The NBA and its players have tentatively come to an agreement, which means a nation can resume hating the Heat instead of enduring a nuclear winter. And there's early indications that those boos will get louder, since some last minute changes to the proposed CBA look to be very Heat-friendly.
The complicated CBA language has the potential to induce migraines, but our Heat Index staff has peered under the hood of the tentative deal so you don't have to. And it has some interesting contents that will alter the Heat's plans going forward.
Looking at the CBA's structure, which part puts a smile on Heat president Pat Riley's face? Which part makes him uneasy? Who will be the Heat's biggest signing during the lightning-fast free agency sweepstakes?
In another installment of Heat Index's 3-on-3 series, our writers debate about how the new tentative deal reshapes the Heat now and in the future.
1. What are the Heat most happy to see in the new tentative deal?
Tom Haberstroh: No hard cap. There were only two realistic scenarios that would break up the Big Three: LeBron grew to hate the Miami lifestyle and a league-imposed hard cap. OK, maybe the former wasn’t realistic, but a restrictive hard cap was on the table at one point. Hard-line owners softened and so did Micky Arison’s hard feelings towards them.
Michael Wallace: First and foremost, the fact that there essentially is a two-year grace period in the proposed new CBA that would phase in majority of the rule tweaks that might have most affected the Heat. Beyond that, adjusting the mid-level exception to give minimum tax-paying teams use of the full $5 million per season mid-level is huge for the Heat, who can now more competitively shop for that much-needed free agent center.
Brian Windhorst: The $4 million so-called "apron" that will allow teams barely into the luxury tax to use the full mid-level exception was a huge boon. If they manage their payroll and their amnesty clause properly, they will likely be able to add significant free agents this year and next year. That is a vital development because the team is thin in several areas.
2. What are the Heat most disappointed to see in the new tentative deal?
Haberstroh: The salary floor rule. This isn’t going to affect the Heat directly – the Big Three’s salaries will satisfy the requirement alone – but teams like the Kings and the Nets may have no choice but to overpay for Sam Dalembert and Kris Humphries, respectively. Not only would it keep two big men off the market, it would artificially inflate the going rate for others too.
Wallace: Honestly, there's not much there in terms of issues that would adversely affect the Heat. They're not a team that ventures too deep into the luxury tax anyway, so the end-of-the-year tax bill or revenue sharing issues would be manageable. If I'm forced to pick something, it's that Miami could face a bit more competition than expected from teams now forced to spend up to at least 85 percent of the salary cap in bids for late career veterans.
Windhorst: The new increased luxury tax system plus the quite penal so-called "repeater tax" that will bite teams who are in the luxury tax four out of any five year. The Heat likely are going to be the tax payer for the rest of the Big Three era. But this won't affect fans and is anyone feeling sorry for multi -billionaire Micky Arison? Anyone?
3. Early prediction: Who is the biggest free agent the Heat will sign?
Haberstroh: Sam Dalembert. As much as I’d like to look like a genius in the event that the Heat miraculously nab Nene or Tyson Chandler, I can’t answer them with a straight face. But Dalembert? He’s more like it, if you think he’s a bigger signing than Mario Chalmers.
Wallace: My crystal ball isn't working right now. So I'm going to wing it and predict that the Heat pull off the shocker and gets Nene to take the full mid-level to come to Miami. Beyond that, knowing Pat Riley's logic when it comes to the mid-level, expect the Heat to split it and try to get two for one - something along the lines of a Sammy Dalembert/Grant Hill combination. It might be expecting too much to ask those players to sacrifice that much.
Windhorst: The largest probably will be Eddy Curry. The most important might be Sam Dalembert. The Heat's center situation is pretty dicey right now. They have a project (Dexter Pittman), a long shot (Curry) and a stop gap (Joel Anthony, who isn't a true center). They badly need a starter and Dalembert is best, most realistic option.