Forty-eight hours before the Miami Heat‘s 2021-22 NBA season officially starts, president Pat Riley gave his annual media conference where he discussed numerous topics, including the possibility of adding a 15th player to the team.
As luck would have it, the same day Riley made the surprising announcement that he’d be open to adding another player, even if it meant going over the luxury tax threshold, The Athletic‘s David Aldridge predicted that Houston Rockets star John Wall would ultimately land in Miami.
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Aldrige didn’t even offer up other possible landing spots. “Miami — after he negotiates a buyout from the Rockets,” he wrote. “Wall lives in Miami in the offseason, and the Heat is famous for extending careers of talented guys who’ve been slowed by injuries mid-career.”
Wall, a former No. 1 overall pick, has only played 113 games over the past four seasons due to a string of serious injuries. He sat out for the entirety of the 2019-2020 season with the Washington Wizards due to an Achilles tendon tear.
However, when the Kentucky alum is healthy, he’s still a beast on the court. Last season, averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists during his 40 appearances with the Rockets.
ESPN reported that the Rockets and Wall have “agreed to work together in an attempt to find a trade destination for the veteran point guard,” however, the five-time All-Star’s two-year $91.7 million contract, which includes a $47.4 million option for 2022-23, is not just impossible for the Heat to pick up, but for any NBA team in 2021.
Without a buyout from the Rockets, Wall’s career remains in limbo. If a buyout comes to fruition, assume Riley already has his eye on the 31-year-old point guard.
The Heat Receive $12.7 Million If They Remain Under the Tax Threshold
After a flurry of free agency moves, including signing Kyle Lowry to a three-year $85 million contract, resigning Duncan Robinson to a five-year $90 million deal, adding both P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris to the team all while Bam Adebayo’s max contract starts to kick in, Miami’s front office somehow miraculously stayed under the tax threshold.
As it stands, the Heat are $400,000 away from hitting the ominous luxury tax, per Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang. If the Heat adds one more player, even they just sign him to a veteran’s minimum, they’d be hit with a $1.8 million tax.
There are also incentives for the team not to go over the luxury tax threshold, which this season, is a cool $12.7 million.
“In order to give up that kind of revenue… you’re not just going to go in and not make the playoffs or not get through the first round or something,” Riley said. “But we’ve talked a lot about it and we would be ready to make a move if we have to.”
“Paying up to the tax, it has never been a mandate but it’s been always on my mind. I’m not going to just say, OK, every year we’re going to go into the tax and we don’t win and Micky [Arison] is writing these big checks. I don’t think that’s fair. But when we have a real contender, which I think we have, then we’ll entertain that and I think we’ll entertain it this year, too.”
Riley Wants to Wait & See How His Current Roster Performs Before Making Any Big Moves
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to the Heat’s roster this season is their lack of a legit backup for point guard Lowry.
To solve this problem, Bleacher Report‘s Greg Swartz pointed out last month that the Heat should make it a priority to snag Wall from the Rockets.
“A John Wall buyout would be the dream scenario for Miami,” Swartz wrote. While The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on September 14, that “there are no buyout plans” at this time.”
Riley is in no rush to make a final decision on the Heat’s roster:
I think you have to prove first that you’re the kind of team that can play at that level and then you can make that investment. So obviously we’re a team that has paid the tax. We’re a team that always believes in that we’re going to compete and we’re going to win, and the season isn’t over with yet. So we can jump in there if we have to, if something happens that’s going to make us better… But let’s get through the first 20 games and see where we are in the first 20 games.