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7 posts from February 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dreadful times

(my apologies for the gap between posts)
It was a frustrating trade deadline, with the Heat not able to pull off a deal that continued the momentum of the Marion deal. Riley obviously tried to get his hands on Mike Miller, which he admitted before the Philly game, but the Grizzlies did what any team with leverage should: try to bleed the desperate team for as much as possible. It's probably smart that Riley wouldn't take Jason Collins, Brian Cardinal and give up a future first-rounder for a chance to add Miller (just Cardinal and Miller would've been a no-brainer, especially because Cardinal could actually contribute to this team with his hustle and three-point shooting). It shows Riles may actually have some patience in the rebuilding process after all.
The theory is that it's more difficult to pull off quality trades in the offseason because teams aren't as desperate as they are right around the trade deadline. But Riley has pulled off some offseason miracles in the past, so all hope is not lost. There's still a possibility he can pull of a deal to go along with the draft pick and the player he signs with the mid-level exception. Plus, once the draft is complete, he'll know exactly what position he'll need (either Beasley or Rose would fill the PF or PG slot for years to come), which should help narrow the choices.
The problem with that is now the fans have to show some patience and don't get to watch a combo of Marion, Wade and Miller work together for the rest of this season. Instead it's more of the same, as Riley continues to struggle with ways to incorporate Marion, and Wade struggles with terrible turnovers at the worst of times. It's hard to figure out how he has become such a destructive player come crunch time, but I'm guessing it has a lot to do with the relative magnitude of the situation (is it really crunch time if the game means nothing at all?).
So there isn't much to look forward to down the stretch, but I know I'll be looking for certain things.
For one, I'd like to see Riley stop fighting the zone defense rules and actually come up with some offense that can counter it. Yes, the Heat doesn't have the shooting threats to bust a zone consistently, but they could at least make it look like they know what they're doing.
I'd like to see if Marcus Banks can be more than a scoring spark plug and can actually run a team.
And I'd like to see if it's possible for Dorell Wright to adjust his mentality and become an attacker rather than a player who looks to pull-up or pass off the bounce.
Oh... and I'd like to watch as many Kansas State and Memphis games as possible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just to clarify

For those who keep putting together rosters that include Shawn Marion and another big-time free agent this offseason, it's not possible.
If Shawn Marion doesn't opt out, the Heat has no salary cap space to sign a big name. If he does opt out of his deal, the Heat cannot re-sign him AND still have salary cap space simply because they hold his Bird Rights. If the Heat plans on taking advantage of the Bird Rights, they would have to have a "cap hold" for the amount of his current salary, which would count against the cap. If Marion opts out of his deal, they can renounce his rights and then create cap space, but if they want to re-sign him, they have to re-sign him into that salary cap space. And there won't be enough space (unless the Heat trades Haslem and/or Blount for more room) to re-sign Marion and, say, an Elton Brand or Baron Davis.

And I just wanted to respond to this comment:
..."Have you completely forgotten that Wade HATES Hinrich and vice versa? Have you forgotten that Hinrich TWICE injured Wade (and some believe on purpose) in games that took Wade out for several days or more? Wade and Hinrich would never work."...

Exactly. What's better way to keep Hinrich from irritating or injuring Wade than to have him on the same team. As much as they've had their incidents, they're both Converse guys and have a professional relationship. So to say Wade HATES Hinrich to the point where he wouldn't want to be teammates with him, don't think that's necessarily true.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who else?

Mike Miller seems to be the only name that is being mentioned as far as potential player the Heat can trade for. But if that doesn't happen, are there other guys out there that could come available?
Just quickly skimmed over some rosters and salary numbers and thought the Bulls might be, if they're convinced that even a short playoff run wouldn't do much for the organization, looking to dump some salary and create lots of space this summer. It's possible, with Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni each players the Bulls could be willing to unload for expiring contracts in return.
Hinrich's contract lasts another four years after this one, but it's one of those rare deals that decreases each season, so it's not awful. Plus, he's a true point guard and can defend with the best of them at that position. Nocioni is just a unique player who can play both forward positions and can fill it up when he's hot. Hinrich, in the first year of a new deal, might be tricky to move, though.
Then there is Charlie Villanueva in Milwaukee. He's another guy who can play both forward positions, and he's frustrated in Milwaukee. But he's still on a rookie deal, so the Bucks will probably only unload him if a team takes someone like Dan Gadzuric as well. Gadzuric's contract has three more years past this season, though, so it might be a deal breaker.
Other random thoughts...
Marcus Banks is a scoring point guard. You take away his scoring instincts, you take away what he does best. I hope he doesn't stifle those instincts just to impress Pat Riley. Especially on a team that wants to run, it would be ideal if everyone on the floor were a scoring hreat. And Marcus could be that as long as he's looking to score...
If the Heat gets unlucky and ends up picking somewhere below the No. 2 pick, here are a few guys NOT to draft. I know the Heat needs a big man, but neither UConn's Hasheem Thabeet, Georgetown's Roy Hibbert nor Stanford's Brook Lopez is the answer. Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan is nice because he's athletic and loaded with potential, but the other bigs are only potential stiffs.
Also love Jerryd Bayless of Arizona. He's a scoring point guard, but he is incredible. I like him better than Eric Gordon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Marion's debut

