Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Would Force Riley To The Bench?

That's the most intriguing question posed this week during our Thursday live Heat chat. If Riley-Press I've said it once, I've suggested it a million times.

Take Pat Riley for his word.

And then take it with a grain of salt.

So where does that leave you? Confused, confounded and never quite comfortable. And that's exactly where Pat likes you to be, which is what has made him one of the most rugged, respected and resourceful executives in league history.

But I do take him at his word that his coaching days are over, when it comes to regular-season NBA coaching, that is. Would he step in and try to rescue this team - and salvage Micky Arison's $330 million investment in Wade, Bosh and LeBron - at the first or second sign of adversity?


And who would blame him? But that's neither the plan nor the preferred method of operation. Erik Spoelstra will get plenty of room to do his thing with this team. At least that appears to be the case.

Spoelstra can afford to lose a game or two or three. He could even survive a few doses of uncomfortable moments with LeBron James (Chris Bosh is a go-with-the-flow-guy in this equation, so no worries there).

But Spo can not afford to lose Dwyane Wade's support and confidence. Then, and likely only then, would Pat be forced off his perch in the president's suite at AmericanAirlines Arena and swoop to the bench.

As an aside, I return from vacation the day after Labor Day and will update the blog daily as we begin our countdown to Heat training camp, which opens with media day on Sept. 27. Until then, here's another sample dose of this week's live chat ...

Most Recently Answered Questions

Questions 1 - 15 of 1290 (Page 1 of 44)

Q: Don't you think in a couple years we are gonna have to shop for new role players because big z,j howard, mike miller, carlos arroyo and eddie house are at the end of there careers looking for one shot at a championship.Then were gonna be back at square one looking for more role players.

Answered 08/26/10 13:58:05 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: But as we saw this offseason, finding them - and getting them to come on the cheap to play with Wade, Bosh and James - won't be much of a problem. The role players beyond Haslem and Mike Miller, will likely change every year or two with this team. As long as the core is intact, the Heat should regroup and quickly.


Answered 08/26/10 13:56:01 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: All we can go by is what Pat Riley says. And he's made it clear that he has no intention to return to the bench to coach this team. He's fine where he is, guiding the franchise from the role of team president. Erik Spoelstra will be the coach ... until he's not. We'll see how strong those offseason stances are when - or if - adversity strikes this team. But there are no indications that Riley will swoop in and land on the bench. Having said that, if he does, Spoelstra likely won't stick around. He's too young, bright and respected in the league to be out of work for long.

Q: hi michael i been a heat fan for like ever now !! they need to get a speed push the ball pg asap and that can shoot where do they go too????

Answered 08/26/10 13:52:48 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: My vote? Dwyane Wade.

Q: I'm the biggest heat fan and i love us now but let say 4-5years from now wade will be 34/35.Even jordan top out at 36 n went down after. is it fair to say that we will have 2 era one as the superfriends and one as lebron team and do you think riley also maybe pitch that to the way he still can lead a team are be look at as leading a team to a championship

Answered 08/26/10 13:52:23 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Wade will be well into his 30s by the time his six-year contract expires. Bosh and LeBron will be right around 31. But I don't think anyone is thinking that far down the line just yet. There will be too much pressure to win now. If that group wins a title or three by then, the question will be whether to keep them together at the end of those deals or trade one of them while they still have some max value and start the reloading/rebuilding process. But that's a headache, of course, for another year.

Q: Hello Mr. Wallace. How come there's no coverage on NBA players such as Arroyo (who's with the Heat), Barea (Mavericks), and Balkman (with Nuggets) representing Puerto Rico in the upcoming 2010 FIBA World Championship? There seems to be a bias with the USA Team. After all, these players are NBA players who deserve the coverage because they are representing their country respectively. I'm just saying, when Carlos was with Utah and single-handedly managed the USA Team in 2004 (funny that team had Wade, Bosh, and Lebron as members I might add), the Jazz had excellent coverage, Orlando did the same for Carlos in 2006/07. What's up with the Miami Herald? Are these players not good enough for some media coverage? Thank you for what you do, keep it real!

