How Miami Heat's Amnesty Clause Impacts Offseason Outlook

Logic JohnsonContributor IIIMay 30, 2012

MIAMI, FL - MAY 31:  Team President Pat Riley of the Miami Heat looks on during halftime as the Heat take on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on May 31, 2011 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The offseason is approaching, and as such the Miami Heat will join the rest of the NBA on a quest to shore up their roster over the summer—never mind that a superteam shouldn't need shoring up. To this end, the NBA's new amnesty clause will for the first time be among the tools used by various clubs to increase flexibility (financially as well as roster-wise).

How does this new wrinkle affect Miami's quest for free agent help?

The Heat will first need to explore whom, if anyone, they plan to use their amnesty clause on. The likely candidate here is Mike Miller, owner of the heaviest contract this side of the Three Banditos, as well as the one whose production has been most disproportionate to his salary. Beyond him, the other possible amnesty cuts are either too integral to the team (Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier) or have too little an impact—on the court and on the books—to be worth considering.

In short, insofar as the amnesty clause is designed to shed overpaying contracts, Miller's approaches that description more than anyone else on the roster. Yet it could hardly be considered the kind of albatross that the amnesty rule has in mind, nor could Miller be termed a washout just yet.

The only other player whom it might make financial sense to get rid of might be Ronny Turiaf, whose salary nearly quadruples next season ($1.2 million, up from $340k) but the Heat aren't likely to burn their amnesty clause on less than $1 million in cap relief.

It's hard to see a clear advantage in exercising this year's option; if the point were simply to make space on the roster, the Heat would simply wait for this year's expiring contracts to reach term, and at the same time, there is no financial obstacle removed by going the amnesty route—aside from luxury tax dollars saved.

Even then, the luxury tax was never much of a deterrent to Miami—or any other big-spending contender, for that matter—so it's a stretch to suggest that using their amnesty clause would enable the Heat to pursue anyone this summer whom they otherwise wouldn't have.

More likely than not, the Heat's amnesty clause would go unused based on predictably minimal returns; the issue of roster space will take care of itself with expiring deals, while the team will be capped out no matter what it does. Personnel-wise, besides the disappointing-but-not-hopeless Mike Miller, this team has no players it needs to jettison all that badly.

This is a raw dollars-and-cents move for Miami to make at this junction in order to lighten its monetary burden a tad and allow the team to use its mid-level exception without making team accountants cringe. Whatever roster moves are made will not hinge on Miami's amnesty clause usage, but it will show up in its bottom line.

As far as the fans are concerned, all things should remain equal in Miami's offseason game plan with or without it.