Free Agency in the NBA starts at 12:00 AM on July 1. That's when teams can start negotiating deals with players, and the Miami Heat will be busy. Although the roster doesn't have a lot of room for a bunch of names, there is some important business to take care of when it starts.
So we've put together a primer for you on what to expect for the Miami Heat heading into free agency.
Guaranteed Contracts: (9) Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Chris Andersen, Josh McRoberts, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Shabazz Napier, Justise Winslow, Zoran Dragic
Non-Guaranteed: (4) Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, James Ennis, Henry Walker
Possible Additions: (1) Josh Richardson
Free Agents: (2) Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade
You can tell just by adding up the numbers, at least one of those players won't make the team next season, as it adds up to 16 players. The Heat will have decisions to make with Tyler Johnson and Henry Walker who could find themselves on the outside if Miami wants to add another free agent (Carlos Boozer).
Regardless, there are two clear priorities when it comes to free agency for the Miami Heat.
Priority #1 -- Sign Goran Dragic
It seems pretty certain that the Heat will offer Dragic a 5-year, $80 million contract. That keeps him in a Heat uniform under he's 34 years old under a max contract.
The Heat simply gave up too much to not retain Goran Dragic. Dragic will be the motor for the team, and he has to be the priority over Dwyane Wade. That may seem harsh, and it doesn't mean that Wade isn't as or more valuable, but the first step is going to be to lock up Dragic. Once they do that, the rest of the puzzle can fall into place. Miami's goal should be to have Dragic committed before he ever talks with anyone else. If he leaves, the Heat are a much worse team and attraction moving forward.
Priority #2 -- Sign Dwyane Wade
The Heat and Wade are going to meet at some point, but it seems Miami will let him test the market for a time. And once he does that, he will soon notice that no one will pay Wade the amount of over time that the Heat eventually will. Wade isn't going to get $20 million a year. But Miami could offer a 5-year, $82 million deal to Wade that would keep him in Miami for the rest of his career.
The Cavaliers can't offer Wade more than the MLE with the cap holds of LeBron and Love. The Lakers can pay Wade for a year or two, but aren't giving him a 5 year deal. The Heat might not even do that. If they can get away with 3-years and $45 million they will do that. But they may need to do Wade right this time.
Wade wants reimbursed for the sacrifices that he has made during his prime, rather than now. And if we are honest, he deserves it, even if it cripples the team somewhat moving forward. After those two are in tow, most of the Heat's work will be done.
If Wade walks, the Heat will have a $5.5 MLE and $2.1 BAE to spend. They would also go into 2016 with Dragic, Bosh, Winslow, and can offer Whiteside max while still having $20+ million to spend on free agency. Ahh...decisions.
What the Heat have to spend: Tax payer Mid-Level Exception valued at $3.45 million/year
Because the Heat are already at the salary cap with the tax holds and what they will likely give Dragic, this will be their only spending capability. After that, they can only offer the minimum salary, and they would have to cut some players to make additions.
You can make some nice additions with that type of money. HERE is a list of all possible free agents on the market.
Miami's depth chart could look like this:
PG -- Goran Dragic, Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier
SG -- Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Zoran Dragic
SF -- Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, James Ennis
PF -- Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem
C -- Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen
That leaves room for the Heat to make decision on Henry Walker and rookie Josh Richardson. And if they bypass both of those options, they could go after a free agent to jump in there.
What will happen after the Heat settle with Wade and Dragic will be names that are signed to non-guaranteed deals to play with summer league and moving forward into training camp. But remember, just because a name is signed doesn't mean they have made the team. The Heat can carry 20 players in September training camp.
The future of the Miami Heat could be decided in the next week.
There it is. Your Miami Heat free agency primer. Rumors will come and go, but remember...we always trust in Pat Riley.