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11 posts from June 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vegas-bound Beas? The Odds of That

Despite the controversy and trade rumors that continuously swirl around Michael Beasley, the polarizing Beas-V-Hawks former No. 2 overall draft pick doesn't sound as if he's played his final game with the Miami Heat just yet.

Speaking at an adidas promotional event in Spain, Beasley was quoted in a Hoopshype blog posted Monday morning saying he hopes to stay in Miami and plans to play in next month's summer league.

The Heat will send a team of new draft picks (center Dexter Pittman, forward Jarvis Varnado) last year's draft pick (guard Pat Beverley) and lower-level free agents who seek invitations to October training camp.

In many ways, Beasley is playing for his Heat future at the present, too.

Having said privately for months that he hopes to get one more shot to make things right with the Heat after two seasons of inconsistent play, locker room immaturity and uncomfortable off-the-court issues, Beasley's willing to take an unusual step to prove it.

"I'm going to play summer league. Pretty much don't stop," Beasley said in the interview from Spain. "I haven't had any vacation. I just went straight to working out. I feel I can do a lot to improve my game to help the team and take us further in the playoffs."

The Heat confirmed Monday that Beasley wasn't just blowing smoke. He was one of a handful of players team president Pat Riley has been trying to encourage to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, with the Heat opening its five-game schedule July 11.

Beasley and Chalmers are the only Heat players under guaranteed contracts for the 2010-11 season. But that is expected to soon change with free agency starting on Thursday. Miami had also been trying to get Daequan Cook to play summer league before he was traded last week along with the No. 18 pick in the draft to help create more salary-cap space.

Beasley and Chalmers remain development projects entering their third seasons in the league. So summer league is probably a good thing for both. Beasley has average about 15 points and 7 boards through his first two seasons, but still has several more levels to go before he becomes the player the Heat needs.

The problem is, he doesn't have long to get there - and he might have to go elsewhere to finally arrive. If you take Riley at his word last week, when he said Beasley wouldn't be dealt just to create more cap space and that the team hopes to build around him, there is reason for Beasley supporters to be encouraged.

But in times like these - amid the free agency frenzy and desperate push to rebuild teams into title contenders on the fly - it's tough to believe anything anyone says. Riley included. Beasley, too.

For the record, I'm not one who believes the Heat is just plain better off without Beasley. Right now, he's just not the No. 2 option to Dwyane Wade that many hoped he would be as soon as he stepped into the league. But I see no problem sliding Beasley to a third, fourth or fifth option on the team.

If Mike Beasley is your fourth-best player after a free agency overhaul, then that says something about the depth of your team. In that role, he's essentially the Heat's mid-level option, with that $5 million salary he's due next season. Look at it like that, and Beas can be seen as a bargain and much less a burden.

For his part, Beasley hopes to join a Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire next season in Miami - not be replaced by one of them. He also believes Wade will stay in Miami because Wade "already has laid his foundation."

Regarding his own personal development, Beasley suggested his is often overly criticized, although he admits to making plenty of mistakes.

"Everybody makes mistakes and I feel like sometimes mine have been magnified," Beasley, 21, said. "I feel like I'm expected to act older than what I am. I'm not saying that's a reason to do some of the things I've done. But, you know, I'm like everybody else. I make mistakes, learn from them and move on."

Sort through the public support of Beasley and the recent behind-the-scenes bartering for his services on the trade front, and the question still lingers.

Mike Beasley apparently is headed to Vegas.

But what are the odds his next game will be as a member of the Miami Heat - even with the watered down version that gathers in the coming days for mini-camp in advance of summer league play?

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Done Dealin'? Doubt It

After its decision to move out of the first round of Thursday's NBA Draft, the Heat is now faced with quite a Pat Riley1 dilemma.

How, just how, will the Heat entertain its fans at tonight's draft party at AmericanAirlines Arena for the first two-plus hours of activity in the first round.

From what I gather, the Heat has no plans to cancel that party - one that will double as a WeWantWade revival, complete with T-shirt tosses, prize giveaways and a chance to make a personalized video tribute that could be sent to Wade among the efforts to get him to re-sign when free agency opens July 1.

Wednesday's trade that sent Daequan Cook and the No. 18 overall pick to Oklahoma City for the 32nd pick in the second round was a win-win for both teams - despite how lopsided it might appear on the surface.

Miami gets the additional cap space it covets by parting with Cook's $2.1 million salary for next season as well as the $1.2 million the Heat would have had to guarantee the 18th pick of the draft. So that's an additional $3.3 million that can go toward the Bosh-Boozer-Amare-Johnson-Gay free agency fund.

The Heat could add another $900,000 to that fund if Joel Anthony decides to opt out of his contract, with a decision on that clause due today from the shot-blocking center. And Michael Beasley and James Jones also remain in play for potential draft-day trades. Look for Memphis, Oklahoma City, Portland, Sacramento and Washington to be among the more active teams that could end up partnering with the Heat in some sort of transaction.

