MIAMI — There are ways the Heat can manipulate the salary cap to free up additional money to spend this summer.
But restructuring Wayne Ellington’s contract to keep him on the roster while also creating more cap space is not among the feasible options. Although this strategy has been brought up, there’s one problem that will likely prevent the Heat from using it.
Ellington’s $6.3 million salary for next season is non-guaranteed, so the Heat essentially have a team option on whether to bring the sharpshooter back for that price or not. If the Heat want to restructure Ellington’s deal by offering him a new contract with a lower 2017-18 salary but more years, they would first have to waive him to get out of the current deal.
This is where it becomes an issue for Miami. If the Heat waive Ellington, other NBA teams will have 48 hours to pick him up at this reasonable $6.3 million salary and there is nothing the Heat or Ellington can do to prevent that once he’s waived.
Ellington would have to clear waivers unclaimed to restructure his contract with the Heat. This is the only way Miami could re-work Ellington’s deal to allow for more cap space this summer while also retaining him.
So it’s unlikely the Heat will be able to restructure Ellington’s contract without losing him to another team. If Miami needs the money from his contract in free agency, it will probably just have to let him go.
The Heat must decide by July 7 whether to guarantee Ellington’s $6.3 million salary. Ellington averaged 10.5 points and shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range in a bench role for Miami last season.
There is a more feasible option Miami can use to create additional cap space this summer, though. The Heat could decide to release and use the stretch provision on Josh McRoberts’ contract to free up an additional $4 million in cap space.
Instead of McRoberts’ $6 million cap hit next season, the “stretch provision” would split up that burden to a $2 million annual cap hit over the next three seasons and would give the Heat an extra $4 million in cap space this summer.
As it stands right now, Miami is expected to have about $35 million in cap space entering free agency under the new $99 million salary cap projection. If the Heat use the “stretch provision” on McRoberts, that number would grow to about $39 million.