How NBA’s Salary Cap Change Could Impact Miami Heat’s Bid for Star in 2021'
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The 2020-21 NBA salary cap is currently projected to fall to $116 million, which is $1 million less than previously forecast, giving the Miami Heat somewhat of a problem heading into next year’s free agency.

According to the Sun Sentinel, the Heat are in a financial bind for the 2020-21 season which would restrict them from adding an All-Star caliber player next summer to play alongside Jimmy Butler.

“The Heat, barring major cap-clearing moves in the interim, figure to be hard up against the 2020-21 figure, with their cap for that season currently standing at about $105 million, when counting the 2020-21 salaries of Jimmy Butler ($34.4 million), James Johnson ($16 million), Kelly Olynyk ($13.2 million), Justise Winslow ($13 million), Dion Waiters ($12.7 million), Bam Adebayo ($5.1 million), Tyler Herro ($3.8 million), KZ Okpala ($1.5 million) and the stretch payment due released forward Ryan Anderson ($5.2 million),” wrote the Sun Sentinel.

“Factor in the average first-round salary of $3 million for the Heat’s 2020 first-round pick, if exercised, and other smaller deals, such as retaining Duncan Robinson or Derrick Jones Jr., as well as a potential Dion Waiters games-played bonus, and just about the entire 2020-21 cap is accounted for.”

If the Heat don’t make any major roster moves, then they will almost certainly lose out on next year’s free agent crop. Anthony Davis is the biggest name available if he opts out of his current contract, but he is likely going to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers. Other notable names are Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Goran Dragic.

If Andre Drummond, Gordon Hayward and Otto Porter Jr. decline their player options, then the class of 2020-21 becomes more intriguing.

However, the following year appears to be the Heat’s focus, and they would be wise to wait until that time to consider giving a max offer to a superstar free agent. The 2021-22 free agents include players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Bradley Beal, Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday and possibly Anthony Davis (in the event that he doesn’t opt out the year before).

“The 2021-22 number, however, is one that will require vigilance, as the most likely next possible free-agency splash,” the Sun Sentinel added. “Of the projected $125 million cap, the Heat currently account for $63.3 million when counting the contracts in place for that season of Butler ($36 million), Herro ($4 million), Okpala ($1.8 million), Winslow’s team option ($13 million), the 2020 first-round pick ($3.3 million) and another stretch payment to Anderson ($5.2 million).

“That $63.3 million figure, however, does not include the $7.1 million qualifying offer to retain the rights to Adebayo, which would lift the total to $70.4.”

The wait to acquire another star player for the Heat might take this long if they don’t make any major moves within the next two years. Management will have to do a lot of number crunching in the next two summers to figure out when they want to make a big move.

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Omar is a freelance writer who has followed the NBA for more than 30 years. Prior to the Internet, he devoured every reading material he could find on the game from newspaper articles to books and magazines. He became a Heat fan the moment they acquired Tim Hardaway and his killer crossover, and lamented not seeing him and Alonzo Mourning win a championship. Seeing Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh play in Miami was a surreal moment for him and more so after they validated the Decision with back-to-back championships. He is ecstatic to cover Miami basketball for Heat Nation.