Mailbag: What are Miami Heat’s options with about $38 million in cap space?

The Miami Heat should have about $38 million in cap space and bringing back guard Dion Waiters is one of their priorities. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat will have options when it comes to free agency.

The Heat can spend most of their money on a free agent looking for max money. They can chose to go all in on their own free agents. They can opt for a combination: bring back one of their free agents and sign another who could fill a starting role.

So which direction is the most likely? We answer that in today’s Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From: @AsherWildMan6: After the so called “whales” are signed, can’t Miami with the cap space they have set the tone for who gets what in free agency? In other words, after Gordon, Blake, Lowry, those guys are signed wouldn’t Miami have most money left to sign guys they want in “their” range of what they want to pay? Can anyone really give Waiters Luol Deng money other than Miami this year? Seems Miami has upper hand in free agency this year.

The Heat are projected to have around $38 million in cap space once Chris Bosh is off the books. The only team expected to have more is Philadelphia. Teams will find ways to add space but the problem is there just are not that many “whales” that will be worth pursuing and many of those will re-sign with their old team, eating up most of their cap room. So, yes, once those elite players are gone and assuming the Heat do not sign a player like Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, Miami will be in great shape.

Miami will have plenty of options when it comes to the non-max players, starting with making offers to their own free agents, James Johnson and/or Dion Waiters. If either receives an offer that the Heat are not willing to match, players like Danilo Gallinari or Serge Ibaka could become options.

As for Waiters, I still believe somebody is willing to offer him a nice four year deal, and maybe even for $18 million a year like Deng got from the Lakers last season. My guess is the market will start at $15 million a year for Waiters but he’ll sign for more whether it’s with Miami or somewhere else. Remember, it only takes one.

From: @ChrisHypeTrain: Is there a better chance the heat spend their money on a max free agent or re-sign Dion Waiters and JJ?

How about both? Okay, that might be a stretch. But signing one max free agent like Gordon Hayward and re-signing James Johnson is possible, although it would take some creative salary cap maneuvering by GM Andy Elisburg.

But the more likely scenario is the Heat re-sign both Waiters and Johnson and then find a solid rotational player with the remaining money, especially because there won’t be many franchise-altering super stars on the market. Of course, there is the possibility that one of the two re-sign, which could still leave the Heat with $20 to $24 million to add a high quality starter.

[Consensus mock draft has Indiana’s OG Anunoby going 14th to Heat]

[Mailbag: What is the best possible outcome for the Heat in the NBA draft?]

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Miami Heat Mailbag: Where would small forward Rudy Gay fit in as a free agent signing?

Sacramento’s Rudy Gay drives to the basket in a game at New York in December. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

While teams are focusing on working out players for the June 22 draft, free agency always is on their minds.

The Heat and Pat Riley have decisions to make, not only with their own free agents like James Johnson and Dion Waiters, but who to pursue whether they sign both Johnson and Waiters, one of them or neither.

Which leads us to today’s question. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From: @MV305MIA How hard will we go after Rudy Gay?

Gay already has informed the Kings he will opt out of the final year of his contract that would have paid him $14.3 million and become an unrestricted free agent.

The 6-foot-8 Gay will be 31 when training camp starts. He averaged 18.7 points on .455 shooting including .372 on threes (although he’s only averaging about one 3-pointer per game in his career), 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 30 games last season before tearing his Achilles. His ESPN player efficiency rating was ninth in the league at 17.95. He is a career .452 shooter and two years removed from averaging his career-high 21.1 points, which came during his first full season in Sacramento.

Reports surfaced early last season that the Heat may have been exploring a deal with the Kings involving Gay. Some rank Gay as a borderline top-10 free agent while others have him lower. Among small forwards he generally falls in behind Kevin Durant, Gordon Hayward, Danilo Gallinari and Otto Porter. The Heat could have conversations with all but Durant, who is a lock to return to Golden State, but could settle on Gay as a backup policy or as a lower priced option than, say, a Hayward.