BeasleyDraft So in essence, the draft continues to be what it was always meant to be for the Heat: A means by which to enhance its flexibility in free agency.

And don't think the dealing is done just because Dae-Dae had departed.

Pat Riley and Co. will make at least one more trade before the day is done - even if only to part with one of the now four second-round picks it has at Nos. 32, 41, 42 and 48. The Heat still has a few targets within its reach early in the second round.

Oklahoma State's James Anderson, the Big 12's leading scorer last season and Washington catalyst Quincy Pondexter could be had in that range if the Heat looks to get help on the perimeter.

Maryland's Greivis Vasquez and Nevada's Armon Johnson could be there between the 30th and 42nd pick if Miami is in the mood for a point guard project.

And although VCU's Larry Sanders, FSU's Solomon Alabi and Marshall's Hassan Whiteside should be long gone by the second round, the likes of Tulsa's Jerome Jordan and Texas' Dexter Pittman might still be on the board under the category of Big Man Help.

So stay tuned. A busy week for the Heat will likely get even busier as the day unfolds. Miami is known for its late-arriving crowds for Heat games.

For once, there's actually a legitimate reason to show up a bit fashionably late for tonight's party. 

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Feast Week For Heat

While the main dish - or dishes - won't begin to arrive for another couple of weeks after the July 1 start of Bosh screaming free agency, today starts what could prove to be the next most important week of the Heat's offseason.

It's not quite "Feast Week" just yet for the Heat. That will only come once signatures from Dwyane Wade and the likes of Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson start rolling in.

But this week more than any other could very well set the table for the offseason makeover in Miami. It's been nearly two months since the Heat's season ended in that five-game series loss to Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

That means you've had to endure eight weeks of sometimes senseless speculation, blogs, chats, Q&As, talking heads, tweeting hands and a lot of other gibberish from those who insist they're in the know. But the truth is, none of us are any better informed about what's about to go down in the next few days/weeks than we were when the Heat's offseason began that dreadful night in Boston.

LeBron seems to be no closer - or farther away - from making a commitment to Cleveland.

Amare is still no closer to casting his lot with Phoenix as he gets some R&R in Miami.

Bosh has gone from Miami to Houston to Dallas to Los Angeles (Lakers) to Chicago and now is supposedly on his way to Cleveland to join LeBron if the latest ramblings are to be believed. But you won't hear that from Bosh because he's tweeting on everything except his free agency.

And Dwyane is, well, still Dwyane. And that's good for Heat fans because he's the only marquee free agent who repeatedly expresses his desire to remain with his current team.

But first, there's some other business to get to this week before the madness begins in less than 10 days.

RIO RE-UPPED: The Heat got a headstart on handling its end-of-June personnel matters when it picked up Mario-magic the $850,000 option on guard Mario Chalmers over the weekend for the 2010-11 season. But the move probably raises more questions than it answers, although it was essentially a formality that Mario was going to be back in tow. Carlos Arroyo, who finished the season as the starter and is a free agent hoping to return, could be the odd man out. Pat Beverley, last season's second-round pick, will also be playing for a potential roster spot when he auditions with the Heat's summer league team in Las Vegas next month. And the Heat also has been looking hard at guards in the draft, where the team has four picks. Mario is either the intended starter at the point or the backup, which likely leaves only two PG spots available for next season. It's a position that must remain a priority in free agency for this team to avoid the merry-go-round that settled absolutely nothing last season. 

JOEL'S JUGGLE: Heat center Joel Anthony has until Thursday, the day of the draft, to decide whether to pick up his roughly $900,000 option for next season or to opt out of his contract to enter free agency. From all indications, Joel and agent Mike Higgins have struggled with the decision. But I'm told that the shot-blocking specialist is leaning toward opting out, a move the Heat expects. At a time when other minor free agents have decided to take advantage of job security and bypassed the opt-out clauses, Anthony is in a situation where he really doesn't have much to lose. If he opts out, the Heat would have to extend him a $1.1 million qualifying offer to have the right to match any outside offers to retain Anthony. If the Heat doesn't extend the qualifying offer, Anthony is free to go anywhere and get the most money he can get. In that event, it's not likely that he would receive much more than what he'd make next season if he simply picked up his option to return to Miami. And if all else fails, there's a good chance Miami would gladly take him back at the end of the summer at the salary number it was intending to pay Anthony for next season anyway. So in many ways, Joel could be in a no-lose situation, which is the reason why he'd opt out.

DRAFT (OR)DEAL: The bigger question facing the Heat entering Thursday's NBA draft isn't whether there's a bigger need, with the No. 18 pick, at point guard, swingman or center. Pat Riley and his staff have certainly kicked plenty of tires along the evaluation process. What the Heat is debating is whether anyone at No. 18 is worth eating up the $1.2 million in salary-cap space next season that could be used to potentially sweeten a deal for Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer in free agency next month. Max guys are going to get max money on the free agency market. But for those deemed worthy of less-than-max money will be looking for as much as they can get. And an extra $1.2 million goes a long way at the Heat's negotiating table when factoring in other benefits such as no state income tax. Considering Riley's fetish for 7-footers, my hunch is the Heat keeps the pick, goes big at the draft and takes a shot at the likes Hassan Whiteside or Solomon Alabi. If there's buyer's remorse, the Heat could still package the pick in a July trade.

