Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heat Roster Reality (TV)

Fourteen down. One to go. Why not do a reality show? Big 3 Hype

Is there any other way this offseason for the Miami Heat can grow any more outstanding - or outlandish? With 14 guaranteed contracts on the books, one short of the limit NBA teams can carry into the season, wouldn't it be cool in this reality TV-crazed society if the Heat hosted the ultimate show for its final roster spot?

I can't even take credit for the idea. It came from one of the hundreds of emails and questions that have found the email in-box in recent weeks. I laughed it off immediately.

And then, I thought. Hmm. It's not as if the Heat can do anything to further tick off anyone outside of Miami at this point. That limit has been reached. And it's not as if LeBron, Bosh and D-Wade would object to the idea. They'd embrace sitting at the table and scouting the talent in Simon, Randy and Paula fashion.

And there's only one man walking around these days who's trumped The Donald when it comes to Big Boss Man swagger this offseason: Patrick J. Riley.

And it isn't as if the TV cameras haven't been already following Bosh, LeBron and Dwyane around all summer anyway - with speculation of some end-all, be-all documentary ultimately taking shape.

T-MacStack The Heat has done big and bold things all summer, from bringing together the top three free agents on the market, to rolling them out like rock stars in that hyped-up press conference to dismissing its sales department after season tickets were sold out.

 So why not end the summer with a bang. Go HBO Hard Knocks style?

 Set up a week-long minicamp. Invite Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Jerry Stackhouse, Penny Hardaway, Rubin Patterson, Larry Hughes, Darius Miles, Earl Barron, Mikki Moore, Kwame Brown, some second-round draft picks and whoever else is out there to Miami.

It's not as if South Beach can't make room for one more ex-star-studded reality show?

Let's get these former All-Stars, comeback-minded veterans and well-beyond-their prime ballers in one gym and put them on the court with Pat Beverley, Kenny Hasbrouck, DeSean Butler, Jarvis Varnado and Garret Siler (members of the Heat's summer league team).

The last man standing gets a guaranteed contract.

Hold the workouts at AmericanAirlines Arena and open it up to the public free of charge. Donate Big 3 Stage concession sales to the Summer Groove charities. Donate a portion of the TV rights to Haiti relief.

Is there a better way to decide the 15th and final spot on the Heat's roster? Is there a more fitting way to  end the offseason for Miami and prepare for the circus that training camp is going to be from a media standpoint?

Don't think so.

Considering how this season might play out for the Heat, just ask yourself this: Would you rather be the sixth man with the Sacramento Kings or the 15th man on Miami's roster?

Thought so.

Now get ESPN, HBO, Showtime or BET on the line.

Of course, it will never happen. But how crazy would that be?

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/WallaceNBAHeat. 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 priley@whyinhellwouldItaketheseemailsfromfans.com

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

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 99, Sixers 95

The Heat flirted with disaster. But when the time came to put up or shut up, Miami remained committed toSixers-Heat-main its winning ways of late.

For three and a half quarters, the Philadelphia 76ers did everything in their power to end the Heat's longest winning streak of the season and douse the hottest team in the league. That plan backfired when Dwyane Wade finally woke up, when Dorell Wright refused to cool off and when the Heat's bench didn't bow down.

Sure, there were quite a few questionable calls that went in the Heat's favor. But that's what happens when things are going your way, especially at home. After sputtering for most of the game, the Heat managed to get rolling just in time to escape with a 99-95 victory against the Sixers at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Wade and the starters were off. But the bench provided a major boost to extend the Heat's winning streak to nine games. That streak matches the nine-game run the Heat went on during the 2006-07 season. It was a tough, tough victory. But, as Wade said afterward, this team is finding a way to win even when it doesn't exactly play at its best level.

"As much as we would all love for it to be pretty all the time, it's not going to be that way," Wade said. "We struggled. But the important thing is we found a way to win."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: This wasn't going to be another of those 30 or 40-point nights for Wade. That was evident almost from the start. Wade missed his first four shots, was scoreless in the first quarter and was limited to eight points into the third quarter. His layups were rolling off the rim, his jumper wasn't with him, his rhythm was left in Minnesota. But then he summoned enough with his aggressive play to help push the Heat to victory. Had it not been for Dorell Wright's steady play, I'm not sure if Wade would have had enough in him to completely overcome the Sixers. But there was enough of a spark in the fourth to get it done. Wade had 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter. He made up for two crucial missed free throws in the final minutes by making two in the final seconds. Wade was 8 of 18 from the field and 6 of 11 from the foul line. Still, Miami survived.

