Making sense of the Heat’s draft pick situation

July 10th, 2010 6 comments

How highly do you value your first round draft picks?

Not so much if you’re Pat Riley.

And for good reason. Riley has been shockingly unsuccessful with his first round draft selections since having Dwyane Wade fall into his lap with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

In 2004, with the Heat in desperate need of a point guard, Riley selected Dorell Wright with pick No. 19. Jameer Nelson was the next player selected.

In 2005, with the Heat seeking depth at power forward, Riley selected Wayne Simeon with pick No. 29. David Lee was the next player selected.

In 2006, the Heat had no pick.

In 2007, Riley completed a draft-day swap for Daequan Cook at pick No. 21. Cook never shot better than 38% in any season during his Heat tenure, and was unceremoniously exiled last month, along with a first round draft pick, in favor of the cap space.

In 2008, with the Heat again starving at point guard and the blockbuster free agent class of 2010 flush with power forwards, Riley selected Michael Beasley with the No. 2 overall pick. Beasley is being shipped away for two second round draft picks. Russell Westbrook, selected two picks later, has become a perennial All-Star at point guard.

In 2009, the Heat had no pick. It was sent to Minnesota as part of the regrettable Ricky Davis, Mark Blount trade. The Wolves used the pick to draft Ty Lawson.

Not good. And Pat knows it:

I’ve said in the past, and I believe this, that the way I always want to build a team is through free agency and trades. Probably some of the best players we’ve gotten here were free agents and trades.

Also, through the draft. But the only way you build through the draft is to lose and get three, four, five years of Top 10 lottery picks. Since (losing to get those picks) has never been a philosophy of mine – we’ve only had three lottery picks in 15 years – I always use (draft picks) as an adjunct to help free agency and trades. As chips I would use maybe to acquire players through trade.

Perhaps his philosophy is one formulated by a track record of consistent failure. But he certainly has remained staunchly committed to his word.

Riley has traded away four first round and two second round draft picks in the past few hours, for two players already committed to the Miami Heat.

Read more…

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How he did it

July 10th, 2010 7 comments

For those of us who are wondering how Pat Riley was able to maneuver within the confines of the $58.044 million salary cap in order to secure the services of the Big Three as well as Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, here is how it is possible.

The contracts of Wade, James and Bosh have all been executed. The contracts of Haslem and Miller have been described by Riley as “fluid.” He hopes to have them worked out in the coming days. But, using basic math, we should be able to get reasonably close.

Estimates for Miller’s contract have been around $30 million. That leaves around $20 million for Haslem. I’ve chosen nice, round numbers so it’s easy to follow, numbers which may or may not prove to be exact.



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Riley now setting his sights on Derek Fisher

July 10th, 2010 1 comment

The Miami Heat organization is quickly becoming a comedy of riches.

It was projected by most experts that when the Heat landed the Big Three on Thursday night, it would need to fill out the roster with minimum salary-caliber talent – veteran players well past their prime, or youngsters so inexperienced that they haven’t yet had the chance to prove they can’t make it in this league. Scrubs.

It would now appear that Pat Riley is trying to put together a bench that would have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs of its own accord.

In the past 24 hours, Riley has executed contracts with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. He has agreed in principal to contracts with Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. He has engaged in discussions with Matt Barnes. He will undoubtedly engage in discussions with Raja Bell if he hasn’t done so already. And he’s going for more.

Pat now has his sights set on five-time champion Derek Fisher. Fisher and the Lakers have reached an impasse in their amicable contract negotiations, and the free agent point guard has flown to Miami to meet with Riley later today.

It will be a tough sell.

The Lakers have reportedly increased their initial one-year, $2.5 million offer to the 13-year veteran. The Heat, dare I say it, figures to be able to offer only a minimum salary contract, worth $1,352,181.

Fisher, who will be 36 next month, earned $5 million this past season. He is reportedly seeking a two-year deal at about the same average salary. He would ideally like to remain with the Lakers, and the Lakers would ideally like to retain him, but he understandably wants to explore his options given the team Riley has put together in South Florida. The Lakers signed Steve Blake to a four-year, $16-million deal, but he’s currently the only point guard the team has under contract.

