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Posts Tagged ‘James Jones’

The Anatomy of a Spectacular Miami Heat Failure

June 15th, 2014 4 comments
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The Miami Heat’s bid for basketball immortality – four straight NBA Finals appearances and three straight NBA titles, a feat which has only been accomplished once in league history – has fallen spectacularly short. In the wake of this colossal failure, we’re all left wondering how it all went so wrong so quickly – how our team ended up looking so old, so slow, so flawed, so unable to adapt, so unable to defend.

Is it an organizational philosophy that failed us?

“I don’t think you win championships with young, athletic players that don’t have experience. I think we’ve learned over the years that building with young players is very frustrating.”

That was Pat Riley in June 2011, describing his aversion to developing youthful talent.

It is a philosophy that he has expressed many different times in many different ways over the years. It is a philosophy that has permeated his every decision in preparation for and during the Big Three era. It is a philosophy upon which the Stepien-like decisions to surrender a whopping six future first round draft picks in a period of less than five months from February to July 2010 were predicated. It is a philosophy upon which the decision to constantly fill the roster with post-dated bench-warming veterans was predicated.

It was a philosophy which, initially, didn’t bother us. We were all so captivated by the moment. Riley had a plan. He executed upon it with deadly precision. He got the big things so right that it didn’t matter how he handled the little things. In Riley we trusted.

The winning that followed only validated that ideology.

But, quietly, things weren’t as wonderful as they appeared. In the wake of the signings of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the summer of the 2010, the front office lost sight of its need to build for the future. Everything was always only about the moment.

Some of us couldn’t help but wonder. If your mission is to win as many titles as possible while the Big Three are still in their primes, then wouldn’t you like to have some upside around? Some players who will be getting better with time? Some players who can keep the energy level high when the stars need to rest?

Riley has always had a clear affinity for the seasoned veteran versus the inexperienced rookie. He’d rather have the sure thing than the potential next big thing. But as much as these veterans are low risks to make stupid, rookie-type decisions, none will break free off the dribble in crunch time or make that key defensive stop and then sprint up the floor for a breakaway jam – they’re zero risks to become more athletic, to develop new parts of their games, or to be usable as trade bait should the need arise.  Read more…

Decision Time Looming for Four Miami Heat Players

June 22nd, 2013 No comments
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The clock is ticking. Within a week, the first decisions for next season need to be made.

By June 29, there will have to be resolution with the four players on the roster with options for the 2013-14 season.

Of those decisions, only one is at the Heat’s discretion, the third and final year on Mario Chalmers’ contract. It is a $4 million team option. It almost assuredly will be picked up, a bargain price for an NBA starting point guard.

Three other options are out of the Heat’s control – player options held by guard Ray Allen and forwards James Jones and Rashard Lewis.

Allen has been silent on the issue of his $3.2 million option. But having hit the most iconic shot of the 2013 playoffs – and perhaps the single biggest field goal in Miami Heat history – resulting in his second NBA title, he is surely rejuvenated and excited to return. Lewis and Jones have each already expressed their excitement in returning with varying levels of certainty.

This is a happy team. It is a back-to-back NBA champion. It is the prohibitive favorite to get a third consecutive. Why would anyone choose to leave?

All four are likely to return.

But, for Lewis and Jones – who are playing at or near the minimum salary – there is a deeper story here. With the Heat in a financial crunch and attempting to keep its core together, the Heat and salary cap guru Andy Elisburg need to get creative. They have a golden opportunity to save as much as $3.1 million next season, and they should pounce. Read more…

James Jones to re-sign with the Heat

July 19th, 2010 1 comment
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Jones’ shooting stroke could be valuable for the Heat this season

James Jones has agreed to re-sign with the Heat on a one-year minimum salary deal worth approximately $1.15 million, with a player option on a second year, after being waived just three weeks ago.

Jones was not worth the three years and $14.91 million remaining on his previous contract, which would have paid him $4.65 million in the upcoming season, particularly to a team in desperate need of the added cap space to achieve far bigger goals. And so, the Heat elected to waive him in favor of his reduced $5.952 million partial guarantee.

However, Pat Riley did one better. He was able to recover an extra $1.0 million through an agreed-to buyout, which will count $1.544 million against the cap next season.

Why Jones, about to be no longer affiliated with the Heat, surrendered the extra million remains unclear. The Heat surely weren’t seeking to reduce their financial obligations to the sharpshooter but rather to recover much-needed cap space. The give-back created an extra $311,828 of cap space, which doesn’t sound like much but was critical at the time; it made it technically possible for the Heat to offer three max contracts at the then-estimated $56 million salary cap.

