Just not as cheaply as initially reported.
Turns out, Waiters didn’t sign a one-year deal. It’s a two-year deal with a player option.
Waiters holds a player option on the 2017-18 season
If Waiters received the full room exception and maximum raise, his 2017-18 salary is slated to be $3,028,410. Given his self-confidence, there’s a good chance he’ll opt out.
But Miami loses flexibility by putting the decision in his hands.
The Heat now project to have just about $14 million of cap space in 2017.
That counts the guaranteed salaries of Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, player options for Josh McRoberts, Waiters and Willie Reed, a team option on Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson‘s unguaranteed salary and the No. 15 pick.
So, there’s a lot of wiggle room. The cap could land higher than expected, especially because a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could dictate terms. Miami could trade. McRoberts, Waiters and/or Reed could opt out. The Heat could get a lower draft pick.
But Waiters’ contract ties up just a little more 2017 cap room. It’s still probably worth the flier on the talented, though woefully inefficient, 24-year-old. The downside is just a little sharper.
Which leads to the bigger question: Was it worth letting Dwyane Wade leave in the name of maintaining flexibility if that flexibility is only moderate anyway?
Obviously, it’ll be easier to handle Waiters’ $3 million player option than Wade’s requested $25 million salary in 2017. But the Heat won’t have substantial cap space regardless. And this way, they also won’t have Wade.