TRADE FRONT: And speaking of trades, don't read too much into Michael Beasley's whispers to a former Heat Mavericks Basketball TXMF101 Kansas State teammate in which he suggests he would have stayed in college four years. That's B.S. Mike hasn't stayed anywhere in his life for four years, let alone any particular school. And there's no way he'd go back and pass up the money he's guaranteed to make as the No. 2 overall pick in 2008. This is the same Beas who once said he refused to read a book coach Erik Spoelstra assigned to him because, "There's a reason I left college early, coach." Having said that, NBA life with the Heat hasn't always been enjoyable for Beasley. Adult life and the game hasn't come as easy for him at this level. Still, he's only 21 and has a world of talent and untapped potential. The same qualities that make Mike adorable to cover are also the traits that make him a headache to coach and manage sometimes. This week opens a lively trade window in which Beas could be dealt to create more cap space or to acquire veteran help at a position of need. Although Beasley has returned to Miami for workouts and discussions with Heat officials, he's been given no assurances he won't be dealt. At this point, I'm told Beasley is even bracing for a trade, although he's privately insisting he wants to make it work in Miami and doesn't want Riley to give up on him just yet.

FREE AGENT WATCH: By now, you know all of the big names: James. Wade. Boozer. Amare. Bosh. Dirk. Johnson. But if you look a bit deeper into the free agency pool, there are a number of intriguing prospects that could be added to complement a marquee addition. For the Heat, that could mean looking Mike Miller for mid-level type bargain that would come after Wade and a second max free agent are signed. Among those the Heat could find in the $3-6 million range is former Florida swingman Mike Miller. Miami has been interested before, when Miller was in Memphis. He brings the kind of shooting, ball-handling and scoring on the wing that would fit well alongside Dwyane Wade. There are questions about defense, always have been. But the Heat loses more games because of a lack of fire-power than it does because of defensive shortcomings. Even in a down year with the Wizards last season, Miller still averaged 11 points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 48 from 3-point range.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Answers to Thursday's Heat Q&A

Q: I think Bosh is more than likely somewhere else with a better sign and trade opportunity as opposed to the Heat. If that is the case, I personally would prefer a Boozer/Joe Johnson combination than just getting Amare or Amare with Johnson. What do you think? Also, do we have the cap space, or can we attain it through a Beasley trade, to get a Brendan Haywood, Earl Barron, or bring JO back at a discounted rate to be our center?

Answered 06/17/10 14:33:27 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'd take Haywood, but I'd rather keep Beasley than let him walk for a reunion with either Earl Barron or Jermaine O'Neal. And I'm with you on the Boozer, Johnson pairing, although you'd then certainly need a center presence, which, I guess, would bring J.O. into the equation again.

Q: Great work Mike. Look into your crystal ball and tell me who you see Lebron, Bosh, Stoudemire, J.Johnson, and Boozer signing with?

Answered 06/17/10 14:31:32 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Not sure I can afford crystal in this economy. But I'll look into the knockoff I got from the Opa-Locka flea market last week and tell you that ... LeBron will be back in Cleveland. Stoudemire will be in Miami or Chicago. Bosh will be in Chicago or Miami. Joe Johnson will be in New York. And Boozer will join Johnson in New York. But don't put too much stock in that ball. It was $2 bucks and doesn't have a return policy.

Q: Is Ricky Williams Smoking Ganja again? Or, just Mr. Ross? They both are predicting the Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl next season. Do you think the Dolphins are capable of playing in the Super Bowl next season?

Answered 06/17/10 14:28:24 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've reached the wrong Q&A. Press "0" for Jeff Darlington, Dolphins beat writer.

Q: Hi Michael, if Lebron and Wade team up and say Bosh decides to go for LAL who would be a better choice Boozer, Amare (most like not since he wants max contract) and I think Scola is available? Tnx.

Answered 06/17/10 14:27:13 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: In that scenario, I'd have to go with Boozer because he'd be cheaper and plus he's a better spot-up shooter than Amare. Playing alongside attack-the-basket players such as LeBron and Wade would create plenty of open looks for kick-out, mid-range jumpers. That's Boozer's game, in addition to his rebounding.

