The Heat lost to the Raptors earlier today, putting a large hit on the club’s playoff chances. Wins by the Pistons and the Nets, both playing now, would officially eliminate Miami. Therefore, the Heat were left with a decision — keep McGruder, hope to make the playoffs against long odds, and try to re-sign him this summer, or waive him for potential financial gain. The team chose the latter.
As noted by Bobby Marks of ESPN, the Heat will avoid the luxury tax if McGruder’s $1.54MM minimum-salary contract is claimed by another team. However, any team interested in picking up McGruder would not have the 27-year-old available for the playoffs, so the only incentive to claim him would be to obtain his Early Bird rights and the right to match any offers for him in free agency. McGruder will be a restricted free agent this summer with a qualifying offer of a little more than $3.6MM.
As such, it will be interesting to see whether another franchise claims McGruder and helps out Miami. On the one hand, McGruder is still relatively young and on a cheap contract. Moreover, he will be a restricted free agent this summer, which is always a tantalizing asset for any club. But, he can’t help now, in the playoffs, which is currently the primary focus of many teams. For what it’s worth, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the Heat believe McGruder will be claimed.
McGruder started 45 games for the Heat this season, averaging 7.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He appeared in 161 games for the Heat over three seasons and led the Heat’s G-League affiliate to a championship back in 2016.