Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
First major Heat offseason domino falls as PG Goran Dragic decides to enter free agency. Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng hold June 29 “opt-in” deadlines.
MIAMI — One major domino in the Miami Heat’s offseason has already fallen, with Rade Filipovich, agent for Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic, confirming Monday to the Sun Sentinel that his client will become a free agent on July 1.
The next major option decision of the Heat’s offseason apparently could come down to mediation, if a face-to-face discussion can even be scheduled.
At a time when Dwyane Wade previously had made the media rounds, there instead will be greater upcoming priorities for the Heat guard.
In the wake of Wade’s representatives saying he will bypass his annual media sessions at the adult basketball camp he is hosting this week at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa in Hollywood came an ESPN report Monday that Wade will meet within the week to discuss his contract impasse with Heat president Pat Riley.
However on Monday night a source close to the situation told the Sun Sentinel that no such meeting had been scheduled.
Wade has a $16.1 million option on his contract that must be decided next week, with the All-Star guard otherwise to become a free agent on July 1.
Both Wade and Heat forward Luol Deng hold June 29 “opt-in” deadlines. If they do not make any moves by then, each then would enter free agency. Instead of having to formally opt out, the two can determine their free agency by merely taking no action by midnight Monday.
Among the Heat’s options with Wade are extending a one-year maximum contract of $23.5 million for next season. Such a move would trigger a significant luxury tax for owner Micky Arison.
As the Sun Sentinel previously reported, such a tax hit could be mitigated with trades of point guard Mario Chalmers and/or center Chris Andersen. ESPN is reporting the Heat are making trade overtures regarding both. In each case, the Heat would be looking to avoid taking any guaranteed salary in return.
The Heat have remained mum on their personnel issues to the point of bypassing their annual pre-draft media session, with no one from the team’s scouting department scheduled to be made available in advance of Thursday’s NBA draft, with the Heat holding the No. 10 selection.
If Wade, 33, either bypasses his opt-in or accepts a one-year deal this offseason, he then would be able to sign a three-year contract with the Heat in the 2016 offseason without the Heat incurring an additional salarycap hit from the NBA’s “over-36” contract rule. Players are eligible to sign three-year contracts at any age without then having future money accounted back into the salary cap in earlier seasons.
Wade has been linked to potential interest from the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, with outside teams prohibited from contact until July 1.
As for Dragic, he had held an option for $7.5 million for 2015-16 but was considered a certainty to enter the freeagent market from the moment the Heat acquired him at the Feb. 19 NBA trading deadline from the Phoenix Suns.
Dragic was acquired from the Suns along with his brother, Zoran Dragic, in a three-way trade that also included the New Orleans Pelicans, with the Heat dealing guard Norris Cole, center Justin Hamilton, forward Danny Granger and a pair of future first-round picks, which are now held by the Suns, both of which could wind up as lottery picks.
Zoran Dragic has one year remaining on his Heat contract and recently has been among Heat players working out at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Riley said after the Heat finished out of the playoffs for the first time in seven years that he was confident of retaining Dragic this off- season.
The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are expected to attempt to make free-agency overtures to Goran Dragic, with the Heat hopeful of a quick resolution of the guard’s status.
Based on the math, it could be a relatively simple decision, one that could weigh $30 million in the Heat’s favor, should the Heat offer a maximum package, which is not necessarily expected.
Based on a projected $67.1 million NBA salary cap for 2015-16, and based on Dragic’s right to ask for up to a maximum starting salary of $20.1 million for next season (30 percent of the overall cap, based on his seven-season NBA tenure), the maximum the Heat could offer would be a five-year, $115 million contract.
Because of restrictions based on outsider bidders for free agents, which includes maximum annual raises of 4.5 percent vs. the 7.5 percent raises the Heat can offer off the first-year salary, the most another team could offer would be four seasons at $86 million.