Houston Rockets Nene ordeal: 4 times the NBA voided deals
Juwan Howard’s 1996 Contract with the Miami Heat
In 1996, the Miami Heat agreed to terms on a 7 year contract with former Rockets forward Juwan Howard for a total of $100 million.
The Heat were competing with the now debunct Washington Bullets, who Howard had played for in the previous two seasons. Howard was coming off his first and only All-Star appearance of his career, as he averaged 22.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game during the 1995-1996 season.
The contract that was initially agreed upon actually made Howard the first player in league history to have a nine figure deal, as the Heat added $5.6 million in incentives and bonuses to help stave off the Bullets, who were offering $94.5 million overall. To further position themselves as the clear favorite, the Heat also agreed to give Howard royal treatment on road trips, by providing perks such as luxury hotel suites and limousine service, as outlined by Albert Nahmad.
The offer was good enough to get Howard to sign the dotted line, and Miami had landed its biggest target of the free agency class, one year after acquiring coach and president Pat Riley from the New York Knicks for the 1996 first round pick and $1 million in cash.
However, the league would later void the contract Howard and the Heat agreed to, citing the lack of cap space as the reason for wiping the deal. This was because the league determined that Riley and center Alonzo Mourning had already agreed to a nine figure deal prior to signing Howard, meaning the Heat didn’t have the necessary cap space to ink Howard to the contract.
What complicated matters even more is the fact that the Heat had agreed to up to $2.5 million in bonuses for guard Tim Hardaway and forward PJ Brown.
In the end, Howard re-signed with Washington on a seven year contract worth $105 million. Despite this, the Miami Heat actually made it to the Eastern Conference Finals that season, eventually falling to the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls within 5 games. Interestingly enough, Howard’s Bullets faced the Bulls in the first round and got swept.