Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eddie's Back in the (Heat) House

Eddie's back again. No, not Eddie Jones. Been there, done that. And did it again. Eddie House (Knicks)

This time, it's Eddie House's turn for a Heat reunion. House agreed with the Heat Thursday on a two-year deal worth the veterans' minimum. The deal is worth a total of $2.8 million over two seasons, with the second season at House's option.

Agent Mark Bartelstein confirmed the deal just minutes before the start of our weekly Heat chat. As we do every week at this time, I try to answer your Heat questions. Or, at least try to provide an entertaining way to waste your time as we search for the answers.

Here's another sample of the hot questions this week...

Most Recently Answered Questions

Questions 1 - 15 of 1187 (Page 1 of 41)

Q: Just read SI "How it all went down," it was more like "How could LBJ do it." I can't understand all this stuff over "The Decision," he made, as if he owed more to the cav's. Since when did a player owe anything to a franchise? As if he can't make up his own mind, he spent 7 yrs. W/ the Cav's getting them further than they have ever been & that's not enough for the doubters. So my question is, what will it take for all the hate to stop, 3-4-5, or 6 championships? Thanks & I love your work.

Answered 07/29/10 14:00:04 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Appreciate the love. And there's much too much being made of "how it all went down." The bottom line is simple. None of it would have gone down had Bosh not come to Miami first. My thought has always been that once Bosh and Wade were on board, LeBron had the easiest choice. The Heat were going to be fine regardless of what James decided to do.

Q: Not Larry Hughes PLEASE??? Hughes offense cost Cleveland the finals. His ORtg vs. DRtg, playoff Offensive Rating = 8 to 10 points lower. A-I, Iverson if he will take a 7th or 8th man role??? J-Will OR sign Jarvis Varnado, with Bosh, Lebron and Wade all scoring in the paint, we can't have too many shot blockers in the middle can we???

Answered 07/29/10 13:57:44 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Good, passionate plea from you. That's a real Heat fan.

Q: I agree with your points of the Heat getting a little more younger and athletic in the 'bigs'. Also agree that the last few roster spots should go to younger talent with specific criteria (hitting open jumper being the most important). I believe either Howard or Magloire will be released to make room for a younger, athletic player (maybe even a Kwame Brown or a summer league guy). Secondly, I believe either Hansbrouck or Lucas III (or both) will be on our roster AND might be better fits that either Arroyo or Chalmers in the starting lineup. YOUR THOUGHTS?

Answered 07/29/10 13:57:00 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Your logic is solid. But I'm willing to wait and see how things develop in camp before making any bold predictions. There's just too much that can happen between now and the end of training camp. I don't think the Heat would have signed these guys just to get rid of them.

Q: Hey brother! I read your forum everyday; I am serving in the US Air Force; so its good to hear good news... I just wanted to know who you think will ultimately be the last two ppl signed for the Miami Heat?... Thanks.

Answered 07/29/10 13:55:32 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Eddie House is one. The other spot remains up for grabs, which might be the case going into training camp. And thanks for following us.

Q: Hey Mr. Wallace how r things going. I wanted to ask since the Heat need a 3rd point guard, do you think Jon Scheyer could make the team he ran point at Duke and is a willing defender and a great shooter. Do you also think the hard-working De'Sean Butler could make the team. Thank You.

Answered 07/29/10 13:54:42 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I know the Heat likes Jon. It was a shame his summer league ended with the eye injury. There's a good chance he'll be invited back for training camp. Beyond that, he'd have to beat out some decent vets to earn a spot.

Q: Hey Mr. Wallace, I am not really a fan of Tracy McGrady, but I must sacrifice my personal conflict for the best interest of the Heat, I feel that Mr. McGrady would provide solid points coming off the bench. However, there are also huge questions surrounding his age and ability to stay healthy, that's obvious ever since... But I feel that He would be a tremendous benefit to Heat. As for his age, he's only 31 and can make up for any physical shortcomings with veteran experience... What is your logic behind acquiring T-Mac?? and What's his asking price? Thank you, Mr. Wallace

Answered 07/29/10 13:53:12 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Well, if his asking price is anything above the veterans' minimum at this point, it's far too rich for the Heat's taste.

Q: who could the heat possibly sign at the point guard position??

Answered 07/29/10 13:52:23 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There's a good chance Eddie House might be the guy.