Gay has been somewhat of an enigma. While his numbers have been pretty steady – between 18 to 20 points and around six boards each year – many believe he could be doing more. He typically is among the league leaders in efficiency, landing in the top 15 in each of the last seven seasons and in the top 10 in four of those.

Although Gay’s age and recent injury could be a deterrent, he would be a nice addition to any team and would certainly give the Heat another option offensively on the wing and also as a small-ball power forward. And his athleticism makes him a solid defender.

If Miami loses Johnson and Waiters and pursues a power forward (say, Blake Griffin or Serge Ibaka), Gay could fit in well, or he could be brought in to go along with either Johnson or Waiters if one of the two returns.

[Dion Waiters makes it clear he wants to return to Heat — ‘Let’s get it over with as quick as possible’]

[Erik Spoelstra a finalist for another coach of the year award]

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Could Toronto Raptors free agents Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka be on the Miami Heat’s radar?

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka fouls Cleveland’s LeBron James during Sunday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors are this week’s version of the L.A. Clippers.

The Raptors’ season ended Sunday when they were swept by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Toronto has been to the playoffs four times since Masai Ujiri started heading up basketball operations, being ousted twice in the first round, once in the second round and last year in the conference finals.

With several key players up for free agency, the Raptors must decide who they want back.

But something has to give. The Raptors, who signed shooting guard DeMar DeRozan to a five-year, $130 million deal last summer, need to do some creative cutting to bring back Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka and avoid exceeded the cap.

But the question is do the Raptors want to move forward with both players on their roster, or even one? And if not, or if either decides to move on, could Heat president Pat Riley and GM Andy Elisburg make a play for either?

The Vertical ranks Lowry, 31, as the third best point guard on the market this summer behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry and the Clippers’ Chris Paul, and it has Ibaka, 27, as the third-best power forward behind Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin.

Lowry has a player option for $12 million next season but confirmed to reporters today he will decline that option to become a free agent. Toronto can offer Lowry a five-year contract for about $205 million. If he leaves, he can sign for a max of four-years and about $158 million. Either way, his contract would start at about $36 million.

But the Heat have Goran Dragic under contract for three more seasons, the last being a player option. And Dragic’s $17 million price tag for 2017-18 is a bargain considering the marketplace. Miami would have to determine Lowry (or Paul for that matter) would be worth playing twice as much as what Dragic is making, and then find a way to deal Dragic, to make a run at one of the elite point guards.

Right now, the Heat are happy with Dragic and unless he is included in a blockbuster deal, Miami is not in the market for a point guard.

Ibaka’s situation, though, is more interesting. Although Ibaka has played for three teams in the last year – being traded from OKC to Orlando last June and from the Magic to Raptors in February – the 6-foot-10 power forward is expected to command around $20 million a year.

Ibaka averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds between Orlando and Toronto this season. Although his numbers were slightly lower in the playoffs – 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds – he was not impressive in the postseason.

The Heat’s need for a quality power forward depends on if they can retain James Johnson. Miami has expressed a desire to bring back the 30-year-old Johnson, who had a breakout year after signing a one-year contract with Miami last summer, and he will come in at a much lower price than Ibaka.

But if Johnson receives an overwhelming offer the Heat decide is more than they are willing to pay, Ibaka could be in play for Miami this summer.

[Chris Bosh being sued by company that produces erotic videos]

[Miami Heat Mailbag: Better chance Bulls trade Jimmy Butler or Dwyane Wade turns down $24 million?]

[Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra named NBCA co-Coach of the Year]

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Mailbag: What are chances Heat sign Hayward & Ibaka; Would you rather James Johnson or Waiters?

 

 

Miami forward James Johnson shoots over Philadelphia's Richaun Holmes in the Heat's victory Wednesday. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)
Miami forward James Johnson shoots over Philadelphia’s Richaun Holmes in the Heat’s victory Wednesday. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

MIAMI – The Heat are expected to enter the offseason with at least $40 million in cap space.

And although this is not a stellar year for free agents, the Heat will be busy looking to upgrade their roster, which brings us to one of our questions for this week’s mailbag.

