Thursday, June 17, 2010

Answers to Thursday's Heat Q&A

Q: I think Bosh is more than likely somewhere else with a better sign and trade opportunity as opposed to the Heat. If that is the case, I personally would prefer a Boozer/Joe Johnson combination than just getting Amare or Amare with Johnson. What do you think? Also, do we have the cap space, or can we attain it through a Beasley trade, to get a Brendan Haywood, Earl Barron, or bring JO back at a discounted rate to be our center?

Answered 06/17/10 14:33:27 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'd take Haywood, but I'd rather keep Beasley than let him walk for a reunion with either Earl Barron or Jermaine O'Neal. And I'm with you on the Boozer, Johnson pairing, although you'd then certainly need a center presence, which, I guess, would bring J.O. into the equation again.

Q: Great work Mike. Look into your crystal ball and tell me who you see Lebron, Bosh, Stoudemire, J.Johnson, and Boozer signing with?

Answered 06/17/10 14:31:32 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Not sure I can afford crystal in this economy. But I'll look into the knockoff I got from the Opa-Locka flea market last week and tell you that ... LeBron will be back in Cleveland. Stoudemire will be in Miami or Chicago. Bosh will be in Chicago or Miami. Joe Johnson will be in New York. And Boozer will join Johnson in New York. But don't put too much stock in that ball. It was $2 bucks and doesn't have a return policy.

Q: Is Ricky Williams Smoking Ganja again? Or, just Mr. Ross? They both are predicting the Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl next season. Do you think the Dolphins are capable of playing in the Super Bowl next season?

Answered 06/17/10 14:28:24 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've reached the wrong Q&A. Press "0" for Jeff Darlington, Dolphins beat writer.

Q: Hi Michael, if Lebron and Wade team up and say Bosh decides to go for LAL who would be a better choice Boozer, Amare (most like not since he wants max contract) and I think Scola is available? Tnx.

Answered 06/17/10 14:27:13 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: In that scenario, I'd have to go with Boozer because he'd be cheaper and plus he's a better spot-up shooter than Amare. Playing alongside attack-the-basket players such as LeBron and Wade would create plenty of open looks for kick-out, mid-range jumpers. That's Boozer's game, in addition to his rebounding.

Q: hey mike when july 1 is here how long do u think it will take before the fireworks begin and in your expert opinion what do u think is a realistic scenario for the heat also if we can't build the team with sign and trade and we have to sign free agent directly which will prevent us to go over the 56 millions cap this year isn't it better to keep beasley for one more years and see how it works around 2 stars and then go all out in the next free agency when mr arisson will be able to go over the cap and finish to build a championship team cause i don't know how much over the lakers and celtics are but it doesn't looks like u can make it to the final round with a cheap salary team by the way when was the last time that a team won the champs and stayed under salary cap rule if it ever happen ? thank you for your time

Answered 06/17/10 14:25:37 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I really wish I had the answers. But I don't. I have educated and slightly-informed opinions. But Pat Riley is better than just about anyone in the league at keeping things close to the vest, despite being in on just about every available player. My guess is that Miami will end up with either Bosh or Stoudemire, make a strong play for Gay, look for a veteran pg in a trade, use at least two of its four draft picks to fill out roster spots and convince a proven league vet or two to come on board for a shot to contend in the East and unseat Boston and a weakened Orlando/Cleveland/Atlanta for a shot at the Finals.

Q: Just read somewhere that not only is Amare here but Rudy Gay is here with him working out this summer. Can you envision the Heat signing Amare and sign-and-trading Beasley/Cook for Gay? I think Gay, Wade, and Amare would be a great core if the Heat cannot land LBJ/Bosh.

Answered 06/17/10 14:22:56 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: That certainly would be the most explosive 2, 3, 4 trio in the league in my opinion. But I'm not sure the Grizzlies will allow Gay to walk this summer. If Gay doesn't want to be there, which I'm told he doesn't and wants out, he might have to take the one-year qualifying offer and then wait for unrestricted free agency next year - or a trade at the Feb. deadline.

Q: Good day mate! At least Amare was honest that he is NOT signing any contract that is not a maximum deal. 1st question is do you think he deserves one? Because I don't think so, I'd rather have Boozer if Amare's asking for a max. 2nd question is do you believe what these max-contract deserving FA's (LbJ, Bosh, etc.) whenever they say that winning is the most important thing and getting that max isn't that important to them? Do you really believe they would sign anything under the max?

Answered 06/17/10 14:20:30 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I don't think any of the top five free agents (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Stoudemire, Dirk) is signing for anything less than the max. I think there are only about 7 max slots available throughout the league at this point. Boozer, Johnson, Gay - those guys might have to settle for less than the max, even though there might be money out there.

Q: It seems as if Bosh to Miami is gaining some steam since he and D-Wade had dinner together. At the end of free agency, do you think Wade convinces Bosh and Johnson to join the Heat? If they do, would be a be top 2 team in the east?

Answered 06/17/10 14:17:21 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'm not sure I'd go that far just because they had dinner together. Heck, Wade attended a tennis tournament with Star Jones a couple years back, but that didn't mean they kicked off a commitment. I believe the Heat would face more competition and difficulties getting Bosh than they would Stoudemire. As far as Johnson is concerned, it's just a matter of how much he's willing to win and at what cost in terms of a less-than-max salary from Miami.

