A year ago, after a pandemic-extended second straight season, the Miami Heat were set to delay the start of NBA free agency on Aug. 2.
Or, in the NBA’s view, a year ago, after a pandemic-extended second straight season, the Heat were already knee-deep in the process.
Barely the news of the Heat’s sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors for Kyle Lowry minutes after that August 2, 2021, opening bell of free agency, that the league came to a standstill. T for tampering.
Five days later, it was confirmed that the NBA was indeed investigating. Four months later, the Heat received a second-round pick in the June draft.
The reaction of the Heat? “Although we don’t agree, we accept the League’s decision. We continue our season. With Lowry in place, the Heat finished with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, a win over an NBA Finals berth.
Now, a year later, the question is whether the NBA will be uniform in its approach to what is considered “arms-leaping,” making free agency openings before the allowed window.
Already, as ESPN reported, the NBA is looking into creating – and dare we say, pre-planned? –Philadelphia 76ers approach that helped them quickly lock in former Heat forward PJ Tucker early in free agency. It may have involved shenanigans with James Harden’s free agency contract.
But Exhibit A of this year’s ‘gun jump’ comes as the New York Knicks, who couldn’t have been more transparent with their courtship with Dallas Mavericks free agent guard Jalen Brunson, Knicks brass assistant at one of his field playoff games, in New York’s hiring of Jalen’s father, former NBA guard Rick Brunson, as a coach in June, to Sam Rose’s portrayal of Jalen , son of Knicks president Leon Rose.
It is, of course, how the game is played, how the game has always been played.
Even Mavericks owner Mark Cuban ignored him during the NBA Summer League.
“No, they were perfect. I didn’t see anything wrong at all,” Cuban said on Sirius/XM NBA Radio, sarcasm in his tone. “It’s just business. This is how it works. You know, it’s not for me to determine. It’s in the NBA. It’s like that. It is done.”
Based on the Knicks’ desperation to get a deal with a free agent, any free agent being tied up to a second-round pick will likely be seen as a cost of doing business. Remember, this is a team that was in the 2010 bidding for Chris Bosh and LeBron James and walked away with Amar’e Stoudemire. It was a team that decided Brunson was worth $104 million over four years.
The Heat weren’t the only ones to receive a second-round pick last summer, with the Chicago Bulls being hit with the same penalty for now with their sign-and-trade deal for Lonzo Ball. With no second-round pick in last June’s draft, the Bulls remain on the hook for that penalty.
So are the Knicks next in the penalty area, even ahead of the 76ers? Unlike the Heat and Knicks last summer, the deal with Brunson was direct, no need for third-party involvement, as the Heat demanded with the Raptors for Lowry or the Bulls with the New Orleans Pelicans for Ball.
The Heat, in fact, lost Tucker last month before the Knicks’ deal with Brunson even became clear minutes after free agency began at 6 p.m. on June 30. For days, it was known that Tucker had an offer in hand of the 76ers’ $10.5 million mid-level exception, at a time when the 76ers still had a lot of work to do with Harden in order to free up some space. room for Tucker under the hard ceiling.
As with all matters involving NBA free agency, the timing of Tucker’s deal with the 76ers was initially met with as much shrug as the timing of Brunson’s deal.
The reality now, as was the case with the Heat and Bulls last summer, is that if the added cost for such pre-arranged deals is a lost second-round pick, so be it. The Heat sure would have thrown away such a pick to strike a deal with Lowry last summer, as would the Bulls with Ball. And the Knicks’ desperation, as evidenced by the largesse with Brunson’s contract, showed that New York probably would have done it too. Maybe that penalty hits the 76ers as well.
As it stands, this year’s draft has been reduced to 58 selections, with the Milwaukee Bucks having docked a second-round pick in 2022 for a previous free agency mischief in 2021 with Bogdan Bogdanovic.
For the league office, this is considered a punishment.
For the teams in the league, it’s the price to pay for doing business.
So the Knicks and the 76ers next?
Or did tampering fatigue set in again after the Heat and Bulls were cut a year ago?
IN THE WAY
ROAD BLOCKAGES: For those still unclear on trade permutations for Kevin Durant and who the Brooklyn Nets can take over comes down to what the NBA calls the Designated Rookie Extension. Basically, you can have up to two of these players on your roster at the same time, but only one that has been acquitted via trade. for heat, Bam Adebayo falls into this category, with possibly (not as unlikely) Tyler Herro Next. Because the Nets acquired Ben Simmons while he’s under such a deal, so they can’t acquire such a player while Simmons is still on their roster. The current list, according to The Ringer: Sion Williamson (New Orleans), Ja Morant (Memphis), Adebayo (Miami), Devin Booker (Phoenix), Luka Doncic (dalas), Joel Embid (Philadelphia Cream), De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Jamal Murray (Denver) Donovan Mitchell (Utah), Simmons (Brooklyn), Michael Porter Jr. (Denver) Jayson Tatum (Boston), Karl Anthony Towns (Minnesota), Andre Wiggins (golden state) and Trae young (Atlanta).
BACK TO THIS: Back to his day job, the Filipino coaching legend Tim Cone reflected on his time with the Heat in the summer league and the lessons he hopes to export. “Those are things that I’m struggling with right now, because I’ve been exposed to new things, and I certainly like to try some of them,” he said, after stepping away from the season. of his team to work with the Heat earlier. this month. “I wanted to observe everything I could do, but I also didn’t want to be intrusive and in the way, so it was also a delicate balance trying to do that.” Cone worked in the Heat’s summer league at the invitation of the Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who is of Filipino descent. Next year, the 64-year-old, born in Oregon, will coach against Spoelstra and Team USA at the World Cup, with the Philippines among the host nations. “It’s indescribable how awesome it was,” Cone said of the Philippines of his Heat experience. “I have no words for that.”
GLUE GUYS: When it comes to heating up the “glued guys” over the years, James Posey arguably met that definition as much for the 2006 Heat championship as anyone on the Heat rosters who won NBA titles in 2012 and 2013. Now the journey to enlightenment continues, the former Heat forward being named assistant coach of the Washington Wizards. Having also won an NBA title in 2008 with the Boston Celtics and then in 2016 as an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Posey arrives in Washington after spending last season as an assistant coach for the University women’s team. of Virginia under the Hall of Famer. Tina Thompson. He previously spent five seasons coaching at Cleveland. “We will be able to draw on his playing and coaching experiences to help our players develop,” the Wizards coach said. Wes Unseld Jr.
ON BOTH SIDES: The Heat ended up with placements on both Spotrac’s list of best and worst free agent rookies during the offseason. The agreement with the front Caleb Martin tied for fifth (with twin brother Cody Martin re-sign with the Charlotte Hornets). Of Caleb Martin’s deal (three years, $20.5 million excluding mid-level taxpayers), the salary-focused website noted, “Miami still has great value for money. for the taxpayer’s MLE amount for a player who should have played more in the Eastern Conference Finals. .” On the list of worst signings, the Heat backup center’s two-year, $9 million deal Dewayne Dedmon was ranked No. 8 because “Dedmon seems like a fat man on minimum wage at this point. The Heat couldn’t even play him at the end of their playoff series. Omer Yurtseven could already be better as a replacement for Bam Adebayo. Interestingly, Tucker’s signing by the 76ers of the Heat for $33 million over six years was No. 7 on the worst list, with a note, “this $11.5 million player option in Year 3, when Tucker turns 40, already has l looks really bad.”
$10.5 million. Payment received by each of the 23 teams, including the Heat, that remained below the luxury tax last season, with the figure representing a percentage of the excess of the seven teams that operated above the tax.