Q: hey mike when july 1 is here how long do u think it will take before the fireworks begin and in your expert opinion what do u think is a realistic scenario for the heat also if we can't build the team with sign and trade and we have to sign free agent directly which will prevent us to go over the 56 millions cap this year isn't it better to keep beasley for one more years and see how it works around 2 stars and then go all out in the next free agency when mr arisson will be able to go over the cap and finish to build a championship team cause i don't know how much over the lakers and celtics are but it doesn't looks like u can make it to the final round with a cheap salary team by the way when was the last time that a team won the champs and stayed under salary cap rule if it ever happen ? thank you for your time

Answered 06/17/10 14:25:37 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I really wish I had the answers. But I don't. I have educated and slightly-informed opinions. But Pat Riley is better than just about anyone in the league at keeping things close to the vest, despite being in on just about every available player. My guess is that Miami will end up with either Bosh or Stoudemire, make a strong play for Gay, look for a veteran pg in a trade, use at least two of its four draft picks to fill out roster spots and convince a proven league vet or two to come on board for a shot to contend in the East and unseat Boston and a weakened Orlando/Cleveland/Atlanta for a shot at the Finals.

Q: Just read somewhere that not only is Amare here but Rudy Gay is here with him working out this summer. Can you envision the Heat signing Amare and sign-and-trading Beasley/Cook for Gay? I think Gay, Wade, and Amare would be a great core if the Heat cannot land LBJ/Bosh.

Answered 06/17/10 14:22:56 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: That certainly would be the most explosive 2, 3, 4 trio in the league in my opinion. But I'm not sure the Grizzlies will allow Gay to walk this summer. If Gay doesn't want to be there, which I'm told he doesn't and wants out, he might have to take the one-year qualifying offer and then wait for unrestricted free agency next year - or a trade at the Feb. deadline.

Q: Good day mate! At least Amare was honest that he is NOT signing any contract that is not a maximum deal. 1st question is do you think he deserves one? Because I don't think so, I'd rather have Boozer if Amare's asking for a max. 2nd question is do you believe what these max-contract deserving FA's (LbJ, Bosh, etc.) whenever they say that winning is the most important thing and getting that max isn't that important to them? Do you really believe they would sign anything under the max?

Answered 06/17/10 14:20:30 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I don't think any of the top five free agents (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Stoudemire, Dirk) is signing for anything less than the max. I think there are only about 7 max slots available throughout the league at this point. Boozer, Johnson, Gay - those guys might have to settle for less than the max, even though there might be money out there.

Q: It seems as if Bosh to Miami is gaining some steam since he and D-Wade had dinner together. At the end of free agency, do you think Wade convinces Bosh and Johnson to join the Heat? If they do, would be a be top 2 team in the east?

Answered 06/17/10 14:17:21 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'm not sure I'd go that far just because they had dinner together. Heck, Wade attended a tennis tournament with Star Jones a couple years back, but that didn't mean they kicked off a commitment. I believe the Heat would face more competition and difficulties getting Bosh than they would Stoudemire. As far as Johnson is concerned, it's just a matter of how much he's willing to win and at what cost in terms of a less-than-max salary from Miami.

Q: So the New York Times published a article saying that Ray Allen wants to come to miami. It says that he knows Chris Bosh will sign too. So all the cap space for Ray Allen, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Is it really worth it to spend it on them? What would be the line up? Would dwayne wade switch to point guard?

Answered 06/17/10 14:14:31 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: It was the New York Daily News that published the rumor as part of a weekly NBA gossip column. Here's a tip. Only believe 1 percent of half of the rumors you hear about NBA free agency.

Q: will stoudemire go with the heat

Answered 06/17/10 14:12:12 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The fact that Amare is here now working out, has established an offseason residence here and went as far as to get those MRIs at a clinic that just happened to service other Heat players certainly leads one to believe that something is in the works come July 1.

Q: trade Beasley,Jones,Cook with #1 pick to the pacers for Roy Hibbert and T J Ford. Then trade Ford to the warriors for Correy Maggette. Sign Steve Blake as the point guard. Starting 5: Blake,Wade,Maggette,Bosh,Hibbert bench: Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Or Trade Beasley,Jones,Cook and #1 pick to the hornets for Darren Collison and Okafor. Resign Wright. Starting 5: Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Okafor bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike..

Answered 06/17/10 14:10:43 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There you go. Spin again.

Q: Hi Pat-riley! i know that you have been busy to try to improve our team this summer. but my point view is : whoever at the power foward ,rudy gay at small forward,wade,whoever at the point guard or mario charmers and the center spot draft pick or O'Neil. reserve at the bench wright,haslem,patrick,draft pick at center,richardson,beasley or another draft pick.

Answered 06/17/10 14:09:45 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've got the wrong email if you're trying to reach Pat with another roster request. Try [email protected]

Q: Hey Mike, another question, is there any chance or way that Riley can bring Ricky Rubio here? I tend to think that he's not going to play in Minnesota and Minnesota is not going crazy for him, so can Riley work out a trade? If so, can he get him out of his European contract to get him here? I guess I'm asking if a) can this be done, and b) do you think it is a good PG option? Rubio looks like he's got good vision, can get the ball in the post and has a nice shot/range if Wade kicks out to him. What do you think?

