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Posts Tagged ‘Free Agency’

Miami Heat Interested In Serge Ibaka?

February 13th, 2017 5 comments
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“We’re dealing with that word that you hate to use — that we have to rebuild. But we will rebuild. Quick. I’m not going to hang around here for three or four years selling this kind of song to people in Miami. We have great, great fans. They’re frustrated. They’ve been used to something great over the last 10 years, and so right now we’re taking a hit. I think we can turn this thing around… You can use that word rebuild. But we’re going to do it fast.”

That was Heat president Pat Riley two months ago, conceding to WQAM’s Joe Rose that after nearly a decade of success, his organization would finally need to initiate a true rebuild. His team was in the midst of an excruciatingly painful season that started with the shocking (if not altogether unpredictable) departure of Dwyane Wade, followed by the gut-wrenching loss and stunning war-of-words with Chris Bosh, followed by a depressing 11-30 record that culminated with a demoralizing wire-to-wire loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks exactly one month ago today.

What followed could well be the most extraordinary 13-game winning streak in league history.

The streak helped to stave off what many believe would have been a Heat firesale at the Feb. 23rd trade deadline.

While Riley’s willingness to sell of pieces such as Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside was likely always overblown, the consensus now seems to be that the streak has flipped Miami from sellers looking to trade pieces for future assets to buyers looking to solidify a potential playoff push.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. The streak revealed some possible building blocks for the future, but it wasn’t necessarily real. Or sustainable. The Heat still need to reload. And, as Riley said, they need to do it quickly.

The reasons why are readily transparent.

The Heat figure to have a ton of financial flexibility this summer.

Based upon the league’s current $102 million cap projection for next season, Miami currently projects to have as much as $13 million in available cap space (assuming Josh Richardson’s non-guaranteed minimum salary is retained). With Bosh relief, the total will grow to $38 million. It could grow further, to $40 million if Dion Waiters were to decline his player option ($3.0 million), to $41 million if Willie Reed were to do the same ($1.6 million), to $44 million if the Heat were to waive and stretch the salary of Josh McRoberts ($6.0 million).

From that, the cap room required by the Heat’s first-round draft pick (assuming Miami keeps it) would need to be subtracted. It the Heat continues to hover around the playoffs, the pick would cost another $1.5 million or so in cap space, leaving Miami with anywhere from $37 million to $43 million with which to attack free agency next summer.  Read more…

The Death of The Free Agency Rebuilding Plan?

December 21st, 2016 2 comments
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The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced last week that they have reached agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the deal is ratified by both sides, which is a formality, the league will be assured of labor peace for at least the next six years.

At the highest of levels, not much would change in the new deal.

The split of league-wide revenues will remain the same – the players will be virtually assured to receive a 51 percent share (as they are in the current agreement). The salary cap will be calculated the exact same way. The luxury tax will be calculated the exact same way, and teams will be penalized just as severely for crossing it.

Rather than pushing for sweeping changes, the NBA was clearly focused on one thing — stopping superstar players from leaving their teams in free agency. Since 2010, several top-tier players have left as free agents, including LeBron James and Chris Bosh (2010), Dwight Howard (2013), and Kevin Durant (2016). Carmelo Anthony (2011), Chris Paul (2011) and Kevin Love (2014) also forced trades under the threat of leaving their teams with nothing in free agency.

To stop the flow, the league created new rules that provide huge financial incentives for a select group of top-tier players to stay with their existing teams – rules with which the players (the union for whom was led by the players who would benefit the most) were more than happy to oblige.   Read more…

How New CBA Changes Will Impact the Miami Heat

December 16th, 2016 4 comments
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When the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement becomes official, benefits should abound for both players and teams. Minimum salaries, rookie-scale contracts, the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exceptions, and maximum salaries are all increasing, which should placate most players. Various rules will be implemented to entice players to remain with their existing teams, which should placate most teams.

(For full details on all the changes in the new CBA, clink this link.)

But all those changes do come at a consequence – it will be more difficult for teams to rebuild through free agency, teams like the Miami Heat.

The Heat is, as president Pat Riley declared, a rebuilding team.

But Miami has compiled a solid core of multi-talented youngsters — in guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, forward Justise Winslow, and center Hassan Whiteside — from which to work. And it has a strong lead guard in Goran Dragic to spearhead the charge.

In his first season, Winslow showed promise as a defender. But his offense at times proved to be so limited that defenders constantly sagged away from him, often effectively relegating the Heat to playing four-on-five basketball. If he improves his shooting, he could quickly become one of the Heat’s most vital players. If he doesn’t, his future as a starter (or even on this team) could quickly be jeopardized.

