Miami has managed to hand out big deals to many different players over the past few years and are set to avoid the luxury tax for a third straight season. It seemed like an inevitability that they would become taxpayers with Jimmy Butler’s and Tyler Herro’s massive extensions set to kick in next season, but they could be in a position to avoid it again. Their willingness to be a tax team could hinge on another deep playoff run this year.
If the Heat decides the roster isn’t worth being in the tax, they could look to avoid it again. They are projected to be close to $15 million over the tax next season, with 10 players assuming they waive Dewayne Dedmon’s non-guaranteed $4.3 million salary. This projection includes their first-round pick falling in the early 20s and Victor Oladipo exercising his $9.5 million player option. The two players they could look to unload are Kyle Lowry’s $29.7 million salary and Duncan Robinson’s $18.2 million salary.
Offloading Robinson may be more of a half-measure since they’d still project to be in the tax once they fill up the roster. The more effective solution would be clearing most or all of Lowry’s remaining salary for next season. One popular hypothetical being thrown around is the Heat swapping Lowry for D’Angelo Russell, who has a $31.4 million expiring salary. A trade like this would get them well below the tax, with enough flexibility to fill out the rest of the roster.
Alternatively, the Heat will naturally be looking for upgrades to the roster, which could mean increasing payroll for next season. They could be willing to be taxpayers if they are in a position to acquire the next available All-Star. They will be able to offer up to three first-round picks in a trade and have adequate salary filler in Lowry and Robinson.