The Miami Heat may be getting much needed perimeter help if everything falls into place.
Guard Joe Johnson, who was recently bought out of his contract with the Brooklyn Nets, has initially committed to sign with the Heat once he clears waivers on Saturday citing his potential role and minutes. News of the commitment was first reported by Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald and Shams Charania of The Vertical. Earlier today Chris Broussard of ESPN reported that Miami emerged as the front runner to gain Johnson’s services.
That contradicted earlier reports stating that he would be headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers if his contract with the Nets was bought out.
While Johnson may have agreed to a deal with the Heat, getting him on the roster will be a complicated matter.
The main issue is Miami’s stance when it comes to the NBA luxury tax. Every trade the Heat has conducted this season was done with the intent of getting under the luxury tax line and team president Pat Riley has stated that Miami intends to remain under that line. The team does have two open roster spots but would have to wait until March 6 at the earliest to sign a player to fill one of those spots for the remainder of the season and not have that push them back over the luxury tax line. That leaves plenty of time for another team like the Cavaliers to try to sway Johnson to their side.
The roster health however can change that equation. Even with 13 players on Miami’s paper roster, in reality the team is nine to ten players strong. With guard Tyler Johnson still rehabbing from shoulder surgery, guard Beno Udrih out for the rest of the season with a foot injury, and forward Chris Bosh’s status still up in the air due to blood clots, Johnson could help ease some of the burden. He can start at the three which will solidify forward Luol Deng’s move to the four should Bosh be declared out for the season. Should guard and franchise player Dwyane Wade have to miss time Johnson can slide to the two and have rookie forward Justise Winslow start.
The biggest asset Johnson brings to the Heat is his perimeter shooting. Miami ranks near the bottom of the NBA in perimeter offense with their most reliable shooters sidelined. Johnson has shot from the perimeter real well since January and can become the team’s spot up threat that has to be respected.