Q: Hi Mike , I know the Heat is out of money this summer but ,is there any chance that they could run for Chris Paul via trade by February ?

Answered 07/29/10 13:51:44 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: So who would you give up to do that? Wade, LeBron or Bosh?

Read more:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Take 6 From Vegas

Day Six from the Las Vegas Summer League was an active one for the Heat ... way back in Miami. Joel-Block

The Heat officially added three more players to the roster when it announced that swingman Mike Miller, forward Joel Anthony and draft pick Dexter Pittman were signed to contracts. That brings the Heat's roster to eight players (Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Miller, Anthony and Pittman). Two more are expected on the way as soon as Saturday - center Zydrunas Ilgauskas and forward Juwan Howard.

And to think that there were league executives who doubted the Heat's ability to fill out a roster around Wade, James and Bosh. If we've all learned one thing this offseason, it's don't bet against the Heat. But some of the moves are questionable. You can certainly question whether Miller or Anthony should have received five-year deals.

Miller will be 35 when his deal is up. So will Udonis Haslem. By that time, Wade, Bosh and James would probably need an infusion of youth and athleticism on the roster as they push toward the end of their contracts. And here's the ultimate irony. Anthony could be the only player among Heat veterans to have received a raise from last season. He tripled his salary in his new deal with the Heat, which gave him a about $18 million.

Yes, $18 million for Joel Anthony. More power to him. Dude made a nice come up. The Heat apparently had to outbid a few teams with cap space to re-sign Anthony. Miami made his a $1.1 million qualifying offer last month. And the offers just kept rising from there. For this price, meet the Miami Heat's starting center.

SUMMER GROOVE ROSTER: Obtained an unofficial copy of the Summer Groove roster for Sunday's game, and some of the names might intrigue you. Aaron Afflalo, Brandon Bass, Caron Butler, Daequan ZoFighting Cook, Samuel Dalembert, Tim Hardaway, Mike James, Ty Lawson, Darius Miles, Alonzo Mourning, Mo Peterson, Quentin Richardson, Rajon Rondo, DaJuan Summers, CJ Watson and Dorell Wright.

Depending on how well Timmy Hardaway makes out Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, he might jump into that long line of old-school vets angling for a vet's minimum contract with the Heat. I've said all along that Miami should simply round out its depth at point guard and center by adding Zo and Timmy to the roster. Heck, why not.

HEAT SMOKING IN VEGAS PLAY: The Heat improved to 3-1 Friday night in the Las Vegas Summer League with a 78-58 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Shavlik Randolph led Miami with 18 points, and guards Kenny Hasbrouck and Weyinmi Efejuku combined for 27 points and nine assists. Miami was without Pittman for the second straight game because of a left toe injury. But Pittman's hand was just fine - he was healthy enough to sign that three-year contract earlier in the day that pretty much guarantees his spot on the roster.

Pittman hopes to play in Saturday's summer league finale against the Cavaliers. We hear ESPN is negotiating with Pittman to do an hour-long special leading to his decision to play or not. After all, it is Heat-Cavs. And you can't have Heat-Cavs without drama.

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

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Upward (Draft) Mobility?

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

So that begs two questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An Option If Joel Opts Out

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

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

The list goes on and on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Heat's Draft Focus: Length, Maturity

Pat Riley is on the South Side of Chicago putting in plenty of work. Pondexter

No, the Heat president of basketball operations is not up there to intensify his recruiting efforts to retain Chicago native and Miami point guard Dwyane Wade.

That trip, we presume, will come a bit later.

And no, Riley hasn't spent the better part of this week in Chi-Town in to convince LeBron James to hold off on his search for real estate.

Instead, Riley and his staff of top front-office administrators have spent the past few days in Chicago taking a close look at prospects in the June 24 NBA Draft. The fact that Riley is putting in plenty of face time at the pre-draft combine is a signal of at least two things.

One, it could very well be a face-to-face feeling-out process with other club execs on sign-and-trades that could play out this summer.

And two, it shows that Pat is taking this year's draft pretty seriously. The Heat holds four picks - the No. 18 overall pick in the first round and three second rounders. That's potentially four trade chips. Or, better yet, four slots the Heat plans to fill on the 2010-11 roster through the draft.

Riles is typically reluctant to operate this way. The Heat hasn't had much success building through the draft when it hasn't been positioned in the lottery.

