When I first walked into the Heat's practice gym on Thursday, I was immediately surprised by how much muscle Chris Bosh has stacked on his frame. No, seriously, the guy looks pretty jacked. I mean, he's not Karl Malone or Charles Oakley or anything, but there's no question Bosh dedicated himself this offseason amid all the other responsibilities he had on his plate (getting married and being a newlywed and now he's expecting his second child, so it goes).
An aside: Bosh wouldn't say how much weight he's gained or even how much he bench presses. He did tell me that what he used to bench was "pretty heavy" and now it's "really heavy." Those Georgia Tech guys. Always so precise about their measurements.
"I say it’s probably a 50-pound difference — 60- to 70-pound difference," Bosh said. "No, I’m serious. I’m not joking."
Yes, before you ask, Bosh says he'll play center if need be.
So, reporters watched Bosh, Udonis Haslem and James Jones shoot jumpers for about 20 minutes and then came the day's big shocker. Mike Miller is hurt again. This time, he had hernia surgery. If you're counting, that's four surgeries for Miller since he arrived in Miami last year (two thumbs, a shoulder and now hernia). I caught up with Mike on the phone and he obviously was down about the injury but was also refreshingly upbeat at the same time.
The kneejerk reaction to Miller's injury is to assume he's gone -- that the Heat will use its amnesty exception to free itself of Miller's contract. I'm going to avoid jumping to conclusions for now. I'm fairly confident that no one else will do the same but Haslem seemed hopeful that Miller could be an important part of the team despite the recent setback.
Still, there was a lingering feeling that Miller's days might be numbered.
As for Haslem, he had a little fun with reporters (me and Mike Wallace) when we asked him about trade rumors. Haslem played dumb and asked what rumors were swirling around the league. I told him that there's a rumor that could send him to Denver in a package deal for Nene. Haslem's response was spot on:
"If I was going to go to Denver, they should have let me go last year. [WILD LAUGHTER] I could have got the extra $14 million. [DORKY REPORTERS LAUGHING AWKWARDLY] I should have just signed that last year and got the extra $14 million. You know, then sending me now for $14 million less. Now I feel cheated. That’s all. [MORE LAUGHS] I don’t pay attention to it. I didn’t know until you guys just told me."
Seriously, does anyone really believe that the Heat is going to deal UD one year after Dwyane Wade and LeBron James both took less money to keep him? If UD was dealt, fans would feel betrayed and so would the players. Not going to happen.
Still, UD defended his value to the team.
"I haven’t heard [the rumors] here and I haven’t heard it from my agent but the bottom line is I make this team better. So, it’s up to the people upstairs to make those decisions. I make this team better. The decisions that are being made, I can’t control that. But the bottom line is, I make this team better.
"The decisions that’s being made, I can’t control those. I can’t control the rumors, I can’t control anything. I make the team better and whatever decisions bounce around, I only worry about what you can control. The rumors, can’t control. The trades, you can’t control. What you can control is how hard you work to get back from injury like I had to do. When I came back from injury, what I brought to the team. What we did to get through the Chicago series. That’s all I can control. I can’t control anything else."
UD makes a good case for himself. But, the way I see it, he's understating his true worth. UD brings team chemistry, toughness and familiarity to the team that cannot be measured in a box score. (Ahh, but let me stop before I start sounding like a coach.)
That chemistry was apparent when Haslem talked about Miller. UD clearly was upset about Miller's latest injury. (They're good friends, you know.) In hindsight, it made for an interesting shootaround, considering Jones could be one of the free agents the Heat picks up if it waives Miller. (Of course, everyone loves Jones, too.) Jones said he's open to returning to the Heat.
Dexter Pittman arrived at the practice facility after Jones, Haslem and Bosh were finished. The big center might have put on a few pounds since last season but not much. He'll lose it by the time the season begins. The Heat's coaches told Pittman before the lockout that he would play a more important role in his second season in the league. (He didn't really play a role last year. He was in Siberia or some cold place playing in the D-League.)
We'll be back at the arena on Friday. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are back in town after the flag-football fun, so we'll see if they show up.
Oh, Mario Chalmers worked out in Las Vegas on Thursday. No word yet on when he's returning to Miami. Also, Juwan Howard worked out Thursday but declined to speak with reporters. The Warden was also in the house.