Some noteables on the Heat's 2016-17 schedule which was released on Thursday:
> Miami plays 15 back-to-backs, down from 17 last season. Five of those back-to-backs are in December and none of them are at home. Seven are road back-to-backs with the other eight home/away or away/home splits.
> The Heat has just one stretch of four games in five nights: home vs. Knicks Dec. 6, at Atlanta on Dec. 7, at Cleveland on Dec. 9 and at Chicago on Dec. 10.
> The season opener Oct. 26 at Orlando marks the ninth time in franchise history (and the first time in five years) the Heat will open the season on the road. The last time Miami opened at Orlando was Nov. 6, 1992. It also marks the fifth time the Heat has opened the season against the Magic.
> The Heat will not play on Christmas Day this season. This will be only the second time in the last 13 years that Miami has not played on Christmas Day and the first time since 2008.
> When the Heat hosts Detroit on Jan. 1 it will mark the second straight year and the seventh time in franchise history time Miami has played on New Year’s Day. Miami is 6-0 all-time on New Year’s Day, winning by an average of 22.3 ppg (20.0 ppg in the five home contests).
> The Heat will play the same opponent in consecutive games three times this season: at Memphis on Nov. 25 and then versus the Grizzlies on Nov. 26; vs. Cleveland on Mar. 4 and then at Cleveland on March 6; and then at New York on March and then home vs. the Knicks on March 31.
> Miami has nine single-game road trips (two of which are to Orlando) and 10 multi-game road trips (three of which are two games, four are three games, two are four games and one is six games).
> The Heat's last road game against a Western Conference opponent is Feb. 27 at Dallas in its 60th game. The Feb. 27 date marks the second earliest calendar date in franchise history that the Heat played their last Western Conference road game. Miami’s last game this year outside the Eastern and Central time zones is Jan. 10 at Golden State.
> The Panthers and Heat play on the same day 34 times. However, of those 34 occasions only eight times (Nov. 1, Nov. 10, Nov. 12, Dec. 20, Dec. 22, Mar. 4, Mar. 21 and Mar. 23) are both teams home on the same day.
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Oct. 4 at Washington 7 p.m.
Oct. 8 vs. Minnesota (Kansas City, MO) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 11 vs. Brooklyn 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 at San Antonio 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 vs. Minnesota (Louisville, KY) 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 vs. Orlando 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 at Charlotte 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Philadelphia 7:30 p.m.
The saga of Dwyane Wade's departure from the Miami Heat and his relationship with team president Pat Riley gained another chapter worth of answers on Friday when he made his introductory press conference with the Chicago Bulls.
Wade, 34, said multiple times Riley had nothing to do with his decision to head home and that ultimately he wanted to be selfish. Wade said Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler played a big role in his recruitment.
Q: Did you really want to come home to Chicago or did the perceived rift with Riley play a big role?
"I have no rift with Pat Riley. It's funny the reports come out about a lot of different things. I've never seen nobody around me and Pat when me and him was talking. I didn't see no one CC'd on the emails that we talk about. I have nothing but respect for what he's done in this game. I have so much to learn. So I have no rift in that.
"For me as a player, when you get opportunities to be a free agent you have to sit and look and see what is the best situation for you. In 2010, the best situation for me was to play with Chris [Bosh] and LeBron [James] because I wanted to be able to compete for championships and that's what I felt was best. The other two opt out seasons, last year I wanted more money -- just to be real. I got more money. This year, the direction and the focus for that organization in Miami -- which I have nothing but love and respect for -- was a little different than it has been in years past.
"With that being said, my direction and my focus was a little different than it had been in year's past. I communicated with them that 'Hey I've only done this once, but I'm going to be a free agent. I'm going to go out and see what the market is saying about me.' And, like I said, this opportunity with Chicago when first I said I was going to be a free agent, this was nothing that we all knew was going to happen. But it was things that happened along the way that made this even realer and realer. I made the decision.
