Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stackhouse effect

The Stackhosue signing makes perfect sense. He's a veteran who can still play some defense and hit open shots, and even at this point in his career might be a tad more versatile than James Jones, who doesn't work much off the dribble and rarely handles the ball.

But still, the Heat will probably ease Stackhouse into any playing time. There are too many new parts to this team to add another brand new contributor just before the first game. The rotation will probably include James Jones and Eddie House, and if for some reason that's not working, then Spoelstra will probably start to incorporate Stackhouse.

The problem now is there will have to be two cuts made. It still seems pretty simple to me. You cut Patrick Beverley and Da'Sean Butler. Butler can stick around Miami and re-sign when he's actually healthy, which is probably next season. Jamaal Magloire still feels like he's more important to the team as an emergency center option. Zydrunas Ilgauskas isn't exactly injury prone anymore, but he is still 35 years old. And Dexter Pittman is probably too young to contribute. So Big Cat must remain.

On a random note, just saw where the Hornets got a hold of Jerryd Bayless from the Blazers for a 2011 first-round draft pick. I know the Heat is just about fresh out of draft picks to trade, but it would've been nice to get Bayless. I've always liked him and thought he was buried in Portland. Plus, is anybody sold on Mario Chalmers? I'm pretty sure I know that answer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Blazers 102, Heat 95

The question is simple. How? Trail Blazers-Roy

How can a team that had just turned a corner at home play so well for 42 minutes, carry a six-point lead with five minutes left, shoot 50 percent from the field, hold a sizable edge in points in the paint and have even a diminished Dwyane Wade down the stretch let this one slip away?

How? Easy.

Brandon Roy caught whatever hot flash Quentin Richardson was dealing with Sunday. As a result, Roy led the Blazers back to snatch a victory from the Heat's grasp in a 102-95 come-from-behind clinic at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Roy scored 11 points in the final four minutes and finished with 28 to match Wade's output. His perfect touch on five three-pointers also offset Quentin Richardson's 7-for-7 performance as the Blazers dropped the Heat to 2-3 on its six-game homestand.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: It was evident that Wade was a bit off from the outset. He missed five of his first six shots from the field, including three shots in the lane and an airball on a short baseline jumper. The back spasms that kept him out of Saturday's practice "kept coming back and leaving" during the game Sunday. He still managed 28 points on 13-of-31 shooting and 10 assists. But without much lift, many of his shots fell short and he also went without a rebound for just the fourth time in his career. First it was the wrist. Now it's the back. Wade is 25 games into the season and is already banged up to mid-season levels. He'll have two days to rest before the Heat closes out the homestand on Wednesday. He'll need every bit of it.

TURNING POINT: Let's see. The Heat was ahead 87-81 with 5:28 left. Over the next five minutes, Portland Trail Blazers LaM would rally to go ahead 99-92 with 28 seconds left. That's a 18-5 run that sucked the life out of the Heat. Brandon Roy had 11 during the spurt, but he got plenty of help from LaMarcus Aldridge inside, Martell Webster outside and Andre Miller's veteran savvy, ability to hit tough shots and penchant to draw fouls.

LOSING EDGE: The Heat didn't really find a way to lose this one as much as the Blazers just came from behind to snatch victory away. But if there was one critical stat that stands out, it was Portland's 15-9 edge in made free throws.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: In a game where there was no shortage of three-point threats, it remains puzzling as to why Daequan Cook continues to be in such a deep freeze. Cook, reigning 3-point shootout champ from All-Star Weekend, is buried so deep in the rotation these days that he might as well sit alongside special assistant Keith Askins behind the Heat bench. Cook is a great kid with an even better attitude and a solid work ethic, which is why it's so tough to see him struggle. Meanwhile, Richardson has so clearly taken over as the Heat's resident three-point specialist. That means Miami spent a first-round draft pick (Cook) and majority of its 2008 mid-level exception money (James Jones) on something it essentially acquired in what many dismissed as a throw-away trade (Richardson-for-Mark-Blount).