Answered 06/17/10 14:07:22 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I won't be sold on Rubio until I see him getting it done in the NBA, against superior athleticism and quickness on a night in and night out basis. That's not to disrespect what he's doing overseas, but I need to see more than a few highlights. I believe Riley would rather go with a more proven vet at the point guard position. Even though J-Will and Payton drove Riley crazy with their attitudes and actions at times, there was a trust factor there that hasn't existed at that position since the championship team disbanded.

Q: After resigning Wade and Bosh trade Beasley,Cook,Jones to hornets for Collison and Okafor. Keep Collison and seeing as the pacers are interested in Okafor trade Okafor for Hibbert and Troy Murphy. Imagine having Murphy to backup Bosh. starting 5:Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Hibbert bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Gordan Hayward,Murphy,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike...

Answered 06/17/10 14:04:39 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I like. I like. But the question you have to ask is this: why would New Orleans need Beasley, Cook and Jones when they have David West, James Posey and Peja filling those exact same roles already?

Q: Hi Michael, hope u'r welle this week, as usual, under the florida sun... i have two questions for you today... first one : what choice would you do if you were in charge in the organisation, for the draft(choices which for you, would have the best sense)? second question: admitting bosh wants to come and Pat riley wants bosh to wear a heat jersey... it looks like a S&T is not so easy to do... so what is your thought about a three or four team deal to get every one happy?thanks for all...and take care. "bonjour de la france!"

Answered 06/17/10 14:03:07 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: If I'm Miami, I simply take the best player available, regardless of position, with the NO. 18 pick. The Heat has needs at every position, considering only two players are under guaranteed contract right now moving forward. Depth was an issue with this team the past few seasons. Having said that, I'd go with a Big with the first-round pick, either Whiteside or solomon kid from Florida State.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/qna/forum/heat_chat/index.html#ixzz0r8XucaC1

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wade Opts Out of Team USA Play

Heat guard Dwayne Wade confirmed Saturday that he will not compete with Team USA in the World WadeOlympics Championships later this summer.

Speaking at a promotional event for next month's Summer Groove, Wade says the combination of his pending divorce case and other family and business obligations will prevent him from joining the team for July's training camp, the exhibition schedule and the World Championship in late August.

"With the divorce case still going on and other stuff I have to do, I know I won't be able to play," Wade said. "I'll do everything else I can to help the team as far as appearances and stuff. I've communicated that with them."

Wade is also preparing to opt out of his contract by June 30 to become a free agent on July 1. He continued to talk Saturday as if his priorities remain to re-sign with the Heat, which should offer him a six-year contract with about $125 million.

Wade has already won two medals from previous Olympic teams. He led 2008 USA team in scoring on the way to a gold medal in the Beijing Olympics. Wade also was on the 2004 team that won a bronze in Athens.

Simply put: The man has put in more than his share of work for his country's national team. Wade said months ago that he was leaning toward retiring from national team competition, but left a door open to reconsider if enough of his USA teammates insisted he rejoin them.

But from the looks and sounds of things, not only will LeBron James take a hiatus this summer, Kobe Bryant is likely to also sit out to recover from all of those nagging injuries he's carried through the season.

After a season of grueling wear and tear on his body, and a summer of psychological stress and strain from court cases and a never-ending divorce proceeding, Wade deserves a rest to recharge with what will be left of his summer after his free-agency business is done. He also has temporary custody of sons Zaire and Zion, and is looking forward to a summer of fun with his boys.

He also addressed these very issues on Saturday.

"I understand that this is a very challenging summer, but a very important summer for me," Wade said. "I just take it one step at a time. And that's all I can do. The best thing is, I'm getting things behind me. I'm able to move forward with my life. I'm able to recharge my battery whenever I'm with (sons) Zaire and Zion. They've been the ones that really kept me afloat, kept me smiling and kept me looking forward to things."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Haslem's Home Visit

Clearly, the gesture was genuine. Haslem

No one can truly question how much the Heat appreciates Udonis Haslem and how much he's done with and for the organization these past seven years.

So, on Haslem's 30th birthday Wednesday, the only NBA franchise he's ever known showed up on his Southwest Ranches sprawling lawn to surprise him with a birthday bash.

Clearly, Pat Riley is going above and beyond when it comes to showing the love for the two most-tenured players on the team. Earlier this week, the Heat unveiled a billboard near Dwyane Wade's North Bay Village residence that was designed like a basketball contract.

Both Wade and Haslem are free agents. But whereas the Heat has every intension and dime of salary-cap space it needs to offer Wade a six-year, $125 million contract on July 1 as its top free-agency priority, Haslem falls a bit down Pat Riley's to-do list.

Yet the public showing of affection and appreciation on Wednesday went a long way in showing Haslem that he's really wanted here. The question is: Can the Heat afford to keep him? Better yet, is Haslem truly willing to take a paycut from the $7 million he earned this season to come back?

With all of the family demands, including taking care of his cancer-stricken mother, Haslem has said his decision this summer is based on being able to supply his family's needs long-term as much as it is finding the right fit on the the court.

