A deadline is looming over the Miami Heat and Justise Winslow.
Oct. 15 is the final day Winslow is eligible to sign a contract extension with the Heat. The versatile wing player is hopeful, but not certain the two sides will agree to an extension by then.
“We’ve been going back and forth, for sure,” Winslow said Tuesday when asked if an offer had been made by the Heat.
Winslow, 22, would become a restricted free agent July 1 if an agreement is not reached by the Oct. 15 deadline, with the Heat having the right to match outside offers.
“I’m going to be in this league for a long time and make a lot of money,” Winslow said, dispelling the notion the looming deadline is a distraction. “The number is going to be a number that I feel is my value. Whether it’s within the next week or so or next summer, I’m going to get what I feel I deserve.”
While Winslow and Miami have less than a week to find a deal on an extension that works, those negotiations have not received the attention the Jimmy Butler trade saga has drawn. The Heat has been involved in trade discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves regarding Butler, who has asked to be traded to Miami.
With Butler still in play, it complicates the Heat’s decision on Winslow’s extension.
Why? First-round picks (Winslow was a first-round pick in 2015) who receive extensions before their fourth NBA seasons are subject to the “Poison Pill Provision,” which would make it difficult to include Winslow in any trade over the next year.
This provision means when that player is traded between the date the extension is signed and the date it takes effect, the player’s trade value for the receiving team is the average of the salaries in the last year of the rookie scale contract and each year of the extension.
If Winslow signs an extension before next week’s deadline, his new contract won’t begin until the start of the 2019-20 season. Winslow is due $3.4 million this season, which is the final year of his rookie-scale contract.
As an example, if the Heat and Winslow agree to an extension that’s worth $40 million over four years, the acquiring team would take him at $8.7 million and Miami would send him out at his current salary of $3.4 million.
Even if a Butler trade doesn’t materialize, investing long-term money in Winslow with an extension would eat into future salary-cap space. The Heat is already committed to about $119 million in salaries for the 2019-20 season without Winslow, and the projected salary cap is set at $109 million.
As currently constructed, the Heat is not projected to have significant salary-cap space until the 2020 offseason.
Allowing a player to enter restricted free agency comes with risks, though. Consider Memphis’ four-year, $37 million deal this offseason with 6-9 small forward Kyle Anderson, an offer the Spurs declined to match.
This is a contract that’s a fair representation of what Winslow could get, with both players having similar statistics.
Anderson averaged 7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 52.7 percent from the field but just 33 percent on threes last season. Winslow averaged 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 38 percent on threes.
The Heat signed Josh Richardson to a four-year, $42 million extension last offseason, a deal that was announced on Sept. 13, 2017. But Winslow is still working to figure out his situation less than a week before the deadline.
Winslow is averaging 10.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in four preseason games this year.
“Everything with Justise is about that evolution, taking on more responsibility, earning more responsibility, exploring the versatility in more ways that will help us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said last month regarding Winslow’s abilities as a point guard. “So I’m open to all of it while he has a balance also of trying to make the game easier and better for other people and playing within the confines of what we’re trying to do offensively. It’s a fine balance. He’s getting it. We have a pretty good vision of what direction it was going last year and we want to build on that and see if we can take it another few steps.”