KEY CONTRIBUTION: It's all about the Q. Richardson tied a franchise record for most consecutive made three-pointers without a miss when he finished 7 of 7 from beyond the arc. He closed with a season-highQuentin-standalone 22 points. As good as that effort was, Roy found a way to upstage it and get the win. But the Heat has found a scoring sidekick to complement Wade and Beasley. If Q plays, he's almost good for 20 every time he steps onto the court. He's been that consistent lately. He's also been battling nagging injuries.

NEXT UP: Jazz at Heat, Wednesday - 7:30, AmericanAirlines Arena

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 107, Blazers 100

This was the Heat's supporting cast at its best. No doubt about it. Heat_Trail_Wade

This is how you want to open a four-game Western conference swing and put behind consecutive home losses to Boston and Washington. Adversity? What adversity?

In perhaps its most impressive performance of the season, the Heat cruised to a 107-100 victory against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday. Dwyane Wade notched his first double-double of the season, while Michael Beasley and Quentin Richardson both turned in season-high scoring efforts to snap a four-game losing streak against the Blazers.

With the win, the Heat (10-7) avenged its worst loss of the season last year in a 106-68 loss at Portland. The victory also assured that Miami will return home from the four-game trip with at least a .500 record.

The Heat needed this one. Badly. Now, a 2-2 finish on the trip isn't so far fetched. All it has to do is figure out a way to steal another one from either Denver, the Lakers or Sacramento. The Heat is now 4-2 on the road, which is better than its 6-5 mark at home this season.   

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade did a masterful job of managing the game while facing a Portland defense that was intent on taking away his lanes to the basket. Instead, Wade shifted to point guard in the third quarter and picked apart the Blazers while finding teammates. Along the way, he accumulated his first double-double of the season with 22 points and a season-high 12 assists. Michael Beasley and Quentin Richardson, who finished with 20 points in his return to the starting lineup from a back injury, were the main recipients of Wade's playmaking skills. It goes without saying that the Heat's starting shooting guard is the best point guard on the team. Imagine the possibilities if Wade truly embraced the role.

TURNING POINT: That came the moment Heat coach Erik Spoelstra learned the Blazers would be without Heat_Trail_Nateboth LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw because of injuries. Aldridge and Outlaw, a pair of long, athletic, attacking and aggressive forwards, are the type of players who give the Heat fits on both ends of the court. Beasley didn't have to defend or shoot over the 6-11 Aldridge. Wade and Richardson didn't have to deal with the long-armed Outlaw. Portland still dominated the offensive glass, but didn't have two of its better finishers in the lane. Coach Nate McMillan was playing with a short deck a few other options.

WINNING EDGE: Balance. Neither of Miami's first two scorers to reach 20 points were named Dwyane Wade. Beasley got there early in the third quarter and Richardson, who had 20 points and nine rebounds, followed midway through the fourth. This clearly was the Heat's most complete and promising game of the season. The roster lived up to its fullest potential, considering the circumstances and rotation limitations. There was movement in the offensive sets. Wade got off the ball, swinging it frequently to the weak side, where shooters made shots in key moments. Beasley was a beast in the lane again and didn't settle for jumpers. Every bit of Tuesday's offense will be needed Thursday in Denver, which scored 135 points in a win Tuesday.

