Why have the Heat been so quiet since start of free agency? An explanation of what’s handcuffing them

Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Bam Adebayo react during the fourth quarter of the Heat’s Game 4 loss against Philadelphia Miami on Saturday. (Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — The looming threat of the luxury tax has seemed to handcuff the Heat so far this offseason.

Paying an expensive tax bill on top of player salaries for a roster that’s not considered a title contender is something NBA teams want to stay away from. And that’s the exact situation the Heat are trying to avoid. Continue reading “Why have the Heat been so quiet since start of free agency? An explanation of what’s handcuffing them”

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. Continue reading “Mailbag: Why is it taking so long for the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington?”

Heat mailbag: Where does Carmelo Anthony fit it with the Heat (if he does at all). That & more on tanking

Carmelo Anthony cheers on his Oklahoma City teammates during the Thunder’s playoff series against the Utah Jazza in April. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – Time for another Miami Heat mailbag

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpost.com.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: Where would Carmelo Anthony fit in with the Heat?

Oklahoma City is moving on from Anthony. The question is how do they part? Will it be a trade? Will OKC stretch the $27.9 million they owe him in the final year of his deal? Do the two sides agree to a buyout?

The later two scenarios would make Anthony a free agent and available to any team – presumably for the $3.4 million veteran minimum – including the Heat.

Does an Anthony deal make sense for the Heat?

Miami has two obstacles. First, with 11 players due about $120 million, the Heat are about $18 million over the cap and just $4 million shy of the luxury tax line, something Pat Riley is trying to avoid crossing. Without any other moves, Anthony would put you closer to that luxury tax line, and that’s without Wayne Ellington, Dwyane Wade or Udonis Haslem under contract. And if Anthony wants to come to the Heat, one of the biggest reasons would be to play alongside his friend, Wade.

Secondly, the Heat’s roster is lacking great players but has an excess of good players who could be in the rotation. The 6-foot-8 Anthony played most of his minutes at power forward last season which means coach Erik Spoelstra would have to find minutes for Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and Anthony in the power rotation. And if the thought is to give Anthony more minutes at small forward then he’s competing with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. for playing time.

As for his role in Miami, Anthony would step in as one of the top scoring options and the Heat would find a way to hide his defensive deficiencies.

Unless a third team is involved, and Atlanta really is the only one with enough cap space, the Thunder likely are not going to trade Anthony to the Heat because Miami would then have to match Anthony’s salary in the deal and that does nothing to help OKC reduce its mammoth luxury tax bill.

So, for the Heat to sign Anthony, they need to make a trade that not only would shed salary but also include a player or two, especially one of the power forwards. Ideally, enough cap space is created to fit in Anthony, Wade and Ellington.

The best fit among the three teams linked to Anthony is Houston. There, he also gets to play with one of his friends, Chris Paul, but more importantly, he’d replace Trevor Ariza, who signed with the Suns, although it is not ideal considering Ariza is a small forward. Anthony’s role in Houston would be similar to what is was in OKC as the third option.

As for the Lakers, yes, Anthony also is close to LeBron James, but the Lakers have an overabundance of players up front. The plan is to play James at power forward with Kyle Kuzma coming off the bench. We know James will play 36-38 minutes a game. Signing Anthony could cut into Kuzma’s minutes, something the Lakers do not want to do after he had such a strong rookie season.

From DjHitbwoy: Is this the perfect season for the Miami Heat to trade and tank? With us having a 2019 first round pick we can look forward to drafting Zion Williamson and try trading Whiteside contract to LA Clippers

Didn’t we hear enough of this in 2017 when fans wanted the Heat to go against everything the franchise stands for an tank after that 11-30 start? The Heat never will enter a season with the objective to lose as many games as possible and hope for a high pick. Trading Hassan Whiteside will be challenging and may not happen this summer. If not, the Heat will work tirelessly with Whiteside to improve his game with the hopes of moving up in the standings.

[Heat’s Dan Craig named assistant for USA National Team camp]

[Heat not worried about Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot. ‘What’s important to us is he’s playing defense’ – Eric Glass]

[Heat video room has produced long line of successful NBA coaches, executives – is Eric Glass next?]

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As Wayne Ellington watch continues, an updated look on where Heat and Ellington stand

Miami Heat guard Wayne Ellington prepares to take a free throw during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Miami. The Kings defeated the Heat 89-88. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

MIAMI — While Wayne Ellington is pursuing the biggest payday of his career, the Miami Heat are trying to avoid an expensive luxury-tax bill.