Answered 08/26/10 13:49:28 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You make great points. Obviously, the coverage will be slanted toward the U.S. team. But there's always room to check on the players who play for the market's NBA team.

Q: I don't know much about Da'Sean Butler, aside that he apparently has a lot of potential. If he made the roster this year, would he be able to crack the rotation once healthy? Or is that something that wouldn't happen until maybe next season?

Answered 08/26/10 13:46:46 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: From a talent standpoint, he's as complete a swingman, when healthy, as the Heat has on the roster aside from LeBron and Mike Miller. But he hasn't done anything at this level yet, obviously. I don't think he'd crack the rotation this season. I also think there's still some significant time left in his rehab from knee surgery.

Q: Wade gives his team as much as Lebron and Kobe does and is as Jordanesque as those two, except Wade's shorter than all of these players including Jordan. That means Wade does more with less. Given he didn't start in the 2008 olympics, he quietly took over games and was the teams leading scorer. Now I hear Wade isn't even in the top 3 players. He's now behind Carmelo and Durant and how the olympic team needs Durant, who's bricking a lot lately, and Derrick Rose much better Lebron is though none of these players have won a championship. Only Kobe has and Kobe has always had more talented teams than Wade. My question is who's pushing this perspective in the media to doubt Wade's greatness? He's already won a gold medal as the lead scorer amongst the NBA's best, had higher shooting percentages than both Kobe and Lebron for multiple years, took home MVP honors in both the finals and the Allstar game, won a scoring title, and won a championship...To me, that sounds like a resume of a great player.

Answered 08/26/10 13:44:14 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: It is a resume of greatness. Keep in mind that these perspectives and opinions are just that. There are a lot of doubters and private agendas out there. Wade is a top 3 player in the league. I've got, based on sheer talent, Kobe, Wade and LeBron - in no certain order.

Q: What's the latest on Udonis Haslem's situation? Will he be able to play?

Answered 08/26/10 13:41:26 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There is no latest at this point. The sides are negotiating, I'm sure. If this plays out as things currently stand, it will carry right into training camp and possibly the regular season - and a huge cloud would hang over the Heat. Having said that, all sides are probably hoping for a quicker resolution.

Q: Following the Spain - USA game Sunday, commentators suggested Rudy Fernandez (Spain's PG) is likely to be shipped out by Portland after all the fuss he is making. An ESPN analyst thinks he would be a good fit for the Heat given his low $1.2M salary. Agree?

Answered 08/26/10 13:39:49 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: As it stands now, based on league rules, the only players the Heat could send to Portland in such a deal would be Mario Chalmers and/or Dexter Pittman. Would I take Rudy back for those two guys? Certainly, especially if I could convince Wade to play point guard full time. The Heat has had discussions before with Portland this offseason. Not sure if that sort of deal would materialize at this point, though.

Q: I was a little surprised when the first rookie signed was Pittman and for two years. He didn't show real well in Vegas so are the Heat looking for someone with the size to bang on Shaq, Bynum, and Howard? Thanks.

Answered 08/26/10 13:37:12 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I was surprised they signed him that fast as well. But that decision wasn't based on his play in Vegas. He signed a day or two after the team opened summer league play. That signing is based on potential impact. Pittman has surprising athleticism for a kid that size. He also eats up plenty of space and loves to bang. If nothing else, he'll body up against the big boys in the eastern conference .... eventually.

Q: Mr Wallace, how should Miami play against Celtics for the first game? How do you feel concerning the heat defense,for a lot have been said on this team potential on offense? Do you think they might take a look at Dampier as an upgrade for center?thanks a lot

Answered 08/26/10 13:35:25 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: If Dampier is available and the Heat can swing a move or two to make room for him, it can only help. I've said before that he's arguable better than any true center the Heat has on the roster right now. As far as playing style, Miami needs to get out on the open court and utilize the speed and athleticism of the Big 3. I'd like to see this team play more like Magic's Lakers back in the 1980s. Not just against Boston, but against everyone. I think you limit this team's effectiveness by playing half-court, isolation ball.