"I had a contract offer in Miami that I could have took. I decided not to take it. It was my decision to be selfish and to live out a dream of mine. I've brought a lot of excitement to Miami and it's a home to me. It will always be. I want to bring a little bit here to Chicago when I have a little bit left.
"I still have a little bit left by the way. I've listened to all you guys the last couple weeks. I know what you all have been saying. But, I wanted to come here and be a part of building this organization back up to what this organization should go and should be.
"So, let's clear up the notion that Pat Riley orchestrated me getting out of Miami because he didn't offer me the money I wanted. This was not a money deal. If this was a money deal I wouldn't be sitting here. I would have taken the most money. At the end of the day this is a place I wanted to be.
"Miami and Chicago have always been the two cities I've called home. I was in Milwaukee for a brief second. I got an opportunity to be selfish and I took it. And my family is coming along with me. This was a decision solely for me and it has nothing to do with Pat Riley, Micky Arison, Nick Arison and the family. They wanted me back in Miami. I considered it. But at the end of the day this is where I wanted to be and where my heart was telling me to go and it was back home."
Q: Riley said he wasn't involved enough in your recruitment. What did he mean?
"I dealt with Micky Arison, Nick Arison when it came to my contracts the last two years. That's what he means when he said he wasn't involved, meaning he didn't sit at the table. He didn't call or email or text or nothing like that to try to sway me or try to get me back. I guess that's what he meant.
"I dealt with two people I respect in the organization. And like I said, at the end of the day it wasn't about Pat Riley, it wasn't about Micky, it wasn't about Nick. It was about me. I told that to the Arison family in our meeting. They asked me, 'What else? Is there anything else we can do? I said, 'This is a decision I'm going to have to make. And I made that decision.'
"I wasn't looking for Pat to reach out to me. That wasn't the focus of mine. My focus was making the best decision for my family. He has to make the best decision for the organization, which he has done an amazing job over his tenure there. And we all benefited from it.
"But, this decision was basically mine and I couldn't concern myself or worry about someone reaching out to me or not reaching out to me. That's [wasn't] why I made the decision. It wasn't because he didn't reach out to me. How petty is that? I sat down with the guys who pay the bills. I knew they wanted me to still be there, but ultimately I wanted to be here. And I ultimately made that decision."
Former Heat center Amar'e Stoudemire, 33, announced his retirement on Tuesday and did so by signing an honorary one-day contract with the New York Knicks.
"I want to thank [Knicks owner James] Dolan, [team president] Phil [Jackson] and [general manager] Steve [Mills], for signing me so that I can officially retire as a New York Knick,." Stoudemire said in a statement released by the team. "I came to New York in 2010 to help revitalize this franchise and we did just that. Carmelo [Anthony], Phil and Steve have continued this quest, and with this year's acquisitions, the team looks playoff-bound once again. Although my career has taken me to other places around the country, my heart had always remained in the Big Apple. Once a Knick, Always a Knick."
Though his role with the Heat wasn't quite what it was when he was with the Knicks or the Phoenix Suns, Stoudemire did make an impact in Miami.
After signing a one-year, veterans minimum contract with the Heat last summer and playing in only three games before Christmas, Stoudemire played a key role after Hassan Whiteside went down with an injury on Jan. 20 at Washington.
He started 36 consecutive games -- even after Whiteside returned -- and averaged 6.6 points, 5.2 rebounds in 16.6 minutes per game over the stretch. The Heat went 23-13 with Stoudemire in the starting lineup.
But after the first two games of opening round playoff series against the Charlotte Hornets, Stoudemire's role quickly diminished.
He didn't play in Games 5 through 7 against the Hornets and sat out the final two games of Miami's season-ending series loss to the Toronto Raptors -- even with Whiteside out. Stoudemire expressed his dissatisfaction with his lack of playing time after Miami was eliminated.
