The Miami Heat has been linked to Houston Rockets’ star John Wall for months, and while the team continues to have an open roster spot, and a need for a formidable backup point guard, it seems questionable why president Pat Riley hasn’t already snatched him up.
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As with many issues in the NBA, guiding the timeline for when the Heat can make a move to sign Wall is money. 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.
Therefore, it’s highly unlikely the 31-year-old point guard finds a new team before the February 10 trade deadline. The Kentucky alum is due $44.3 million this season with a player option worth $47.4 million for next year, and there’s no team in the NBA that can afford to add his salary to the roster right now.
If the Rockets agree to a buyout with Wall, which is likely the only way he’ll be moved, “there’s nothing really standing in the way of the Heat pursuing him,” Chiang wrote on October 29.
“Miami currently has an empty roster spot, has a need for another guard on its roster, and can sign Wall or another veteran while still avoiding the luxury tax if the signing doesn’t take place until around March when the prorated minimum salary is about $400,000.”
Riley Wants to Wait & See How His Current Roster Performs Before Making Any Big Moves
While Kyle Lowry is proving to be the exact kind of player the Heat wanted when they signed him to a three-year $85 million contract this summer, Gabe Vincent, who’s still developing as a player, proved he wasn’t ready to be his backup during the team’s overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. After scoring two points in 25 minutes of play, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra ended up benching Vincent during the last 12 minutes of the game.
Because Lowry, at age 35, should be expected to miss more than a few games this season, Bleacher Report‘s Greg Swartz encouraged the Heat to make snagging Wall a priority. “A John Wall buyout would be the dream scenario for Miami,” Swartz wrote.
Riley, however, announced during his annual preseason presser that he’s 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… 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.
Bleacher Report Ranks the Miami Heat as No.2 in the Power Rankings
All the moves the Heat made this offseason, especially picking up defensive superstar P.J. Tucker, appear to be paying off so far. Not only did they obliterate defending NBA champs Milwaukee Bucks 137-95 in their home opener, but Heat also took down Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets with a dominant 106-97 win at the Barclays Center on Wednesday.
Following the first full week of NBA games, Bleacher Report ranks the Heat at No. 2 in power rankings, just behind the Utah Jazz. A major jump from their preseason rank at No. 19.
If Riley can get the former No.1 overall pick without going over the luxury tax, adding Wall would be a no-brainer. And if the Heat continue to perform like a Championship-caliber team, joining the Heat only becomes more attractive to a five-time All-Star like Wall.