Q: Listening to all the national sports talk programs, I have heard so many ridiculous reasons as to why this Miami Heat Experiment will not work. The most absurd was the argument that the Big 3 will account for about 70 to 80 points a night, so where will the rest of the offense come from. What is the strangest reason you have heard as to why this team will not work?

Answered 08/26/10 13:32:39 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Strangest thing I've heard? That karma will somehow come back and bite LeBron in the butt and derail the Heat. Doesn't get much stranger or crazier than that, does it?

Read more:

(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.)

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:

(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.)

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 @ To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Target Bosh, Take Hedo, Too

Well, that certainly didn't take long. Heat_Raptors_Bosh

Still two months away from the official start of free agency, there's significant early chatter already underway if the latest ESPN insider report is to be believed. At the very least, it's believable.

There has long been a league-wide consensus building that Chris Bosh is the most likely top-tier free agent to change addresses this summer. If that holds true, Toronto would be more than wise to hitch last summer's big move - or mistake - in Hedo Turkoglu to potential sign-and-trade scenarios for Bosh.

Turkoglu still has four seasons and some $43 million remaining on the contract he signed last season with the Raptors, who held high hopes that Hedo would be the complementary piece Bosh needed to get Toronto back in contention in the East.

Instead, after a decent first half, they completed the biggest collapse of any team in playoff position when they dropped from fifth to ninth in the standings - and out of the playoffs. The Raptors literally blew up in Bosh's face this season.

So here's the question Heat president Pat Riley might soon have to ponder. Clearly, Bosh is the Heat's top free agent target (I still consider LeBron James as a free agent pipe dream, although dreams do come true). But would Miami be willing to take on Turkoglu if it meant acquiring Bosh?

Of course Riley would. The question is does Miami have enough pieces to outbid other suitors the Raptors would line up for such a deal. Houston was mentioned in ESPN's report, with some sort of deal built around big man Jordan Hill that would expand to include the likes of Shane Battier, Luis Scola or another wing.

Miami would have to get a third team involved that is either under the cap or would be willing to take on Jermaine O'Neal as part of the sign-and-trade deal. And O'Neal, a veteran who can still produce when healthy, would fit well in Houston, which would need a backup or insurance for Yao Ming moving forward.

So the Heat would essentially send out O'Neal (to Houston) and Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook and James Jones to Toronto. And the Heat could sweeten the deal by giving Toronto back that conditional first-round pick Miami acquired in the O'Neal trade last year. And the Heat also has a spare Canadian to throw in, too (Joel Anthony or Jamaal Magloire).

Toronto would get back expiring contracts, significant cap space and a chance to start over. That's far more than it would get if Bosh simply bolted to Miami on his own, which he clearly could do if he didn't like any of the Raptors other potential trade partners.

Turkoglu And remember, Turkoglu was one of the three top 2009 free agents Riley floated the mid-level offer to last summer in long-shot hopes one would bite and take less money to play alongside Dwyane Wade. The other two were Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.

So that would leave the Heat with a 2-3-4 trio of Wade, Turkoglu and Bosh. And did we mention that Wade and Bosh have the same agent? On top of every thing else, doing this deal (and another smaller one) by sign-and-trade would also give the Heat the ability to exceed the salary cap to resign a few of its own free agents and also use of the mid-level exception to pursue a point guard or center.

The Heat managed to win 47 games this season with Wade working with much less. A Miami Big 3 of Wade, Hedo and Bosh would place the newcomers in their proper roles. For all of Bosh's talent, he's very much Nowitzki-like in the fact that he's better served as a No. 2 option instead of having to carry a team.

And that also pushes Hedo back to the third-option role that made him the league's most improved player while with Orlando. There were near disastrous results when he was upgraded to the No. 2 in Toronto.

This free agency makeover doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process after all. It could be as simple as Bosh (plus Hedo) and Bang. Over. 

For Miami, this would very much make sense.

The question is, will all parties involved make it happen?

