Heat still with plenty to accomplish after July 4 NBA free-agency lull – The Denver Post


There was a time when the July 4 weekend had the Miami Heat in scramble mode.

That, in particular, was the case in 2016, when the Heat put free-agency negotiations with Dwyane Wade on hold once Kevin Durant announced on July 4 he was leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending Pat Riley and Micky Arison packing to make their pitch to the since-traveled forward in New York’s Hamptons.

Then there is the holiday weekend such as this year, with crickets from the Heat and most of the league, as Durant again debates destinations, having requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

Since Thursday’s opening day of NBA free agency, when the Heat lost P.J. Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers and re-signed Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon, the holding pattern has been constant.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t work yet to be done, even as the team moves on after Tuesday’s California Classic summer-league finale in San Francisco to the larger NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

For the Heat, several elements remain in play and need to be addressed:

Caleb Martin: The Heat have a $2.1 million qualifying offer in place that makes Martin a restricted free agent and allows them to match outside offers to the energetic forward.

There are limitations, however.

Because the Heat are over the salary cap and do not have Bird Rights on Martin, they cannot match outside offers above the $10.5 million mid-level exception as a 2022-23 starting point for a contract.

Even then, the Heat are not likely to go above the $6.5 million taxpayer mid-level exception, since any starting salary above that figure would trigger a hard salary cap. In addition, extending such a $6.5 million salary to Martin would likely preclude adding an outside free agent above the minimum.

Martin’s twin brother, Cody Martin, who had similar statistics to Caleb this past season, recently signed a four-year, $32 million contract to remain with the Charlotte Hornets.

Markieff Morris: With Tucker lost to the 76ers, Morris could potentially return on another veteran-minimum contract.

But after missing 58 games due to whiplash following his Nov. 8 scuffle with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the veteran forward who turns 33 in September never regained the mid-range game that initially had made him so effective at the start of the season.

Morris wound up playing only three minutes in the Heat’s 18 playoff games.

Udonis Haslem: Haslem, 42, is the Heat’s other remaining free agent from the 2021-22 roster, having played just 82 minutes during the regular season, none in the playoffs.

The Heat recently sent a team staffer to Haslem’s vacation home in Orlando to invite him back for a 20th season with the team. He has been under the NBA minimum-salary scale for each of the past five years.

Mid-level exception: As mentioned with Martin, the Heat, who are operating above the $123.7 million 2022-23 NBA salary cap but below the $150.3 million luxury-tax line, can utilize either the $10.5 million full mid-level exception on a free agent (or free agents) or the $6.5 million taxpayer mid-level.

Utilizing anything above $6.5 million from the mid-level triggers a $157 million hard cap.

Among the reasons the Heat lost Tucker to the 76ers was a decision not to move into a hard-capped position.

Bi-annual exception: This is a $4.1 million exception that can be utilized on one or more free agents, but cannot be used in consecutive years.

Like the full mid-level exception, utilization of the bi-annual puts a team in a hard-capped position.

The Heat have the bi-annual available, but likely only would utilize it if they also utilize the full $10.5 million mid-level, and accept operating under a hard cap.

Roster limit: Teams can carry up to 15 players under standard contract during the regular season as well as two players under two-way contracts, with those two players limited to 50 regular-season appearances.

The Heat currently have 12 players under standard contract: Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Dedmon, Haywood Highsmith, Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic, Kyle Lowry, Oladipo, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven.

That leaves three additional roster spots in play.

Javonte Smart and Mychal Mulder currently are under 2022-23 two-way contract to the Heat.



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