Mar 16, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (left) talks with teammates guard Dwyane Wade (center) and forward LeBron James (tight) during the second half against the Houston Rockets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Retooling The Heat

Now that the dust has settled on the 2013-14 NBA season, it’s time for the Miami Heat to focus on the offseason and look for ways to improve their roster.

Of course, a major factor in that are the decisions that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have to make on whether they’re going to exercise the opt-out options on their respective contracts. Opting-in would actually limit the Heat on what roster upgrades they can do, as their contracts equal $61,228,000. Include Udonis Haslem more than likely opting-in to his player option ($4,620,000) and Norris Cole’s deal ($2,150,188) and those 5 players will cost Miami just under $68 million. The projected cap is slated to go up to $63.2 million, so the Heat are already over that.

On Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported that the only way that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh would accept pay-cuts would be if the money went to improving the roster, and not so the Heat can alleviate their tax bill (tax line is projected to be at $77 million). The only way that can happen is by all three opting-out. Wade has the most to lose by opting-out, as he is slated to make $43 million the next two years, money he might not see if he ops-out for a new deal.

So how do the Heat get to retooling the roster? Well, this will take a group effort.

(All figures I come up with are purely my own opinions of what is a viable option.)

Restructuring the Big Three

This isn’t going to be easy, by any means.

First is having to convince Wade to accept a pay-cut, and how much money he’s willing to sacrifice. He’s 32 years old and has been dealing with various ailments the past few years. He missed 29 games because of the Heat’s maintenance program, which was supposed to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Well, he ran out of gas in the Finals. Miami can’t be put in a position to overpay someone who is going to be forced to sit a third of the season. But he’s been the face of the franchise and is an important part of what brought this together.

I’d probably offer a 4 year, $56 million ($14 million/yr) deal. This pays him an additional $13 million until the age of 36. In essence, this acts as a quasi-Kobe deal, as Wade gets more money at the end of his run as a sign of appreciation.

Bosh might not be worth a max-deal, but he has been an important part of this run. He has made statements saying he would take less to keep the band together. Maybe something like 5 years, $85 million ($17 million/yr) would work.

As for LeBron, there’s two ways of going about this.

One, he can just opt-in for one year and get his $20 million for 2014-15 and let things play out before committing long-term.

The second option is he gets a 5 year, $95 million ($19 million/yr) from the Heat, with early-termination options after years 2-4. This will allow him flexibility to walk away if he feels the Heat aren’t doing right by him.

Let’s say he goes with the latter and we total the figures up, the Big Three are locked in for the 2014-15 season at a combined $50 million. Throw in Cole’s figure and now we’re up to $52,150,188 for those four players. With the projected cap at $63.2 million, we have some money to play with.

Oh wait, there’s one issue that needs to be dealt with.

The awkward problem of Udonis Haslem

Haslem has been the soul of the team since his arrival in 2003. Fans love him and the Big Three all respect him. You can’t just discard him. But his player option throws a snag into this plan.

Maybe he’ll see the big picture and decide on not taking the option, but expects to be taken care of. How does 4 years, $8 million sound? He’s not getting $2 million a year on the open market, so he’ll make some more money and stay home. He and Wade can stay together until the end.

If this is successful, the Heat are now up to $54,150,188 in salaries. This leaves us with $9,049,812 million in cap space. Let’s see what we can possibly spend that on.

Free Agent Possibilities

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports


Carmelo Anthony, SF/Knicks:

Kyle Lowry, PG/Raptors: The biggest, most realistic prize for the Heat. Rumors popped up about there being mutual interest between both parties. He developed nicely this year, showing off his aggressive tendencies as someone that can attack the paint, guard opposing point guards, and run the offense for a Toronto team that surprised many by winning the Atlantic Division. Miami lacked those attributes from their point guards in the Finals. Lowry would allow LeBron to play off ball and limit him from doing so much. Plus when LeBron is on the bench, Lowry is more than capable to run the offense.

Money will be an issue, as Lowry played extremely well (17.9 ppg, 7.4 apg) after bouncing around the league for a few years. He’ll probably want to maximize the amount of money he can get (rumors say he could get $11 million, per year), so the Heat offering $8-9 million might not get it done. The Heat could tweak their offers to the Big Three if they feel they have a strong shot at signing Lowry. Lowry’s chances of playing for a contender increase greatly with a move to Miami.

