MIAMI - For now, the prospects of paying a big luxury-tax bill next year is not enough to dissuade the Miami Heat from its plan to keep the its current championship core intact.
Heat President Pat Riley said Friday that the team does not currently plan to use its one-time amnesty option as a way of lightening its looming tax load, with the team's focus instead being on simply finding ways to get better.
"Right now, we're not using amnesty, no," Riley said.
Amnesty would allow the Heat to essentially cut one player and pay whatever is left on his contract, but without that salary counting against the team's cap space or add to future luxury-tax bills. Miami is currently in line to pay more than $30 million in tax for the coming season, though could shave off at least one-quarter of that by parting with someone like Joel Anthony or Mike Miller.
In a conference call Friday, Riley made clear that the team's plan is to add and not subtract, especially coming off two straight NBA championships.
"We want to win and we want to win again next year and we're going to try to do everything we can to do that," Riley said. "What I said at the end of the season is what I meant. I want to try to keep this team intact as long as we can because we have a championship basketball team here and continuity being, I think the most important thing to when it comes to winning championships ... I would hate to break it up."
Riley said team officials will meet next week before this summer's amnesty window ends, so a change of plans is possible. Still, Miami is expected to be the favorites heading into next season, even though several teams in the Eastern Conference should be better than they were this past season.
Brooklyn, most notably, made a huge splash this summer by acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics — a move that helped drive the Nets' potential luxury-tax bill for this coming season well past the $70 million mark.
"We understand the economic-slash-basketball ramifications of where we are in the game today," Riley said. "We're very diligent when it comes to the economic-slash-basketball decisions that you have to make. What one other team does, it doesn't have any bearing on what we're thinking about. We're a three-time finalist, we've won back to back championships, we've got our entire core back, signed, opted-in and we're tickled to death with that."
As of now, all players from Miami's rotation this past season are expected back. Ray Allen exercised his player option to return, and Chris Andersen signed a one-year deal to stay in Miami, a move that Riley said was huge.
"He'll be even better for us next year," Riley said. "It was crucial to keep him and we're very fortunate that he stayed."
Riley also said the team tried to land a perimeter player by offering the taxpayer mid-level during free agency, to no avail. He has also remained in contact with the camp of free agent center Greg Oden, who is attempting a comeback after years of serious knee issues and hopes to be with an NBA club in time for training camp this fall.
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