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Archive for February, 2010

Dorell Wright delivers career-best performance

February 23rd, 2010 1 comment

Tuesday’s game was a career best.

By keeping the still very young and greatly improved small forward at the trade deadline, the Heat showed a surprising commitment to 2004 first round draft pick Dorell Wright.

On Tuesday night, Wright repaid that loyalty with a career-best performance.

He scored a career-high 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including an amazing 6-of-7 from beyond the arc. He also had 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. It was far and away his best ever N.B.A. game. And he did it all in just 30 minutes of game action.

Wright has become the best and most versatile small forward on the Heat roster. He has struggled through inconsistent play at times – a natural result of inconsistent minutes – but he fits the Heat’s expressed desire to add length, superior shooting and quality defense on the perimeter.

After struggling through injury for the better part of his first five N.B.A. seasons, Wright has stepped up in a big way thus far this season.

He has become the strong perimeter defender the Heat have for so many years been searching for, with the height and quickness to guard both guard and forward positions. He has shown flashes of the playmaking that had head coach Erik Spoelstra utilizing the 6’9″ player at the point. He’s always been an excellent rebounder and great natural athlete. And now, after years of hard work to improve an ugly shooting stroke that used to be released from well behind his head, he is becoming the qualify three-point shooter that so well complements the slashing game of close personal friend Dwyane Wade. After converting a grand total of twelve 3-pointers in 55 attempts through his first five seasons, Wright has knocked down 37 this season, on 41.1% shooting.

Read more…

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How Teams on the Brink Fared at the Trade Deadline

February 19th, 2010 No comments

Earlier this month, I reviewed the teams that were attempting to position themselves to be able to make one or more maximum free agent offers. The trade deadline has now passed.

Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh remain the prized free agents for the summer of 2010.

Wade will surely stay in Miami if he can recruit one of the other two.

Bosh is leaving Toronto.

James is the mystery. Many argue that he needs to be in a major market (namely New York or Los Angeles) from an endorsement standpoint. They often argue that a sponsor like Nike may be pulling strings to land James in a market where they can make more money. But does a superstar really need to be in a major market? Wade seems to be doing just fine in Miami.

Can you imagine James getting significantly more media attention if he’s in New York or Los Angeles? Probably not. If you’re a star you need to be in a big market. If you’re a superstar, they come to you.

So will James decide it’s time to leave the Cavs? The decision may come down to where he thinks he has the best chance to win. In Cleveland he will continue to have Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson and J.J. Hickson alongside him.

Shaquille O’Neal and Delonte West will be free agents, and may return. The Cavs will also have the midlevel exception to add additional talent. But is that enough? If the Cavs lose in the playoffs again this year, how long will it take James to decide that they may never win a title as constructed?

Rumors persist that James was disappointed that the team acquired Jamison at the trade deadline rather than Amare Stoudemire. The biggest transaction for Miami therefore, ironically, is one that didn’t happen for Cleveland.

The Heat, in their own right, took no action at the trade deadline. They turned down suitors for Dorell Wright, even though future first round picks were being offered. They weren’t able to unload James Jones or Daequan Cook.

Miami’s team salary remains as it has been. Its pursuit of three maximum contract free agents remains the same.

Here’s a look at how everyone else fared (assuming a $54 million cap):  Read more…

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Dwyane Wade Named All-Star Game MVP

February 15th, 2010 No comments

East All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat holds his MVP trophy after the East defeated the West in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game in Dallas, Texas

The All-Star Game was apparently no different from any other game for Dwyane Wade, even if it was played before a record crowd. Just as he did when he led the Miami Heat to their only N.B.A. championship in nearby Dallas in 2006, Wade took MVP honors at the N.B.A.’s 59th All-Star Game on Sunday.

The East’s 141-139 victory over the West last night was played before an announced crowd of 108,713, including the usual assortment of celebrities from the worlds of movies, television and music. It was the largest crowd to ever witness a basketball game in person, although most of the crowd probably spent the night staring at the enormous video screen above the court. Cowboys Stadium, which cost $1.3 billion to build, may be the only entertainment venue on Earth where people pay good money to watch television. The stadium is massive.

While playing alongside teammates he was certainly looking to impress, players he’ll be looking to recruit this summer to become his permanent teammates, Wade fueled a performance that featured a game-high 28 points on 12-for-16 shooting, 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals.

He tag-teamed with LeBron James and Chris Bosh to dominate the action for the East. James finished with 25 points and six assists, while Bosh contributed 23 points and 10 rebounds. The hope is that the trio will be doing the same for the Miami Heat next season.

