The lingering questions about the Heat’s future have been focused far beyond this season. In particular, whether Riley can keep this team together when the luxury tax penalties become much stiffer starting in 2013-14.
“It’s doable in this tax economy, but I’ll leave that up to [Heat owner] Micky [Arison],” Riley said with a laugh. “That will all be tackled after the season, but it is doable.”
In other words, the ball is in Arison’s hands. Just like the Heat president planned ahead years in advance of the summer of 2010, Riley said he has already had internal conversations with Heat brass about how to financially keep the star-studded core intact when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts after the 2013-14 season.
“I don’t believe that we have to sell anybody on us anymore in 2014,” Riley said. “It’s all about winning now and when that time comes, we’ll deal with it.”
But the financial burden will begin starting in 2013-14 when taxpaying teams will have to pay $1.50 for every dollar they’re over the luxury tax line. And it gets considerably more punitive in 2014-15 when the repeater penalties hit and the tax rate increases the deeper a team is into the tax. Additionally, taxpaying teams will have more stringent roster management restrictions, including the inability to acquire players via sign-and-trades.
“It’s going to take that kind of revenue and those kinds of opportunities to be able to [keep the core together],” Riley said. “It is doable, but it’s a question of the economics of the game. There’s going to have to be some strategic planning not only from [the business] standpoint, but also personnel-wise over the next couple of years to deal with [the potential tax penalties].”