Jerome Jordan But this year looks like it will be different. We'll take a closer look at the Heat's draft philosophy in a story that will run in Sunday's Miami Herald. But for now, from all indications, it appears that Pat and the Heat have been aggressively scouting, interviewing and working out prospects that could be keepers.

One name that has already come out of the Chicago combine as a rumored target of Heat interest is University of Washington forward Quincy Pondexter, pictured above right. He's the prototypical scoring small forward who also is long enough to defend in the Heat's system.

Another name who has surfaced on Miami's potential draft radar is Tulsa's Jerome Jordan (pictured left), a 7-footer who has developed nicely in college and is among a number of big-man projects who could fall in the Heat's draft range. In this draft process, the Heat has placed a premium on two things: experience and length.

And with most of the team's available salary-cap space earmarked for free agency, the Heat likely will need to round out several roster spots with draft picks or minimum-salary veterans.

Unlike seasons past, this might finally be the year when circumstances dictate that Pat plant a draft pick or three on the end of his bench next season instead of somewhere across the Atlantic.

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

Monday, May 10, 2010

Line Forms at 36th & Biscayne

The number Heat president Pat Riley spat out last week caught many by surprise. Raja Bell

With the Heat perhaps in better shape heading into free agency than any team in the league, with a superstar in Dwyane Wade likely in tow, plus the flexibility to pursue as many as two more mega stars, we all know Miami will be in play for the top stars on the market.

But when Riley spoke during his season-ending news conference with the media, he took the panoramic view of the free agency snapshot.

"There are 210, 220 free agents," Riley said, clearly looking beyond the top-tier group that will include, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare' Stoudemire and Joe Johnson. "There's a lot out there. You can build your own team a lot of different ways."

Not only will Riley look to get the most for Micky Arison's money at the start of free agency, next season's Heat team will be defined just as much by what kind of bargain buys are had near the close of market.

And the minimum-salary prospects are already starting to form a line.

Raja Bell, a former Florida International standout and respected perimeter defensive stopper, marked his spot among those who will be lobbying Riley this summer. Bell, whose best days came during his stint as Phoenix's supposed Kobe stopper a few years ago, has bounced around in recent seasons. He last was with Golden State after he was dealt by Charlotte last season.

But Bell, who sustained a season-ending wrist injury, is healthy how and hoping to acquire a spot with the Heat. To that extent, he wants to follow in the footsteps of former FIU teammate Carlos Arroyo, who latched on with the Heat last season and finished the year as the starting point guard.

Bell took to the sports talk radio airwaves Monday, when he appeared on The Jorge Sedano Show on 790 The Ticket, and openly flirted with the Heat.

"Miami is my first choice," said Bell, an unrestricted free agent who spent the latter part of the season attending several Heat games after he was released by the Warriors. "Pat (Riley), if you can use my services, give me a call. I'm right around the corner, 36th and Biscayne, give me a call."

Quentin-standalone Bell would be almost the perfect fit in the Heat's rotation in the role of a relentless perimeter defender Riley as searched for since James Posey departed in free agency several seasons ago. Since then, there's been a stream of less-than-stellar candidates that have included Dorell Wright, Ricky Davis, Penny Hardaway, Luke Jackson, Daequan Cook, Dorell Wright, Jamario Moon, James Jones, Dorell Wright again and Quentin Richardson.

Plenty of names. Very few solid answers. Now, the Heat's roster is an empty canvass. Jobs are here to be had.

At best, Raja Bell is better and more consistent than any of those previous low-budget options. At worst, he's just as good as any in that lot. But none has the defensive swagger and reputation Bell has established in his career.

For now, Bell is simply an out-of-work free agent looking for a job, - somewhere among the middle-of-the-pack of 200-plus free agents Riley referred to the other day.

But Bell made it clear Monday. He's in one of two groups the Heat will deal with this summer. There are those Pat Riley will vehemently recruit.

And there are those like Bell, who will be recruiting Riley for a chance to latch onto something special in the MIA if things go according to Pat's summer plan.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heat Rotation Shakeup Delivered?

If this holds true, Erik Spoelstra has delivered the best curve ball this side of A.J. Burnett. Haslem Upset  

Apparently, Michael Beasley will be in the starting lineup as most expected. But it won't come at small forward, barring a last-minute adjustment. Beasley's starting job will come at the expense of Heat veteran Udonis Haslem.

In other words, the future is now for the Miami Heat. At least as far as the power forward job is concerned. Haslem said he will be asked to come off the bench this season, a role he hasn't played since the end of his rookie season six years ago.