TURNING POINT: That came in the fourth quarter, when Wright drilled his third three-pointer of the period to pull the Heat to within 89-88 with 4:35 left. Wade then scored six straight points to put Miami ahead 94-91 with 2:24 left. The Sixers still had a few more answers. But it was during that two-minute spurt when it was obvious the Heat would muster enough strength to finish strong.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Another opponent held below 100 points by the Heat. Miami has now gone nine Sixers-Heat-Second straight games without giving up triple figures, which is the longest streak in the league. In fact, the Heat has held 15 of its last 16 foes below the century mark, which seems to be the magic number for Miami. Miami outscored Philly 21-11 from the free-throw line. That was a huge difference in this game, considering how some of the calls went in the second half.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: For a while in second half, when the Sixers were charging ahead of the Heat, a good chunk of the damage was done by players who used to be members of the Heat, who were traded by the Heat or who the Heat bypassed in the draft for other options. It started with Jason Kapono, who somehow found the foot speed to beat Wade off the dribble to score a layup off the glass. Then, rookie guard Jodie Meeks, who the Heat passed up with its second-round pick last summer, drove for a layup to put Philly ahead 84-82. Center Jason Smith, a player the Heat actually picked in the first round of the 2007 draft and traded for Daequan Cook (picked one spot later by Philly), slammed home an alley oop to increase the lead to six. Kapono then nailed consecutive jumpers, and the Sixers were ahead 91-90. This also comes a day after Heat cast-off Earl Barron goes off for 17 points and 18 rebounds in New York's win over Boston. Did the Heat give up on some of these guys too soon after spending money and time grooming some of these guys? Or did they simply develop after leaving Miami?

KEY CONTRIBUTION: It's a good thing the Heat held onto Wright after Pat Riley seriously thought about Sixers-Heat-Dorell trading him so the team could eliminate its luxury-tax debt. Aside from a couple of off the court issues, Wright has done his part on the court to show that it was a good decision for the Heat. His versatility, improved shooting and defense were all on point Wednesday. Wright had 19 points off the bench, including nine in the fourth quarter on three three-pointers. He also had four rebounds and a steal.

UP NEXT: Detroit Pistons at Heat, 7:30 p.m. Friday - AmericanAirlines Arena.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 97, Raptors 94

The Miami Heat looked defeat in the eye and didn't blink.Raps-Heat-Main

Instead, the Heat turned a 17-point third quarter deficit around and pulled off their biggest comeback of the season to defeat the Raptors 97-94 on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

At 40-34, Miami is six games above the .500 mark for the first time since March of the 2006-07 season. It also maintained its hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, where the Heat sits a game behind fifth-place Milwaukee.

Dwyane Wade did plenty, but this was a night when others on the roster clearly stepped up to help the team avoid what could have been a momentum-killing vibe the team has been on the past few weeks. Udonis Haslem scored 23 points, Carlos Arroyo scored 8 of his 12 in the fourth, and sealed it from the free-throw line, and Joel Anthony filled in solidly for the injured Jermaine O'Neal.

A loss would have put the Heat in a very difficult spot, with Miami already losing the tie-breaker edge to Milwaukee and Charlotte. Instead, the Heat earned a season split with the Raptors. The finish sets up pretty well for the Heat, which plays its final eight games against teams with losing records and all but out of playoff contention.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade was in a fighting mood. Perhaps it had something to do with his dog, Sasha, being attacked by other dogs while the Heat was away on that three-game trip last week. Sasha remains in the vet as she recovers from injuries that left her in need of a couple of doggy casts. The ordeal clearly troubled Wade, who will spend the team's off day on Monday "at the hospital with her." The man had a lot on his mind. And he clearly didn't want to add to the misery by seeing the Heat blown out at home after its first undefeated road trip of the season. Wade had another of those Magic Johnson-type performances Spoelstra has talked about. He finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists, five steals and three blocks. Those numbers helped to offset his six turnovers. Once Toronto loaded up on Wade, he was more than ready to become a facilitator. That opened the door for Haslem and Arroyo to step up huge.

