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19 posts from July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Heat(related) Tid-bit or Three

If you're following the free agency saga of point guard Jason Williams, here's an update.

Amid an ESPN report that J-Will is in serious discussions with Israeli-league team Tel Aviv, just received confirmation that there is indeed interest, but that a deal is not imminent.

In fact, we've been told by two sources that J-Will essentially remains in a holding pattern with a couple of potential suitors. A few days ago, we were told not to completely rule out a possible return to the Heat at a deeply, deeply, deeply discounted rate from the $8.9 million he earned last season.

If Heat president Pat Riley is even interested in a reunion (count me among those who figured J-Will's days in Miami were numbered after the "high-paid prostitutes" comment he made on Christmas Day in Cleveland), it would most likely happen in the range of $1.3 to $2 million.

But word out of Israel from at least one source familiar with Tel Aviv's negotiations is that Williams is seeking a deal with an annual salary of at least $3 million. The Israeli teams is thinking closer to $1.5, which is similar to any deal any NBA suitor might extend, including the Heat.

... For those in need of an update on potential low-level center prospects, here's one.

The Clippers, whose roster seems to be at about 43 players right now, inked Brian Skinner to add low-post depth. The Heat had at least modest interest in Skinner at one point to plug into a frontcourt that lacks both length and defensive prowess beyond undersized power forward Udonis Haslem (I'm not counting Zo here because there's still no telling when he might return from knee rehab).

The Heat also expressed at least some interest in Francisco Elson, a 7-footer who played in Seattle last season but did his best work with the Spurs during their 2006-07 title run. But Elson's camp said it would take more than the $900,000 Miami has left of the mid-level and probably even more than the mostly-league-funded veteran's minimum of $1.3 the Heat also would have at its disposal.

So the pursuit of help at center and point guard stands as it always stood for the Heat. It's going to take a trade to add the type of upgrades needed to assure a return to serious contender status next season. As the roster stands, Miami is a playoff team if healthy. Although a run at mediocrity would be an upgrade over last season's disastrous 15-67 finish, far better results are expected.

... After news that the Heat's Oct. 12 preseason game in London against the Nets has sold out, tickets for Miami's scheduled Oct. 18 preseason game against the Magic in Jacksonville have gone on sale. The Jacksonville game extends a solid run of non-NBA sites the Heat has played at the past few seasons, including Puerto Rico, Biloxi, MS and Greensboro, N.C.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

D.Wade? Enough's Enough (Updated)

By now, Dwyane Wade has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Or, at least he should have. I'm convinced. If the man says his left knee is no longer an issue, maybe,Wadeolympics  just maybe, it isn't.

Wade has certainly put in the necessary work to rehab the knee he had surgically repaired a year ago. Yes, the same knee that acted up most of last season and eventually forced him out of the lineup for good in mid-March. Wade, the Heat's superstar guard, will tested that knee for the second time early Thursday morning, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in Team USA's 114-82 exhibition victory against Turkey in Macau, China.

That brings Wade's average to 16.5 points in two pre-Olympic tuneups. Thursday's game included another handful of acrobatic layups and dunks - explosive plays Wade had been unable or unwilling to attempt over the past season-and-a-half since while he was slowed by shoulder and left knee injuries that required surgery.

Wade spoke with Heat beat writers in advance of Thursday's game. And naturally, one of the first questions he faced dealt with the status of his health.

"I know how hard I've worked, so I'm not out there to prove I worked hard to anybody or that I'm healthy," Wade said, defensively if not outright defiantly. "I'm not into proving it to guys anymore. I think my play will show the rest. That's my whole focus."

Wade has certainly done his part to erase any doubts about his health. He took a big first step toward convincing many with his explosive 20-point performance against Canada a week ago. He took another step on Thursday. Sure, it was Canada and a surprisingly feisty Turkey team.

But the performances were more than about the opponent for Wade. He is essentially playing a game within himself. His opponent is D.Wade. And with each dunk, cut to the basket or ball he swipes on the defensive end, Wade is distancing himself from the concerns over his health.

Or, at least he should be.

Wadetraining_2  Yet, Wade still faces those injury questions.

Even as Kobe Bryant continues to play with a finger that is part sprained, part dislocated and has a partially torn ligament.