Q: So the New York Times published a article saying that Ray Allen wants to come to miami. It says that he knows Chris Bosh will sign too. So all the cap space for Ray Allen, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Is it really worth it to spend it on them? What would be the line up? Would dwayne wade switch to point guard?

Answered 06/17/10 14:14:31 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: It was the New York Daily News that published the rumor as part of a weekly NBA gossip column. Here's a tip. Only believe 1 percent of half of the rumors you hear about NBA free agency.

Q: will stoudemire go with the heat

Answered 06/17/10 14:12:12 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The fact that Amare is here now working out, has established an offseason residence here and went as far as to get those MRIs at a clinic that just happened to service other Heat players certainly leads one to believe that something is in the works come July 1.

Q: trade Beasley,Jones,Cook with #1 pick to the pacers for Roy Hibbert and T J Ford. Then trade Ford to the warriors for Correy Maggette. Sign Steve Blake as the point guard. Starting 5: Blake,Wade,Maggette,Bosh,Hibbert bench: Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Or Trade Beasley,Jones,Cook and #1 pick to the hornets for Darren Collison and Okafor. Resign Wright. Starting 5: Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Okafor bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike..

Answered 06/17/10 14:10:43 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There you go. Spin again.

Q: Hi Pat-riley! i know that you have been busy to try to improve our team this summer. but my point view is : whoever at the power foward ,rudy gay at small forward,wade,whoever at the point guard or mario charmers and the center spot draft pick or O'Neil. reserve at the bench wright,haslem,patrick,draft pick at center,richardson,beasley or another draft pick.

Answered 06/17/10 14:09:45 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've got the wrong email if you're trying to reach Pat with another roster request. Try priley@whyinhellwouldItaketheseemailsfromfans.com

Q: Hey Mike, another question, is there any chance or way that Riley can bring Ricky Rubio here? I tend to think that he's not going to play in Minnesota and Minnesota is not going crazy for him, so can Riley work out a trade? If so, can he get him out of his European contract to get him here? I guess I'm asking if a) can this be done, and b) do you think it is a good PG option? Rubio looks like he's got good vision, can get the ball in the post and has a nice shot/range if Wade kicks out to him. What do you think?

Answered 06/17/10 14:07:22 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I won't be sold on Rubio until I see him getting it done in the NBA, against superior athleticism and quickness on a night in and night out basis. That's not to disrespect what he's doing overseas, but I need to see more than a few highlights. I believe Riley would rather go with a more proven vet at the point guard position. Even though J-Will and Payton drove Riley crazy with their attitudes and actions at times, there was a trust factor there that hasn't existed at that position since the championship team disbanded.

Q: After resigning Wade and Bosh trade Beasley,Cook,Jones to hornets for Collison and Okafor. Keep Collison and seeing as the pacers are interested in Okafor trade Okafor for Hibbert and Troy Murphy. Imagine having Murphy to backup Bosh. starting 5:Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Hibbert bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Gordan Hayward,Murphy,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike...

Answered 06/17/10 14:04:39 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I like. I like. But the question you have to ask is this: why would New Orleans need Beasley, Cook and Jones when they have David West, James Posey and Peja filling those exact same roles already?

Q: Hi Michael, hope u'r welle this week, as usual, under the florida sun... i have two questions for you today... first one : what choice would you do if you were in charge in the organisation, for the draft(choices which for you, would have the best sense)? second question: admitting bosh wants to come and Pat riley wants bosh to wear a heat jersey... it looks like a S&T is not so easy to do... so what is your thought about a three or four team deal to get every one happy?thanks for all...and take care. "bonjour de la france!"

Answered 06/17/10 14:03:07 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: If I'm Miami, I simply take the best player available, regardless of position, with the NO. 18 pick. The Heat has needs at every position, considering only two players are under guaranteed contract right now moving forward. Depth was an issue with this team the past few seasons. Having said that, I'd go with a Big with the first-round pick, either Whiteside or solomon kid from Florida State.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/qna/forum/heat_chat/index.html#ixzz0r8XucaC1

Friday, June 04, 2010

Getting To The Point

After working out dozens of prospects over the past three weeks, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat summoned Averybradley perhaps its biggest crop of potential first-round picks to AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday.

And the Heat got straight to the point - as in the point guard position.

Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe, Texas' Avery Bradley and Nevada's Armon Johnson highlighted Friday's predraft session that also included UConn's Stanley Robinson, Kansas' Xavier Henry and Fresno State's Paul George.

Just about all are projected to go from the middle of the first round to early in the second, which means in range for the Heat, which owns the No. 18 pick in the first round and picks Nos. 41, 42 and 48 in the second.

The question I continue to ask is this: If the Heat holds onto its first-round pick, would it really use it on a point guard in this draft? Does anyone here have "potential starter" written on them? Can any among them Rondo-run a team that is certain to be anchored by Dwyane Wade and at least one other star player in addition to several veterans?

Most of the crop from Friday's workout answered that question in college. But the NBA is a completely different level.

Bledsoe found a way to shine at Kentucky despite being overshadowed by likely No. 1 pick John Wall and lottery lock DeMarcus Cousins. Bradley was Texas' second-leading scorer behind prolific swingman Damion James. And Johnson was the set-up man for Nevada scoring machine Luke Babbitt, a small forward who worked out for the Heat earlier this week.

So each of the point guards here Friday have experience deferring to other great players on the perimeter, which is a necessity in a city where all things run through Wade at shooting guard.

