The NBA Finals begin on Thursday, and for the fourth year in a row it will be the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Golden State Warriors. But on days we don’t have games, we’re going to look ahead.
Yesterday, we tackled the Northwest Division. Today, we look ahead to what we can expect from the Southeast Division…
Likely Cap Situation: Above the apron
Ideal Cap Situation: Above the apron
Draft Picks: N/A
The Miami Heat have over $145 million committed next season without having a guaranteed All-Star. They do not have Dwyane Wade or Wayne Ellington—two of the few effective players they had in the playoffs—under contract. Justise Winslow is a restricted free agent next summer and a team with so little upside can’t let a player with any of it get away.
So in other words, hey vultures, now would be the time to start stripping this roster clean!
Someone will take a two-year look at Hassan Whiteside if the only cost is money. Two teams in this division have contracts perfectly suited to such trades. Bismack Biyombo and Ian Mahinmi are useless for the Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards, respectively, but they make less than Whiteside so can at least save Miami some money. The Nets will take a look because they are as desperate for Whiteside’s star potential as any team in basketball. If Denver is willing to throw financial caution to the wind, Mason Plumlee is in a similar boat to Biyombo and Mahinmi. Someone will take him.
Dion Waiters will be treated the same way if the Heat bring back either Wade or Ellington. If the Warriors are desperate for more shot-creation off of the bench, Shaun Livingston and cap filler works. He’d be very welcome in New Orleans and the Pelicans have bad contracts of all shapes and sizes to trade back.
This summer is going to be about dumping money for the Heat. It just depends how aggressively they go about doing it. Dangle Winslow in a deal and they might even be able to duck below the apron. But on the smaller deals they are likely going to look at, this is just going to be a lower-tier playoff team that costs too much money.