Imagine, for a moment, a Dragic – Johnson – Richardson – Whiteside four-man unit.

In an offense system designed to capitalize upon it, what was once a shocking inability to space the floor – predicated largely on the always imperfect backcourt tandem of Dragic and Wade — could now be considered a strength. And depending upon where Richardson – who led the entire NBA in three-point shooting percentage after the All-Star Break, at 53 percent – and Johnson – who shot 41 percent on three-pointers last season (excluding heaves), despite often being miscast on offense as a point guard, which has continued on this season at full detriment to his development — level off with their shooting, a potentially big one at that.

That type of shooting could provide Whiteside — now a franchise cornerstone with his four-year, $96.4 million contract secured – the much-coveted floor-spacing into which to maneuver.

At 7-feet, 265-pounds, and with a ridiculous 7-foot-7-inch wingspan, Whiteside alters the geometry of the game. He’s not at all a back-to-the-basket big — and the Heat is doing the offense a huge disservice by treating him as such — but he can a huge initiator of offense, whether or not he ever even touches the ball. He hasn’t yet mastered the art of either the pick or the roll, but he has the tools to become of the best roll men in the NBA. And, even if not, his mere presence in the paint sucks in defenses with more force than a Dyson. That yields tons of garbage points and offensive rebounds for him, and open shots for others.

This Heat team may not be showing it on the court thus far this season, but it has the potential to be fast in transition and to capitalize upon a type of floor spacing in the half court it hasn’t had in quite some time.

Imagine what Dragic, a relentless attacker of the rim, and Whiteside, a dominant interior presence, could do in an offense that spaced the floor around them. Is it so preposterous to envision a constant stream of Whiteside pick-and-rolls, and swished corner three-pointers when defenders rotate away from Heat shooters to try to stop it?

Is it so preposterous to imagine that with Whiteside down low; Richardson and Johnson to space the floor around him; and Dragic’s speed and ability to break down a defense; that the team could develop into be a force with which to be reckoned, if they’re able to add a star player or two — perhaps a power forward to replace the unfortunately departed Chris Bosh, a small forward that would allow the Heat to stagger Johnson and Richardson, or both?

The organization has maneuvered around various salary cap issues in order to maximize its free agency options to achieve that goal. The summer of 2017 will be a particular emphasis, with the Heat able to begin the process of removing the salary of Bosh from its cap sheet on or after Feb. 9, 2017 and the salary of Johnson set to soar the season thereafter.

(For full details on Bosh’s contract and its impact on the Heat’s salary cap situation, including potential cap relief and a possible return of his salary to the Heat’s cap sheet in the seasons thereafter, click this link.)

But the new agreement, when ratified, will have several implications for the Heat in pursuit of its desired summer of 2017 rebuild.  Read more…

Revamped Heat Roster Maintains Youthful Core, Flexibility for 2017

July 11th, 2016 1 comment
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The Miami Heat initiated its post-Dwyane Wade transition by completing a flurry of moves in rapid-fire succession on Sunday, the timing of which dictated by the man potentially set to replace him and the execution of which pursued with a singular goal in mind.

Pat Riley has always dreamed big. In the past 12 years, he has acquired Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James — 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.

Title aspirations are standard course for Riley and owner Micky Arison. It represents the foundation for everything they do. How they think. How they plan. How they negotiate, even if the parameters for negotiation ultimately lead to the loss of a franchise icon.

Facing the potential overwhelming loss of the team’s most critical ever player, Riley and Arison were unwilling to concede so much in their negotiation with Wade as to paralyze their team’s ability to build a title contender. They believe the Heat is currently in a better position to succeed than would have been the case if they were to have met Wade’s demands. They believe they have compiled a solid core of multi-talented youngsters in guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside. They believe they have a potentially perfect, floor-spacing frontcourt compliment to Whiteside in Chris Bosh, assuming health. And they believe they have a strong lead guard in Goran Dragic to spearhead the charge.

They may be right.

Johnson will compete with Richardson for the starting shooting guard role (a battle which he’ll win to start the season, with Richardson still sidelined with a partially torn medial collateral ligament). But, perhaps more importantly, he also serves as insurance against a lack of development from Winslow.

In his first season, Winslow showed great promise as a defender. But his offense at times proved to be so limited that defenders constantly sagged away from him, often effectively relegating the Heat to playing four-on-five basketball. If he improves his shooting, he could quickly become one of the Heat’s most vital players. If he doesn’t, his future as a starter could quickly be jeopardized.

Imagine, for a moment, a Dragic – Johnson – Richardson – Bosh – Whiteside unit.

