Monday, September 26, 2016

Pat Riley says his email to Dwyane Wade is in his saved drafts: "I just have to hit send."

If you are wondering if and when Pat Riley may finally be sending that long carefully crafted email to Dwyane Wade know that it looks the 12-time All-Star will be receiving it soon.

Wade-Riley"I have finished it. I really have finished it," Riley said Monday in a conversation with a handful of Heat beat reporters. "I have it in my saved drafts. I just have to hit send. That's all. I will. I love Dwyane."

Wade, who left to the Bulls this summer when the Heat didn't necessarily meet his financial demands, told us two weeks ago when he was in South Florida for his final community event before leaving for Chicago that he still hadn't received the email from Riley.

What will the letter to Wade ultimately say?

"I don't know if you can put these two words together -- metaphoric hyperbole," Riley said. "He's going to have to read through the lines. But then he'll get the point at the end."

Riley, 71, insisted Monday the story of Wade and him not seeing eye-to-eye is a bit overblown. He said he wasn't involved in any of the negotiations with Wade for the last two years and ultimately Wade was saying no to the Heat, not him.

"In 13 years being with him, I can't remember any time in any one summer where we talked or I bumped into him," Riley said. "I never bothered our players during the Big 3 era. They only had two or three months off.

"The only time I would ever get in touch with a player in my entire career was always around Aug. 1 when your biological clock gets ticking and I would give them a friendly reminder. As head coach I used to send them three letters. That's Spo's job now. But I would just remind them to start thinking about getting ready. That was the only contact I ever had with them."

Riley reiterated what he said back in July that he does ultimately regret not contacting Wade before he decided to sign with the Bulls.

"I don't think a lot of people understand I was not involved in those negotiations at all for two years," Riley said. "I was involved with [his agent] only in 2014. And we couldn't come to a deal. So, it was turned over to the boss -- as it should be.

"The kind of standing that Dwyane had, he had the right to talk to the owner. And, that's the way it went for the two years. I had talked to his agents, people that I needed to talk to. But as far as during that time, during free agency, the draft, summer league, no I did not make a call to him. That was being handled. As I said, I was floored by the decision. I wish I would have [called]."

Wade and the Bulls make their only visit to AmericanAirlines Arena on Nov. 10. 

Riley: "I've had thoughts of moving on, but I woke up this morning and I was just excited."

Pat Riley has been with the Miami Heat for 21 years and while it's abundantly clear the franchise is heading toward another rebuild with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade's run with the team now all but over, the 71-year-old made it clear Monday he isn't ready to step away from his duties on Biscayne Boulevard just yet. 

"Yeah, I've had thoughts the last couple years of moving on. I really have," Riley said Monday morning in a meeting with a handfuul of beat reporters. "But I woke up this morning and I was just excited. I'm not excited about the dilemma with Chris [Bosh]. But I'm excited about another season, another build, another group of young guys that have been coming in here since Aug. 1. I'm excited about Spo."

Riley, who has been in the NBA nearly 50 years, has built what he considers six different teams with the Heat. There was the Alonzo Mourning-Tim Hardaway squad, the one with Wade, Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Eddie Jones and Udonis Haslem, the team with Shaquille O'Neal and Wade, the team after Shaq left, the Big Three and the squad Riley tried to put together with Luol Deng, Goran Dragic, Wade and Bosh to contend, but played only three months together.

This new era of Heat basketball, Riley said, with Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Dragic excites him for various reasons. One, he'll get to see Spoelstra, his disciple, take a young, fast team and try to mold it the way he wants to. Two, the Heat has an opportunity to find new stars to lead the franchise forward.

"This is not his greatest challenge by the way," Riley said of Spoelstra. "This is far and away from his greatest challenge. His greatest challenge was the four years of the Big 3, putting them together, getting them to the Finals, winning championships. This is a challenge for him, but one I know he's excited about.

"He can go to the drawing board, start moving pieces around, cultivate his own philosophy with this team and I think that's important. That's what the growth of a coach goes through. That's what happens. Players have a tendency to teach you new things and new ways to approach things.

"He's done a lot of work this summer on being able to approach these group of players because he's known pretty much known since mid July the team he's going to have. It's going to be exciting for him."

But how much longer does Riley have? How much longer does he want to stick around? What ultimately does he want to leave the Heat with before stepping away?