Trevor Ariza, SF/Wizards: Front and center during the Wizards run in the playoffs, Ariza improved as a wing defender, as well as refine his perimeter game. He’s essentially become a much, much better version of what the Heat hoped to get out of Shane Battier. Much like Lowry, Ariza might want to cash in on his 2013-14 season (14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals), and Washington has cap space to take care of him and Marcin Gortat. But the Wizards do have the third pick of the 2013 Draft, Otto Porter, waiting for his chance, yet the Wizards seemed down on him. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.

Spencer Hawes, C/Cavaliers: File this one under “mildly intriguing”. The Heat got burned by the Spurs’ big men because of their ability to pass the ball with great efficiency. Well, that’s what Hawes can do (3 assists per game). He also has an ability to stretch the floor (42% from downtown, in 2013-14), as well as a solid rebounder (8.3 per game) and shot blocker (1.2). Versatile big man are hard to come by, so price could be an issue.

Long shots

Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) is defended by Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews (2) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler Parsons, SF/ Rockets: Beyond intriguing. Parsons has proven to be a good shooter, with good athleticism on the wings. He’s awful defensively, so he’s going to have to be hidden. Otherwise, he fits in well as a viable option for the Heat. Wade might have to slide into a Manu Ginobili role as a sixth man (I’m sure convincing him to take less money AND coming off the bench would be a delightful conversation) to make this work.

Downside? He’s a restricted free agent, so Houston has the right to match any offer. Thing is, the Rockets are trying to make a play for Carmelo Anthony and need money available for him. Houston is trying to move the albatross contracts of Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik so they could sign Carmelo and Parsons, but this is going to need to get done by ASAP. An immediate $8-$10 million offer from a contender could make the Rockets sweat, if they’re not able to create the necessary cap flexibility to pull off the signing of both he and Carmelo. It’s a dice roll.

Greg Monroe, PF/C, Pistons: I’m biased towards Monroe, as I think he’d be perfect as an interior presence for the Heat. He took a bit of a step back this past season, but he had to deal with the flaming pile of garbage that was the Pistons. Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Josh Smith just couldn’t work. I think a change of scenery would benefit him.

Same issues as Parsons – he’s a restricted free agent – so Detroit can match any offer. Do the Pistons give it a whirl one more time or let him move on? Also, will Monroe look to try and break the bank? If that’s the case, Miami isn’t going to work.

Filling out the roster

Assuming the Heat get one of the above – they’re not going to be left with a lot. Since they’ve paid the luxury tax the last three years, Miami won’t have the full Mid-Level Exception. However, they have the tax-payer Mid-Level Exception ($3.28 miillion) at their disposal. Someone like a Shawn Marion or Patrick Patterson could be an option for this. Either way, the Heat are using that exception.

Now the Heat would be over $66 million, after using the exception and if someone is willing (drunk?) enough to take the remainder of the Heat’s space. That’s seven players. The rest of the roster is filled out with minimum salary veterans – up to $1.4 million, depending on a player’s tenure (options include, but not limited to: Michael Beasley, Greg Oden, Ray Allen, Vince Carter, and Mike Miller) – plus a first round draft pick. This will get them over the tax line, but Heat management is going to have to give a little to make this work.

I don’t know how this will play out, but it can be done. A lot of my hypothetical offers probably would need for players to weigh the cost of winning over money. It’s just going to take some work from all parties to make it happen.

Good thing the Miami Heat are known for hard work.

Cap information via Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap FAQ blog. Free agent list and team salaries via HoopsHype

Tags: Chris Bosh Commentary Dwyane Wade Free Agency Lebron James Miami Heat Rumors

  • mike brocaglia

    Its so crazy…… just might work. If they could sign Lowry and Hawes, it would solve alot of the holes in the roster. But bosh and wade would have to take HUGE pay cuts. But thay is what it takes to win.

  • MichaelNupe Thompson

    Wish you would’ve made a depth chart with the presumed signings.
    Lowry, Cole
    Wade, Allen,
    LeBron, Beasley
    Bosh, Haslem
    Hayes, Oden
    If possible, not likely

  • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

    Let’s try another set of salaries assuming Haslem lets you take care of him with a front office position:

    Wade 12
    Bosh 15 (he’s said he is willing to sacrifice much more readily than most players. not entirely unrealistic)
    LeBron 18 (same number he came for in 2011)
    Cole at 2 million

    That puts you at 47 million with 16 million in wiggle room. Lowry at let’s say $11 million.

    Use the other five million to pick up a legitimate center that is more than a space filler.

    Mini-midlevel on Thabo Sefolosh (40% 3 point shooter for 2 years before falling off this year).

    Minimum salary guys.

