Report: Miami Heat Will Likely Try to Trade Their Way Below Luxury Tax

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Entering the 2019-20 season, the Miami Heat find themselves above the NBA’s luxury tax level of $132 million. One new report indicates that the team is expected to try to work a trade that will help get it under that limit and thereby save some money.

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel responded to a Heat fan’s confusion about whether the team could still make a trade after the signing of Davon Reed:

“They can. What I meant (and thanks for allowing me to clarify) was that based on the Heat position against the hard cap, they have no additional flexibility beyond the current 14 players on the roster with guarantees. The only exception is that they could (but won’t) release Kendrick Nunn in favor of another minimum-scale player and still stay below the hard cap. But you are correct, and perhaps even more correct than I was, since it remains likely the Heat will try to trade their way below the luxury tax. And depending on how that is achieved, it very well could open the possibility of adding a 15th player. At worst, the Heat can add a 15th player at midseason and stay below the hard cap, even with the current mix in place. So it might come down to a converting one of their two-way deals into a standard contract at that point, which would allow them to first maximize the 45-day NBA limit on such a deal.”

Right now, the Heat’s payroll is just over $138.5 million, putting them more than $6 million over the luxury tax for this season. Two Heat players who are making over $10 million this season and are in the final year of their contracts are Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard, which could make them candidates to be traded. Dragic will make $19.2 million and Leonard is set to earn $11.3 million.

Two other trades candidates would be forward James Johnson and guard Dion Waiters, with both players also making more than $10 million per year. In Johnson’s case, he’s set to earn $15.1 million this year and has a player option for just under $15.8 million next season. For Waiters, his salary for each of the next two seasons is for more than $13 million.

Of course, to trade any of the these players, the Heat have to have a willing partner on the other side. While teams may be more inclined to accept the expiring contracts of Dragic and Leonard, finding one that will take on either of the contracts of Johnson or Waiters will present a more severe challenge.

The Heat will gain more payroll flexibility after the upcoming season and even more when the 2020-21 season concludes. In the meantime, the team’s front office is trying to find a way to improve the squad while enhancing the economic picture at the same time.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.