With Injuries Mounting, Should the Miami Heat Tank?

April 4th, 2015 7 comments
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Update (4/15/15): The Heat finished the season with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs by one game. The fate of their 2015 first round draft pick – which is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers, subject to top-10 protections – will be determined by the draft lottery, which will be held on May 19th. With the tenth seeding for the lottery, the Heat will have a 1.1 percent chance to draw the first overall pick, a 1.3 percent chance at the second overall pick, a  1.6 percent chance at the third pick, an 87.0 percent chance at the tenth pick, and a 9.1 percent chance to receive a pick which would need to be sent to the Sixers. 

The Miami Heat’s season of struggle is continuing on with full force.

Goran Dragic says his “body doesn’t feel right.” Dwyane Wade just re-injured his left knee, a few days after getting it drained of excess fluid. Luol Deng is suffering through a left knee contusion. Chris Bosh is out for the year as he recovers from a pulmonary embolism. His backup, Josh McRoberts, is out for the year as he rehabs from a torn right lateral meniscus. Hassan Whiteside is struggling through the effects of a huge gash on his right hand that required 10 stitches to close.

That’s all five Heat starters ailing during the most critical month of the regular season.

The Eastern Conference’s four-time defending champion and current eight seed is in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. And with its entire starting rotation battered, it’s unclear what damage they could cause in the playoffs if even they were to make it.

Amidst the struggles, an increasing group of frustrated Heat fans has begun to endorse an intriguing concept: Why not tank the rest of the 2014-15 season to get a better draft pick?

The Heat has already traded away its 2015 first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers (who then traded it to the Philadelphia 76ers) as part of the LeBron James sign-and-trade in July 2010. But that pick is top-10 protected through 2016, and unprotected in 2017.

The “protections” mean that if Miami ends up with a top 10 pick in the 2015 draft, the Heat would get to keep the pick, and its obligation to the Cavs would shift to the following year. If, instead, the Heat doesn’t end up with a top 10 pick, the pick would be conveyed to the Cavs and the obligation would be fulfilled. If the pick winds up shifting to 2016, the same rules would apply next year. If the pick has not been conveyed by 2016, it would get conveyed in 2017 no matter where it lands.

These “protections” serve as a protection measure for the Heat, so that they don’t give away a pick that is more valuable than it was intended to be. But they also mean that the Heat could intentionally tank the final seven games of the regular season in order to secure a top 10 pick, allowing them to keep the pick in what is widely considered to be a strong and deep draft.

Tanking could get the Heat a valuable pick in a strong and deep 2015 NBA draft(1).

Should they do it?  Read more…

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Chris Bosh Diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolism

February 21st, 2015 No comments
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Update (2/17/16): Chris Bosh was ruled out of the All-Star game with what was initially described as a calf strain. It was later determined, however, that a small deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) was found in Bosh’s calf, and that he is back on blood thinners.

The good news for Bosh is that this latest clot is reportedly small, was caught early, and has not traveled to his lungs. It is not life threatening, and should be relatively easy to bust.

The larger issue, however, could be what this latest clot means for Bosh’s long-term future. After his initial clot last year, Bosh had some testing done which suggested he was not deemed to be abnormally susceptible to blood clots. This latest clot certainly provides at least some degree of contraindicating evidence. If he is deemed to be at greater risk for blood clots, doctors may determine it to be advisable for him to remain on blood thinning medication indefinitely in order to avoid that possibility or they may advise against continuing the physical rigors and heavy travel associated with NBA play, in either case putting his career at risk.

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Miami Heat power forward Chris Bosh received sobering news on Saturday. He suffered a pulmonary embolism, which will cause him to miss the rest of the 2014-15 NBA season.

Bosh was hospitalized at South Miami Hospital on Thursday but, amid a conflicting diagnosis, underwent further testing on Friday. The diagnosis was confirmed today.

This is a serious and scary condition, but according to Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, Bosh avoided a potential life-threatening situation.

“Bosh… is currently resting comfortably. Chris is OK, and his prognosis is good,” the Heat said in a news release.

