picks, which tells you everything you need to know about how willing they will be to pay him his money. Read more…
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At the Board of Governors meetings in New York, NBA teams were advised that the league expects the salary cap to increase from its current $63.1 million figure to $67.1 million next season and $89 million in 2016-17, while the luxury tax is expected to increase from its current $76.8 million figure to $81.6 million next season and $108 million in 2016-17.
The figures are non-binding forecasts that have been circulated several months before the official salary cap and luxury tax threshold for the 2015-16 season are announced on July 8 following a league-wide audit (that is what July Moratorium is for).
As part of the audit, accountants jointly appointed by the NBA and the players’ association will finalize the total revenue haul for the past season and, on that basis, project the revenues for the year ahead.
They will then take 44.74 percent of that projected amount, subtract projected benefits, and divide by 30 (the number of teams in the league) to get the salary cap for the season ahead. Adjustments are then made to the cap if players received way too much, or too little, in salaries and benefits for the then prior season relative to the finalized revenue figure; this serves as a mechanism to maintain the integrity of the agreed-to revenue spit between owners and players. The luxury tax uses a similar formula, but is based on 53.51 percent of projected revenues.
The latest projections suggest that the revenue haul for this season is expected to be much stronger than originally forecasted.
The league initially forecasted revenues for the 2014-15 NBA season of $4.66 billion when the current collective bargaining agreement was drafted back in 2011. The forecast was revised upward to $4.71 billion last July, off of which projection the salary cap was based. Today’s announcement suggests the league is now expecting that when they are finalized in July, revenues will come in at approximately $4.76 billion. Read more…
Update (4/15/15): The Heat finished the season with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs by one game. The fate of their 2015 first round draft pick – which is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers, subject to top-10 protections – will be determined by the draft lottery, which will be held on May 19th. With the tenth seeding for the lottery, the Heat will have a 1.1 percent chance to draw the first overall pick, a 1.3 percent chance at the second overall pick, a 1.6 percent chance at the third pick, an 87.0 percent chance at the tenth pick, and a 9.1 percent chance to receive a pick which would need to be sent to the Sixers.
The Miami Heat’s season of struggle is continuing on with full force.
Goran Dragic says his “body doesn’t feel right.” Dwyane Wade just re-injured his left knee, a few days after getting it drained of excess fluid. Luol Deng is suffering through a left knee contusion. Chris Bosh is out for the year as he recovers from a pulmonary embolism. His backup, Josh McRoberts, is out for the year as he rehabs from a torn right lateral meniscus. Hassan Whiteside is struggling through the effects of a huge gash on his right hand that required 10 stitches to close.
That’s all five Heat starters ailing during the most critical month of the regular season.
The Eastern Conference’s four-time defending champion and current eight seed is in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. And with its entire starting rotation battered, it’s unclear what damage they could cause in the playoffs if even they were to make it.
Amidst the struggles, an increasing group of frustrated Heat fans has begun to endorse an intriguing concept: Why not tank the rest of the 2014-15 season to get a better draft pick?
The Heat has already traded away its 2015 first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers (who then traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers) as part of the LeBron James sign-and-trade in July 2010. But that pick is top-10 protected through 2016, and unprotected in 2017.
The “protections” mean that if Miami ends up with a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft, the Heat would get to keep the pick, and its obligation to the Cavs would shift to the following year. If, instead, the Heat doesn’t end up with a top 10 pick, the pick would be conveyed to the Cavs and the obligation would be fulfilled. If the pick winds up shifting to 2016, the same rules would apply next year. If the pick has not been conveyed by 2016, it would get conveyed in 2017 no matter where it lands.
These “protections” serve as a protection measure for the Heat, so that they don’t give away a pick that is more valuable than it was intended to be. But they also mean that the Heat could intentionally tank the final seven games of the regular season in order to secure a top 10 pick, allowing them to keep the pick in what is widely considered to be a strong and deep draft.
Tanking could get the Heat a valuable pick in a strong and deep 2015 NBA draft(1).
Should they do it? Read more…
Update (2/17/16): Chris Bosh was ruled out of the All-Star game with what was initially described as a calf strain. It was later determined, however, that a small deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) was found in Bosh’s calf, and that he is back on blood thinners.
The good news for Bosh is that this latest clot is reportedly small, was caught early, and has not traveled to his lungs. It is not life threatening, and should be relatively easy to bust.
The larger issue, however, could be what this latest clot means for Bosh’s long-term future. After his initial clot last year, Bosh had some testing done which suggested he was not deemed to be abnormally susceptible to blood clots. This latest clot certainly provides at least some degree of contraindicating evidence. If he is deemed to be at greater risk for blood clots, doctors may determine it to be advisable for him to remain on blood thinning medication indefinitely in order to avoid that possibility or they may advise against continuing the physical rigors and heavy travel associated with NBA play, in either case putting his career at risk.
Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh received sobering news on Saturday. He suffered a pulmonary embolism, which will cause him to miss the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season.
Bosh was hospitalized at South Miami Hospital on Thursday but, amid a conflicting diagnosis, underwent further testing on Friday. The diagnosis was confirmed today.
This is a serious and scary condition, but according to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, Bosh avoided a potential life-threatening situation.
A pulmonary embolism(1) occurs when a substance – most often a blood clot, as is the case for Bosh – that develops in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body travels through the bloodstream to an artery in the lung and forms an occlusion (blockage). The obstruction, which blocks blood flow through the lungs and puts pressure on the right ventricle of the heart, can be fatal.
It is rare to have a single pulmonary embolism. In most cases, as is the case for Bosh, multiple clots are involved.
Blood clotting is a normal process that occurs in the body to prevent bleeding and promote healing after an injury. The body forms blood clots when the platelets within the blood encounter a damaged blood vessel, and then breaks them down as the damaged tissue heals. However, clots can form unexpectedly, without notice, and have dangerous consequences. They can happen to anyone for a number of reasons.
Almost all blood clots that cause pulmonary embolisms are formed in a deep vein of the leg (itself called a deep vein thrombosis). A piece of the clot breaks off from the wall of the vessel in the leg, travels via the bloodstream up the body, through the right side of the heart, and lodges in an artery of the lung. Read more…
Note: This post was moved from being an update to a previous post to a new post on its own. The words, however, are the exact same.
The Heat received Dragic and his brother Zoran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team trade that involved the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Heat sent Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton and $369K in cash to the Pelicans and Danny Granger, $2.2 million in cash (equivalent to Granger’s salary for next season) and two future first round draft picks to the Suns. The Pelicans sent John Salmons to the Suns to complete the deal. Williams and Salmons will be waived by their new teams. By rule, Williams is not allowed to re-sign with the Heat.
The Heat have struggled thus far this season, their first since LeBron James left after a four-year stay in Miami to return home to Cleveland. But through the struggles has emerged a potential future star in Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. He will now have a first rate point guard off of whom to feed; the Dragic-Whiteside pick-and-roll pairing would seem as deadly as any in the league.
The addition of Dragic presents the prospect of a formidable starting lineup for the Heat, when healthy, in Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Whiteside. It figures to be as talented as any in the Eastern Conference, outside of perhaps the Cleveland Cavaliers. If things go well, the Heat could challenge for an NBA title as early as this season, a concept which seemed all but impossible after James’ departure.
But, while the upside is both massive and readily apparent, this was a risky trade for the Heat.
Miami will send Phoenix the first of its two first round picks two years after its obligation to the Philadelphia 76ers is satisfied (most likely this season). That pick is top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, and becomes unprotected in 2017 if not previously conveyed, meaning it will be sent to the Sixers in 2015 assuming the Heat make the playoffs. The pick to be sent to the Suns is top-seven protected in 2017 and 2018, and becomes unprotected in 2019 if not previously conveyed. Assuming the Heat don’t even up with one of the seven best picks in the draft in two seasons, it will be conveyed in 2017, but Miami could still wind up sending away a lottery pick.
The second first round pick goes to the Suns in 2021 with no protection whatsoever. The 2021 draft is a long ways away; there isn’t a single player on the roster whose contract extends out that far. There’s a long history of NBA teams making costly mistakes by not worrying about a seemingly distant future. One need only to imagine a scenario whereby an aging Heat team struggles to finish with one of the worst records in the NBA, only to have its premium draft pick stripped away, to see the risk. Read more…
Note: In my effort to keep things organized, I have moved my update to reflect the acquisition of Goran Dragic to a separate post above.
After LeBron James left last July, Miami Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay competitive for the following two seasons, while maintaining maximum flexibility for the all-important summer of 2016.
Riley acquiesced to those distinct courses of action by re-signing Chris Bosh and honoring his commitment to Josh McRoberts, contracts that weigh on the team’s summer of 2016 flexibility, but refusing to allow anything to increase the burden any further in filling out the roster.
The NBA has struck gold with the frivolous distraction that is professional basketball. The salary cap will explode higher than helium-sucking angels in the years to come, on the strength of an enormous burst in league-wide revenues. After a relatively tempered rise from the current $63 million to a projected $68 million next season, 2016-17 cap projections are expected to reach as high as $90 million (unless a salary cap smoothing mechanism is implemented), as the league’s massive new $24 billion TV rights deal takes effect.
With just the contracts of Bosh ($23.7 million) and McRoberts ($5.8 million) on the books, the Heat figures to have as much as $60 million of summer of 2016 cap space with which to work.
