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2 posts from June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013

More revelations from LeBron; Heat notes; UM player leaves team; Fins front-runner for Pro Bowler

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

TNT’s Charles Barkley said last week that he believes LeBron James will leave the Heat next summer unless Miami gets him more help and stops asking him to do so much.

But not only did James say Tuesday that riding it out here long-term with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be the “ultimate,” but he also said he likes that the Heat asks him to do a lot and will not ask Pat Riley for help. 

“My mindset is at a point where there is no relief,” James said, laughing. “I love the burden, and I love what I have to do for this team to win. If that happens and we get someone that relieves something from me as far as a big or a wing guy or something, then it would be good for our team.

“But I’m not going to those guys or approaching this summer saying I need help,” James said, without making any reference to Barkley’s comment. “If we come back with this same roster we’re going to compete for a championship.”

James said he “would love to have, if not all the guys back, at least a couple for sure” and named Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. “They’re huge parts of our team.”

The Heat is expected to exercise its $4 million option on Chalmers by Sunday’s deadline. Andersen, an unrestricted free agent, spoke Monday of wanting to go for a three-peat here.

Allen, 37, hasn’t said if he will opt out of his contract by Saturday’s deadline and declined to speak to reporters Tuesday. If he opts out, the Heat could pay him $3.7 million next season, as opposed to the $3.2 million his contract calls for. He also can sign for as many as four years, with 4.5 percent annual raises, by opting out.

HEAT CHATTER

### James has an idea for how he can improve his free-throw shooting, which sunk to 75.3 percent in 2012-13, his lowest in five years.

“During my workouts in the summer when I’m dead tired, I should go to the line and challenge myself to make five, 10 in a row because you’re going to be put in those situations throughout the season, where it’s late in the game, you’re dead tired and you have to make them.” But he said: “I don’t need to hire a shooting coach.”

### Please see the last post for more highlights of what LeBron said today.... (By the way, for those who live in South Florida, The Herald has a 26-page Heat commemorative section in Wednesday's paper, with numerous stories and photos.)

### As expected, forwards Rashard Lewis and James Jones exercised their player options for next season. Jones will make $1.5 million, Lewis $1.399 million. Next season will be the last year of their contracts.

### Chalmers’ summer priority? “To be better with decision making, be more trustworthy in the offense.”

### As if James doesn’t do enough for his teammates on the court, he ended up buying eight gifts for each of them this past season – with two sets of pricey headsets the latest, according to Rashard Lewis.

He wasn’t alone: Wade bought teammates sandals, and Allen got them custom-made robes. “I’ve been on teams where one guy gets everyone something, but here it’s six or seven,” Lewis said. “Keep ‘em coming.”

### Wade said this week that Erik Spoelstra -- now one of only eight coaches to win back-to-back titles -- doesn’t get “enough credit for his ability to be able to manage us. He does a great job managing egos and keeping us level-headed.

“It takes a special coach to have guys of this caliber, to all stay on one path and not jump off. That’s his strength – his ability to manage this team. He’s one of the game’s young greats. He’s on the path of Pat Riley and those kind of coaches.”

Spoelstra also has evolved with motivational techniques. Earlier in the playoffs, he “put on a Ray Lewis motivational speech, and it got the juices flowing,” Lewis said.

### Excluding endorsements, here was the financial difference between winning and losing the Finals: The NBA playoff pool gives the Heat what amounts to, on average, $153,482 per player, compared with $101,701 for the Spurs. Each Heat player also picked up another $100,000 or so by having the best record in the league and winning the first three rounds of the playoffs.

### Udonis Haslem cracked that “somebody always has something to say” to undermine the Heat’s achievements, such as those who absurdly asserted the 2011-12 title was tarnished by the lockout-shortened schedule. “Right now, they’ve got be quiet,” Haslem said. “At least give us two months.”

CHATTER

### James said UM guard Shane Larkin – projected to be picked in the teens – “has got great potential. Shane is a definitely a guy that has the opportunity to be really good in our league, and some other UM guys as well. I’ll be tuned in watching” Thursday’s draft.

### Agent Ralph Vitolo said the Dolphins remain the front-runner for Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach, but he might take one more visit elsewhere (perhaps the Giants). Asked if he believes Leach will sign with Miami, Vitolo said: “I think so. I hope so. It’s the right place to be. We’re trying to crunch the numbers.”

### Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline, on a conference call with fans Tuesday, said Ryan Tannehill “has taken a huge step. I couldn’t ask for more. He’s making every throw. He’s got great touch. His deep ball is awesome.”

