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12 posts from June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mid-level Happy Medium

If you think the Heat will be in a free-agency frenzy once the clock hits 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, do yourself a big favor.


It ain't happening, captain. Unless one of those numerous covert meetings Dwyane Wade keeps Riley-Hush tweeting about actually included a sit-down with Pat Riley and a commitment to an extension.

Otherwise, the Heat will be ballin' on a budget. Window shopping. Riding around on a quarter tank of gas. And make no mistake, the approach will test Riley's patience.

Riley has never been one to do his spending in the opening days, weeks or even month of free agency. He takes a methodical approach. But this is one of those times when his hands are essentially tied. The pockets of his Armani suits are stuffed with I-O-Us. He can't - make that won't - make any major roster moves until Wade commits to a contract extension as early as July 12.

Wade said he looks forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career next summer, when he can max out with the Heat at six years and $120 million. Any moves Riley can make then, he should considering making now. That's Wade's thinking. Don't wait. Gravitate. 

But one happy medium between Riley and Wade could be the mid-level exception. Even if the Heat isn't willing to gamble on trading for major star power right now, would it not be wise to step out on a much smaller limb and spend the mid-level on a one or two-year deal if it lands you Iverson, Kidd or Andre Miller now? Or even a smaller-scale upgrade to the post depth, such as Chris Wilcox or Marcin Gortat?

Iverson3 Would that make the Heat a much better playoff contender going into next year? Yes. 

Would it show Wade a slice of the "doing-all-we-can" approach LeBron James is getting from Cleveland, even though James is also in the same contract situation as Wade? Sure.

Of course, this would mean paying a price. Perhaps a big price if it meant spending all of the mid-level this summer. That would leave the Heat, already over the luxury tax, paying twice as much for any new contract it adds to the current rolls.

So floating Kidd or Miller a $5 million deal for one season would mean a $10 million tax hit if the Heat Jason Kidd can't shed other payroll by the Feb. trade deadline. Would Iverson or Grant Hill as an opposite wing scorer at $3 million this season and an option at $3.4 million next be worth the one-year tax hit if it improves the Heat with Wade in his prime? Absolutely.

The Heat is going to have to pay a price this offseason regardless of the course it takes if Wade doesn't sign that contract extension.

Will it be the heavily-taxed mid-level (or another of its exceptions) in an attempt to add a key piece?

Or is it going to be the cost of standing pat and possibly sliding down the standings in the East if the internal improvements of Wade's current supporting cast aren't good enough?

 (For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Will Pat Prove Pat Correct?

Don't call him Patrick Beverley.

He simply wants to be know as Pat. Furthermore, he'd like to be regarded as the Miami Heat's backup behind soon-to-be second-year starter Mario Chalmers. If not the outright starter. He has that kind of potential and confidence.

Pat Beverley Amid all of the midnight hour draft fallout, Heat president Pat Riley made an interesting comment when he talked about his expectations for newly-acquired guard Patrick Beverley. Not only did Riles suggest that Beverley had a better-than-decent shot to make the team, he also envisions him slotted between Chalmers and Chris Quinn, presumably as the No. 2 guard on the depth chart.

Beverley now looks forward to a chance to secure a roster spot when he and fellow second-round pick Robert Dozier arrive in town next week to start offseason workouts in advance of the July 13th rookie/free agent minicamp.

The Heat's current predicament - it will enter the July 1 free agency period already over the luxury tax, but will likely have two roster spots open - certainly increases Beverley's chances. He's certainly valued.

Riley said the team rated Beverley, the 2007 SEC newcomer of the year, as high as the 20th best prospect on the team's draft board.

The Heat pursued Beverley, who spent last season playing in the Ukraine, in the same fashion it went after Chalmers in last year's draft. Both were considered first-round talent. The Heat spent much of the early stages of the draft lining itself up to take both.