If you weren’t able to submit a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.

From @JasonMOrtiz: what are the chances the Heat can get both Gordon Hayward and (Serge) Ibaka in free agency?

The first issue would if they can afford both considering Hayward is going to get a max contract. But even if they could, the chances are pretty good that Toronto and Ibaka spoke around the time Ibaka was acquired from Orlando and the Raptors received as close to an assurance as possible that he will return. Of course, it go horribly wrong and Ibaka could want out but so far he seems to be fitting in pretty well with the Raptors.

As for Hayward, the seven-year veteran will receive a max contract starting at $31 million. He’s having a breakout year but is Miami willing to use what could be more than 75 percent of their cap space on a player who is solid offensively though not among the elite and average defensively? Additionally, Hayward played for Brad Stevens in college and a reunion with Stevens in Boston may be a stronger possibility.

I would say there is a better chance they get neither than both. As for signing one of the two; I believe Ibaka returns to Toronto and it will come down to if Miami believes Hayward is worth the money and if they do, can they convince him to come to Miami and not go to Boston.

From Anthony in Miami: If you can only pick one to keep this summer, who would you re-sign – Dion or James?

    Both players are having breakout years with Waiters solidly entrenched as the starting shooting guard and averaging 15.9 points (more than 20 in the last six weeks) and James Johnson working himself into Sixth Man of the Year conversation with his versatile play that has him averaging 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 block.

So, this is difficult to answer because both could be valuable pieces moving forward. Waiters is going to command more money on the open market considering he will be one of the top two or three shooting guards available. That likely will mean a minimum of $15 million a year and maybe closer to $20 million. James will come cheaper but at 30, he is five years older than Waiters. Because of that, and especially if you can get Johnson for around $10 million a year, I would go with Johnson. But that is a tough one to answer and a lot will depend on the other options available to the Heat.

From @nowhitechalk : What did you make of CB’s “staying ready” comments?

Chris Bosh is never going to close the door. Nobody really knows how his health is except those in his inner circle. We heard all last summer how he was cleared by an independent doctor and ready to play and then he failed the Heat’s physical.

I believe this is Bosh just keeping open all of his options. He will not be returning this season, that is certain. Training camp is a long way away and nobody knows what will happen between now and September. Could he return next fall? Sure. But there also is a very good chance he never plays again.

[Miami Heat sets the standard when it comes to balanced scoring]

[Heat guard Dion Waiters questionable for Orlando game because of ankle soreness]

[Okaro White doing whatever it takes for Miami Heat]

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With two big names off the board, Miami Heat still have a few trade options available

Pat Riley's vision of rebuilding the Heat this summer will not be sacrificed as the trade deadline approaches.
Pat Riley’s vision of rebuilding the Miami Heat this summer will not be sacrificed as the trade deadline approaches.

Now that Serge Ibaka and DeMarcus Cousins are off the board, the prospects of the Miami Heat making a significant trade deadline deal appear to be dwindling.

The Heat are in a precarious position. A month ago, dealing James Johnson or Dion Waiters, or even Goran Dragic, would have been considered for the purpose of strengthening their attempt to rebuild this summer. Johnson and Waiters will be free agents anyway and considering Miami was sitting there with the second worst record in the league, getting something in return, likely a draft pick, would have made sense. Same with Dragic, which would have had the extra benefit of clearing another $17 million of cap space this summer.

But that plan was altered when the Heat (25-32) won 14-of-16 games entering the break, went from the team with the second-worst record in the league to the 13th and from 9.5 games out of a playoff spot to 2.

Still, Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg will not sit idly by as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches. But they are in a difficult spot of making a deal that could give this team a little push toward the playoffs but without sacrificing any long-term flexibility.

In other words, Miami is not going to make a trade for the sole purpose of helping this team. If a deal is made in the next couple of days it will be with the future as the primary focus but not tossing in the towel on this season, either.

With that plan, here are a few options for the Heat.

