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?

Five.

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?

Two.

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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Breaking down the trade bonus

June 20th, 2010 3 comments
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Well, I didn’t get many readers yesterday. So today I will offer this somewhat less stimulating post on the impact of trade bonuses for the technically savvy few who happen to care. After all, in my heart I enjoy helping to explain the intricacies of the salary cap most.

There seems to be a common perception floating around that Turkoglu, after a forgetful season in Toronto, is washed up. The perception is that he is an aging malcontent, whose inflated salary will be a boon the Raptors for the next four seasons. For a man over thirty years of age with just one solid regular season under his belt, it’s reasonable to understand why. But perhaps it’s just a little harsh for man who produced such a wonderful 2009 NBA Finals.

When Turkoglu arrived in Toronto, having turned away the Trail Blazers in his wake, he received a hero’s welcome. And for good reason. He had just completed an NBA Finals run during which he averaged 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, not to mention his crunch-time leadership, game-winning shot-making and one impressive block from behind on Kobe Bryant. He even the Heat’s own Dwyane Wade pushing to grab him for mid-level money.

Things soured quickly. Turkoglu showed up to training camp overweight and out of shape, and never seemed eager to do much of anything. By the end of the season, he finished with just 11.3 points per game, far and away his fewest over the past six seasons, on just 41% shooting. Turkoglu was unhappy, the fans were booing him, and management was left with the shame at having grossly overvalued him on the free agent market.

The end result wasn’t necessarily an indication of what Turkoglu may be able provide a team next season, if he were to be put in the right situation. But for any of us holding out any lingering hope of acquiring the 6’10” point-forward, I would have you consider his contract. Read more…

Al Jefferson, Anyone?

June 19th, 2010 4 comments
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What if the Heat doesn’t land Chris Bosh? What if it doesn’t land Amare Stoudemire?

There are any number of reasons why Pat Riley could ultimately prove unsuccessful in his quest for each of the two superstars, the most intriguing of which is LeBron James agreeing to call South Florida home for the next five years.

Would you trade for Al Jefferson?

For Wolves fans, the one consolation prize in sending Kevin Garnett off to Boston back in July of 2007 was the acquisition of one the game’s best young post players, Al Jefferson.

Big Al had emerged as the low-block counterpoint to Paul Pierce on Boston’s sub-par 2006/07 team. When the opportunity surfaced for Danny Ainge to acquire Garnett, Jefferson was the Celtics’ only real long-term asset, and so away he went.

In Minnesota, even without a premium point guard, Jefferson has established himself as a dominating low post presence. A legit 6’10” with a well filled 265-pound frame and a massive 7’2.5″ wingspan, he’s an aggressive big man who barrels his way to the left side of the rim on nearly every possession. When he collects the entry pass on the block, he calls upon a variety of post moves to put the ball in the basket with alarming efficiency – often a deceptive up-fake to buy himself space for his little, baby hook shot that he half shoots and half throws, but on which he displays a great deal of touch out to around 10 feet.

Jefferson is an incredibly talented big man with a phenomenal feel for scoring in the post. He also rebounds at a high rate on both ends, thanks to his terrific hands and anticipation skills. And, despite constant double teams, he hardly ever turns the ball over.

The now-25-year-old was following up a breakout 2007/08 campaign with an even more impressive 2008/09, striking fear into opposing defenses to the tune of 23.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks over the season’s first 50 games. Until it all came crashing down. Literally. Read more…

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Oh the trade possibilities we could see…

June 18th, 2010 14 comments
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Take a look at that left knee cap

Blazers fans have gotten used to this. Since Kevin Pritchard took over the reigns as general manager six years ago, he has seen his team through some sort of draft-related trade every season. Usually it’s more than one. In 2006, it was six.

Pritchard has a history of aggressively trading up in the draft in an effort to build a deep, talented roster. He has engineered brilliant draft-day deals that have landed players such as Victor Claver and Jeff Pendergraph in 2009, Nicolas Batum and Jerryd Bayless in 2008, Rudy Fernandez in 2007 and Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Sergio Rodriguez in 2006.