"I could have gone anywhere, but it's a part of making sacrifices," Bledsoe said after his session in Miami,  Bledsoe-wall referring to having to emerge from Wall's shadow. "I think I'm a pure point guard. I had to play off the ball."

There are a couple of mock drafts that have projected Bledsoe to go to the Heat at the No. 18 spot. But there were a couple of things that stood out about Bledsoe that might be a concern. In a lot of ways, he's Mario Chalmers. Bledsoe wasn't a big assist playmaker in college and he's a lot closer to 5-10 than he is to the 6-1 he is listed. His shooting and scoring ability could make him a special player. But he's been a combo guard - a small one at that.

Bledsoe knows there are plenty of questions about his ability to be an NBA point guard. Based on John Calipari's track record, if he plucked Bledsoe to come to Kentucky, then there's potential to be special.

Bledsoe also said he has spent a lot of time working with Calipari assistant and former NBA point guard Rod Strickland, who molded Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall into lottery picks.

"I worked with Strick a lot," Bledsoe said. "Me and John (Wall) looked up to him, because he showed us a lot at the position. He's been there, and has gone where we're trying to go."

Even though Chalmers started 82 games as a rookie two seasons ago, the Heat has been unstable at point guard since Jason Williams and Gary Payton were at the position during Miami's 2006 title run.

Three different players started there last season, with Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo and Rafer Alston Mario trading the duties. None has a guaranteed contract for next season - and Rafer is not even in consideration. So there's room to address that position through the draft or free agency for the Heat.

What the Heat needs more than anything at the point is someone capable of distributing, defending, deferring and delivering daggers from distance when Dwyane dishes for open looks.

There is plenty of potential among the point guards in this draft - although probably not as much as we saw in last year's crop of Rubio, Tyreke, Curry, Jennings, Lawson and Flynn.

Although Riley might be tempted by one of the prospects he saw Friday, the guess here is that he's still convinced that the best path to address this need is beyond the June 24th draft and in July free agency. Or, perhaps, August free agency - the back end, where bargains could be found to round out the roster after a few major imports.

So this could essentially become a decision for Riley in which he weighs the likes of a draft newcomer such as Eric Bledsoe versus a veteran free agent such as Steve Blake.

(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, June 02, 2010

An Option If Joel Opts Out

There aren't many things Pat Riley loves more than reclamation projects and the chance to develop raw Varnado prospects who have at least one clear NBA-level skill.

Anthony Mason. John Starks. Bruce Bowen. Udonis Haslem. Joel Anthony.

The list goes on and on.

There's a chance that the next prospect in that line of Heat development projects arrived at AmericanAirlines Arena for the latest round of predraft workouts.

Remember the name: Jarvis Varnado. And here's why. No player in NCAA history has blocked more shots than this 6-9 power forward from Mississippi State. Varnado shattered Shaquille O'Neal's SEC career blocks record and averaged 13.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.7 rejections as a senior.

Varnado was one of four likely second-round prospects who worked out for the Heat on Wednesday. He joined LaSalle swingman Rodney Green, Virginia shooting guard Sylven Landesberg and freakishly athletic VCU big man Larry Sanders, who has a 7-5 wingspan.

Varnado and Sanders are both lean and long post players who protect the rim with a vengeance. One thing the Heat clearly lacked last season was youth and athleticism in the post. Make no mistake, Varnado is clearly a raw prospect who does one thing extremely well. And that's block shots.

He became the first player named SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times. Varnado, who is rail thin at 215 points but has a 7-4 wingspan, also became the first player in NCAA history to record 1,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and block 500 shots.

The Heat saw a similar skill in Joel Anthony three years ago and signed him as an undrafted free agent out of UNLV. While Anthony hasn't disappointed in his development, although his hands-of-stone issues are Joel-Block still problematic on the offensive end, his Heat future is far from certain.

Anthony holds a player option to return next season for about $900,000. If he opts out of his contract, he potentially becomes a restricted free agent who would command a slightly higher salary if the Heat plans to own the right to match outside bidders.

Varnado brings the same skill and is a little more familiar with the offensive side of the game. Not much. Just a tad bit. But more importantly, he'd come at about half Anthony's price. In other words, at best, Varnado develops into Theo Ratliff. At worst, he's Joel Anthony on a deep discount.

And make no mistake, $500K in saved cap space is plenty for a Heat team that's trying to squirrel away every dime it can to spend in free agency. In addition, second-round draft picks or undrafted free agents are not usually signed to guaranteed contracts.

So from that standpoint, the Heat's three second-round picks (Nos. 41, 42 and 48) might prove to be a bit more valuable to the franchise's offseason plans than even the No. 18 overall pick in the first round.

Joel Anthony has until June 24th - the night of the NBA Draft - to make a move with his player option. Depending on how the closed workout went Wednesday, the Heat might have gotten a great look at his Varnado2 potential replacement in Varnado.

That said, Joel has been commendable in his development over the years and ranked last season as one of the league's most productive shot-blockers-per-minutes-played. But he can't - or shouldn't - overestimate his value at this point. Which will make his opt in-or-out decision interesting.

Riley has placed a premium on college players with exceptional size or length who have three or four years of experience. Above all else, he values end-of-the-bench bargains that can develop into rotation players.

He's done it before. He'll do it again.

(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, May 21, 2010

Heat's Draft Focus: Length, Maturity

Pat Riley is on the South Side of Chicago putting in plenty of work. Pondexter

No, the Heat president of basketball operations is not up there to intensify his recruiting efforts to retain Chicago native and Miami point guard Dwyane Wade.

