Miami Heat | Looking ahead

Top issues looming for Miami Heat during free agency

 
Loading...
 
Miami Heat center Chris Bosh hugs Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade as Miami Heat forward LeBron James looks on late in the fourth quarter. The Spurs host the Heat at the AT&T Center in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Miami Heat center Chris Bosh hugs Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade as Miami Heat forward LeBron James looks on late in the fourth quarter. The Spurs host the Heat at the AT&T Center in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, June 15, 2014.
Charles Trainor Jr. / Staff Photo
WEB VOTE Heat guard Dwyane Wade is set to earn $20 million next season. Is he worth it?

bjackson@miamiherald.com

Herald sports writer Barry Jackson examines looming issues for the Miami Heat, with free agency beginning July 1

The Big Three

As part of their six-year contracts, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have early termination clauses that can be exercised either this summer or next summer.

If they stick to those contracts and eschew free agency, James and Bosh would each make $20.6 million in 2014-15 and $22.1 million in 2015-16. If Wade does not exercise his early termination clause, he would be paid $20.2 million in 2014-15 and $21.7 million in 2015-16.

If all three decide to become free agents this summer and re-sign with the Heat, James and Bosh would be required to take very slight pay cuts next season (to $20 million) — under terms of the labor agreement — but would each be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for as many as five years and $115.1 million.

Wade would be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for four years and a maximum of $87.2 million, but he realistically likely would not command anywhere close to that if he opts out.

If James and Bosh exercise their early termination clauses and join other teams, they would be eligible to sign four-year contracts for as much as $85.5 million.

Wade and Bosh have both said they want to remain with the Heat but have not said whether they will exercise their early termination clauses. Bosh, in fact, has said all three players want to stay together.

James declined to discuss his future when asked Sunday night.

Birdman decision

Chris Andersen plans to bypass his $1.4 million player option and become a free agent, Yahoo! reported Monday.

Who remains under contract if the Big Three become free agents

Udonis Haslem has a player option for $4.6 million that he said he plans to exercise, unless the Heat convinces him to take a pay cut in exchange for a multiyear commitment. Norris Cole has a guaranteed contract at $2.15 million next season. Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal for $816,482.

Heat free agents

Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Toney Douglas and Shane Battier all have expiring contracts. Battier is retiring.

Salary cap situation

If the Big Three do not exercise opt-out clauses, then the Heat will be operating above the projected $63.2 million cap and will be limited to signing outside players only to the minimum (topping out at $1.4 million) or with its $3.27 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

The Heat might not even necessarily use the taxpayer midlevel exception in this scenario because it faces an onerous “repeater” luxury tax because it has surpassed the luxury tax threshold at least three of the past four seasons.

But if at least one of the Heat’s Big Three decides to become a free agent this summer, then the Heat would have cap space. That space would immediately evaporate if the player who opts out re-signs with the Heat for a 2014-15 salary in the range of $15 million or more.

The only way the Heat could achieve meaningful cap space to add a high-impact, costly free agent would be if one or more of the Big Three leave or if James, Wade and Bosh all accept large paycuts. In this scenario, the Heat could not exceed the $63.2 million cap except to sign players to the minimum. Miami also would have a $2.7 million “room” salary cap exception in this scenario.

Available outside unrestricted free agents that would probably be too costly unless one of the Big Three leaves or all three take pay cuts

That list includes Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat, Boris Diaw, Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza and possibly Paul Pierce, Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jordan Hill. Nevertheless, Pat Riley always thinks big and the Heat likely will make calls to several of them.

Available outside unrestricted free agents that would be more affordable

The Heat likely will explore point guard options from a group including Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Devin Harris and Shaun Livington, among others.

At least one more wing player is expected to be added, with dozens available in free agency, including Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler, Rodney Stuckey, Vince Carter, Al Harrington, Jordan Hamilton and Jimmer Fredette. Because of amnesty rules, the Heat is not permitted to sign free agent Mike Miller anytime before July 2015, when his original Heat contract was due to expire.

Among power rotation players, players in the Heat’s price range figure to include Chris Kaman, Emeka Okafor, Kris Humphries, Elton Brand, Nazr Mohammed, DeJuan Blair, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Aaron Gray, Matt Bonner and Drew Gooden.

The draft

The Heat has the 26th and 55th selections in the June 26 draft. Because Miami traded its first-round pick last year, it is not permitted to trade its 2014 first-rounder before it selects a player. But the Heat is permitted to draft a player on behalf of another team and trade that player after the draft. The first-round pick will cost $958,100 against the salary cap.

The Heat’s two draft picks and other prospects will play for Miami’s summer league team that will compete in Orlando and Las Vegas in July. Among other prospects expected to be on those teams: small forward James Ennis, the Heat’s 2013 second-round pick who played in Australia this past season.

Read more Miami Heat stories from the Miami Herald

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category