HEAD SCRATCHER: If there was one curious aspect from Tuesday's game, it was the frequent shots of Daequan Cook sitting on the floor in front of the bench. If Cook, who remains mired in an awful shooting slump, isn't careful, he might be watching yet another opportunity slip away. The Heat used 10 players against the Blazers. The two who dressed but didn't play were Cook and center Jamaal Magloire. In just a short span, Cook has gone from being on his way to securing the sixth-man role (or first guard off the bench) to being the Heat's 11th man on the active roster. A shoulder injury has stunted his development this season, but 29-percent shooting from the field also has been a factor.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Michael Beasley has established himself as a force in the offense, without havingHeat_Trail_Beas to force shots at the expense of team chemistry. Beasley had 18 points in the first half. He closed with 27 points and eight rebounds. But the most encouraging aspect of his performance were his trips to the free-throw line as a result of aggressive drives to the basket. When Beas is going strong, he can't possibly go wrong. Beasley attempted his 10th free throw just two minutes into the second half, which matched his career high, and then set it with 12 attempts for the game.  He came in averaging 17 points and nine rebounds over his previous six games. If he can keep this up, Wade's three-year search for a consistent sidekick might soon come to a productive and promising end. Beasley continues to find his way on the other end of the court, but it's clearly apparent that his offensive firepower is starting to far overshadow any defensive deficiencies.  

NEXT UP: Heat at Nuggets, Thursday 10:30 p.m. - Pepsi Center

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Super Mario? Nah, Just Solid

We know he's confident. Mario Chalmers entered the league a year ago with a chip on his shoulder after Mario slipping to the second round of the draft, and refused to take a back seat to any guard picked ahead of him.

We know he's durable. Although he only had to beat out a barely-wanted Marcus Banks, a still-rehabbing Shaun Livingston and a seldom-used Chris Quinn, Chalmers (pictured right) grabbed the starting job last season and became the only rookie in Heat history to start every regular season and playoff game.

We know he's valued. Why else would Heat president Pat Riley go as far as to proclaim that he wouldn't bring in anyone to start ahead of Chalmers, despite the team's significant void of point guard depth? That means - barring a last-minute change of plans - bypassing a group of proven veterans that consists of Ty Lue, Brevin Knight, Flip Murray, Jamaal Tinsley and just-off-the-market Allen Iverson.

Yes, we know plenty about Chalmers. But there's at least one thing we don't. And that is whether or not he's clearly - beyond a reasonable doubt - the solid, steady, clutch point guard this franchise will place in the backcourt alongside Dwyane Wade for the foreseeable future?

This season will go a long way in determining that answer. I still find it a bit strange that Chalmers went from having to be taught the point guard position at this level a year ago to becoming practically untouchable and essentially irreplaceable in just the span of 12 months.

And that leaves the Heat in a curious situation entering camp just two weeks from now. Chalmers and Quinn are the only two point guards under contract. Riley said last week that Wade will again handle significant time at the position late in games and in crisis situations.

Mario-magic That sets up a huge gamble for the Heat. An injury to Chalmers means far more minutes for Wade. An injury to Wade means the season is done, during a contract year for your franchise player to boot. Riley is a risk taker. But he ain't crazy, which is why I think he will address needs at the position via a trade or free agent signing at some point before the start of the season.

If Chalmers (pictured left, driving against Jameer Nelson) continues to develop, there's no question he could be a solid starter in this league for a long time alongside Wade, assuming Wade re-ups as expected next summer in free agency. Remember, greatness doesn't need spectacular as a sidekick to win. Simply solid would do.

That's why Jordan worked so well with Paxson and Armstrong. It's why Kobe gets it done with Fisher. Between now and the Sept. 28 start of training camp, we will rank how the Heat stacks up in the East at all five starting positions, the bench and coaching. Let's start at point guard, where I've got Chalmers ranked 10th in the East entering the season, based on production, potential, expected progress, overall impact and durability among other factors. Here's where the Heat stacks up at the position.

1. Devin Harris (pictured right), Nets. 2. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards. 3. Derrick Rose, Bulls. 4. Rajon Rondo, Celtics. 5. Devin Harris Jameer Nelson, Magic. 6. Mo Milliams, Cavs. 7. Jose Calderon, Raptors. 8. Mike Bibby, Hawks. 9. Rodney Stuckey, Pistons. 10. Mario Chalmers, Heat. 11. Raymond Felton, Bobcats. 12. T.J. Ford, Pacers. 13. Chris Duhon, Knicks. 14. Luke Ridnour, Bucks. 15 Lou Williams, Sixers.