(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.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Playing the Percentages

If the Heat can't find a way to stave off playoff elimination in Game 4 on Sunday, the Boston Celtics will New Wade advance to the second round of the playoffs and commence the offseason of all offseason in Miami.

For those in attendance at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday, you might want to keep a copy of the game program. By Sunday evening, it could very well become a souvenir.

Down 0-3 to the Celtics, this could very well be the last stand for this version of the Miami Heat. There will be plenty of offseason changes. So why put off the inevitable. Let's play the percentages now.

No, not those. We already know that no team in NBA history has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. I'm talking about playing the other percentages - the ones with far greater value. The return-of-the-roster percentages.

It's an unscientific take, one based more on common sense and dollars-and-cents.

RAFER ALSTON - 0%: A desperate reach for mid-season point guard depth had disastrous results. Skip quit on the Heat long before Miami had a chance to dispose of him.

JOEL ANTHONY - 90%: Not sure there's much of a market for Joel should he opt out his contract. The Heat would welcome back the shot-blocking franchise-made prospect as relatively cheap labor.

CARLOS ARROYO - 50%: Arroyo has two things going for him here. Owner Micky Arison is fond of him and his Hispanic ties, and he'd be open to taking a reserve role at a spot the Heat will certainly look to upgrade.

MICHAEL BEASLEY - 55%: If trading Michael Beasley opens the door to land Amare, Bosh, LeBron or BeasleyDraft even an unrestricted free agent such as Rudy Gay, Pat Riley will cut bait and make it happen. Otherwise, with Beasley still on his rookie-scale deal, it'll be cheaper to keep him and give him one last shot to shine here.

MARIO CHALMERS - 40%: After two years in the league and two years of so-called development, Rio still doesn't have a natural position. I can't see Miami bringing Rio and Arroyo back as backups. Chalmers has another year on his deal. But it's a low-cost expense.

DAEQUAN COOK - 18%: His time is up here. The former 3-point champion has run out shots at a rotation role. Look for Cook to be packaged with another player or draft picks to create cap space.

YAKHOUBA DIAWARA - 2%: Nice guy. Great attitude. His contract is up. Never became the defensive stopper/perimeter shooter off the bench Riley envisioned.

KENNY HASBROUCK - 10%: His chances to stick took a big hit when that DUI emerged from February, weeks before he was signed by the team as a developmental project. Hasbrouck better have a hell of a summer in his quest for the third PG spot.

UDONIS HASLEM - 67%: Projections of additional cap space cleared the way for Haslem to be brought Haslem Upset back. It might take a while, because he certainly wants to see his value around the league. There's mutual respect there, even though both sides will look into upgrades.

JAMES JONES - 20%: Much like with Diawara, Riley is going to have to admit he made a mistake here. The Heat have to look into buying out Jones and creating about $2.5 million in the transaction. Perhaps Jones even re-signs for the vet's minimum late in the summer to stay with his hometown team. Maybe not.

JAMAAL MAGLOIRE - 63%: The league will be short on available centers. With Bosh or Stoudemire in a featured role at power forward, Anthony's shot-blocking, Magloire's rebounding and banging and their minimum salary slots might have to be enough.

JERMAINE O'NEAL - 5%: A mutual parting will be best for both. Despite his struggles in the playoffs, J.O. will benefit from a light crop of free agent centers, where his competition on the market doesn't extend beyond Shaq, Big Z, Brendan Haywood and Brad Miller. Even at mid-level prices, the Heat won't bite.

SHAVLIK RANDOLPH - 58%: A low-budget big man with some NBA experience. His chances increase if the Heat isn't forced to take back filler in some sort of summer blockbuster trade.

QUENTIN RICHARDSON - 15%: Richardson served his purpose. No other team would have given him a starting job. And he delivered at times when the Heat had nowhere else to turn. His contract is up, and unless he takes a massive, massive pay cut, he's gone - unless his guy Dwyane Wade says otherwise.

DWYANE WADE: - 99.3%: Despite the 50-50 act he's playing by publicly leaving his options open and doing everything but outright committing to the Heat, Wade will be back. But Riley better be aggressive in getting Bosh or Stoudemire here in a hurry. Riley won the public power play last summer. Wade is in total control this time around.