40410_1A pulmonary embolism(1) occurs when a substance – most often a blood clot, as is the case for Bosh – that develops in a blood vessel elsewhere in the body travels through the bloodstream to an artery in the lung and forms an occlusion (blockage). The obstruction, which blocks blood flow through the lungs and puts pressure on the right ventricle of the heart, can be fatal.

It is rare to have a single pulmonary embolism. In most cases, as is the case for Bosh, multiple clots are involved.

Blood clotting is a normal process that occurs in the body to prevent bleeding and promote healing after an injury. The body forms blood clots when the platelets within the blood encounter a damaged blood vessel, and then breaks them down as the damaged tissue heals. However, clots can form unexpectedly, without notice, and have dangerous consequences. They can happen to anyone for a number of reasons.

Almost all blood clots that cause pulmonary embolisms are formed in a deep vein of the leg (itself called a deep vein thrombosis). A piece of the clot breaks off from the wall of the vessel in the leg, travels via the bloodstream up the body, through the right side of the heart, and lodges in an artery of the lung.  Read more…

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Heat Acquire Goran Dragic From the Suns in Three-Team Trade

February 19th, 2015 No comments
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Note: This post was moved from being an update to a previous post to a new post on its own. The words, however, are the exact same.

The Miami Heat’s long, arduous search for an elite point guard is now over. The Heat has acquired what it hopes is its point guard of the future in Goran Dragic.

The Heat received Dragic and his brother Zoran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns as part of a three-team trade that involved the New Orleans Pelicans. In return, the Heat sent Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton and $369K in cash to the Pelicans and Danny Granger, $2.2 million in cash (equivalent to Granger’s salary for next season) and two future first round draft picks to the Suns. The Pelicans sent John Salmons to the Suns to complete the deal. Williams and Salmons will be waived by their new teams. By rule, Williams is not allowed to re-sign with the Heat.

The Heat have struggled thus far this season, their first since LeBron James left after a four-year stay in Miami to return home to Cleveland. But through the struggles has emerged a potential future star in Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor. He will now have a first rate point guard off of whom to feed; the Dragic-Whiteside pick-and-roll pairing would seem as deadly as any in the league.

The addition of Dragic presents the prospect of a formidable starting lineup for the Heat, when healthy, in Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Whiteside. It figures to be as talented as any in the Eastern Conference, outside of perhaps the Cleveland Cavaliers. If things go well, the Heat could challenge for an NBA title as early as this season, a concept which seemed all but impossible after James’ departure.

But, while the upside is both massive and readily apparent, this was a risky trade for the Heat.

Miami will send Phoenix the first of its two first round picks two years after its obligation to the Philadelphia 76ers is satisfied (most likely this season). That pick is top-10 protected in 2015 and 2016, and becomes unprotected in 2017 if not previously conveyed, meaning it will be sent to the Sixers in 2015 assuming the Heat make the playoffs. The pick to be sent to the Suns is top-seven protected in 2017 and 2018, and becomes unprotected in 2019 if not previously conveyed. Assuming the Heat don’t even up with one of the seven best picks in the draft in two seasons, it will be conveyed in 2017, but Miami could still wind up sending away a lottery pick.

The second first round pick goes to the Suns in 2021 with no protection whatsoever. The 2021 draft is a long ways away; there isn’t a single player on the roster whose contract extends out that far. There’s a long history of NBA teams making costly mistakes by not worrying about a seemingly distant future. One need only to imagine a scenario whereby an aging Heat team struggles to finish with one of the worst records in the NBA, only to have its premium draft pick stripped away, to see the risk.  Read more…

Goran Dragic to Miami Heat Would be Wonderful But Complicated

February 12th, 2015 No comments
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Note: In my effort to keep things organized, I have moved my update to reflect the acquisition of Goran Dragic to a separate post above. 

After LeBron James left last July, Miami Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay competitive for the following two seasons, while maintaining maximum flexibility for the all-important summer of 2016.

Riley acquiesced to those distinct courses of action by re-signing Chris Bosh and honoring his commitment to Josh McRoberts, contracts that weigh on the team’s summer of 2016 flexibility, but refusing to allow anything to increase the burden any further in filling out the roster.

