Heat begin offseason by declining team option on Jordan Mickey’s contract, making him a free agent

Miami Heat forward Jordan Mickey (25) goes up for a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Johnny O Bryant III during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hornets 109-106. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — With the Heat close to the luxury tax line this offseason, every dollar counts.

That’s one of the reasons Miami’s first roster move of the offseason was to decline the $1.6 million team option on forward Jordan Mickey’s contract, a league source confirmed Thursday to the Palm Beach Post. This decision helps the Heat save money against the luxury tax and opens a spot on the team’s 15-man roster.

Miami now has 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million: center Hassan Whiteside ($25.4 million), guard Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million), guard Goran Dragic ($18.1 million), forward James Johnson ($14.7 million), center Kelly Olynyk ($12.5 million), guard Dion Waiters ($11.6 million), forward/guard Josh Richardson ($9.4 million), forward Justise Winslow ($3.5 million), center Bam Adebayo ($3.0 million) and guard/forward Rodney McGruder ($1.5 million).

That still puts the Heat way above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.

The Heat signed Mickey, who will now be an unrestricted free agent, to a free-agent deal last offseason. The 23-year-old played in a limited role off the bench, averaging 4.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 23 games (three starts) in his only season with the team.

Mickey’s playing time dwindled as the year went on, as he played just 59 minutes after Dec. 30 and didn’t log any postseason minutes.

The Heat also must decide whether to make qualifying offers to two-way contract players Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. by the end of June, which would make them restricted free agents. If Miami decides not to make those offers, they would become unrestricted free agents.

There are now five free agents from the Heat’s 2017-18 season-ending roster: Luke Babbitt, Wayne Ellington, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Mickey.

NBA free agency begins July 1.

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