Why the Heat were smart to match Tyler Johnson’s offer sheet

Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)

After Tyler Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets, it appeared that his days as a member of the Miami Heat were numbered.

Then, all of a sudden, the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade opened the door for Pat Riley and company to match Johnson’s contract and keep the 24-year-old North Dakota native in a Heat uniform. The Heat took advantage of their new financial freedom and matched the offer sheet, which contains a poison-pill provision that guarantees that Johnson will be paid $18.9 million and $19.6 million in the final two years of the deal.

While a nearly $20 million annual salary may cause some to question whether the Heat were wise to match the offer for a player who started only five games last season, it is easy to see why the Heat were eager to retain Johnson’s services.

The undrafted guard out of Fresno State is set to enter his third year in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points, three rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season. The stats don’t jump off the page, but Johnson’s age and potential do.

In his two NBA seasons, Johnson has shot above 37 percent from three for a Heat team in desperate need of shooters. He has also played solid defense, thanks in no small part to his athleticism.

Another factor to consider is the market in which the contract was signed. NBA owners backed up the Brinks trucks this offseason, giving away billions of dollars to the league’s free agents. As a result of the rising salary cap, role players were awarded contracts with annual salaries in the $10-$15 million range.

Johnson’s deal should be considered a bargain in the current NBA economy, as the Heat will pay him under $6 million annually in the first two years of the deal. There is also a chance that he plays into the final two years of the deal, producing well in an expanded role, and that the Heat have a max-contract-level player locked up for significantly less than he would demand on the open market.

The Heat always have the option of trading Johnson should they feel as though his play won’t match the value of his contract. Finding a taker for the contract may prove difficult, however, and that is a risk the Heat had to take as they attempt to restock for the future with a solid young core.

The young core, more than anything else, was the reason that the Heat’s financial investment was worthwhile. Under the tutelage of head coach Erik Spoelstra, young Heat players have thrived. Last season, draft picks Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson showed steady progression, and the year prior, Hassan Whiteside came out of nowhere to become one of the league’s better centers.

The Tyler Johnson contract is a risk for the Miami Heat, but it’s not fair to say that it’s completely undeserved. His ability to shoot from distance, his as yet untapped potential and the Heat’s need to retain key pieces of their young core all factor in to why the Heat needed to match Johnson’s offer sheet.

Could the Heat and Dwyane Wade part ways? Some say yes

Are the Heat and Dwyane Wade headed for a split?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat

Wade representatives leaked this week he is serious about speaking to other teams and they reportedly reached out to the Mavericks and Spurs to gauge interest. The Vertical reported that Wade received several multiyear offers today.

The Heat are in a holding pattern now that Hassan Whiteside has agreed to a max deal (four years, approximately $98 million). The issue is Thunder forward Kevin Durant and the outside possibility he decides to come to Miami. But for that to happen, Miami would have to clear a lot of cap space and Wade would have to take less money … again. This is a player who has sacrificed nearly $25 million over the last six years to remain in Miami.

Wade congratulated Whiteside on Twitter.

Wade and Heat have been down this road, Wade looking to recoup some of the money he has left on the table and the Heat trying to convince the most loyal and popular player in franchise history to take a hometown discount. They had contentious dealings last summer before agreeing on a one-year deal for $20 million.

If there is any player in the league linked to a specific team, it’s Wade and the Heat. He has played in Miami for each of his 13 seasons, winning three titles and going to five NBA Finals.

And at 34, Wade is coming off his most productive season in recent years, appearing in 74 games while averaging 19.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

Chances are Wade returns to the place he has called home the last 13 years. Still, for this to happen two years in a row is reason to pause and take it a bit more seriously.

Video: Could LeBron James come back to Miami if Cavs win the title?

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Now that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals, would LeBron James consider returning to Miami if the Cavs win the championship?

Check out the video above.

And would you as a Heat fan welcome him back? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook.

Q&A: Hassan Whiteside says he trained ‘like Rocky’

Hassan Whiteside is on the brink of cashing in after pulling together an impressive season for the Miami Heat. (Getty Images)
Hassan Whiteside is on the brink of cashing in after pulling together an impressive season for the Miami Heat. (Getty Images)

The Hassan Whiteside YMCA-to-NBA story hasn’t gotten old yet, and he continues to climb higher than anybody but believed was possible. He has turned into one of the Heat’s best players and is set to collect a massive payday in a few months.

Coming off his career-high 27 points against Brooklyn, here’s an interview with Miami’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate:
Continue reading “Q&A: Hassan Whiteside says he trained ‘like Rocky’”