The Miami Heat announced the trade of Mario Chalmers to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. They also traded James Ennis, and in return, received guard Beno Udrih and forward Jarnell Stokes. This was all done in an effort to trim the Heat luxury-tax bill.
Before the move, Chalmers took a moment to address his fans on Twitter and express his enjoyment for the time he spent playing for Miami, saying as follows.
“It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to be a part of the Miami Heat championship family for more than 7 seasons. It is with great sadness and excitement that I end one amazing chapter on my NBA career to graciously begin another with the Memphis Grizzlies. Sending thanks to Mickey Arison, Pat Riley, Coach Eric Spoelsta, my teammates and the Miami Heat fans, some of the best in the world! I look forward to starting a new chapter with the Memphis Grizzlies.”
The trade talks officially began on November 3, when the Heat had a shaky start, losing to Cleveland by 30 points on their own court, and then by 50 points at Golden State. After this shoddy beginning, it seemed like time to get new blood on the team.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley explained that the trade was a tough decision on the organization and himself, and that losing Chalmers and Ennis wasn’t exactly what they wanted. “Mario was a part of two championships with us, and Ennis is a solid young player,” Riley told ESPN.com. “But it is part of the business, and it was a move necessary to make because of our crowded backcourt. We feel that it is in the best interest of Mario, and we want him to be successful and be a part of a good team. We wish them nothing but the best.”
There have been rumors that the Heat will be looking to trade more, perhaps shifting Udrih and Stokes to another team. However, Riley stated that they were not “actively pursuing” any other trades for the time being.
This deal also comes with the benefit of luxury tax savings. It will save the Heat $6 million in tax payments. But they’ll still be $5 million above their 2015-16 tax threshold. If they want to avoid the luxury tax altogether, another trade may be imminent.
“The economics of the game are a part of the whole thing that moves the parts,” Riley explained to the Sun Sentinel. “You have to consider that, obviously.”
If the Heat continues to trade, their luxury tax payments would continue to drop, and they’d have greater flexibility with their taxes and trading going forward. Rumors abound that a trade of center Chris Andersen is in the works secretly, even if Riley won’t admit it.
The amount the team owes in luxury tax is based on payroll at the end of the season. If they want to avoid the luxury tax, it must be as low as $84.7 million. As the fourth highest payroll in the NBA at $93.2 million before the trade, a trade of this magnitude was imminent.
The deal was also considered beneficial to Mario Chalmers, who, at 29, was at risk for being rotated off the starting lineup. Young, budding players, Johnson and Richardson, may have one up on Chalmers as they continue to improve. This takes the Heat out of a sticky situation, as they would have had to work with a disgruntled veteran player.
Chalmers spent all eight seasons of his NBA career with the Heat. He was drafted straight out of Kansas in the second round in 2008. He was also an important part of the 2013 NBA championship, which included LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
The trade of Mario Chalmers and James Ennis from the Miami Heat to the Memphis Grizzlies works perfectly, since the Grizzlies are in need of new blood, and they don’t have the luxury tax to worry about.
[Image via Mike Ehmann / Getty Images]