If Chalmers makes the sort of second-year progress the Heat is expecting, Miami will be fine at the position. But if the team enters the season as is at the point, Mario will have minimal margin for error.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Answer? No Thanks.

If Allen Iverson is truly awaiting a counter offer from the Heat, The Answer should probably expect a four- Iverson-badDetroit word response from Miami president Pat Riley: Thanks. But no thanks.

League sources with knowledge of the Heat's thinking at this point suggested Friday that Riley has essentially abandoned any thought of addressing his lack of point guard depth through free agency.

With the Heat already about $3 million above the league's dollar-for-dollar luxury tax threshold of $69.9 million, any significant additions Miami might make to the roster would presumably come through a potential trades or sign-and-trade deals.

What that likely means is that Riley will pass on available playmakers such as Iverson, Jamaal Tinsley, Flip Murray or anyone who'd command more than the league-subsidized vet's minimum on a 1-year deal.

The Heat has expressed varying levels of interest in Iverson, Tinsley and Murray throughout the offseason. Riley even went as far as to inform Iverson's camp to hit up the Heat before the 10-time All-Star and former MVP decided to accept another offer.

A source close to Iverson confirmed that the Grizzlies have a standing offer, which reportedly is a one-year deal for the $3.5 million Memphis has left under the salary cap. Iverson's camp complied with Riley's request to get back to the Heat with Memphis' figures and is awaiting a response. Charlotte, reportedly, is also in the mix. But the math just doesn't make sense as far as Miami is concerned.

The $3.5 million Memphis has offered equates to just that: $3.5 million. That's how finances work for the very few teams out there that are below the $57.7 million salary cap. 

Should Charlotte decide to match Memphis' offer, the $3.5 million or more chunk it would eat out of the Bobcat's mid-level exception would equate to just that. That's how finances work for team's that operate above the salary cap but below the punitive luxury tax.

Dorell-Wright And then there's Miami, where $3.5 million for Iverson would equate to $7 million, where even $1.5 million for Murray means $3 million on the expense account. We all know Miami has a tropical climate. But when you're making it rain to the tune of $23 million for Jermaine O'Neal and almost $3 million for Dorell Wright this season - eating up nearly half the salary cap right there alone - spending flexibility gets drenched.

That means the $5.9 million ($12 mil in actual cost) mid-level exception and the $2 million ($4 million) veteran's exception available at Miami's disposal probably won't get touched. And maybe not even the two trade exceptions ($4.2 mil and $800K) that have been available.

Money matters meant having to make a sort of mind-boggling move this week. The Heat shipped $1.5 million and a second-round draft picks to the Lakers to acquire Pat Beverley on draft night. But Miami then saved $1 million this week by not signing Beverley and allowing him to instead sign with a Greek team for this season. 

Miami is no longer in the business of doing business straight up this summer. There can only be addition by subtraction. In theory, that brings Utah (Boozer), Portland (Blake, Bayless), the L.A. Clippers (Camby), New Jersey (Alston, Dooling) and a few other overstocked potential partners back into the mix.

Or maybe - just maybe - Miami goes into training camp Sept. 28 as is. Without The Answer or an obvious solution to its point guard depth issues.

Beasley update: Sources also confirmed Friday that forward Micheal Beasley moved from an out-patient to a more stringent in-patient program because of a violation of rules. Beasley remains in a Houston substance-abuse facility for treatment that was initially prompted by a violation during last summer's NBA rookie transition program. Beasley is still expected back for training camp, barring an additional setback. 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Draft Mocking For Dummies

Somehow, over the past few days, logic and reality seem to have been removed from the process leading up to Thursday night's NBA Draft. But we'll attempt to wade through the smokescreens, misdirection and muddled mess to deliver our best-guess, updated mock draft.