That trip, we presume, will come a bit later.

And no, Riley hasn't spent the better part of this week in Chi-Town in to convince LeBron James to hold off on his search for real estate.

Instead, Riley and his staff of top front-office administrators have spent the past few days in Chicago taking a close look at prospects in the June 24 NBA Draft. The fact that Riley is putting in plenty of face time at the pre-draft combine is a signal of at least two things.

One, it could very well be a face-to-face feeling-out process with other club execs on sign-and-trades that could play out this summer.

And two, it shows that Pat is taking this year's draft pretty seriously. The Heat holds four picks - the No. 18 overall pick in the first round and three second rounders. That's potentially four trade chips. Or, better yet, four slots the Heat plans to fill on the 2010-11 roster through the draft.

Riles is typically reluctant to operate this way. The Heat hasn't had much success building through the draft when it hasn't been positioned in the lottery.

Jerome Jordan But this year looks like it will be different. We'll take a closer look at the Heat's draft philosophy in a story that will run in Sunday's Miami Herald. But for now, from all indications, it appears that Pat and the Heat have been aggressively scouting, interviewing and working out prospects that could be keepers.

One name that has already come out of the Chicago combine as a rumored target of Heat interest is University of Washington forward Quincy Pondexter, pictured above right. He's the prototypical scoring small forward who also is long enough to defend in the Heat's system.

Another name who has surfaced on Miami's potential draft radar is Tulsa's Jerome Jordan (pictured left), a 7-footer who has developed nicely in college and is among a number of big-man projects who could fall in the Heat's draft range. In this draft process, the Heat has placed a premium on two things: experience and length.

And with most of the team's available salary-cap space earmarked for free agency, the Heat likely will need to round out several roster spots with draft picks or minimum-salary veterans.

Unlike seasons past, this might finally be the year when circumstances dictate that Pat plant a draft pick or three on the end of his bench next season instead of somewhere across the Atlantic.

(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, November 05, 2009

Never Easy With Beasley

Might I suggest three words to those who have clearly drawn lines and are firmly on one side or the other inBeasley-action this Michael Beasley/Udonis Haslem debate.

Pipe down. Please.

Don't get me wrong. Passion this time of year, just two weeks into the NBA season? Perfect. But outright rage in some corners after just five games? Ridiculous.

Here the Heat sits, off to a solid 4-1 start entering Friday's game against the Denver Nuggets. And here many in Heat nation stand, picking apart who sits in crunch time at the end of games. While coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation decisions cost him in Tuesday's loss to Phoenix, there was no price to be paid Wednesday in Washington.

Beasley found himself sitting and watching yet again down the stretch in Wednesday's 93-89 road victory against the Wizards, as a unit of Dwyane Wade, Quentin Richardson, Mario Chalmers, Haslem and Jermaine O'Neal pushed to the finish.

Beasley played only 2 minutes, 38 seconds in the fourth quarter and 24 minutes the entire game. Haslem, along with Wade and Richardson, went the entire 12-minute stretch in the fourth. While it was tough to comprehend during the game why Beasley was not allowed to have a bigger role in the finish (four fouls don't really come into play here), it's just as difficult to argue who should have been taken out to insert Beasley.

It's even harder to argue with the results.

Haslem Upset Haslem had seven points and four rebounds in the final period. He opened the quarter with a layup to put the Heat ahead and closed the quarter with a pair of free throws that put it out of reach.

Richardson made a pair of threes in the quarter at a time when the Wizards were overloading on Wade. And the Heat needed every second of PT Wade could muster in the second half. So where should Beasley have fit in? There is an argument that Wade could have moved to the point, Q-Rich to shooting guard, with Beasley at small forward and Haslem and O'Neal down low. That's putting the Heat's best five on the court, and ultimately should be the way things play out as the season progresses if Mario Chalmers remains inconsistent at the point.

Or, Miami could have moved Haslem over to center, with Beasley at power forward, Richardson at small forward and Wade and Chalmers in the backcourt. But Haslem and Richardson should have been - and were - left on the court for the finish. The bottom line is that the Heat got it done regardless. There's something to be said for playing to win the game.

For the record, I've said all along that I'm for having Haslem in the starting lineup. I'm also for having Beasley there. That's where the disagreements come into play. I believe Beasley could be a very good power forward in this league, giving his crafty ability around the basket and quickness advantage against many at the position. But I think he could be a great small forward if he truly commits to it, given his shooting, handling, and potential play-making ability. Can he defend either position consistently and adequately right now? No. But can he create mismatches at both spots if featured? No doubt.

Yeah, we've heard all about how Beasley needs to be put in crucial situations so he can develop. He has, and he will. But Beasley also has to do his part to stay on the court. This isn't Oklahoma City or Memphis or Sacramento, where young stars are getting 40 minutes a night no matter what. With the Heat, the first three quarters are about development for Beasley. The fourth is for execution. He has to earn that trust from teammates and coaches down the stretch. He didn't necessarily do anything to deserve to be benched most of the fourth quarter. But he also didn't do much - compared with Richardson and Haslem - to warrant extended action down the stretch. That won't be the case many nights.

While Beasley may have overtaken Haslem as the starter at power forward, Haslem has assumed the role of finisher at the position. That's simply the black-and-white of a situation where so much gray area exists.