Now, the competition at the point begins. I still say the Heat needs to find some kind of way to get a veteran point guard who brings playoff experience. But there seems to be a genuine enthusiasm around PatRiley Beverley. I'm sure the move sort of got Chalmers' attention.

If it didn't, I'm sure these comments from Riley will.

"This guy (Beverley) will compete against anybody," said Riley, who tracked Beverley across the country during pre-draft workouts. "This guy is a bulldog that can defend, can shoot. He will disrupt. He'll do anything you need."

First, he's gotta make the team.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Let's Make a (Draft Day) Deal

This has to be eating away at Heat president Pat Riley.

The East is rebuilding and reloading around him right now, while the Heat maintains its position with a 2010 view of the landscape.

In just the past few days, Shaq has gone to Cleveland to help bolster LeBron James' front line, one that Shaq2 fell flat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Within the Heat's division, Washington's Gilbert Arenas is getting healthy and the Wizards just got deeper by trading for Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Atlanta, the team that eliminated Miami from the playoffs, just got a bit more explosive by adding Heat headache Jamal Crawford.

The entire conference - or at least the teams that matter - all seem to be on the move. Riley has said he would speed up the team's roster overhaul, but not before he has Dwyane Wade's signature on a contract extension, which could happen as early as July 12. Otherwise, things will have to wait a year.

Although the Heat's stated goal is to avoid doing anything that would jeopardize its flexibility during the mega free agency period of 2010, there are some solid moves the team can make to improve right now.

With the NBA Draft set to start in a few hours, here are three moves I would consider making if I'm the Heat. They would make the team better next season. A few might send the team a bit deeper into the luxury tax for a year, but none of them would compromise the team's 2010 spending flexibility.

DEAL 1: Trade Dorell Wright, James Jones and the 43rd overall pick tonight (the $4.2 million tradeCamby exception)to the Clippers for Marcus Camby. (UPDATE - I stand corrected. I initially had the Heat sending its $4.2 million trade exception instead of Jones in this deal, but upon further review, such exceptions cannot be combined in a deal with another player. It has to be a separate transaction) The skinny: Camby is on a convenient contract that expires after the season. He is also still a dominant shot-blocker and rebounder who would be insurance for Jermaine O'neal. Both have had injury issues the past few seasons. Both are off the books at season's end. But Miami, for now, has absolutely nothing in the post behind O'Neal. The Clippers get to clear out room for Blake Griffin. If the Heat could find some way to ship either its $4.2 million or $800,000 trade exceptions in a side deal, it would sweeten the pot for the Clippers. It's also money the Heat probably wouldn't use otherwise. Wright gets to go home for a fresh start to a career that never materialized in Miami after he was taken with the 19th pick in 2004. Jones would be another kick-out option for Baron Davis who could also balance the floor for an improved inside attack. Plus, Jones has an option-friendly deal after next season that could be terminated with a reduced guarantee.

DEAL 2: Trade Mark Blount and Daequan Cook and the 43rd pick to Indiana for Marquis Daniels and Jarrett Jack. The skinny: The Heat gets back two playmaking-type perimeter players (Jack, a young backup PG to push Mario Chalmers. Daniels, a poor man's Josh Howard) and gives up very little aside from Cook's promise. There are contract options that make this a comfortable move for the Heat. What does it do for Indiana? Blount reunites with Jim O'Brien, the coach that got plenty out of him in Boston. Cook's shooting - Blount's, too - would be tailor made for Indiana's inside-out system. The moves would also settle the point guard logjam in Indiana and also give first-round pick Brandon Rush a chance to develop faster.

