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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

A Fun (But Serious) Look into the Golden State Warriors Future

May 20th, 2017 No comments
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The Brooklyn Nets paid an all-time NBA record $193 million in payroll and luxury taxes in the 2013-14 season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have inched close to that record recently, having paid $165 million in 2015-16 and a projected $154 million this season. They could perhaps approach or even break it in either or each of the next two seasons. We could be on the cusp of $200 million.

You think that’s a lot?

It’s chump change compared to what could happen elsewhere in a few years!

But back to that story in a second.

This week was all about the announcement of the league’s All-NBA teams.

The announcement had far-reaching implications throughout the NBA. Several highly-publicized players secured tons of money for themselves, thanks to the league’s new “designated veteran player” rules. Several other highly-publicized players lost out on tons of money.

But it also quietly had ramifications for a couple of players nobody seems to be talking about. Friends. Brothers in arms. Teammates. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

In the NBA, all max salaries aren’t built equal. There are three levels based on a player’s tenure: those with 0-6 years of experience are eligible for up to 25% of the salary cap (a Tier 1 max salary), those with 7-9 years of experience are eligible for up to 30% of the salary cap (a Tier 2 max salary), and those with 10+ years of experience are eligible for up to 35% of the salary cap (a Tier 3 “super-max” salary).

The designated veteran player rules allow players who qualify to sign Tier 3 super-max salary contracts (that can start at anywhere above 30%, but not greater than 35%, of the salary cap), even though they don’t meet the league’s tenure-based eligibility requirements for it. Such contracts can only be signed with the player’s prior team, must generally be for a full five years, and can contain annual increases or decreases of up to 8.0% of the first-year salary.

At current salary cap levels, that can add up to an extra $6 million or so per year.

To qualify for it, a player must be entering his eighth or ninth season in the NBA (in the case of extensions) or have just completed his eighth or ninth season in the NBA (in the case of free agent signings), and must meet one of the performance criteria. Included on the list: Making one of the three All-NBA teams in either the previous season or the prior two, winning Defensive Player of the Year in either the previous season or the prior two, or winning MVP in any one of the previous three seasons.

In addition, the player must have never changed teams as a free agent, he can have only been traded during his first four years in the league, and he must be a free agent (in the case of a free agent signing) or have just one or two years remaining on his contract (in the case of an extension). And if it is an extension, a couple more rules apply. First, three years must have passed since the player signed his prior contract or extension. Second, if he has one year remaining on his contract at the time his extension is signed, it must cover five new seasons; if he has two years remaining on his contract at the time the extension is signed, it must (and can only) cover four new seasons.

The first wave of players who qualify, and don’t qualify, was confirmed with the announcement of the three All-NBA teams on Thursday.

Four players are now qualified for a designated veteran player deal this summer: Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Houston’s James Harden, Washington’s John Wall, and Golden State’s Stephen Curry.  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…

Can the Heat Sign Kevin Durant AND LeBron James?

May 25th, 2016 No comments
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“LeBron James promised the city of Cleveland, ‘I’m coming back to bring you that elusive title that has escaped this city since 1964.’ He never said anything about staying once he does accomplish that… I’m hearing about a return to Miami if this man wins. He ain’t going nowhere if he loses. But, if he wins, his options are open. LA, but especially Miami, a return to South Beach.”

That was Stephen A. Smith two days ago, talking about the prospect of LeBron James returning to the Miami Heat, just weeks after he said this about Kevin Durant:

“I believe the team that hasn’t been mentioned that much may be the dark horse in [the chase for impending free agent Kevin Durant this summer], which are the Miami Heat. Consider who the Heat are. You’re led by Pat Riley. You’ve got an exceptional young coach in Erik Spoelstra. You’ve got LeBron and D-Wade having captured two championships together there… Then you take into account the young guys — the Josh Richardsons, the Justise Winslows, the Hassan Whitesides… You add Kevin Durant to that equation and bring back Dwyane Wade, you’re talking instant title contention. Automatically.”

Unlikely as it may be, either James or Durant would be a game-changing free-agent acquisition for the Heat. But why either one? As long as we’re dreaming, why not both?

Why not a scenario whereby the Heat sign both James and Durant, while also also re-signing Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside, and retaining Chris Bosh?

Is it a reasonable possibility? Of course not.

But is it possible? Let’s have some fun and find out.