I've said it before. This is as much about Beasley vs. Richardson as it is Beasley vs. Haslem for those who Spo-timeout look at things that way. Richardson is starting at the three because Beasley can't take on the tougher perimeter defensive assignments to relieve Wade. Beasley is starting at the four because Wade needs more scoring help to open the games. Haslem is coming off the bench because Beasley can't play the three to the degree he can be trusted to start there. So the future is now the present at the four. Add up?

But when the game is at stake, the best five should be on the court. Or, at least, the best five at that time of the game. How coach Erik Spoelstra handles this dynamic situation remains a work in progress. Certainly, he's left himself open for rotation criticism before.

Clearly, this ordeal is overshadowing the Heat's season among many - and will likely continue to do so until either Beasley or Haslem is traded or, in Haslem's case, bolts in free agency next summer. But that doesn't have to be the case. They should be able to co-exist.

But let the record show. Miami is 4-1. The system, for now, is working.

Again, for now. 

(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, October 21, 2009

Heat 99, Grizzlies 93 (Preseason)

Forget about the rib injury, the sore left calf and the other nagging ailments that have bothered Dwyane Grizzlies_Heat_WadeWade during the preseason. By now, it's official. Dude is regular-season ready.

Wade completed another test run for the Oct. 28 regular season opener against New York by toying with Memphis for three quarters and then putting away the Grizzlies down the stretch of Wednesday's 99-93 victory at AmericanAirlines Arena.

But even beyond Wade's 35-point effort were encouraging signs from the Heat. After an awful start in which Miami trailed by 18 points in the first half, the Heat rallied and used a 30-point swing to take a 12-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.

Wade had to work a bit harder with Michael Beasley, the team's second-leading scorer, sitting out with a sore shoulder and sprained right thumb. But there were plenty of "step-up" efforts from the supporting cast. The most encouraging sign has been the Heat's ability to put points on the scoreboard over the past three preseason games. Miami has scored 91, 97 and 99 points over its past three games.

There are still some concerns that need to be addressed. The Heat's perimeter defense is still spotty and opponents are also controlling the offense glass. But with the preseason wrapping up Thursday against Atlanta in Jacksonville, there is time to get those issues corrected before the games actually count.

D. WADE'S DOINGS:Wade provided a quick start and a lethal finish. The league's returning leading scorer tossed in a preseason-high 35 points on 13 of 23 shooting from the field and a 9 of 14 clip from the free-throw line. He also had six steals, five rebounds, three turnovers and two assists in 30 minutes. Wade scored 11 in the fourth, including the game-clinching conventional three-point play with 26 seconds left. Wade insists he doesn't want to work this hard night in and night out, which is why he tried to call for roster upgrades this season summer. But there are going to be plenty of games where Wade's best is barely going to be enough to get Miami by. Beasley's absence increased Wade's workload. But Wade would prefer to score in the mid-20s and put his teammates in position to make more plays rather than dominate the scoring column. Don't be surprised if he decides to take Thursday's game off and rest up.

TURNING POINT:There were many in this game. Memphis jumped out fast and led by as many as 18 early on. The Heat rallied and led by as many as 12 midway through the fourth. But the final momentum swing was the biggest, obviously. That's when Memphis used a 15-4 run to cut its deficit to a point with less than a minute left. Wade then closed the door with a three-point play and a breakaway dunk. Also credit Udonis Haslem with the hustle play to get a key loose-ball rebound in the final seconds.

Grizzlies_Heat_JO-Block WINNING EDGE:The Grizzlies were the team with four 7-footers, but Miami held a 7-3 edge in blocked shots thanks in large part to Jermaine O'Neal finally getting his defense going after a rough preseason that had been derailed by nagging injuries. O'Neal provided the type of defense the Heat will come to expect this season. He finished with eight points and added eight rebounds and four blocks. His offense will come around eventually. But the 8 boards Wednesday were five more than he's averaged in the preseason. It was a much-needed effort from J.O.

HEAD-SCRATCHER:The preseason is supposed to be when you settle on a rotation and establish some chemistry and continuity. That hasn't necessarily been the case for the Heat, which started its sixth different lineup in as many games. Miami hasn't opened with its expected regular-season starting lineup since the opener against Detroit. On Wednesday, the starters were Mario Chalmers, Wade, Quentin Richardson, Udonis Haslem and Jermaine O'Neal. This time, Beasley was the missing man. Last time, it was Haslem. The time before that, it was Wade. And the time before that, it was O'Neal. You have to wonder if this might affect the team early in the season until things get settled.

KEY CONTRIBUTION:Haslem continues to prove why he should be left alone as the starting power forward. He turned in another effective, efficient performance, with 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting. He HASLEM_UDONISalso grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and handed out three assists. You can pretty much count on Haslem to give you this type of effort every night. He vows to be more aggressive on offense this season, which is where the nine FGAs came from. He'll continue to play within the team concept. But keep in mind, it's a contract year for UD, too. Beasley and Haslem should be able to co-exist at the forward spots. Beasley is versatile enough to play small forward and Haslem is too reliable to move out of the starting lineup at power forward right now.

NEXT UP: Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks (Jacksonville), Thursday - 7 p.m.

(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, October 14, 2009

Thunder 96, Heat 91 (Preseason)

TULSA, Okla. - Even without Dwyane Wade, there's no reason this one had to end this way. Heat_Thunder_Basketball_OKS

Just about everything that could go wrong down the stretch for Miami did go wrong in Wednesday's 96-91 preseason loss to Oklahoma City at the BOK Center. Missed shots. Turnovers. Unfavorable whistles from the replacement officials. On top of everything else, there was Kevin Durant.

The Heat remains winless after four preseason games, despite getting a promising effort from Michael Beasley through three quarters and placing a total of five players in double figures in scoring. Beasley had 24 points and four rebounds in 38 minutes, but he faded down the stretch. He scored only four in the fourth quarter and finished with seven turnovers.

Meanwhile, the fourth quarter seemed to be just when Durant was finding his rhythm. Durant and Jeff Green combined for 55 points to lead Oklahoma City back from a 14-point deficit to get the win.

Beasley's best scoring game also came on a night when point guard Carlos Arroyo made his Heat debut. Arroyo made a couple of nifty passes, including a behind-the-back kickout to Beasley for a jumper at the top of the key in the fourth quarter. But coach Erik Spoelstra's message to Arroyo after the game was to "keep it simple" and run the offense.

Now 0-4 heading into Thursday's game against New Orleans in Kansas City, the Heat has reached the point where it would be prudent for the team to experience a win in the preseason, especially when Wade is not available.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: He waved to the crowd. He posed for a lot of photos. He acknowledged two little kids who showed up wearing his Heat jersey. Other than that, Wade simply took it easy for his second straight preseason game. Wade continues to nurse a strained muscle in his left rib cage. Wade suggested Wednesday he may have aggravated the strain when he took a few hits at Tuesday's practice. "I took a couple of hits in practice just to make sure and see," Wade said. "And I'm not ready yet. Still a process." Wade, who averaged 17.5 points in the first two preseason games, said he would warm up before Thursday's game against New Orleans and then decide if he's ready to play.

TURNING POINT: Miami led 70-61 going into the fourth quarter and proceeded to watch OKC close the game out with a 35-21 edge in the fourth quarter. The Heat committed 15 fouls in the period, missed 7 of 10 from 3-point range and had five turnovers. A Daequan Cook missed layup late in the game would have slowed the Thunder's rally. Michael Beasley's two turnovers at critical stages of the period also didn't help. 

LOSING EDGE: It was the Thunder's home game, although it was played in Tulsa. But that didn't stop the team from getting the benefit of the doubt from the refs. In no way should the edge from the free-throw line have been so lopsided. OKC outshot the Heat 24-2 from the line in the fourth quarter. The Thunder's 20 points from the line in the period nearly matched the Heat's scoring output overall (21) for the quarter. "It is what it is," Spoelstra said. "But you've got to embrace these kind of games on the road. There are a lot of circumstances on the road, obstacles, distractions, that can get you off your game."

HEAD-SCRATCHER: This one had very little to do with the game. Instead, there was yet another incident where forward Michael Beasley found himself on the wrong side of a social networking media controversy. This time, it had to do with Beasley responding in jest to a comment regarding marijuana use that was posted during a U-stream session several Heat players had from their Tulsa hotel Tuesday night. I'm all for free speech and everything. But considering Beasley's recent issues, which included a month-long stay at a Houston-area rehab facility as part of the league's substance-abuse program, there are certain things he just can't joke about. Beasley has to know that he no longer gets the benefit of the doubt on such issues. COOK_DAEQUAN That said, this ordeal appears to be a major overreaction to another episode of Beasley being Beasley.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Daequan Cook was 4 of 7 from three-point range and finished with 14 points off the bench, including nine in the second half. Cook, who has been bothered by a sprained right thumb, was far more efficient from deep than he was from inside the three-point arc. He was 5 of 15 overall. But his willingness to take - and make - big shots was what kept the Heat in the game in the fourth at a time when the team was getting very little from everyone else. "Me and coach talked about me being a lot more reliable and a lot more consistent this year," Cook said. "I just have to do a better job of doing that."

DAMAGE DONE: Not sure who gets bumped in the West. But go ahead and book Kevin Durant's ticket to Heat-Durant February's All-Star game in Dallas. For one, it would be fitting for Durant, a former University of Texas star, to make the squad and return to the state that made him star. He will also deserve the nod if he continues his rapid improvement as expected this season. Durant is as silky smooth as they come at 6-10. He can handle. He can post. He can shoot. And he can fly. Just ask Heat center Joel Anthony, who caught a face full of chest when Durant flew through the lane for a vicious dunk in the first quarter. Durant was limited by four first-half fouls, but finished with 30 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter. "To see someone do the things he does at a guy his size is incredible," Beasley said of Durant.

NEXT UP: Heat vs. New Orleans Hornets, Thursday (Kansas City) - 8:30 p.m.


(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.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carlos, Comebacks & SuperCoolBeas

Clearing out the mind and notebook as the flight to Wednesday’s Heat-Thunder preseason game reaches cruising altitude. Consider it the misdirection exhibition tour.

 

After the game in Tulsa against Oklahoma City, the Heat heads to Kansas City to play New Orleans. Go figure. Still trying to figure out how last preseason offered a trip to Paris and London and this year counters with Tulsa and Kansas City. Again, go figure.

 

THE ARROYO-AL TREATMENT: There was a slice of it after Tuesday’s practice, when new Heat Carlos Arroyo guard Carlos Arroyo had what amounted to his own personal media day The Puerto Rico native and former FIU standout signed with the Heat on Monday.

