A lot was made of what a prospective CBA would look like, and its effects on the Miami Heat. We heard talk of “breaking up” the big three, of draconian tax tables for tax paying teams, and the term “Hard Salary Cap” used in all types of ominous tones over the last few months. After a quick perusal of the prospective CBA, we find that, none of it came to pass.
The Players, while making considerable concessions on BRI, managed to preserve much of the system they enjoyed, during the last CBA. The biggest of which was in the way, the MLE (Mid Level Exception) is implemented. The new system is favorable for Non-Tax paying teams, if they wish to exercise the use of the MLE. Tax paying teams can offer $3M per year for 3 years, while Non-Tax Paying teams can offer the full MLE of $5M per year for 4 years.
Simply put, no team is in a better position for this upcoming free agency period than the Miami Heat, being that they already have three stars on the roster, with the ability to add a player at the full MLE. Their competition for the MLE type of free agent will come from Chicago, New York, and to a lesser extent Oklahoma City. None of the three have a third All-star caliber player on the roster and will have that in mind when committing more dollars to a salary structure that will tighten toward the end of the opt out period of the CBA. The Miami Heat could have the market all to themselves. The market however is rather limited.
A new feature in this CBA, is the Amnesty Clause, of which many had speculated, would be used on Mike Miller, who would be waived in order to gain his cap charge to use on another player or two. How it has been reported, the Amnesty Clause, can be used once during the entire run of the new CBA. It just doesn’t make sense to use it on Mike Miller, when his contract is not burdensome, and the Miami Heat still has the means to add any pieces they may need. The Amnesty Clause is not something I believe the Heat will use for the foreseeable future.
Miami Heat Free Agent Targets
Mario Chalmers – PG 6′ 2″ - Their own free agent, he should be the top priority, but don’t think he won’t be coveted. In a weak PG market, Chalmers will command a look by many teams, and the Dollars could be ratcheted up. Mario Chalmers, is a restricted Free Agent, so the Heat can match any offer he receives. I expect him to have suitors, but a return to the Miami Heat is expected.
Samuel Dalembert – C 6′ 11″ - Nobody has been talked about more than Dalembert as a Heat Target/priority for Free Agency. He just makes sense. A good rebounder, with good feet around the basket. In the Heat’s system, Sam could be a shot challenging machine with a hint of offense. Think Joel Anthony with better hands. Speaking of which, it’s a real possiblity that Joel Anthony will be the main chip traded in a sign and trade for Dalembert. The Kings would be smart to finesse Anthony out of Miami.
Pipe Dream Scenario of Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan or Nene Hilario – C 7′ 1″,6′ 11″, 6′ 11″ - $20M for 4 years is just not enough to compete seriously for their services. Signing any of these would amount to the greatest coup in Free Agent history, to gain an all-star caliber Center for the MLE. Can’t see it happening, but it doesn’t mean that the Heat won’t explore it and offer their best pitch.
Thaddeus Young – F 6′ 8″ - A restricted Free Agent, who’s qualifying offer makes him a candidate for the full MLE, will likely have his offer sheet matched by the Sixers. Spending resources on non-essential personnel is not Riley’s style. The talent however is there. Prying him out of Philly, would be a great move for any club.
Tayshaun Prince – SF 6′ 9″ - A Riley favorite, who can allow the Heat to play a “bigger” lineup with Lebron James running the point. Truth is that Mike Miller is a better fit, being a better shooter than Prince. The argument for Prince is that his defensive presence can allow Lebron James and Dwyane Wade to concentrate on executing the offense instead of matching up with opposing guards and small forwards.
Shane Battier – SF 6′ 8″ - Interesting for the same reasons Prince is interesting, but a better fit in this sense: Battier is a career 38% shooter from three, and his corner three is perfect for the Heat’s UCLA and Corner Offense concepts.
Grant Hill – SF 6′ 8″ - Coming off a great year, he will be a hot commodity for title contenders at something close to the Veteran’s minimum. Grant Hill has been very productive the past two seasons in Phoenix, and his three point shooting has become a weapon. A very good option for the price, especially if James Jones finds a suitor.
James Jones – SF 6′ 8″ - The Heat got plenty value out of James Jones salary slot last year, but I don’t expect that to continue. Three point champions, usually get a look further than a mere Veterans minimum offer. Somebody will use the mini-MLE (bi-annual $1.9M Exception) which is almost double the Vets minimum. After committing to Mario Chalmers, I don’t see how the Heat would want to commit more salary to somebody who’s minutes will be reduced with a healthy Mike Miller returning. Especially, when there are better veteran options at the same price.
Caron Butler – SF 6′ 7″ - A return would be well received in the Heat lockeroom, as well as in the stands, but Butler has the look of a guy that is done physically. Buyer beware.
Jamal Crawford – SG 6′ 5″ - See the Tyson Chandler and Nene scenario. Crawford will get paid.
J.J Barea – PG 6′ 0″ - Finals Hero, and spark plug for the Dallas Mavericks, makes sense on paper, but not in reality. Barea is a specialty player that would have a hard time gaining minutes with the Heat. Does not fit in any way, the mold Pat Riley has in mind for a point guard on this team.
Kris Humphries – PF 6′ 9″ - The prime candidate to get an inflated contract that will be later “Amnestied” down the road. I don’t see the Heat as suitors for Humphries as his services will command a large commitment. 10/10 Power Forwards command large salaries.
Roster Filler, Vet. Minimum Types:
Kurt Thomas – C/PF, Kenyon Martin – PF, Chris Wilcox – PF, Tracy McGrady – SG/SF, Michael Redd -SG, Josh Howard – SF.