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5 posts from September 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Heat got Bucked (again)

So the Heat tried to sneak in a smart free-agent signing while everyone else was alseep, and the Milwaukee Bucks duped them again.
Charlie Bell won't be a member of the Heat because the Bucks matched Miami's offer, and now the Heat still is looking for that one final addition to complete its roster.
The problem is, with the free agents that remain, it looks like it'll take a trade to do anything significant. And that would probably create another hole (Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem) just to fill in one of its current holes.
Hate to say it, but the Heat may have screwed the pooch (love that phrase) by not convincing Eddie Jones to stay. Dwyane Wade needs a backup, and Eddie could've done that. Not to say it would've been easy to convince him. Eddie was on his way out the door because he didn't really like the Heat's inactivity this offseason and he didn't really like the idea of playing a ton of minutes (can you believe an NBA player doesn't want to play heavy minutes?)
But I'd be interested to see what the team's last-ditch effort is. I cannot believe Utah would even consider a package the Heat has to offer for the pouting Kirilenko (although I will say that in a precise offense like Utah's, a system that also includes the fast break whenever possible, Jason Williams, on an expiring contract, would make a lot more sense than people might think. Problem is they already have Deron Williams, and he's pretty good, too). And there are no quality affordable free agents left (Dahntay Jones? Sarunas Jasikevicius?).
Desperation time?
Dinkin' Flicka (please tell me somebody knows that reference).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jason's place

Sometimes I wonder if I’m watching the same game as everyone else.

How can anyone say that Jason Williams does not create pace and easy baskets for this team? When he is even close to healthy, which I’d say he has been for maybe half his tenure here so far, he makes a HUGE difference in the way this team plays. He runs the break flawlessly, he’s the only other player on the team besides Dwyane the last two years that can run the pick and roll, he has a connection with Dwyane in the halfcourt that has resulted in so many quick ally-oops that I’m not sure many other point guards can see and he is capable of some explosive scoring stretches (though he rarely attempts those bursts when Dwyane and Shaq are both playing).

Now, I understand he hasn’t been healthy and that’s a concern. But from what I’ve heard, J-Will has looked good this summer, during which he has been able to get his knee completely healthy. Add that to the incentive of being in a contract year, and I think you can expect, easily, the best season from J-Will since he has been here.

For those who still think that a quality small forward means more to this team, consider the numbers that the starting SF has put up compared to the starting PG in the three years that Shaq and Dwyane have been together.


SF: Jason Kapono – 10.9 points, 1.2 assists, 1.04 turnovers

PG: Jason Williams – 10.9 points, 5.3 assists, 1.64 turnovers


SF: James Posey – 7.2 points, 1.3 assists, .87 turnovers

PG: Jason Williams – 12.3 points, 4.9 assists, 1.69 turnovers


SF: Eddie Jones – 12.7 points, 2.7 assists, 1.24 turnovers

PG: Damon Jones – 11.6 points, 4.3 assists, 1.2 turnovers

It looks pretty clear to me that the way this system is set up, unless the starting small forward is something of a natural point forward, then the point guard means more to the team. I mean, Damon Jones basically had a better season than Eddie Jones in 04-05, and Damon’s clearly not the quality of player that Eddie is (also, Jason Williams’ assist numbers are pretty impressive considering Dwyane is most often in position to set up his teammates). And if you want Dwyane to play more point guard, then you’re taking him away from his natural position, and the one he prefers to play. He’ll have more scoring opportunities at the two-guard spot, and that’s what you want him to do primarily is score.

I guess that’s a long-winded way of saying that you shouldn’t underestimate J-Will’s value to this team, and trading him for a small forward right now might not be the best idea. Plus, if the Heat gets another small forward, then we’re all going to spend another whole season complaining about Dorell Wright not getting enough playing time.