 

TV, radio and newspaper reporters from Spanish media outlets engulfed Arroyo after Tuesday’s practice. Considering the market, there was a genuine excitement and interest. Arroyo is believed to be the first native Spanish-speaking player in Heat history. And who said his signing with the Heat wouldn’t have an impact on and off the court?

 

“It’s been great,” Arroyo said of the reaction. “It’s an honor to be here and to be home.”

 

BEASLEY’S WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATION: Count forward Michael Beasley among Heat players Beasley Interview who believe Arroyo is just the sort of addition second-year starting point guard Mario Chalmers needed. With a savvy, proven veteran to contend with in practice every day, Chalmers gets a taste of what Beasley goes through with Udonis Haslem.

 

“Some of the guys who have been in here – not to downgrade guys, but – (Chalmers) has been a landslide better than them,” Beasley said of a group that has consisted of Chris Quinn, Marcus Banks, Shaun Livingston, Luther Head and current camp hopeful John Lucas. “Carlos can do it all. (Chalmers) not only has somebody to go head to head against, but somebody to look up to and to learn from.”

 

WADE AND SEE: Dwyane Wade acknowledged Tuesday that his current rib strain is near the same spot as the injury he sustained during the 2004-05 season that lingered into the playoffs. But Wade said this recent ailment pales in comparison to the anguish he felt four years ago.

 

“If it was that bad, I wouldn’t even be out here,” Wade said after practice. “I wouldn’t even be trying to play.” Wade worked out extensively the past two days, with a focus on conditioning. He essentially wore a “yellow jersey” in scrimmage sessions, meaning he was completely off limits for contact. Wade said he would consider wearing protective padding around his rib cage if he plays this week. From the sounds of Tuesday’s practice, Wade, at best, might appear in one game and skip the other.

 

SPARRING SESSION: Jermaine O’Neal said he expects to play the back-to-back set against the Thunder and Hornets after he missed the previous two games with a bruised foot. O'NEAL_JERMAINE

 

There is absolutely nothing he could face in those games more demanding and brutal than the low-post sparring sessions he’s had after practice against assistant coach Keith Askins. Make that Askins and two huge, thick “bash pads” Askins basically used as weapons to pound on O’Neal as he practiced low-post scoring moves. O’Neal managed to hold his own at times, but Askins did little to hurt his reputation as “Kick Ass-kins.”

 

“It’s a different kind of conditioning in here,” O’Neal said. “I look forward to getting back on the court and getting my timing and everything back.”

 

FUNNY EXCHANGE: Beasley, if nothing else, is still providing the comic relief. Before Sunday’s game against San Antonio, Beasley and Yakhouba Diawara had a hilarious exchange. Beasley picked on Diawara because of his deep French accent. Diawara, a Pepperdine grad, shot back: “I’m an educated man. Put Pepperdine against wherever you went, college dropout. Did you even stay long enough to major?”

 

Beasley, who spent one season at Kansas State before leaving to become the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, didn’t hesitate. “Yeah, I had a major. My major was Bucketology. You don’t know about that. I mastered in getting buckets.”

 

(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, October 12, 2009

Finally Getting The Point: Arroyo

Finally. Carlos Arroyo

It took three preseason games, multiple injuries that depleted the backcourt depth and shaky play from the starter at the position. But the Heat finally added a much-needed, veteran presence at the point.

The team on Monday signed free agent Carlos Arroyo (pictured right, driving against Wade) to a non-guaranteed, make-good contract. And if anyone has seen either Arroyo or the Heat play recently, the assumption is that not only will he make this roster, he might even play a meaningful role.

First things first. This is not a referendum on Mario Chalmers. The kid is the starter. He'll be the starter as far as the team is concerned. But now, Mario finally has a legitimate push to get better every day in practice and to perform at a consistent level in games.

No, Carlos Arroyo isn't an absolute answer at point guard. That much should be taken from the fact that he was sitting at home in Pinecrest three weeks into the NBA training camp season for the first time in his career without a team. But Arroyo, 30, does add the playmaking skills to effectively run the Heat's pick-and-roll.

He also knows how to shoot and score. Is he a pure defensive stopper at point guard? Hardly. But who is in this league right now? Is he a solid upgrade at a position where the Heat was essentially scratching the NBA's equivalent of rock-bottom behind Chalmers? Absolutely. And on top of that, this makes Dwyane Wade a bit happier. That could be just as vital.

Arroyo has been in this sort of role before. Just two years ago, he was in Orlando and considered a serious threat to the anointed point-guard-of-the-future there. A guy by the name of Jameer Nelson. Arroyo left as a free agent two summers ago. The only time you can really question his decision making was when he and agent Leon Rose thought too highly of his open-market value and turned down NBA jobs to play overseas.

Now Arroyo is back in the NBA. He says he'll accept any role he's given by the Heat. But he made certain to mention that he could "run the show."

Arroyo-retired "It was about being in the right position," Arroyo (pictured left, having his FIU jersey retired last year) said after his first practice with the Heat on Monday. "I had to be patient to wait for this opportunity. To be honest, I've never been at home at this time. I'm usually in training camp. I've been working out and waiting on the call. For the first time, I can use my house and not have to move."

Arroyo, who lives in Pinecrest and was a star at FIU, said he's been trying to get on with the Heat since he left college. But timing and contract amounts always prevented it from happening. He now comes at the right price for the Heat, on a non-guaranteed deal that will pay him the veteran's minimum of $1.1 million for a player with seven seasons of experience. That's only if he's still around in mid-January.

