By Josh Redetzke

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.)



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.


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 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.


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-

State of the Cap Page


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