A lot has changed since our first version of the mock draft on the blog after the lottery order was set. Still, plenty has remained the same. Or at least it should have, especially when it comes to how the top of this draft should - and will - play out tonight.

Bank on it. We'll be right - unless, of course, we turn out to be dead wrong. And if that turns out to be the case, then forget this file ever existed. So with the first pick in the 2008 NBA Draft ...

Rose_derrick 1. Chicago Bulls - Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis: Just like its approach to hiring a head coach, Chicago made this process much more difficult than it had to be. Housecleaning will follow, but Rose is the type of point guard and selfless player who could allow the Bulls to blossom into a serious contender again.

2. Miami Heat - Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State: With two years left on his contract, let's hope Heat Beasley_2 president Pat Riley gets this right. Because he probably won't be around to apologize down the line if he  blows this pick by gambling with a trade.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves - O.J. Mayo, G, USC: The T-Wolves insist they will get an impact player Usc_mayo_basketball_la103 either here or by trading for a spot later in the lottery. Brook Lopez fits a need, but Mayo is the best player - and biggest star - on the board after Rose and Beasley depart.

4. Seattle Supersonics - Brook Lopez, C, Stanford: First real draft surprise here. Until recently, all signs had pointed to the Sonics going small with Jerryd Bayless. Instead, they go big with Lopez, who also fits a need and adds to a nice young nucleus of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

5. Memphis Grizzlies - Kevin Love, F, UCLA: Gritty, skilled post player would slot right into the spot Lovek vacated by Pau Gasol in that awful trade to the Lakers. Memphis would prefer Beasley, but Love is a solid consolation prize to team with budding stars Mike Conley Jr. and Rudy Gay.

6. New York Knicks - Jerryd Bayless, G, Arizona: New coach Mike D'Antoni will be tempted to snag Italian star forward Danilo Gallinari because of close ties. But D'Antoni also got a great look at Bayless while coaching the Suns. Bayless would provide a nice transition away from the Stephon Marbury era.

7. L.A. Clippers - Eric Gordon, G, Indiana: Instincts say go with the local product in UCLA guard Russell Westbrook. But conventional wisdom suggests Gordon because his ability to score and light it up from three-point range would far better complement the inside attack of Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.

8. Milwaukee Bucks - Joe Alexander, F, West Virginia: Had him in this spot in the original mock draft and see no reason to move him now. Alexander's athleticism and relentless play give new coach Scott Skiles the same attacking wing play he had in Chicago with Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni.

Westbrook 9. Charlotte Bobcats - Russell Westbrook, G, UCLA: An athletic post presence and point guard depth are the needs, so DeAndre Jordan or even Anthony Randolph could be options here. But Westbrook plays Larry Brown-type defense and would be insurance for the erratic Raymond Felton.

10. New Jersey Nets - Danilo Gallinari, F, Italy: One way or the other, Gallinari is expected to end up in the New York area. But the Nets also are in the market for a big man, which might lead them to Jordan or possibly trading down for Roy Hibbert or Robin Lopez.

11. Indiana Pacers - DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M: Now that the Pacers have addressed the point guard position by trading for T.J. Ford, they must now fill the hole in the middle left by Jermain O'Neal's departure. Jordan lacks an offensive game, but his shot-blocking and rebounding are NBA-ready.

12. Sacramento Kings - D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas: If he's available, this would be a steal for the Kings. Augustine With Beno Udrih headed into restricted free agency, Augustin would be a more-than-capable insurance policy who could start as a rookie. If he's gone, Darrell Arthur or Randolph are fall-back options who would fit other needs.

13. Portland Trail Blazers - Darrell Arthur, PF, Kansas: With a young, deep and athletic roster, the Blazers could be looking to trade and pick up a playoff-tested veteran, preferably a deep shooter to free up space for center Greg Oden to operate inside upon his return. Otherwise, Arthur is the best player available.

