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10 posts from July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

OK, so it's O for Odom

In the end, Lamar Odom made the smart decision. He turned his back on a second stint with the Heat. Odom-mad

There certainly is no shame in taking a more lucrative offer to return to the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat was a long-shot at the beginning to get Odom and, essentially, was so at the end. The Heat certainly made this all interesting. But the Lakers made it obvious.

Odom, according to published reports, accepted the Lakers' four-year, $33 million offer on Thursday. In the process, he walked away from a potential reunion with the Heat, which had offered him up to $34 million over five seasons, with the chance to opt out early.

In the end, are you really surprised? I'm not. The Heat did all it could - offered every dime it had available under league rules - to go after Odom. Guard Dwyane Wade turned Twitter into his own personal recruiting message board for Odom's services.

But this is what you get when you've essentially got $15 to $20 million of unproductive salary-cap weight on the roster from previous bad deals and failed gambles. There's not much wiggle room.

It just didn't work out with Odom. So now what?

In light of Odom's decision, how much excitement could really be generated from the news earlier today that Riley is scheduled to meet with banished free agent point guard Jamaal Tinsley this weekend?

How good does Carlos Boozer look now in the rear-view mirror? Allen Iverson would still be considered an upgrade. But after all of this dancing around with Odom, would Iverson really provide a meaningful answer as a lone addition? Nope.

It's all sort of a microcosm of how the Heat's free agency plans this summer appear to go downhill from here. Credit Riley for doing his job and making a serious push for a roster upgrade - even though the effort only became public after a semi-tantrum from Wade about doing more to improve the team.

Riley peeked out from behind the gloves and took his big shot in free agency - one he was reluctant to take at the end of the season because of the team's salary cap and luxury tax limitations.

At the very least, Riley can't be blamed by fans or questioned by Wade for not trying to do something this offseason to improve the team.  

Now, the new plan seems to be the old plan all over again.

The wait for 2010 resumes.

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

Summer of Elightenment

Yes, the wait for Lamar Odom on the free-agent front continues for the Miami Heat.

No, not everyone in the organization is sitting around waiting on pins and needles for that decision. SPO-Coach

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is half a world away in the Philippines, in the midst of a near two-week trip to his mother's homeland to conduct clinics and basketball camps with the country's youth. Spoelstra, 38, returned to the Philippines for the first time in 35 years.

Had a chance to catch up with the soon-to-be second-year Heat coach during a conference call Thursday morning. It was 10 a.m. on this end, but it was 10 p.m. where Spoelstra was speaking from a dinner meeting with various dignitaries and basketball officials.

The conference call was set up under one condition by the Heat: That Spoelstra wouldn't have to address the free-agency frenzy that has engulfed the team amid its wait for the Odom situation to be resolved.

Instead, Spoelstra talked at length about how enlightening this trip has been for him, given the chance he's had to reconnect with one side of his roots some 6,000 miles away. Spoelstra is the first coach in NBA history to be of Filipino heritage. Spo hasn't reached Manny Pacquiao level when it comes to the natives. But he's gaining ground. Especially after this trip, where he's been on the go teaching and inspiring both young and old from 7 a.m. until nearly midnight each day.

"I have a great deal of pride about my heritage," Spoelstra said. "I've been able to reconnect with family, some I haven't seen since I was three years old. To be able to come here - 6,000 miles away is a special feeling."

Spoelstra made the trip with Heat assistant coaches Dave Fizdale and Chad Kammerer. They've crossed the country to speak to government officials and instruct youth, college and pro basketball players. Spoelstra has chronicled the trip in blog entries posted on the Heat's web site. One of the things that surprised Spoelstra the most was the knowledge of the NBA at every age over there.

"They know about the (Heat's) free agent possibilities and trades," Spoelstra said. "So we started asking them questions. Who has the most titles among NBA players? One kid raised his hand and said, 'Bill Russell.' Another said, 'He has 11.' We were blown away by that."

Spoelstra and the staff are scheduled to return to Miami on Aug. 3 to oversee another set of intensive offseason workouts for the Heat's younger players. The team already completed one session earlier this month. 