Even as LeBron James became the first semi-casualty on the roster when he nursed a sprained ankle that forced him out of last week's tuneup.

Even as Dwight Howard pushed through the aftereffects of a sternum injury that kept him out of Olympic training camp.

The last question I asked Wade regarding his health will be the last one I ask until there's evidence he should be pressed on the matter again. For now, he's healthy. He's not only saying as much, he's playing as much, too.

Of course, this can all change with one tweak here or twist there. But it's clear now - or at least it should be - that Wade's not putting himself at no greater risk than anyone else on the roster.

Perhaps his first significant test will come Friday against Lithuania as Team USA plays the second of back-to-back games in consecutive days. Even in limited doses, it will be interesting to see how much Wade pushes himself - or how much he's used - under such circumstances. So far, he's passing all of the physical tests. His durability might remain in question, but his explosion is back.

After being around him the past few weeks, Wade's Olympic teammates are no longer skeptical of his health. If he continues to show what he's been showing, why should anyone else be, either?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Do They Go From Here?

Now that Ricky is officially the first of the Heat's free agents to move on, we checked for updates on the status of Miami's others soon to be cast off. Or Not.

Rickydavis Ricky Davis: No problem here with the Heat putting him on the backburner to flirt with others - which ultimately netted James Jones. But count me in the small crowd that didn't really see Ricky as the main villain on last season's team. Ricky only did what he always does. He's just not an impact player. So in essence, that trade ultimately came down to the Heat sending a first-round pick and Antoine Walker to Minnesota for Mark Blount. Ouch.

Jason Williams: There's chatter out there that J-Will either has interest in, or is being courted by, an Israeli team. Checked with his agent today, who would neither confirm nor deny the interest overseas. But was also warned not to rule out a possible reunion Jwill with Miami. Like Davis, J-Will was placed on the backburner by Heat president Pat Riley at the start of free agency. But unlike Davis, J-Will plays a position of desperate need for the Heat. And with not much else out there enticing outside of a trade, it might not be out of the question to bring J-Will back at or near the vet's minimum ($1.3 - 2 mill) on a one-year deal to eventually hand the reigns over to rookie Mario Chalmers.

Chris Quinn: That J-Will scenario, of course, would mean Quinn wouldn't be brought back. Which essentially would make this a Quinn-or-JWill proposition for Quinn the Heat, which will almost certainly carry a third PG into the season in addition to Chalmers and Marcus Banks. Quinn is receiving interest from teams as a third point guard prospect, with New Jersey and Orlando among the teams that have a need.

Dorell Wright: Oklahoma City reportedly has interest as part of a contingency plan. But there's a big difference between interest and action. And, as we've seen, not many teams are quick to tie up salary-cap money to extend an offer on even a promising player coming off a knee injury. The expectation - make that hope - is that the Heat will eventually open Dorell negotiations for a deal a bit sweeter than the one-year, $2.4 million qualifying offer it made to Wright earlier this summer. But it's far more likely the Heat will wait, Wright will sign the qualifying offer and enter next summer an unrestricted free agent.

Barron Earl Barron: Not much happening here, as expected. The Earl experiment hasn't produced much beyond summer league dominance. And even that was two years ago. Although the Heat is desperate for length and big bodies, it's likely to pass on another dance with the 7-foot Barron.

So what's left out there at center and point guard for the Heat, which is within $5 million of the luxury tax and has about $900,000 left of its mid-level but the full $1.9 million of its vet's exception?

Brian Skinner, Francisco Elson, Melvin Ely and Theo Ratliff are among those who might fit the vet's exception and would be the defensive stiffs needed to clog the paint. The options are even more scarce at the point. Which means any real upgrades must come via trade. And the action always picks up the closer teams get to training camp.   

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bye-bye Ricky

Heat free agent Ricky Davis signed a multi-year deal with the L.A. Clippers Monday, officially ending his second stint with Miami. The veteran swingman became expendable following the Heat's free agent signing of former University of Miami standout James Jones earlier this month.