In 14 seasons, Stoudemire averaged 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and played in 846 games for the Suns, Knicks and Mavericks. He was named to five All-NBA teams (two first teams, three second teams) and was the 2003 NBA Rookie of the Year. He played for the United States in the 2004 Olympics.
Stoudemire spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Suns and made five All-Star appearances with Phoenix, but obviously felt a closer connection to the Knicks than any other team he played for.
The Knicks went to the playoffs three times with Stoudemire on the roster, but never got out of the first round. New York was swept by the Celtics in 2011, lost 4-1 to the Heat in 2012 and then lost 4-2 to the Pacers in 2013.
Pat Riley felt the need to share something Saturday beyond his feelings of regret after losing Dwyane Wade this summer.
He felt compelled to bring up a story from the Summer of 2010 on his role in bringing Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh together to form the Big 3.
“I can tell you a funny story about -- maybe I shouldn’t -- but I can tell you a funny story about 2010," Riley said shortly after he finished answering a question regarding his approach to whale hunting in the Summer of 2017.
"When we took the three of them in, we had $49.5 million [in cap space]," Riley continued. "So we had $16.5 for each guy, which was the max deal. So, we got it all. Then they said, ‘Well, who do we have left?’ We got Mario [Chalmers] as the starting point guard and we got Joel [Anthony] as the starting center. That’s it, we have five guys. They said, ‘Well, we would like to get Mike Miller. How can we get Mike Miller?’ I said, ‘I can’t get you Mike Miller. We can’t get him. I don’t have the money.’ So we traded Michael Beasley to get the money, but they had to go down to $15 million.
"That was their choice.
"Then they wanted UD. Well, I can’t get UD even though I wanted to get UD. So, that whole concept about bringing guys in the room was on five-year deals. The interesting part is on July 9th, they all agreed to come in on five-year deals room only, so I didn’t have to give up any assets. Then at the 11th hour, they all wanted the sixth year. You know what that cost me and [general manager] Andy [Elisburg]? That cost us four picks.
"I just said to them, ‘If you want the sixth year -- because I know you’re going to opt out after the fourth anyhow -- but if you want the sixth year, I don’t want any of you to walk into my office and say, ‘Hey, can we get any young guys around here? Can we get some draft picks around here?’ Because they were gone. And, I don’t know why I told you that story.
"I always get amused by it because I watched our last draft pick that we gave [Cleveland] for LeBron, they traded it to Minnesota, ended up in Philly or somewhere, and he was playing in Cleveland and we still owed it. I told Andy when he goes to the CBA meetings, make sure that if you ever do a sign-and-trade and give up a draft pick for a player and that player leaves before the draft pick goes to that team, then it automatically is like given back to you. They don’t do that.”
Riley, of course, didn't share that story Saturday because he was amused by where that draft pick ended up or that he wished the Heat still had it.
He shared it to show us how much power in the NBA really belongs to the players, to show us how far team presidents and general managers and owners will go in sacrificing to put a dream team together.
This summer Riley lost big. He went hunting for Kevin Durant, a piece that would not only put Riley and the Heat in contention for another championship, but one he thought Wade would fully stand behind if Durant happened to choose Miami.
The problem for Riley was that unlike in 2010 when Wade, LeBron and Bosh came together on their own accord and were willing to sacrifice, Riley had no one in his corner this summer.
Bosh was angry with the Heat because they wouldn't let him return to the court during the playoffs and didn't participate in Durant's recruitment. And Wade was upset from the get go that he was Plan C, someone Riley was counting on to take less money to make a run at championships again with Durant.
For all the power we truly think Riley and his nine rings have in this league, he and every other team president and general manager is ultimately at the mercy of their superstar players lending support.
The stars who are willing to take less money, fewer shots and swallow some individual pride to team up and win championships are the ones that form super teams. The front offices and owners who don't have superstars willing to do that are the ones left behind.
Riley had an ace in his corner in 2010.
