Basketball / Sports

Miami Heat building back, with at least four signings imminent

MIAMI -- The Day After was as much about the accounting tools needed to go forward as it was about the Miami Heat accounting for the devastation of the day before.

With the NBA salary cap requiring precision when it comes to the timing of certain moves, the Heat moved methodically through the process of restructuring in the wake of LeBron James' Friday free-agency defection to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There were more than a few twists Saturday when it came to the creation of Post LeBron 1.0:

-- Agent Henry Thomas, who a day earlier got forward Chris Bosh an NBA-maximum five-year, $118 million contract to return to the Heat, said he was working toward completion of new Heat contracts for Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.

-- Agent Mike Conley stressed that free-agent forward Josh McRoberts would follow through on his commitment to the Heat, one made prior to James' decision to depart. Conley said that at no point did the Heat seek to back out of the agreement. Forward Danny Granger, who also agreed to terms with the Heat prior to James' departure, also is expected to sign soon.

-- After talking about a long-term, possibly until-retirement commitment to Cleveland, James instead took a two-year, $42 million contract from the Cavaliers, similar to the deals that he, Wade and Bosh opted-out of from the Heat prior to the July 1 start of free agency. That means that no sign-and-trade agreement was necessary with the Heat, meaning the Cavaliers retain the top-10-protected 2015 first-round pick the Heat sent to Cleveland in the 2010 sign-and-trade for James.

-- Negotiations continued for free-agent forward Luol Deng, a potential fit to replace James at small forward, with the market heating up after Saturday's agreements between Trevor Ariza and the Houston Rockets, and Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls.

-- And word from a party close to the process said negotiations were continuing to bring Mario Chalmers, one of several remaining Heat free agents, back into the fold, with Chalmers' salary demands to possibly determine that outcome.

Against that backdrop, Wade offered a statement Saturday about James' departure, saying:

"As a friend and a teammate, I am sad to see my brother LeBron leave to begin a new journey. In 2010, we decided to come together all for one goal--to win championships and we succeeded.

"We were friends when we first joined the league and created an unbreakable bond the past four years. Our collaboration will always be very special to me both personally and professionally. We shared something unique and he will always be part of my family.

"LeBron made the right decision for himself and his family because home is where your heart is. I know this was not an easy decision to make and I support him in returning to his roots.

"As an organization, a community, and as individuals, we achieved the goals we set when we first signed on together. We are champions."

Neither Wade nor Haslem were believed to have solicited offers from outside teams, with their new Heat deals to be completed soon.

Still held up are the agreements with McRoberts and Granger, with the situation uncertain whether the Heat will move ahead with utilizing the $5.3 million mid-level exception on McRoberts and $2.2 million exception on Granger, or whether the two will receive commensurate salaries through the use of salary-cap space.

"I'm not sure if it's going to be an exception or not," Conley said Saturday of McRoberts' deal. "But he is signing with Miami.

"We were hoping at least two of the three stars would be there. But that wasn't his sole decision for wanting to go there."

Depending on how the Heat utilize the NBA's various signing mechanisms, there could be as little as a solitary remaining $2.7 million exception left once Wade, Haslem, McRoberts, Granger and an additional free agent are signed, or there could be "Bird Rights" available to accommodate comfortable 2014-15 salaries for the likes of 2013-14 Heat players Chalmers, Chris Andersen, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden and others.

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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