Randolph 14. Golden State Warriors - Anthony Randolph, F, LSU: With Baron Davis' situation shaky, the Warriors could use a point guard. But ones worthy of a lottery pick should all be gone. Although his stock has dropped some since the pre-draft camp, the super slender Randolph is an intriguing athlete who could give the Warriors a shot-blocking presence as he develops both an NBA frame and game.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Live from NY: Rose, Beasley, Mayo and Bayless

The top prospects spoke to the media this afternoon and the biggest buzz is about who Miami will end up with Thursday night. Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless each thinks they could land in Miami, presuming Derrick Rose is taken first by the Bulls.

Rose was quite humble about being taken first and made a point to say he would not be unhappy if he fell No. 2 to Miami.

Beasley is quite a character and seemed relaxed, finding a way to inject his humor into several answers. Predictably he was asked several questions about his supposed maturity and character issues.

The Beasley show:

*While trying to work his way through the media crush to get to his assigned table, he said playfully: "I can't get through. I feel like Moses. Hey, who knocked down my name card?"

*He told a story about how he did not come to Miami prepared for wet weather, and wound up caught in the rain. "My socks got wet!"

*On whether he should grow up: "I'm a kid. I don't want to grow up too fast. I'm not 25."

*On whether needs to change and what he says to people who say he should mature: "Why change? I think they need to smile more."

*One of his close friends is lottery prospect and UCLA forward Kevin Love. They had a funny exchange as Beasley left his media session and Love entered. Beasley inquired about hanging out and asked, "What are you doing tomorrow?" Love responded: "Getting drafted." Beasley also mentioned that he had lost his room key.

Mayo's take: He said that his Heat workout was the most fast-paced and intense of all the individual workouts he did leading up to the draft. He said he got only one water break and did lots of running. Beasley said his Heat workout also involved lots of running. Mayo said he did not realize he was working out with coach Erik Spoelstra because the 37-year-old looked so young. Mayo thought he was a team trainer until a good way through the session.

Mayo said he is very capable of being a point guard in the NBA, but mentioned that if he ends up with the Heat he would probably share ball-handling duties with Dwyane Wade.

Bayless' view: Although he primarily played shooting guard in college, Bayless said he will be a point guard in the NBA. He said he thinks he would fit real well with Wade.

O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless in the picture (with poll)

All eyes are on the Heat, With point guard Derrick Rose appearing to be a virtual lock to go to Chicago first overall. Keep in mind that the Heat must select a player with the second pick before making a trade, so even if Michael Beasley's name is called that does not guarantee that he finishes the night with the Heat.

Baylessphoto_2 Former Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless and USC guard O.J. Mayo worked out for the Heat in Miami Tuesday, ESPN reported late Tuesday night. (No official word from the Heat yet--as the team did not send out a release like usual with the list of players that worked out after the fact--and team officials were not available for comment.)

Earlier Tuesday, word was the Heat would select and KEEP Beasley. However, team officials continued entertaining trade offers and still really intrigued by Mayo. A few days ago it appeared the Heat's interest in Mayo had cooled a bit, when team officials went to watch Rose workout in LA while Mayo worked out for several top lottery teams in Mayo Chicago. The Heat's interest in Mayo is real but don't bet on the Heat passing over Beasley. I still think it would take an appealing trade package for the Heat to unload Beasley. That is where it gets complicated because if the Heat wants to be assured of getting Mayo it might only be doable if Miami's trade partner is Minnesota. The Timberwolves, which hold the No. 3 pick, are one of the teams that covets Mayo.

Bayless entering the fray suggests the Heat wants to cover as many bases as possible should the team trade for the guard.

The problem is the Heat could regret not ending up with Beasley, if that's what happens. In most of the possible trade scenarios involving the Heat, Miami would be sending the best player--Beasley--to another team, and it's hard to think of a trade where the team that get less in return made out better. All of this goes back to the dilemma. The Heat has several pressing needs--center and point guard. The talented Beasley would fill none of those.

If you're the Heat what would you do? (Vote below).