In an offense system designed to capitalize upon it, what was once a shocking inability to space the floor – predicated largely on the always imperfect backcourt tandem of Wade and Dragic — could now be considered a strength. And depending upon where Richardson – who led the entire NBA in three-point shooting percentage after the All-Star Break, at 53 percent – and Johnson – who shot 41 percent on three-pointers last season (excluding heaves), despite often being miscast on offense as a point guard — level off with their shooting, a potentially big one at that.

That type of shooting could provide Whiteside — now a franchise cornerstone with his four-year, $96.4 million contract secured – the much-coveted floor-spacing into which to maneuver.

At 7-feet, 265-pounds, and with a ridiculous 7-foot-7-inch wingspan, Whiteside alters the geometry of the game. His individual statistics last season were silly – 17.6 points (on 60.6 percent shooting), 14.7 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per 36 minutes played. And he did it despite constantly having two, three, and sometimes four defenders hanging all over him every time he touched the basketball. Because why not collapse at even the hint of danger? Who was going to hurt you from the perimeter if you do? Not Wade.

He’s not all a back-to-the-basket big, but he can a huge initiator of offense — whether or not he ever even touches the ball. He hasn’t yet mastered the art of either the pick or the roll, but he has the tools to become of the best roll men in the NBA. And his mere presence in the paint sucks in defenses with more force than a Dyson. That yields tons of garbage points and rebounds for him, and open shots for others.

This Heat team may well have lost its best player, but it will be fast in transition and it will look to capitalize upon a type of floor spacing it has never before had in the half court.

Imagine what Dragic and Whiteside could do in an offense that spaced the floor around them.

Is it so preposterous to envision a constant stream of Whiteside pick-and-rolls, Bosh pick-and-pops, and swished corner three-pointers when defenders rotate away from Heat shooters to try to stop it?

Is it so preposterous to imagine that with Dragic’s penetration to initiate the offense, Whiteside down low, Bosh and Richardson and Johnson to space the floor around it all, and Winslow’s defense thrown into the mix; that the team, despite the absence of Wade – it’s leader and, perhaps more importantly, it’s closer — could still be a force with which to be reckoned?

Is it so preposterous to imagine that while it might struggle on offense at times with the absence of its most reliable crunch-time scorer, its defense will be undeniably improved without him?

Is it so preposterous to imagine that the addition of one elite player could have it competing for titles? Riley surely believes it.

But how do you get that elite player?

With Wade’s departure, the Heat found itself with just $19 million in salary cap space left to be spent on any one player, not nearly enough to grab an elite contributor, if even he were willing and available. It simply wasn’t going to happen this summer.

That, in turn, made Riley’s goal for filling out the roster crystal clear: Maintain maximum flexibility for the summer of 2017.  Read more…

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…

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…

Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng Player Option Decisions Loom

June 28th, 2015 3 comments
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Update (7/1/15): Luol Deng has exercised his player option. Dwyane Wade declined his option but his return is all but assured. The larger question is to what type of contract the Heat will sign him.

Ken Berger at CBS reported yesterday that the 2015-16 salary cap could jump as much as $2 million higher than the league’s latest projection of $67.1 million, which was made some time ago. Such an increase could have a meaningful impact on the Heat’s plans for Wade.

If the 2015-16 salary cap increases from $67.1 million to as much as $69.1 million, the tax threshold would increase from $81.6 million to as much as $83.8 million.  

How much would a $2.2 million increase in the tax threshold help the Heat? If it were to offer Wade a one-year contract at the $22 million max, its payroll would reach into the neighborhood of $100 million. With an $100 million payroll, the tax obligation would fall from $58 million to $49 million. That’s a savings of $9.4 million! 

Layer in a potential trade of Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen or Mario Chalmers and Heat’s total payroll obligations, including repeater tax obligations, could fall to $12X million. 

And since the luxury tax is calculated as of the last day of the regular season, any potential trades don’t need to happen now (though the clarity would certainly be reassuring). Trading, say, the $1.6 million in salary obligations remaining on the $5.0 million expiring contract of Andersen at the trade deadline — for which the Heat could offer up to $3.4 million in cash and/or a possible 2018, 2020 or 2021 second round draft pick — would save a whopping $18.4 million in taxes for a team with an $100 million payroll (plus the $1.6 million in salary savings, less any cash sent). However, the Heat would need to find a trade partner with enough cap room (or a large enough trade exception) to take on Andersen’s $5.0 million cap hit without sending anything back in return, and that gets harder to find as more time passes.