Now, he's just looking for another ace.
The Miami Heat continued its push to add some three-point shooting touch to its bench Sunday, trading a 2018 second round pick and cash to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for veteran small forward Luke Babbitt.
The pick, acquired in the Jarnell Stokes trade last season, belonged to New Orleans in the first place and was heavily protected.
Babbitt (6-9, 225) has shot 40.7 percent beyond the three-point line throughout his career with New Orleans and Portland and averaged 7.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 47 games last season with the Pelicans. In three of his six NBA seasons, Babbitt has hit at least 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts.
He's set to earn the league minimum of $1,227,286 for a player with six years experience.
Earlier in the day, the Heat signed guard Wayne Ellington, a career 37.6 percent three-point shooter.
Dwyane Wade is gone.
But Udonis Haslem remains.
Haslem will play a 14th season with the Miami Heat, agreeing upon a one year, $4 million contract with the Miami Heat.
This is not expected to be his final season.
If he plays a 15th, and returns at the minimum, it would be roughly equivalent to a two-year, $5.8 million deal since the veteran's minimum is expected to go up.
While Haslem didn't play much last season, his per-minute averages were close to what he's done during his career, and he is counted upon for leadership in the locker room. That is even more critical now that Wade and Luol Deng are gone, Chris Bosh's situation still isn't clear, and Hassan Whiteside has a max contract. Haslem was entrusted with a lot of locker room mentoring of Whiteside the past two seasons.
Haslem has repeatedly given up money throughout the years, and this is a sign that the Heat appreciated that.
That's needed too, in light of how many fans feel about losing Wade.
More on this to come....
But, for now, here was Dwyane Wade's response today -- at his camp in Miami -- to a question about his relationship with Pat Riley:
"There's going to be a lot of stuff that's said about me and Pat. First and foremost, I love Pat Riley. He's been someone who has been a figurehead in my life since I got drafted here at 21. But at the same time, he has a job to do. He has a different hat to wear. That hat sometimes is not to be my best friend. That hat is to be the president of the organization, and to be a businessman. And it sucks. Because you love somebody so well, you guys love each other, but the business side comes out. You know?"
"And we have to deal with that. I'm not saying we've hugged and cried and shared tears at this moment. But I love Pat. And I will always love Pat. And I know he feels the same way about me. But it's the business side, man. He's a tough cookie. I've grown into be a tough one as well. Yeah, we can butt heads at times. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for what he's been able to do in this game of basketball. I still haven't even scratched the surface of what I hope my impact can be in this game of basketball. I only got 13 years under my belt. He got 13 years times 10 under his belt. So I'm not that guy."
"I know I heard a lot of stuff back and forth. I'm never bashing Pat Riley. I'm never bashing the Miami Heat organization. I'm never saying nothing negative about them, out of my mouth, about them. Does the way that the process goes down, are you angry? Yes. Do you feel a certain way about stuff? Yes. I feel that way about my parents. But I love them to death. And my kids feel the same way about me when I got to punish them and I don't do what they want me to do. But they love me to death. And that's the way I feel about this organization. Like I said, the business side just comes into play sometimes, and it's an ugly, ugly side. But at the end of the day, there's nothing but love from me."
With Dwyane Wade headed home to play for the Chicago Bulls, the Miami Heat on Friday continued working to fill out the rest of its roster, agreeing to a one-year, $5 million deal with former Knicks forward Derrick Williams.
The deal was first reported by The Vertical.
Williams, 25, is listed at 6-8, 240 pounds and is extremely athletic. The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft averaged 9.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game with New York. He played 80 games and started nine.
He's averaged 9.3 points and 4.2 rebounds throughout his career, which began in Minnesota and included a stop in Sacramento before playing with the Knicks last season.
He's a career 29 percent shooter from three-point range.
It's expected he'll backup Chris Bosh should Bosh be healthy.
The Heat has yet to announce the signing.