DEAL 3: This one hurts because I truly respect what Udonis Haslem means to this team. He's taken over Marc gasol for Zo as the heart and soul of the organization. However, trade Haslem and the 43rd pick to Memphis for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. The skinny: Again contract options on both Conley and Gasol give the Heat an out if necessary. But Conley, who could use a fresh start after a turbulent two years in Memphis, is another young guard who could challenge Mario. The Griz could also use the 43rd pick to take a point guard, move O.J. Mayo to the point or bring in a veteran with their cap space. Gasol is a skilled, big body and a banger. But if the Griz take Hasheem Thabeet at No. 2 tonight, there won't be room for Thabeet, Darko and Gasol. Haslem would give the young and promising Grizzlies the proven, rugged, veteran power forward who brings a winner's resume. This deal also opens the gates for Michael Beasley to take over in Miami at forward. Haslem has an expiring contract and could also consider coming back to his hometown team a year from now.

Pat might possibly have a lot on his plate tonight. Or, he could stand pat and maintain the patient approach, with a focus squarely on 2010.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Michael Beasley Unplugged

Plenty of good leftover nuggets on Heat forward Michael Beasley that didn't make it into today's story.

For those who many not have seen it yet, I had a chance to catch up with Beas during what has been a Beasley Intro pretty eventful stretch as he prepares for his second NBA season. He's going through a position change on the court and a transformation off it, with the birth of his daughter last month.

Anyway, here's more Beasley fodder - uncut - for you to digest.

(On his conditioning program ...) "I'm just staying in shape. The first part of the summer for me is more screen work and ball-handling. I'm just getting my wind back where I can go hard for 48 minutes, running up and down and playing five on five. Trying to gain weight, it's hard to do. It's tough, because gaining weight and trying to stay mobile - it's hard. Especially because I've been sick recently."

(Sick? What happened?) "It's flu-like symptoms, but I'm getting better now. It stopped me from working out for a couple of days. It wasn't as bad as the last time (Beasley said he lost about 10 pounds in three days during the season. He said at the time, that he caught the flu from his dog, remember?). But it was bad. I couldn't get out of bed to work out. But it was just a summer-time cold. I'm going to get my weight up and stay in the gym. That's the main focus, just trying to get back and keep my quickness because you can't play on the perimeter at such a high weight."

(Pat Riley said you'll be a 3-4 hybrid next season) "I'm just going to be a basketball player. It's a lot of different players who can play the 5, 4, 3, 2 and the 1. LeBron James, D. Wade, it doesn't matter what they play. They do it all. They play basketball. I don't think great players really have a position. I just want to do whatever I need to do to stay on the floor."

(Looking back, what's the biggest adjustment you had to make to the NBA) "That's a tough question. The biggest thing for me, looking back, was getting your mind and body right. Just to continue to perfect the things you already know. But flying at 3 and 4 in the morning, and then having to play the next day, if you're mind isn't there, you're not mentally right, you can't perform the way you want. To get through the draft, just handle the limelight. Because it will be a lot more at this level. But you have to expect the unexpected. You have to always be ready for things you don't really see."

Beasley Interview (How are you adjusting to fatherhood?) "Mikaiya, she's a month old now and she's already 14 pounds and 25 inches long. She already has the shoe size of a 1-year-old. How do I know this? Because she's already got more shoes than I have. Every shoe I get (He has an Adidas contract), I make sure she gets some, too. But she's got Nike, Adidas, Levi - all of them. Her wardrobe is mean, too. Already. I'm trying not to spoil her. I just can't help it."

(You have consultants, but you haven't had an agent in a year. Have speculation and trade rumors forced you to think about getting an agent to represent you?) "I've reconsidered it a lot. I have. I thought about it. But I don't really have any business deals right now. My contract is not up. I don't really see the need to pay somebody to do those things for me when I don't have any of those deals right now. I don't want to spend my money like that. I talk to people I need to talk to. When the time comes, I'll get an agent."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Quinn's In, Now What?

Heat reserve point guard Chris Quinn did the expected Tuesday and elected to pick up the $1.1 million option to return to the team next season. Chris Quinn

No biggie there. But what on the surface appears to be a minor move does have a major impact on the Heat's salary structure and could affect plans moving forward.

