The Miami Heat has won of 15 of its last 18 games and is suddenly one of the best stories in the NBA. The team has come a long way since starting the year 11-30, and so has the value of the players on the roster. At the beginning of the season, it seemed like the Heat was a bunch of castoffs and spare parts, many making their last bid to prove they could hang in the NBA. Now Miami has an embarrassment of players who could cash in big this offseason.
Here's a look at the Heat's best deals, starting from the bottom:
15. Chris Bosh ($23,741,060; 25.22 percent of the salary cap)
When one-quarter of your salary cap works for TNT now, that's not fantastic. Chris Bosh should be here grabbing in clutch rebounds and generally being a lovable space prince, dammit. Everything sucks.
14. Josh McRoberts ($5,782,450; 6.14 percent of the salary cap)
Josh McRoberts has played 81 games in his three seasons with the Heat. At one point, this was a guy who was supposed to persuade LeBron James to stay in Miami. He didn't stay in Miami.
13. Udonis Haslem ($4,000,000; 4.25 percent of the salary cap)
Udonis Haslem has played seven minutes in the past month. He's a great coach. It's a good
12. Justise Winslow ($2,593,440; 2.75 percent of the salary cap)
(Huge windy fart breaks all the windows of your home.) Wasted. Season.
11. Wayne Ellington ($6,000,000; 6.37 percent of the salary cap)
Your fourth-highest-paid player can't be a take-it-or-leave-it type of dude. When Ellington and his 10.8 points a game aren't on the court, other Heat players have been just as good or better. Ellington hasn't been terrible this season, but he certainly hasn't been indispensable.
10. Josh Richardson ($874,636; 0.93 percent of the salary cap)
Richardson is a definite piece of the puzzle for the Heat's future, but this season has been a wash for him. He's fought through injuries all year and more or less been invisible when on the court. The team still hopes he can come close to duplicating what he did last year after the All-Star break.
9. Hassan Whiteside ($22,116,750; 23.49 percent of the salary cap)
Hassan Whiteside has to land somewhere on this list, so right around the middle seems about right for a guy who has had a nice season. But Whiteside can't really be considered a value when he eats up nearly a quarter of the Heat's cap. He'd have to be dominating like Shaq in his prime to be worth that much money.
8. Tyler Johnson ($5,628,000; 5.98 percent of the salary cap)
Tyler Johnson will continue to be a bargain until he's not (see 2018-20, when his salary will
7. Luke Babbitt ($1,227,286; 1.30 percent of the salary cap)
He's Luke Babbitt. He's been fine at times. There's decent value here for a guy who has started almost 40 games.
6. Willie Reed ( $1,015,696; 1.08 percent of the salary cap)
Anytime you can get a big man to play 15 quality minutes a game for just over $1 million, that's a great value. Reed's handful of points and rebounds every night might seem negligible, but they will definitely get him a huge salary increase this offseason. Team execs have to be kicking themselves for not getting Reed on a two-year deal.
5. Okaro White ($210,995; 0.22 percent of the salary cap)
The Heat went on a ridiculous winning streak the moment this former Florida State University star got here, yet he makes only 0.22 percent of the salary cap. What else do you people want?
4. Goran Dragic ($15,891,725; 16.88 percent of the salary cap)
All-Star-caliber point guards don't come as cheap as they used to. If Goran Dragic hit the open market this offseason, he would likely get $25 million per season, not the nearly $16 million he signed for in Miami a few offseasons ago. The Heat has a happy medium with Dragic: He's not so underpaid that he's angry about it, but he's enough of a value that his contract is an asset and the team feels like it's getting a steal.
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3. Rodney McGruder ($543,471; 0.58 percent of the salary cap)
Rodney McGruder has emerged as a opportunistic scavenger and a ruthless
2. James Johnson ($4,000,000; 4.25 percent of the salary cap)
James Johnson can make a good case that he's been the most important player on this year's team. Slicing and penetrating to the hoop with the sort of energy that has been obviously contagious, he's been the glue that has kept the Heat together most nights. Johnson is up for an enormous raise this offseason after bouncing around from team-to-team his entire career. It pays to play for the Miami Heat.
1. Dion Waiters ($2,898,000; 3.08 percent of the salary cap)