Where does Miami stand?
Miami has questions about Howard’s character and fit, sources say, and the Heat have been sniffing around cheaper 3-and-D wings — including Randy Foye in Denver.
A Howard-to-Miami deal is complicated for several reasons:
1. The Rockets are just below their hard cap, so they can’t add salary. The Heat are in line to become the first team to pay the repeater-rate luxury tax, so they’re probably extremely averse to adding salary.
2. Howard makes $22,359,364, and a potential centerpiece in return from Miami – Hassan Whiteside – makes $981,348. That’s a significant difference to make up, because league rules require salaries in a trade to match within a certain percentage.
3. Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Houston wouldn’t get his full Bird Rights. The Rockets couldn’t realistically exceed the cap to re-sign him or offer him a fifth year at all. They could offer just a few more million dollars over four years than other teams. All teams would be in that position with Whiteside, so why trade for him when it’d be nearly as easy just to sign him in the offseason?
4. Howard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. This one is a bit easier to solve, as I’d be surprised if the Heat would deal for him without an assurance he’d re-sign at an agreed-upon price.
And if that weren’t all enough, apparently Miami isn’t sold on Howard’s character and fit.
That could just be a negotiating ploy with the Rockets and even Howard on his next contract, though Howard has given reason to question his maturity. It’s just another reason to doubt this deal happens, though there are also reasons to believe it could happen – including Whiteside facing those same questions.
A smaller deal for someone like Foye could make more sense for the Heat. However, if they valued the combo guard’s ability to run point with Tyler Johnson injured, they just traded for point guard Brian Roberts. Plus, tax concerns still apply.
It makes sense for Miami to think big with Howard and think small with players like Foye. But in the end, the most prudent move might be shedding more salary by dealing Josh McRoberts and/or Udonis Haslem.