"You always get pulled back in," Riley said. "Every single time I've always thought about [my wife] Chris and I just moving on, there's always something else that pulls you back in. What I mean it pulls you back in because if you left at that time everybody says he's running away. I think there's a time when you can do that. But you have to win a championship in order to do that and I've never done that.

"But after 50 years of being around the NBA I think you can leave at any time on your terms whenever you want to do it. But there's a couple things that have to happen as far as I'm concerned.

"I'm not the only leader in this front office. The smartest guy in that room is over there is Andy Elisburg. He's the smartest guy in the room and without him we wouldn't be anywhere. But he's not the smartest guy on the court. So, we have a ying-yang, Andy and I.

"Nick [Arison] as the CEO is an entirely different personality, but he's been here so long and he's in on all the decision making and basically right now when we sit in meetings Nick will sit and listen and then all of a sudden he'll say something and I'll say 'Wow, I didn't think of that in that way.' So, there' a lot of wisdom Nick has. I think a lot of that comes from his father. His father is in the meeting and Spo is in the meeting, too. So, there's five of us right now that are sort of in the decision making process as we move forward.

"What needs to happen, to answer your question, is what's going to be the [line of] succession. I think that's important. I want to make sure that Micky is comfortable with everything before I make that decision. We've had a discussion about that. And when you're 71 years old you have a right to talk about that with you boss.

"I'm not going to leave this damn thing until we have the right people running it. I think I could right now and there would still be the right people running it. But I think we're one person short probably. The one that knows as much as that game out there as he does about this stuff right here."

Monday, February 15, 2016

What makes sense and what doesn't when it comes to trade speculation and the Heat

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. and the rumor mill involving the Heat began spinning a little harder Monday.

First, New York Daily News NBA writer Frank Isola reported that Dwight Howard could be moved by Thursday's trade deadline and that Miami was talking with the Rockets about a deal that would include center Hassan Whiteside

Then, later in the afternoon, Houston-based radio reporter Adam Spolane said the Hawks were also are involved in the Heat/Rockets discussions and Miami had discussed sending Goran Dragic as part of that deal, with Al Horford and Jeff Teague coming to Miami. 

All of that made for great radio and lots of fun on Twitter and on ESPN's NBA trade machine.

But does any of it make any sense?

Here are a few things you need to remember first before you dive headfirst into all Heat trade chatter:

> Even though Heat president Pat Riley, 70, told TNT last week he wants to win now and he's "getting too old to win down the road," the Heat are $20.2 million over the salary cap, $5.6 million over the luxury tax threshold (Miami is trying to avoid becoming a repeat tax offender) and don't have much in the way of assets that could net them a significant weapon in return unless Miami is willing to part ways with Luol Deng (he's a free agent in 2016-17), Dragic (he's due another $70.2 million over the next four seasons) or rookie Justise Winslow.

> Although Miami is willing to listen to offers for everyone except All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, parting with Winslow at this point would be mortgaging the future again. The Heat has already traded three first round picks (2016 to Philadelphia; 2018 and 2021 to Phoenix) and four second round picks (2016 and 2020 to Boston; 2017 to Atlanta; 2019 to Minnesota) and doesn't have much in the way of young talent outside of Winslow.

> Center Hassan Whiteside, meanwhile, while an intriguing prospect for any team to take a shot on, is making only $981,000. Not only would the Heat need to include other players in the trade to make it work under the salary cap financially, but those other teams could be asked by the Heat to take on a bad contract -- like Josh McRoberts (who is due $11.7 million combined over the next two seasons) -- to complete the deal. Most teams probably won't be willing to do that.

Further complicating a Whiteside trade, any team that acquires him from the Heat would still deal with the same financial contstraints Miami would if it kept him. Because Whiteside doesn't have full Bird rights, any team that tries to sign him next year when he becomes a free agent has try and fit him under their salary cap. If Whiteside had Bird Rights, the team that had him could go over the cap to keep him. So, essentially, whatever team trades for Whiteside has to know ahead of time they've got the money to resign him and -- perhaps even bigger than that -- that they trust his previous mishaps on the court aren't going to be long-term problems.

BIG PICTURE

Now, aside from all that, the Heat, sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference at 29-24, are at a bit of a crossroads.

