Miami Heat fan and salary cap expert Albert Nahmad wrote that the move was an attempt to move under the luxury tax.
Heat would drop below the luxury tax if Rodney McGruder’s $1.5M salary gets claimed off waivers (by one of 16 teams that can). A claiming team would get his Early Bird rights, and could make him RFA with a $3.0M qualifying offer (which Heat weren’t going to give anyway).— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) April 7, 2019
Heat waiving Rodney McGruder sheds light on choices made at trade deadline... Heat could’ve dropped below luxury tax, permanently, by trading him. They didn’t, presumably b/c they felt he could help them win. They prioritized winning. (And did so again by playing Kelly Olynyk.)— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) April 7, 2019
Although McGruder is not playoff-eligible, a team that claims him will get his Early Bird rights. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson wrote that Miami “had shown no inclination to give him a new deal” after his contract expires at the end of this season.
McGruder played in 65 games this season, starting 45. His impressive play early in the year pushed veteran Wayne Ellington out of the rotation (and he was later traded to the Phoenix Suns and then signed by the Detroit Pistons). Moreover, McGruder scrapped and clawed his way to a Heat roster spot. He played for the Heat’s G League affiliate team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, in 2015-16. After impressing Heat officials in the 2016 summer league, McGruder earned a spot as an NBA rookie for the 2016-17 season — at the age of 25.