Will Riley again hit the jackpot in 2016, as he did in 2010?
Such a story could be painted: 2016 Hassan Whiteside could play the part of 2010 Dwyane Wade, the in-prime free agent superstar who loves Miami and recruits others to join him. He would be selling the opportunity to play alongside his dominant interior-oriented self and his ideally-suited perimeter-oriented frontcourt teammate Chris Bosh. He would be selling one of the NBA’s few universally appealing cities, an increasingly critical local income tax haven, as well as the organization’s track record of success. Read more…
It was a simple twist of fate. Had it not been for Dwyane Wade’s third significant hamstring injury thus far this season, he might not even be here at all. And yet, it now appears that shooting guard Tyler Johnson could be here for years to come, as the Miami Heat development machine has churned out another supremely talented youngster.
First, it was Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor.
Now, it is Johnson, whose exploits have provided a great deal of promise for the future! Johnson is short (6-foot-3) and slight (190 pounds), and at times miscast by the Heat as a point guard, but he makes up for it with serious hops and sweet shooting. He’ll throw down a highlight-reel dunk just as easily as he’ll swish a three-pointer when his feet are set. But he’ll also do the little things you may not notice — like play the game with a tremendous energy, or grab a rebound typically reserved for a player twice his size.
For president Pat Riley and the Heat front office, Johnson, who went undrafted in June out of Fresno State, has become a scouted, developed talent.
He impressed enough during his four years in college – including a senior season during which he averaged 15.3 points, on 47.7 percent shooting from the floor and 43.2 percent from three-point range, and 7.3 rebounds in his 35 games — for the Heat to invite him to participate in Summer League.
He played well for the Heat’s Summer League squads in the Orlando and Las Vegas tournaments in July, averaging 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 22.8 minutes while shooting 55.1 percent from the field in 10 games.
He played well enough, in fact, to earn a training camp invitation. He made just one preseason appearance, but he made it count. In the Heat’s overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs, he finished with 17 points (on 6-13 shooting, including 1-2 from 3-point range), four steals, four rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. He was never going to make the regular season roster, but the Heat gave him a $75,000 partial guarantee so that it could re-direct him to its D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, after being waived.
In 13 games for the Skyforce — all starts — he averaged 18.5 points on 47.7 percent shooting, including 46.3 percent 3-point shooting, in addition to 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.9 minutes per game.
The Heat took notice of his stellar play, and rewarded him for it.
On Jan. 12, Johnson thought he had his big break when the Heat called him up on a 10-day contract. But he was wrong. Johnson was with the team for five games. He didn’t play at all in four of them. His only action was 1:44 of mop-up duty in one game, during which he scored two points on a pair of free throws, his only statistics. When it was all over, the Heat chose not to re-sign him. He went back to the Sykforce on Jan. 22 as an unrestricted free agent.
Five days later, Wade strained his right hamstring. Two days after that, Johnson was re-signed to a second 10-day contract. This time around, with the Heat lacking in depth and forced to play him, Johnson seized his chance. He had two breakout performances during his second 10-day stint – producing 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in a road win over the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1, followed by an 18-point effort against the Spurs on Friday.
Multiple NBA teams were circling as he again became an unrestricted free agent Sunday morning. The Heat, however, got its man. And it figures to be a long-term affair for the promising young rookie. Read more…
The NBA has formed its largest international digital partnership through an expansion of its arrangement with Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited, the league announced in a joint press release issued late Thursday night.
Tencent – a publicly-traded company with a current market capitalization of $163 billion, whose shares trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE: 0700) and whose American Depository Receipts trade over-the-counter in the U.S. (OTC: TCEHY) – will become the league’s exclusive official digital partner in China.
The new five-year pact will provide Tencent the exclusive right to stream live games, original programming and highlights to hundreds of millions of active users across its online and mobile platforms, including Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Tencent News and Weixin, the popular messaging app also known as WeChat.
The deal will provide Tencent the right to offer for the first time in China the NBA’s League Pass package, which will allow subscribers to watch a full season’s worth of games live and on-demand on their computers and mobile phones. The deal also provides for interactive gaming and the sale of merchandise.
According to The New York Times, the agreement calls for the NBA to receive a guaranteed payout of $500 million over the life of the deal, with an additional $200 million more expected through a revenue-sharing arrangement. It will start on July 1, 2015, the first day of the 2015-16 NBA season.
It remains unclear as to how much of the revenues in this new deal would be incremental to those provided in its existing arrangement, but the increment figures to be substantial. And it will have a material impact on the salary cap.
By the league’s math, an estimated annual payout of between $100 million and $140 million increases the salary cap by $1.5 million to $2.1 million, respectively, and the luxury tax by $1.8 million to $2.5 million. Read more…