LAS VEGAS – The Heat is keeping the player who set a record for most three-pointers ever by an NBA non-starter in a season.
Wayne Ellington agreed to re-sign with the Heat on Thursday evening, according to a league source. It’s a one-year deal for $6.27 million – on par with what he earned last season.
Discussions with Ellington dragged on for nearly two weeks because of the Heat’s reluctance to go heavily into the luxury tax.
Ellington’s contract puts Miami about $4 million over the $123 million luxury tax line, but the Heat is willing to pay a small tax. A team’s luxury tax bill is not determined until the final day of the regular season, giving Miami time to continue efforts to get back under the tax.
And the Heat is expected to continue efforts to trim salary, with Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson among those who have been made available, according to a high-ranking executive with another team.
The deal also keeps Miami from adding to its salary commitments in 2019-2020, when Miami already has $119 million committed – above the projected $109 million projected cap for that season.
Ellington had early Bird rights this offseason, which meant the Heat can surpass the cap to pay him 175 percent of his $6.23 million salary this past season, which would have allowed the Heat to pay him as much as $10.9 million next season.
Because he signed a one-year deal and has full Bird Rights next summer, he cannot be traded this season without his permission.
Ellington’s 227 three-pointers this past season were tied for sixth in the NBA and the most in history by an NBA non-starter, and he set the franchise single season record for three-pointers.
Beyond his shooting, the Heat appreciates his character, conditioning, work ethic and efforts to improve his all-around game.
Ellington led the Heat in fourth quarter points in the regular season (287) and the team was 20-8 when he made at least four three-pointers. Ellington ranked second on the team in plus/minus in the regular season, with Miami outscoring opponents by 127 points when he was on the floor.
Ellington, 30, averaged a career-high 11.2 points last season, shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 39.2 percent on three pointers.
At least 10 teams inquired about him during free agency.
Next season, the Heat already has considerable money invested at shooting guard, with Dion Waiters under contract at $12.7 million and Tyler Johnson at $19.2 million. And that doesn’t even include small forward Josh Richardson, a natural shooting guard who’s due to earn $9.4 million – or Dwyane Wade, who’s mulling whether to return and would stand to potentially get the Heat’s $5.3 million exception if he chooses to play.
After the NBA Draft last month, Heat president Pat Riley said of Ellington:
“The guy’s had a great, great two years with us. There’s no doubt that we want to keep him. We’re going to try to find a way to do that. But we’re up against he tax. I think if you add up the numbers, you know what that means. But we’re going to do everything we can do to try to keep him.”
The Heat ultimately did, agreeing to the deal on Thursday evening.
The Heat now has 12 players due guaranteed money next season. Teams can keep as many as 15, plus an additional two players on two-way contracts.
Wade and Udonis Haslem remain free agents, and both have invitations to return. Luke Babbitt and Jordan Mickey are the Heat’s other free agents.
And Miami has shown interest in Carmelo Anthony, who is awaiting his expected exit from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here’s why an ESPN analyst said Miami would be the best option for Anthony.