Fisher’s experience, clutch shooting and locker room presence could be big assets for the Heat. But he might be one of those aged veterans well past their prime to which the experts were referring. The Heat does have a potentially nice option in youngster Patrick Beverley, who is still raw but could serve a backup role to would-be starter Mario Chalmers.

Hopefully, the Heat will pass.

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It’s Official!!!

July 9th, 2010 8 comments

With 13,000 Heat fans anxiously waiting in AmericanAirlines Arena to welcome its newest trio of superstars, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were upstairs finalizing their contracts. Minutes later, they emerged through a cloud of Canes-like smoke… along with some unexpected news. Udonis Haslem is returning to join the party.

Haslem’s commitment was, needless to say, a shocking revelation. Even I had previously reported that Udonis would not be back. The Heat was out of cap space, the team was unable to utilize his Bird rights, and he was not about to sign for the league minimum.

So, how was it possible?

In short, the triumvirate agreed to reduce the value of their contracts. And Riley turned around and utilized the recovered cap space to secure the beloved power forward, as well as newcomer Mike Miller.

But why would they so drastically reduce their salaries? Well, pure generosity. Udonis and Mike are friends of the Big Three, and the Big Three did right by their friends in their desire to put together a championship-caliber roster and close-knit team.

How much did they sacrifice? Let’s take a look. Read more…

Matt Barnes talking with the Heat

July 9th, 2010 No comments

Somehow, some way, the news just keeps getting better.

Free-agent forward Matt Barnes, who spent last season with the Orlando Magic, has told the Orlando Sentinel he’s interested in joining the Miami Heat, but his priority is to stay in Orlando.

That priority is likely the natural result of money. The Heat can only afford to offer a minimum contract, worth $1,146,337 to the seven-year veteran. Barnes, now an unrestricted free agent, opted out of a $1.6 million guaranteed contract in search of a bigger payday.

Orlando, however, is unlikely to provide one. The Magic would like to re-sign two of its own free agents, Barnes and guard J.J. Redick. But general manager Otis Smith stressed the Magic won’t overpay for either. It’s certainly understandable. The Magic now has a guaranteed payroll of over $83 million from its 11 roster players for 2010-11, putting the team more than $13 million over the tax threshold.

“We’ve been in contact with Miami,” Barnes said. “No question they’ve added some pieces with the Big Three.”

Barnes said he also has been in contact with the L.A. Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks. But the Magic remain “No. 1 on my list. I definitely want to stay in Orlando. That’s been my family’s stance as well.”

Barnes would presumably play a stretch forward position for the Heat, the same type of role which could be filled by roster hopeful Robert Dozier.

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Clearing Up Some Sign-and-Trade Confusion

July 9th, 2010 3 comments

The following was reported today in the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Should the Heat be able to pull off the maneuver, it would give Heat President Pat Riley unlimited resources to re-sign remaining current Heat free agents such as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright and Quentin Richardson — whichever are not included in such a sign-and-trade — without having to make those agreements work within the confines of the NBA’s “soft” salary cap.

In addition, such a maneuver would allow the Heat to retain its mid-level salary-cap exception for 2010-11, which it then could utilize to complete its planned signing of Washington Wizards free-agent swingman Mike Miller.

For the benefit of any dual readers who would certainly be confused and prematurely excited, allow me to clarify this ridiculous and impossible scenario.

Read more…

No Rest For the Weary!

July 9th, 2010 10 comments

LeBron James is joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the suddenly star-heavy Miami Heat roster. The trio dramatically alters the league’s power structure, with the Heat instantly vaulted into what figures to be the Eastern Conference’s perennial powerhouse for the next half decade, ahead of such teams as the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic.

But it’s difficult to project the team’s superiority as of now, partly because it’s not yet officially a team. The league requires all NBA teams to carry between thirteen and fifteen players on its roster during the regular season.

How do you build out a roster around three players who are arguably the league’s best at their positions?

The commitment of Wade, James and Bosh was a strong first step. It was so strong that each committed to the Heat without knowing exactly what he committed to. There were no assurances that any would receive their maximum allowable starting salary of $16.6 million for 2010-11. In fact, they won’t.