Both sides are justified. Ellington earned the opportunity to sign the most lucrative contract in his life with a career-best season in 2017-18 and the Heat have every reason to do everything they can to avoid paying the luxury tax for a roster that’s not considered a title contender right now. Continue reading “As Wayne Ellington watch continues, an updated look on where Heat and Ellington stand”

What’s in store for the Miami Heat this offseason? A roster breakdown with a look at what’s next for each player

MIAMI — The Heat entered the offseason with a lot of questions surrounding their roster and very little financial flexibility to make significant changes.

Excluding cap holds, 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.

Unable to sign players into space because the Heat are capped out, they will have to rely on exceptions, minimum contracts, the power of Bird rights or even trades to fill out their roster.

Here’s what the Heat have to work with this offseason, with a player-by-player breakdown … Continue reading “What’s in store for the Miami Heat this offseason? A roster breakdown with a look at what’s next for each player”

JJ Redick returning to Philadelphia, where does that leave Wayne Ellington when it comes to Heat (and Sixers)

Wayne Ellington established a Miami Heat single-season mark with 227 made 3-pointers last season.(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO – The Philadelphia 76ers are bringing back guard JJ Redick.

Where does that leave Heat free agent Wayne Ellington?

Ellington, 30, is one of several shooting guards who remain on the market the second day of free agency. But with players agreeing at a whirlwind pace, money drying up and teams looking to show fiscal responsibility, it appears Ellington’s options are dwindling.

The Heat and Ellington would like to get this done. Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra sincerely have a soft spot for a player who not only gives everything he has to make himself better but is as solid a person off the court as he is an asset on the court. And Ellington proved how valuable he is on the court last season when he established the Heat’s single-season record with 227 made 3-points, which was tied for sixth in the league.

But for the Heat to bring back Ellington at the $10.9 million they are allowed to pay him next year by having his early Bird rights, that would put them about $7 million into the luxury tax, and that does not include money for Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. With a team that isn’t a contender in the Eastern Conference, Miami is not likely to foot a large luxury tax bill.

The Associated Press reported 23 teams reached out to Ellington at the start of free agency although just eight had enough cap space to sign players above the exceptions. Among them, the Lakers, Suns, Phoenix have handed out significant deals. Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento have space but they appear more interested in using that for trades. Indiana has just enough room but they signed Doug McDermott.

Which leaves. … the 76ers.

Philadelphia still has about $13 million remaining in cap space and could target Ellington, whether or not they are able to acquire Kawhi Leonard. After losing Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee) and Marco Belinelli (San Antonio) the Sixers could use another shooter, especially in the backcourt on a roster that includes two guards _ Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz – who are challenged offensively when it comes to perimeter shooting.

And remember, Ellington was born and raised in the Philadelphia area and relished the opportunity to play in front of family and friends during the playoffs.

The point is coming soon where many, many free agents will start scrambling for deals. Among the shooting guards still available: Tyreke Evans, Zach LaVine, Jamal Crawford, Avery Bradley, Rodney Hood and, of course, Wade.

The chances of Miami bringing back Ellington appear to hinge on two things: Whether Wade and Haslem return (and that may not even be known for weeks or even longer) but more likely whether Riley can make a trade to move some contracts and open enough space to re-sign Ellington without crossing the luxury tax line.

[Miami Heat Summer League: Five things to watch the next two weeks]

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

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

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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. Continue reading “Mailbag: Why have the Miami Heat been so quiet to start free agency?”

2018 Miami Heat Free Agency Primer: What you need to know about the Heat’s salary cap situation

Heat players Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington and Bam Adebayo look from the bench during overtime against the Brooklyn Nets at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — With free agency upon us, here’s a look at the Heat’s salary cap situation.

Miami currently has 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million (assuming Rodney McGruder’s $1.5 million salary is guaranteed by Saturday’s deadline, as expected). That puts the Heat way above the $101.9 million salary cap, very close to the $123.7 million luxury tax line and not in a position to aggressively pursue free agents. Continue reading “2018 Miami Heat Free Agency Primer: What you need to know about the Heat’s salary cap situation”

2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?

Miami Heat NBA basketball team president Pat Riley talks to the media during a season ending press conference in Miami, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)

The NBA starts a new fiscal year at 12 a.m. Sunday, which also signals the start of free agency and what once again will be a busy offseason. The Miami Heat may not be as big a player as usual this offseason because of roster and payroll limitations, but president Pat Riley still will be busy trying to find a way to upgrade his roster, however difficult that may be.