When the finalized cap number increased to $58.044 million, the gesture lost its significance. But not its awe-inspiring selflessness. The Heat returned the favor by giving him his entire $4.952 million buy-out up front.

It was also speculated that Riley may have offered a quiet guarantee to return the gesture by promising Jones a minimum salary contract after the Heat’s cap space was all used up.

This is exactly how events ultimately transpired. 

While Jones was not worth his original $4.65 million salary, he is most certainly worth a minimum salary contract. Jones figures to be a valuable addition to a team in desperate need of the long-range shooting both he and Mike Miller provide. His corner three-point shooting touch will space the floor both vertically and horizontally, opening up lanes into which Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will drive. He may not play very much, but he’s more than capable of blowing a game wide open if he gets a few open looks.

Read more…

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Everything is Done: How Did It All Happen?

July 17th, 2010 5 comments
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The Miami Heat finished last season with 16 players under contract and a team salary far in excess of the salary cap. They then created enough salary cap room to sign everyone who is on the roster today. Now they are far in excess of the salary cap once again.

So how did it all happen? How did they manage to get so far below the salary cap and then above it again all in the same season? With creative financing!

Everything has now been finalized. It’s done. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown.

(Note: The actions below, in some cases, may be out of order. They have been structured so as to make evident the Heat’s thought process along the way, as well as to promote ease of reader comprehension. Full comprehension also requires an understanding of cap holds and roster charges, which are described in detail here.)

This is a snapshot of the Heat’s salary cap situation at the end of last season:

Read more…

Heat Buys-Out James Jones

June 29th, 2010 8 comments
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He didn’t have to, but James Jones helped out his hometown Heat in a big way

The Miami Heat took another step toward maximizing its salary cap space on Tuesday, when it agreed to buy out the contract of forward James Jones.

The Heat had a June 30 deadline before the three remaining seasons on Jones’ partially-guaranteed contract became fully guaranteed. The contract was set to pay him $4,650,000, $4,970,000 and $5,290,000 over the next three seasons, for a total of $14,910,000.

Miami had been trying for weeks to trade him so that they could owe him nothing at all, but there were no takers.

Had the Heat invoked its right to terminate the contract, Jones would have received payments of $1,856,000, $1,984,000 and $2,112,000 over the next three seasons, for a total of $5,952,000.

Instead, the Heat did one better.

Rather than paying Jones his guaranteed $5,952,000, they have reportedly instead bought him out for only $4,952,000.

In a spectacular display of selflessness for the greater good, Jones agreed to give up a million dollars of what he was owed to a team that was simultaneously releasing him. He did it for reasons unknown, but perhaps including a genuine love for the Heat and the city of Miami and because the Heat agreed to pay his buyout in one lump sum. Rather than receive bi-monthly checks for the next three years, Jones will get all of his buyout money up front. Getting paid up front is still not worth sacrificing a million dollars, but it is something.

While a formal promise of a future contract is a violation of cap rules, Jones may have also received a hint from the Heat organization of its intention to offer a minimum salary contract to partially offset the losses after all of the team’s cap space is used up. The future contract promise is just speculation, but it seems to make a whole lot of sense.

While Jones will get paid his money up front, in accordance with cap rules, the Heat will get to spread the salary cap hit associated with Jones’ buyout over the remaining life of his now terminated contract, in proportion to the salaries he was guaranteed in each of those seasons. Jones’ cap hits become $1,544,172, $1,650,667 and $1,757,161 respectively, thereby opening up an additional $311,828 in cap room for this season for Miami.

This amount may seem rather small, but it is important.

Michael Beasley is all but certain to get moved, perhaps to the Raptors as part of a Bosh sign-and-trade but more likely to the Minnesota Timberwolves, in a trade that would clear his $4,962,240 salary off the books. However, even if the Heat were to also move Mario Chalmers, it would still have fallen $198,764 shy of being able to offer each member of a potential Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh trio a full, maximum contract. The $311,828 cap savings from Jones makes it officially possible. A potential Wade, James, Bosh trio – assuming the Heat can find a taker for Chalmers – would leave the Heat just shy of the projected $56.1 million cap, with only $113,064 to spare.

In accordance with buyout procedures, Jones will now be placed on waivers. “Waivers” is a temporary status for players who are released by their teams. During the waiver period, which lasts seven days, any other team may claim him. If a player on waivers is claimed, the new team acquires his existing contract in full and pays the remainder of his salary. In the case of Jones, however, this is highly unlikely.