TURNING POINT: The Heat used a 15-2 run that started in the third quarter to claw back from that 17-point Raps-Heat-Second Raptors lead. Haslem and Arroyo simply took over in the fourth, combining to score 19 points in the period. Toronto simply wilted away and couldn't make a shot.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Miami's hot shooting was clearly the edge. The Heat shot 52.9 percent overall and was 61.3 percent in the second half. The Raptors shot 42 percent in the second half.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Michael Beasley's up-and-down play has hit another dip. He missed 9 of 10 shots and had four turnovers while finishing with only 2 points. It had to be a low-point of the season for the second-year player. He said the other day that he was searching for the player who used to dominate the game in college during his lone season at Kansas State. That search is about to hit a desperation point. It's not a good thing for Beasley that the team is playing so well despite his struggles. But clearly, there's too much talent in Beasley for things to continue this way. At some point, he either has to alter his game or his approach to dealing with this inconsistency. Something's gotta give here, right? Right? The Heat is a much better team when Beasley's confident, loose and productive. The team will need him in the playoffs. He's got a handful of regular-season games left to work his way out of the doldrums.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Haslem always talks about how much of his game he's had to sacrifice in order toRaps-Heat-UD fully embrace the heart-and-hustle role with the Heat. On Sunday, he got back to being the kind of low-post option he was during his days at Florida. Haslem was 10 of 11 from the field and scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. This comes a game after he matched his career high with 18 rebounds in the win at Milwaukee. And better still, this comes with him essentially playing on one leg because of that severe ankle sprain. Everyone knows that Haslem is probably one of the league's best spot-up shooting forwards from the baseline. That's his shot. Has been for years. But he showed other parts of his offense. There was the up-and-under move at the basket. There was also the spinning drive into the lane for another score.

NEXT UP: Heat at Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday - The Palace of Auburn Hills

(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, August 10, 2009

Heat Button Issues

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra appeared on 790 The Ticket's morning show Monday and addressed several key topics surrounding the team as we press through August toward the Sept. 28 start of training camp.

Allen Iverson speculation. Dwyane Wade calling out his teammates earlier this summer. Dorell Wright's latest last chance. Michael Beasley's old/new position. The Heat's direction next season. Spoelstra pretty much discussed them all.

Let's hit the high points.

Beasley: After seven weeks of offseason workouts designed to help last year's No. 2 overall draft pick BeasleyPractice transition between power forward and small forward, Spoelstra said he's reached a decision on what Beasley (right) will be classified next season: "I want to be able to just call him a forward," said Spoelstra, who suggested Beasley wouldn't be tagged with a position-specific title next season. That means, as Heat president Pat Riley said recently, Beasley will see time at both forward spots. Nothing new here. But Spoelstra did offer some insight on how Beasley will be used in roles similar to the ones played by Marvin Williams, Lamar Odom and - to a very slight degree - LeBron James. In a quest to maximize Beasley's versatility, Spoelstra said you can expect to see Beasley initiate the break off defensive rebounds and push the ball up the court. At 6-9 and 235 pounds, Beasley could also be paired with Udonis Haslem or Jermaine O'Neal as the playmaker in "big pick-and-roll situations." From the sounds of it, Beasley will get every opportunity through the first half of the season to convince Riley not to trade him in any sort of blockbuster move that might land someone who would otherwise become a mega free agent in 2010. 

Iverson: Spoelstra really didn't want to go there when asked about the latest scuttlebutt regarding the Heat's interest in Iverson (see previous blog post), who at least remains in the discussion as a potential free agent pickup. A source close to Iverson told me last week that both sides maintain mutual interest but aren't yet close to reaching a deal. Spoelstra said any Iverson talk right now is pure "conjecture" but also acknowledged Iverson's stature and impact in the league. The Heat could very well pass on Iverson. But any talk that Miami doesn't need a player who can produce 20 points, six assists, a couple of steals and be a box-office draw for a team that reportedly lost about $3 million in ticket revenue last season and lacked consistent clutch offense, especially in the postseason, alongside Wade, is asinine. Get that? Especially if it might only cost you a one-year deal at a third of what you're paying Mark Blount, half of what you're paying James Jones and even less than what you're paying Dorell Wright. Ditto for Jamaal Tinsley.

