With the preseason now over and the start of the regular season approaching, the Heat’s roster looks to be set for opening night.
Between Friday and Saturday, the Heat waived four players and awarded two two-way contracts. Miami waived forward Kyle Alexander, and guards Davon Reed, Skyler Flatten and Bubu Palo, and converted the contracts of forward Chris Silva and guard Daryl Macon to two-way deals.
The series of roster moves leaves the Heat with 14 players under standard contract, one fewer than the NBA regular-season maximum of 15 players. Miami also entered last season with 14 players because of its position against the luxury tax, but 2003-04 was the last time it began a season with fewer than 15 players prior to this two-year window.
It’s not a surprise that the Heat are on track to enter Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Grizzlies with 14 players under standard contract because of its position against the hard-cap threshold. Miami stands only about $1 million below the $138.9 million hard cap, which was triggered by the sign-and-trade acquisition of Jimmy Butler.
NBA teams have a 5 p.m. Monday deadline to cut rosters to a maximum of 15 players, which does not include those under two-way contracts. Because of the 48-hour waiver period, teams had to make those moves by 5 p.m. Saturday.
There are no surprises among the 14 players who are set to start the season on the Heat’s roster — Butler (a 2019-20 salary of $32.7 million), Goran Dragic ($19.2 million), James Johnson ($15.3 million), Justise Winslow ($13 million), Kelly Olynyk ($12.7 million), Dion Waiters ($12.1 million), Meyers Leonard ($11.3 million), Tyler Herro ($3.6 million), Bam Adebayo ($3.5 million), Udonis Haslem ($2.6 million), Derrick Jones Jr. ($1.6 million), Duncan Robinson ($1.4 million), Kendrick Nunn ($1.4 million) and KZ Okpala ($898,000).
Along with the hard cap, the Heat is also dealing with the luxury tax.
Miami is currently about $3.8 million above the $132.627 million luxury tax line and faces a $5.7 million penalty that would increase if Waiters and Olynyk meet incentives in their contracts. The Heat has until the end of the regular season to make moves to reduce the tax burden or get completely below the line to avoid paying the penalty.
As for the Heat’s two two-way contracts, those went to Silva and Macon. Two-way contracts allow a player to spend up to 45 days with an NBA team during the G League season and the rest of the time must be spent with the team’s developmental affiliate, and the contract prevents the player from being signed by another NBA team.
The Heat informed Silva of its decision to convert his contract to a two-way deal minutes after Friday’s preseason finale against the Rockets.
Silva, who went undrafted out of South Carolina this year and originally signed with the Heat on July 11, finished the preseason averaging 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 9.8 minutes per game. He played in each of the Heat’s five tune-ups, and his best performance came in the preseason opener with 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Silva, 23, is from Gabon in Central Africa and began living in the United States as a 16-year-old. He has drawn comparisons to another undrafted forward, Udonis Haslem, because of play style and the fact they both played for Frank Martin, who coached Silva with the Gamecocks and Haslem at Miami High.
“In terms of the ferocity, the competitiveness, the aggressiveness on the glass ... yeah, you can make those comparisons,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Silva-Haslem comparisons. “I mentioned that to Chris in one of our film sessions that just the way he approaches the game every single day with that competitive edginess to him is similar to the guy who’s going to have his number retired here.”
The 6-8 and 230-pound Silva is known for his defense, as he was the SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2017-18 and was voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina. He finished his South Carolina career with 1,509 career points, which ranks 10th in program history, and also ranks sixth in rebounds (876), third in free throws made (577) and sixth in blocked shots (186).
Macon, who was originally signed by the Heat on Sept. 20, appeared in four preseason games with Miami. He totaled 13 points, two rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes while shooting 41.7 percent (5-of-12) from the field.
Macon, 23, spent time with the Heat as part of its summer league team in 2018 after going undrafted out of Arkansas. He appeared in seven games (five starts) for Miami’s summer team that year, averaging 7.9 points, 4.7 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 22.4 minutes.
After playing for the Heat’s summer league team, Macon (6-2, 185) opted to sign a two-way deal with Dallas last season.
Macon split last season between the Mavericks and the G League’s Texas Legends. He appeared in 41 games (37 starts) with the Legends, averaging 19 points, 6.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 34.5 minutes while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 83.5 percent from the foul line. He led the team in points (780), assists (254), field goals made (260) and free throws made (192).
Macon also appeared in eight games with the Mavericks, averaging 3.6 points in 11.2 minutes in those games. Dallas waived him on July 26.
“I love it here,” Macon said of the Heat organization. “I came here two years ago. This is where I started off first out of college. I love it here. Great people around, great development team, great coaching staff. I love it all around.”
Silva and Macon are expected to spend most of the season with the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Even after being waived, Alexander, Reed and Flatten can still end up with the Skyforce as three of the four affiliate players the Heat is allowed to designate. Palo can also still play for Sioux Falls because the Skyforce holds his G League rights, as he has spent the past five seasons in Sioux Falls.