ORLANDO — Other than meeting with Gordon Hayward on Saturday, things have been fairly quiet for the Heat since free agency began.
But are we overlooking that fact that James Johnson, who is one of Miami’s free agents, made time to help the Heat in their recruiting session with Gordon Hayward? Does that mean Johnson will be back with the Heat next season?
We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).
@Gomezzed: The fact that James Johnson was one of the players at the Heat’s meeting with Gordon Hayward, does that tell us James has a silent deal with Miami?
Anthony Chiang: I wouldn’t go that far because you never know what can happen in free agency. Another team could offer James Johnson a three-year deal worth $50 million that’s too good to pass up. So never assume a deal is done before it’s actually done. The fact is that Johnson is still a free agent looking for the first big contract of his NBA career. With that disclaimer out of the way, it’s certainly a good sign that Johnson was one of the players who made time to attend the recruiting session Saturday. It’s pretty uncommon for free agents to help a team recruit another free agent. That’s pretty much what Johnson did, and it shows just how much he appreciates the Heat organization and just how much he wants to be back in Miami next season. While Johnson’s presence Saturday doesn’t mean that it’s a lock for him to return to the Heat, it’s definitely a good sign that he spent the first day of free agency helping Miami and not meeting with other teams. And remember, it helps all parties involved that Johnson and Hayward share the same agent in Mark Bartelstein.
@MResto6: If the Heat don’t pick up Wayne Ellington’s option and can trade Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, what would be their total cap space available?
Anthony Chiang: Well, let’s go through this scenario. Right now, the Heat have about $35 million in cap space once Chris Bosh’s contract is removed from their books. That number does not include Wayne Ellington’s $6.3 million salary for next season, so letting him walk won’t affect the Heat’s $35 million in space. But that number does include the $6 million cap hit of Josh McRoberts and the $2.7 million cap hit of Justise Winslow. Let’s say Miami finds a way to trade McRoberts and Winslow without picking up any salary in return (probably unlikely), the Heat would be dumping $8.7 million. Add $8.7 million to Miami’s $35 million in cap space and the Heat would then have about $43.7 million available to spend this summer. That’s more than enough to fit Gordon Hayward’s projected $29.7 million max salary for the 2017-18 season under the cap. It would leave the Heat with about $14 million to spend even after signing Hayward. That can be used to retain either James Johnson or Dion Waiters.