As Heat president Pat Riley mulls what kind of contract terms to offer James Johnson and Dion Waiters – if Riley cannot land Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin in free agency - here’s one thing he knows he needs to consider: whether to tie up all of Miami’s cap space in 2018, when LeBron James, Paul George, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook and Isaiah Thomas can all become free agents.
The cap, rising to $99 million this offseason, is projected to increase to only $103 million in 2018-19, perhaps slightly less.
The Heat, once Chris Bosh is removed from its cap, will have $65.1 million committed for 2018-19: Hassan Whiteside ($24.4 million), Goran Dragic ($18.1 million), Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million) and Justise Winslow ($3.4 million team option, with a decision due by the start of this coming regular season). That’s $65 million.
But if the Heat signs Waiters and Johnson to multiyear deals, that could add perhaps $22 million to $28 million in 2018-19 cap commitments, leaving the Heat with between $87 million and $93 million in commitments. Throw in another $5 million in cap holds (or players at the minimum or perhaps Rodney McGruder or Okaro White), and that brings Miami close to the cap.
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And if the Heat keeps Josh Richardson, who would be a restricted free agent next summer, Miami could be completely capped out. (More on this in a moment.)
Should the potential of not being able to bid for a whale in 2018 (without dumping salary) be enough to keep Riley from offering multiple years to Johnson or Waiters?
Probably not, because the Heat could always create cap space next year by dealing Johnson, whose contract spikes after next season, or somebody else.
And that certainly won’t deter Riley from pursuing Hayward and Griffin this summer.
But the matter at least needs to be considered. Beyond the six aforementioned high-end players, others eligible for free agency in 2018 include DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony and Danny Green (all have player options), Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors.
As for Richardson, he’s eligible to receive a four-year contract for as much as $43-to-$44 million after July 1.
I expect discussions between the parties after July 1, but it would be surprising if Richardson accepts that.
He could command more than that as a 2018 restricted free agent if he plays like he did in the second half of his rookie year (when he led the league in three-point shooting percentage) or over the Heat’s final six games last season (15 points per game, 14 steals, eight blocks).
• For what it’s worth, the Clippers’ Griffin listed New York, Phoenix, Toronto and Boston as his favorite NBA cities in an interview with Pardon My Take. The Celtics reportedly plan to pursue both Hayward and Griffin.
• The Heat received mediocre grades from several networks on the Bam Adebayo draft pick, but a scout for another NBA team told me that Adebayo is a “terrific pick. Can really defend, has a jump hook. Quality individual. Has more face up offense than we've seen. Our people think he can make a 15 footer. Can drive. Good athlete. Good defender, can guard multiple positions. Can move his feet. He is going to be a 10-year pro.”
• Among the Heat’s post-draft additions to its summer league teams, the scout said Virginia guard London Perrantes has the ability to be an NBA player. The Heat also added two players of the year in their respective conferences last season: Colorado State 6-4 guard Gian Clavell (from Hialeah Gardens High) and Monmouth 5-8 guard Justin Robinson.... Here are other Heat summer leaguers... Pittsburgh forward Jamel Artis, who reportedly had agreed to play for the Heat’s summer league team, instead will play for the Knicks, according to ESPN New York. The Knicks gave him a partial guarantee.
Please click here for my post tonight on some potentially worrisome Dolphins news.