If no team claims him, he is said to have “cleared waivers.” At this point, Jones would become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign a new contract with the team of his choice, including Miami. The Heat would then be responsible to pay the negotiated buyout amount.

The move adds further credence to the notion that Wade, James and Bosh may have an agreement in place to join the Heat in the off-season. While Pat Riley is restricted from speaking to either James or Bosh until free agency officially begins at 12:00 am on Thursday morning, no such restriction exists for Wade. The three reportedly held a small summit over the weekend, which was subsequently denied.

Jones originally signed a 3-year, $23.25 million contract with the Heat on July 9, 2008. He appeared in 76 regular season games, including seven starts, during his two years, averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.5 assists in 14.9 minutes, while shooting .366 from the floor, .376 on 3-pointers and .831 from the foul line.

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Breaking down the trade bonus

June 20th, 2010 3 comments
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Well, I didn’t get many readers yesterday. So today I will offer this somewhat less stimulating post on the impact of trade bonuses for the technically savvy few who happen to care. After all, in my heart I enjoy helping to explain the intricacies of the salary cap most.

There seems to be a common perception floating around that Turkoglu, after a forgetful season in Toronto, is washed up. The perception is that he is an aging malcontent, whose inflated salary will be a boon the Raptors for the next four seasons. For a man over thirty years of age with just one solid regular season under his belt, it’s reasonable to understand why. But perhaps it’s just a little harsh for man who produced such a wonderful 2009 NBA Finals.

When Turkoglu arrived in Toronto, having turned away the Trail Blazers in his wake, he received a hero’s welcome. And for good reason. He had just completed an NBA Finals run during which he averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, not to mention his crunch-time leadership, game-winning shot-making and one impressive block from behind on Kobe Bryant. He even the Heat’s own Dwyane Wade pushing to grab him for mid-level money.

Things soured quickly. Turkoglu showed up to training camp overweight and out of shape, and never seemed eager to do much of anything. By the end of the season, he finished with just 11.3 points per game, far and away his fewest over the past six seasons, on just 41% shooting. Turkoglu was unhappy, the fans were booing him, and management was left with the shame at having grossly overvalued him on the free agent market.

The end result wasn’t necessarily an indication of what Turkoglu may be able provide a team next season, if he were to be put in the right situation. But for any of us holding out any lingering hope of acquiring the 6’10” point-forward, I would have you consider his contract. Read more…

James Jones to sign with the… Heat?

June 11th, 2010 No comments
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James Jones could be a nice option for the Heat at the minimum

Here’s an interesting idea: re-sign James Jones to a minimum contract after he is waived prior to June 30.

It could make a lot of sense for both parties.

It feels terrible when I think about the Heat surrendering $1.856 million to a player that will no longer be on the roster in the coming season – perhaps the most critical from a cap space efficiency perspective in team history.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done about it. But wouldn’t it feel at least slightly more palatable to employ his services, even as an end-of-the-bencher, at the very same $1.856 million against the cap?

For James, it makes a world of sense too. He loves Miami. He loves the Heat. He could find himself having a much bigger role next season than in seasons past, with Robert Dozier perhaps to be his main competition at the small forward reserve position. And the money isn’t as different as you’d think.

James originally signed his contract on July 9, 2008 expecting to make $4.65 million next season. It seems clear now, however, that he will be paid his more modest buyout price of $1.856 million. Add to that the $1,146,337 he’d be making on a minimum contract, and he’d be accumulating total compensation of $3,002,337 next season. That’s 65% of his original contract, in which he was clearly overvalued. Not too shabby.

The most practical aspect about this situation is the timing. If the Heat does bring Jones back at the minimum, it would need to be at the end of the off-season. That would give James the vast majority of the summer months to seek more lucrative employment elsewhere. If nothing suits his palate, the Heat could get a quality reserve at a position in which depth is projected to be thin and Jones could get to play in the city he loves.

Here’s a look at the logistics. Read more…

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Two Low-Key Trades for the Miami Heat to Pursue at the Trade Deadline

February 13th, 2010 No comments
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While the Miami Heat, and a majority of N.B.A. teams, are focused on headline names being tossed around as possible trade deadline blockbuster candidates, the Heat has more pressing matters to concern itself with as well.

With the Heat attempting to move closer to signing three max-contract players — their own free agent Dwyane Wade and possibly two others – there are a couple of more low-key deadline deals that should be considered in pursuit of that goal.

Below are two suggested trade proposals which would help:

Suggested Trade Proposal #1
Heat Trade: Dorell Wright, James Jones, 2010 First Round Pick Jones_James Wright_Dorell
Heat Receive: Nothing or Expiring Contract(s), Future Second Round Pick

The Heat appear to be faced with the choice of dumping Dorell Wright or paying the N.B.A.’s luxury tax.