This week we take a look at the biggest offseason questions surrounding the Heat. Today’s question: Can the Heat improve through trades this offseason? We’ll shift to a different question each day leading up to the start of free agency. Continue reading “2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: With no cap space, can Heat turn to trades to improve roster?”

2018 Miami Heat Offseason Preview: Will 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington return to Heat?

Wayne Ellington established a Miami Heat team single-season record with 227 threes in 2017-18. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    The NBA starts a new fiscal year 12 a.m. Sunday, which also signals the start of free agency and what once again will be a busy offseason. The Miami Heat may not be as big a player as usual this offseason because of roster and payroll limitations but president Pat Riley still will be busy trying to find a way to upgrade his roster, however difficult that may be.

   This week we take a look at the biggest offseason questions surrounding the Heat. Today’s question: Will the most prolific single-season 3-point shooter in team history, Wayne Ellington, be back in a Heat uniform? We’ll shift to a different question each day leading up to the start of free agency.

[Monday’s question: LeBron James could be on the move again, do the Heat have a chance of bringing him back?]

[Tuesday’s question: Will Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem return for a 16th NBA season or retire?]

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MIAMI – The Miami Heat have few decisions when it comes to retaining their own free agents. But the most complicated centers around guard Wayne Ellington.

Ellington, 30, completed his second season with the Heat after general manager Andy Elisburg’s creative bookkeeping allowed Miami to pick up the team’s option last summer, guaranteeing Ellington $6.27 million for 2017-18. The deal was one of the best bargains on the team as Ellington produced all season, averaging a career-high 11.2 points and setting a career-high and team record with 227 made 3-pointers.

Now, bringing back Ellington for a third year gets a bit trickier to Miami.

[RELATED: Photos of the incredible style at the 2018 NBA Draft]

Ellington will become an unrestricted free agent Sunday and is set to sign the most lucrative contract of his career. After finishing tied for sixth in the league in 3-pointers made and establishing and NBA record for the most threes while coming off the bench, some lists have Ellington as high as fifth among free agent shooting guards.

The Heat have Ellington’s early Bird rights, allowing them to exceed the cap and play him 175 percent of his current salary. That means Miami could start Ellington for as much as $10.9 million next season and sign him for up to four years with eight percent raises each year. A deal that could reach $44.5 million if maxed out.

The problem is unless president Pat Riley and Elisburg find a way to shed salary, the Heat would be forced to cross the luxury tax line for Ellington to return, something the Heat will be reluctant to do on a team that finished as the No. 6 seed and was ousted from the playoffs in five games.

The Heat already have 10 players under contract for about $119 million, well over the projected $101 million salary cap and just $4 million shy of the projected $123 million luxury tax line. Signing Ellington to a starting salary of $10.9 million would mean a luxury tax bill of more than $10 million on top of Ellington’s salary if the rest of the team remains intact.

Riley was asked last week how optimistic he was about Ellington returning.

“The guy’s had a great, great two years with us,” he said. “We’re up against the tax but we’re going to do everything we can do to try to keep him.

“He’s here every day, working out, making threes. I have a video screen in my office, so I can watch him every day. He’s still putting the same kind of work in now that he did last year. So, that is something we’re going to have to be very creative with.”

Ellington’s future with the Heat will depend on many other things. Are the Heat able to shed salary, not so much to get under the cap but at least create more space between the bottom line and luxury tax threshold to bring back Ellington without a luxury tax bill? Can the Heat make any trades and if so do they find a nice scoring option off the bench that would lessen the necessity of re-signing Ellington?

And what about Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem? They, too, are unrestricted free agents and could cost Miami about $7.7 million to bring back. Add that to Ellington’s salary and the Heat certainly are not bringing back all three, which would put them about $14.6 million over the luxury tax line, without making any deals to reduce the payroll.

The wildcard is if the Heat go over the luxury tax they have until the end of the regular season to get back under the tax line before paying the penalty. So, if it meant going over by a few million to sign Ellington with the idea they’ll figure a way to get back under they could take that chance.

Riley even hinted that could be case when he met with the media a few days after the season ended.

“There’s no doubt that we want him back,” Riley said of Ellington. “It’s how do we get him back and deal with the tax threshold. If we signed Wayne and he takes us into the tax, then that guy right over there (Elisburg) has 15 months to get us out.”

[Mailbag: How much will healthy Dion Waiters, energized Hassan Whiteside help Heat if no other roster improvements are made?]

[Dwyane Wade wakes up in a ‘cold sweat’ nights ‘thinking I lost it all’]

[Heat announce six-game preseason schedule; tickets on sale Tuesday]

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