While Wade, 34, and Bosh, who turns 32 on March 24, have played at an All-Star level to this point, they are aging. And now Bosh, who was sidelined by blood clots in his lung after the All-Star Break last season, has been sidelined again by a right calf strain, the same injury that essentially started his blood clot troubles last year.

Even with both of them healthy, it's clear this Miami team doesn't have enough three-point shooting (32.3%, 28th in league) or offense (96.0 points per game, 29th in NBA) on the roster to make a serious, deep run in the playoffs.

So Riley could opt to make a small trade and net a three-point shooter like Omri Casspi of the Kings (likely for someone like the injured Tyler Johnson) and hope that Miami somehow catches fire in the playoffs.

Then, the Heat, who have only six players signed and $48 million tied down for next season (Bosh, Dragic, McRoberts, Winslow, Jarnell Stokes and Josh Richardson), wait until free agency this summer when the salary cap expands by roughly $19-20 million, resign Wade (he told our Barry Jackson last week he wants to come back to the Heat) and make a run at a few of the top unrestricted free agents.

Those are: Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, Al Horford, Pau Gasol, Nicolas Batum, Mike Conley or (gulp) Rajon Rondo.

But if Riley can't sit idle and feels he has to swing for the fences to give Wade and Bosh a real chance this season he could opt to make one of those trades reported earlier today.

Here's why those deals could make some sense and why they don't:

DWIGHT HOWARD

If the Heat trades Whiteside to the Rockets for Howard ($22.3 million this season), they'll obviously have to include either Deng (making $10.1 million this season and a free agent in 2016) or Dragic (he's in the first year of a five-year, $85 million deal) and someone else like Chris Andersen ($5 million this year) or Josh McRoberts (due $11.7 million combined over next two seasons) to make it work financially. The Rockets might also ask for Winslow in order to take on McRoberts.

The pluses: Riley could probably rid himself of McRoberts' contract (he's signed through 2017-18) and do away with any more worries about Whiteside (some would say a win for the Heat) while also teaming Bosh and Wade up with a better offensive center for a playoff run. Howard (due $23.7 million in 2016-17) could then opt out after this season, become a free agent, and that's only going to put Miami further under the cap to make a hard run at Durant.

The minuses: Howard, 30, is on the decline. If Miami trades Dragic to get the deal done they put themselves in the same spot they were in before acquiring him -- needing a point guard in free agency. They'll also have to depend on Beno Udrih to guide them through the playoffs. The Rockets don't have any point guards to send Miami back in a trade that would fit under the cap. Patrick Beverley is making $6.4 million and Ty Lawson is making $12.4. If the trade involves Deng, it makes more sense for Miami, but doesn't seem to be a great fit for Houston.

AL HORFORD/JEFF TEAGUE

The trade that seemingly makes more sense for everyone involved is the one that sends Horford and Teague to the Heat, Howard, an Atlanta native, to the Hawks and Dragic, Whiteside and Andersen to the Rockets.

The pluses: The Heat get an All-Star in Horford, who could team up very well with Bosh in the frontcourt and would probably resign with the Heat in the off-season. The cheaper Teague (he's due $8 million this year and next) replaces Dragic, who hasn't necessarily clicked in this Heat offense. Miami has more money under the cap next season and flexibility in the future.

The minuses: None really except you are admitting the Dragic deal didn't work and are minus two first round picks for it. In the end, the Hawks seem to be losing out more than anybody. They are getting something for Horford who they could lose in free agency, but are giving up a quality starting NBA point guard and strengthening and helping a division rival. That last part is what doesn't really make sense here. Howard could opt out of his contract and sign in Atlanta anyway and replace Horford and the Hawks could keep Teague or use him in another trade to net something more.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ESPN's Rose, Carlesimo say Heat -- nor anyone else in the East -- can topple Cavs, LeBron

The Heat wants to believe its a legitimate contender, a team that can contend with Cleveland and LeBron James for the Eastern Conference crown.

But even after a 16-10 start, the experts still don't believe Miami or anyone else in the Eastern Conference can really beat Cleveland when it matters.

Jalen-PJ_1-660x400"Playoff team, yes. Contending team, no," ESPN analyst Jalen Rose responded when I asked him during a teleconference Tuesday afternoon if he thought the Heat could contend with Cleveland if the roster stays as is.