Pat Riley and the Heat are now operating in new territory. Luxury tax territory now that Quinn's opted in. What that means, according to Riley, is that the team officially moved about $800,000 above the league's punitive threshold for excessive payrolls. That amount was set at $71.2 million for the 2008-09 season.

Now, anything the Heat does from a financial perspective will cost twice as much. So if Miami truly was about $300,000 below the tax before Quinn opted in, it is now about $1.6 million in luxury territory.

The Heat expected to be here. But where it goes from here is the bigger question. The team now has two point guards committed to next season in Quinn and second-year player Mario Chalmers. Is that enough to get Miami through another season?

That answer was revealed during the playoff series loss to Atlanta. But Riley also has said he would be Jason Kidd reluctant to spend the team's mid-level exception to acquire help at point guard. That is unless Dwyane Wade elects to extend his contract next month to put a rush job on the roster renovation plans.

But as it stands now, the Heat will have the same point guard depth issues that it had last season. I asked Riley the other day if he would be willing to go after Jason Kidd, Allen Iverson, Jamaal Tinsley or any of the more proven point guards who will be available this offseason.

This was his answer: "We have a mid-level, and anybody I want is going to want more than the mid-level. I don't think that there's anybody on that list that's a perfect fit for us, for what it's going to cost. We can't afford to spend right now. I'm not saying we won't. But you have to have an out."

Chalmers may very well take his game to another level next season. By all accounts, the staff has been pleased with his offseason progress. But beyond that, there's Quinn. Between now and the start of the Mario-magic season, the point of the problem will continue to be the problem at the point.

Riley says the Heat needs an out (a way to get out of the deal in time for 2010, because the mid-level must be spent on a two-year contract) if it were to go after help at the point.

But for now, the Heat is largely out of options because it is officially out of below-the-tax money.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Between Riley and Reality

Pat Riley didn't sugarcoat things on Thursday.

He wants nothing more than to see Dwyane Wade return his affection - this summer. He wants nothing Wade-Riley more than for Wade to receive the paperwork on that contract extension on July 12 and fax it right back to AmericanAirlines Arena with his signature.

But Riley is also aware of the reality. And frankly, for as much as Dwyane Wade wants to retire as a member of the Heat, the better business decision is for him to delay his commitment (paperwork, at least) until next offseason.

Wade becomes a free agent on July 1, 2010. He could bypass that process and extend his contract as early as July 12, 2009. That leaves him about three weeks away from having to make a sensitive call.

The truth of the matter is that Wade won't necessarily hurt Pat Riley's feelings if he passes up extending his contract this season and waiting until next summer. Riley has already braced himself for that reality.

That's why the message from Riley out of the executive glass tower on Thursday was this: His hands are tied until the official commitment comes from Wade. 

What that means is this: Jermaine O'Neal, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem or any other meaningful chip the team has for potential trades won't be going anywhere until the Heat is certain Wade is here for the long term.

So all you have to do to introduce yourself to the 2009-10 Heat team is brush off the program from the final two months of the 2008-09 season. The faces will be the same.

But this is not all about Wade. The Heat is in a tight spot. It's up against the tax already, with the 13 players who are under contract, who are likely to execute options or who have been extended qualifying offers. There is little wiggle room for anything - or anyone - else at this stage.

Mike and Mario That Heat team that finished the season was good enough to win 43 games and make the playoffs. The expectation, the hope, is that the team comes back and gets to 50 victories and beyond the first round.

Riley insists he still loves the idea of what this current team can become, with a healthy Jermaine O'Neal, another dose of D. Wade in his prime and the continued development of Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook.

"I don't want to make a change for the sake of change," Riley said Thursday. "Keeping this team together just might be the answer until we get to (2010)."

Until Wade offers his autograph on either an extension this summer or a new contract next summer, this is as good as it's going to get.  

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Training Camp Already

Apparently, the offseason for the Miami Heat lasted for all of about two weeks.