Wade: Spoelstra spoke as if it's a forgone conclusion that Wade will join Chris Bosh and LeBron Wade-SpoNew James among the group of players who will bypass extensions this year and pursue unrestricted free agency next summer. Again, that's been the expectation from the moment Wade and Riley both made conflicting points of sorts earlier this summer. Riley preached patience and a 2010 revival. Wade called for more urgency in the Heat's "get-better-soon" plan. At the time, Wade question how ready the Heat's supporting cast was to help him take the team to a higher level. There was criticism, albeit constructive, of Beasley and other young Heat players. There was a plea for help. Spoelstra said Wade has already reached out to his teammates to make sure they understood where he was coming from. "Dwyane's been great about communicating," Spoelstra said. Spoelstra also said the team and front-office are bracing for what could be an uncomfortable season of conjecture and speculation regarding Wade's free agency at almost every stop on the road. 

Wright: Sounds to me like Wade might have some serious competition for the team's MVP award next Dorell-Break season. If all goes according to best wishes, hopes and plans, Tim Grover might be the most valuable person affiliated with the Heat. Not only is the Heat hoping that Grover can work some of the same magic on Jermaine O'Neal that he did with Wade last summer, Spoelstra also confirmed Monday that Wright (left) is also in Chicago being pushed through Grover's intense rehab sessions. Wright, entering the final year of his contract, has been slowed by knee injuries the past two seasons. The Heat's 2004 first-round pick has yet to live up to the expectations many had when he was selected out of high school, one spot ahead of Orlando Magic All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson, no less. With Jamario Moon bolting for Cleveland, Lamar Odom electing to stay in Los Angeles and even second-round pick Robert Dozier apparently headed for Europe instead of eating up a spot on the bench, Wright still has an opportunity to make his mark at small forward for the Heat. If this sounds like a broken record, it is. You've heard this hit song last year, the year before and the year before that. Is this when Wright finally gets right?

(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)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Evaluating the Heat's offseason

Before looking at the Heat heading into training camp, Mike and I will be doing weekly live chats every Thursday from 1-2 p.m., beginning this week at MiamiHerald.com. He and I will rotate, and try to provide fresh insight on the team throughout the season.

With 10 days until players report for training camp, now is as good of a time as any to assess the team. The Heat has a nice blend of youth and veterans, and a deeper bench. Questions remain at point guard and center, but overall the Heat added several players while making future salary cap space a priority. A healthy Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem, coupled with what appears to have been a solid draft and several free-agent acquisitions should make Miami a playoff team. Rookie coach Erik Spoelstra is in a good situation because he has talent and faces somewhat modest outside expectations. After last year's dreadful 15-67 season, a .500 season and playoff berth probably would be considered a major success. No one is expecting this to be a championship team. The Heat will experience growing pains, but they should be respectable and have far more depth than last season.   

Additions

Michael Beasley: He should make an instant impact and be a Rookie of the Year contender, but there's a good chance he could start the season as a reserve. As the No. 2 draft pick expectations will be high, so bringing him off the bench would perhaps ease his transition yet allow for him to play significant minutes. Beasley wants to show that the Bulls made a mistake in passing him over for the first overall pick. He dominated in college but how will he handle the rigors of an 82-game schedule, tougher competition and the highs and lows that even stud rookies endure? The former Kansas State star has not signed any major endorsement deals this summer, which also could serve as motivation. Look for him to have a new agent by the time training camp starts.

Mario Chalmers: He figures to be in contention to be opening night point guard, but even if he doesn't beat out veteran Marcus Banks and third-year Chris Quinn, the second round draft pick likely will be in the rotation so long as he has a solid training camp. Chalmers has much to prove. He was projected as a potential lottery pick, yet fell early to the second round and was expelled from the mandatory NBA rookie orientation--earning him a $20,000 fine. He impressed the Heat during summer league, but don't be surprised if the Heat try to bring him along slowly in the beginning.

Yakhouba Diawara: The swingman is a defensive specialist, and figures to be part of the rotation. The big question is whether the former Denver Nuggets reserve winds up logging significant minutes and taking playing time away from Dorell Wright. The free-agent addition played on the Heat's 2005 Summer League team, and his development since apparently caught the eyes of Heat officials.

James Jones: The former University of Miami star could become the Heat's sixth man, filling the spot left by the departed Ricky Davis. But he could end up being the seventh man, especially since either Haslem or Beasley is likely to be coming off the bench. Jones was third in 3-point percentage in the league and a nice free-agent pickup from Portland. He will be relied upon to provide outside shooting, and the hope is that he does not leave fans longing for James Posey and Jason Kapono. If second-year Daequan Cook continues to develop, imagine the possibilities if the Heat decide to put sharpshooters Cook and Jones on the floor together.

