Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leftover Riley

Some nuggets from Pat Riley's press conference Wednesday morning that weren't included in the story for the paper...

Riley said he didn't like hearing that the Heat "gave away" the Finals to Dallas, nor did he agree with the concept that the Mavericks played more like a team than Miami.

"They beat us, they took it, that's what title teams do," Riley said. "Every championship team that I've been involved with, it's fashionable to say that somebody gave something away or somebody lost something, or we coulda, woulda, shoulda. But somebody takes it, that's all there was to it. Dallas played extremely well.

"The one thing that I, as a former coach, get upset with is we were a team. I mean, it's fashionable to say that the other team was more of team than we were. That is B.S. We would have never gotten this far without really sacrificing and playing roles and those veteran players accepting rotation responsibilities up and down. We were the epitome of a team."

As for LeBron James' shortcomings in the Finals, Riley was predictably protective of his biggest star. But he acknowledged LeBron can improve his individual game.

"I think you have to take a hard look at it on film and then have a discussion with him about it and then specifically from a coaching standpoint he says, 'this is what we want you to do,'" Riley said of LeBron's play in the Finals. "But you don't have an easy answer for that right now. That's become sort of the flashpoint of this whole thing and I think it's wrong, it's absolutely wrong to lay it on him and it just started to continually compound itself."

As for improvements the Heat could make, Riley said he doesn't really anticipate his team paying to move up in the draft because, from what he hears, nobody wants those picks in the 20s because they come with salary commitments to players who aren't significantly better than anyone he can get at 31.

Riley said he believes Mario Chalmers is a starting caliber player for this team, and he would put priority on adding interior size.

"We would like to get size," he said. "We would like to get length. Joel Anthony has done an incredible job and he will get better. But we'd like to get size that we can put in there, in the middle. I don't know if you're going to get a back-to-the-basket player, but we'd like to get size and things of that nature inside that might be a little bit more athletic with great length.

"We are good enough, we have enough but we're going to continue to try to make this team better. And move forward with that, that's what our job is this summer."

Riley also said he never "really" considered moving any members of the Big Three, even early in the season when it appeared they struggled to play together, and won't consider moving them.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Your Questions? Our Answers

You've got Heat questions. I've got answers. Or at least as close to them as possible. Or, maybe not.  Game5-Rio

But here's a sample of the questions and answers from our weekly Heat Q&A. From Allen Iverson to Shaq. From LeBron to Pat.

Most Recently Answered Questions

Questions 1 - 15 of 1137 (Page 1 of 39)

Q: As a former resident of Miami for thirty years, I don't understand, if LeBron James was a free agent why did he have to sign with Cleveland and then they traded him to the Heat for two first and two second round choices?? This just does not make sense to me. Unless the Denver Post got it wrong, thats where I got the information. Thank you in advance. N. Smith

Answered 07/22/10 14:13:08 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: LeBron wanted to get a sixth season on his contract, and the Cavs wanted to get something for losing him. So that trade was the compromise.

Q: My friends call me Keith, you can call me John.... MW, should we be concerned about our BIGS is looks like most are 6'9", only Z is our only one over 7' and from what I hear he's not a great rebounder? Bell was a big miss, if we lose out on Barnes who else is out there for our Artest type, should this be a concern....

Answered 07/22/10 14:11:55 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There's always Yakhouba Diawara.

Q: Wuzzzz up, Mike..... Can we all stop the, "This is Wade's team" who cares lets just kick some butt.... Why Howard over someone like Kwame, don't we already have enough 6'9" type guys?

Answered 07/22/10 14:10:50 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: It's everyone's team. But Wade has to be the ring leader. And he will probably be announced last in the starting lineup. As far as Howard over Kwame, the difference is that Juwan was fine with coming for the vets min. Kwame still believes he's worth far more.

Q: Will Tracie mcgrady and AI end up on the Heat or Stackhouse?

Answered 07/22/10 14:09:36 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: My guess is none of the above. But I could be wrong. I've been so before.

Q: Is there any truth to rumor the Heat were looking to trade Rio for Rudy Fernandez and if so is that trade still a viable option?

Answered 07/22/10 14:09:05 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The Heat had discussions with Portland on a number of levels. I think Beasley and Mario came into play. But at this point, I don't see such a trade going down unless Miami has another starting-caliber PG on the way.

