Some Heat nuggets while awaiting Monday night’s home game against Orlando:
▪ We reported in this space last Thursday that the Heat has interest in a trade for Magic impending free agent power forward Serge Ibaka, a report echoed by ESPN’s Mark Stein this past weekend. (Stein mentioned Toronto among other teams that have contacted Orlando.)
And assuming the Heat would not be giving up Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside in such a deal (which it most certainly should not), the move makes sense for this reason:
As heathoops.com’s Albert Nahmad explains in this excellent piece, Ibaka would be on the Heat’s cap next season for less than what he would command in the open market.
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If the Heat acquired Ibaka by the Feb. 23 trade deadline, it would acquire his Bird rights, and his cap hold (and cap hit) for next season would be $18.4 million. By signing him as Miami’s final piece of major business this summer, after using available cap space on others, the Heat could exceed the cap to pay for any of his salary above $18.4 million.
Say the Magic would be willing to take Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts for Ibaka — a deal that would work within parameters of the cap.
And say, as expected, Chris Bosh’s contract is cleared off Miami’s cap, Dion Waiters opts out of $3.1 million next season, Willie Reed opts out of $1.5 million and the Heat terminates Wayne Ellington’s contract (which Miami has the option to do) instead of paying him $6.3 million next season.
The Heat then would be left with the following cap commitments to six players: Whiteside at $23.7 million, Dragic at $17 million, Tyler Johnson at $5.8 million and Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder and Okaro White at each a bit more than $1 million.
Throw in Ibaka’s $18.4 million cap hit — which could even be lower if the Heat starts his next contract at less than that — and that’s about $69 million in cap commitments with a $102 million projected cap.
So that would leave Miami with $33 million in space. Taking out money for a first-round pick and three small cap holds, and that gets you to about $29 million.
That $29 million could get you, in the most optimistic of scenarios, Waiters and James Johnson (should the Heat try to re-sign both) and a small forward such as Rudy Gay (who would love to be in Miami and whose market value could be hurt by a ruptured Achilles). Or more realistically, two of those three, with another backup player as well.
We say could get you because in this inflated market, there’s always a chance some team could offer Waiters or Gay a Luol Deng-type contract ($18 million a year). And we want to see what Waiters does the rest of this season, as the Heat assuredly does, before deciding whether to offer him a lucrative multiyear contract.
It’s also impossible to gauge what Gay could command coming off a major injury. That’s the key. If Gay’s options are limited, and he settles for something less than a deal starting at $10 million from Miami, then keeping Waiters/James Johnson/Gay, plus Ibaka, can’t be ruled out. If Gay is too expensive to keep in addition to Waiters and Johnson, Kyle Korver and Tyreke Evans are other interesting options.
Impending free agents Danilo Gallinari and obviously Gordon Hayward wouldn’t be any cheaper than Gay; Hayward could get a deal starting at $31 million.
The Heat also would have a $4.3 million exception which cannot be combined with cap space. Perhaps that $4.3 million could be enough to keep Reed, depending on how he plays the rest of the season.
So in this hypothetically optimistic scenario, the Heat could have this roster: Whiteside and Reed at center, Ibaka and James Johnson and White and Udonis Haslem at power forward, Gay or swingman Korver or a first-round pick and McGruder at small forward, plus a backcourt group of Dragic, Waiters, Richardson and Johnson.
Of course, the Heat would have less cap space if Orlando refuses to take McRoberts (due $6 million next season) and insists on another useful piece besides Winslow.
But if everything breaks right, the Heat could emerge from Ibaka discussions with a very encouraging future, should both teams choose to pursue a deal built around Winslow.
Ibaka, 27, is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 38.5 percent on threes (82 for 113). He’s earning $12.25 million.
WADE ON HEAT
In a podcast with The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bulls guard Dwyane Wade said the Heat is “still my organization.” He spent his first 13 seasons in Miami before bolting for Chicago and said there’s still interest in his former team.
“I think it’s still there,” said Wade, who can opt out of a contract that would pay him $23.8 million next season. “Like, there’s times where in my mind, if I look at the schedule and if see the Heat is playing someone, say, ‘Heat versus Denver,’ I’m like, ‘Dang, we got Denver?’ It’s in my mind. I mean, 13 years,” Wade told Wojnarowski. “And it’s not even just me, it’s people around me. ‘Hey, man, you coming to the city?’ I’m like, ‘Uh, no, that’s probably the Heat. The Bulls are somewhere else.’ “
Wade also said: “Yes, I follow the Heat. I watch all their games. I check up on them, because at the end of the day it’s still my organization. It’s always going to be my organization in some form, some way, because of what I was able to accomplish there. I want nothing for success for them.”
My colleague Manny Navarro has more interesting comments from Wade, on the Heat, in this post.
▪ Not only is the Heat 13-1 with White a member of the roster, but Miami has outscored teams by 41 points when he’s in the game.
If you’re interested, Don Mattingly this morning addressed a bunch of newsy issues in my piece here, on the eve of the start of the 25th spring training in Marlins history.