It certainly was a promising exhibition, even if it was meaningless.

The chemistry between Wade and James was undeniable. The question about them playing with each other in Miami was a never-ending theme all week.

“You can see the connection we both have, especially going to the basket, lobs, finding each other,” Wade said. “I’ve played with him a lot of years, in the Olympics, and he makes it easy for all his teammates.

“I get the opportunity to be his teammate for one day, and I’m going to enjoy it. He was one of the reasons why I sit up here with the MVP award.”

Can he see them playing together regularly in the N.B.A.?

“We can dream, can’t we?” Wade said. “I dream.”

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Two Low-Key Trades for the Miami Heat to Pursue at the Trade Deadline

February 13th, 2010 No comments

While the Miami Heat, and a majority of N.B.A. teams, are focused on headline names being tossed around as possible trade deadline blockbuster candidates, the Heat has more pressing matters to concern itself with as well.

With the Heat attempting to move closer to signing three max-contract players — their own free agent Dwyane Wade and possibly two others – there are a couple of more low-key deadline deals that should be considered in pursuit of that goal.

Below are two suggested trade proposals which would help:

Suggested Trade Proposal #1
Heat Trade: Dorell Wright, James Jones, 2010 First Round Pick Jones_James Wright_Dorell
Heat Receive: Nothing or Expiring Contract(s)

The Heat appear to be faced with the choice of dumping Dorell Wright or paying the N.B.A.’s luxury tax.

Wright is an emerging talent who is expendable only because the Heat is unlikely to be in a position to re-sign him this summer. Trading him would save the team approximately $8 million.

Several teams are showing interest. Memphis is making a strong push. In his fifth year, Wright is a preps-to-pros prospect the Heat selected in the first round (19th overall) of the 2004 N.B.A. draft. He would fit the Grizzlies’ expressed desire to add length, shooting and defense on the perimeter. The Grizzlies are reportedly prepared to offer a 2010 first round draft pick in exchange.

The prospect of trading 26 final games of Dorell Wright in exchange for approximately $8 million in cash and a 2010 first round draft pick merits serious consideration in its own right.

But the Heat has a bigger issue it needs to resolve. It needs to get rid of James Jones’ contract. If it’s even possible, the cost is going to be very high.  Read more…

The Best Photo of Super Bowl XLIV?

February 11th, 2010 2 comments

According to a written statement by New Orleans Saints cornerback Randall Gay, Indianapolis Colts holder Pat McAfee and kicker Matt Stover are homosexual.

When asked to comment, all three parties declined.

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Why Pursue Stoudemire?

February 9th, 2010 No comments

There are numerous reasons why it would make a great deal of strategic sense for the Heat to make a strong play for Amare Stoudemire in advance of the February 18 trade deadline.

Here’s another: It eliminates the potential for the Cavaliers to get him. Cleveland appears to be the front-runner at the moment for Stoudemire’s services at the moment; they’d have almost no chance to get him in free agency.

The free agency summer ahead is as much a chess match between competitors for LeBron James as it is anything else.

James wants Stoudemire. It makes strategic sense that if the Heat have the chance to block a deal, they should take it – particularly with the excellent cover that he’d be an excellent fit for the Heat. It wouldn’t be seen as reactionary.

If the Cavaliers land Stoudemire, James is happy. The Cavaliers become clear-cut favorites to reach the N.B.A. Finals. If they win, they become clear-cut favorites to retain both James and Stoudemire for the long-term.

Even assuming the Heat is then successful in acquiring Chris Bosh on the free agent market, could a Wade-Beasley-Bosh core truly compete with the Cavaliers of today plus Amare?

Ask yourself that question honestly. What’s it worth to you to ensure that doesn’t happen? Micheal Beasley?

Amare Stoudemire: Let the Games Begin

February 7th, 2010 No comments

After the latest round of discussions with Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t appear destined to produce a contract extension, the Phoenix Suns have reportedly intensified their efforts to trade the All-Star power forward.

Sources say the Suns have become more active in talks over the past few days, and believe the franchise will take the best offer for Stoudemire before the February 18 trade deadline. With Stoudemire able to opt out of the final $17.7 million season of his contract at the end of the season, the Suns don’t want to risk losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.

The Miami Heat, as well as the Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and a host of others, reportedly have a strong interest.