Davis, 28, averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, and was the only Heat player to appear in all 82 games.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wade's World & Being Michael Beasley

First, before getting to everything else, for those that didn't hear about Team USA's rout of Canada, Dwyane Wade started and scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 18 minutes in helping leading the Americans to a 120-65 victory Friday night in Las Vegas. Wade was sharp in Team USA's exhibition opener in preparation for the Beijing Olympics. Wade, who hit his first five shots, was explosive in his first meaningful game in more than four months, after undergoing season-ending shock wave therapy on his knee. Heat center Joel Anthony started for Canada and finished with 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting with two rebounds in 16 minutes.


Dwyane Wade addressed the trend of NBA players signing more lucrative deals in Europe, and for now the idea of a star of his caliber going over the pond is foreign. But even he joked, during a break from Team USA Training in Las Vegas, that there might be ways to lure him overseas. (Of course all of this is theoretical and Wade wouldn't even have this option until 2010, when he can opt out of the final year of his contract.)

Baldwade_2 "Thirty million a season, non-taxable?" Wade is quoted as saying by Yahoo Sports. "I might have to think about it."

"With the money being said that guys can get over there, it's unbelievable. Not only do you have international players coming to America, you've got American players going international. And you've got big-time players doing it now. It's interesting.

"If they offer me $40 million a year and no taxes, I might have to go over there. I'll have to see you guys later."

With more than a half-dozen NBA players jumping at overseas offers--and most notably Atlanta reserve swingman Josh Childress--this new trend has the league abuzz. The international interest has allowed NBA restricted free agents to get better deals by bolting. Cavs starting point guard Delonte West and Lakers reserve guard Sasha Vujacic both are threatening to go abroad if they don't get the deals they seek with their current teams. This strategy does not seem to be an option for Heat restricted free agents Dorell Wright and Chris Quinn. Perhaps we'll see a day when a bonafide NBA star goes to Europe, but for now as free agency news has slowed and thus this topic seems to have become somewhat overblown.


On a lighter note, did you notice that Wade's head is bald? Do you like his new look?


If you haven't seen the latest ESPN.com video following Heat rookie Michael Beasley, check it out. During his experience in L.A. for the ESPY Award he got stopped by T.O. and superstar treatment as he gets ready for for the award show....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Heat Tidbits in Luke-warm Times

With the Olympics approaching in a couple of weeks, tonight's exhibition between the USA and Canadian men's basketball teams serves as an intriguing appetizer for Heat fans.

On display will be Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who will be playing in his first sort-of-meaningful game Dwade since he was shut down in March to address knee problems. With LeBron James expected to be held out of tonight's exhibition, Wade could see significant action - perhaps even as a starter.

Also on display will be Heat center Joel Anthony, who is expected to be in the starting lineup for Canada. With Sam Dalembert's recent dismissal from the team, Anthony is expected to have a more prominent role for Canada. The Heat's decision to allow Anthony to participate in Canada's Olympic bid was a smart one. And the team's decision this month to guarantee his contract for next season was an even smarter one, considering Miami's low numbers at the center spot.

In Wade's case, this is an opportunity to showcase his return to health. He certainly looks a lot less bulky than he did much of last season. Or maybe it's just that new bald dome he's sporting. Either way, his participation is sure to have Heat fans crossing their fingers and hoping for sustained health.

Joel_anthony In Anthony's case, the hope is that he continues to develop along this rapid pace. A year ago, it was fair to question if he even belonged on the Heat's summer league team. His hands were bad, his timing worse and his offense non-existent. A year later, he's posting double-doubles for Canada and has followed up on a strong finish to the season - one that included an impressive late-season outing against Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard.

I asked Joel, whose most developed NBA talent is his shot-blocking ability, earlier this summer how he would respond defensively if Canada were to face Team USA and if Wade were to drive at him in the lane. Anthony's response? "It'll be just like at practice when we're out there. He'd do what he does best, and I'd try to do what I do (best) and stop him. It'll be a great opportunity."

This and That ...

... The Heat announced another pickup from its summer league roster. The team named Chad Kammerer as an assistant coach on Friday, continuing an offseason staff makeover that began with Pat Riley leaving the bench to work in his role exclusively as team president. Kammerer, the son of Heat VP of player development Chet Kammerer, had worked in the Heat's scouting department. He also spent the past few seasons as an assistant on the team's summer league entry. Erik Spoelstra took over for Riley in April and the Heat hired David Fizdale from the Hawks as an assistant.