The NBA has struck gold with the frivolous distraction that is professional basketball. The salary cap will explode higher than helium-sucking angels in the years to come, on the strength of an enormous burst in league-wide revenues. After a relatively tempered rise from the current $63 million to a projected $68 million next season, 2016-17 cap projections are expected to reach as high as $90 million (unless a salary cap smoothing mechanism is implemented), as the league’s massive new $24 billion TV rights deal takes effect.

With just the contracts of Bosh ($23.7 million) and McRoberts ($5.8 million) on the books, the Heat figures to have as much as $60 million of summer of 2016 cap space with which to work.

Will Riley again hit the jackpot in 2016, as he did in 2010?

Such a story could be painted: 2016 Hassan Whiteside could play the part of 2010 Dwyane Wade, the in-prime free agent superstar who loves Miami and recruits others to join him. He would be selling the opportunity to play alongside his dominant interior-oriented self and his ideally-suited perimeter-oriented frontcourt teammate Chris Bosh. He would be selling one of the NBA’s few universally appealing cities, an increasingly critical local income tax haven, as well as the organization’s track record of success.  Read more…

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Tyler Johnson Is Very Much A Part of Miami Heat’s Future

February 8th, 2015 1 comment
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It was a simple twist of fate. Had it not been for Dwyane Wade’s third significant hamstring injury thus far this season, he might not even be here at all. And yet, it now appears that shooting guard Tyler Johnson could be here for years to come, as the Miami Heat development machine has churned out another supremely talented youngster.

First, it was Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor.

Now, it is Johnson, whose exploits have provided a great deal of promise for the future! Johnson is short (6-foot-3) and slight (190 pounds), and at times miscast by the Heat as a point guard, but he makes up for it with serious hops and sweet shooting. He’ll throw down a highlight-reel dunk just as easily as he’ll swish a three-pointer when his feet are set. But he’ll also do the little things you may not notice — like play the game with a tremendous energy, or grab a rebound typically reserved for a player twice his size.

For president Pat Riley and the Heat front office, Johnson, who went undrafted in June out of Fresno State, has become a scouted, developed talent.

He impressed enough during his four years in college – including a senior season during which he averaged 15.3 points, on 47.7 percent shooting from the floor and 43.2 percent from three-point range, and 7.3 rebounds in his 35 games — for the Heat to invite him to participate in Summer League.

He played well for the Heat’s Summer League squads in the Orlando and Las Vegas tournaments in July, averaging 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 22.8 minutes while shooting 55.1 percent from the field in 10 games.

He played well enough, in fact, to earn a training camp invitation. He made just one preseason appearance, but he made it count. In the Heat’s overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs, he finished with 17 points (on 6-13 shooting, including 1-2 from 3-point range), four steals, four rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. He was never going to make the regular season roster, but the Heat gave him a $75,000 partial guarantee so that it could re-direct him to its D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, after being waived.

In 13 games for the Skyforce — all starts — he averaged 18.5 points on 47.7 percent shooting, including 46.3 percent 3-point shooting, in addition to 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33.9 minutes per game.

The Heat took notice of his stellar play, and rewarded him for it.

On Jan. 12, Johnson thought he had his big break when the Heat called him up on a 10-day contract. But he was wrong. Johnson was with the team for five games. He didn’t play at all in four of them. His only action was 1:44 of mop-up duty in one game, during which he scored two points on a pair of free throws, his only statistics. When it was all over, the Heat chose not to re-sign him. He went back to the Sykforce on Jan. 22 as an unrestricted free agent.

Five days later, Wade strained his right hamstring. Two days after that, Johnson was re-signed to a second 10-day contract. This time around, with the Heat lacking in depth and forced to play him, Johnson seized his chance. He had two breakout performances during his second 10-day stint – producing 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in a road win over the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1, followed by an 18-point effort against the Spurs on Friday.

