Heat's buyout of Beno Udrih has several teams upset

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Several NBA teams are upset by an unusual agreement between theMiami Heat and veteran guard Beno Udrih that will get the team out of paying the luxury tax, sources told ESPN.com.

The Heat agreed to buy out Udrih's contract, and he was officially waived Monday. The move drops the Heat below the repeater tax line and creates a windfall of approximately $2.7 million. It might also help them avoid future luxury-tax penalties because the league punishes repeat taxpayers.

Heat president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg approached Udrih about accepting a buyout after Joe Johnson agreed to sign with the Heat over the weekend, sources said. The Heat, who made a series of trades at the deadline to get out of the tax, were then looking for a solution to add Johnson and remain below the tax threshold. Signing Johnson pushed the Heat $43,894 above the line.

Udrih, apparently wanting to help the franchise, agreed to leave enough of his $2.17 million salary on the table to help the Heat with their tax situation, sources said. By getting out of the tax, the Heat save about $110,000 in taxes and are now in line to receive a $2.6 million payout from tax-paying teams.

Buyouts are routine at this time of the year, and many players use them to find a different team. What has caused some teams to scrutinize the move is that Udrih had foot surgery last week and is expected to be out at least 12 weeks, essentially the rest of the season. That makes it unlikely Udrih will make up the money he walked away from or sign with another team.

For competitive reasons -- numerous teams were after Johnson when he became a free agent -- and because nonpayers will see their payouts drop slightly as a result of the move, the Heat's buyout of Udrih caused some complaining across the league on Monday.

While this situation is unusual, players regularly leave money on the table. Johnson himself took a hit of more than $2.5 million in leaving the Brooklyn Nets to sign with the Heat. All players' situations and motivations are different.

For years, Riley has parlayed the advantages of being located in Miami and the general respect for the Heat franchise to create team-friendly contracts.

In several cases, players who have opted out of contracts, taken pay cuts or turned down chances for a raise have ended up re-signing with the team at later dates. The San Antonio Spurs franchise, among others, has also been known to use these tactics.

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