... While No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose has reached an agreement on a shoe endorsement deal with Adidas, Heat forward and second overall pick Michael Beasley continues to negotiate with companies for his own deal. Adidas had been one of at least three shoe companies Beasley has been in talks with on a deal. But several industry analysts believe this year's draft class lacks some of the endorsement appeal of previous classes and might struggle to land the same lucrative deals handed out in recent years. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tinsley and Boozer


Tinsley In light of speculation that Indiana could decide to buyout point guard Jamaal Tinsley if the Pacers do not find a trade suitor, president Larry Bird said he does not foresee the team going that route. Bird indicated that would be the case for Tinsley and forward Shawne Williams, both who have had several off-the-court incidents. The Pacers reportedly were rebuffed by the Heat last week, after offering Tinsley for forward Udonis Haslem. Indiana apparently thought it would be a good for both teams as the Pacers need another forward and the Heat has depth at forward but not at point guard.

"We hear this buyout stuff all the time," Bird told an Indianapolis radio station. "I think these guys should earn their money. If you can't trade them, let them stay at home. We're in some situations here where the same people continue to get in trouble. We have to deal with it. We'll deal with it the way we think is appropriate."

It sounds like Indiana will continue to shop Tinsley, and if Bird does not find a taker the team would wait as long as possible to buy him out. The reason? Indiana has no reason to get rid of Tinsley now, especially knowing that he could probably command more on the free-agent market at this point than in a few months when teams have pretty much figured out their rosters.


Boozer Utah forward Carlos Boozer has been linked to the Heat in recent weeks, as he can opt out of the final year of his contract after next season to become a free agent. For right now, the Boozer to the Heat talk is nothing more than chatter. Boozer lives in Miami during the offseason, and if the Heat do not re-sign forward Shawn Marion, would have cap space to pursue the two-time All-Star.

Boozer seemed to indicate to reporters at Team USA Olympic training camp in Las Vegas that he plans to be in Utah with teammate Deron Williams, who just signed a contract extension.

Williams, also on Team USA, said he didn't need to lobby Boozer to stay in Utah long-term during the Beijing Games. "He knows I want him here," Williams told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Boozer's take on his future, according to the Tribune: "(Deron's) going to be smiling for the next four years. And we will, too, because we'll have him on our side."

"We've been talking about our combination...for two years already, so we have our thing lined up."

Pressed for what he meant by "thing lined up," Boozer said: "You guys have to wait and see."

Take these comments with a grain of salt. Remember Boozer caused controversy after the 2003-04 season, when instead of making him a qualifying offer the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to let him out of his current deal to sign him to a more lucrative contract (worth about $39 million over 6 years).  In swooped the Jazz, which offered him a $70 million deal.   

The Cavs of course felt betrayed by Boozer, because he and his agent had reportedly given their word that he would sign with Cleveland.

"There was no commitment," Boozer said at the time, after signing with Utah. "It's unfortunate how the turn of events went through the media. I'm not a guy that gives my word and takes it away. I think I've made that clear."

I guess you could say that Boozer has left himself some wiggle room by being coy at Team USA Training, but it bears watching what happens in the next year.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Rating the Heat offseason so far

Beasley With free agency quieting for the Heat--barring a trade--how do you think the summer has shaped up for the team? What is your outlook for this team heading into training camp (a little less than 2 months away) with the additions of forward Michael Beasley and point guard Mario Chalmers in the draft and swingman James Jones in free agency? At this point, do you think finding another center or point guard is a bigger need? What's your biggest concern?

The Eastern Conference should be stronger next year, but the Heat should still be a playoff team and much improved so long as injuries don't debilitate the team like last season. It will be interesting to watch the development of guys like Joel Anthony and Stephane Lasme, who have had strong summers. Of course, the season isn't going to hinge on reserves, but the more guys that can contribute the better off the team will need more than just the Big 3 (Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Beasley) to win games. The addition of Jones is significant because the Heat sorely missed not having a three-point specialist of his caliber last season.

Vote on how you think the Heat has done this offseason.