Multiple NBA teams were circling as he again became an unrestricted free agent Sunday morning. The Heat, however, got its man. And it figures to be a long-term affair for the promising young rookie.  Read more…

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NBA Announces Digital Partnership With Chinese Internet Giant Tencent

January 29th, 2015 No comments
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The NBA has formed its largest international digital partnership through an expansion of its arrangement with Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Limited, the league announced in a joint press release issued late Thursday night.

Tencent – a publicly-traded company with a current market capitalization of $163 billion, whose shares trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE: 0700) and whose American Depository Receipts trade over-the-counter in the U.S. (OTC: TCEHY) – will become the league’s exclusive official digital partner in China.

The new five-year pact will provide Tencent the exclusive right to stream live games, original programming and highlights to hundreds of millions of active users across its online and mobile platforms, including Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, Tencent News and Weixin, the popular messaging app also known as WeChat.

The deal will provide Tencent the right to offer for the first time in China the NBA’s League Pass package, which will allow subscribers to watch a full season’s worth of games live and on-demand on their computers and mobile phones. The deal also provides for interactive gaming and the sale of merchandise.

According to The New York Times, the agreement calls for the NBA to receive a guaranteed payout of $500 million over the life of the deal, with an additional $200 million more expected through a revenue-sharing arrangement. It will start on July 1, 2015, the first day of the 2015-16 NBA season.

It remains unclear as to how much of the revenues in this new deal would be incremental to those provided in its existing arrangement, but the increment figures to be substantial. And it will have a material impact on the salary cap.

By the league’s math, an estimated annual payout of between $100 million and $140 million increases the salary cap by $1.5 million to $2.1 million, respectively, and the luxury tax by $1.8 million to $2.5 million.  Read more…

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Hassan Whiteside Is Very Much A Part of Miami Heat’s Future

January 12th, 2015 No comments
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It was a simple twist of fate. Had it not been for Chris Andersen’s sprained ankle, Chris Bosh’s strained calf and Josh McRoberts’ torn meniscus, he might not even be here. And yet, 7-foot rookie center Hassan Whiteside, the Miami Heat’s mid-season acquisition, is quickly becoming the team’s most vital player.

Whiteside has become the focal point of a fan base desperately seeking out hope for the future during a painful post-LeBron-James transition. He’s rewarding us all with boundless energy, youthful exuberance, and quick ascent. In his limited experience, Whiteside has been rampaging through the NBA with reckless abandon, utilizing his massive 7-foot-7-inch wingspan to throw down monstrous alley-oop dunks, snatch rebounds out of the sky from high above the rim, swat basketballs as Godzilla would planes, and generally wreak havoc on both ends of the floor.

Whiteside is averaging a staggering 16.6 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per 36 minutes played. He is shooting 69.2 percent from the field, while players he is defending are shooting just 43.3 percent.

He was never supposed to be this good this quickly. For a city so long starved for anything approaching decent play at the center position, the extraordinary exploits of the budding 25-year-old have been a joy to watch.

But Whiteside is quick to clarify one thing: He is not a rookie, at least in terms of NBA designation. And that distinction, however technical, is more significant than you may realize.  Read more…

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Memphis Grizzlies Seeking Possible Trade For Luol Deng

January 8th, 2015 No comments
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The Memphis Grizzlies, aiming to bolster their scoring and playmaking options on the wing in the increasingly competitive Western Conference, are having discussions about trading for the Miami Heat’s Luol Deng or the Boston Celtics’ Jeff Green in advance of the Feb. 19 trade deadline.

Any Grizzlies offer for Deng or Green is likely to feature the $7.7 million expiring contract of Tayshaun Prince, as well as the promise of future draft compensation to serve as an enticement to complete the trade.

It is not immediately clear how willing Miami would be to trade Deng, who is not even halfway through the first of a two-year, $19.9 million contract he signed with the Heat in the wake of LeBron James’ return to the Cleveland Cavaliers via free agency this past summer.

After James departed, Heat president Pat Riley said “I want this team to be as competitive as it’s ever been.” But he spoke of pursuing two distinct and simultaneous courses of action: trying to stay in the playoff race for the following two seasons – even while the Heat’s 2015 first round pick is owed to the Philadelphia 76ers if it is outside the top 10 – but with a clear focus on maintaining flexibility for the expected availability of several top free agents in the summer of 2016.