He also comes at the right time in terms of having a chance to address the Heat's needs. Mario shouldn't feel threatened, but he will certainly be challenged. Dwyane Wade essentially agreed Monday, when he said he wouldn't try to console Chalmers if there were any feelings of anxiety right now about his status, which there aren't. But he was still making a point.

"It'll be good for (Chalmers)," Wade said of the day-to-day competition Chalmers (below right) will face.

If things work out as planned, the Heat gets a solid backup point guard on the cheap who also happens to be a hometown hero of sorts. Don't discount the fact that Arroyo could be a crowd favorite, especially among the Latino and Hispanic communities if he performs up to task. And that can't hurt the Heat's bottom line at a time when it has to curtain off the upper deck of the arena to hide empty seats.

This means Chris Quinn, who is out at least a week with a sprained right foot, will fall back to a third-string Mario option, which is probably where he belongs. No shame in that. The kid works his tail off and will qualify for an NBA pension after this season.

This means that John Lucas became even longer of a long shot to make the roster, despite being one of the really good guys in camp who also happens to be a productive spark plug off the bench.

This means team president Pat Riley is off the hook for now in his reluctance, albeit understandable on many levels, to initially address the point guard position before unfortunate things had to happen.

This means coach Erik Spoelstra no longer has to cover up what might be his true feelings about his concerns at the position, even though the good soldier Spo offered this gem on Monday: "We've been going through a lot of decision making. Unlike, I guess, some of you (media), we weren't in a panic situation. We wanted to make the right move. And this is the right move right now."

Most of all, this means the Heat stacks up a little bit better - top to bottom - at the point than it did yesterday. And that's the ultimate point. The most obvious void on the roster is a little less obvious right now.

Finally.

(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.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Heat Hurting Already

Ouch. Wade-Face

That's about all you could say when the doors to the AmericanAirlines Arena practice courts opened to the media Saturday afternoon. At first glance, there was no Dwyane Wade. No Jermaine O'Neal. No Quentin Richardson. No Dorell Wright. No Chris Quinn.

OK. So maybe the absences of Wright and Quinn don't necessarily rise to the level of national concern. But still. Upon further review and scanning of the court, the aforementioned group was together, sitting on chairs alongside the court watching practice.

They are now the M.A.S.H. unit. Officially. Wade sat out practice and will miss Sunday's game against San Antonio with what the team is calling a left intercostal strain. What that means is unexplained soreness in the tissue and muscles within his left rib cage.

Wade insists the injury he sustained during the third quarter of Wednesday's loss at Orlando isn't serious. He said he would play Sunday if it were a regular season game. He said his breathing is relatively painless. But just the thought of Wade suffering anything close to an injury should make anyone in the Heat organization struggle to catch their breath.

"It's a precaution," Wade assured of his ailment, one he never mentioned after the Orlando game or before he underwent an MRI test Friday. "It's nothing real serious. I've got a long season ahead of me. I'm not trying to be a hero right now."

OK, cool. For the Heat's sake, the hope is that Wade's pain goes away in short order. Because the first thing I thought about after finding out about his ailment was he's had a rib issue before. One that hit during the 2004-05 season and lingered into the playoffs. Maybe those were two separate rib issues. But still.

Now, Wade is at the top of a long list of Heat training camp injury concerns. That process of trying to bounce back from two sluggish performances in losses to Detroit and Orlando has taken a bit of a detour.

QUINN_CHRIS Not only will Wade miss Sunday's game, Jermaine O'Neal (foot) is expected to miss his second straight game and backup guard Chris Quinn is now out for at least a week with a sprained right foot. That one was courtesy of Michael Beasley, who fell on Quinny's foot during Friday's practice. Quinn (pictured left) was in a walking boot Saturday. His absence further weakens the Heat's depth at point guard.

And it was a spot where the Heat could least afford any losses. But if you've followed this blog the past few days, you'd know that this sort of falls in with the last topic in the previous post. Is there a silver lining in here somewhere? Perhaps. Because now, the Heat almost certainly has to address the point guard spot.

Heat president Pat Riley sat beside owner Micky Arison during Saturday's practice. Chances are, the need to put out a want ad came up during their conversation. The Heat is reluctant to plunge further into the luxury tax (it is $3 million deep right now) by adding a veteran free agent on anything other than a non-guaranteed contract. But this opens the door for a potential trade, something Riley would consider before he digs through the PGs-on-the-street scrap heap.

You've heard the names. Bobby Jackson. Ty Lue. Brevin Knight. Jamaal Tinsley. Stephon Marbury. Perhaps the Heat would be better served swinging a deal for a reunion with Skip Alston (pictured below right) or Keyon Dooling. The Heat Rafer does have options. There are $4.2 million and $800K trade exceptions. There are the $5.7 mid-level and $2 million lower level exceptions. And there is an assortment of expiring contracts.

Certainly, the Heat could pawn off a spare small forward in exchange for a spare point guard. Or maybe, just maybe, John Lucas III can make the most of his opportunity and make the roster in the process.

The Heat has reached critical condition with its point guard depth. And not even emergency options such as Daequan Cook (thumb), Wade (ribs) and Richardson (ankle) are readily available. At least not right now. Yes, the official word is that the injuries are far from being considered serious. None are expected to threaten anyone's availability for the Oct. 28 season opener.

But still. It's why one word came to mind when those doors to the practice court opened Saturday and the injury news was delivered.

Ouch.  

(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.)


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