DORELL WRIGHT: 20%: Say what you will about Dorell, but he's 24 years old coming off his most productive season and would only be looking for a slight raise on that near $3 million salary. Yet, that SPO-Coaching will be too steep for the Heat, unless Miami slips to free-agency Plans D, E or F.

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: 89%: Unless LeBron James demands Riley return to the bench, or owner Micky Arison starts asking questions or Spoelstra senses uneasiness in the front-office and steps aside, he will be back next season. Still, the last time Riley had this much on the line, Stan Van Gundy suddenly felt homesick. In other words, Spoelstra is safe.

(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.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heat Secret Weapon: Childs' Play

Every now and then, the schedule, the wife or just plain common sense forces us to take a break from the intensity of covering this beat and realize how blessed we truly are in this job.

Thursday was one of those days. It was "Take Your Kid to Work" day. So not only did I step backWorker for hea_2t and watch in amazement as my boys, Charlesson and Kori (pictured right) take over the weekly Heat Q&A online chat, they also wanted a piece of the blog. 

Full disclosure: Charlesson (left) is a Celtics fan. Kori (right) likes the Heat, but has a beef right now because he doesn't think it's fair that Daequan Cook can't get into the game. And Heat staffer Nick (above middle) couldn't give Kori the answers he demanded.

For the hard-core fans looking for a nuts-and-bolts blog that examines yet another facet of this Heat-Celtics series that resumes with Game 3 Friday, check back after the game for the usual breakdown.

But today was about giving thanks. And giving back. First, the thanks. I'm giving a shout out to the Heat's Charlesson-Kori-Wade media relations staff - Tim, Rob, Nick and Mike - for giving several of us media types the opportunity to take our kids to practice Thursday. It was a joy to see how the room was filled with reporters and their kids.

It wasn't necessarily a Martin Luther King Jr. moment. But my boys and Ira Winderman's boy shook hands in harmony, caring nothing at all about the newspaper competition their dopes for dads endure daily to bring you Heat news and analysis.

ESPN's Mark Jones brought his beautiful family. And so did members of the Heat TV staff. And the players seemed to soak up the extra attention. I had never seen Dwyane Wade, Jamaal Magloire or Jermaine O'Neal so happy to see a pack of reporters. 

Or maybe it was the kids. This I know for certain: If the Heat wins Game 3 on Friday, at least a Two men k&c_2 few cub reporter sources I know are going to take credit and demand to quit school and cover this team on a full-time basis.

Now, to the giving back. Charlesson, 14, was geared up from the moment he knew he'd be skipping school for the chance to cover the Heat for a day.

"While we were still on the road (going to practice) thoughts came out of my head out of nowhere as if I were an author," Charlesson wrote in his one-page report about the day's doings. "One of the things I was thinking about was how my reaction would be once I stepped foot in the same room as the Miami Heat players."

Charlesson immediately went into photographer mode with his cell phone to provide the pictures for this blog.

Kids-Los Meanwhile, Kori, 10, took my recorder and did the dirty work of fighting into the crowd to get quotes from Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers for the story that will appear in Friday's paper about the Heat's need to step up its game at the point guard position.

Kori's take?

"As I interviewed, I got information on how Dwyane Wade feels the next game will be. He says, 'We all know that I'll be handling the ball a lot, but the team needs to mix it up."

Then, Kori approached Michael Beasley.

"Michael Beasley said, 'There is definitely something I can do better to help the team win."

Kids-Beas After practice, I took the boys to lunch and we pored through some of the questions on the Heat Q&A on the Miami Herald's website. They took turns giving their answers. And that's when they really took over.

"There were some wild questions on short notice that had to be answered," Kori wrote in his report. "I noticed that lots of these questions were on Michael Beasley and Erik Spoelstra (coach) being traded or fired. After this was finished, I finally got a chance to take a break."

I cover this team every day and still learned plenty on Thursday. Two things that stood out?

1. I'm blessed to have a great job Kids-JO

2. I might be out of work soon if these kids keep this up, considering they'll work right now for only Gatorade and video games.

