Miami Heat: 5 key questions to keep an eye on as free agency looms

Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Miami Heat,
Miami Heat, /

Does Pat Riley have a plan for a big move?

Since the regular season began, Pat Riley has been effusive in his goal of landing a star this summer or at least getting in the mix for solid rotational players. Given that the Heat are massively over the salary cap and into the luxury tax, they’re hampered in their ability to even sign rotational players in free agency.

Being over the tax as they are, they can only use the mini mid-level exception, worth $5.7 million in the first year, to sign free agents. They won’t have the bi-annual exception, and can only supplement the mini MLE with veteran minimum signings.

While they can get under the tax in the ways outlined previously, they can’t do it without gutting roster spots which need to be filled. However, if they do get under the tax they will have access to the full MLE, worth $9.26 million, which could be enough for a starter-level player, or at least one of the first couple players off the bench.

There are big splash moves they can make, such as sign-and-trades, but those are tricky and require both the player and the player’s previous team to get on board, and they limit the future financial flexibility of the receiving team (the Miami Heat, in this case) by implementing the hard cap at the $138 million luxury apron, which the Heat are almost certainly going to be treading dangerously near.

Next. Miami Heat Hot Topics: The draft, Jimmy Butler trade packages. dark

Does Riley have a realistic plan? It’s hard to say in the affirmative at this point.