"The guys are coming back the first week of August ready to work," Spoelstra said.

Maybe there will be a Lamar resolution, with Odom in tow by then. 

Then again, at this rate, maybe not. 

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

Monday, July 27, 2009

Is it Odom or Bust for Heat?

As the Lamar Odom sweepstakes turn, it appears that the Heat's recruitment team of president Pat Riley and star guard Dwyane Wade has taken the sales pitches to Los Angeles. Riley-Lookingup

Word is that Riley took a flight out to Southern California late last week (where he maintains a home), and Wade followed with his second trip out west in as many weeks, arriving last night.

Both men presumably have other business and personal reasons for the trip. But it's not beyond the realm of possibility that they might also squeeze in some one-on-one time with Odom. Wade created another Twitter frenzy last night when he tweeted - and joked, perhaps - that he was in L.A. to bring Odom back to Miami.

This situation appears to be coming to a head within the next 24-48 hours. But even as this episode drags on, you have to wonder what happens with the Heat if Odom stays with the Lakers. If Plan L.O. goes up in smoke, is there a Plan B?

By offering Odom the full mid-level contract, Miami has already shown that it is willing to go well above the luxury tax limit and use funds Riley had suggested earlier this summer that he wouldn't touch. He also is willing to take on a contract that cuts into the precious 2010 salary space the franchise has protected as if it were a national treasure.

Odom-Heat Without making a follow-up move to dump some salary, Odom's $5.85 million starting salary next season would equate to close to a $12 million investment for the Heat, when you consider the luxury tax penalty.

There's no question that Riley has contradicted many of his previously stated positions in this Odom pursuit. But what happens if things fall through, and Riley/Wade return to Miami w/o L.O.?

Is there a fall-back plan to salvage the offseason?

Would the Heat still be willing to use the mid-level to go after help at point guard (where the options range from a reunion with Jason Williams to a reclamation project with Jamaal Tinsley)?

Would there be a pursuit on the sign-and-trade front to secure a Carlos Boozer or Tyson Chandler or Amare Stoudemire?

Would there be any interest in making a marginal, but athletic upgrade such as a Hakim Warrick? And since they're out in L.A. anyway, why not check in with the other team regarding a Kaman or a Camby?

Or does Odom simply represent a Powerball situation - one ticket, one shot at the big stash? There's still time to make smart moves this summer.

But if Odom isn't issued a boarding pass alongside Riley and Wade on the return flight to MIA, might Riley ground all meaningful attempts at a major roster upgrade in Summer '09? 

Obviously, there's a will to get something done with Odom. But will there be a way or effort to salvage this offseason if things don't work out?

With Odom - as has been the case throughout his career - there always seem to be more questions than answers.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wade Heats Up Odom Campaign

Apparently, it's not getting any easier for Lamar Odom to make up his mind between staying with the Odom-Kobe   defending champion Los Angeles Lakers or bolting for a reunion with the Miami Heat.

That's because Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant are at it again, when it comes to fierce competition between the league's two best shooting guards.

And if you think their showdowns on the court are classic, just consider their recruiting skills. Both Wade and Bryant are battling for Odom's long-term affection. Both have taken their pleas public in recent days.

On Saturday, Wade took his to another level: Tweetville.

In announcing his return to tweeting after a brief hiatus, Wade sent out this messaged to Odom early Saturday afternoon on his twitter account.

"This is for Lamar Odom ... come back to where it started for both of us.. the franchise u help build back up wants u to End it all here."

Wade, clearly, is in full-court press mode for Odom, who is weighing a five-year, $34 million offer from the Heat against a reported shorter but more annually lucrative deal from the Lakers. Odom is weighing the pull from one of the teams where he blossomed early in his career against the feelings of loyalty from a defending champion.

"I'm optimistic he'll be back," Bryant said this week. "He makes us a much, much stronger team."

Odom and Wade were teammates during Wade's rookie season in 2003-04. Together, they overcame a rough start to the season, won 42 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Odom spoke fondly about his experiences with the Heat during this year's Finals, when his Lakers defeated the Magic.