In an era where we complain that athletes never want to win and only care about money, three of the top players in the game have agreed to take less money to play together and to dominate the league for the foreseeable future, even at the risk of diminishing their own individual greatness. Ultimately, they cared more about winning and friendship than money and legacy. Remarkable. Read more…

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Heat Comes to Terms With Free Agent Swingman Mike Miller

July 9th, 2010 13 comments

The Miami Heat has taken another major step forward in its attempt to build out its championship-caliber roster, agreeing to a five-year, $29 million contract with Wizards free agent swingman Mike Miller.

Miller, 30, is one of only two NBA players (Steve Nash) who 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. He has quietly developed into one of the most versatile and efficient offensive players in the game today. Miller 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 as a complementary piece, where his overall floor game can benefit his team greatest.

Miller, perhaps the game’s ultimate floor-spacing wing player, figures to get big minutes alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and an as-yet undetermined center. If the Heat elect for a small-ball approach, Bosh could slide over to center and James to power forward, allowing Mario Chalmers onto the floor at the point. That could produce some of the greatest offensive basketball this game has ever seen.

Wade and James need little else beyond just the floor space with which to maneuver. Chalmers, Miller and Bosh could provide them just that. Simply by camping out along the perimeter, these players present their defenders with the following dilemma: should they sag into the paint and prevent Wade or James’ penetration and risk a kickout, or should they stick to their men and leave the driving player unattended?

That’s a tricky proposition made nearly impossible by the fact that James and Wade are perhaps the two best finishers at the rim in the game, and Miller and Bosh are two of the best perimeter jump shooters in the league. Chalmers, despite his regression last season, is advancing in his role as a three-point threat and could be in line for a breakout season.

Miller was reportedly seeking a multi-year contract above the mid-level exception valued at $5.8 million a year for up to five seasons. The 6’8″ ten-year veteran was being courted by several teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, each of which stood to offer him substantially more money. Miller now becomes the fourth Heat player who has taken fewer total dollars in exchange for the prospect of winning multiple NBA titles.

The contract status of Wade, James and Bosh can now be finalized. Miller’s contract will start at $5.0 million, with 8.0% annual non-compounding raises. That would leave enough room under the $58.044 million salary cap for each member of the trifecta to sign a contract with a 2010-11 starting salary of $15,423,364, a $1,145,544 discount from the max.

After they do, Miami will have five players under contract – Wade, Miller, James, Bosh and Chalmers – and no additional room under the salary cap with which to operate.

A Miami Heat dynasty is currently in formation.

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Heat send Michael Beasley to Timberwolves

July 9th, 2010 No comments

The cloud of mystery that has surrounded the stay of Michael Beasley in South Florida for the past two seasons has been lifted. The talented but troubled forward will be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, as previously speculated.

Per Marc Stein and Chad Ford of ESPN:

The Miami Heat have found a trade taker for Michael Beasley that will create more salary-cap space for the dramatic transformation of their roster.

Sources close to the situation told that the Heat have agreed on a trade that will send Beasley to the Minnesota Timberwolves, who can absorb Beasley’s contract into their salary-cap space.

Minnesota, according to sources, will complete the trade by sending Miami a second-round pick in 2011. The Wolves and Heat, sources said, have also agreed to swap an unspecified future first-round pick.

While the consideration offered for Beasley does not seem like much of a return in exchange for the young and promising second overall pick from the 2008 NBA Draft, Pat Riley has bigger plans in mind. The $5.0 million in salary cap space gained is enough to guarantee maximum contracts for each of Wade, James and Bosh, with an additional $2,149,883 to spare.

However, Riley has already secured commitments from each that they would be willing to shave money off their deals in order to acquire additional talent. It seems likely that the savings will therefore be re-directed to fill more pressing needs in the rotation.

Three-point specialists Mike Miller and Kyle Korver as well as point guard Derek Fisher, all unrestricted free agents, could be among the targets. The Heat has reportedly made an offer to Miller, which was to expire at midnight, in the range of $27 million to $30 million over five seasons. The executed Beasley transaction could be a signal that Miller has accepted the offer.

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First Draft of Dan Gilbert’s Open Letter to Cavaliers Fans

July 8th, 2010 No comments

Dan Gilbert Draft_Page 1Dan Gilbert Draft_Page 2Dan_Gilbert_Draft_Page 3

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