Beasley is in, as part of a lineup shakeup that will have Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt and Quentin Richardson and Beasley at the forward spots. Jermaine O'Neal will be at center.

"I've been the ultimate team player and I made the ultimate sacrifice throughout my career," Haslem said Tuesday as the Heat continued to prepare for Wednesday's season opener against New York. "This is just another situation where I've been asked to do it again. I didn't make that call, so that's nothing I'm going to worry about."

Spoelstra still hasn't fessed up about his starting lineup. He refused to do so again Tuesday. Richardson has started four games during the preseason, including three at small forward. Beasley has split his time equally between the two forward spots.

UD-BeasleyHaving said that, this still comes as a bit of a surprise. And I wouldn't be shocked if this lineup lasts all of about a week or two into the season. Having said that, Beasley has proved he should be a starter. The shocker comes in Quentin moving ahead of the field so quickly.

It appears to be a move made to bolster the perimeter defense at the expense of interior defense. Haslem is also dealing with a groin injury that has kept him off the court since Sunday. Perhaps the injury played a part. But it didn't sound like this was a short-term solution, considering the way Haslem spoke Tuesday.

He was polite. But he was also a bit agitated. If you saw this coming, go ahead and buy a Powerball ticket. This one was a bit more difficult to see from here, because of all of the talk about Heat culture and work ethic and defense and doing things the right way. Haslem was all of those things. But Beasley is the future - at least as far as the eye can see for now.

This is not to say Haslem can't thrive in a prominent role off the bench entering the final season of his contract. Quentin-standalone This is about truly seeing what Beasley can do. Can he be a superstar starting power forward in this league? It's the same thing, on a smaller level, that Pat Riley wants to see out of Mario Chalmers.

The difference is that Riley came right out over the summer and proclaimed Chalmers the starter and said he wouldn't bring in anyone to start ahead of him. We never heard such definitive talk about the Beasley plan. But the way this all played out, you'd have to believe this was the plan all along for both.

Haslem didn't necessarily do anything to lose his starting power forward job. Quentin Richardson wasn't over-the-top convincing during the preseason that he's the starter at small forward. Q-Rich has been solid. He can shoot, defend and make plays off the dribble. That skill set may have given him an overall advantage at this spot. Maybe there wasn't as much confidence in Beasley at small forward after all.

If this holds true, the Heat essentially chose Quentin Richardson over Udonis Haslem.

So here we are. Let's see where this goes. Let's see if Spoelstra and Riley have a change-up, too. 

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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rolling the Rotation Dice

Apparently, coach Erik Spoelstra finds a bit of joy in keeping everyone in suspense regarding what he SPO-Coach insists will be a nine-man playing rotation this season.

Of course, Dwyane Wade, Jermaine O'Neal and Mario Chalmers aren't sweating as starters. Udonis Haslem probably isn't either. And Michael Beasley is all but in at small forward, barring a last-minute adjustment due to an injury or some form of indecency.

The next two, according to the view from here, would be guard Daequan Cook and center Joel Anthony as offensive and defensive specialists, respectively. The last two would almost have to be Carlos Arroyo and James Jones. Arroyo would take those first-half and early third-quarter minutes that would become available if Chalmers is either ineffective or in foul trouble. In other words, those minutes Wade would prefer not to chase around smaller and quicker opposing guards until crunch time in the fourth quarter

Jones seems logical because, well, the Heat thought enough of him to sign him to a slightly-less-than-mid-level deal a year ago. He also has worked as hard or harder than anyone on the roster this summer, which isn't lost on the coaching staff despite his limited preseason role. The Heat has to make this Jones situation work. He's got a significant partial guarantee on the next couple of years on his contract even if the Heat decides he's not the answer.

Quentin-standalone That would leave Quentin Richardson (pictured below left), Yakhouba Diawara and Jamaal Magloire on the outside looking in, as well as plenty of evenings on the inactive list for Dorell Wright, Chris Quinn and Shavlik Randolph.

Spoelstra said there is at least one certainty in the who's-in-who's-out rotation predicament. "It won't be fair," he said. "Guys who probably deserve to play and have a role will have to be patient. At some point in the season, I know that depth is going to help us."

On Wednesday, we'll start to see how well the pieces fit after a preseason of disjointed lineups. Or, we'll start to find out if this will be a season-long collection of moving parts.

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



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