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Miami Heat Player-by-Player Overview

May 27th, 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).

The Miami Heat 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 and Josh Richardson. Those six players will cost a combined $49.8 million.

The remaining nine players will become free agents – Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Udonis Haslem, Hassan Whiteside, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire, Tyler Johnson, Joe Johnson and Dorell Wright. Those nine players will carry a combined $54.7 million in cap holds.

The Heat will therefore technically start the summer over the cap, with a team salary of $104.5 million against a projected salary cap of $92.0 million.

Here is a brief overview of how things can go from there for all 15 current Heat players.  Read more…

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…

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?

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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…

Memphis Grizzlies Seeking Possible Trade For Luol Deng

January 8th, 2015 No comments
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The Memphis Grizzlies, aiming to bolster their scoring and playmaking options on the wing in the increasingly competitive Western Conference, are having discussions about trading for the Miami Heat’s Luol Deng or the Boston Celtics’ Jeff Green in advance of the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

Any Grizzlies offer for Deng or Green is likely to feature the $7.7 million expiring contract of Tayshaun Prince, as well as the promise of future draft compensation to serve as an enticement to complete the trade.

It is not immediately clear how willing Miami would be to trade Deng, who is not even halfway through the first of a two-year, $19.9 million contract he signed with the Heat in the wake of LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency this past summer.

After James departed, Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two distinct and simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay in the playoff race for the following two seasons – even while the Heat’s 2015 first round pick is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers if it is outside the top 10 – but with a clear focus on maintaining flexibility for the expected availability of several top free agents in the summer of 2016.

With the Heat already at 15-20 as it begins a challenging five-game road trip out west, it is unclear as to how willing Riley might be to sacrifice the former for the benefit of the latter.

Trading Deng could, among other things, damage the Heat’s ability to make the playoffs this season as well as put at risk its ability to clear its first round pick obligation off the books this summer. The pick is top-10 protected for this season and next, and becomes fully unprotected if not previously conveyed.

But trading Deng could also provide the Heat with a far better pick — a top 10 pick — in what is presently considered to be a deep draft this summer as well as with the additional draft pick compensation to be received in the trade. That could set the Heat up quite well for the summer of 2016.

All trade proposals should surely be considered even if not ultimately pursued.

But trade scenarios are complicated.

Deng is earning $9.7 million this season, and he has a player option that would pay him $10.2 million for next season if he exercises it in June. But he also has a trade bonus which, by rule, he cannot waive, in whole or in part, except to make a potential trade legal.

Deng’s trade bonus would be valued at 15 percent of his remaining salary for the season, the amount of which would depend upon the exact day he is traded. If Deng were to be traded today, his bonus would be $840K; if he were traded at the trade deadline, it would be $480K. The amount of the trade bonus, if any, would be allocated entirely to this season.

A straight up trade of Deng for Prince would be legal, but only if Deng were to agree to surrender the vast majority of his trade bonus (all but $20K). Deng would therefore effectively hold veto power over such trade discussions.  Read more…

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