If it isn't training camp already, it certainly seemed like it Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat-Teamstretch championship champagne isn't even dry on Kobe Bryant's jersey yet. But the Heat is already in a full sweat. Moments after draft prospects (which included University of Miami standout Jack McClinton) walked off the practice courts at AmericanAirlines Arena, several Heat players came bursting through the doors to start their workouts.

Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Daequan Cook, Joel Anthony and Jason Richards (an undrafted free agent last season who sustained a season-ending knee injury) were all on the court. It may as well have been a Wednesday in February.

Word is, the Heat has had almost all of its players in for voluntary workouts in recent weeks. Dwyane Wade was in last week. Jermaine O'Neal was in for a two-week stretch recently. Michael Beasley has been in. About the lone exceptions have been Mark Blount, Luther Head, Jamaal Magloire and Chris Quinn, who are either free agents or have yet to execute contract options to return next season.

SpoPractice "The guys have had about a month off, and they're just eager to get back into the gym," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the bad taste the first-round playoff loss to Atlanta left. "We went through the evaluation process with each one of our guys, and we had to be really honest with ourselves. We're approaching this as if this is the team, these are the guys, who are going to be here. We have to take an organic approach to improving this team. It's from the inside out."

Players are working out four times a week, from Monday through Thursday.

A few updates and Heat tidbits to get you through the offseason drought ...

- Beasley appears to be adjusting well to the initial stages of his conversion from power forward to small forward. The team plans to continue to play him at both positions, which is why Beasley is being strongly encouraged to put on about 10 pounds this offseason. He will add the weight yet improve his quickness and versatility. He also won't have a shortage of motivation. Beasley will likely find himself on the outside looking in when it comes to a spot at the USA training camp. The team will bring together 24 of the top first, second or third-year players to form a pseudo pipeline for future USA national teams. Judging by the names that have emerged, it looks like USA basketball went out of its way to pick around Beasley.

- Yes, Wade has been invited to the White House to meet with President Obama. But he's not the only Heat basketball team member doing big things in big places. Erik Spoelstra has been invited to the Philippines with NBA officials and the State Department to participate in a basketball clinic among other things as part of a humanitarian project. Spoelstra, who is of Filipino decent, will leave late next month. Also, assistant coach Bob McAdoo was tabbed earlier this month to go to China to participate in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program.

- Like Beasley, James Jones has also been challenged to bulk up and add some versatility to his game. The Heat's top free-agent pickup from last season was signed to add deep shooting to the roster. But there are concerns that he became too one-dimensional when he finally got healthy last season. A counter concern among several players, however, was that there were limited opportunities to do much other than stand and wait for Wade to make his moves. Perhaps it might all lead to more of a motion offense to help offset those moments of stagnation that led to plenty of empty possessions when Wade didn't deliver home run plays to beat the shot clock.

-After last season's coaching staff shakeup, with Riley stepping away from the bench and the addition of two assistants, the Heat doesn't expect to make any more moves this offseason. Wade likes working with assistant Dave Fizdale, who essentially took over handling Wade's numerous, lengthy and often late-night workouts. Spoelstra had that job of being Wade's sparring partner until he was promoted.

-Mario Chalmers said he felt "good pressure" when Riley called him into the office after the season and Mario showed him a board that contained all of the league's starting point guards and top backups. Riley then told Chalmers not to give him a "reason to trade for any of those guys." A few days later, Chalmers was already back in the gym trying to make major improvements from a solid but inconsistent rookie season. "I'm all for whatever is going to help this team," Chalmers said. "But I know I can help this team, and feel this is my spot. I'm the point guard and I'm not going to give that up."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wade to Wait on Extension?

Heat guard Dwyane Wade has always talked about keeping his free agency options open when pressed on the subject of his opportunity to extend his contract with the Heat less than a month from now.

But his comments on a Chicago sports talk show strongly suggested that Wade will take the patient WADE-Confused approach and ultimately make a decision on his future next year instead of next month.

