Adding talent, and not subtracting it, remains the Heat’s offseason goal, team president Pat Riley reiterated on Friday.
Speaking with reporters via a conference call, Riley said the two-time defending NBA champions “want to win, and we’re going to do everything we can to do that.” That includes possibly using the team’s taxpayer’s exception on a free agent while also keeping Mike Miller and Joel Anthony on the team.
The window for using the collective bargaining agreement’s amnesty clause began Thursday and ends Tuesday, but Riley said using the cost-cutting measure to remove a contract from the Heat’s books isn’t something that owner Micky Arison is currently considering.
“We’re meeting next week prior to that date, but I’m thinking about trying to improve this team and looking for players out there to take that tax-level mid-level,” Riley said.
The current CBA allows teams a one-time “amnesty” provision to cut a player’s contract from its taxable payroll, and it has been speculated that the Heat would cut either Miller or Anthony to save money against the league’s luxury tax. Although Riley didn’t rule it out, he said conversations with Arison have been about upgrading the team rather than sacrificing players to save money.
“Right now, we’re not using amnesty,” said Riley, who later added that Arison “has proven to step up to the plate” in the past.
As it stands, the Heat’s luxury-tax bill after next season would be more than $30 million. Removing the contract of either Miller or Anthony could save the Heat more than $10 million in taxes. Miller or Anthony would still be paid the remainder of their contracts under the amnesty provision.
“What I said at the end of the season is what I meant,” Riley said. “I want to try to keep this team intact as long as we can because we have a championship basketball team here. … I would hate to break it up.”
With Chris Andersen signed on for next season under a veteran’s minimum contract, the Heat still has the taxpayer’s exception at its disposal. The Heat has used that exception (also known as the “mini mid-level” exception) in years past to sign Shane Battier and Ray Allen, two players who greatly contributed to championship runs.
Riley said the Heat already has offered the mini mid-level to a few “perimeter players,” but those players chose to sign elsewhere for more money.
“We’re going to save it and use it if the right player pops up,” Riley said.
Finding the right fit will be difficult. Riley said the team is looking for younger players who could step in and contribute when players like Battier, James Jones and Rashard Lewis retire.
“I’m not talking rookies or draft picks,” Riley said. “Twenty-five or 26-year-old players who can play under them — a taproot that will take [us] into the future.”
While the Heat’s option on the CBA’s amnesty provision ultimately remains unresolved, Riley emphasized that the Heat’s most important offseason objective, signing Andersen, already has been accomplished.
“He’ll be even better for us next year,” Riley said. “It was crucial to keep him, and we’re very fortunate that he stayed.”
After losing to the Pistons on Thursday, the Heat’s summer league team defeated Detroit 90-85 on Friday in Orlando. Point guard Ian Clark led the Heat with 18 points, and D.J. Kennedy made a go-ahead basket with 15.6 seconds left. Heat draft pick James Ennis did not play. Eric Griffin had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with eight rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks in 27 minutes. The Heat finished 3-2 in the NBA’s Orlando Summer League. The team plays the Toronto Raptors’ summer league squad at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday in Las Vegas.