Shawn Marion's first game wasn't bad for a guy who has had one practice with the team. He still doesn't necessarily create his own shot consistently because of his limited ball-handling, but because he's so slippery and quick all it takes to set him up for a basket is to get him the ball on the move with a sliver of space. He'll usually end up with a great shot or at least draw a foul.
Combine that with the fast break and second-chance points he'll get, and it shouldn't be hard for Marion to get his scoring numbers up there near 20 a game again.
And while he's not Lamar Odom, Marion can still initiate a break when he gets a rebound, which adds him to Dorell as frontcourt guys that can get the break going. Should mean a few more easy buckets.
Sunday's game was just another game where it was so obvious how much a good outside shooter would help this team. It's why any trade rumor that involves Mike Miller should get people excited. A core that starts with Dwyane, Marion and Miller has all the makings.
Lastly, it's kind of sad when an entire arena of people can recognize a bad basketball decision before Ricky Davis can. What a performance he put on for the national TV audience Sunday.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Shaq nonsense

This is the kind of stuff that kills me about Shaq. He and Dwyane had no beef, and yet he still will drop a statement like this to some of the Phoenix press after his introductory press conference Thursday...
In reference to Steve Nash, Shaq said: "He's a great player. Very, very unselfish. Too unselfish at times. I haven't had that in a while, so I look forward to getting easy baskets..."

Seriously, if that's not a subtle shot at Wade, then what is it? I" haven't had that in a while." Come on! The guy carried Shaq to his fourth title, and yet Shaq says things that can be interpreted as a shot at him. It's silly, really, but that's who he is. He also spent Thursday backtracking on comments he made a couple years ago about Nash not deserving to beat him out for MVP. So it just goes to show he says stuff he probably shouldn't say, and that really only makes sense in his own head.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What's next?

If you think Shaq being traded is the only move Riley will make before the deadline, you're crazy. As of now, the Heat would have about $16 mil or so to sign free agents this offseason if Marion opts out, and assuming the Heat attempts to hold onto Dorell Wright.
So there are a couple of ways to go with what's left on the roster.
The Heat could try to trade Mark Blount and/or Udonis Haslem to a team in need of size and/or toughness and with expiring contracts to offer in return (Golden State comes to mind, with Mickael Pietrus and a couple pieces to offer... Dallas and Houston are also possibilities).
If that happens, then the Heat will have enough space to sign two MAX contract players.
If that can't happen, then the other option is to trade one of its expiring contracts for a quality player that would alter the free agency approach. If, for example, the Heat trades Jason Williams for Mike Miller (a trade that J-Will actually thinks is quite possible), then the Heat could have a core of Wade, Marion, Miller and a top draft pick, if Marion doesn't opt out. If Marion does opt out, then the Heat would still have space to sign a significant player to add to the trio of Wade, Miller, Haslem and draft pick.
I think the first option of going for more space is ideal, but it's not the only way to go. And if it appears impossible to trade for more space, I wouldn't be surprised if Riles goes the other way.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Loved ya, Shaq

First, have to say this is about as shocking a move as anyone could have expected for the Heat. I'm pretty sure everyone was guessing Jason Williams, Udonis Haslem or maybe Ricky Davis would get moved. Instead, Riley finds a taker for The Big Contract and manages to get back an All-Star caliber player in Shawn Marion. That's a move no one could've seen coming (actually, I did get an email from someone suggesting something similar to this... turns out he was right).

Now, from the Heat's perspective, a look at the move:
Getting Marion might be a short-term deal, because the forward has an early-termination option on his contract after this season. And if he opts out, then I'm sure the Heat will weigh all their options and not rush to re-sign him, because it'll mean HUGE free agency money to spend next offseason. It'll be enough to go after two big-time free agents in an offseason that could include free agents like Elton Brand, Gilbert Arenas, Luol Deng, Baron Davis, Jermaine O'Neal, Andre Iguodala (he's restricted, but with the Heat's kind of money, they could get any of a handful of restricted free agents by throwing money at them), Ron Artest and Antawn Jamison.
Combine that with a top draft pick (let's not get crazy, Heat, and start winning games this year), and the Heat would immediately be back among the elite teams in the league.
Even if the Heat keeps Marion, or he doesn't opt out of his $17 mil next season, then the Heat would still have two exceptions with which to work, and the draft pick. It would still leave the Heat looking much more athletic, and Riley would hopefully have learned from current mistakes and build around Dwyane much better next year.

From the Suns' perspective:
People wonder why the Suns would make this move when their core unit has done so well together. But they haven't won a title, and there's no reason to believe they would win it this year. I believe Shaq, with the shooting and all-around talent surrounding him in Phoenix, will be a significant factor out there. If there is anything the Suns can do it's find the man in position to score. And if Shaq is pinning his man under the basket, Nash and Co. will find him. Plus, Shaq also finds open teammates, and with the shooting the Suns have, defenses won't be able to pay too much attention to Shaq. Defensively, he won't make them any worse than they are now.
Now, Amare Stoudemire might have to adjust the most, but if Udonis Haslem can play alongside Shaq and succeed, Amare shouldn't have a problem with it.
It's risky, but the Suns front office doesn't believe the current Suns will win a title.

So many possibilities here. It's amazing how Riley works himself out of a mess just about every time.


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