According to a story posted on the Chicago Sun-Times website, Wade appeared on ESPN 1000's "Waddle and Silvy" show Tuesday and was asked about his future. Wade went on the show, among other reasons, to promote his fundraising ventures this week through his Wade's World Foundation.

But the juicy part of the interview came when Wade was asked about potentially playing for the hometown Bulls should he opt out of his contract as expected in 2010 and become a free agent.

"2010, free agency only comes up once. So I'm going to make sure that I think about this and do it right," Wade reportedly said during the radio interview.

Then asked if he had ruled out playing alongside Derrick Rose and starring for the Bulls, Wade responded with the closest he's come to suggesting that extending his deal right now with the Heat might not be in the plans this offseason.

"I'm not ruling out a lot of places but I'm not really thinking about those places, either," Wade said. "Like I said, 2010 is the year when I will sit down and open up my options, and hopefully, I'm still blessed and healthy to have those options and then go from there."

Wade also mentioned several times that he was happy in Miami and was committed to doing whatever it took to make his current team and franchise a championship contender. But Wade also sounded like a player who intends to enjoy the freedom, flexibility and recruiting that will come his way in 12 months.

It shouldn't be considered a knock against the Heat from Wade's camp if he elects not to extend with the Wade-disbelief team this summer. Teams bypass options to extend players' contracts all the time when there's a season or two left.

If it's considered a business decision when the Heat decides not to extend Udonis Haslem's contract, for instance, entering the final season of his deal, it's just as much of a business decision when Wade waits a season to take advantage of the options he's earned.

Wade will continue to say all of the right things when asked about his contract situation and free agency, whether he's pressed in Miami or Chicago. The only issue with that is that for now, Wade is saying just enough to keep hope alive in both his current and adopted hometowns - and maybe a few other places, too.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stand Pat, or Follow Phil?

At this point, it's just a matter of time.

It might not happen Sunday. But it's going to happen.

Phil Jackson is going to get his 10th NBA championship ring as a coach and pass Red Auerbach as the Phil Jackson most successful coach in league history when it comes to jewelry.

Jackson will then have a choice. He can walk away now, and head off to his Montana ranch on one of his motorcycles. Or he can start working on his toe-ring collection. He's run out of fingers.

Of course, Jackson didn't want to touch that topic at Saturday's press conference. With his Lakers holding a 3-1 series lead entering Game 5 on Sunday, there's still a bit more work to do.

"It takes four games to win it," Jackson said when asked to wax poetically on his 18-year journey to becoming the Lord of the Rings. "I don't want to even talk about it until it's a done deal."

OK, cool.

But it got me to thinking about Jackson's run to all of those rings.

He took over a team that already was playoff proud and on the verge of a breakthrough when he replaced Doug Collins as the Bulls coach.

He inherited a mega star and a pretty solid supporting cast.

He instituted an unorthodox playing style that made his team a matchup nightmare for its opponents.

He quickly got to the Finals and won rings.

His team repeated as champions.

After he got tired of winning and needed another challenge, he took a cross-country trip to take over a tradition-rich franchise that needed a boost.

He won some more with another mega star and solid supporting cast.

He bolted when the going got a bit too tough and the losses stopped coming as frequently.

He recharged. And when the losing started to cease, he returned to the bench and won some more.

Yes, we're talking about Phil Jackson. But this could very well describe Pat Riley. Both are arguably the greatest coaches of the modern-era NBA. But who's No. 1? Who's No. 2?

Pat Titles Both caught tremendous breaks on the way to Hall of Fame greatness.

Both survived bitter-sweet runs with Shaquille O'Neal.

Both faced questions about their coaching ability, under the suggestion that all they had to do was roll the ball out and collect rings with the rosters they've been blessed to coach.

The truth is Jackson will likely never get all the credit he might deserve because he rode on the handlebars of teams pedaled by Michael Jordan, Shaq and Kobe Bryant.