(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, April 21, 2010

Game 2 Breakdown: Celtics 106, Heat 77

BOSTON - Okay, so now what? Playoffs-Main

With this best-of-7 series shifting to Miami for the next two games, the Heat clearly has two choices at this point. Fight and get into this series.

Or fold and head into free agency.

With the way things went down in Tuesday's 106-77 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden in Game 2, I'm not sure too many folks out there would be too offended if Miami took the latter choice. But that hasn't been the Heat all season. There is a bit of pride with this team, even if it didn't show up Tuesday night.

Miami is now down 0-2 in this first-round series. It has only rallied from that type of playoff deficit one time in franchise history. And that was in the 2006 Finals to defeat the Dallas Mavericks.

But those Mavericks were fragile. These Celtics are serious. The elbow that got Kevin Garnett suspended for Game 2 had nothing on the blow Boston delivered in the second quarter Tuesday. A 21-0 spurt was the difference in this game. It was over by the half.

And now, the Heat is halfway out of this playoff series.

"In both games, there was a point of really being tested," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And in both games, we failed that mental test."

So what now?

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Dwyane Wade begged for help from his teammates between Games 1 and 2. They didn't deliver. As it has been pretty much all season against Boston, there was plenty from Wade and very little from anyone else. Wade got off to a slow start, but had 29 points on 11 of 18 shooting from the field for the second consecutive game. His supporting cast? It was a collective 18 of 58 from the field. Boston is just fine with that sort of trade-off. If things continue down this path, all this series is going to prove is just how much help Wade needs in free agency to get back into serious contention in the East. Michael Beasley let Wade down with another sub-par performance. Jermaine O'Neal has yet to show up in the playoffs. Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers can't penetrate, and that's a problem when they're both point guards. Quentin Richardson's mouth was quiet Tuesday. So was his game. Something's gotta give so Wade can get some help. Or else, the Heat is gone from the postseason.

TURNING POINT: The Heat was up 29-25 with 10:10 left in the second quarter. Then, boom. Michael  Playoffs-Ray Finley nailed a three-pointer and opened the floodgates. Finley's trey sparked a 21-0 run that pushed the Celtics ahead 46-29. Amazingly, with all of that net-splashing, the Heat managed to remain in its drought. Four Celtics players contributed to the run that ran the Heat out of Boston.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Celtics not only pounded the Heat on the boards for a 50-33 edge, Boston outscored Miami 22-10 from the free-throw line. The Heat also shot a painful 38 percent from the field. You know it's bad when Sheldon Williams, Ray Allen, Glen Davis and Michael Finley are working you over during the most critical stages of the game.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Before the game, Wade was asked whether Garnett's absence might have opened the door for Beasley to have a breakout performance in the playoffs. Wade cut to the chase. HePlayoffs-BigBaby said that sort of door has always been open. "Mike's just gotta walk through it." It's one thing to get schooled by Garnett. It's another to allow Big Baby Davis - or the Ticket Stub, as Davis called himself Tuesday - to put up an All-Star effort against you. It's easy to pull for Beasley. I'd like to see the kid succeed, and we're not even supposed to have much of a rooting interest at all for people we cover. But reporters are human, too. And Mike is from my hometown. I know his people. And this is not a shot at Davis, who has worked his way into earning a steady NBA role in Haslem-like fashion. But you're talking about the No. 2 overall pick here struggling and getting beat up and down the court by a second-round pick in Davis, who also has outworked Haslem in this series. This was a time when Beasley really needed to step up and really didn't. He talked about the arguing and fighting that took place on the court with teammates over blown defensive assignments. O'Neal hasn't been himself in a month. As it stands now, the Heat has big men who won't stop shooting jumpers. Boston has post players who are aggressive and attacking in the post. That's gotta change for the Heat to get back into this series. And change quickly.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Let's pass on this distinction for this game. There were no key contributions. Wade Playoff-Bench was a one-man show for the  most part. Everyone else in Heat uniforms had much in common with the 18,624 fans in attendance. They were all spectators. Spoelstra called the showing an "embarrassment." Wade said the team "sucked" defensively. As playoff lows go, it doesn't get much worse than this for the Heat. The good news: Tuesday was just one loss. The Heat is down 0-2. Boston held serve. The Heat has a chance to regroup at home.

