FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Not only has the Heat retained Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade and upgraded with Justise Winslow and Gerald Green, but Miami also has preserved the flexibility to sign any single free agent it can land next summer, when the salary cap spikes.
Whether the Heat can carve out the space to sign a marquee free agent and keep Hassan Whiteside depends largely on next summer’s market value for Whiteside and how much Wade is willing to accept in a new deal.
We'll get to the landscape and Heat possibilities for 2016 in a minute. First though, a quick update on where this Heat free agent period stands as of 10 p.m. Thursday:
### Amar'e Stoudemire will meet with Pat Riley on Friday morning and the idea of playing for the Heat and living in South Florida (where he has a home) appeals to him, an associate said.
"He wants to be with the Heat," the associate said. "We'll see how the meeting goes. It's not a money decision."
The associate said a deal is close but stopped short of calling it definite because (as DeAndre Jordan proved) anything can happen in free agency.
The Heat has been offering only minimum contracts; $1.5 million would be a minimum contract for a player with Stoudemire's experience.
### Even after signing Gerald Green, the Heat still asked shooting guard Marcus Thornton to visit team headquarters on Friday, and Thornton this afternoon tweeted an emoji of a plane and palm tree. He, too, will meet with Riley (and others) on Friday.
### The Heat made the Green signing official tonight.
"We are fortunate to be able to sign a proven veteran like Gerald," Riley said. "He is a dynamic talent who possesses great athleticism and has the ability to shoot from distance and spread the floor. He'll be a perfect complement to our team."
As for where the Heat stands in 2016, some points to consider:
### With Chris Bosh, Dragic, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, the Heat has about $48 million in guaranteed cap commitments for 2016-17, well below a cap expected to fall between $89 million and $91 million.
But the Heat very likely will need to use salary cap space to re-sign Whiteside next summer because he doesn’t have full Bird Rights. The only way Miami could sign Whiteside without using cap space would be if he agrees to a two-year contract barely above the NBA’s average salary this season (close to $6 million). That’s unrealistic.
What’s more, Wade will have a big cap hold (150 percent of his $20 million salary) and that number will stay on the Heat’s cap next summer until he re-signs, when that cap hold is replaced by his actual new salary. So the Heat cannot spend $40 million in free agency to get to the cap limit and then re-sign Wade after that.
### It’s too early to know what Whiteside can command next summer, but if the Heat gives him a contract starting at $15 million --- and Miami hopes it costs less than that --- that would bring the Heat to about $63 million for five players unless McRoberts is traded. We aren’t counting James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier, who are at low money and aren’t guaranteed.
Even if Wade took only, say, $10 million for 2016-17 in that scenario, that wouldn’t leave enough to make anything close to a maximum offer for Kevin Durant or enough to lure the next tier of small forwards/shooting guards: DeMar DeRozan, Eric Gordon and Chandler Parsons (player option).
For Miami to be able to make a competitive bid in a long shot attempt to land Durant, the Heat would need to trade McRoberts, get Whiteside at something closer to $10 million for 2016-17, get Wade to take about $10 million and fill out the roster with cheap labor. Or it could simply not re-sign Whiteside.
Beyond Durant, DeRozan, Gordon and Parsons, other wings available next summer include the Heat’s Luol Deng and Green, plus Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Afflalo, Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson, Courtney Lee, OJ Mayo, Nic Batum and Gerald Henderson. With most teams having substantial cap room, the salaries could skyrocket, even for the handful of player in an even lower tier of skilled shooters, such as Chase Budinger and Jared Dudley.
The Heat’s urgency in finding a small forward next summer will naturally depend in part on how good Winslow looks this season, and how Deng and Green play.
What’s important is that if the Heat is able to lure Durant (a long shot) or another high-end player (such as DeRozan or Al Jefferson), Wade could work with Miami and take a modest salary one year with the expectation of a larger payoff in 2017-18, when the cap spikes again. Whether Whiteside could be retained in such a scenario is highly dubious, though.
### What if the Heat cannot reach a deal with Whiteside next summer? Other unrestricted free agent centers available include Jefferson, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Timofey Mozgov, Dwight Howard (player option), David Lee, Roy Hibbert, Chris Kaman, Nene and Mareese Speights.
If the Heat has doubts about Whiteside after this season, it could conceivably pursue Jefferson or Horford if it cannot snag Durant.
### The concern with Green is his defense --- a criticism that his agent recently told The Sporting News is unwarranted.
Green "never really seemed to get it going and then it comes to the point where, if you're not scoring and if your defense isn't picking up, it's hard to stay in the game," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "The next guy is going, 'I needed help here and the guy wasn't here.' We're trying to develop something for the future, not just being out here for everybody to play in the game. We want to get to a top-notch winning level and you've got to do it on both sides."
For a lot more on Green, please see the last post.
### While most NFL players are vacationing this month, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry and his buddy and former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr. (the NFL offensive Rookie of the Year) are pushing themselves through grueling morning workout at well-regarded trainer Pete Bommarito’s Performance Systems facility in Davie.
Landry is determined to improve his speed to prove he’s more than a slot receiver.
Is his speed better? “Absolutely,” Landry said this week. “I can’t wait to show it.”
Landry flashed that explosiveness when he caught a deep ball from Ryan Tannehill during the Dolphins’ minicamp last month.
“You can see the difference with Jarvis,” Bommarito said. “There’s a difference between straight line speed and football speed. He’s excelled at both.”
Derrick Shelby, Udonis Haslem and other NFL/NBA players also have been working at Bommarito’s facilities this month. Landry --- who spoke to Beckham most every Sunday night last season --- said working with Bommarito has helped with “knowledge, speed training, how to constantly evolve as a pro, get better every day with these guys, great group of coaches to allow us to tap into our football potential.”
Landry also has spent time recently with former Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers at The Chamber, his Davie-based facility.
### San Francisco has shown some interest in re-acquiring first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins but would have to be willing to pay a good chunk of the $11 million remaining on his contract for Miami to consider this. Nothing was imminent Thursday morning…. The Marlins have received several calls on pitcher Mat Latos, who’s available.
### After tonight's 2-0 win against the Reds, Jose Fernandez owns the big-league record for most consecutive home starts without a loss (22). He's 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA at Marlins Park. He struck out nine in seven innings tonight.
### UM and defensive tackle Corey King parted ways; the former West Boca High player appeared in 13 games (with one start) in the past three seasons, but just one game last season. UM confirmed he's no longer with the team.…
Adidas’ bash to unveil the Hurricanes’ new uniforms will be an invitation-only event for about 500 people from 7 to 10 p.m. on July 18 at Club Liv at the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach. Adidas has been trying to get popular entertainer/record producer DJ Khaled (who has 2.4 million Twitter followers) to provide entertainment.