Ira Winderman: Are Pat Riley’s Heat tokens a house of cards? | Basketball



MIAMI — It’s the juicy bits from Pat Riley’s postseason media session that spice up the offseason.

“We will watch; we will explore.

“I think we all realize that we can always use more.”

“You have to be, I think, very proactive in looking at how you’re going to improve.”

“I really feel obligated to finish this build.”

“We will always try to improve the team.”

Everything sounds good. It all sounds proactive. This all sounds familiar to the Heat president.

But there must also be a part B, the chips necessary to put into play to make the team grow.

For all the bluster of Riley being able to make something out of nothing when it came to acquiring Jimmy Butler in 2019 in free agency while operating in the vacuum of cap space, the important assets the Heat used were somewhat lost in the equation.

Including that deal was trading Josh Richardson to the Philadelphia 76ers, moving Hassan Whiteside’s $27 million salary to the Portland Trail Blazers, sending a lottery-protected first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers (one has since moved to the Oklahoma City Thunder), assuming Meyers Leonard’s $11.3 million salary and waiving and stretching the remaining salary owed to Ryan Anderson (including a $5.2 million cap on that contract the last season).

In other words, five distinct elements.

So what components should the Heat put into play this offseason?

– Either the $10.3 million non-taxpayer mid-tier exception or the $6.4 million taxpayer mid-tier exception: This comes down to whether the Heat will run above the luxury tax line after resigning its own players. Additionally, if the full mid-tier is used, it would mean operating for the entirety of 2022-23 under a hard cap.

The mid-tier can be used to sign a free agent, but cannot be used in a trade.

– The semi-annual exception of $4.1 million: it can also only be used to sign a free agent. As with the full intermediate tier, if the semester is used, a team also becomes capped.

These exceptions cannot be cumulated with the salary in the trades.

– Draft picks: In theory, the Heat could have up to three first-round picks to put on the line.

The Heat could draft for another team at No. 27 on June 23, then move the selection immediately after.

This would allow the Heat to then include their 2023 first-round pick in a trade (teams are not allowed to trade successive future first-round picks, but the Heat could work around this by selecting another team in the draft of this year).

The Heat’s picks of 24, 25, 26 and 27 are then crowded by the conditional first-round pick due to the Thunder, with the first-round pick of 28 also available for trade.

The Heat do not hold a second-round pick, with a selection waived as an NBA penalty for a premature free agency contact last summer with Kyle Lowry.

– Cash: The Heat is allowed to send up to $5.8 million in an exchange. This could be used, among several ways, either to buy a draft pick or picks, or to pass on in a trade to compensate for an excessive salary of a sent player.

— Duncan Robinson: It’s more about the salary than the player.

Robinson’s $16.9 million salary for 2022-23 is the only salary currently on the Heat’s books between the $5.7 million owed to Tyler Herro and the $28.3 million owed to Lowry. This puts it in the perfect position to aggregate trades wages.

The Heat have already signed players for specific salaries with an eye on potential trades, as has been the case over the past two years with Leonard and Goran Dragic.

— Tyler Herro: It’s tricky. Although Herro’s salary is nominal for next season, he is also eligible for an extension.

This essentially leaves the Heat with limited time to deliberate on their long-term position, given that Herro could sign up to $180 million over five seasons, a deal that must be completed before opening night that would make him effectively ineligible for trade next season. .

So all inclusive? Allow him to become a restricted free agent in the 2023 offseason? Or a preemptive move, perhaps with a compromise extension closer to four years, $100 million?

— The Sweeteners: Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Omer Yurtseven are all under Heat control on minimum contracts for next season.

Although their salaries have limited value in aggregating towards a bigger deal, they could be seen as attractive sweeteners plus one in business packages.

As Riley talked about the trades, he noted, “If there’s something from the outside that comes through that doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg, I’d still be interested in watching that.”

The bigger question is whether the Heat have an arm or even a leg to put on the line for anything on a grand scale.

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