At that stage, Feb. 18 was going to be the easy part: Find someone operating below the tax to take on the $951,066 remaining on Wright’s contact, throw in some extra cash or a draft pick to make it worth their while, and then take a place in line for a $4.5 million rebate check that goes to all non-taxpayers.
That was five weeks ago, when Wright still was a bitter reminder of a 2004 draft gone bad.
Now? Now Wright is, undeniably, the Heat’s best small forward, a significant contributor, an anchor of the second unit.
And that has created a $7 million dilemma (the tax money that would have to be paid to keep Wright, plus the rebate money lost).
If winning still matters, if showing Dwyane Wade that such focus is unwavering, if Erik Spoelstra is to have a chance to comfortably secure a postseason bid, then how can Riley simply sell off an asset who finally has arrived?
The simplest solution might be to package Wright in a trade, and therefore create the appearance that he simply had to be included to serve the greater good. Then there would be no issue with the approach, just as there wasn’t when Caron Butler was included in the Shaquille O’Neal trade.
You know, someone’s going to lose the 2010 summer. I mean, not everyone’s going to end up with a star. Most people assume the Knicks and Nets are sunk. After all, why would you leave a contender you’ve made a home in for a worse team? But someone’s still going to be out. And that’s where teams are stuck. Take the Heat, for example. Please. Wah-wah.
If Riley stocks up on players now, makes a huge trade, and it doesn’t work out, he’s got two realities. One, Wade’s gone. Riley not only has to prove he can get a superstar, but that he can get the right one to put next to Wade. And two, he’s without his best player, and still under the gun for a large sum of money, headed towards the post-lockout 2011-2012 season where there is very likely to be at least a considerably lower cap if not a hard one. Being on the books for $55 million under a $45 million hard cap would be like having sex in a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volvo.
That’s where Wright comes in. For a rebuilding team, for a long-term view of things, Wright’s a guy to keep, to build on, to see where his development takes him. But Riley doesn’t have that luxury. He’s got two options. Win big or burn the place down and sell it for insurance money.
I’m still at a loss for why the Memphis Grizzlies aren’t hurling offers at the Heat. Take the Lakers pick. Just take it. I’d trade the 30th or even 29th pick in the draft for Dorrell Wright so that the team has some semblance of a bench.
But Riley’s stuck, trying to make sure he pulls the right wire at the right time so the bomb doesn’t go off. Everyone thinks he’ll be there after everyone else detonates. Watching this Heat team, even with the recent wins, I’m not so sure.