Should the Miami Heat match Nets’ Tyler Johnson offer?

Nov 27, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) drives around New York Knicks guard Jerian Grant (13) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 27, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) drives around New York Knicks guard Jerian Grant (13) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Nets offered Tyler Johnson $50 million. The Miami Heat have 72 hours to match. Should they?

Dwyane Wade, the greatest player in Heat history, will wear another uniform next year. We are all still in shock. Unfortunately, there is no time for Miami Heat executives to process the loss of Dwyane Wade.

With only six players under contract and $20 million in cap space, the Heat have to make decisions on the roster for next season.

No decision is more immediate than deciding whether or not to match the Nets’ $50 million offer for combo guard Tyler Johnson.

Under the Net’s offer,  Johnson would make $5.6 million next season, $5.9 million in 2017-18, $18.9 million in 2018-19, and $19.6 million in 2019-20.

The weird rules of the salary cap mean Johnson’s salary is averaged for the Nets – it counts as $12.5 million per year against the cap. But, for the Heat the actual salary is the amount used against the cap. For the Heat, the last two years of the contract amount to a poison pill.

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Even with the anticipated higher salary cap, $18 million should be the salary for a high end starter, border line all-star. Johnson is a solid role-player, but does not project as an all-star.

The Heat reached out to Johnson’s camp immediately after Wade’s decision, probably hoping to structure a more team friendly contract. However, early Thursday morning, Johnson signed the Nets offer sheet. The Heat now have 72 hours to match the offer.

Whether or not the Heat match depends on two factors. First, the Heat have to estimate Tyler Johnson’s potential. Having had Tyler Johnson for two years, they are in the best position to evaluate. If they believe Tyler Johnson projects as a sixth man of the year caliber player, then it makes sense to match.

Second, the Heat have to decide how much they are willing to gamble on landing marquee free agents next year. If the Heat can land two stars, and believe Johnson is a high end role player, then Johnson’s backloaded contract could actually be an advantage in building a championship team.

Next summer, for the Heat, Johnson would only occupy $6 million in cap space, still leaving ample room to chase one or even two near-max players. Having a quality bench is helpful in luring talent. But, if the Heat don’t land the marquee free agents next summer, any future pursuits of stars would be hamstrung by Johnson’s contract.

It’s a tough decision to make. But, I do not think the Heat should match the offer sheet. The Heat should be able to acquire players of Johnson’s caliber for less than $50 million. What do you think? Should the Heat match the Nets offer?

After writing this article, the Heat signed D league guard Rodney McGruder to a 3-year, partially guaranteed contract. To me, this development indicates the Heat are probably not going to match the Nets’ offer.