"They're not better than the Cleveland Cavaliers," Rose continued. "They will not beat the Cleveland Cavaliers four times in 10 days. They, however, are amongst a few teams in the Eastern Conference that have an opportunity to fight for second in that Eastern Conference with Atlanta. [We still don't know] what's going to happen with Indiana, Toronto, Washington. [That] remains to be seen. Those squads have been up and down. But the Cleveland Cavaliers are clear cut the best team in the Eastern Conference."

Rose said he sees the Heat as a team that "just wants to wake up and be in the playoffs healthy, with Dwyane Wade playing the way he's playing." Rose said Wade looks rejuvinated and that he's playing really well.

"He's attacking the basket, making his open shots," Rose said. "And Chris Bosh has shown flashes also. [Hassan] Whiteside continues to improve. He can contain his emotions, continue to compete on each play, contest shots, grab boards, finish around the basket. Goran Dragic is going to be a key. Can he be as effective and efficient as they need him to be?

"They're a definitely, legitimate playoff team that's worthy of advancing. But beating the Cleveland Cavaliers? I don't see it."

Neither does former Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo.

"Cleveland, what they've done without Kyrie, they've clearly reestablished themselves as the best team and that's without Kyrie," Carlesimo said. "You would have to think [with Irving back] they're going to get better.

"I love Miami. I don't think they get the credit for how good they are defensively. They're quietly one of the best three defensive teams in the league and very seldom do you hear people talking about that. I love their experience. I love all the things they bring to the table that's going to make them dangerous. But you can't put anybody [above Cleveland]. There's Cleveland and then you put the next gap. Miami is right there. I don't think realistically anybody [in the East] can think 'We're ready to go at Cleveland. Nobody has shown they are that good yet."

Would making a trade for a three-point shooter take the Heat to another level?

"How about adding LeBron James?" Rose responded.

"Those two guys from Oklahoma would help them," Carlesimo said. "I don't want to say it's hopeless. Obviously they have more reason to be confident than probably anybody because of their experience and the coaching and the whole deal. I just think Cleveland is not coming back. Cleveland, if anything, is going the other direction. That's the biggest problem the teams in the East have. So many teams in the East are better, even significantly better. The problem is those guys in Ohio are better and getting better."

Still, Rose and Carlesimo both said coach Erik Spoelstra deserves a lot of credit for how well the Heat has bounced back after missing the playoffs last season.

"Spoelstra doesn't get enough credit by the media," Rose said. "Because everything that happens positive in Miami, we give the credit to Pat Riley. And rightfully so, he's one of the all-time greatest puppet masters in the league. But seeing how Spo helped develop Whiteside into a player that's going to be looking for a major deal when his contract up, how they're bringing along Winslow in their lineup, I just really applaud the job he's done in Miami as a head coach."

Said Carlesimo: "I'll piggy-back that. I had radio last year for Miami-Cleveland on Christmas. I remember vividly practice on the 24th, Spo said to me and this was kind of before Hassan [blew up], he said 'He's going to be a player for us. He's going to be an impact player. We like what he's shown in practice on a regular basis. He's going to surprise people.' That was really before he kind of burst on the scene and done the things he's done. Spo deserves tremendous credit."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pat Riley news, Baron Davis clears waivers and other stuff

Clearing the notebook from Pat Riley's news conference:

--Let's start with Pat Riley's immediate future with the team. Apparently the long lockout helped reinvigorate the Heat's president. He gave no indication of retiring anytime soon and said he's happy running the team alongside Nick Arison, the team's new vice president of basketball operations and heir apparent. Riley works year-to-year for owner Mickey Arison.

"I love what I’m doing here," Riley said. "The Arisons have been great to me."

Any thoughts on how long Riley will remain president before he semi-retires, turns the reins over to Nick Arison and serves as an advisor to the team? Putting the over/under at two more seasons.

--Riley made it clear that the Heat is still in the market for two more players. Immediate needs are point guard and center.

"This is a destination place and we hope that we can get one or two more," Riley said. "We have 13 slots filled. We have two slots that are open, so we’re going to maintain them with our flexibility."

Point guard Baron Davis cleared waivers on Friday night, meaning the Heat can sign him. Something to keep in mind over the next few days. Davis currently is recovering from two bulging discs in his back.

--Riley said using the amnesty clause on Mike Miller was never in the Heat's plans. 

