Bam Adebayo — the All-Star, All-Defensive Team anchor of the Miami Heat team that just went to the NBA Finals — will make $5.1 million next season. The 23-year-old center is eligible for a contract extension off his rookie deal after that and is a no-brainer max contract guy. He is one of the Heat anchors for the next few years with Jimmy Butler and beyond that, whatever the Heat look like.
However, give him that max contract this summer and it messes with the max cap space the Heat were hoarding for the free agent bonanza in the summer of 2021 (or a potential big trade). It’s something NBA salary cap expert Albert Nahmad talked about on Twitter.
Bam Adebayo is eligible for a max extension this offseason, which'd kick in for 2021-22. But if Heat give it to him, they’d lose ability to create Giannis-sized max salary slot in summer 2021. (MIA can give him exact same contract as free agent next summer AND keep the max slot.)
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) November 10, 2020
If Giannis Antetokounmpo decides to leave Milwaukee — and the odds are he stays — Miami is one of the favorites to land him (along with Dallas, followed by a second tier including Golden State and others). The Bucks are not trading him; this will be a free agent thing in the offseason of 2021. Teams in the mix for him have to have the cap space to sign him (or the ability to create it), and Miami has the room to get him or another big star that summer.
It’s a delicate dance. Chris Bosh says to pay Adebayo now and figure the rest out later.
Miami can go to Adebayo and explain the situation, and he may even say he understands it and is willing to wait, but will the team not giving him the extension when it could become something that festers?
Miami would not be the first team to ask a star for a delay like this. The Spurs did it with Kawhi Leonard. There are also rumors that delay was one of the things that started the splinter in their relationship that ultimately led to Leonard heading to Toronto.
This likely ends up being nothing. Adebayo waits a year, gets the same money, and Pat Riley has a way of smoothing things over. But it is something to watch.