Winding up with total payroll obligations of $12X million is a hefty some of money, to be sure – a would-be all-time record in total payroll obligations for the Heat – but this is not your typical spending problem. It would be just a one-time issue. The Heat will become very affordable next year, all but assured not to cross the tax threshold. Which would guarantee it does not pay “repeater tax” rates again until at least the 2019-20 season (pending rule changes). Also bear this in mind: the new TV deal, which starts in 2016-17, will itself instantly increase owner PROFITS by an average of $18 million per year, and rising annually. So, would Arison be willing to endure the cost of giving Wade the max for one year?

What would offering Wade a one-year contract at the $22 million max mean for the Heat? The Heat could enter the summer of 2016 with Dragic (PG), Winslow (SG/SF) and Bosh (PF) under contract, and up to $42 million of cap space to spend on Whiteside (C) and another player (assuming a McRoberts trade and an $89.1 million salary cap). Of that $42 million, Whiteside’s max would be $21 million but, at this point, one could reasonably suspect he would command far less. Which leaves enough room for…

That has to be math that the Heat organization itself is doing, right? Would they offer Wade one-year at the max? Would Wade accept?

—————————

The wait is almost over.

NBA free agency officially begins at 12:01 am on July 1. But for the Miami Heat, the uncertainty starts to be clarified 23 hours and 58 minutes before that.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade and forward Luol Deng have until 11:59 pm on June 29 to decide whether to exercise the player options – for $16.1 million and $10.2 million, respectively – on their contracts. If the deadline passes and the Heat has not heard back, both players by default will have chosen to join guard Goran Dragic in opting out and becoming unrestricted free agents.

If Wade and Deng both opt out, the Heat would start the summer with as much as $19 million of room below the projected $67.1 million salary cap. But, realistically, it won’t have any cap room at all.

That’s because the Heat is expected to quickly resolve the free agency status of Dragic.

Dragic 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. Dragic will be eligible to receive a five-year deal, with a total payout of as much as $108 million. If he gets it, his contract would start at $18.9 million, and rise to $20.2 million for the 2016-17 season.

For a player entering his age 29 season, however, it could prove to be an overpay, even with the cap due to rise dramatically next year. A smaller deal that pays out the max in the first year, declines by the max in the second year, before again maxing out for the final three years would be a nice concession by Dragic, in that it would give the Heat more flexibility for the summer of 2016 but still pay out a lofty $97 million. That may still seem like a hefty sum, but it would represent a 10 percent discount from a max contract, and a whopping 30 percent discount from a potential max contract a player of his tenure could sign the following summer. If he acquiesces, his contract would still start at $18.9 million, but his 2016-17 salary would fall to $17.4 million.

If the Heat re-signs Dragic, it would still be capped out even if Wade and Deng decline their options. Utilizing cap space, therefore, is not a realistic option for the Heat this summer.  Read more…

Addressing The Heat’s Need for Floor Spacing

May 20th, 2015 No comments
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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…

A Preliminary Look at the Miami Heat Offseason

April 18th, 2015 4 comments
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“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…

Miami Heat 2013 Offseason Primer

July 1st, 2013 No comments
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Over the past three offseasons, the Miami Heat has constructed, augmented and refined.

Three summers ago, it was uniting LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem as a team that would reach the NBA Finals.

The following offseason, one delayed by a lockout, glue guy Shane Battier supplemented the mix to help the Heat win the 2012 NBA championship.

And last summer, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis were added to help turn the 2012 title into a 2013 repeat.

Because of the team’s ongoing success, as well as the 2013-14 contract options of Allen, Lewis, James Jones and Mario Chalmers all leading them back for another season, there doesn’t figure to be much heavy lifting this time around.

The NBA’s free agency period officially began Monday morning at 12:01 EDT.

While teams can start negotiating immediately, most free agent signings, and all trades, cannot be officially executed until July 10, allowing the league time to compute revenues for the now-expired 2012-13 season and finalize the salary cap and luxury-tax calculations for 2013-14.

However, signings that do not rely in any way upon the specific value of the salary cap can be executed with the start of the new salary cap year on July 1. Such signings include minimum salary deals for up to two years in length.

For the Heat, still basking in a second consecutive championship, the concerns are limited, with 12 players already under guaranteed contract for next season: James, Wade, Bosh, Chalmers, Haslem, Battier, Allen, Lewis, Jones, Miller, Joel Anthony and Norris Cole. In addition, neophyte power forward Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed contract in place that becomes $250,000 guaranteed if he is on the opening-night roster.

That’s 13 regular-season rosters spots potentially filled. Teams can have as many as 20 players under contract in the offseason, in addition to players involved in summer-camp and summer-league tryouts, but need to reduce to between 13 and 15 by the start of the regular season.

While virtually the entire championship core from last season has already committed to return, there is still work to be done:  Read more…