    Lowry, Cole, Douglas
    Wade, Allen, Sefolosha
    LeBron, Sefolosha, Beasley
    Bosh, Lewis, Beasley
    Center (not figured out who I would go after with the money), Bosh, placeholder (Oden?)

    I believe that puts you somewhere in the range of $76 million to $80 million which wouldn’t result in a completely insane tax figure.

    This gives your roster some key things it hasn’t had like a true point guard to run the offense and create, an elite wing defender so James isn’t always taking the toughest defensive assignment, and a rim protecting center to enable a more conservative defense that isn’t so energy intensive.

    At the same time you still have the flexibility to go small with Bosh at center with Lewis at the 4… but you can also move James to the 4 without sacrificing size or defense on the wing because Sefolosha can better fill James’ defensive role than Ray Allen.

    This team would be better offensively. it would be better defensively. It would place less burden on James to be the best player in every phase at all times. It would lower Bosh’s burden of playing out of position at the 5. It would lower the impact of Wade missing time by adding an offensive creator at point guard and depth at shooting guard. It would have more flexibility to adapt to the opponent.

    This is obviously something approaching the absolute best case scenario and would require players to make some very difficult sacrifices on their salaries, but I’m not sure its completely unrealistic. James makes enough money in endorsements that his legacy is probably more financially valuable than a percentage of yearly salary. Wade has much at stake financially in continuing to compete for championships (those endorsements dry up real quick when you stop winning and play inconsistently). Bosh doesn’t get the same level of third party money, but he seems more than willing to sacrifice.

    Of course if Wade and Haslem both opt in to combine for something like 40% of the salary cap, James would be pretty crazy to stay instead of getting similar money elsewhere to play with better support.

  • Logan Stout

    I love the idea of guys like Ariza. Great player that can keep points on the board when LeBron is out same with Lowry.
    There are some guys that I think could surface to be options for Miami that some people may not be thinking of.
    Number one is Pau Gasol, he’ll be looking for less money on a contender because of the amount he’s already made in his career and he’s said he’s looking for a contender.
    Marcin Gortat. Just sticking with the big man idea, he’s clearly wanted by Washington but I find it hard to think he’ll be expecting them to compete for a title.
    Jameer Nelson. There have been a lot of rumors stating that the magic may go ahead and cut Nelson before July 15 and Miami seems to be a good option for him. They don’t need a score first PG as much as they need shooters. Nelson can shoot and defend.
    Nick Young. To me that’s one of the sexiest pick ups they could go after. He’s a tall SG that did well last year even tho he was a ball hog in LA he still shot 43% and averaged over 17ppg. This guy could be going for the same money we’ve been handing Chalmers at 4-5 mil.
    Wouldn’t be surprised if Miami went after a number of guys like Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Ramon Sessions

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      I think Ariza has too much positional overlap with James to make him worth the investment it would take to get him.

      Gasol and Nelson are too old to add to this core. Keep in mind that the Heat are trying to get younger and more athletic. If the big 3 do opt out to make any of these options viable, this will be the last time they have a chance to pick up talent in the next four years That means they need to lock into players that will still be worth their 2014-15 contracts in 2018.

      Gortat would be a phenomenal get, but I suspect Washington plans to pay him more than he is probably worth which would drive the price too high compared to his value.

      Lowry seems like the absolute best possible get of the players that are on the market, even more so than Anthony.. He should be able to knock down around 40% of his threes if LeBron is getting him some open looks, and he certainly gives them a primary ball handler to take some pressure off of LeBron and fill the gap when Wade is out.

      • Logan Stout

        The more I look at it the more I like the idea of Nick Young because he’s going to be so cheap. Same with Lowry, but I’m not sold he’d take the cut he needs to take to stay on in Miami.
        The old guys are going to play for Miami, we should just embrace it. They’ll sign for a year or two and they’ll be there to help win a title. I don’t think Miami can play the half court ball another year without a guy to stay home on defense and score in the post on offense. It has been fine for the first 3 without it, but this finals showed so much lack of defensive paint presence.. Which is weird because their paint defense was good except it made them have to trap on the drive and it left gaps all over the court.

        • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

          Obviously they’re going to want to fill out the roster with veterans that are willing to take a pay cut to compete for championships. My point is that you need those veterans to be at the minimum after you use your cap room and mini-midlevel to pick up role players that can be with the team for 3-4 years without needing to be replaced again.

          You aren’t going to have the cap room in two years to replace them. This rebuilding project only has the potential to work because everyone comes off the books at the same time. Two years from now that won’t be the case.

  • bobbybouche305

    Livingston from Brooklyn at Chalmbers rate 4 mill ,even swap….and g.Monroe finally a center!!