This is likely the last relatively lucrative contract Haslem will sign in his career.

And if the Heat truly wants to do what it takes to bring him back, it could affect several other decisions. If bringing back Haslem is a priority, then there's a concrete chance that Michael Beasley is on the way out.

If re-signing Haslem to a respectable deal is truly the goal, then, barring sign-and-trade scenarios with HaslemParty other players on the roster, it would also eat into significant salary-cap space believed to be earmarked to attract the likes of Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson.

The plan of action is crystal clear with Wade, the only other contributor remaining from that 2006 title team.

But the plan remains cloudy when it comes to Haslem and the Heat, despite the clear skies that hovered above all of the hoopla at UD's home Wednesday on one of the classiest days in the franchise's history.

"I never knew so many people cared," Haslem said Wednesday. "In my 30 years, this is the best birthday I have ever had. Who would want to go anywhere else with an organization like this."

Sincerely recruiting Haslem is one thing. Honestly being willing and able to do what it takes to sign him is another challenge completely.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Upward (Draft) Mobility?

The latest workout session at AmericanAirlines Arena had the Heat on Tuesday hosting yet another Hayward2  prospect projected to be off the board well before Miami is set to pick at No. 18.

So that begs two questions.

First, is Pat Riley and the front-office staff seriously considering a trade up in the draft as part of a picks/players package deal? And two, if not, is the Heat so confident in the parity of this class that it is betting players projected in the lottery will fall several slots down the board?

Butler forward Gordon Hayward was the latest lottery-regarded prospect to work out for the Heat on Tuesday. For those in need of a refresher, it was Gordon who led the Bulldogs on that miraculous run to the NCAA Tournament championship game against Duke.

It was also Hayward who missed two heartbreaking shots in the final minute, including a halfcourt heave that nearly banked in at the buzzer for the victory.

What was interesting about Hayward's presence Tuesday is that he is one of at least a half dozen lottery prospects the Heat has worked out in recent days. His audition in front of Riley came on the heels of previous in-house sessions with Kentucky's Pat Patterson, Nevada's Luke Babbitt, Kansas' Xavier Henry, Fresno State's Paul George and Texas' Avery Bradley among other top players.

The one thing they have in common: Mock drafts have them going anywhere between the No. 7 and No. 15 picks. Of course, those mock drafts change daily and aren't always the most reliable sources of team interest in certain players.

But the point is, the Heat is working out players who seem to be above its reach - unless Riley is considering tilting that board in Miami's favor. As it stands, the Heat holds picks Nos. 41, 42 and 48 in the second round in addition to its first-round selection.

The team is all over the map when it comes to draft needs, or genuine interest in the draft at all. One thing's for certain: Riley has been relentless in his pre-draft work in recent weeks.

That work ethic and across-the-board poking and prodding of prospects comes only a month after Riley, in his season-ending press conference, talked about how little he likes to the use the draft to retool the roster and build a foundation. He talked about how the draft - when the Heat is positioned outside the lottery - comes in a distant third to free agency and trades when it comes to his philosophy of molding a contender.

Having said that, there is also considerable chatter that no fewer than four teams in the lottery are looking to deal picks. And the Heat has been know to have its hands or ears in every trade discussion going on around the league.

At a time when all indications are that the Heat wants to create as much salary-cap space as possible to enhance an already strong position in free agency, there could be a parallel plan in place with the draft.

Haward Halfcourt shot Perhaps Pat likes what he sees as he breaks down the class, and is willing to make a deal.

Or maybe Pat is just playing the percentages, with expectations that someone's stock will drop into the Heat's range on draft night and will be worth investing in on June 24.

In either case, the possibility of the Heat moving up in the draft might not be as much of a longshot as the one Hayward launched to nearly cap what would have been the most remarkable run in NCAA Tournament history.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Day Of Heat, Haiti and Healing

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - First and foremost, I'd like to thank the Heat and Project Medishare for allowing a select group of IMG00027 newspaper and television reporters to take part in a remarkable day of service, sacrifice and stunning scenes from Haiti.

There's no way to compare catastrophic tragedy and measure the impact of natural disasters. But what I witnessed in Port Au Prince on Saturday - six months after the massive earthquake that devastated Haiti - reminded me a lot of the heartache, suffering and sadness that followed Hurricane Katrina.

I've now had a ground zero experience with both, and it is something I won't forget for the rest of my life.

There was a lot of good Saturday that emerged amid the rubble of a nation still staggering from the earthquake. There was hope amid the hopelessness. The Heat donated $25,000 through its charitable fund to Project Medishare's effort to build/renovate a hospital that would move patients from tents to a structured facility.

Among the highlights from the trip ...

--Before the flight to Port Au Prince departed from Miami, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addressed his role within the organization for the first time since team president Pat Riley left the door open for a possible return to coaching last month.

Spoelstra said he was given assurances from both Riley and Heat owner Micky Arison that he would be back next season as the Heat's coach.