Wilson Chandler, 6-8 small forward, Denver: Chandler is unhappy in Denver despite career-highs of 15.4 points and 6.7 rebounds. Chandler is a solid defender who is shooting 45.8 percent from the floor but isn’t anything special from long distance at 33.8 percent on 3s.

At 29, he’s been in the league nine years. The Nuggets have a nice young core and may be willing to deal some of their veterans like Chandler or Danilo Gallinari.

Trading for Chandler likely would cost the Heat James Johnson as part of the package. But more pressing would be Chandler’s contract, which is $11.2 million this year and has $25 million remaining on its last two years. First, the Heat would have to like him enough and believe he is an important piece for the future to lose some of that cap space and Miami would insist Josh McRoberts be part of any deal that includes eating into its cap space to mitigate losing some of that flexibility.

Terrance Jones, 6-9 power forward, New Orleans: The Pelicans are actively shopping Jones, according to reports, after acquiring Cousins. Jones signed a one-year deal with New Orleans for just more than $1 million last summer after being released by Houston. He is averaging 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds. And although Oklahoma City appears to have emerged as a leader for Jones, the Heat are among the teams linked to the 25-year-old from Kentucky.

Dealing for Jones would take some creativity. A one-for-one deal would be difficult because of the salaries. Considering the Pelicans need perimeter help the only matches would be Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder. Richardson is out of the question and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has praised McGruder for what he brings the team beyond the box score. Still, nobody is off limits.

Jones would be a nice fit at power forward where Luke Babbitt has been starting. Jones is a career 50 percent shooter from the field  but under 30 percent on 3s. And for those thinking about it, although Babbitt’s salary matches up with Jones’, he was acquired from New Orleans last summer prohibiting Miami to trade him back to the Pelicans this season.

Trevor Booker, 6-8, power forward, Brooklyn: Perhaps the best fit at power forward – and perhaps longest shot to acquire – would be Booker. At, 29, he is having his best season after signing a two-year, $18.4 million contract with the Nets last summer, averaging 10.2 points and 8.5 rebounds. And Booker would fit right in for another reason, he has a reputation as one of the hardest-working players in the league.

Sounds like someone Brooklyn could use, but the Nets clearly are starting over and this process will continue for several more years, so why not try to move some of the veterans for either a young player or picks (which would prohibit the Heat considering they cannot trade their first round selection this year). Ideally, the Heat could do the deal for McRoberts, but that is wishful thinking seeing he, too, has one more year remaining, although at about $3.3 million less than Booker. The Nets need young players, the Heat have a few, but may not be willing to part with the ones necessary to make this work.

[Draft due diligence: Miami scouts scrutinize NBA prospects looking for players with ‘Heat DNA’]

[Chet Kammerer: Meet the man in charge of the Miami Heat’s NBA draft scouting team]

[Three things to watch this week: Trade deadline is set for Thursday — what will the Heat do?]

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Does it make sense for the Miami Heat to trade for Serge Ibaka?

Orlando Magic's Serge Ibaka (7) smiles after being called for a foul against Miami Heat's Goran Dragic (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Miami. The Magic defeated the Heat 116-107. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Orlando Magic’s Serge Ibaka (7) smiles after being called for a foul against Miami Heat’s Goran Dragic (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Miami. The Magic defeated the Heat 116-107. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Rumors continue to swirl that the Magic are working to move Serge Ibaka by the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

With Orlando concerned that it could lose Ibaka for nothing in free agency this summer, trading the 27-year-old forward before this month’s deadline has become a very real option. And the Heat are reportedly one of the teams interested in the Congo native.

But does it make sense for Miami to make a move for Ibaka, who is averaging 15.1 points on 48.8 percent shooting and 6.8 rebounds this season? Continue reading “Does it make sense for the Miami Heat to trade for Serge Ibaka?”

Erik Spoelstra: 2012 NBA Finals that included LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook ‘incredible to be a part of’

Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves the ball in the post against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder moves the ball in the post against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

MIAMI — When asked about the NBA’s tight MVP race, Erik Spoelstra shook his head and smiled.