(FYI: Wednesday is the league's deadline to withdraw qualifying offers, but don't expect the Heat to renounce qualifying offers for forwards Dorell Wright and Kasib Powell, as well as point guard Chris Quinn. Yes, the Heat still has needs to fill but all three come fairly cheap and the team needs depth on the bench.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dorell Wright situation

With free agency in a slow period, several players are playing the waiting game. Count forward Dorell Wright among them. The Heat made a $2.4 million qualifying offer to Wright last month, meaning the team can match offers from other teams.

I caught up with Wright, a restricted free agent, earlier this week and he said free agency has been somewhat slow for him so far. He said he did not have visits scheduled with other teams yet, and that is fine by him.


"I want to be here, I want to be in Miami," Wright said.

Wright gave an update on his rehab from season-ending knee surgery to repair ligament damage, his free agency prospect and outlook on next season.

Dorellwright Q: Where are you in your rehab?

A: I'm not back full-go, but it's going well. I'm trying to get more strength in my quad. The biggest thing is getting my quad stronger to support my knee, and continuing to keep working and keep pushing.

Q: When do you expect to be back to 100 percent?

A: In 3-4 weeks.

Q: Your rehab is behind what you thought it would be earlier this offseason. What happened?

A: It's taken a little longer because of my body, a little swelling (in my knee). I'm trying to get the swelling out of there and trying to get the quad stronger. I'm in no rush. I'm trying to take one day-at a time.

Q: So has the swelling been a setback?

A: It was in the beginning, but it's starting to move out of there.

Q: With the addition of Michael Beasley and James Jones, is this going to be a playoff team?

A: Definitely. I'm pretty sure we're going to make a complete turnaround from last year.

Q: There's now a logjam at the perimeter, so where do you see yourself fitting in?

A: At first I see myself in training camp competing for a spot, and from there I don't know.

Q: Do you seriously think you'll have to earn a roster spot in training camp?

A: Everybody is going to have earn a spot, learn the system, and do the right things. I don't think Coach Spo (Spoelstra) is going to give it to anybody.

Q: What kind of interest have you received from other teams?

A: I've been hearing stuff from other teams. When a lot of the bigger name (free agents) go, I'll have a better understanding of where I'll be.

Q: What has it been like being in wait-and-see mode, since free agency began?

A: It's difficult. No one wants to wait. It's kind of nervewracking. You want to know where you're going to be, or what's going to happen. Hopefully, everything works out for the best for me and my family.

Q: If another team offers you something longer-term than the Heat's qualifying offer or more lucrative, would you leave here?

A: That's me sitting down with my agent and family, seeing what do I want to do.

Q: So a team could lure you away?

A: Probably, but I still want to be here.

Coming off of knee surgery, and having only shown glimpses of his potential last season, it seems likely that Wright ends up with the Heat. Although the Heat has plenty of perimeter players, Wright's contract fits with the team's direction--he would only be under contract for the 2008-09 season--and the team will certainly need depth on the bench. Entering his fifth season, this is a huge year for Wright. The Heat has tried to be patient during his development but it's make-or-break time. Wright averaged a career-high 7.9 points in 25.1 minutes a game last season.

If Wright is on the Heat next season, what role do you see him playing? With Jones a likely sixth man at this point, would Wright be your seventh man, or would you put Daequan Cook in before Wright? Will Wright fulfill his potential? 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lue headed to Milwaukee

Tyronnlue Point guard Tyronn Lue reportedly will sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. This comes after he skipped a physical scheduled with the Heat Monday. He essentially declared himself out of the running with the Heat by being a no-show, after Miami expressed interest in the veteran. Lue, 31, has bounced around the league throughout his career. He's entering his 11th season and has played for six teams (Lakers, Wizards, Magic, Rockets, Hawks, Mavericks). Lue, who has been a reserve for most of his career, has averaged 8.9 points and 3.3 assists.

He is joining a Bucks team that already has point guards Mo Williams, Charlie Bell and Ramon Sessions under contract. Lue's decision to join the Bucks continues the trend of guards ending up in Milwaukee instead of Miami that began last summer. Milwaukee offered a more lucrative deal to Williams than the Heat did and matched Miami's offer sheet to Bell.

The Heat figures to have more point guard options as free agency continues. Check back later for more updates.



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