"We love Mike," Riley said. "We want Mike to play for us and make jumpers and help us just like he did in the playoffs. He’s had just a horrible run of bad luck with injuries and we hope this is the last one and that he and LeBron [James] and Dwyane [Wade] and Shane [Battier] can be a formidable, versatile, perimeter combination."

--Riley on LeBron seeking out Hakeem Olajuwon during the offseason:

"He couldn’t have met with a better man, a more honorable man, a guy who’s really humble but also is somebody if you listen to him will give wisdom and also some insight into playing down in the post. That’s what [James] was looking for. I thinking seeking out that kind of advice is good but both of those guys (James and Wade) have to step up this year and be better than they were last. They have to be."

--There's no easy or quick fix for the Heat's immediate needs inside. Riley is hoping everyone just plays "a little bigger."

"Not having [Zydrunas Ilgauskas] and Jamaal [Magloire] and Erick [Dampier], we do lose the bulk and the size and the length but also that’s where the improvement — we hope Dexter comes in and we’ll see what Eddy can give us — but we’re looking and we’re waiting for something to develop but guys are going to have to do more. LeBron and Dwyane and Chris and Udonis, Shane, Mike Miller — everyone is going to have to do a little bit more; play a little bigger. And that’s where it’s going to come first."

-joe

Friday, December 09, 2011

Does the Heat have enough without mid-level center?

So, camp begins today and the Heat struck out on signing a center with its full mid-level exception. Sam Dalembert didn't take the bait and the Heat wasn't in a position to trade for a big name like Nene.

Instead, the Heat is taking a flyer on center Eddy Curry, hoping the once overweight big man is ready to take his career seriously. Is it enough? Remember, team president Pat Riley indicated last season that it was the Heat's top priority to sign a center with its mid-level exception.

It appears Riley did the best he could with the limited resources at his disposal. The addition of Shane Battier provides a top-notch defender to the mix and that could be important come playoff time. For example, if the Heat meets the Bulls in the playoffs again, Battier could guard Bulls forward Loul Deng, which would allow LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to conserve energy.

A retrospective example: If the Heat had a defender like Battier in last season's Finals, things might have turned out differently. Instead, James couldn't keep up with Jason Terry and, conversely, James didn't have enough left in the tank to close out the series.

At least, that's one guess as to what happened to James in The Finals.

Of course, free agency is far from over and the Heat could potentially still reel in a quality center willingly to take less money to chase a championship. Options are limited at this point, though.

The Heat's other area of need heading into free agency was the point guard position. All signs point to Mario Chalmers resigning with the Heat, but if a larger offer sheet than his qualifying number is placed in front of Chalmers, there is a very real chance he would take it. The Heat would then have to match the offer or, worse case scenario, go searching for a starting point guard at the start of camp. Carlos Arroyo, anyone? (According to the latest speculation, the Knicks are interested in Arroyo.)

Expect it to be worked out by Friday afternoon when practice begins. If Chalmers is absent, that means another team has offered him a contract and the Heat would have three days to match it.

As for the original question: Does the Heat have enough without a mid-level center? I'd say yes. For me, this free-agency period isn't nearly as important to the Heat as some would like you to believe. Give me Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and I like my chances.

-joe

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leftover Riley

Some nuggets from Pat Riley's press conference Wednesday morning that weren't included in the story for the paper...

Riley said he didn't like hearing that the Heat "gave away" the Finals to Dallas, nor did he agree with the concept that the Mavericks played more like a team than Miami.

"They beat us, they took it, that's what title teams do," Riley said. "Every championship team that I've been involved with, it's fashionable to say that somebody gave something away or somebody lost something, or we coulda, woulda, shoulda. But somebody takes it, that's all there was to it. Dallas played extremely well.

"The one thing that I, as a former coach, get upset with is we were a team. I mean, it's fashionable to say that the other team was more of team than we were. That is B.S. We would have never gotten this far without really sacrificing and playing roles and those veteran players accepting rotation responsibilities up and down. We were the epitome of a team."

As for LeBron James' shortcomings in the Finals, Riley was predictably protective of his biggest star. But he acknowledged LeBron can improve his individual game.

"I think you have to take a hard look at it on film and then have a discussion with him about it and then specifically from a coaching standpoint he says, 'this is what we want you to do,'" Riley said of LeBron's play in the Finals. "But you don't have an easy answer for that right now. That's become sort of the flashpoint of this whole thing and I think it's wrong, it's absolutely wrong to lay it on him and it just started to continually compound itself."

