State of the Cap: Miami Heat

Thu, 06/12/2008 - 11:31am

By Josh Redetzke

[img_assist|nid=1126|title=Dwayne Wade|desc=Icon SMI|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=388]2008/09 Miami Heat Payroll: $53.3 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million (estimate)
Roughly: $4.7 million under cap

(Includes Shawn Marion’s player option of $17.2 million.)


The Good:
Even though Shaquille O’Neal showed flashes of inspired play in Phoenix, the trade that sent him away has to go down as a landslide win for Miami and one of their only bright spots in an otherwise dismal season. Instead of paying a brittle, ineffective Shaq $20 million each of the next two seasons, they get to pay Shawn Marion $17 million to be Dwayne Wade’s versatile and vibrant wingman for one season. That’s assuming Marion doesn’t opt-out of his contract, which would only save the Heat even more cash. I highly doubt The Matrix would do it since no one would give him anything close to $17 million, but stranger things have happened. The good thing for Miami is that it doesn’t matter to them either way. Marion, at age 30, might not figure into their rebuilding plans, so he will either became a huge money saver or a valuable trading commodity. It’s a win-win situation, unlike most of their games this year.

The draft lottery was very favorable to the Heat. They didn’t get the top pick, but they also don’t have any pressure in selecting number two. Like Seattle last year, barring a trade, they will take whoever is left of the consensus top two picks, Derrick Rose or (likely) Michael Beasley. For a team devoid of talent, either player will give them a huge boost. In other good news, Jason Williams and Ricky Davis both come off the salary cap this year, saving the Heat $15.7 million in cap space. This is also good news for Ricky Davis fans since he will undoubtedly be playing for his sixth NBA team next season. His quest to play for every franchise continues.

Udonis Haslem continued his solid play at power forward by raising his scoring average to 12 points per game and his rebounding average to 9. Like most of the Heat players, he was bitten by the injury bug and only played in 49 games, but Haslem has a pretty good contract for that kind of production. He will receive $6.5 and $7 million the next two seasons and will be counted on as a steady presence in their front line during the rebuilding process.

The Bad:
Dwayne Wade is supposed to be the cornerstone for a new Miami Heat squad, but there are now serious concerns about his health and how it could affect the rest of his career. For the second straight season, he was only able to play 51 games. Can he fully recover, or will these injuries continue to eat away chunks of future seasons? Wade will be a very well-paid athlete the next three years and he certainly deserves the money when he is healthy, but right now, those health questions create a lot of risk. Maybe that is why Wade’s name has come up in trade rumors involving the Bulls?

In order to jettison bloated contracts for Shaq and Antoine Walker, Miami had to eat a few smaller ones in return. It should be pretty easy to swallow the deal for Marcus Banks since it only contains about $13.2 million over the next three years. The contract for Mark Blount, however, may cause some indigestion. The unmotivated center is still owed $7.3 and $7.9 million the next two seasons. They won’t get much for that investment, but perhaps they can trade him next summer.

The Future:
The Heat have done an incredible job of cleaning house since their championship run just two years ago. Amazingly, there will only be two players left from that team who are currently under contract for next season; Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem. Miami isn’t wasting any time moving to the next phase of their franchise. With the second pick in the draft, a geographical location that attracts all free-agents, and a likable superstar to build around, the Heat shouldn’t have a problem returning to the playoffs very soon (as long as Wade returns to his old self).

Miami will have tons of cap space to work with next summer, assuming they don’t do something stupid like sign Shawn Marion to a $15 million per year extension. Marion is a great player, but he has to come at the right price. He shouldn’t be making superstar money. The Heat have a wide open future with lots of options. Let’s see what they do with it.

The big question now is who they should take in the draft. Rose probably fits the biggest need and a backcourt of Wade and Rose has the front office salivating. Beasley wouldn’t be a bad pick, but he does play the same position as Haslem and while Beasley has a much higher ceiling, there would still be gaping holes at point guard and center. Rumors persist however that the team prefers OJ Mayo to Beasley so trading down a spot and dumping a salary or adding picks is a possibility with Minnesota. Ultimately, it’s the kind of choice that many other teams would be dying to make right now and the Heat will be a happier bunch next season.

Free Throw:
Once again, the team with the best chance to win the top pick failed to do so. Not only that, but the team with one of the worst shots to win it came out on top. The lesson learned for bad teams is that tanking doesn’t always work, although the Heat made out pretty well.

Grade: A-

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