Summer agenda: Miami Heat

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The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a 20-year executive with the Nets, offers his thoughts on the offseason plans of NBA teams whose seasons have ended.

THE PLAN GOING FORWARD
The sacrifice of free agency
Along with winning comes sacrifice. In the Heat’s case, the summer free agents on their roster will need to sacrifice if Miami wants its core to return.

Although free agent Hassan Whiteside is the primary focus, the direction the Heat go with free agent Dwyane Wade will set the tone on how Miami constructs its roster.

What will Miami do with Dwyane Wade? (AP)
What will Miami do with Dwyane Wade? (AP)

Salary-cap rules force teams to make a decision on their own free agents before they are able to utilize cap space. In the Heat’s case, even with only $48 million in guaranteed contracts Wade ($29 million hold) and Luol Deng ($13 million hold) have Miami at the salary cap.

Because of Whiteside’s early Bird rights, Miami is limited to paying him a salary that cannot exceed the average player salary (projected to be more than $8 million). With Whiteside looking at a payday close to $21 million, the Heat will be forced to use cap space if they wish to sign him. Whiteside cannot sign a two-year contract using early Bird rights with a player option for the second year and then opt out in 2017 to establish full Bird rights.

If Miami brings back Wade at $15 million, then enough room would be created to sign Whiteside. The Heat will also be able to retain restricted free agent Tyler Johnson and exceed the cap because of early Bird rights. However, in order to create that room for Whiteside, the cap holds of Deng, Joe Johnson and Udonis Haslem would need to be released, making the three unlikely to return. Miami would have only a small portion of cap space ($4 million) and its room mid-level ($2.9 million) to fill out its roster.

The Heat also can emphasize the impact of having no state income tax in Florida. According to sports accountant Robert Raiola, Miami can offer Whiteside a contract starting at $16 million that would net the same amount of money after taxes as signing with the Lakers starting at $18.1 million. Taking that approach would allow the Heat to bring Wade back at $15 million and leave Miami with $10 million in cap space to fill out its roster. It would also give Miami flexibility in 2017 when the cap will approach $109 million.

As Pat Riley and the Heat have shown, do not discount any option when it comes to the salary cap.

The Chris Bosh situation
Miami and All-Star Chris Bosh find themselves in unchartered territory heading toward free agency.

Bosh, who has not played since the All-Star break because of a medical condition, has a $23 million cap hit for 2016-17 and accounts for close to 50 percent of the Heat’s guaranteed salaries for that season.

Chris Bosh last played on Feb. 9 before All-Star weekend. (Getty)
Chris Bosh last played on Feb. 9 before All-Star weekend. (Getty)

With Miami’s cap situation in flux, a resolution on Bosh’s status would play a big role in the Heat’s offseason.

If Bosh does return, Miami gets back an All-Star, but one who has not been able to finish the previous two seasons.

If the Heat and their team of doctors determine that Bosh has a career-ending injury, the following steps could occur.

The Heat could waive Bosh and apply to have his salary excluded.

The salary for Bosh would not be excluded immediately and the Heat would have to wait until Feb. 9, 2017. League rules stipulate that a team must wait one year from the player’s last game.

The one-year waiting period would not help the Heat this summer in free agency. The Heat would go into free agency with Bosh’s $23.7 million cap hit. Although the salary would eventually be excluded, the cap hit would stay on the books when the Heat need relief the most.

Finding value outside of the draft
With a lack of assets and pressed against the luxury tax, the Heat have shown an ability to find under-the-radar players such as Johnson and Whiteside. Both players, originally signed to non-guaranteed contracts in 2014, played key roles in Miami’s success this year and will be coveted in free agency.

For the first time since 2006, Miami will not have a first- or second-round pick in the draft. The Heat also used their remaining cash at the trade deadline, thus eliminating the possibility of buying a second-round pick in June.

The new NCAA rule allowing players to test the waters and stay in the draft will certainly play to the Heat’s advantage, especially for undrafted players with upside who get lost in the shuffle.

With possible open roster spots, a high-level player development staff and an NBA Development League affiliate in Sioux Falls, Miami will have an advantage once the market opens for undrafted players.

TEAM NEEDS
Miami's needs are fluid and based on the free agency of Wade and Whiteside, the health of Bosh and the team's cap-space situation.

If Wade and Whiteside return, the Heat will be limited to address their need for a starting small forward and a replacement for Bosh in case he can’t play.

SUMMER CAP BREAKDOWN

Guaranteed

  2016-17

    Insider info

1. Chris Bosh

  $23,741,060

    None

2. Goran Dragic

  $15,891,725

    None

3. Josh McRoberts

  $5,782,450

    None

4. Justise Winslow

  $2,593,440

    None

Non/Partial

  2016-17

    Guarantee date

5. Josh Richardson

  $874,636

    Aug. 1

6. Briante Weber

  $874,636

    None

FA cap holds

  2016-17

    Free-agent status

7. Dwyane Wade

  $29,317,750

    Full Bird rights

8. Luol Deng

  $13,197,096

    Early Bird rights

9. Udonis Haslem

  $5,424,386

    Full Bird rights

10. Tyler Johnson

  $1,180,431

    Restricted/early Bird rights

11. Amar'e Stoudemire

  $980,431

    Non Bird rights

12. Gerald Green

  $980,431

    Non Bird rights

13. Hassan Whiteside

  $980,431

    Early Bird rights

14. Joe Johnson

  $980,431

    Non Bird rights

15. Dorell Wright

  $980,431

    Non Bird rights

 CAP PICTURE

Guaranteed

   $48,227,334

Non/partial

   $1,530,613

FA cap holds

   $54,021,818

First-round holds

   $0

Minimum holds

   $0

Dead money

   $0

Total

   $103,779,765

Salary cap

   $92,000,000

Cap space

   None ($11,779,765 over) 

PROJECTED CAP SPACE
Even with only $48 million in guaranteed contracts and the salary cap spiking to a projected $92 million, the Heat still find themselves over the salary cap.

With $54 million in free-agent cap holds, Miami will need to address its current free agents before its cap situation.

JUNE DRAFT PICKS
First round: To Philadelphia

Second round: To Boston

FUTURE PICKS
First round
2017: Own

2018: Own or to Phoenix (protected Nos. 1-7)

2019: Own or to Phoenix (unprotected) if no first in 2018

2020: Own

2021: To Phoenix (unprotected)

Key rights to: None

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