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A lot of teams talk about how they are a family. Aspire to it. But very few actually live it the way the Miami Heat organization does.
In the sports world of today, the Heat culture is rare. Heat players are nurtured. They are supported. They are disciplined. They remain family members for life (even if, eventually, they move on).
And, sometimes, they are asked to sacrifice personal successes for the greater good — be it with playing time, money, ego, or whatever else is necessary. Heat players have often sacrificed for the benefit of the organization, in ways that few other organizations can claim.
Hassan Whiteside will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He will undoubtedly be asked to make a sacrifice, a financial one, this summer.
He certainly doesn’t need to comply. After all, he’s about to turn 27 years old. He’s made just $3.3 million thus far during his NBA career. And at least one team, if not multiple teams, will surely dangle maximum money at him. That temptation can be hard to resist.
Nobody could reasonably fault Whiteside for acquiescing. Nobody can reasonably fault any player for seeking out as much earning power as he possibly can. NBA careers are short, and can end in a flash.
But the Heat will face a challenge this summer. Even though the salary cap is projected to rise to $92 million, and even though the Heat will start the summer with just $48 million in guaranteed contracts, finding enough room to allocate to Whiteside as well as Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson will be difficult, let alone finding the room to allocate to any potential upgrades on the open market.
The Heat will have more than enough cap space with which to dole out whatever contract Whiteside demands. But with only around $40 million of free cap space, allocation decisions will be both critical and limited. Paying more money to one player could potentially mean sacrificing another.
The question therefore needs to be asked: How can the Heat balance Whiteside’s desire to maximize his earning power with its need to maintain maximum flexibility?
Can the Heat build a contract that accomplishes both needs? Is it even possible? Read more…