ODOM-WADE "I remember how competitive we were," Odom said. "It was a real brotherhood environment there. I guess that's the reason we overachieved."

The irony of it all is that it took Odom's departure to Los Angeles in that trade for Shaquille O'Neal to set the stage for Wade to get his championship in 2006. On the other hand, it took Odom to leave the team he had so much fun with to eventually get a chance to win his ring alongside Bryant and the Lakers.

Now, Wade is campaigning hard for Odom to return so they can make things all right by winning one together - just like they talked about doing years ago as teammates. Does Odom have a better shot at winning his next title with the Lakers than he does with the Heat? No doubt. But that might not settle the signing issue with Odom.

See, he's always seemed to be the kind of player and person who would rather be wanted and happy on a playoff contender than undervalued and constantly criticized on a championship contender.

But therein lies the pull.

On one side, Wade is offering a return to home and happiness. On the other, Bryant is extending the chance to be part of a dynasty. That the Heat has remained in the Odom sweepstakes even this long says a lot.

So which should Odom follow?

His head (Bryant/Lakers)?

His heart (Wade/Heat)?

Or, his accountant (the best deal he can get -  slight edge: Lakers)?

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back (2008-09) To The Future (2009-10)

Back from vacation and ready to jump into the offseason frenzy once again.

Between bumping into Tyson Chandler on the way out to L.A. and Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds on the ODOM-WADE way back, what did I miss? (By the way, I had no problem finding Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in the middle of the night, but no such luck at all in tracking down Lamar Odom).

Apparently not much, other than tons of rumors, pounds of speculation and plenty of trade and free-agency discussions. But no real action when it comes to the Heat upgrading its roster so far.

It's clear that Allen Iverson and Carlos Boozer seem to be far more interested in Miami than the Heat is interested in either of the All-Star players. At least when it comes to doing what it'll take to get them right now. Really, there's no reason to rush with either player.

It's also clear that Lamar Odom is doing his best Mo Williams impersonation. While both players had genuine interest in Miami, the Heat simply represents leverage in an attempt to get the deal they really want from their current teams. Williams was presented the full mid-level - and a replica 2006 championship ring - from Pat Riley two years ago, but took more money to return to Milwaukee.

Odom, after getting the full mid-level commitment from Riley a few weeks ago, has suddenly resumed talks with the Lakers that broke off after L.A.'s front office learned of Odom's flirtation with the Heat.

Moon-SPo Toss in Jamario Moon's likely departure to Cleveland today via an offer sheet Miami is unlikely to match by tonight's deadline, and you can argue that the Heat has lost a bit of ground the past week or so.

In fact, the Heat moved a few steps closer to solidifying a team next season that looks an awful lot like the one from last season, by locking up Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire this week for another year.

Offseason overhaul or back to (last season's roster) the future (2009-10)?

Knowing Riley, this could all change with a phone call or two in the next few minutes. Or not, if he sticks to his original plan of making 2010 the priority.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Heat(ed), Hot & Bothered

Headed on vacation. But before packing up the fam for a bit of fun on these recession-reduced funds, wanted to check in for a few quick takes on the latest Miami Heat-related developments as free agency lingers, summer conditioning picks up and the sign-and-trade season kicks into full gear.

My colleague, Barry Jackson, who has a knack for being in the right place at the right (or wrong, depending on your end of developing news) time, will continue to fill in on Heat issues. Don't look now, but Barry's that stealth guy in the corner over your left shoulder with the notepad and recorder.

Too late, you missed him.

Summer School: Among the young players pushing through the Heat's intensive summer training Dorell-Wright program this week who sticks out is Dorell Wright. Yes, he's still young at 23. But he's entering his sixth season and shouldn't really be in this predicament. He's that old dude in class who was held back. Each of the last three years was supposed to be a make-or-break offseason for Wright, a first-round pick in 2004. And each of the last three seasons ended with Wright - be it injury or otherwise - failing to turn that remarkable potential into tangible and sustainable production. Well, this is really it. He's entering the final year of his contract. I remember when Wright was on the verge of a breakthrough two seasons ago, when he put together a stretch of games when his athleticism on the wing was a perfect complement to Dwyane Wade. And defensively, there was a week or so stretch that saw him either shut down or contain the likes of Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant. Then, he missed a team flight to Orlando, of all places, and was benched. He has yet to get his groove - or health - back. Apparently, this is the final of his last shots to make something of his Heat career.