The truth is the same could be said about Riley, who took in a young Magic Johnson, a still ultra-productive Kareem and a Worthy in his prime before he left to hit up Pat Ewing in New York and Dwyane Wade and Shaq down in Miami.

"I don't know a great coach who ever won a title with a bunch of scrubs," Bryant said Saturday.

On the subject of rings, it's no debate. Phil will double Pat's stash in the next day or so.

But who goes down as the better coach? Which of the two could take over, say, the Charlotte Bobcats right now and get the most out of the minimum with which he had to work?

Are Phil and Pat great coaches who took the incredible talent they had to a championship level?

Or did they hitch-hike their way into great jobs with great players, eventually take over the pedaling themselves and become legends as a result?

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Riley (Reacts to) Rumors Run Amuck (Updated)

So let's see if I have this straight.

Pat Riley just might be willing to part ways with his slice of private paradise, part ownership of the Miami Wade-Riley Heat, total control of basketball operations and the stewardship of Dwyane Wade to go to Cleveland?

That's the kind of nonsense you woke up this morning having to contemplate thanks to blog nonsense, senseless speculation and - frankly speaking - wishful thinking coming out of a couple of websites, including the New York Daily News.

According to these latest rounds of rumors, the Cavaliers are supposedly upset with Mike Brown's tank job as coach during Cleveland's loss to Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals. It matters not that he was coach of the year this season after the Cavs won 66 games.

It doesn't matter that he has the support and trust of LeBron James. It doesn't matter that Riley is retired and has convinced himself once and for all (he insists) that he's done with coaching.

Riles is supposed to leave South Beach for the Great Lakes, ditch Wade for James, replace Brown and do for Cleveland what he did in leading Miami to the NBA title in 2006.

Except for one thing. It ain't happening. Unless, maybe, he could somehow convince Wade to join him.

Through a team spokesman, Riley said Thursday that any notion of him going to Cleveland - or anywhere else for that matter - is "a complete fabrication." Riley went on to say that he "is happy where" he is and has "no plans to go anywhere else."

Daily News writer Frank Isola is one of the more respected NBA reporters out there. But he's waaaaayyy out there on this one. Isola couldn't be Ice-colda with this Riley to Cleveland fiction. In fact, the closest Riley will get to Quicken Loans Arena is when - or if - he ever drops by the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame to take in that Bruce Springsteen exhibit.

Mike Brown Don't get me wrong, Riley gets a kick out of this type of stuff. Rumors that he will swoop in and rescue a franchise, deliver a title and apply his infinite wisdom tend to stroke a man's ego.

After all, Riley didn't step away from the bench after the Heat's dismal, injury-riddled 15-win seasons a year ago because he didn't think he could still do the job. He walked away because he no longer wanted to do it and couldn't have departed at a better time, with the Hall of Fame induction on tap months later.

Still, this is the second time in a matter of months Riley's name supposedly had surfaced in a coaching search. Remember the Wizards reportedly came calling in search of a replacement for Eddie Jordan? That was until Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld came out and said he never dialed Riley's digits.

If Riley ever wanted to coach again, he'd simply Van Gundy current coach Erik Spoelstra. He'd convince the single and child-less Spoelstra that it's time to build a family he'd need to spend more time with.

As outlandish as that sounds, it's more likely to happen next season than Riley barking out defensive instructions to LeBron James in Cleveland.

Riley is always full of surprises, but his recently stated itinerary had three items on the agenda.

Lock up Dwyane Wade to a long-term contract either this summer or next.

Sign a mega-star Wade can partner with for another title run within the next two seasons.

And ride off into the sunset in one of his vintage cars, headed for retirement in Southern Cal. Now, if you hear any rumors about Riley replacing Tim Floyd at USC, then it might be time to worry.

Just kidding. I think.

See how easy it is to start a slightly believable rumor in this business? All it takes is a blog, an NBA credential and an agenda.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)



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