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4 posts from August 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Team" USA

Back from vaca and I can't stop hearing about the cohesiveness and the improvement and the camaraderie that this US team has compared to the last two teams that ended up with bronze medals at the '04 Olympics and the '06 WCs.
First, I can't imagine Dwyane Wade would like to hear that. I mean, the announcers make it sound like the last teams had chemistry problems or selfishness issues or something. The '04 team was pretty much a disaster because of Larry Brown's insistence that no one shoot the ball, ever. Last summer's team lost because, first, it was still flawed in its make-up, with no shooters like Michael Redd and Mike Miller, and because there was no Jason Kidd, who has been such a difference maker with his defense and tempo-pushing.
This team with Kobe Bryant has played better defensively and shot better from distance, but it's also playing weaker teams than either of the last two national teams did. I'd love to see this group play the real Argentina team, or the Greek team that was on fotia (I believe that is Greek for fire), and see how it reacts. I still think this US team would win, but it's not because the players get along better than those other teams. It's because there are defenders like Kobe and Kidd on this team and more variety on offense. Dwyane would do nothing to hurt this team, that's for sure.
Also, I'm more than a little disturbed with Bill Walton's knowledge of all these other countries. My goodness, those are facts that wouldn't even help on Jeopardy! they're so obscure. Also, his use of the word "literally" is a bit out of control. To quote one of the most underrated TV characters of all time, Phillip J. Fry of Futurama, listening to it makes me "literally angry with rage." I do like how he gives shout outs to specific writers during his telecasts. Some guys just mention the paper or magazine. Bill always manages to praise the writer, which, of course, I love.
Last thought: If I had to predict it right now, the guy who I think will join the Heat this offseason is Alexander Johnson. Wait, that one already happened.
OK, then I'll go with Ron Artest. If the Heat pulls off a trade for him, then I wonder if Pat Riley's whole three-year coaching plan will remain intact. Three words: He cra-zeh.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Riley's words

I thought it was interesting when Riley claimed the point guard position "wide open" the other day, when it's clear that Jason Williams is the more veteran, more effective choice to play alongside Dwyane and Shaq.
But if you combine that statement with his comment about going to get another guy, then you have to wonder if those Mike Bibby rumors have some real weight to them. If Riles was content to stick with J-Will for next season, I don't think he would say his starting job was up for grabs. Riles also mentioned how many expiring contracts he has to work with, and Jason is the biggest one he's got. If Sacramento's going to dump Bibby and his huge deal, they'd surely also want to get rid of either Kenny Thomas or Shareef, as Mr. Jackson mentioned today in his buzz column. Put those two salaries together, though, and the Heat would have to give the Kings every single one of their expiring contracts just to get the deal done. That doesn't seem as likely a possibility.
If the Heat somehow convinces P.J. Brown to jump aboard, then trading Udonis Haslem for a small forward becomes priority No. 1. But it's doubtful P.J. will pick the wear and tear of Miami for less money over the glitz of either Phoenix or Dallas for more money.
Also, I'm hearing the Pietrus deal doesn't seem very likely. So Riles might have to get pretty creative if he's going to change this team significantly before the season. If he doesn't, he might just hang on to those expiring deals and see what comes up prior to the trade deadline.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Who's No. 3?

It's no secret that I've questioned the Heat's relative inactivity this offseason, and I'm not changing my mind on that front because I think adding talent is crucial when, first, other teams in your conference are significantly upgrading theirs, and second, you're losing some of your own depth in free agency.
That said, I don't necessarily think the Heat is in dire need for a "third scoring option," like some people like to say.
There's a couple reasons for that. First, there are some options on the roster right now that can emerge as legitimate options. If he indeed is entering his first season with the Heat in complete health, then Jason Williams is capable of being a 13- to 15-point-a-game guy if called upon. Udonis Haslem has been slightly frustrated over the past two years because his inside game hasn't been utilized at all (he said he could've  scored 50 on Andres Nocioni if ever given the chance). Antoine Walker is always looking for those opportunities to score or create. And Dorell Wright, if he's ever going to used properly, has to be allowed to explore his offensive ability, otherwise he'll just be a frustrated young guy who won't be able to reach his full potential (see: Tracy McGrady in Toronto).
So, basically, there are some options for that "third scorer" that figures to be so crucial.
But the other reason having that scoring option isn't so critical is because, as much as Riles doesn't want to depend on Dwyane, the truth is, if he's healthy he'll be getting the bulk of the work anyway. There isn't enough trust in the "other guys" to give them enough opportunities to be a consistent third option. If you think about it, when Dwyane and Shaq are healthy and doing their thing, no one is ever griping that the team needs another scorer. It seems like they have plenty. It's only when Dwyane or Shaq are hobbled that you're expecting that third guy to suddenly come out of the cold and fill up the boxscore.
In short, it's very possible that there is still some untapped offensive talent on this roster right now. But it is still frustrating to watch a team with championship hopes not secure a couple of talented pieces to put around the main guys.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Backcourt 2000

That was what they called Penny Hardaway and Jason Kidd when they played together in Phoenix. It was also the last time Big Penny was any good because of his knee issues.
It is interesting, though, that the Heat is taking a flier on him, because Randy Pfund must've seen something from him in a workout, and Randy generally makes some pretty smart decisions in those settings. It's a no-risk situation. I just wonder how if Eddie Jones was still the safer choice.
But that may not have been up to them. The last time I talked to Eddie he indicated he would decide whether or not to come back to the Heat when he sees what they do to improve the team in the offseason. Well, not much has been done in that regard, so that's probably why he headed off to Dallas, which is where he initially wanted to go last season after getting bought out in Memphis.
I'm curious as to what the Heat is offering GSW for Pietrus if they're talking sign-and-trade. I'm assuming Doleac is in the conversation because he's entering the last year of his deal, but I wonder if Dorell Wright is involved, too. It would be pretty hard to lose him at this point because they're not exactly deep at small forward right now.

(On an aside... I don't know why I read these things, but to the guy who posted as Josh Howard on the comments page of my Tim Tebow column, I know Dwyane Wade is a better player than Ray Allen, but if they play each other, they're both capable of putting up a huge number against the other. Scoring-wise, they absolutely can cancel each other out. And I'll still be around well after the summer, so get used to it, brotha.)


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