Archive for June, 2010

The day after the draft, where exactly are we?

June 25th, 2010 22 comments
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Well, Riley picked up guard Daequan Cook’s team option back in October. It was a mistake which forced the team to surrender its No. 18 overall pick in order to unwind.

At No. 18, both Eric Bledsoe and Avery Bradley were available for the taking. If you believe either had the potential to be a future high-quality starting point guard in this league, then that was the true cost of the Cook blunder. If you’d rather have seen the pick traded for a future pick, then such a pick  – perhaps between Nos. 16 and 20 overall next season – is the true cost.

The Thunder, who took on Cook in exchange, used the No. 18 pick to draft Bledsoe, who was subsequently dealt to the Clippers for a protected future first round pick. So… at the very worst, Riley sacrificed his point guard of the future. At the very least, if he preferred the extra $1.2 million in cap space pick No. 18 eats up, he sacrificed a protected future first rounder. It’s hard to believe that the price to jettison Cook couldn’t have been substantially cheaper. As far as general managers go, Pat Riley got used by Sam Presti on that one.

The Heat did get the 32nd overall pick in the trade, which it used to acquire 22-year old University of Texas senior Dexter Pittman. Pittman is an undersized center, at 6’9.5″ without shoes, with a huge 7’6″ wingspan and the biggest hands in the draft (whatever that means). He tips the scales at over 300 pounds, having already dropped more than 60 pounds during his four seasons with the Longhorns and playing at nearly 400 pounds in high school. His nearly 21% body fat (fourth highest in draft history) suggests he still has a long ways to go with his conditioning. Read more…

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Bulls move Hinrich, No. 17 to Washington for cap space

June 24th, 2010 7 comments
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Per Ric Bucher:

The Chicago Bulls have a deal in place that would move Kirk Hinrich and the 17th pick to the Washington Wizards, freeing up enough cap space to pursue two maximum-salary players in this summer’s free-agent market, sources with knowledge of the Bulls’ plans said Thursday.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Washington would send to Chicago in the trade.

The deal can’t be officially consummated until July 8, when the Wizards will have room under the salary cap to absorb Hinrich’s $9 million contract without having to send back anything of similar value.

Since it’s a good-faith deal for the time being, there remains a chance it could fall apart. But according to one source, the Sacramento Kings are prepared to make a similar deal with the Bulls in the Wizards’ stead if that were to happen.

Despite the report, the trade doesn’t quite get the Bulls the required cap room for two max contract players. The last cap estimate provided by Commissioner David Stern was $56.1 million at the start of the playoffs. The Bulls would have enough room for a $13,838,492 offer after signing one maximum free agent.

That number is below the second max threshold by $2,730,417 — an amount which can not be bridged without saving money by moving Luol Deng. James Johnson and Taj Gibson combine to make $2,831,280, but they’d have a $947,208 roster charge coming back if they’re traded, so the Bulls would still be shy by $846,345.

Read more…

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Joel to Decline His Player Option

June 24th, 2010 4 comments
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Anthony was due to earn $885,120 with the Heat next season if he had exercised his option

As expected, center Joel Anthony has elected to forgo the 2010/11 player option he held with the Heat. Anthony faces a midnight Thursday deadline on his decision, with his inaction making him a free agent. The announcement cannot be made official until that time.

The decision frees up an additional $885,120 in spending money for Pat Riley’s ball club. The Heat now has just two players with guaranteed contracts, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, and a total guaranteed payroll (which assumes James Jones will be bought out by June 30) of $7,672,629. With the cap projected at $56.1 million, Miami figures to have some $48,427,371 of available room.

The decision to opt out makes Anthony slightly less expensive to the Heat if the team hopes to retain him. With Anthony having played just three NBA seasons, the Heat can choose to make him a restricted free agent, which would afford the right to match any outside offers. To do so, Miami would be required to extend a qualifying offer of $1,060,120, which would reduce the team’s available room. However, the qualifying offer can be rescinded at any time prior to July 23, at the team’s sole discretion. If no qualifying offer is extended, or if it rescinded prior to July 23, Anthony would count $854,389 against the 2010/11 salary cap.

Independent of whether or not a qualifying offer is extended, the Heat would continue to retain Joel’s Bird rights until he is officially renounced.

Despite the decision by Joel to test the free agent waters, the Heat still has the clear inside track to retain him. In fact, the decision may have been mutual between player and team, and could pave the wave for Anthony to receive a substantial raise at little cost to the Heat.

For a list of all the Heat’s available options with Joel, click here.

