Mailbag: Why is it taking so long for the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington?

Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington (2) attempts a three-point basket as New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, of France, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Miami. (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.

@_SwaggyD305: What’s going on with Wayne Ellington being re-signed? Is it gonna happen?

Anthony Chiang: If I had to guess, I think the Heat will re-sign Wayne Ellington. If Ellington was going to sign elsewhere, it would have happened already. The free-agent money has dried up and there aren’t many teams that still have the cap space to give him the pay raise he’s hoping for. This makes me think there’s been communication between the Heat and Ellington throughout the process. Communication that has led Ellington to remain patient while the Heat figure out their salary-cap situation. With about $120 million committed to 11 players for the upcoming season, Miami is way above the $101.9 million salary cap and very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line. Considering that Ellington is looking for a raise from this past season’s $6.3 million salary, re-signing him would put the Heat above the tax threshold if the rest of the team remains intact. But could a move be coming to facilitate re-signing Ellington? The Heat don’t want to pay an expensive luxury tax bill for a team that’s not considered a title contender. So here’s what I think is going on: Ellington is waiting for the Heat to make a trade to create enough room under the tax line to bring him back at a higher price than they can right now. Miami has Ellington’s early Bird rights, which allows it to exceed the cap to pay him 175 percent of his 2017-18 salary of $6.27 million. That means Miami can offer Ellington a deal starting at $10.9 million, which is the max he can make with the Heat this upcoming season. But I don’t think his new contract will involve a starting salary that high with the Heat’s current salary-cap issues. A starting salary of $8-9 million is more realistic.

@drpablopistola: Hassan Whiteside. What’s the deal?

Anthony Chiang: It sure looks like Hassan Whiteside will start the upcoming season in a Heat uniform. Teams that had a need at center entering the offseason have already found one. The Mavericks signed DeAndre Jordan, the Wizards added Dwight Howard, the Trail Blazers retained Jusuf Nurkic, the Warriors landed DeMarcus Cousins and the Bucks ended up with Brook Lopez. Basically all of the Heat’s potential trade partners for Whiteside now have a center. At this point, it would be a surprise if Whiteside did not start the season with Miami. If the Heat are still determined to trade Whiteside (and they have not addressed whether they are or not), the fact that he’s still owed $52.5 million over the final two years of his contract does not make the task any easier.

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