I'm in New York, check back for updates. The top prospects including Beasley, Rose, Mayo, Bayless, etc. are scheduled to speak with the media Wednesday afternoon so stay tuned.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mayo Matters (Another O.J. from USC in Miami?)

It's been three days since the Draft Lottery results arrived in rainy Secaucus. And the downpour of stories, rumors, misdirection and flat-out guesswork from so-called experts, GMs, team presidents and inside sources seem to only get more far-fetched by the news cycle.

Beasley_m First, we hear throughout the past several weeks that Derrick Rose and Michael   Beasley are clearly the cream of the crop atop the draft pool - with a deep drop-off after the second pick. Then, we hear on lottery night from Pat Riley, who seemed more excited about trade scenarios than the transition either Rose or Beasley can help the Heat make after a dreadful 15-67 season.

After that, we hear the Bulls, whose GM wasn't even watching the lottery when it delivered the No. 1 Rose_derrick_2pick despite a 1.7 percent chance to land it, already have hatched up an agreement to take Beasley and leave the Heat with Rose. So I guess somewhere between blowing off the lottery and blowing up his shot at a once-in-a-generation point guard, John Paxson hatched this contingency plan over, eh, breakfast?

Usc_mayo_basketball_la103 And now, there's the ESPN report that links the Heat's No. 2 pick to O.J. Mayo, with Riley suddenly so enamored with the controversial guard from Southern Cal that he's willing to bypass Beasley if both were on the board when the Heat makes its selection.

The good news: This all makes for great debate and entertainment as the days go by.

The bad news: This stuff is going to keep coming over the next 35 or so days.

Not saying that any of the above mentioned either hasn't or won't happen. But it won't hurt to be careful and cautious with what you choose to believe as you read/listen/click into all of the draft talk over the next month. It simply makes you wonder.

You wonder if any of this Mayo-Heat talk is driven by the fact that Mayo is in Chicago working out in Dwyane Wade's hometown, with Dwyane Wade's recently-hired trainer, Tim Grover.

Wade made it no secret he prefers Rose as his backcourt mate. Even after the lottery results, Wade Waderiley still maintained the Heat's biggest need was for a play-making guard. If Rose blossoms in the Windy City, Mayo would be as good a Plan B in the draft as there is at guard. Mayo's personality can be as engaging and convincing as his game. If they can develop a chemistry working out under Grover's guidance, Wade, who can opt out of his contract in two years, might just convince Riley to get Mayo.

I just can't see Miami taking him at No. 2 and calling it a night. Such a move would only make sense if the Heat found a trade partner before the draft and had an agreement in place to swap players after the draft. We reported on Wednesday, from on-the-record interviews, that no fewer than five teams in the lottery are interested in dealing with the Heat for the chance to snag Beasley with the second pick.

Since scenarios are being thrown out there in Floyd Mayweather-like flurries, how about this one.

Mike_miller_2 Let's say things went according to our mock draft from picks 2-5, with the Heat drafting Beasley, Minnesota taking center Brook Lopez, Seattle grabbing Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless and Memphis picking Mayo. It wouldn't be out of the question to see the Heat and Grizzlies, led by former Heat exec Chris Wallace, strike a deal to swap picks, with the Griz throwing recent Heat trade target Mike Miller and second-year PG Kyle Lowry in the mix. Miami would have to send another body or two to match salaries (the official deal also could be delayed a few days to include sign-and-trade options, which would bring Kwame Brown and Ricky Davis in play).

See how easy it is to throw out a rumor/proposed deal, even a rather reasonable, believable one? They're like spam. They can pop up anytime, anywhere these days. And there are going to be quite a few viruses out there disguised as exclusive insight over the next few weeks. Which is why it just might be wise to be careful what you click into-read-hear and believe until you see it on June 26.

Until then, this remains a two-horse draft. And I see Riley and the Heat jockeying - and riding for the long haul - whichever stallion the Bulls don't saddle: Rose or Beasley.


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