We'll get to the Wednesday buzz column in a minute, but first a quick July 4 Marlins and Heat update:
### The Marlins have acquired 36-year-old first baseman/left fielder Carlos Lee from Houston for minor league third baseman Matt Dominguez (who could proved he could hit especially well for average, even at the Triple A level) and minor league pitcher Rob Rasmussen.
Lee has a no-trade clause and vetoed a trade to the Dodgers two days ago. But he approved a trade to the Marlins, with talks heating up Wednesday morning.
Lee is the final year of a six-year, $100 million contract. The Marlins coaching staff advocated a trade for Lee a couple months ago. The front office was initially reluctant because of Lee's suspect defense and high salary and the hope that Gaby Sanchez would get going.
But Sanchez continues to hit below .200, and was sent to Triple A New Orleans after the game - even after hitting a home run to tie Wednesday's game in Milwaukee with two outs in the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, Houston agreed to pay nearly all of the $8.8 million that Lee is still owed this season.
Lee is hitting .286 with five homers and 29 RBI. A right-handed hitter, he hit .275 last year with 18 homers and 94 RBI.
Lee previously played for Ozzie Guillen with the White Sox. He figures to play first base, with Logan Morrison remaining in left field.
The Marlins clearly need help in the middle of the lineup, even more so now because Giancarlo Stanton has a knee issue that could sideline him at least through the All-Star break. Morrison also has dealt with a knee issue all season.
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The Heat confirmed Wednesday that Terrel Harris will be an unrestricted free agent, not a restricted free agent, because Miami did not make him a qualifying offer. The move will save the Heat $200,000 if he re-signs for the league-minimum $760,000 for a player with his experience level.
The Heat wants to keep him. "We like him a lot," Pat Riley said. "I expect him to have a great summer league. We would like to see him improve his long-range shooting and play-making ability. We like him as a prospect."
### LeBron James and Dwyane Wade continue lobbying for Ray Allen, who will visit the Heat on Thursday. Wade tweeted Wednesday: "2Morrow is a big day for Heat Nation." James - who previously expressed his desire for Allen to sign here - retweeted Wade, then added: "Absolutely! Heat Nation Stand Up."
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WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With nearly all of UM’s freshman class already on campus, some early buzz on a 31-player group that was rated ninth in the country by rivals.com:
### Coach Al Golden said “the majority” of the freshmen will play. “You can’t be afraid to play young people,” he said. Fact is, UM needs them after being depleted by graduation and early departures.
Expect freshmen to be major contributors at cornerback (Tracy Howard and at least one other), running back (Duke Johnson), defensive line (at least two) and likely, receiver (assuming one or two of the five freshmen beats out Kendal Thompkins for a spot in the rotation alongside Allan Hurns, Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott).
Several have looked great in summer drills. Howard has returned interceptions for touchdowns and “is everything everyone makes him out to be,” running back Eduardo Clements said. “The footwork, the breaking on the balls.”
Predictably, players have been impressed by Johnson, especially his quickness and elusiveness. “Wow! He’s a playmaker,” Clements said.
Receivers Malcolm Lewis and Robert Lockhart also look ready to make a serious push for playing time. “Those two have stood out,” fullback Maurice Hagens said. “Both catch the ball very crisply and have learned the offense well.”
Receivers coach George McDonald said Lewis “makes people miss and is probably the fastest” of the five new receivers. UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Lockhart, a polished route-runner, “can be an impact player pretty quickly.”
Coaches are eager to see the three other new receivers: Herb Waters (“once he catches the ball, there’s going to be a lot of yards,” Fisch said) and D’Mauri Jones and Jontavious Carter (a pair of 6-3 athletes with "great ability to go up in the air and catch it,” McDonald said).
And Deon Bush, who can play corner but has been working at safety, “has really impressed me,” Clements said. “Deon grasps everything quickly.”
### Players have noticed this is a particularly conscientious, mature group of freshmen. Both Golden and Hagens have used the words “very serious” to describe them. As Hagens said, “They don’t want to play around.” All business, in other words.
### Fisch is carving out a diverse package for Johnson to take advantage of his unique talents, both as a runner and receiver. “Every time he runs, there’s a certain level of excitement,” UM running backs coach Terry Richardson said. “You look at the balance, the change of direction, the vision, the multiple ways he broke tackles” at Miami Norland. “You don’t always have to line him up in the backfield. You’ve got to get him the ball in different ways.”
UM’s other tailback signee, Danny Dillard, probably won’t know for awhile if he will be cleared academically to enroll. Other than receiver Angelo Jean-Louis, every other recruit has been cleared academically and is enrolled, UM says.
### Because there's no experienced depth at defensive end beyond Anthony Chickillo, Shayon Green and former linebacker Kelvin Cain, at least one freshman must emerge among Jelani Hamilton (“a game changer,” according to linebackers coach Micheal Barrow), Tyriq McCord, Dwayne Hoilett and Jake O’Donnell, with linebacker Gabe Terry also factoring in as a speed rusher (ran the 100 meters in 10.9 seconds).
Chickillo predicts McCord will help immediately: “He’s going be a contributor to us on third down.” With Chickillo and McCord, this staff is making strong inroads in the Tampa area.