NEXT UP: Boston Celtics at Heat, 7 p.m. Friday - AmericanAirlines Arena

(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.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 94, Nets 86

Mercy. It's over. It's finally over. Heat-Nets-Main

Of all the people on all of the rosters in the league, it took Yakhouba Diawara to deliver the Heat from going to a third overtime against the New Jersey Nets in the final game of the regular season.

Instead, Frenchie stepped up and knocked down a three-pointer midway through the second overtime that stretched the Heat's lead to five and gave it enough cushion to hold on for a 94-86 double-overtime victory against the Nets on Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Needless to say, it was Khouba's first three-pointer of the season. The fact that he was on the floor at that point in the game tells you all you need to know about Wednesday night. The Heat tried to do all it could to give itself as little chance as possible to win.

And it failed by succeeding. In a crazy sort of way.

With the victory, Miami (47-35) secured the No. 5 seed in the East and a first-round playoff matchup with No. 4 seed Boston in a best-of-seven series that will open Saturday in Beantown.

The Heat is 0-3 against Boston this season, with all three games decided by seven or fewer points. Would Miami have preferred to lose Wednesday and land into the No. 6 spot and face No. 3 seed Atlanta in the opening round? Probably so.

It didn't work out that way.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade was busy before the game meeting with his biggest little fan, two-year old YouTube sensation Chad Sher, who made a name for himself shouting Wade's version of "This is My House." Wade met with Sher's family before the game. He sat out to rest an assortment of bumps and bruises that included his knee, calf and wrist. But Wade insisted he was not injured and would be ready to go once the series against Boston starts. Wade wraps up his seventh season having averaged 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds. After opening the season ice cold, Wade finished the year shooting a respectable 47.6 percent from the field. He had 142 steals and 82 blocks. But the most important factor with Wade right now is that he ended the regular season playing his best ball of the season. He's truly in playoff form. And the Heat is going to need everything it can get from Wade to get past Boston.

TURNING POINT: It all goes back to Khouba. The Heat could have taken care of matters in regulation, but Brandon-Marshall decided it needed to make things interesting by blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. Miami also didn't want to win in overtime. So Khouba shook off the dust, checked in during the second overtime and went to work. Dry as a bone, he banked in a three from the right wing. He insists he called "bank" and later said something might have gotten lost in translation. At any rate, his shot extended Miami's lead to 89-84. That was all the cushion Miami needed. But not even new Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall stuck around to stomach the finish.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Heat scored 25 points off 20 New Jersey turnovers. Pretty much everything else was a wash. Both teams shot below 40 percent from the field and below 31 percent on threes.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: For all of you who wanted Atlanta in the first round, consider this: Miami would be a lot more confident and - perhaps - a bit complacent going into a first-round matchup with the Hawks. Yes, the Heat was 3-1 against Atlanta this season. And yes, falling to the No. 6 seed would have given the Heat a playoff path through Atlanta and Orlando, a pair of Southeast Division rivals the Heat is a combined 5-3 against this season. But this is the playoffs. One thing about a Heat-Celtics series is that Boston will get and keep the Heat's undivided attention from Game 1. There will be an edge to Miami. There should be a passion in the series. There better be a focus from jump. And on another level, this Boston team is reeling right now, having dropped seven of its last 10 to end the regular season. Miami has won 12 of 13. In a lot of ways, this Boston team reminds me a lot of the Heat team the season Miami defended its NBA title. A lot of pride. A lot of big names. A lot of talk. But the moment Miami was smacked in that series against Chicago, it faded fast. This Celtics team just might be ripe for the downing of the Big 3 Dynasty.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Michael Beasley certainly filled the stat sheet if nothing else. He had 25 points, 13Heat-Nets-Beas rebounds, six fouls, five turnovers, three blocks, two steals and two assists in 35 minutes before he fouled out. Beasley was 10 of 24 from the field. For the Heat's sake, Beasley should have worked out his kinks. He says he's ready for the challenge of facing Kevin Garnett and the Celtics. That matchup could decide the outcome of the series. 

