The Heat significantly reduced their impending luxury-tax bill by dealing Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington for Ryan Anderson shortly before the trade deadline. The only surprise: Miami didn’t make another trade to escape the tax entirely.
But it might not be too late to dodge the tax.
McGruder won’t be eligible for the upcoming playoffs, and he’ll be a free agent this summer. But a team claiming him can this offseason:
- Make him a restricted free agent with a $3,021,354* qualifying offer
- Count him against the salary cap at just that amount until he’s signed or renounced
- Use Early Bird Rights to exceed the cap to re-sign him to a starting salary up to the estimated average player salary
*Correction: McGruder is entitled to a higher qualifying offer because he met the starter criteria.
McGruder is a solid 3-and-D wing with some complementary skills. Plenty of teams would benefit from having the 27-year-old.
Including the Heat, who are still in the playoff race. But they deemed saving money more important than maximizing their long odds of reaching the postseason.
A team claiming McGruder off waivers must use a trade exception or cap space and have an open roster spot. No team will cross this year’s luxury-tax line to add McGruder. The Clippers make a lot of sense, especially because they could use his low cap hold next summer while pursuing star free agents. But teams below the Clippers in the standings will have priority and could also make a claim.
If McGruder goes unclaimed, Miami will lose him and still be on the hook for the luxury tax. So, this is a high-stakes waiver period for the Heat.