### UM is optimistic at least one tackle will help immediately from among Earl Moore, Jacoby Briscoe and Dequan Ivery. “Ivery is going to be an incredible nose guard for us,” Golden said. “Same with Briscoe.”
Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said “Moore will be ready to play. He’s really strong.”
### UM is hopeful Raphael Kirby, off an impressive spring, can make the type of immediate impact that Denzel Perryman did last year. “He’s going to be tremendous – explosive with a great change of direction,” Barrow said.
UM is curious to see what it can extract from Perry, who was "a true under the radar kid," Barrow said. "He came from Nebraska to Palm Beach in August. Shane McDermott said, 'We have a guy at my school who's pretty good.'' Josh Witt and Jawand Blue (the former Virginia Tech oral commitment) will also get a look at linebacker.
### Among January arrivals, nobody drew higher praise than Norland offensive tackle Ereck Flowers. UM coaches believe that eventually, he’s going to be exceptional.
### Defensive backs coach Paul Williams believes four incoming cornerbacks will be in his top six. Howard, assuredly, will be one, and early arrival Ladarius Gunter was UM’s third-best corner this spring behind Brandon McGee and Thomas Finnie, Williams says. Larry Hope, Vernon Davis, Nate Dortch and possibly Bush will also compete here. While Bush could play either position, UM sees Rayshawn Jenkins as its one definite safety in this incoming class.
### UM has high hopes, eventually, for quarterback David Thompson, who will miss three to six months after shoulder surgery. "It was a huge shock to David and his family and coaches," said his father Ed, who said the tear likely occured during a practice for the Semper Fedelis All-American game.
Thompson, as you know, will try to juggle football and baseball after he gets healthy. Only a limited number of UM athletes have been able to pull that off especially well (Jim Maler, Maurice Crum, among them) and none recently.
“Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing to not practice in the spring,” Fisch said. “It will be a challenge. He is going to have the handle the learning curve of playing quarterback. He’s a good decision maker and I like a lot of things about him.
### Realistically, there will be serious challenges for UM this season after the departure of a dynamic running back, two solid receivers, an exceptional college linebacker (Sean Spence) and four key defensive linemen, among others. These freshman cannot be expected to lead this program back to where the Canes want to be in their FIRST year. But the hope, internally, is they will form the nucleus of a top-20 caliber team in a year or two, and lift UM in ways the top-rated Class of 2008 could not. Time will tell.
### One other UM note: In the wake of an InsideTheU.com report that senior Ray-Ray Armstrong has been suspended indefinitely for discussing interaction with a booster on Twitter, his father Albert said he was told his son “is definitely” going to be on the team this season. “And he’s not turning pro.” Besides, the deadline for next week’s NFL supplemental draft has passed. Albert Armstrong said his son has not mentioned the suspension to him, and UM isn't confirming or denying the report, with staff on strict orders not to discuss it.
Seantrel Henderson also disputed Internet speculation, insisting he’s not suspended and not in trouble. Henderson reportedly arrived one day late to the start of the second summer session, which isn't exactly egregious.
### Rashard Lewis' agent, Tony Dutt, said Lewis and the Heat spoke Tuesday about him possibly visiting Miami in the next week or so. Heat interest in Lewis is strong and mutual, and Lewis - who has made a lot of money in his career - is not necessarily opposed to taking the $1.2 million veteran's minimum.
Remember, Lewis will pocket $13.7 million in buyout money this season from New Orleans -- the last year of a six-year, $118 million contract with Orlando. So his decision is not being driven by money.
The Knicks, Lakers, Spurs and Hawks are also under consideration, and Lewis sees positives in all of them. But he is VERY intrigued by Miami.
### If the Heat cannot land Ray Allen, who visits with Miami on Thursday, its options with its $3.1 million exception would be limited to players such as Marcus Camby, Kyle Korver (if the Bulls opt out of his $5 million deal by mid-July), Grant Hill and Nick Young. O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford and Chris Kaman appear too expensive (barring a surprise), and Charlotte looks ready to give a ton to Antawn Jamison, who visits there Thursday. The Lakers and Warriors also have shown interest in Jamison. The Heat also likes Lakers free agent forward Jordan Hill, but he likely will get more elsewhere.
### The Dolphins were pleased this spring with the play and professionalism of Sean Smith and Vontae Davis, who noted he's making an effort to maintain his concentration every play, every day. (Smith pointed out that Davis' focus was especially sharp in the recent mini-camp.)
Ex-Dolphin Yeremiah Bell, now with the Jets, said he told Davis, “You can be one of the great players in the league, but you can’t play great one week, mediocre the next, bad the next.’ I’ve told Sean that it’s not all about speed. It’s about technique, learning how to use his length.”
### Despite a report that the Marlins are reluctant to give Giancarlo Stanton a seven-year contract, the Marlins and Stanton’s camp have not had a single conversation this year about a longterm deal. He cannot be a free agent until after 2016.
### The Orange Bowl, which was last played during the day in 1964, announced Tuesday the game will be moved to 1 p.m. Jan. 1 for 12 years, beginning in 2015. But for four of those 12 years, the OB will host a national semifinal playoff game and could be moved to prime time.
The OB will feature an Atlantic Coast Conference team the other eight years. On years an ACC team is in the four-team playoff, the OB would get another ACC team instead.