"I didn't take the way everybody else took it," Spoelstra said of Riley's suggestion that he might be open to Spoelstra-Yellow returning to the bench if a prominent free agent made it a condition of signing with the Heat. "I can see how it's portrayed out there in the media. But I didn't really take it personally. Nothing's changed."

Spoelstra said part of working for "a Hall of Fame presence" in Riley is having to deal with the conjecture.

"He and Micky have given me assurances, but it's not needed," Spoelstra said. "And I've told them that."

--Project Medishare co-founder Dr. Barth Green posted up with Alonzo Mourning in the G concourse as medical supplies and staffers were being gathered for the trip Saturday. With Mourning by his side, Green discussed how the non-profit organization would use donations such as the $25,000 the Heat generated from funds raised during the team's annual family festival.

"This week, we're moving to a hospital we spent the last several weeks fixing up," Green said. "We've got state-of-the-art operating rooms. We're moving all of the supplies and will have the only ICU facility in the region. We're increasing the capacity and will be operating a 90-bed critical care hospital."

Green went on to lay out the broader plan for Project Medishare, which is to ultimately train Haitian medical staffers to run the hospitals and clinics once the buildings are restructured.

--Once Vision flight 401 touched ground at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport, new Heat Community and Corporate Liaison Tim Hardaway was in a full sweat preparing for a day of hospital visits and touring of the region's hardest-hit areas.

"This is something that's not only needed for the people of Haiti, but also for people who might take for granted some of the things they have in life," Hardaway said. "The Heat organization and a lot of people in South Florida have a close connection with the people over here. Hopefully we can help affect peoples lives down here in a positive way, even if it's just for a day."

--In addition to Spoelstra, Mourning and Hardaway, Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay made the trip. IMG00020 Gay, a close friend of Dwyane Wade, contributed to the $1 million Wade and Mourning raised through pledges earlier this year for Haiti relief.

Gay said he wanted to do more than support the cause financially. "I wanted to come down here and see what it was all going to," Gay said. "Some of the things I'll do today, I'll keep with me the rest of my life."

On another note, Gay will be a restricted free agent on July 1. He got a close-up look at how the Heat operates on a community level and even took a couple of the tampering jokes in stride. One of the funnier moments from the trip came when Gay had to quickly duck out before a publicity photo was snapped in which Mourning, Spoelstra and Hardaway presented the Heat's $25,000 check to Project Medishare.

--On a final note from the day-long mission, Mourning left lasting impressions on just about every Zo Photo child he touched and every adult patient who clamored to touch him. As great a basketball player as Mourning was during what should be a Hall-of-Fame career, he's already eclipsed the marks he made on the court with his philanthropic deeds off the hardwood. He's putting muscle behind his money.

The demands on this man's time have to be overwhelming, but he still shows up whenever he's called to Haiti. This was his fourth trip to the country - and he was one of the first public figures on the ground days after the earthquake hit on Jan. 12.

"There's always more you can do," Mourning said as the delegation boarded the flight back to Miami after six hours of the ground in Haiti. "For me, for all of you, for a lot of people involved with this, the work is far from finished."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Getting To The Point

After working out dozens of prospects over the past three weeks, Pat Riley and the Miami Heat summoned Averybradley perhaps its biggest crop of potential first-round picks to AmericanAirlines Arena on Friday.

And the Heat got straight to the point - as in the point guard position.

Kentucky's Eric Bledsoe, Texas' Avery Bradley and Nevada's Armon Johnson highlighted Friday's predraft session that also included UConn's Stanley Robinson, Kansas' Xavier Henry and Fresno State's Paul George.

Just about all are projected to go from the middle of the first round to early in the second, which means in range for the Heat, which owns the No. 18 pick in the first round and picks Nos. 41, 42 and 48 in the second.

The question I continue to ask is this: If the Heat holds onto its first-round pick, would it really use it on a point guard in this draft? Does anyone here have "potential starter" written on them? Can any among them Rondo-run a team that is certain to be anchored by Dwyane Wade and at least one other star player in addition to several veterans?

Most of the crop from Friday's workout answered that question in college. But the NBA is a completely different level.

Bledsoe found a way to shine at Kentucky despite being overshadowed by likely No. 1 pick John Wall and lottery lock DeMarcus Cousins. Bradley was Texas' second-leading scorer behind prolific swingman Damion James. And Johnson was the set-up man for Nevada scoring machine Luke Babbitt, a small forward who worked out for the Heat earlier this week.

So each of the point guards here Friday have experience deferring to other great players on the perimeter, which is a necessity in a city where all things run through Wade at shooting guard.

"I could have gone anywhere, but it's a part of making sacrifices," Bledsoe said after his session in Miami,  Bledsoe-wall referring to having to emerge from Wall's shadow. "I think I'm a pure point guard. I had to play off the ball."

