MIAMI -- NBA free agency began as a whisper Monday for the Miami Heat and that might not change due to a twist in the collective-bargaining agreement that went into effect this offseason.
A new rule effectively prohibits teams operating well above the luxury-tax threshold from receiving players in sign-and-trade agreements. Essentially, it means that the Heat cannot receive a current free agent through a trade.
Under the wrinkle in the CBA that went into effect Monday, a team cannot receive a player in a sign-and-trade agreement if it puts that team more than $4 million above the luxury tax threshold (a status known as operating above the tax "apron").
The Heat currently have a 2013-14 committed payroll of $86.5 million, with the luxury tax expected to fall at $71 million for next season and the "apron" limit at a bit over $75 million. In essence, the only way the Heat could receive a 2013 free agent in a sign-and-trade agreement is if such a deal leaves the Heat with a 2013-14 payroll below $75 million.
In addition, starting this offseason, should the Heat utilize the $3.2 million taxpayer mid-level exception to add a free agent, the mechanism they used to sign Ray Allen last July, they then would be prohibited from receiving any player in a sign-and-trade transaction.
So instead of being linked to Dwight Howard or any of the other major free agents, players that the Heat only could acquire in sign-and-trade agreements, the Heat on the opening day of free agency were linked to the likes of Greg Oden, Sebastian Telfair and other second-tier, low-cost possibilities.
Teams were allowed to begin negotiations with free agents Monday, with signings not allowed until July 10, when the official salary-cap and luxury-tax figures will be announced for 2013-14.
The Heat have opened negotiations with free-agent center Chris Andersen, who Monday became free to negotiate with the team of his choice.
The Heat are limited to contract offers to Andersen starting either at the $3.2 million taxpayer mid-level exception or a 20-percent raise over last year's salary, which would start a new contract at $1.7 million next season.
The player nicknamed "Birdman" remained in South Florida following the Heat's Game 7 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, attending promotional appearances and working out at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat's only other unsigned free agent is veteran power forward Juwan Howard.
Among current free agents who previously were linked to the Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves free-agent forward Andrei Kirilenko downplayed the Heat as an option in an interview with Russia's "Sports Express."
According to the translation at Hoopshype.com, Kirilenko said, "I don't want to confine myself in any way. But in general, do you want to go to a team where LeBron James is playing at your position? Or to Oklahoma with Kevin Durant? That almost certainly means quietly ending your career. I still feel I'm capable of making a real contribution."
The Heat are expected to release their initial summer roster Tuesday. The Heat will hold a three-day summer camp at AmericanAirlines Arena beginning Thursday before opening the Orlando Pro Summer League on Sunday. Both the camp and the summer league are closed to the public.
email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat ___