The Miami Heat are awaiting the decision of free agent Gordon Hayward very soon. Hayward is deciding between the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Utah Jazz and the decision is expected to come soon.
That decision could immediately impact the Heat’s next decision, which needs to come by July 7. Wayne Ellington has a non-guaranteed team option that must be exercised by July 7 for his $6.3 million salary for next season.
What that means is that Wayne Ellington is under contract next season for a reasonable $6.3 million. But the Heat can decide not to pick up that team option and owe nothing to Ellington for next season making him an unrestricted free agent.
If Gordon Hayward decides to come to Miami, the Heat could likely let Ellington go in order to create some more cap room to keep James Johnson and add additional help. If Hayward does not come here, the Heat likely will keep Ellington on the roster.
Miami cannot simply waive Ellington and sign him to a new deal because a team would likely pick him up for his reasonable contract.
So Gordon Hayward’s decision could impact the Heat in multiple ways. It’s also not certain that the Heat would move on from Ellington if Hayward comes. They could also decide to use the stretch provision on Josh McRoberts, waiving him and having his salary stretched out on the cap over three years — thus enabling them to keep Ellington.
These are all decisions that will have to happen in the next few days, because July 7 is the deadline for Ellington’s team option to be activated.
Last year, Ellington averaged 10.5 PPG in 24 minutes for the Heat. He was injured to start the season, but then got on a hot streak for Miami and was a real threat from the three-point line. Ellington was crucial in the Heat’s second unit. He shot nearly 38% from deep last season.
Ellington is close with James Johnson, Dion Waiters and coach Erik Spoelstra. The belief is all of them want to come back...but so much depends on Hayward.
What would you like to see the Miami Heat do in this situation?
My opinion is that the Heat should keep Wayne Ellington. I think he offers a skill that is special in the NBA, a deadly shooter who knows his role. He loves the culture in Miami and wants to be here. He was valuable in the second unit. It seems more likely that Dion Waiters may not be back with the Heat, which makes keeping a shooter like Ellington important, especially when Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are not skilled sharp shooters like him.