Josh Richardson signed a contract extension for the maximum amount the Miami Heat could possibly give him within the collective bargaining agreement.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Richardson has “won the trust” of head coach Erik Spoelstra as a solid player on both offense and defense. He will stay with the Heat rather than testing restricted free agency. This makes sense considering just five teams are expected to have cap space next offseason.
Bobby Marks explains why this move is significant for the future of the Miami payroll even though it won’t have an impact for the upcoming season (via ESPN):
“The Heat will be flirting with the luxury tax next season based on the Josh Richardson new extension. The Richardson $9.4 million cap hit now has Miami with $117.5 million in salary and roughly $5.5 million below the tax. The guaranteed salary could increase to $119.6 million if Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk reach their incentive bonus for games played. Miami now has 10 guaranteed contracts for 2018-19.”
Richardson provides an option for the team who is already familiar with the organization and is also relatively affordable for the franchise.
He could be used as a trade chip considering his contract is attractive if the Heat decide he does not fit with their long-term plans moving forward. However, it would be hard to find someone much cheaper than him who has similar value.
If Miami does not make a trade, they will become one of the “capped out” teams in the league next year and would only be able to offer the mid-level exception and veteran minimum to players during the offseason.
Their estimated pay roll will be between $115 million and $119 million depending on whether bonuses are met. This is certainly above the $103 million currently projected to be permitted for 2018-19. The luxury tax line, however, will be somewhere around $125 million.
Pat Riley was previously unwilling to have his team reach this level of spending. It seems unlikely that they would make any roster changes to compromise this moving forward as well.