If all the buzz is true, this year will be no different. Pritchard, who will reportedly be fired immediately after the draft, seems to want to go out with a bang. The Blazers hold the No. 22 and No. 44 picks in the upcoming draft, but are weighing their options in an attempt to move up. The team has reportedly been hunting for a pick in the mid first round — somewhere between No.16 and 19. They appear to be trying to move ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, who hold pick No. 20.

Portland recently signed 36-year old Marcus Camby to a contract extension worth up to $26 million over the next two seasons. The Blazers also stand to get back Joel Przybilla at some point, after he injured his knee in December and missed the rest of the season, then re-injured the same knee in March when he slipped in the shower, which required a second surgery. The oft-injured Greg Oden rounds out the trio of 7-footer centers now has in Portland.

But rumor has it that the Blazers are looking to draft yet another big.

Could this be the end of the Greg Oden era in Portland?

Read more…

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Heat Picks Up Option on Mario Chalmers

June 17th, 2010 1 comment
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The Miami Heat has picked up its team option on guard Mario Chalmers.

And now there are three.

Point guard Mario Chalmers has become the third Miami Heat player secured on the books for 2010-11. The Heat has picked up its third year option on his three-year contract. The team had until June 30, the official end of the 2009-10 season, to make its decision.

Chalmers now joins Michael Beasley and Daequan Cook as the only Heat players locked into 2010-11 salaries.

Still to be determined are the $885,120 player option held by center Joel Anthony, who faces a June 24 deadline, the $17.1 million player option held by Dwyane Wade, and the Heat’s buyout decision on the final three years of the contract of James Jones.

Both Wade and Jones are expected to become unrestricted free agents, with the decisions on those matters due by June 30, a day before the N.B.A.’s free-agency negotiating period begins.

Upon acquiring Chalmers in the second round of the 2008 draft, the Heat extended the former KansasUniversity standout a three-year contract that included a team option for the final season. Chalmers, who earned $756,000 this past season, is now guaranteed $854,389 for what will be the final season of his contract. Because the option has been decided, he also is now eligible to be traded.

With the N.B.A.’s salary cap, which will be announced just prior to the July 8 start of the offseason signing period, expected to fall at about $56 million for 2010-11, the Heat, with Beasley, Cook and Chalmers, now has $8.0 million in committed salary for next season. Factoring in the $1.9 million Jones would receive if he were waived, as a partial guarantee on his $4.7 million 2010-11 salary, it would put the Heat at roughly $9.8 million in committed payroll.  Read more…

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Could the NBA actually prefer a lockout?

June 17th, 2010 2 comments
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I’ve received several emails from readers requesting an explanation of the impact of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement on player movement that I keep referring to. Below I provide my own (controversial) thoughts.

Incidentally, if you have any questions you’d like my perspective on, please feel free to email me and I will either answer them individually or incorporate them into a post.

For the past several months, we South Floridians have had our heads in the clouds, scheming about all the different ways Heat management can build a winner in the off-season. We’ve been educating ourselves on the rules and regulations in order to figure out what’s possible. We’ve made ESPN’s Trade Machine our best friend. But is it possible that we’ve overlooked the biggest story of all – perhaps the biggest of the decade for the sport of basketball?

Over the course of the past season, we’ve seen a flurry of predictable contract-related activity. Brandon Roy, Kobe Bryant, LaMarcus Aldrige, Marcus Camby, Pao Gasol and Rajon Rondo have all agreed to extensions. And Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire have all announced their intentions to opt out of their contracts in favor of new, long-term deals.

We’ve also seen the mind-boggling.

Dirk Nowitski, Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming. Each threatening to leave their cities, sacrificing big dollars in the pursuit of long-term security.

A whopping 103 early entry players initially declared their names for the 2010 NBA Draft (Heat hopeful Eric Bledsoe, with nary a single season under his belt playing the point, among them). Add to that a number of draft-worthy seniors. Sixty will be selected. Thirty will receive guaranteed contracts.

Why are they doing this? What has everyone so spooked? Read more…

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