With only five players contractually guaranteed to return next season, the Miami Heat need to make a lot big moves and tough decisions in order to rebuild this summer.
Without any picks in this year’s NBA draft, the Heat can restructure by signing a player in free agency, which starts on August 6, or by working out a sign-and-trade deal, the latter of which NBA insiders told Bleacher Report is expected to be an extremely popular route for team’s facing “limited financial wiggle room” this summer.
While Miami has sizable cap space to play with this offseason, the Milwaukee Bucks are “depleted of most meaningful draft capital after splurging for Jrue Holiday last summer,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale wrote. “And they flexed smart cap creativity in their deadline to acquire P.J. Tucker.”
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“The Bucks could very well re-sign Tucker,” Favale continued. “They hold his Bird rights, so they’re allowed to go over the cap to re-sign him. But awarding Tucker the $12 million average annual salary he sought back during negotiations with Houston, sources said, will push Milwaukee’s expensive roster way over that pesky tax apron.”
League rules hold that teams can’t receive players in a sign-and-trade if it would push them over the tax apron — going about $6 million above the luxury tax that serves as a hard cap for teams.
Favale noted that in addition to the Heat, who attempted to acquire Tucker while negotiating the trade that brought Victor Oladipo to Miami from the Houston Rockets, the teams expected to show interest in Texas-Austin alum include the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Utah Jazz.
Tucker Would Be a Great Fit With ‘Heat Culture’
The 36-year-old forward has proven to be a defensive star during the Bucks’ postseason journey to the NBA Finals, and his work ethic sounds like a perfect fit for Heat culture.
After shutting down Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s all-time best scorers during the Eastern Conference Finals, Tucker spoke of his relentless fight to win and not letting drama get in the way of his game.
“It’s the playoffs, man,” Tucker said during that series, ESPN reported. “I don’t know what people think. We dream about this our whole lives. You dream about being in the playoffs and guarding the best player in the world. Like, I’ll die out there.”
“I’m living my dream. I’m not backing down from nothing. I’m fighting for every inch. I don’t understand all this little stuff. Me and Kevin fight every year. I’ve guarded him every year in the playoffs.”
Houston Rockets’ Asking Price for Tucker Before the Trade Deadline was Absurd
Back in early March, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer revealed that the Houston Rockets wanted either Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson in a trade for Tucker. Giving up the young Boy Wonder, or the Heat’s best sharpshooter in exchange for an aging forward shooting 31.4% from deep, seemed absurd.
Prior to the trade deadline, Herro was shooting 34.7% from deep, while Robinson was drilling 39.1%.
The asking price was initially reported to be much more agreeable in February, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I’m told Houston wants back not picks, but a player that they can plug back into their lineup” in return for Tucker.”
Tucker’s offensive struggles made giving up a starting-caliber player not so appealing for the Heat. But come August, if Miami does a sign and trade with Andre Iguodala, the door opens for the defensive veteran to take. his talents to South Beach.
“Sign-and-trades work because all parties benefit, because all parties have to agree,” a team cap analyst told Bleacher Report. “And it allows the player, in theory, to make more money than they could otherwise make with a team that doesn’t have cap space.”
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