Report: Heat frontrunner to sign Joe Johnson

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Joe Johnson reportedly planned to sign with the Cavaliers if he received a buyout from the Nets.

Brooklyn buyout complete, is Johnson headed to Cleveland?

Not so fast.

Adam Zagoria of

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

Johnson will clear waivers tomorrow, so he has another day to weight his options. If he’s learning toward the Heat, he’ll probably have even more time.

Miami can add only 38 duty days of minimum salary to its payroll and remain below the luxury-tax line. So, a rest-of-season contract couldn’t begin until March 7 if the Heat prioritize avoiding the tax, which they surely do.

Miami also has two roster vacancies and could open a third by waiving Beno Udrih, who’s likely out for the season and on an expiring contract. So, the Heat might delay Johnson’s signing even further to accommodate an additional signing or two.

They’d have some discretion in when they’d get Johnson. They could sign him on up to two 10-day contract, not necessarily consecutively, and then a rest-of-season contract. As long as Johnson ends the regular season on their roster, he’d be eligible for the playoffs. The other requirement is he’s waived by his previous team by March 1, which the Nets satisfied.

Of course, Miami’s need to delay could also open the door for Johnson to change his mind (again?).