The Miami Heat were faced with an October 31 deadline to offer a rookie-scale contract extension to point guard Norris Cole, and they chose not to.
Although we have seen Eric Bledsoe, Kemba Walker, and Isaiah Thomas get deals, Norris Cole did not...and now he will head into free agency next summer as a restricted free agent, What that means is that the Heat will be able to match any offer that Cole gets from the outside if they don't agree to a deal together.
Per source, no rookie-scale extension for Norris Cole. With passing of midnight deadline, both sides will deal next summer as restricted FA.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 1, 2014
This was a calculated decision by the Miami Heat. Despite Cole being named the starter and scoring a career high in points, 23, on opening night -- his contract status is a part of the business. So let's make a little sense of it.
Why does it make sense?
Norris Cole will remain as an expiring contract this season.
That means that he is a valuable trade asset. Now, why would we want to trade a 26 year old point guard who is playing really well for us right now? Because we have a 23 year old point guard who also has a really high ceiling named Shabazz Napier, and Cole could be used to bring in a different valuable piece to the team.
That isn't what anybody wants to hear. We all like Norris, his tenacity, the way he approaches the game, and the way he has improved this year. But we have to remember that it is a business. Giving the Heat an expiring deal will give them some room to make something happen if it becomes available. Wrapping Cole into a 4-year deal would not be completely appealing to teams looking to unload a productive player.
"I only can control what I can control, and that's being professional and making sure my play on the court is the best it can be, and everything else I'm sure will take care of itself." -- Norris Cole
Even with all of this flexibility...
The Heat maintain the ability to match any offer made at Cole.
That means that if they really want to keep him, they will always have the choice to do so. Really the only way that this blows up on Miami is if Norris Cole transforms himself into an All-Star caliber point guard this season. Unlikely, would be awesome, but unlikely. Cole would then have the leverage to make a lot of money, a lot more than the Heat would have had to pay with an extension.
So, the ball will always be in the Heat's court. We all want to see Norris succeed. Let's hope that this happens in a Heat jersey. It looks like the most likely scenario will have the real work coming next summer in free agency.
"I think that we're going to make the right decision, absolutely." -- Pat Riley
Remember, Riley has had a master plan of keeping 2016 a prime spot to have maximum money, and this may be a part of this process.
Cole makes $2.15 million this year. When the Heat extend their QO of $3.03 million by June, they will officially have the right to match any offer.