As for improvements the Heat could make, Riley said he doesn't really anticipate his team paying to move up in the draft because, from what he hears, nobody wants those picks in the 20s because they come with salary commitments to players who aren't significantly better than anyone he can get at 31.

Riley said he believes Mario Chalmers is a starting caliber player for this team, and he would put priority on adding interior size.

"We would like to get size," he said. "We would like to get length. Joel Anthony has done an incredible job and he will get better. But we'd like to get size that we can put in there, in the middle. I don't know if you're going to get a back-to-the-basket player, but we'd like to get size and things of that nature inside that might be a little bit more athletic with great length.

"We are good enough, we have enough but we're going to continue to try to make this team better. And move forward with that, that's what our job is this summer."

Riley also said he never "really" considered moving any members of the Big Three, even early in the season when it appeared they struggled to play together, and won't consider moving them.

 

 

Monday, May 09, 2011

A new disposition

As if the Heat hasn't already been labeled an emotionally fragile team, Chris Bosh took that whole concept a step further by admitting that the emotions of Saturday's game got the best of him and affected his performance.

Now, as much as that might really just be Bosh attempting to explain a bad performance -- a poor attempt at that -- the team's mentality certainly has to change for Game 4 if it's going to come back to Miami up 3-1.  Bosh yell

The Heat had Boston on the ropes late in the second quarter and then reverted to coast mode. It didn't help that the starting lineup was the same at the beginning of the third (more on that in a moment), but still, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Bosh needed to seize that moment and put away the Celtics rather than allow them life.

And that was part of the reason Pat Riley was at shootaround this morning speaking individually with both Wade and LeBron (possibly with Bosh as well, but we weren't there in time to see that). Riley was discussing his concern about the team's disposition in Game 3 and how he wanted that to change (by the way, how great is it to be Erik Spoelstra when you can just sit at the scorer's table chatting while one of the legends of the coaching profession is across the court motivating your players for you? That's one of the perks of coaching with this franchise).

Part of what could help that change would be a change in the starting lineup. Wade talked about Spoelstra telling the team that it's essentially a .500 team when it loses first quarters (not sure about the correctness of that stat). And Spoelstra said he's not making any comments about the starters until he speaks pregame. Now, that would appear to indicate that there will be a change, because if there was no change being made, there would be no comments necessary.

So if there's a new starter or two, that could very well help the Heat get off to a better start, which in turn will take some of the "emotion" out of the game that negatively affected Bosh.

If Mario Chalmers, who appeared to be in a conspicuously great mood at shootaround, is the starter, and Rajon Rondo does play, he'll need to make that one-armed man actually work. Not only force him to use his left hand, but attack his left side on offense. Heck, all screens set on Rondo should be on his left side, because that has to be a matchup the team exploits now. That entire fourth quarter, the Heat failed to expose a guy playing with one arm, and chances are that won't happen again.

Any or all of those things happen tonight, and people will no longer be talking about the Heat lacking a "killer instinct."

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Crying Game

Wow. If this team wasn't interesting enough already, now this crying ridiculousness provides a whole new element.

Couple things that are driving me crazy today:

First, the idea that the Heat players "crying" (there's a reason I put crying in quotes, which I'll explain) after the game indicates any sort of softness or lack of mental toughness or inability to handle this pressure or any garbage like that is absolutely ridiculous. All it shows is a passion that's so enormous that it comes out that way. You've heard of players laughing after or during a loss, and those guys are absolutely raked over the coals. You've heard of guys being unable to control their emotions so they'll yell at teammates or break things or anything over-the-top demonstrative, and those guys get criticized.

Amare-bosh Give me the crying teammate any day. Amare Stoudemire talking trash about it is totally uncalled for (he and Carmelo reportedly laughed about Heat crying and commented on it). Not sure why these guys in New York feel like they're the voice of all of sports. Why is he chiming in on this or the BYU player being dismissed? Since when is Stoudemire the voice of reason in sports?

These Heat players are hurting, yet they're not turning on each other, they're coming together even more after a game like that -- at least that's how it would appear. After that Orlando game, I wasn't sure which direction this would go. But after this game, with the best player in the world apologizing for failing and the rest of the team having his back, this is very likely going to be a game, a moment, that unifies this team.

