The NBA regular season for the Miami Heat still has two months remaining, with a playoff appearance hopefully following suit. However, when the offseason arrives, one Miami player who could find himself wearing a new uniform for the 2018-19 campaign is guard Tyler Johnson.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that finances are a key part of why Johnson would be moved, but is also a factor in why that task may be a problem:
“The expectation is that the Heat will explore moving the final two years of Tyler Johnson’s contract as early as this summer, but the backloaded nature of his deal isn’t the only reason that it will be difficult to achieve.”
Johnson is happy playing for the Heat, who matched the Brooklyn Nets‘ offer in 2016 of four years for a total of $50 million. However, his contract is set up so that his current salary of $5.6 million will nearly quadruple next season when he receives $19.2 million for each of the final two seasons of his deal.
Compounding the problem of making a deal is the fact that if Johnson is traded, his salary is boosted by $1.6 million for each year of the remaining contract. That trade kicker, which could be as much as $3.2 million if the Heat deals him this summer, would have to be paid by team owner Micky Arison.
Currently averaging 11.5 points per game and 41.7 shooting from the field, Johnson has seen numbers in both categories drop this season. That further aggravates the potential to trade him.
Keeping Johnson means that Arison, who tends to shy away from paying a luxury tax if at all possible, would be subject to that financial penalty if the team either uses a midlevel exception or seeks to re-sign either Wayne Ellington or Dwyane Wade. In addition, it severely restricts the team’s front office when it comes to signing free agents because of a lack of flexibility in regards to the salary cap.