Wayne Ellington isn’t sure what the future holds this summer, but given a choice, he would like to be back with the Miami Heat again next season.
“Obviously that would be a dream come true to me,” Ellington said prior to Game 5 on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. “Stability is key — especially in this business. That’s something I haven't had a lot of in my career. I haven't in any way shape or form hidden how I feel about this organization.
“But, obviously, I know how things work out. We’ll see. We’re still far away from that time. Anything can happen from now until then.”
After producing the most three-pointers in NBA history off the bench and setting a new franchise-record for threes in a regular season (227), Ellington, 30, is bound to get a healthy raise this summer.
The question is whether the Heat, already well over the projected salary cap, will prioritize him or look to reshape its roster entirely.
The Heat has a few options if it wants to keep him.
Because Miami has Ellington’s Early Bird rights, it can offer him up to a four-year contract with annual raises of 8 percent off the first year salary. That would mean the team — as currently constructed — would surpass the cap to pay Ellington 175 percent of his current $6.23 million salary, which would be a deal starting at $10.9 million next season.
Or, Miami could try to trade another player or players for less salary back to create room under the tax to keep Ellington.
Another option: Miami can offer Ellington a $5.5 million taxpayer mid-level exception or a full $8.8 million mid-level exception. But since the Heat has his Bird rights, it makes more sense Miami wouldn't use it to retain him.
What the Heat has to do, though, is weigh Ellington’s true value.
Ellington was the Heat's leading scorer in total points in the fourth quarter in the regular season (287) and the team was 20-8 when he made at least four three-pointers.
In the playoffs, though, the Sixers did a good job not allowing Ellington to beat them. Although he shot slightly better in the playoffs (40 percent, 12 of 30) than his three-point shooting percentage from the regular season (39 percent), Ellington didn't make more than three three-pointers in any playoff game.
“Obviously they've been keyed in on me,” Ellington said prior to Game 5. “They do a lot of switching off screens off the ball, which kind of takes away those actions.”
Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat’s second unit throughout the series, said the fact Miami wasn't able to get Ellington going in the series was one of the things that bothered him the most.
“Once he gets it going,” Wade said, “it opens up everything for everyone and changes the game for us.”
Ellington, who ranked second on the team in plus/minus in the regular season (+127), finished next to last in plus/minus in the playoffs (-44).
Still, does a five-game series outweigh what is accomplished over an 82-game regular season? That’s something Pat Riley will have to decide.
Ellington, who has played for seven different teams, would clearly like to return and give the playoffs another shot with the Heat.
“We’re friends. All these guys here are my brothers,” Ellington said Tuesday after the Heat was eliminated. “We enjoy each other not just in basketball but off the floor, being with each other. We came a long way from starting this thing at 11-30 to making a playoff run so I’m just thankful to be able to be a part of a group of guys like this. It’s rare in this league you get a group of good guys that have that type of bond. I’m grateful for them guys and the coaching in this organization. It’s been a heck of a year. It’s been really fun.”