Kendrick Nunn on his Heat summer debut
The Heat had roster decisions to make this week.
The first was made Monday when the Heat waived forward Yante Maten, whose guarantee was set to increase from $100,000 to $150,000 for next season if he was not released by Thursday.
The other decisions came Thursday, when the Heat decided — as expected — to not waive forward Derrick Jones Jr. and guard Kendrick Nunn before their guarantee deadlines, according to a league source.
Since Jones and Nunn were kept on the Heat’s roster past Thursday’s guarantee date, Jones’ full $1.6 million salary for next season became guaranteed and Nunn’s $50,000 guarantee increased to $150,000 for next season. Nunn’s guarantee jumps to $450,000 if he’s on the Heat’s opening-night roster, and his full $1.4 million 2019-20 salary becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster in January.
It’s not a surprise that Miami opted to commit to Jones’ full salary, as the 22-year-old is expected to be a consistent part of the rotation next season. The high-flying 6-7 forward, who went undrafted out of UNLV in 2016, averaged career highs in points (7), rebounds (4) and minutes (19.2) while playing in a career-high 60 games (14 starts) last season.
But Nunn, who turns 24 on Saturday, entered the summer with less certainty regarding his future with the Heat until he opened eyes during summer league play in July. The combo guard was named to the NBA Summer League First Team, averaging 22 points while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent shooting on threes, 4.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists in six summer league games.
Nunn is on track to, at the very least, be part of the Heat’s roster when it opens training camp in late September. He’s also a top candidate to fill one of the final spots on the regular-season roster.
The Heat’s other player on a partially guaranteed contract, forward Duncan Robinson, is likely to make the Heat’s regular-season roster, unless he’s traded. He has already been guaranteed $1 million of his full $1.4 million salary for next season, and the rest of his salary becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster in January.
To sign any free agent, including Udonis Haslem, the Heat needed to release a player on a nonguaranteed/partially guaranteed contract or make a trade that shed salary. Miami opened that possibility by releasing Maten this week.
The Heat’s roster includes 13 players under standard NBA contracts.
The Heat is likely to open the season with a 13- or 14-player roster due to the hard cap it is operating under because of the sign-and-trade acquisition of Jimmy Butler. Miami now stands a little more than $2 million below the $138.9 million hard cap, which is enough room to sign a veteran such as Haslem to the minimum.
Haslem is still deciding whether to return for a 17th NBA season or retire. If Haslem returns and signs a one-year, $2.6 million veteran minimum contract with Miami, he will count about $1.6 million against the hard cap.
The Heat currently has 11 players under guaranteed contracts: Butler (a 2019-20 salary of $32.7 million); Goran Dragic ($19.2 million); James Johnson ($15.3 million); Kelly Olynyk ($13.1 million); Justise Winslow ($13 million); Dion Waiters ($12.1 million); Meyers Leonard ($11.3 million); Tyler Herro ($3.6 million); Bam Adebayo ($3.5 million); Jones ($1.6 million) and KZ Okpala ($898,000).
Along with the two players under partially guaranteed contracts (Nunn and Robinson), the Heat also signed Kyle Alexander, Jeremiah Martin and Chris Silva to Exhibit 9 and 10 contracts, which includes an invitation to training camp and leaves open the possibility for all three to eventually play for Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. The Heat still has not filled either of its two two-way contract spots.
NBA teams are allowed to carry a maximum of 20 players up until the start of the regular season, when the limit is cut to 15. The current Heat roster includes 16 players.