The concept, ludicrous as it may be, would presumably go something like this:

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder somehow blow their current 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors after two straight blowout victories, leading Durant to become so frustrated over his inability return to the NBA Finals as to consider his alternatives.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers push past the Toronto Raptors and somehow go on to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals, whereupon James decides that he has fulfilled his obligation to his hometown team and is willing to risk again enraging his local fan base for a return trip to Miami.

A summit is held between James, Durant, Wade, Bosh and Whiteside. They contemplate a possible joining of forces. The Heat organization has nothing do to with it, of course.

They use the following assumptions to coordinate a plan of attack to bring to Pat Riley on July 1st:

What is that plan of attack? Here it is, in 13 easy steps:  Read more…

Could the Miami Heat Sign Kevin Durant AND Retain Hassan Whiteside?

May 24th, 2016 No comments
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Note: This post was updated on 6/30/16 to reflect the updated salary cap figures, as detailed in this post, in light of reader requests.

“I believe the team that hasn’t been mentioned that much may be the dark horse in [the chase for impending free agent Kevin Durant this summer], which are the Miami Heat.

“Consider who the Heat are. You’re led by Pat Riley. You’ve got an exceptional young coach in Erik Spoelstra. You’ve got LeBron and D-Wade having captured two championships together there… Then you take into account the young guys — the Josh Richardsons, the Justise Winslows, the Hassan Whitesides… You add Kevin Durant to that equation and bring back Dwyane Wade, you’re talking instant title contention. Automatically.”

That was Stephen A. Smith, talking earlier this month about the prospect of Durant joining the Heat this summer.

Of course, he was talking theoretically.

That which seems wonderful in theory isn’t always possible in reality.

Miami will start the summer with six players under contract for the 2016-17 season – Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow, Briante Weber ($219K guaranteed) and Josh Richardson (non-guaranteed). Those six players will cost a combined $49.8 million.

At the $94.4 million salary cap currently projected by the NBA, the Heat would have — after subtracting that $49.8 million, the cost to retain the right to re-sign Tyler Johnson to a contract that exceeds the cap, and necessary roster charges — up to $42 million or so of cap space with which to spend on free agents.

Durant’s maximum salary would be $26.6 million. Whiteside’s maximum salary would be $22.2 million. Those two figures alone total to $48.8 million. That’s way above the Heat’s $42 million of projected cap room, and that’s before even dealing with Wade, Joe Johnson and Luol Deng.

The prospect of Durant in Miami, therefore, wouldn’t be easy, and shouldn’t be considered even remotely likely. But Riley has always dreamed big. In the past decade, he’s acquired LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal — 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.

Kevin Durant is the prize of the 2016 free agent crop, and Riley will surely take a shot.

But is it even mathematically possible?

Let’s take a look.  Read more…

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Kevin Durant Faces an Intriguing Free Agency Decision

May 23rd, 2016 No comments
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I have a request. I try to write posts which I believe are unique, in depth and insightful. I hope you agree. I therefore ask that you please not simply copy my work without providing proper credit. 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 in any way I can.

Four years ago, an upstart Oklahoma City Thunder team was blasting its way into the 2012 NBA Finals on the strength of four stud young draft picks — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden — who were each 23 or younger, supremely athletic and immensely talented. They seemed destined to stake their claim as the preeminent Western Conference powerhouse for the next decade or so.

Things haven’t worked out as planned thus far.

The Miami Heat went on to take out the Thunder in five games, in what appeared at the time to be the first of many such showdowns. But Oklahoma City then traded Harden to the Houston Rockets prior to the start of the 2012-13 regular season, after the sides couldn’t agree on a contract extension. Harden wanted a max contract that would’ve paid out $61 million over four years, while the Thunder were only willing to offer as much as $54 million.

It was a controversial decision, made as part of a long-term plan to avoid ever having to pay the league’s new and harsher luxury tax. As it turns out, though, Oklahoma City could’ve given Harden his max deal and still only have had to pay the tax for, at most, one season. The Thunder has since paid the tax twice in the three years since he’s been gone.

Over those three years, a Westbrook torn right meniscus ended any shot at a title in 2013, an Ibaka strained left calf contributed to the team’s premature playoff exit in 2014, and an improperly healed Durant Jones fracture in his right foot led to the Thunder missing the playoffs outright in 2015.

In that space of time, competition at the top end of the Western Conference stiffened. Stephen Curry established himself as the best shooter and his Golden State Warriors the best team in NBA history, while the San Antonio Spurs brilliantly reinvigorated their aging core with acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Now we’re left wondering if a team once projected as an NBA Finals mainstay can return even once.