Carlos Iverson: Or should it be Allen Boozer. Either way you slice it, the Heat could certainly upgrade Boozer its roster by acquiring one or the other - or both. The Heat is among the teams looking into acquiring Boozer if things fall a certain way in Utah. And Iverson was one of the free agents Miami made initial contact with earlier this month. Certainly a Beasley-Boozer-Jermaine O'Neal frontline would be productive for the Heat - even with its defensive deficiencies. And if the Heat trades for Boozer (presumably dealing Udonis Haslem and James Jones to Utah), there's a good chance Boozer, who lives in Miami, would re-sign with the team next season after his contract expires. But I'm not sure I make that deal if it requires giving up Beasley instead of Haslem. As for Iverson, it looks like the Clippers now have the inside track because of their lack of depth in the backcourt and a willingness to offer the full mid-level of $5.8 million on the one-year contract. The Clippers also represent a happy medium for Iverson among his known suitors. They play in a big market (unlike Memphis or Charlotte), they're willing to meet his salary requests (Unlike Miami), they're desperate to be an attraction (going against the Lakers) and they could be a playoff team if things break right. "I just want to get this over with," Iverson said of being a free agent for the first time in his 13-year career. "I thought this would be a fun time. But it's tough. My wife and kids just want to know where we're going to be. I want to get somewhere, get a crib and get it rolling again."

Riley-Wade: Dwyane Wade said the media seemed to overplay his displeasure with the Heat's relatively inactive start to offseason upgrades. But overstating his frustrations was easy to do, WADE-outcast considering all of the ammunition he provided in dozens of radio, print and TV interviews recently. While Wade and Riley both insist there's no rift between them - and there shouldn't be, because both men are right in their own way - there may have been a slight bit of eroded trust. Riley has never been called out the way Wade did last week. And Wade, a top MVP candidate last season, shouldn't have to watch LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Paul Pierce add prime pieces while he's forced to wait on developing parts. Yes, they can work this out - and they will. I've felt from Day 1 that Wade was never seriously going to leave the Heat. This is his team as much as it is Riley's at this point. They stand on equal footing when it comes to franchise credibility. The way this plays out is simple: Riley makes a move or two by the Feb. trading deadline at the latest, Wade opts for free agency next summer and re-signs with the Heat for six years and about $120 million. End of story.

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

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Between a Pat and a Wade place

In this corner, standing 6 feet 4 inches from Schenectady, New York, a 5-time NBA champion, 3-time PatRiley NBA coach of the Year, Hall of Fame Inductee and president of the Heat franchise ... Pat Riley.

And in the other corner, standing 6 feet 4 inches out of Robbins, Illinois, an NBA champion in 2006 and Finals MVP, reigning league scoring champion and face of the franchise ... Dwyane Wade.

If you thought the Ali-Tyson's Fight Night was the best battle of the ages to hit the street this summer, think again. Especially if this little Tit-for-Pat keeps up between Wade and Riley. The two have made what so far has been a pretty uneventful summer for the Heat plenty intriguing with this verbal sparring.

Actually, it's become a pretty one-sided ordeal since Riley went on the offensive on June 18 and said that no major roster moves could be done until he gets a commitment from Wade on an contract extension, which Wade becomes eligible to sign as early as Sunday.

WADE-ConfusedWade, feeling he's been rope-a-doped into a corner by Riley's stance, has since gone on a week-long counter-punching flurry to make sure everyone knows exactly how he feels about the Heat's perceived lack of activity in free agency and trades so far.

If you're a television, newspaper or radio journalist who hasn't heard Wade's side of the story (directly from the man himself), please step forward now. Anybody? Bueller? Nobody? OK, fine.

Riley wants to know for certain that Wade is here for the long haul before he does a major roster overhaul to get the Heat back into the title mix. Wade, who has one more guaranteed season on his contract, wants Riley to make the team a title contender now.

