The latest buzz in the trade mill speculates that Pat Riley is in the business of making Dwight Howard go from being unhappy to happy. Thank you very much, but I think Riley is more concerned with the goings-on of his own Miami Heat team than having all the NBA players be happy campers.
The Sheridan piece on Howard says,
"And Mr. Sixth Option also happens to have an option year on his contract next season for $23 million and change."
This morning Dan Feldman writes about Howard opting out at the end of the season for substantially more than $23 million.
"Howard's max starting salary next summer projects to be about $30 million."
Putting Howard's contact next year in the trade machine at $30 million would gut the Heat team and fill the rest of the roster with minimum salary players.
Trading Justise Winslow is entirely off the table due to his being on a first-round rookie contract, that is, he is locked in at rookie pay scale for four or five more years, even as the salary cap explodes next season.
Howard would cost the Heat $128 million over four years, while Winslow would cost the team about $9 million over same time frame. Micky Arison would have a say about spending $120 million extra, plus potential luxury taxes, in trading Winslow with other pieces for Howard.
The CBA opt-out date of Dec. 15, 2016 is less than one year away, so many of the issues about salary caps and luxury taxes could be vastly different a year from today. Negotiators will look closely at big trades, like that of Dwight Howard, in how to structure potential changes in next CBA.
The saga of Anthony Davis is a cautionary notice on relying too heavily on one player. Before the season, Davis was listed one of the top candidates for the MVP award. In the latest report by Sekou Smith, Davis is not even listed as a candidate for the trophy after his team's horrendous start.
In the Heat's last three victories, various players stepped up to lead the team. If one guy had an off-night, his teammate would make up for it. Having a balanced roster where if a star is out with an injury or simply not contributing much for one game, while the rest of squad carries the team to victory, is the hallmark of a great team.
This season, the Eastern Conference playoffs will be a dog-fight, since, so far, even the seventh and eighth seeds are not pushovers. The Heat are in top four, but none of bottom four playoff teams will go into the night quietly.