View Full Version : Heat Has More Cap Space b/c of Carter's Error

07-05-2003, 04:50 PM
By Ira Winderman
Staff Writer

July 4, 2003

A shocking oversight by Anthony Carter suddenly has established the Heat as a major player in NBA free agency, one now with the salary-cap space to sign the likes of Jason Kidd, Jermaine O'Neal or Gilbert Arenas.

The staggering lapse by the veteran point guard effectively terminates the Heat's financial obligation and unexpectedly has it in position to spend as much as $11 million this summer on upgrades.

Instead of settling on a mid-level acquisition to help reverse its slide to last season's 25-67 record, the Heat either can offer a maximum contract to a single All-Star or afford two mid-level free agents, such as P.J. Brown, Gary Payton, Brad Miller or Lamar Odom.

Holding a player option on the third and final year of his contract for $4.1 million for the coming season, Carter merely had to inform the Heat by Monday's deadline that he would remain under contract.

Astonishingly, that deadline was allowed to pass without any communication to the Heat by Carter or his representatives. As of the close of business Thursday there still had not been any contact between the parties.

"Somebody just mentioned this to me," agent Bill Duffy said when contacted Thursday evening before abruptly ending the phone call. A call to Carter's South Florida home was answered and then hung up on. A return call was answered with a response that the guard had stepped out.

The result is the Heat has eliminated one of its most significant salary-cap headaches. On the open market, Carter does not figure to merit more than the $688,679 NBA minimum this season for a player with four seasons of experience.

The Heat had the opportunity to release Carter before the end of the season and challenge his right to therefore invoke his 2003-04 option. But coach Pat Riley said he did not believe such a gambit was ethical, nor could he be sure the maneuver would be allowed.

Carter was signed to the three-year, $12 million contract July 19, 2001, after agreeing to play 2000-01 at a minimal wage as part of the Heat's restocking with Eddie Jones and Brian Grant.

The option year was included at the end of the deal in case the statistics of the 6-foot-2 guard merited a raise after two seasons. But Carter shot a dismal 35.6 percent this season and was benched for 20 games.

The wording of Carter's agreement stated he had to "opt in" for the third year of the contract by June 30. There is not believed to be any recourse in such a deadline situation.

The Heat entered the July 1 start to free agency under the impression it could have as much as $7 million to spend on an additional player.

At that figure, there was some thought the Heat would save the cap space, wait for Carter's contract to expire next summer, and then make its move on the open market.

Instead, the Heat finds itself amid the heavy hitters in the league's offseason bidding derby. The only other teams in position to offer a maximum contract to a single player are the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz.

However, Utah and Los Angeles would be removed from that group if the Clippers re-sign Elton Brand and the Jazz brings back Karl Malone.

By being freed of its commitment to Carter, the Heat is in position to overhaul its alignment at point guard.

Travis Best, last year's starter, is not expected back as a free agent. Mike James, who emerged at the top reserve at the position last season, is a free agent and is at the Indiana Pacers' summer camp.

Eddie House, the undersized shooter who also has played point guard under Riley, was not extended a qualifying offer by Monday's deadline and is a free agent. It's possible he now could return with a roster spot no longer required for Carter.

Ira Winderman can be reached at iwinderman@sun-sentinel.com.
Copyright 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

07-05-2003, 04:55 PM
Already posted HERE (http://www.dallas-mavs.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=3&threadid=10450)