NEXT UP: Heat at Boston Celtics, Saturday, 8 p.m. (Game 1) TD Garden - Boston

(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, April 09, 2010

Postgame Breakdown: Pistons 106, Heat 99

The slippage had been subtle, but quietly serious. Pistons-Heat-Main

It was enough of a concern to leave Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on edge. Close calls. Defensive lapses. Slow starts. All the signs were there, despite the Heat pushing its winning streak to nine games.

Those warning signs eventually caught up to the Heat in Friday's 106-99 loss to the Pistons at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami saw its nine-game winning streak come to a crashing halt.

Longtime nemesis Ben Gordon buried the Heat, going off for 39 points, including 26 in the second half. Gordon, who used to do his damage as a member of the Bulls, made 7 of 11 treys and had an answer every time the Heat even thought about trying to rally.

The Heat had been rolling, and this might prove to simply be a bump in the road to get the team refocused heading into the playoffs. At least that's the way it sounded in the locker room afterward.

"It's going to hurt us and we're going to regret this one," forward Michael Beasley said. "We're just going to have to move on."

Said Dwyane Wade: "We won nine in a row. We lost one. We'll bounce back."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: There were some sloppy plays from the outset. But for every failed wrap-around-two-defenders pass Wade tried to execute, there was a sweet drive to the basket that was capped by a foul and conversion. Wade got off to a solid start, making three of his first four shots and hitting his first six free throws for 13 points in the first half. But there was something that kept Wade from being aggressive on the offensive end. It wasn't necessarily Detroit's defense. Perhaps it was just an off night. Wade was just 5 of 8 from the field for 19 points and nine assists. This time his five turnovers were costly, considering the Heat coughed it up 16 times.

TURNING POINT: When Udonis Haslem's jumper put the Heat ahead 86-85, Ben Gordon hit the overdrive   Pistons-Heat-Gordon button. He fired off consecutive three-pointers at one point and scored 12 in the fourth quarter. He keyed a 12-4 run that allowed the Pistons to pull ahead 97-90.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: Miami had done a solid job at holding teams under 50 percent from the field, under 100 points on the scoreboard and below 35 percent from three-point range. Detroit simply blew those trends out of the water. The Pistons scored 106 after Miami had held 15 of its last 16 under 100. Detroit shot 50 percent from the field and 44 from three-point range against one of the league's stingiest defenses.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Heat president Pat Riley spent the entire third quarter of Friday's game as a guest broadcaster on the Sun Sports TV broadcast. He repeated a lot of what he's been saying lately. He believes Wade will re-sign and that owner Micky Arison is committed to surrounding Wade this summer with talent that will have the Heat competing for titles for a long time. He also said Michael Beasley walks around with a backpack and needs to take some things "out of the backpack" to lighten his load. "He's putting too much pressure on himself," Riley said. Another statement of note was that the Heat doesn't plan to let Udonis Haslem get away in free agency. That might be difficult to do with the way Haslem is playing lately. I can't imagine Haslem wanting to leave. But with his value at an all-time high at this point in his career, I can't see him offering too deep of a discount on what could be his last major contract. Riley's holding all the cards, and even has a few more up his sleeve. The good thing is that this team has played well enough for some guys to be invited back if plans A, B, C and maybe D, don't work out in free agency.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Haslem is simply clutch these days. He doesn't miss in the fourth quarter. And he'sPistons-Heat-Haslem rebounding like a man possessed. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds to notch his fifth double-double in seven games. He also grabbed at least 10 rebounds for the fifth consecutive game, which ties his career high. Haslem was 8 of 10 from the field. He's been as consistent as any Heat player over the past six weeks since the team got rolling.

NEXT UP: Heat at New York Knicks, 6 p.m. Sunday - Madison Square Garden

(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, 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.



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