Who didn't see this coming?

For Riley, this was the danger of publicly making everything about 2010 for the past two seasons - almost as if the past two years didn't matter. By setting the franchise's watch on next summer, when there could be a major free-agent class of Wade, LeBron and Bosh, it has made July 1, 2010 the latest coming of Y2K.

And remember all the hype and hoopla and concern and money saving/spending that went into preparing for the world to change that day? Remember what actually happened? Nothing. Business as usual. Bueller.

For Wade, the danger of going so public with criticism of the team's direction and borderline calling out his current teammates is coming off like a player who forgot that he won it all in 2006 in this city, with this team and with this same man guiding the franchise. In that time, exactly how many titles have LeBron, Carmelo, Dwight, CP3, Amare or any of his closest NBA friends won? Again, Bueller.

The truth is Riley probably never should have publicly put this on Wade last month. And Wade shouldn't Wade-Riley have launched his own campaign this month in response to Riley's comments.

But here we are. Between a Pat and a Wade place. Two powerful and influential men who are champions and want the best for the franchise. Wade said as much Thursday during a promotional golf event.

"We both want the same thing," Wade said. "We're just in two different positions. He has to deal with the money side of it. I have to deal with the playing side of it."

Wade also said Riley "opened up the wound" by suggestion that the only major activity this summer would be inactivity if Wade didn't extend. Egos have clashed. Each knows his success is tied to the other. 

Maybe they meet in the middle. Riley uses the mid-level exception to bring in some help now but bypasses the risky and major roster overhaul. Wade bypasses the extension this summer, reconsiders at the Feb. trade deadline and at least rules out signing with any team other than Miami next summer.

They got into this publicly. They should get out of it that way, too.

And as the clock ticks toward 12:01 Sunday morning, when that window opens for Wade to sign a three-year, $60 million contract extension, expect another Y2K moment.

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

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Is A-I The (Heat's) Answer?

That certainly was the question Tuesday. Allen Iverson Detroit

Had a chance to sit down with Allen Iverson for an extended interview Tuesday after his charity foundation awarded two scholarships to college-bound students from his Hampton-area hometown.

From the interview, it was easy to come to a few conclusions. Iverson, 34, wants to come to Miami and likes the idea of teaming with Dwyane Wade and playing for Pat Riley's organization. He's also willing to take a one-year contract to help push a deal through. He also accepts that his options may be limited at this stage of his career - especially after the way things went down in Detroit.

There's also another reality in play here. The Miami Heat's interest - for now - seems to be luke-warm at best, mainly because it might require the full mid-level to get Iverson, a 10-time All-Star and former league MVP who has averaged 27 points over his career.

Iverson's camp believes that if he's willing to take a one-year deal, he probably shouldn't have to accept less than the mid-level exception. Problem is, the Heat is already over the luxury tax. That means the $5.5 million Iverson might command would equate to an $11 million financial hit for the Heat.

Iverson-Shaq Yes, Iverson can still get you 20 points, 5 assists and 2 steals a night. Yes, he's still a marquee attraction alongside Wade that can help fill the arena almost any night and make the Heat a national TV attraction it hasn't been since Shaq left. And yes, Iverson would likely come motivated and with his attitude in check, knowing he's on a one-year deal.

But no, he ain't worth $11 million - not if his addition alone won't make the Heat a serious title contender. Heat owner Micky Arison has been willing to pay the tax if it meant landing a starter or an impact rotation player. Iverson could be either of those things -even on an off night. So he meets the qualifications. The question is how much better would he make the Heat as the lone addition? Probably aIverson-badDetroit 4th seed in the East, behind Boston, Orlando and Cleveland.

Iverson might only be the answer to the Heat's short-term needs if Pat Riley is capable of shedding another contract or two (salary) to reduce the tax hit. He's there to be had. But just how much is the Heat willing to shed to get him? Better yet, just how muc is A-I willing to give up to come?

When it comes to getting The Answer, those are the pressing questions.

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

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Heat's In-House Approach

Somewhere, Earl Barron is seething. Then again, he might very well be celebrating.

