With the stroke of midnight, even before Thursday’s 6 p.m. start of NBA free agency, the Miami Heat got a value portion of the process out of the way.
As Wednesday turned to Thursday, the 2022-23 salaries of guards Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, as well as the salary of center Omer Yurtseven, became guaranteed.
That locked in $5.4 million in payroll for three players who all could emerge as rotation elements for Erik Spoelstra next season. Strus and Vincent will earn $1.8 million in the final year on their contracts, with Yurtseven to earn $1.75 million.
All three will become free agents in the 2023 offseason, each with Bird Rights, allowing the Heat to exceed the salary cap to retain them.
As is typical with many options and guaranteed deadlines, no action was required by either side to maintain the status quo.
The only remaining guarantee deadline for the Heat is Friday, when forward Haywood Highsmith is due the first $50,000 of his $2 million 2022-23 salary. Highsmith’s salary then becomes guaranteed for $400,000 if he is with the team on opening night and $700,000 if he is on the roster December 1. His full salary guarantees at the league-wide guarantee deadline in January.
Haywood is working with the Heat’s summer-league roster, with his first action expected Saturday, when the Heat face a similar team of draft picks, free agents, young players and prospects from the Los Angeles Lakers in San Francisco at Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors. He will be joined by Yurtseven when the Heat move on to the Las Vegas Summer League, with Yurtseven currently working with Turkey’s national team.
The contracts of Strus, Vincent, Yurtseven and Haywood are typical of the two-year deals the Heat extend to prospects that offer a trial period before guarantees kick in. Such deals offset the team’s higher-end contracts as a means of balancing the salary cap.
Strus emerged as the Heat’s starting shooting guard this past season, with Vincent a rotation player who moved into the playoff starting lineup when veteran point guard Kyle Lowry was sidelined by a hamstring strain. Yurtseven had breakout moments at midseason when starting center Bam Adebayo was sidelined by thumb surgery.
Highsmith is being groomed as a possible successor to P.J. Tucker, as an undersized, floor-spacing power forward.
Teams are allowed to carry 20 players under contract in the offseason, a total that does not include those on tryouts at summer league. Rosters must be trimmed to a maximum of 15 players under standard contract and two on two-way contacts by the regular-season opener.
The guarantees of Strus, Vincent and Yurtseven did not impact the Heat’s salary cap, with the team already operating above that threshold for 2022-23.
Contrary to a published Yahoo Sports report Wednesday, an NBA source confirmed Thursday to the Sun Sentinel that the Heat and Dallas Mavericks free-agent guard Jalen Brunson did not have plans for a meeting at the start of free agency.
The only means for the Heat to have made a play for Brunson would have been a sign-and-trade transaction, which would have left the Heat with a hard cap for the 2022-23 season.
The Mavericks later canceled their Thursday meeting with Brunson, whose sights had been set on landing with the New York Knicks seemingly for months.
The Heat are listing a mixed staff under summer-league coach Malik Allen for their games in San Francisco and then Las Vegas.
Assistant coach Anthony Carter will help assist Allen in San Francisco, with assistant coach Caron Butler then stepping in for Carter in Las Vegas.
Working both summer leagues as assistant coaches will Kasib Powell, coach of the Heat’s G League affiliate, and video coordinator Dan Bisaccio.