With the Heat already at 15-20 as it begins a challenging five-game road trip out west, it is unclear as to how willing Riley might be to sacrifice the former for the benefit of the latter.

Trading Deng could, among other things, damage the Heat’s ability to make the playoffs this season as well as put at risk its ability to clear its first round pick obligation off the books this summer. The pick is top-10 protected for this season and next, and becomes fully unprotected if not previously conveyed.

But trading Deng could also provide the Heat with a far better pick — a top 10 pick — in what is presently considered to be a deep draft this summer as well as with the additional draft pick compensation to be received in the trade. That could set the Heat up quite well for the summer of 2016.

All trade proposals should surely be considered even if not ultimately pursued.

But trade scenarios are complicated.

Deng is earning $9.7 million this season, and he has a player option that would pay him $10.2 million for next season if he exercises it in June. But he also has a trade bonus which, by rule, he cannot waive, in whole or in part, except to make a potential trade legal.

Deng’s trade bonus would be valued at 15 percent of his remaining salary for the season, the amount of which would depend upon the exact day he is traded. If Deng were to be traded today, his bonus would be $840K; if he were traded at the trade deadline, it would be $480K. The amount of the trade bonus, if any, would be allocated entirely to this season.

A straight up trade of Deng for Prince would be legal, but only if Deng were to agree to surrender the vast majority of his trade bonus (all but $20K). Deng would therefore effectively hold veto power over such trade discussions.  Read more…

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Miami Heat Receive Josh McRoberts Disabled Player Exception

December 26th, 2014 No comments
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The Miami Heat lost Josh McRoberts for the rest of the season after he underwent surgery to repair the torn lateral meniscus in his right knee last Monday. As a result, the league office has granted the Heat a disabled player exception equal to half his salary, or $2.65 million.

The Heat can use the exception to acquire one player to replace him:

  • The Heat can sign a free agent to a contract for the rest of the season only, with a salary of up to $2.65 million.
  • The Heat can trade for a player in the last season of his contract only (including any option years), who is making no more than $2.75 million.
  • The Heat can claim a player on waivers who is in the last season of his contract only (including any option years), who is making no more than $2.75 million.

McRoberts’ status with the team will not be affected. He will continue to count as one of the NBA-maximum 15 players on the roster. He can return to the active roster before season’s end if he is able to do so (and any replacement player would not be affected). He can be traded while injured. However, if he does return or is traded before the Heat has used the exception, the team would lose it. Otherwise, it expires on March 10.

The Heat had hoped to use the exception to lure free agent forward Josh Smith to Miami. The Detroit Pistons made an abrupt and shocking move to release Smith last Monday, despite $36 million in guaranteed money still to be paid on his contract. Players that good who are owed that much money virtually never hit the open market in such fashion. Smith, however, chose to sign with the Houston Rockets.

The Heat must now look elsewhere in its search for a player who can replace the injured McRoberts and help improve a thin power rotation. Potential targets are both intriguing and problematic.  Read more…

Heat Apply for Disabled Player Exception, Set Sights on Josh Smith

December 22nd, 2014 No comments
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The Miami Heat formally applied to the league office for a disabled player exception on Monday, shortly after Josh McRoberts had season-ending surgery to repair the torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, in a move they hope will help them land soon-to-be free agent Josh Smith.

The Detroit Pistons made an abrupt and stunning move to release Smith earlier in the day, despite $36.0 million in guaranteed money still to be paid on his contract. His contract has an additional $9.0 million still to be paid on his $13.5 million salary for this season, and calls for salaries of $13.5 million in each of the following two seasons as well.

Smith will now spend 48 hours on waivers, during which time any team with the necessary cap space or a qualifying exception large enough to absorb his $13.5 million salary cap hit can make a claim to pick up the remainder of his contract. The only such team is the Philadelphia 76ers, which is not about to do so.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Smith will clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with the team of his choosing. Players this good who are owed this much money virtually never hit the open market in this fashion.

A number of teams have expressed an interest in signing Smith once he clears waivers, including the Heat, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.  Read more…

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