After all, he was a summer league legend (as well as a heck of a nice guy during his Heat tenure). And Earl Barron this is the time of the year when the Heat normally heads up to Orlando for the Pepsi Pro Summer League and puts its rookies and young free agents on display.

Only this year, the plan has changed. Miami Heat president Pat Riley has elected to take the in-house route to development with his young roster. So instead of heading to Orlando's practice facility for the start of games there on Monday or journeying out to Las Vegas (which the Heat considered doing), the plan is to hold a few conditioning sessions this week in advance of next week's mini-camp at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Yes, Earl Barron's (pictured right) summer league records are safe. And no, this approach shouldn't be considered a setback. Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook put in too much time last season to have to go through playing in Orlando or Vegas.

And it doesn't make much sense to build a summer league roster around Pat Beverley and Robert Dozier, two second-round picks who aren't exactly locks to make the regular-season roster. So instead, the Heat's youngsters get more of what they've been doing already. And that's working extensively at the practice facility on weaknesses that were exposed last season.

Beasley-NoahFrom all indications, Mario Chalmers is emerging as a leader. Beasley (pictured left, in his summer league debut last year), despite missing time with an illness, is adding versatility to his skill set. James Jones is in the process of putting on 20 pounds to bulk up that wire-thin frame. Dorell Wright (Remember him?) is running, jumping and dunking again. Beverley is already impressing the staff with his relentless work ethic as the first one in the gym and the last one out.

And so on and so on.

Again, this is Earl Barron season. The time of year when there are significant helpings of hope and hype, pounds of potential and promise and workout wonders. Every team's undefeated again. Every player is a candidate for the rotation. 

There's no doubt that Heat players are getting plenty out of the offseason program. And it makes sense that what's done on Biscayne Blvd. will be far more productive than what the team could get out of a week in Orlando or Vegas.

But again, with this current roster - and with all of the movement and potential upgrades elsewhere in the East - will it be enough to make Miami a serious threat in the conference next season?

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

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Pat on the ('09) Prowl

You really didn't think Riley was going to stand pat, did you?

The woe-is-me, wait-and-see approach isn't really his thing. It just isn't. He admitted as much during a Ron Artest recent meeting in his office at AmericanAirlines Arena.

No, the Heat isn't in financial position to be big spenders - or middle-class spenders, for that matter - in this summer's free agent market. But Riley's best work is often done on the recruiting trail and making moves where they don't seem to exist.

Amid several calls that have gone out the past two days to free agents have been two placed directly to Ron Artest (pictured right) and Allen Iverson. The Heat hasn't centered its focus on those two players by any stretch. An all talks are in the preliminary, exploratory, meet-and-greet stages. 

But the fact that Riley is swinging for the fences - or even bunting amid a financial squeeze - suggests two things: The Heat is being far more aggressive on the free-agent/trade front this summer than it suggested. And that could also mean another thing: That it wants to be in position to pounce on a blockbuster deal if Dwyane Wade in fact signs that extension this summer when he's eligible on July 12.

But even if Wade doesn't sign, the Heat still needs to make a move or two to upgrade a roster that relied so heavily on youth last season. Even if Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook improve, and Jermaine O'Neal and James Jones are healthy, and Wade picks up where he left off last season, the Heat might still be the No. 5 seed in the East - as is. At best.

Iverson-Action From a check of league sources Thursday, there is certainly mutual interest between the Heat and both Iverson (pictured left) and Artest. The Heat has been after these two before. But this may be the easiest path Riley has ever had to either one of them. Both are on the open market. Iverson can come  with no strings attached - aside from a potential luxury-tax hit - if he's willing to sacrifice a couple million and a year on a contract. Artest will likely require sign-and-trade help, because Houston would be foolish to let him walk away without getting anything back.

Yes, there are still Chris Bosh dreams and Amare Stoudemire potential realities out there for Miami, which is still operating to maintain flexibility for 2010 in the event Wade doesn't extend and opts for free agency. But the Heat is active on the free-agency front, the sign-and-trade front and the improve the roster now front.

That Don't-Spend-Till-2010 mantra now seems to coincide with a Find-Something-In-2009 option.

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



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