Chucky Buckets

That's not Charlie Bell's nickname, as far as I know, but it comes close to rhyming and I couldn't think of anything else to write.
So anyway, here's why Bell, assuming the Bucks don't match the five-year offer, is a smart move, and doesn't necessarily signal any sort of major trade before training camp.
First, he can shoot. I'm not sure exactly what his percentages from distance are because something was apparently wrong with the world wide web when I tried to find it (I have since alerted the world wide authorities), but I know it was pretty good on a team where he didn't get the same looks he'll get with the Heat.
Second, he is tough and can defend, at least as far as I can recall, dating back to his days at Michigan State. And we know how much that can mean to this team, especially against teams like the Bulls.
Third, you're talking about five years at a very, very reasonable rate throughout the life of the deal. If Bell turns out to be a reliable option off the bench, and there is every indication he has that ability, then he will be a bargain at an average of less than $4 million a year. Just look at what the Heat would have had to pay to keep Jason Kapono, and he probably would have come off the bench for Riley.
Fourth, it provides the Heat with some stability at the guard spot beyond this season. Jason Williams' contract runs out after this season, and you would assume that he would probably end up somewhere else after that unless he stays at a discounted rate. So that means the Heat won't be desperate to find another guard and can be selective when you consider that the team would have Smush Parker and Bell already under contract (I'm assuming Bell can play some point, even though I don't really believe it). That's also why I don't think this signals a trade. Yes, this would put them over the tax by about $7 million, but that just could be the price the team has to pay to not only get some much-needed depth this season but also add some security beyond this season.
I also have a hard time believing that, before he has seen either Parker or Bell play a minute for his team, that Riley is willing to trade J-Will and go with those two guys as his top point guard options (no disrespect to my man Chris Quinn, who I think can do some things in this league). Even if you add a Ron Artest or Mickael Pietrus, if you don't have J-Will, you don't have a guy that can create pace and get you easy baskets in transition. And that was crucial to the success of this team in '06.
So this isn't a bad rotation to go into a season with:

PG Jason Williams, Smush Parker
SG Dwyane Wade, Charlie Bell
SF Dorell Wright, Penny Hardaway (seriously, he's healthy), Antoine Walker
PF Udonis Haslem, Antoine Walker
C Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning

And if you need 'em, Daequan Cook, Chris Quinn and Michael Doleac.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Houston, hello (updated)

So, by checking out Allan Houston today in New York, Riles continues desperately to try to make something out of nothing this offseason. Not that I think it's a "disastrous" offseason, like most people are saying. But it certainly does put a lot more pressure on Dwyane and really, really, really puts a lot of pressure on the team to stay healthy, which is a lot to expect from such an old team.
Back to Houston, though. Even if he is healthy enough to come back, the Heat would probably have to decide between him and Penny. They can't have two guys in their upper 30s who have had microfracture surgery and have missed at least one entire season. So if you had to choose one, and this is assuming they can both provide something even remotely close to what they used to, which one do you choose?
Penny because he does more off the dribble and can still hit an outside shot when asked, or Allan because he's such a drop-dead shooter that he can open up the floor for Dwyane and Shaq?
On the one hand, Riley wants a player who can create more to take the pressure off Dwyane. But on the other hand, who is he really kidding? Dwyane's going to carry most of the weight anyway, so might as well have a guy who's absolute cash from the perimeter.
I know what everybody's first answer is going to be: Neither. Go get Mickael Pietrus, Ron Artest or anybody under 35.
Well, that's not an option right now. So which one sounds best?
(On an entirely random aside -- and this is just because I'm making the connection between the NBA and hip-hop -- does anybody outside of New York really think that 50 cent can outsell Kanye this week? Kanye's got a more universal appeal -- not to mention 50 hasn't put out a good song since 2003. OK, that is all.)

Update: Looks like Allan Houston might be going to the Nets. Also, talked to Penny Hardaway briefly and he looks good, trimmer than he was in New York. And after the first day of sales, Kanye was better than 100K better than 50 in record sales.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's in a name?

I'm not the biggest stickler for blog rules or anything like that. But c'mon, man! Get my name right.
If it was a joke, it was pretty funny. If not, it's probably even funnier.
Anyway, there's not a whole lot going on with the Heat -- or the NBA for that matter -- but folks are still concerned about the small forward position (fantasizing about Baron Davis in a Heat uniform is a bit out of control).
Was reading a website that broke down the efficiency ratings for small forwards, and it happened to be the opinion of this author that small forward is the toughest position to fill in the NBA because of what's required from it, which includes strong defense and the ability to knock down the three ball. If that's the case, the Heat could be in trouble because it doesn't have proven defenders or great shooters at that spot (unless you're assuming Cook can not only play but shoot the heck out of the ball).
Funny thing about the ratings, though, is the Heat small forward that ranked highest on the efficiency ratings is still on the team. That was Dorell Wright. If he can hit the three ball, which I hear he has been working on, then that would be huge.
The other thought that came to mind looking at the list is that Matt Barnes, Walter Herrmann, Bostjan Nachbar, Linton Johnson III and Matt Harpring were all in the top 20 on that list. So you don't have to be a big name or be a proven commodity to be effective -- especially when you're playing alongside Shaq and Dwyane. So maybe one of the Heat's guys can be a surprise small forward this upcoming year, assuming they don't go get Artest.



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