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Rumor: Celtics shopping pick 19 for cap space

June 24th, 2010 4 comments
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Per Andy Katz and Peter May:

The Boston Celtics have put their first-round pick in Thursday’s draft — No. 19 overall — on the market… with an eye toward making one more run at a championship next season.

The reasoning behind trading the pick, according to a source, would be to take the money that would be guaranteed to a first-rounder and spend it elsewhere.

Boston GM Danny Ainge figures to be looking for additional bodies to help fill out the roster for next season. If the Celtics are to make a run at one last title before breaking apart, they need help now. With Rasheed reportedly about to retire, the team will have just five players under contract for next season. The Celtics also hold the 52nd pick.

Ainge has been very adept at finding quality talent in the second round of past drafts (Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Ryan Gomes). Perhaps Ainge is considering dealing down for value, to pile up cheaper help which he believes to be just as useful as any prospect waiting at pick 19.

Miami has plenty of second round picks to offer, holding picks 32, 41, 42 and 48.

Should Pat consider trading picks 32 and 48 to Boston in exchange for 19?

Such a scenario would effectively mean the Heat will have discarded Daequan Cook’s contract for pick 48 and a swap of picks 18 and 19. For those of us that held the Heat’s first round pick in high regard, this certainly makes Riley’s initial trade much easier to stomach.

Your thoughts?

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Taking Stock of the Events of the Past 24 Hours

June 24th, 2010 No comments
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Draft night appears to be nothing more than a precursor to July 1 for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat this year.

Already poised to be a major player in the free agent sweepstakes that begin next week, Miami has just freed up an additional $3.4 million in extra spending money.

On Wednesday, the Heat traded guard Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick in the upcoming draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for the No. 32 pick. The trade clears not only Cook’s $2.2 million salary for next season, but it also removes the $1.2 million the Heat had to budget for its first round pick.

More activity is likely, with the Heat still looking to clear additional space. The team’s first priority will be to move the burdensome contract of James Jones, but that appears nearly impossible to do. Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers could also be dealt. In the case of Chalmers, Miami need not worry about structuring a trade. A receiving team could utilize the minimum salary exception to acquire the second year guard.

Unless Miami makes a trade to move back up into the first round, it seems clear that the Heat prefers to rebuild in free agency, without the troubles of another potentially misguided first round selection.

The team still has four second round picks with which to work – Nos. 32, 41, 42 and 48. Look for Miami to construct a trade – possibly up, but more likely out – with some of them. For the rest, upon each player’s selection, he would become the property of the Heat for up to a year. The Heat is not required to offer a guaranteed contract to any of them in return. Unlike first round picks, second rounders do not reduce a team’s cap space immediately upon selection.

The draft is scheduled to start tomorrow at 7:00 pm, and should run through midnight. By the time it is over, the Heat will have gained additional clarity on its roster for next season. Center Joel Anthony is required to inform the team, by no later than tomorrow night, if he has chosen to exercise his player option in the amount of $885,120. If he does not do so, his contract will – by default – be terminated. It seems likely that Joel will opt out.

The team will decide whether or not to keep James Jones by June 30.

The Heat figures to enter the off-season with two players under contract, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, and a total guaranteed payroll of $7,672,629. With the cap projected at $56.1 million, Miami figures to have some $48,427,371 of available room. Read more…

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Heat Trades Daequan Cook and Pick No. 18 to OKC for Pick No. 32

June 23rd, 2010 41 comments
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Done in Miami after three disappointing seasons

The Miami Heat has traded out of the first round of tomorrow’s draft, sending its No. 18 pick and guard Daequan Cook to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 32 overall pick in the second round.

Pat Riley has publicly acknowledged his preference to build through free agency and on the eve of the draft he has held true to his word, opting instead for the added cap space this trade creates.

The move corrects an error made by Riley back in October, when he violated his self-imposed plan to maximize the team’s cap space for the coming off-season and instead chose to pick up Cook’s team option for next season – to the surprise of many, including Daequan. Cook has since regressed, in his fourth and final season under his rookie scale contract.

For Oklahoma City, this deal makes a great deal of sense. The Thunder receives a quality shooter and a top 20 pick for the 32nd pick. And something tells me general manager Sam Presti isn’t done swapping. Now OKC owns three first rounders – Nos. 18, 21 and 26 – and could use them as a springboard to move up a little more.

For Miami, this is a straight salary dump. The Heat not only jettisons the $2,169,857 on Cook’s contract for next season, but also the $1,237,500 salary it would have been obligated to pay the No. 18 selection in Thursday’s draft. In total, the Heat saves $3,407,357. Read more…

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Bill Walker a Welcome Addition in South Florida?

