Contracts the Miami Heat Are Most Excited to Have Off Their Books

Sam Richmond@srichmond93Correspondent IApril 2, 2013

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 17:  Mike Miller #13 of the Miami Heat during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on November 17, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Heat defeated the Suns 97-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Miami Heat have an interesting summer in store for them. Seven contracts will either end or potentially end depending on whether an option is exercised.

Unfortunately for Miami, there's not much room to be excited about many of these contracts possibly coming off the books.The majority of them are sub-$2 million contracts that won't give the Heat much cap relief, while the more expensive ones are for players the Heat will want to keep.

There's still a way for the Heat to gain some cap space this summer with the amnesty clause, which I'll touch on a bit later.

But before I do that, let's take a look at the players whose contracts can expire this summer and who the Heat are going to want to keep.  


Contracts with team options: Mario Chalmers ($4 million) and Jarvis Varnado ($788,000)

It would be pretty surprising if Miami didn't exercise its option on Chalmers.

Yes, 'Rio can be frustrating to watch at times and he'll make the occasional boneheaded play, but he's very much improved his game over the years.

He's cut down drastically on his turnovers (2.2 per game last season and 1.5 this season) and is knocking down the three-ball better than ever (41.3 percent).

Also, the team dynamic the Heat have going right now is clearly working for them, so there's not much reason to switch things up and rid themselves of their starting point guard.   

As for Varnado, he's played just 19 minutes for the Heat all season. The Heat know this shot-blocker is a project player so it's possible they will exercise the option and allow him to continue developing. However, the Heat are likely to be more than okay with letting Varnado walk and saving themselves a little bit of money. 


Contracts with player options: Ray Allen ($3.2 million), James Jones ($1.5 million) and Rashard Lewis ($1.4 million)

Allen's reason for coming to Miami had little to do with money and more to do with the chance to win a title. With the season going as well as it is for Allen and the Heat, it would be stunning if he changed course and opted-out to cash in elsewhere.

Expect Jones to also stay, as he wouldn't be able to get more than $1.5 million from another team. He's only playing 3.8 minutes per game.

Lewis is also likely to return, as he, like Allen, seems to be at the stage of his career where winning means much more than minutes.


Players who become unrestricted free agents: Chris Andersen (minimum-scale) and Juwan Howard (minimum-scale).

The Heat will be fine with Howard's deal ending. He could return to Miami like he did this season, but don't expect them to re-sign the 40-year-old this summer.

Andersen's contract is one the Heat likely wish didn't expire. Providing help rebounding and on defense, he's outplayed his contract this season and is worth a larger deal this summer. Considering how Andersen has fit with this team, expect the Heat to attempt to convince him to stay for a contract below his market value.

So to do a bit of a recap here, the only free agents that likely won't be back with the Heat are Howard and Varnado. That saves the Heat very little money. Not enough to make them too excited.

As I mentioned earlier, there is one contract the Heat would very much like off their books, and they can make it happen through the amnesty clause.

Of course, I'm talking about Mike Miller's contract that sees him getting paid over $6 million annually over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

Miller is definitely an asset to the Heat, but certainly not to the degree his contract suggests he is. Miller averages 3.4 points in 13.1 minutes per game this season.

He can still knock down the three-pointer as well as anybody, but his body has broken down in the past couple years and he's not the all-around player Miami wanted him to be.

Amnestying Miller makes sense for a variety of reasons.

As we've gone over, without amnestying Miller, the Heat will have barely any cap room to improve the team this summer.

Also, the Heat have plenty of three-point shooters, so it's not as if Miller is providing a service off the bench that no one else on the team can. 

Without Miller's contract on the books, Miami would have enough money to make a run at one or two role players in free agency that could really solidify its bench.

Getting rid of a couple of minimum-scale contracts in Howard and Varnado is helpful but won't do all that much for Miami. However, amnestying Miller allows the Heat to become players, relatively speaking, in free agency. That's worth getting excited about.  

All contract information from hoopsworld.


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