Why Pat Riley is Playing Chess

Posted on 07/11/2010 by

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So in the comment for the previous post Chicago Tim asked “I thought Miami had Bird rights for Udonis Haslem because they worked out sign-and-trades for Bosh and LeBron. What happens if you put Haslem in place of Wallace and Williams?”

This comment and the post on the Miami Heat cap got me thinking about how Pat Riley has laid down a grandmaster GM performance this offseason. He simply understood the lucky opportunity before him better than anyone and seized upon it. As evidence:

  • Understanding that Wade,Bosh and LBJ wanted to play together and quietly adjusting his Cap Room accordingly.
  • Drafting two bigs to fill his roster gaps.
  • Dumping Beasley and getting two of David Khans draft picks.
  • Signing Lebron, Wade and Bosh to his team and leaving himself $9.49 m in to play with. Why is this important? a typical NBA contract is  structured around a base year salary and an 8% increase by Year. This means for example that a five year contract for $25 million (like the rumored Miller deal) only counts for 25 divided 5.8 or 4.3 million against the cap. After the Miller deal, Riley still has enough room under the cap for 2 5 year $15 million dollar deals which could net him Matt Barnes, Fisher or Raja Bell.
  • Udonis Haslem, his Larry Bird rights and the Sign and trades. By doing the Sign & Trades with Cleveland and Toronto and holding off on this contract he can sign the three additional FA under the cap and still bring in Haslem with a raise (Note: The Heat can do this for the 2011-12 Season as even though they renounced to the Bird rights for Haslem this season, those rights revert back as I’m sure they’ve told him). This is by far is the virtuoso move. The Heat knew Cleveland and Toronto always would have to do the Sign and Trade or walk away with nothing. So at this point they filled 10 roster spots without resorting to the minimum.
  • The Heat’s prospective minimum salary players. Two of the Four heat minimum salary players are above average players (Quentin Richardson and Carlos Arroyo) and I would expect they would sign to stay in miami.

So their Prospective Roster now looks like this:

This could get worse (if they get Fisher and not Barnes or Raja Bell or if Big Z comes to town) or better (Ben Wallace or Shelden Williams or another credible min. salary big) but were still well north of 65 wins.

So this summer, Riley pulled off his own Jo Barry Carroll trade. Somewhere, Red Auerbach is impressed.

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