Durant will be 28 to start the 2016-17 season. The lanky 19-year-old rookie from the University of Texas has since collected an MVP trophy, four scoring titles, five (and soon to be six) NBA First-Team selections and seven All-Star Game appearances, but he doesn’t have an NBA title to his name.  Read more…

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A Preliminary Look at the Miami Heat 2016 Offseason

May 16th, 2016 1 comment
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I have a request. I try to write posts which I believe are unique, in depth and insightful. I hope you agree. I therefore ask that you please not simply copy my work without providing proper credit. 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 in any way I can (and do so on a regular basis behind the scenes).

This is the first in a series of eight posts that I believe will cover all aspects of the Miami Heat summer. This one is meant as the general overview. Each subsequent post will cover specific concepts related to this overview in greater detail, as well as provide specific possible scenarios. Though all eight posts are already written, I will publish one per day. 

The NBA salary cap is set to explode higher this summer, from $70 million this past season to an estimated $92 million.

The massive increase will give the Miami Heat a ton of cap room with which to maneuver. Choosing how to allocate it, however, will force the Heat to make some tough decisions.

Miami will start the summer with just six players under contract for the 2016-17 season – Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Justise Winslow, Briante Weber ($219K guaranteed) and Josh Richardson (non-guaranteed). Those six players will cost a combined $49.8 million.

Miami will also retain the rights to potential restricted free agent Tyler Johnson.

Due to the nature of Johnson’s contract situation(1), at a cost of just a $1.2 million qualifying offer, Miami will be able to sit back this summer and wait for another team to sign him to an offer sheet which, by rule, can have a starting salary no higher than $5.6 million. Then, assuming it times everything correctly, after all of its cap space is used up elsewhere, the Heat can exceed the cap to match that offer sheet and retain him. If no other team engages with Johnson, the Heat can exceed the cap in signing him to a new contract with a starting salary as high as $6.2 million.

Taking into account the $49.8 million in 2016-17 salaries already on the books, the $1.2 million qualifying offer for Tyler Johnson, and applicable charges for open roster spots, Miami would be left with approximately $40 million in cap space with which to spend on its internal free agents – including Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, among others – as well as any external free agents it may seek to target.

The Heat could increase its cap space even further if it were to waive and stretch the contract of McRoberts, which has two years and $11.8 million remaining on it. By doing so, the Heat would replace his $5.8 million and $6.0 million salaries for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, respectively, with a $2.4 million dead-money cap charge that would be placed onto the Heat’s books for each of the next five seasons (through 2020-21). That, in turn, would increase the Heat’s cap space to as much as $43 million.

If Miami could instead somehow find a taker for McRoberts without taking any salary back in return, cap space could grow to $45 million. Beyond player assets and a first-round pick all the way out in the year 2023, however, the Heat doesn’t have much with which to entice a potential trade partner to do so.

Choosing how to allocate that $40 million to $45 million of cap space will be of critical concern.  Read more…

Is Kevin Durant at the Root of Dwyane Wade-Miami Heat Divide?

June 2nd, 2015 7 comments
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The sharp divide between Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat represents a unique challenge for team president Pat Riley.

For the past 12 years, the Wade name has been synonymous with that of the Heat organization. Wade has often been viewed as an extension of it and perhaps its most vital member. He has advocated for it. He has delivered it fans, players, titles and money. He has sacrificed a great deal of personal earnings for the benefit of it.

Riley would love to reward him for everything he has done. But in a world of salary caps and luxury taxes, where championship aspirations are a way of life, doing so becomes a sentiment that is far more easily felt in theory than delivered in practice.

Wade has unquestionably been the biggest star of the Heat’s past. But Riley needs to consider its future. Time marches on. Skill-sets erode. Injuries mount. What is best for Wade may no longer be what is best for the Heat organization, and that’s where things get dicey.

Riley has always dreamed big. In the past decade, he’s 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.

It would not be difficult to suspect that he has visions of grandeur once again – this time with his sights set on 2016, when Kevin Durant hits the market in the first summer under a new TV deal that could send the NBA salary cap skyrocketing to $89.0 million.

To facilitate such a vision, Riley would prefer that Wade opt into the final year of his contract for next season at $16.1 million, which would provide the Heat with maximum flexibility for the summer of 2016. But this requires Wade to have a ton of trust, and the leap of faith that Riley will ultimately take care of him.

Wade would prefer the security of one final multi-year contract to close out his Hall of Fame career to the uncertainty of exercising the lone season remaining on his current deal.

The rift has led to speculation that Wade’s future with the Heat could be in doubt.

Read more…