Heat extend Chalmers a qualifying offer
As expected, the Heat extended a qualifying offer Wednesday to Chalmers, making him a restricted free agent and giving Miami the right to match any contract he receives over the summer.
Chalmers has said he wants to remain with Miami, though he will likely generate some interest once free agency begins. He made $847,000 this season.
''We're encouraged by Mario's progress,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier this week after the team's exit meetings. ''He's a combination guard and he's a guard that can start under the right circumstances. He's also a great fit coming off the bench because of the energy that he provides and his ability to change the game, either with his scoring or defense or playmaking, and that's a unique quality to have coming off the bench.''
More roster moves are likely for the Heat in the coming days.
The Heat are awaiting decisions on options held by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eddie House and James Jones for next season, with those decisions due by June 30 - the day the NBA's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire. A lockout could begin July 1, the day free agency would begin, but no deals will be signed until a new CBA is in place.
Chalmers has spent all three of his NBA seasons with Miami, averaging 7.9 points and 3.7 assists during regular-season play, 8.1 points and 2.7 assists in playoff games. He was Miami's fourth-leading scorer behind Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James in the NBA finals, which the Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
Chalmers averaged 11.8 points during the finals, leading Miami with 14 makes from 3-point range. He was moved into the starting lineup for Game 6, and has started more than half of his 225 career regular-season games with the Heat.
Chalmers led the Heat in the playoffs with 32 3-pointers, and the Heat outscored opponents by 79 points with him on the floor during the postseason. No other Miami player had a better plus-minus rating in the playoffs than Chalmers.
''He's really worked at his game the last two offseasons,'' Spoelstra said. ''He had a little bit of a setback last year with his sprained ankle but the first seven weeks of the summer he was really spending a great deal of time on his balance, his shooting, making plays off the dribble. Those things will be the same this summer and going into free agency.''
NOTES: Everyone from U.S. Open golfers to New York Yankees and even some Mavericks are offering words of encouragement for James, who struggled offensively in the NBA finals. Rory McIlroy said ''he's been unfairly scrutinized,'' Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was quoted in the New York Post saying ''we need to remember this kid is 26 years old,'' and Mavs guard Jason Kidd plans on reaching out to James soon. ... Mavs coach Rick Carlisle also offered praise for Spoelstra, saying he had ''the toughest job in basketball. ... It was extremely difficult, extremely trying. We went through a lot of difficult times before we got to our moment. Their time will definitely come,'' Carlisle said.