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Here's how Kawhi Leonard's impending decision could possibly even affect the Heat

Anthony Chiang, Miami Herald on

Published in Basketball

As the NBA waits on Kawhi Leonard's decision, the Heat continues to work to get below the $138.9 million hard-cap threshold in order to complete the sign-and-trade acquisition of Jimmy Butler.

The team receiving the player in the sign-and-trade (the Heat, in this case) cannot be above the hard-cap line at the conclusion of the deal. That means before the trade is fully consummated and announced, the Heat needs to shed additional money to get its team salary below $138.9 million and then must stay under that threshold for the rest of the season.

Miami has a few days to achieve this, with trades unable to become official until the end of the NBA moratorium Saturday at noon. The deal could technically even be delayed further if the Heat needs more time to get below the hard-cap line and the other teams in the trade are willing to wait.

While Leonard is reportedly choosing between the Lakers, Clippers and Raptors, his decision could end up affecting the Heat.

Here's how ...

The Heat comes out of the four-team trade with 14 players on its roster: Butler (a 2019-20 salary of $32.7 million), Ryan Anderson ($21.3 million), Goran Dragic ($19.2 million), James Johnson ($15.3 million), Kelly Olynyk ($13.1 million), Justise Winslow ($13 million), Dion Waiters ($12.1 million), Meyers Leonard ($11.3 million), Tyler Herro ($3.6 million, but has not signed contract yet), Bam Adebayo ($3.5 million), Derrick Jones Jr. ($1.6 million), Yante Maten ($1.4 million), Duncan Robinson ($1.4 million) and Kendrick Nunn ($1.4 million).

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The Heat's team salary stands at a little more than $150 million committed to 14 players. Waiters' unlikely bonus represents an additional $1.1 million, which needs to be included when calculating payroll for hard-cap purposes.

In order to get under the $138.9 million hard-cap apron, the Heat could be forced to use the "stretch provision" when waiving Anderson unless it is able to shed additional salary in coming days.

Only $15.6 million of Anderson's $21.3 million salary is guaranteed if he's released by July 10. But waiving and stretching Anderson would reduce his cap hit to an annual $5.2 million over the next three seasons to create an extra $16.1 million in room from his full $21.3 million salary and is believed to move the Heat just below the hard-cap threshold.

The downside of using the "stretch provision" when waiving Anderson is the Heat will incur an annual $5.2 million cap hit over the next three seasons, which will eat away at some of its 2020 and 2021 cap space, rather than just dealing with a single $15.6 million cap hit this upcoming season if Miami simply released him.

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