The top four candidates for this season’s MVP award, according to NBA.com’s MVP rankings, are currently: 1. James Harden, 2. Russell Westbrook, 3. Kevin Durant and 4. LeBron James. They were all part of the 2012 NBA Finals matchup between the Heat and Thunder.

“You look back on it to 2012 and you think about the firepower on the floor for both teams at one time in the Finals, that’s why it was so electrifying,” Spoelstra said after Monday’s practice. “That’s why when we were in it, we said this is the fastest, most explosive series that any of us had ever been in. Just the raw level of talent and athleticism and fierceness both ways, it was incredible to be a part of it.” Continue reading “Erik Spoelstra: 2012 NBA Finals that included LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook ‘incredible to be a part of’”

Orlando Magic without key free-agent signing for tonight’s game against Miami Heat

 

Orlando's Bismack Biyombo, shown here fighting Justise Winslow for a loose ball in last year's playofss while with Toronto, is suspended for tonight's game against Miami. (Getty Images)
Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo (8)  is suspended for tonight’s game against Miami because of too many flagrant fouls during last year’s playoffs while with Toronto . (Getty Images)

ORLANDO – The Magic will be without their prize free agent acquisition for tonight’s opener against the Heat.

Bismack Biyombo is suspended for the opener because of accumulating too many flagrant fouls during playoffs last season while playing for Toronto.

Biyombo, a 6-foot-9, 255 pound center who signed a four-year, $68 million deal during the summer, exceeded the limit with a Flagrant Foul 1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals for elbowing Cleveland’s Kevin Love. Had the Raptors extended the series he would have been forced to miss Game 7 and been eligible to play tonight.

Instead, the Cavs closed it out and the suspension carried over to this season.

“You could definitely use him against (Hassan) Whiteside,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel told the Orlando Sentinel. “But we’ll throw (Serge Ibaka) and (Nikola Vucevic) in there at the center spot and they’ll be able to man the ship, too.”

Biyombo moved into Toronto’s starting lineup during the conference semifinals against the Heat after Jonas Valanciunas sprained his ankle in Game 3. He averaged 6.7 points and 8.4 rebounds during the seven-game series against Miami.

Although none of Biyombo’s flagrant fouls were against the Heat, Miami’s Josh McRoberts picked up a flagrant foul in Game 7 when he hit Biyombo. McRoberts tired of Biyombo celebrating his big day – 17 points, 16 rebounds – in Toronto’s win.

[Dwyane Wade’s former trainer believes he “will finish his career in Miami”]

[Minutes will be key for Miami Heat stars Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside]

[20 bold predictions for the upcoming Miami Heat season]

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2016 NBA Draft: Three moves that get Miami Heat’s attention

[cmg_cinesport url=”http://cinesport.palmbeachpost.com/embed/palm-beach-sports/plenty-surprises-2016-nba-draft/”%5D

As far as their own team is concerned, the Heat were fine going into tonight’s NBA Draft without any picks. That confidence is in part because they nailed last year’s draft with the pick-ups of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson.

The Celtics finished with the same record as Miami last year and got a head start on 2016-17 with Thursday's move. (Getty Images)
The Celtics finished with the same record as Miami last year and got a head start on 2016-17 with tonight’s addition of Jaylen Brown. (Getty Images)

Still, any gain by the competition is a loss for Miami. As it sat idle during the draft, several teams it’s trying to outrun made what appear to be significant improvements. Here are the three that have the biggest impact on the Heat:
Continue reading “2016 NBA Draft: Three moves that get Miami Heat’s attention”

Meet the 2015-16 NBA blocks champion: Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside can go the rest of the season without one of these and almost certainly still win the NBA block title. (Getty Images)
Whiteside can go the rest of the season without one of these and almost certainly still win the NBA block title. (Getty Images)

With enough precincts reporting, The Palm Beach Post is calling it for Hassan Whiteside as the winner of this year’s blocks title. Hassan Whiteside also declares Hassan Whiteside the winner.

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I’m gonna win that.”
Continue reading “Meet the 2015-16 NBA blocks champion: Hassan Whiteside”