MIAMI -- It is a process even more meticulous than a five-man weave. There is no turnover in the NBA more costly than failing to execute contracts in the precise order required under the salary cap.
So when the Miami Heat formally announced the signing of Mario Chalmers at midday Monday, it had nothing to do with Chalmers being viewed as more significant than the impending signings of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Danny Granger and Udonis Haslem that are assured of following.
There simply is a matter of maximizing cap space and the salary-cap exceptions that follow. It is not a process that goes from best to worst, or the other way around.
Hours later, the Heat followed up the Chalmers announcement by announcing the signing of McRoberts, the versatile outside-shooting, playmaking free-agent power forward signed away from the Charlotte Hornets.
And then, shortly thereafter, the Heat announced the signing of Granger, the oft-injured forward, who, with a return to health, could boost the Heat's post-LeBron James void of wing offense.
By week's end, Bosh, Wade, Deng, Andersen and Haslem will be under contract, possibly first-round draft acquisition Shabazz Napier, as well.
For now though, it remains about maximizing the possibilities in the wake of the free-agent loss of James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Beyond those already locked into the Heat's personnel orbit -- a group that also includes returning point guard Norris Cole and intriguing summer-league prospects James Ennis and Justin Hamilton -- a source familiar with the Heat's strategy confirmed that the team will also be positioned with a $2.7 million "space" salary-cap exception for an additional player from the still abundant free-agent pool.
And when the salary-cap formally is filled out, the Heat then will be able to turn Andersen's minimal cap hold into a contract starting at $5 million for next season, a salary that therefore only minimally will count against the cap.
For the Heat, that means 13 possibilities for the maximum 15 regular-season roster spots, with teams allowed to carry as many as 20 players during the offseason.
Monday, Chalmers was first man up in the Heat's contract procession.
In announcing the signing of what is believed to be a two-year contract starting at $4 million, the same salary Chalmers had received the previous three seasons, Heat President Pat Riley said, "It's great to have Mario back. We're happy that he wants to continue his career in Miami, he's one of our core players, and I believe he will have a great season."
Chalmers is coming off arguably the best regular season of his six-year NBA career, all with the Heat, when he averaged 9.8 points and led the team in three-point shooting. He then struggled in the postseason, particularly in the NBA Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs, when he ended the season removed from the starting lineup in favor of Ray Allen.
With Chalmers back under contract, it gives the Heat flexibility with the contract of Cole, who is due $2 million this coming season.
Then came the announcement of the signing of McRoberts, whose agent last week confirmed to the Sun Sentinel the agreement on a four-year, $23 million deal that included a player option for the final season.
"We felt from day one that he was one of our main targets," Riley said in a statement. "We are delighted that this multi-faceted player will help us immensely in being the kind of team that Coach 1/8Erik3/8 Spoelstra wants with his versatility."
McRoberts last season started in all 78 of his appearances, averaging 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting .436 from the field, .361 on three-pointers and .729 from the foul line. He made a career-high 105 three-pointers last season and ranked second in the NBA in assists-per-turnover (with a 4-to-1 ratio).
Granger, who finished last season with the Los Angeles Clippers, last week agreed to a two-year, $4.1 million deal with the Heat, with a player option for the second year. With James gone, he sets up as the first wing off the bench behind both Deng and Wade.
"One of our main priorities this offseason was obtaining a proven veteran like Danny with All-Star experience," Riley said in his third team-issued statement of the day. "We expect him to be a multi-position player and have a very successful season in our system."
Granger appeared in 41 games last season, with the Clippers and Indiana Pacers, averaging 8.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists, while shooting .378 from the field, .336 on three-pointers and a career-best 94 percent from the foul line. He was an All-Star in 2009, when he was named NBA Most Improved Player.
As for the Heat's $2.7 million "space" exception, it could either go to an incumbent Heat free agent, such as Allen, or an outside free agent, with Jordan Crawford, Rodney Stuckey, Andray Blatche or Kris Humphries among remaining possibilities, the likelihood of Allen returning is viewed as minimal.
After posting a picture of half a pitcher of orange juice on his Instagram account, Allen, who just closed on a house in Miami, added a comment of:
"I post a picture about orange juice and all you guys care about is to talk about basketball. There is more to life. Don't be one track minded people. People comment that athletes only post about meaningless things but when we do No one or even has anything good to add. Don't just use social media to talk trash or to argue with people. Use it to grow and learn. When I decide what to do it will be what is best for my family and no one else. I appreciate all of your concerns."
For his part, Bosh sees the Heat coming together in a manner that creates renewed hope.
"I think right now we have the correct infrastructure to compete for a championship," he told ESPN. "We have to get much better at certain positions, and there's a bunch of things that have to continue to happen. But you know a team like the Spurs, they had a lot of guys that people underestimate, but as a team, they were outstanding."
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