June 23rd, 2010 7 comments
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Bill Walker Photo

How many players in the NBA this past season shot at least 50% from the floor, at least 40% from beyond the three-point line, and at least 78% from the free throw line?


Steve Nash. Mike Miller. Nicolas Batum. Rodrigue Beaubois. And Bill Walker.

That’s four guys making big dollars, and one making the league minimum.

Bill Walker is an intriguing player: He’s young. He’s tall. He’s athletic. He’s explosive. He can defend. And he can shoot.

He’s had those traits his entire life. But nothing has come easy for him. Walker’s path toward achieving his life-time goal of playing in the NBA has been an excruciating one.

Read more…

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Debunking the Rumors

June 22nd, 2010 6 comments
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According to “league sources,” the Heat is willing to sell the 18th pick in Thursday’s draft in order to clear the cap space.

I have for some time been a proponent of a strategy which calls for the Heat to rid itself of its draft pick in favor of the cap space. In fact, I wrote a concise post describing this very scenario more than a month ago.

But this is the wrong way to approach it. Pat Riley is undoubtedly aware of all the options available to him. I therefore refuse to believe that the suggestion provided above is anything more than a baseless rumor.

Let me explain. Read more…

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Last Thoughts Before The Draft

June 22nd, 2010 2 comments
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Navigating the uncertain waters of the NBA Draft has been a special kind of hell for Pat Riley over his years with the Heat organization. Outside of Detroit’s gift to Miami that was Dwyane Wade in 2003, Riley’s draft record reads more like a comedy of errors. The upcoming draft figures to be equally challenging.

In sports, people generally prefer the predictability of the black and white. The obvious. Thursday’s draft figures to be anything but. One expert’s eighth pick is another’s twentieth. And if your team is picking somewhere in the middle of the first round — as the Heat are, at No. 18 — well, it is very difficult to zero in on someone.

What is damaging everyone’s quest to narrow down their searches is the lack of separation beyond the select few at the top. Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, Ohio State’s Evan Turner, Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors, and Syracuse’s Wes Johnson figure to go first.

After that, everything is tenuous. And even they don’t seem all that elite.

While there don’t appear to be any surefire superstars in this draft, this appears to be a relatively deep draft class with intriguing prospects expected to be on the board all the way through the first round and perhaps beyond.

So the rumors are starting to soar, with every team outside of the Top 2 (Wizards and Sixers) potentially interested and open to trading up, down or both (with the Pacers and Bulls open to trading out of the draft completely), which means picks 3 through 30 are potentially up for grabs if the team that’s trying to trade up has enough assets (cap space, players, picks, etc.) to get a deal done. Read more…

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Mike Miller the answer at small forward?

June 21st, 2010 14 comments
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How many players in the NBA shot better than 50% from the field, 40% from beyond the arc and 80% from the line while averaging at least 30 minutes of playing time this past season?


Steve Nash. And Mike Miller.

Miller has quietly developed into one of the most versatile and efficient offensive players in the game today. He is a multi-faceted offense threat: he can shoot, he can drive, he can pass and he can rebound. He often plays more than one position during the course of a game, including a point-forward type role in some stretches. Miller is best suited to be a team’s third option, where his overall floor game can benefit his team greatest.

Sound good for a Heat team poised to add Bosh or Stoudemire alongside Dwyane Wade?

Miller figures to be one of the more quizzical cases in free agency this summer. The former Rookie of the Year in 2001 and Sixth Man of the Year in 2006 has faded into relative obscurity over these past two seasons. That’s what a year in Minnesota and another in Washington will do. But don’t let that allow you to diminish the impact of his talent – talent that made him the No. 5 overall pick back in the 2000 NBA Draft.

Over the course of his career, Miller has averaged 13.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Those numbers are nothing to scoff at, particularly considering he’s a career 40.5% shooter from downtown. Better still, Miller’s accuracy from the field has only been on the rise. He’s averaged 50.2%, 48.2%, and 50.1% shooting in the past three years, respectively, despite being the victim of having to play for some awful ball clubs.

Miller is perhaps the game’s ultimate floor-spacing wing player, with an ability to knock down shots from just about anywhere on the court. And although his shooting is his most celebrated asset, it’s certainly not his only one. At 6’8″, his tenacity on the defensive boards and his willingness to distribute the ball should not be overlooked.

He certainly hasn’t been overlooked by Pat Riley. In fact, Riley has looked squarely in Miller’s direction for the past several seasons – thinking highly of not only his ability but his first-class character and high basketball IQ. At the trade deadline in February, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld spurned strong interest from the Heat. Of course he did. What did Miami have to offer? But now, with Miller an unrestricted free agent and the Heat with plenty of cap space, the game has changed. Read more…

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