Free-agent fits for the Heat

A $12 million cap-space number would jibe with the reported figure from the Oregonian that Wade would re-sign with the Heat on a four-year deal starting at $12 million with Bosh re-upping at $11 million. Agent Henry Thomas, who represents Wade, Bosh and Haslem, has denied the Oregonian report to ESPN, but the cap number makes sense given the high-profile names whom the Heat are linked to on opening day of free agency. To be precise, with the cap holds on the rest of the roster, including Andersen's veteran minimum cap hold and a reduced salary for Haslem, the Heat's available cap space in this scenario would be $11,825,213 (see more below).

What can $12 million in cap space get Miami in 2014 free agency? 

The incumbents

Let's get these role players out of the way before we get to a fresh new batch of players. It's a fair bet that Ray Allen, James Jones, Andersen and Haslem will all be back next season as the Heat continue to hunt for titles and try to maintain the chemistry in the locker room. For these purposes, I'm assuming that the Heat have already moved on, for various reasons, from Rashard Lewis, Mario Chalmers, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley and Toney Douglas. Indeed, Allen and Andersen could fetch more money elsewhere, but the guess here is that the two vets will latch onto James if he returns. 

But Haslem is a tricky situation. On the court, he was essentially a nonfactor for the Heat in the playoffs outside of some early spot duty against Roy Hibbert in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite the fact that he probably won't net big money elsewhere, he turned down his $4.6 million player option next season. Why? Presumably to help the Heat create some flexibility. His $8 million cap hold still hangs on the books, but the Heat can wipe that away by renouncing his Bird rights and signing him with cap room for the veteran minimum.

Plenty of veterans have swallowed big pay cuts to play with the Heat in the Big Three era, so Haslem probably won't hold out for a contract higher than $2 million. For these purposes, we'll assume Haslem inks a two-year deal around $1.7 million with a handshake deal that he'll join the front office when his playing days are over ( as suggested by Grantland's Zach Lowe). The thinking goes if James, Wade and Bosh take pay cuts to open up some cash for a championship hunt, so will Allen, Andersen and Haslem.

This may be a team-friendly outlook, but it wouldn't make much sense for the Heat's stars to take pay cuts to add a bit player with the midlevel exception. If they're going to take a pay cut, they're going to get something worthy out of it.

So that takes care of eight roster spots and the bulk of the rotation. Who else should round out the roster?

The new faces

Prepare for the Heat to tweak the roster rather than scrapping the plan and starting all over. There simply isn't a need to abandon what yielded their two most recent titles: defend with high energy, spread the floor and attack the basket.

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