The other part about the whole crying issue, is it might have been an overstatement. Erik Spoelstra used the word "crying," when he might have wanted to say "got choked up." Now, is that the same to you? It kind of is to me, because the point remains the same, they're passionate and hate what's happening right now.

The other part of the daily comments today (both in my email folder and on talk radio, etc.) that's making me crazy is the whole Mike Miller foul, not-a-foul discussion.

OK, I'll repeat this much: It wasn't a foul. Did he have his hands on Luol Deng, yes, but he didn't push Deng. Even if he tried to push Deng, it wouldn't have resulted in that violent a fall. Deng tripped.

Now, the fact that I bring that up either in this blog or in my column does NOT mean that I, or anyone else that I've heard comment on the foul, is calling that the reason the Heat lost the game. Would that have helped? Of course. But so would've a couple of those Miller threes dropping. Was it at a crucial time? Yes. But so was LeBron's final shot when he chose to take on Joakim Noah. So, no, it wasn't THE reason they lost. And for that matter, the reason I bring it up at all in the column is to prove how something as minor as a bounce and/or a whistle can either prolong the Heat's misery or change the outlook entirely...

Bron confused Going back to the crying thing for a second. I think the biggest issue with it now has become whether or not Spo should've mentioned it at all. Here's where I land on this:

His intentions were good. He wanted to show just how badly this team wants to win. That's fine. But at the moment it left his lips, he probably realized, just like everyone else, that this team is looked upon differently, and somehow that display of passion would be portrayed as a sign of weakness.

If Gregg Popovich were to come out after a tough loss and say something to effect of "Manu is torn up about this loss. He actually cried a little bit in there," no one would respond with, "Wow, Manu's a wimp, can't handle the pressure." But with this team, the world is waiting for an opportunity to bash it, and Spo opened that door.

And add to that the fact that these guys, the big three primarily, are well aware of what outsiders want to hear, and they're probably not happy that Spo let that cat out of the bag. Again, I think the word "crying" was a bit of an overstatement, but there remains a negative perception attached to this, which is crazy.

Wasn't it Pat Riley who was happy when he drafted Caron Butler because Caron was the only one crying when he got selected? There's nothing wrong with it.

Finally, there's this: Even after all this misery, even after the 2,800-word blog entry that criticized the Heat for that second half against the Magic, I still believe they will be an extremely tough out in the playoffs. At least against either the Bulls or Magic -- teams that people believe have either surpassed or catching up to the Heat. That's because the stars will be engaged throughout those games. They will be playing defense every possession, not every other possession or every other quarter. When they're doing that, the offensive execution becomes less of a problem because, a) the opponent won't be scoring much, and b) they can run off those defensive stops or turnovers.

The Bulls have won, basically, three one-possession games against the Heat. That doesn't prove they're "better" than Miami. That proves they can beat Miami. Well, it also proves the Heat is right there. It's easy to say the Heat would lose to the Bulls right now, because that's all they've done this year. But the only pattern in those games is that they were close. They've all had unique elements to them that you can't necessarily say will translate into the postseason. The Heat can absolutely lose to the Bulls in a playoff series. But they can easily win that series as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trade discussions

Let's get this out of the way. Mike Miller won't be traded unless it's part of a deal for some superstar.

At least that's what Pat Riley essentially told him. Miller said he spoke to the Heat prez about the rumors that he'd be traded, but came out confident he'll be around.

Miller shooting "Coach Riley assured me," Miller said. "We'll see what happens. I expect to be here. Unless they can get Dwight Howard or somebody like that."

Basically, there is no one really out there (at least you'd think, because Deron Williams was a big surprise) that would be a huge get for the Heat that's worth trading Miller.

It's also pretty bad mojo to trade a guy who took a LOT less money to be a part of this team. Same thing with Udonis Haslem, who turned down big money to go to Denver. So it's just bad form to try to trade him to Denver now for a guy like Nene. I know karma doesn't really come into play in trade discussions, but let's just say it's highly doubtful those guys will be moved.

As for the New York and New Jersey huge moves, it doesn't really do much for this Heat season other than make a couple of matchups a lot more intriguing, and difficult.

The Knicks and Nets are set to make some big moves to build a high-quality team over the next couple of seasons, but the additions of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams don't come close to making those teams competitors this year.

The Heat should really stress the moves because, frankly, Miami will be able to tinker around its three superstars the next couple years, too.


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