Heat working to create cap space

Updated: June 24, 2010, 11:17 AM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN.com

The Miami Heat were still desperately seeking salary cap room Thursday as the hours ticked down to the NBA draft.

One day after essentially sacrificing Daequan Cook and a first-round draft pick (18th overall) in a trade with Oklahoma City that cleared $3.4 million in salary cap space, a league source told ESPN.com that the Heat were working Thursday on a buyout of James Jones' contract to further increase their financial flexibility for free agency this summer.

Jones has $15.5 remaining on his contract through 2012-13, but those final three seasons are only partially guaranteed if James is waived by June 30.

Waiving Jones would knock another $2.8 million off the Heat's salary cap for the 2010-11 season, giving them roughly $27 million to spend in free agency after July 1.

That amount would be enough to keep Wade, sign an additional maximum salary free agent -- and Heat president Pat Riley is prepared to make a strong push to sign LeBron James -- while still leaving an additional $10-11 million to spend on one or more additional free agents.

Miami also has been working diligently in an effort to trade Michael Beasley, who is under contract for $4.96 million next season. But the Heat were having difficulty finding a taker for the second overall pick from the 2008 draft.

The Heat were also awaiting word from center Joel Anthony, who faced a Thursday night deadline to decide whether to exercise a player option for 2010-11 that would pay him (and reduce Miami's cap space) $885,000.

Ideally, the Heat would want to trade Beasley for a player with only a partially guaranteed contract for the 2010-11 season, and there are two players with contracts of that variety who are especially appealing -- Keyon Dooling of the New Jersey Nets and Ryan Gomes of Minnesota.

Only $500,000 of Dooling's 2010-11 salary of $3.83 million is guaranteed if he is waived before July 1, but the source said New Jersey has shown no interest in acquiring Beasley.

With Gomes, only $1 million of his $4.235 million is guaranteed -- meaning a team that acquired him could increase its cap space by more than $3.2 million by waiving him by June 30.

So, if Riley was able to trade Beasley for Gomes, he would have a pool of roughly $47 million to spend on free agents, including Wade.

And, if he could convince three top caliber free agents -- Wade, James and Chris Bosh, for example -- to sign for starting salaries in the range of $15.5 million ($1 million less than they are eligible to receive), he could fulfill his goal of putting together the three primary building blocks of the "dynasty" he spoke about at the conclusion of the Heat's '09-10 season.

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.

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