Q: Hey Mike! I had to let the excitement die down before joining your forum. First I have to give good Pat his prop's for getting LBJ and Bosh. For a minute I was ready to run him out of town. But I hav a problem with bad Pat. Was bad Pat behind the decision to sign Mike Miller and sign him to a 5year deal? This sounds like the bad Pat that choose beasley over mayo. Why not resign DWright?Although i'm happy because he's playing in my area. DWright would've been the perfect compliment for the big3. I could envision a wade,bosh,wright,lbj,ilgasus or anthony lineup. That would've reminder me of the bulls lineup with jordan,pippen,harper,rodman and the other guy. In wright,wade and james they would've given you dynamic wing players that can guard multiple position and is long and athletic. With that lineup you don't need a starting point. And what's up with the suppose signing of juwan howard? The same guy who turned his back on you back in the 90's. I just hope that all this attention does'nt go to the heat especially bad pat's head. We have'nt won nothing yet. And please whatever they do. Do not bring back Shaq!!!!!!!!!!!

Answered 07/22/10 14:08:08 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The five-year deals for Miller, Joel and Udonis are the only things you can question about Pat at this point. But I think, to some degree, you had to get the deals done against competition from other teams that had more money. So the Heat compromised by offering max years.

Q: Dear Mr. Wallace, I'm a coach on the small island of Curacao and a huge Miami Heat Fan. I see these days on the news, that everybody is talking about the Heat needing someone to start at point guard. I think the Heat can start LB(Lebron James) at point, because he can handle the ball and has the ability to pass the ball. He has also been compare to Magic Johnson in the past, as he(Magic) played that position for LA. Also the Chicago Bulls played in the 90's after they send BJ Armstrong away without a true point guard. Now that they have sign Mike Miller and luring Zydrunas Ilgauskas, they can have the following starting five in my opinion: PG Lebron James, SG Dwyane Wade, SF Mike Miller, PF Chris Bosh and C Zydrunas Ilgauskas. What do you think about that?

Answered 07/22/10 14:06:27 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I think LeBron does have some point guard instincts. But I wouldn't put him on Magic's level in a PG sense just yet. My projected starting five is a bit different. I think Miller comes off the bench. I think Mario starts at PG and Joel starts at center.

Q: CAN WE PLEASE GET THE WORD OUT TO GIVE STEVE FRANCIS A TRYOUT sorry for screaming but if Penny is an option why not franchise He has gotten paid so Im sure he would take the minimum to redeem his career and hes far younger than Penny! PLEASE

Answered 07/22/10 14:04:53 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You just did. Still don't think anyone heard you, though.

Q: Looking at our bench we only have one player with possible firepower--Mike Miller. The rest is a mix of solid old and young guys all who aren't known for scoring. If a humbled Allen Iverson is serious about just wanting to be a bench player don't you have to look into it? He's still an expert at drawing fouls. Imagine having Wade, Lebron, and Bosh check into the game again with the other team already in the penalty!

Answered 07/22/10 14:03:58 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: A year ago, it would have made some sense. But after the way things went down in Memphis and Philly, I'm not sure if I'd take that gamble with Iverson. It's far greater risk than potential reward. And I'm an A-I guy. Always have been.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/qna/forum/heat_chat/index.html#ixzz0uR7QyE4v

(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.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vanishing From Vegas (Day 7)

Final thoughts as the Heat closed out its five-games-in-seven-days stint in the Vegas summer league ...

BANKING ON BEASLEY: Had a chance Saturday to catch up with Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kurt Beasley Minnesota Rambis, who sees the acquisition of former Heat forward Michael Beasley as the ultimate low-risk, high-reward project.

"It didn't cost us much to get him," Rambis said. "So it was a no-brainer for us to go after him."

Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, was dealt to the T-Wolves for two second-round picks in what amounted to a cap-clearing move that allowed the Heat to retain Udonis Haslem and bring on Mike Miller. Even the most objective observer could see that Beasley easily has more upside than either of those players. There's a good chance that when his career is done, his production will dwarf that of Miller and Haslem - possibly combined.

But Beasley just didn't fit into the Heat's plans after two seasons of issues on and off the court that led to him struggling to live up to expectations. And in the photo above, he looks just like a player who got traded to, well, Minnesota. At any rate, Rambis says Beasley is a microcosm of the T-Wolves roster. A lot of youth. Plenty of promise. Low expectations. High ceilings. And an abundance of opportunity to develop - even if the results aren't always positive in the win column.

"With his skill set, he fits in very well with the way I want to run my offense," Rambis said Saturday. "I can see him playing a couple of positions. And where he likes to score from is exactly where we like to operate, whether it's two-man basketball or individual basketball."

Off the court, Rambis said the T-Wolves are well aware of Beasley's stint last summer in the league's substance-abuse program, and the potential short leash he could be on in the face of stiffer penalties if there's another violation. But Rambis also said he believes Beasley is appreciative of this second chance to sort of rebuild his image in Minnesota.

"I talked to him a little bit, but it was the day after he had emergency root canal surgery last week," Rambis said. "So he probably wasn't in too good of a mood. We've heard about his issues in the past. But, from everybody I've talked to, there's not a mean bone in his body. Lord knows none of us want to be hammered for all of the youthful mistakes we've made in our life."

