It was a formality that they’d do this eventually after the year he had, but the Heat have fully guaranteed Hassan Whiteside’s salary for next season. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports that, although Miami had until December 1 to make a decision, they’ve taken that uncertainty off the table several weeks before training camp.
Whiteside is an interesting case from a salary-cap standpoint. In the short term, he’s maybe the best value in the entire league: a legitimate starting-caliber center, dominant at times, making less than $1 million ($981,348 to be exact). But next summer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, and the Heat won’t ave his full Bird rights, which means they will have to dip into their cap space if they want to re-sign him, and if Whiteside has anything close to the out-of-nowhere success of last season, he’s going to be in line for a massive raise, maybe even a max deal. That’s cap space that the Heat will need if they hope to chase Kevin Durant next summer, which all indications are that they will. Shedding some salary during the season (if they can find a taker for Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and maybe even Josh McRoberts) would be smart. It will be fascinating to see how Whiteside’s situation plays out next summer, but for now, the Heat have an incredible bargain on their hands.
There was a day when Amar’e Stoudemire was one of the most feared players, one of the toughest covers in the NBA. He was athletic, versatile, inside-out four long before that became trendy. He was a guy worthy of a max deal, he was a cornerstone player — if he could stay healthy.
The last four seasons the injuries have won out. Stoudemire has missed more than a third of the possible games he could participate in, and he hasn’t been the same explosive player when he did suit up (although he has remained efficient).
Stoudemire signed with the Miami Heat for this season and told the Associated Press he thinks he can bring back some of that vintage form.
“Just four years ago I was an MVP candidate and an All-Star,” Stoudemire said. “I feel like I can still get back to that All-Star level of play. If I can achieve that, then that’s going to help the team in its entirety. … I will accept whatever the role is.”
Whatever that role is, he’s trying to be realistic about what might happen. In case he needed to be humbled, fans are still confusing him with Chris Bosh.
“Stay tuned,” Stoudemire said. “At this point, I don’t know what I’m going to bring. My goal is to become a better player than I was last year, expand on what I did last year. I have a lot of skill set left in this body and I want to show that.”
Miami has a ton of potential up front — if everyone can stay healthy. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside will start. Behind them is Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem — all veterans who know how to play the game. It gives Erik Spoelstra interesting options, but he needs guys who can stay on the court this season.
If they do, and if the rotations come together, this could be the second best team in the East during the regular season.
Heat owner Micky Arison is potentially staring at the repeater tax — just tack an extra dollar on every dollar already taxed. For example, with the lowest tax rate (less than $5 million over the tax line of $84.7 million) the bill jumps from $1.50 per dollar to $2.50. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, this escalates quickly.
The Heat are currently at $90.3 million in guaranteed salary, they just need to trim $5 million or so to get below the line. If you’re a contender well over the line (think Cleveland) you just bite the bullet as an owner, but if you’re just over the line why pay the extra?
Enter the Chris Andersen rumors — the Birdman makes $5 million a year. Throw in the emergence of Hassan Whiteside plus the return of Josh McRoberts, and the Heat could solve a lot of problems by moving Andersen. He has been linked to the Clippers for Jamal Crawford and other teams in deals that would lessen the Heat’s payroll (the Clippers trade is highly unlikely).
Do these rumors bother him?
The better question is, does anything bother him? Andersen sounded like a veteran who has been down the road before speaking to Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.
“It’s a business, man,” Andersen, 37, said. “It doesn’t bother me one bit.”
Miami is going to do something to cut payroll and moving Andersen may be that thing. It likely doesn’t happen until camps open, teams get a look at their rosters, and one of them realizes they need to pay for a backup center. That’s when Pat Riley calls.
But whatever happens, it’s not going to bother Andersen. He’s good.