With Stoudemire having undergone serious knee and eye surgeries in recent years, there are differing perspectives on his market value. Stoudemire has expressed a belief that he is a maximum-contract player. That’s not what the Suns have been willing to offer. But some team that is otherwise facing the prospect of striking out this summer surely will give it to him.

Stoudemire insists that he is 100% healthy, although many have questioned whether he is as explosive. Nevertheless, he has made a strong comeback from eye surgery this season – averaging 20.9 points and 8.6 rebounds.

As they did when they shopped him last season, the Suns want a combination of young talent, salary-cap relief and draft picks for him. Some teams are hesitant to trade for Stoudemire for fear he won’t want to re-sign with them this summer.

The Heat have the means with which to make one of the more compelling offers.

Should they? Should they risk putting together a compelling offer on a player who could choose to opt out of his contract just five months later? Should they risk having him opt into the final season of his contract (which is more than $1 million higher than Dwyane Wade’s maximum salary would be), even if doing so puts increasing pressure on the team’s ability sign a third maximum contract free agent?

The Heat is playing a dangerous game. While Miami is considered a potential destination for LeBron James and Chris Bosh this summer, two more coveted free agents than Stoudemire, the danger with doing nothing now is that Wade might walk if the team fails to get James, Bosh or another top player or two. Stoudemire could short-circuit the rebuilding process and serve as an impetus for Wade to both stay and recruit others. How much should that factor into the decision?  Read more…

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2010 Free Agency: Teams on the Brink

February 5th, 2010 No comments

The 2010 free agent class is poised to be among the best in N.B.A. history. Nearly one-third of all the teams are attempting to position themselves to maximize cap space in order to make a run at one or more of them. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the headliners.

There are currently just four teams competing with the Heat to produce the necessary cap space to make a serious run at them: the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Clippers. With the February 18 trade deadline now less than three weeks away, each will be looking to further improve their financial flexibility.

Here’s a look at how each are currently positioned (assuming a $54 million cap):

The Nets currently have a guaranteed payroll of $22.7 million from five players (Devin Harris, Yi Jianlian, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez, Terrence Williams, and Courtney Lee) for next season. As of now, they stand to have about $28.4 million in cap room.

While they seem poised to break the all-time N.B.A. record for futility this season, five months from now they could offer an intriguing array of talent. The Nets will have a 25% chance of getting the first overall pick in the 2010 draft. If the balls bounce favorably, they will select Kentucky point guard John Wall. Paired up with center Brook Lopez, this would figure to be a solid core. The move to Brooklyn and the promise of free-flowing cash from new owner and Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, might make such a proposition difficult to resist for premier free agents.

Nets at the Trade Deadline: The only long-term contract they have belongs to Harris, who has occasionally come up in trade discussions because he’s regressed so badly this season. The Nets seem a bit fed up with him, but they likely won’t look to move him until they get assurances on Wall in June. If they do, their cap space would jump to $33.1 million even with Wall. That would leave them comfortably in range for two maximum contract free agents.

The Knicks currently have a guaranteed payroll of $27.3 million from six players (Eddy Curry, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas, Jared Jeffries, and Jordan Hill) for next season. As of now, they stand to have about $23.8 million in cap room.

They want more. As much as they’d like to lure LeBron James, they’d love to pair him with a second maximum contract free agent. General Manager Donnie Walsh has tried all season to find a taker for Eddy Curry and his bloated $11.3 million salary, but he hasn’t been easy to move. In fact, he has one of the least desirable contracts in the league.

Knicks at the Trade Deadline: They’ll be looking to clear Jared Jefferies’ $6.9 million salary. If they do, their cap space will jump to $31.2 million. That would leave them just about $1.5 million short of their target goal. But they’d be able to bridge that gap by giving away some of their desirable youngsters. One problem for the Knicks is that even if they do get them, they’d have nobody of significance with which to pair their two new additions.

The Bulls currently have a guaranteed payroll of $37.7 million from seven players (Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, James Johnson, Taj Gibson, and John Salmons) for next season. As of now, they stand to have about $14.0 million in cap room.

Chicago has the best array of existing talent on minimal contracts in All Star point guard Derrick Rose and center Joakim Noah, and could therefore be a major player in free agency. While they don’t currently have enough cap room for even one maximum contract player, their situation is a bit of an illusion. Deng would figure to be a possible trade target for several teams, and would clear $11.3 million off the books. But, as one of the better defensive small forwards in the league when healthy, don’t expect such a trade until a more definitive replacement is identified in the summer.