Beasley has transitioned from a veteran Heat team to a T-Wolves roster that includes 10 players who are 24 or younger. In Minnesota, Beasley will benefit from two things that were sometimes lacking for him in Miami. Patience. And Production.

In the end, it will probably be a win-win situation for both sides.

"I just see him as somebody who, like a lot of our players, needs time, needs growth, needs development, needs maturity," Rambis said. "But we have good pieces. And I see him as a very good piece to our growing group of guys."

SUMMER SCHOOL'S OUT: The Heat closed out its five-game summer league slate with a 4-1 record after Saturday's 73-69 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a game that featured little drama. With LeBron Shav-Heat James and Dan Gilbert not in attendance, that was to be expected. That intensity and action will come when they meet in the regular season.

Still, Heat summer league coach Dave Fizdale could only think about the missed opportunity. "We were one three-pointer away from being undefeated," a smiling Fizdale said. "That would have been really nice."

The shot Fiz was referring to was the 34-foot dagger former Heat camp invitee Brian Chase nailed for Golden State to send Miami to a 72-69 setback on Wednesday.

But overall, the Heat got solid performances from Shavlik Randolph and Kenny Hasbrouck. Dexter Pittman, the massive center Miami picked in the second-round of the draft out of Texas, came up a bit small in summer league. A toe injury contributed to his struggles. Pittman has the size and skill set to be a solid big man in the league. But he still has a ways to go before he realizes that potential. The next two months are going to be crucial for Pittman in terms of his development going into training camp. But he got the most important thing accomplished this week. He signed that three-year contract.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was generally pleased with the Heat's week of summer league work.

"It was a fun group," Spoelstra said. "These guys really came to work. They were very professional and hungry. They really got after it. You could see that the work they've put in paid off. There are opportunities for these guys, even when there doesn't appear to be one. Some of these guys will break through."

AS THE ROSTER TURNS: Miami made another roster addition official on Saturday when the team announced the signing of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Big Z agreed to a two-year contract worth about $2.8 million Magloire1 - which equates to the veteran's minimum. The second year of Big Z's deal is at his option.

The Heat is also poised to bring back point guard Carlos Arroyo and center Jamaal Magloire on veteran minimum deals. Juwan Howard also is on the way. Those additions would bring the Heat's roster to 12 (Wade, James, Bosh, Chalmers, Miller, Haslem, Anthony, Pittman, Ilgauskas, Arroyo, Magloire, Howard). The regular-season limit is 15.

Miami will likely add another perimeter defender/shooter (In-house options are James Jones or Yakhouba Diawara). That could leave another spot or two, possibly, for development players from the summer league roster. If that's the case, Randolph, Hasbrouck or Jarvis Varnado are among the top options.

(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, July 08, 2010

Landing LeBron

Pat Riley did it. Give the man credit. He placed his bets - and hit the jackpot. LeBron pointing

The Heat has the framework in place to build the NBA's next dynasty. The Heat got a clean sweep by landing the three top free agents on the market.

D-Wade. LeBron. C-Bosh. Or, should it be LeBron, D-Wade and C-Bosh? Doesn't matter. All three insist it won't be about egos and in what order they fall in line. There will be enough to share.

Especially when it comes time to hand out those championship rings in the coming years. Credit Chris Bosh for being the first domino to fall. His commitment on Tuesday night freed Wade up to make his return. After that, the duo put pressure on James to form the trilogy.

Here are some key quotes from LeBron during his hour-long ESPN special Thursday night.

(On the stress and strain of free agency) "This process has been everything I thought it would be and more. I have enjoyed it. It's been a real humbling experience to be in this position."

(On when he made his decision) "I think I decided this morning. But it was day to day. I'd wake up one morning and it's this team, wake up one morning and it's that team. This morning, I woke up and had a great conversation with my mom. And I knew."

(On what led to decision) "The major factor (was) the best opportunity to win now and to win in the future also."

(On opportunity to play with Wade and Bosh) "It was hard to turn down. You have two great players there already. You add me, it's going to be a good team."

(On who will coach this team) "Erik Spoelstra will be the coach. Pat said that. Erik had a great mentor in Pat. I respect Coach Spoelstra and everything he's going to do."

(On toughest decision of career) "It was tough. Very tough. You feel like you let a lot of people down. You raised a lot of expectations also. You have to do what's best for you. I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win.

(How hard it was to leave Cleveland) "I never wanted to leave Cleveland. My heart will always be in that area. It's not about leaving Cleveland. It's about joining forces (with Wade and Bosh)."

(On disappointment after seeing Cleveland fans burning jersey) "This is tough. Very tough. You feel like you let a lot of people down."

(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 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

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.)

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.)



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