There are a couple of mock drafts that have projected Bledsoe to go to the Heat at the No. 18 spot. But there were a couple of things that stood out about Bledsoe that might be a concern. In a lot of ways, he's Mario Chalmers. Bledsoe wasn't a big assist playmaker in college and he's a lot closer to 5-10 than he is to the 6-1 he is listed. His shooting and scoring ability could make him a special player. But he's been a combo guard - a small one at that.

Bledsoe knows there are plenty of questions about his ability to be an NBA point guard. Based on John Calipari's track record, if he plucked Bledsoe to come to Kentucky, then there's potential to be special.

Bledsoe also said he has spent a lot of time working with Calipari assistant and former NBA point guard Rod Strickland, who molded Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall into lottery picks.

"I worked with Strick a lot," Bledsoe said. "Me and John (Wall) looked up to him, because he showed us a lot at the position. He's been there, and has gone where we're trying to go."

Even though Chalmers started 82 games as a rookie two seasons ago, the Heat has been unstable at point guard since Jason Williams and Gary Payton were at the position during Miami's 2006 title run.

Three different players started there last season, with Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo and Rafer Alston Mario trading the duties. None has a guaranteed contract for next season - and Rafer is not even in consideration. So there's room to address that position through the draft or free agency for the Heat.

What the Heat needs more than anything at the point is someone capable of distributing, defending, deferring and delivering daggers from distance when Dwyane dishes for open looks.

There is plenty of potential among the point guards in this draft - although probably not as much as we saw in last year's crop of Rubio, Tyreke, Curry, Jennings, Lawson and Flynn.

Although Riley might be tempted by one of the prospects he saw Friday, the guess here is that he's still convinced that the best path to address this need is beyond the June 24th draft and in July free agency. Or, perhaps, August free agency - the back end, where bargains could be found to round out the roster after a few major imports.

So this could essentially become a decision for Riley in which he weighs the likes of a draft newcomer such as Eric Bledsoe versus a veteran free agent such as Steve Blake.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An Option If Joel Opts Out

There aren't many things Pat Riley loves more than reclamation projects and the chance to develop raw Varnado prospects who have at least one clear NBA-level skill.

Anthony Mason. John Starks. Bruce Bowen. Udonis Haslem. Joel Anthony.

The list goes on and on.

There's a chance that the next prospect in that line of Heat development projects arrived at AmericanAirlines Arena for the latest round of predraft workouts.

Remember the name: Jarvis Varnado. And here's why. No player in NCAA history has blocked more shots than this 6-9 power forward from Mississippi State. Varnado shattered Shaquille O'Neal's SEC career blocks record and averaged 13.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.7 rejections as a senior.

Varnado was one of four likely second-round prospects who worked out for the Heat on Wednesday. He joined LaSalle swingman Rodney Green, Virginia shooting guard Sylven Landesberg and freakishly athletic VCU big man Larry Sanders, who has a 7-5 wingspan.

Varnado and Sanders are both lean and long post players who protect the rim with a vengeance. One thing the Heat clearly lacked last season was youth and athleticism in the post. Make no mistake, Varnado is clearly a raw prospect who does one thing extremely well. And that's block shots.

He became the first player named SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times. Varnado, who is rail thin at 215 points but has a 7-4 wingspan, also became the first player in NCAA history to record 1,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and block 500 shots.

The Heat saw a similar skill in Joel Anthony three years ago and signed him as an undrafted free agent out of UNLV. While Anthony hasn't disappointed in his development, although his hands-of-stone issues are Joel-Block still problematic on the offensive end, his Heat future is far from certain.

Anthony holds a player option to return next season for about $900,000. If he opts out of his contract, he potentially becomes a restricted free agent who would command a slightly higher salary if the Heat plans to own the right to match outside bidders.

Varnado brings the same skill and is a little more familiar with the offensive side of the game. Not much. Just a tad bit. But more importantly, he'd come at about half Anthony's price. In other words, at best, Varnado develops into Theo Ratliff. At worst, he's Joel Anthony on a deep discount.

And make no mistake, $500K in saved cap space is plenty for a Heat team that's trying to squirrel away every dime it can to spend in free agency. In addition, second-round draft picks or undrafted free agents are not usually signed to guaranteed contracts.

So from that standpoint, the Heat's three second-round picks (Nos. 41, 42 and 48) might prove to be a bit more valuable to the franchise's offseason plans than even the No. 18 overall pick in the first round.

Joel Anthony has until June 24th - the night of the NBA Draft - to make a move with his player option. Depending on how the closed workout went Wednesday, the Heat might have gotten a great look at his Varnado2 potential replacement in Varnado.

That said, Joel has been commendable in his development over the years and ranked last season as one of the league's most productive shot-blockers-per-minutes-played. But he can't - or shouldn't - overestimate his value at this point. Which will make his opt in-or-out decision interesting.

Riley has placed a premium on college players with exceptional size or length who have three or four years of experience. Above all else, he values end-of-the-bench bargains that can develop into rotation players.

He's done it before. He'll do it again.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)



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