Bulls at the Trade Deadline: They’ll be looking clear either Kirk Hinrich’s $9.0 million salary or John Salmons’ $5.8 million salary. If they do, their cap space would jump to at least $19.3 million which, when paired with a potential Deng trade later in the summer, could free up at least $30.2 million. That would leave them around $2.5 million shy of the room required for not one but two maximum contract free agents. If it’s one, they’ll target Wade. If it’s two, it could be James and Wade or Bosh. The Bulls figure to be a significant and dangerous player this summer.

The Clippers currently have a guaranteed payroll of $39.0 million from six players (Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, and Sebastian Telfair). As of now, they stand to have about $13.0 million in cap room.

The Clippers, to this point, have not been seriously mentioned as a viable threat to lure James away from Cleveland in free agency. That’s despite the fact that they can offer him a promising group of potential sidekicks — led by All-Star center Chris Kaman, forward Blake Griffin and guards Eric Gordon and Baron Davis — as well as proximity to the many off-court business opportunities that only Hollywood can provide. But the reason the Clippers have not been mentioned as a serious suitor is no mystery. Owner Donald Sterling has a reputation as one of the league’s worst owners to play for, caring more about generating a profit than he does about spending what it takes to build a contender.

Clippers at the Trade Deadline: The Clippers feel they have a title-caliber starter at every position but small forward. They’ll hope to attract LeBron James. To get there, they’ll first be looking to clear the $2.8 million and $2.7 million expiring contracts of Al Thornton and Sebastian Telfair. If they do, their cap space will jump to $17.5 million. That’s more than enough for James.

***

Note: The Cleveland Cavaliers do not have any cap space for the summer of 2010 but they can offer LeBron James a full maximum contract by utilizing his Bird rights. They also have the assets with which to complete a sign-and-trade for a second maximum contract free agent. Thus, they cannot be discounted from any discussions revolving around the possibility of acquiring two such players. It does, however, seem unlikely because Cleveland is not widely considered a desirable free agent destination. 

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Is Dorell Wright On The Move?

February 3rd, 2010 No comments

The always dapper Dorell Wright

As the NBA trade deadline fast approaches, questions are naturally beginning to surface in South Florida as to what activity we are likely to see from the Miami Heat.

The answer, quite simply, is nothing too exciting.

Pat Riley has a plan now nearly three years in the making. The plan, however tenuous it may appear in the current salary cap environment, is to sign three max contract free agents to long-term contracts next summer. The plan has always been to sacrifice the present for the benefit of the future.

At this point, nothing will – and nothing should – deter him from that goal.

Trading away the only continuing contracts – those of Daequan Cook and James Jones – would be ideal, but the market for each is exceedingly thin.

And so all that remains are financial considerations.

Miami’s payroll currently stands at $72.7 million, $2.8 million over the luxury tax threshold. Unfortunately for Dorell Wright, he happens to be making a tidy $2.9 million. That puts him directly in the line of fire.

Should Dorell Wright be traded? Read more…

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Review of Miami Heat’s Future Draft Picks

February 1st, 2010 No comments

If the Miami Heat’s free agent dreams are to come true, they’re going to need their draft picks.

It could be that Heat president Pat Riley will need some of them to complete a trade or two or three or four. It could be that the Heat uses every dollar under the salary cap to sign three maximum contract free agents this summer and needs some surround them with promising youngsters in the years to come, to ensure that the future stays bright. The good news is that the Heat has a lot of them, and they could be getting more.

To start the summer, the Heat will have six first round draft picks over the next five years – including a protected first round pick acquired from the Toronto Raptors in Shawn Marion-Jermaine O’Neal swap on February 13, 2009.

According to the details of the 2009 deal, the Toronto pick is a lottery-protected 2010 first round pick. Essentially, that means the Heat will get the pick if the Raptors make the playoffs.

If instead the Raptors miss the playoffs, two things will happen: (i) the Heat will get a 2010 second round pick from the Raptors (which, by virtue of the fact that they would’ve missed the playoffs, would be in the top half of the round) and (ii) the Heat will get a future first round pick from the Raptors. It will be lottery-protected through 2014 and unprotected in 2015. That means the Heat will receive Toronto’s first round pick in the first year from 2011 through 2014 that Toronto makes the playoffs. If they don’t make the playoffs by 2014, the Heat will receive Toronto’s 2015 first round pick unconditionally. Given Toronto’s history and current struggles, that pick could wind up being quite valuable. It could become the first overall pick in 2015 N.B.A draft.   Read more…

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