Wright is an emerging talent who is expendable only because the Heat is unlikely to be in a position to re-sign him this summer. Trading him would save the team approximately $8 million.

Several teams are showing interest. Memphis is making a strong push. In his fifth year, Wright is a preps-to-pros prospect the Heat selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2004 N.B.A. draft. He would fit the Grizzlies’ expressed desire to add length, shooting and defense on the perimeter. The Grizzlies are reportedly prepared to offer a 2010 first round draft pick in exchange.

The prospect of trading 26 final games of Dorell Wright in exchange for approximately $8 million in cash and a 2010 first round draft pick merits serious consideration in its own right.

But the Heat has a bigger issue it needs to resolve. It needs to get rid of James Jones’ contract. If it’s even possible, the cost is going to be very high.  Read more…

Demystifying the James Jones Contract

January 25th, 2010 No comments
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James Jones has a fascinating contract.

He is making $4.32 million in base salary this season, plus another $10,000 in bonuses, for a total of $4.33 million. He has three additional seasons remaining on his contract which will pay him base salaries of $4.64 million (2010-11), $4.96 million (2011-12) and $5.28 million (2012-13), as well as an additional $10,000 in bonus money for each season he remains on the Heat roster. The final season is subject to an early termination option in the unlikely event that Jones were to want to opt out early.

The final three seasons of his contract are currently only 40% guaranteed, for $1.856 million (2010-11), $1.984 million (2011-12) and $2.112 million (2012-13). However, each season becomes fully guaranteed if he is not waived on or before June 30, 2010.

The Heat want desperately to trade him so that they can move his entire salary off the books. But they can’t afford to take the risk of being stuck with his full salary obligations if they are unsuccessful in finding a trade partner. Therefore, any trade scenario involving Jones needs to happen on or before June 30. If a trade is not executed by then, Jones will certainly be waived on June 30.

Jones’ contract is further complicated by the presence of a trade bonus. If he were to be traded, the contract calls for a up-front bonus equal to 15% of the remaining value of the contract (excluding bonuses) to be paid upon execution. Since Jones currently has $14.880 million remaining to be paid over the next three years (he has already been paid in full for this season), the trade bonus would equal $2.232 million.

Payment of the trade bonus isn’t a big deal. While the $2.232 million would technically be the responsibility of the team trading for him, the Heat could throw up to $3.0 million of cash into the trade to more than offset it.

The trade bonus does, however, increase Jones’ current salary for trade purposes. Trade bonuses get allocated to all remaining contract years, excluding years subject to an option, in proportion to the percentage of salary in each of those seasons that is guaranteed. Thus, for trade purposes, his current $4.33 million salary would increase to $5.57 million from the perspective of a team looking to acquire him. His additional three seasons would count $5.146 million (2010-11), $5.466 million (2011-12), and $5.290 million (2012-13) against the cap if he is then retained by the team that acquires him, and $2.352 million (2010-11), $2.480 million (2011-12), and $2.112 million (2012-13) if he is subsequently waived prior to the June 30 deadline.

Despite the Heat’s strong desire, a trade is going to be virtually impossible.

There is not a single team in the N.B.A. with enough cap space to swallow a $5.57 million current season salary. Thus, the only way he could be traded is by utilizing the traded player exception. And since taking on salary in exchange for Jones defeats the purposes of this exercise, the team that trades for him needs to have a large enough trade exception to accommodate his current salary.

The only teams in the N.B.A. with a trade exception large enough to accommodate Jones’ current salary are the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards.

So… unless you feel that one of these three teams is going to want to take on Jones’ contract (presumably to capitalize on his buyout) in return for some combination of Heat draft picks and up to $3 million in cash, Jones isn’t going anywhere before year end. And unless Pat Riley wants to risk guaranteeing the three years and $14.910  million remaining on his contract, Jones isn’t going anywhere… period.

The inevitable truth is that Jones will be waived by the Heat on June 30.

Once he is waived, he will cost $1.856 million, $1.984 million and $2.112 million against the Heat’s cap over the next three seasons. The $1.856 million will eat into the Heat’s cap space for the highly-anticipated summer of 2010.

When Jones was signed in July 2008, the partial guarantee was dubbed as one which ensures that Miami could still have maximum spending capability during the free agent summer of 2010. Riley went on to call Jones “a perfect fit.” Less than two years later, it is plainly obvious to see that the contract was a mistake.

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