Mailbag: Why have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?

Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson (8), James Johnson, second from left, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Josh Richardson (0) talk on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 129-102. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — It’s time for another 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). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com.

@Mr_roth_: Will we really sit and do NOTHING in yet another offseason?

Anthony Chiang: Another? If I remember correctly, the Heat have been pretty active the past two summers. Yeah, the Heat missed out on Kevin Durant in 2016 and Gordon Hayward in 2017, but they got meetings with them and were in the race. Plenty of money was spent in free agency the past two offseasons, too.  And if it remember correctly, there’s that summer the Heat signed LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in free agency. But this year is different. This could end up as one of those rare quiet summers for the Heat. Miami has no cap space. Let me repeat that, Miami has NO CAP SPACE. You can question past moves that put the Heat in this position, but if you expected them to be this aggressive participant in free agency this year, I’m sorry. Those expectations weren’t realistic. As it stands right now, it won’t even be easy for Miami to re-sign Wayne Ellington while avoiding an expensive luxury tax bill.

The Heat have 11 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $120 million. That puts Miami way above the $101.9 million salary cap and very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line. With the Heat capped out, they will have to rely on exceptions, minimum contracts, the power of Bird rights or even trades to fill out their roster. Plus, the first few days of free agency is usually reserved for the teams that have money to spend and the Heat are not one of them. But don’t worry, Miami will make some moves soon. The Heat have to with just 11 players under standard guaranteed contracts for next season, and NBA rules requiring teams to carry at least 14 players on standard deals. Miami will try to bring back Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem and Ellington. While the Wade and Haslem situations could take a little while to figure out with both pondering retirement, Ellington’s future should be decided soon. The Heat and Ellington want to make a return work, but the luxury tax is an issue. Miami probably wants to shed some salary if it re-signs Ellington, and that’s likely the reason for the holdup. Heat fans are used to eventful summers, but this is just not set up to be one of them when it comes to free agency. 2020, though, could be that big offseason you’re waiting for. Miami is committed to only about $58 million in payroll for the 2020-21 season, which would leave the Heat with a lot of cap space if they are able preserve most of it. Until then, a trade could always bring a star to Miami. You just never know …

Carlos, Boynton Beach: Are the Lakers even a top-three team in the West after acquiring LeBron?

Anthony Chiang: To me, the top two teams in the Western Conference are clear — the Warriors and Rockets. Then there’s a second tier and that’s where the Lakers are, along with teams like the Thunder, Trail Blazers, Jazz, Pelicans and Timberwolves. That easy Eastern Conference road LeBron took to the Finals for the past eight seasons is gone. Welcome to the West, LeBron.

[What does LeBron James joining the Lakers mean for the Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?]

[Heat summer League preview: Expect to see plenty of Bam Adebayo]

[Heat sign Derrick Jones Jr. to standard contract, pushing roster to 11 players]

[Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19]

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