Jamaal Magloire: The Heat needed depth at center, but one of the biggest unknowns heading into training camp is what the team got in the veteran. He is a low-risk, high-reward addition. The Heat signed Magloire late in free agency at or close to the $1.3 million veteran's minimum, part of which is funded by the league. He is expected to compete for the starting job with Mark Blount, and at the least should provide insurance for the rehabbing Alonzo Mourning, who is targeting a December comeback, but might not be ready until later. Magloire played limited minutes in Dallas and New Jersey last year, and his performance has dropped off considerably since his 2004 All-Star season with the Hornets. It remains to be seen whether he will rejuvenate his career in Miami, but the opportunity is here if he wants it.

Subtractions

Earl Barron: He signed with Fortitudo Bologna of the Italian League, and it's better for both parties as Barron did not factor into the Heat's current or future plans. He tore up the Summer League several times but the main, and perhaps only reason he received playing time last year was because injuries depleted the Heat. His defense was a liability and he seemed too focused on scoring when he got playing time.

Ricky Davis: He joined the L.A. Clippers as a free agent, where he figures to be in the rotation. Davis wanted to return to the Heat, but instead will start over again--the story of his career. For all the criticism of Davis, he was the lone player to appear in all 82 games last season and played through injuries when other players called it a season. His defense was spotty and he was error-prone and often failed to hit shots down the stretch that could have propelled the Heat to victory. The Heat should not have trouble replacing him.

Alexander Johnson: He signed with Bamberg (Germany) of the Euroleague, and will perhaps be remember most for his unfortunate and scary concussion toward the end of last season that prompted coach Pat Riley to say that he wanted the "god forsaken season has to be over with." The former Florida State standout had a limited role with the Heat and did not do enough to warrant re-signing with Miami.

Jason Williams: He also signed with the Clippers, but will have more competition for playing time there than he would have here since All-Star Baron Davis will start at point guard. Williams was in the running to return to the Heat for another season, but it's probably better for the Heat that he signed elsewhere. Riley never called him out by name but when the coach blasted the team for giving up and poor attitude at several points last season, it seemed that one of the players he was referring to was Williams. Although Williams would have provided a proven option at point guard, his departure will give Chalmers--the point guard of the future--more playing time. Chris Quinn re-signed with Miami, which probably would have been a longshot if the Heat had reached a deal with Williams. He had his moments, but the Heat should be fine with Quinn, Banks and Chalmers.

-Sarah

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nucleus Intact (For Now)

If Heat president Pat Riley has a major trade in mind, it probably won't come until after the start of training camp.

Patriley Speaking with reporters for the first time since days after the June draft, Riley said Thursday he expects to enter training camp with the team's nucleus intact. To be certain he heard my question correctly, Riley not only repeated, but placed an emphasis on the phrase "training camp."

What that likely means is a Heat roster than includes Dwyane Wade, Shawn Marion, Udonis Haslem and Michael Beasley would get at least a test run to see how well that core might mesh. Otherwise, that blockbuster deal many of us in the media - and you in blognation - have been expecting might take shape.

"Anything can happen," Riley said after unveiling an Olympic banner in honor of gold-medal winning Heat guard Dwyane Wade at AmericanAirlines Arena. "But I think this nucleus probably will go into training camp."

The Heat opens camp on Sept. 27 and will travel to Europe to play two of its seven preseason games. Training camp trades aren't new for Riley. Last October, the Heat dealt Antoine Walker, Wayne Simien, Michael Doleac and a first-round pick to Minnesota for Ricky Davis and Mark Blount two weeks into training camp.

Riley also addressed a few other Heat matters Thursday.

Summing up summer free agency, a time when the Heat acquired James Jones and Yakhouba Diawara, parted with Ricky Davis, Jason Williams and Earl Barron and re-upped with Dorell Wright:

"The only player that we didn't get that we wanted was Roger Mason (who left the Wizards to sign with the Spurs after visiting the Heat). Everybody else we wanted, we got."

On finding help at center, where the Heat has worked out Lorenzen Wright, Jamaal Magloire and D.J. Mbenga in recent days but has yet to settle on anyone:

"Now, we're just trying to fortify with pieces. We still need help in the post."

Riley also said the team continues to negotiate with restricted free agent point guard Chris Quinn, who was extended a 1-year, $1 million qualifying offer earlier this summer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where Do They Go From Here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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