### As expected, quarterback David Thompson left the UM football team to concentrate entirely on baseball. He said he injured his shoulder by throwing a football – he needed surgery twice in the past 11 months – and believes he would risk another injury if he kept playing.

“And I’ve been told baseball is where my future is,” he said. “It was a decision I didn’t want to make. I cried a couple of nights.” Thompson will spend the summer rehabbing after his latest shoulder surgery but expects to be ready for the start of the 2014 UM baseball season.

### UM is up to 17 oral commitments for 2014 after securing non-binding pledges from Miami Northwestern cornerback Ryan Mayes (formerly of Miami Krop) and Carol City’s Trayone Gray, who will play quarterback this season but projects as a receiver or running back for UM. (Wednesday morning update: Alabama-based quarterback Malik Rosier also has orally committed. He ran for 1002 yards, threw for 2230 and 20 TDs last season. He also had offers from Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Misssissippi and Mississippi State.)

### The Yankees, Orioles and the entire NL West are among teams reportedly pursuing a trade for Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who is expected to be dealt in the next few weeks - if not sooner.

Tuesday 6 p.m. update: LeBron offers encouraging news on Heat future in press conference

With a season done and a championship won, LeBron James offered encouraging news for Heat fans during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday when he said the ultimate goal would be to ride it out long-term here with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

But he stopped short of saying he would definitely remain with the Heat beyond next summer, when he can exercise an opt-out clause in his contract. 

Asked if something unexpected would need to happen for him to want to leave the Heat next summer, he said: “I don’t know. I’m not really thinking about that right now. Our focus is how we’re going to get better this year with all these other teams getting better, to keep that trophy here.”

But when asked whether he has thought of riding it out with Wade, Bosh, team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra for years to come, he said: “That’s the goal. That’s the ultimate finish. We all hope that can happen, obviously, to be able to have success with two guys and with Riles and Spo.

“This is what we came here for. That would be the ultimate. But I don’t know. Life changes, things happen, and you have to be prepared for that. But this is what we all want to be here for. And that’s to be able to compete for a championship each and every year. If we can do that, then it would be awesome.”

He said the prospect of another free agent decision next summer will not weigh on him next season and he won’t think about it until “it comes up. It won’t roll around in my mind [before then]. I’ve been in this position before. It can’t get worse than the season before I became a free agent in 2010.

“What I prepared for right now is to come back a better player and try to defend our crown and be the leader of this team and try to go for a three peat. I’m going to come back a better player because I owe it to my teammates.”

During the past two summers, he concentrated on improving in one particular area. In 2011, it was his post game. Last summer, it was his three-point shooting.

This year? Even James isn’t sure.

James said when he takes time later this summer to assess his 2012-13 season, he will determine “what aspect of my game that I least went to throughout that previous season. That’s what I try to work on coming back,… so I can be even more dynamic.”

Free throw shooting is one potential area of improvement.

But he said “I don’t  need a shooting coach. For me, it’s continue the repetition and continue to work on it. During my workouts in the summer time when I’m dead tired, those are the opportunities I should go to free throw line and challenge myself to be able to make five in a row or 10 in a row because you’re going to be put in those situations throughout the season, where it’s late game, fourth quarter, you’re dead tired and you have make free throws. It’s mental more than anything.”

James addressed other issues:

### He said this team is good enough as is to compete for a title but said “every individual has to get better.” He said he won’t ask Riley for more help.

### On winning a title: “It’s unexplainable feeling. My emotions were out of this world last year when we won it and they were out of this world again this year.

It’s something I want again. I’m obsessed with success. I want I want that feeling again – I want to be able to win another championship because it’s the best feeling in the world.”

### On the fact he has been so exceptional in game 7s: “I love Game 7s – I have been able to be pretty good in Game 7s – I say, if I’m on one team and playing another team, you’ve got to beat me one game and I like my chances in one games. I have a lot of confidence in my ability.”

### During the Finals, Maverick Carter – his childhood friend and business associate didn’t talk to him for five days – which is highly unusual.

“I usually talk to Maverick after every game,” he said. “After Game 5, he went five days without talking to me. It’s not just a bed of roses with us. They’ve been around me too long to allow me to be careless, not stepping up to the plate at the highest level. They critique me more than I critique myself. They got on me.”

### On his September wedding, in San Diego, to Savannah Brinson: “I am involved enough to where everything is going to go right. The most important person is Savannah. If she’s happy, I’m happy. That’s all that matters. I don’t care about nobody else on that day besides her.”  

### Other plans this summer include a trip to China for Nike and a basketball camp in Ohio, which the top 100 high school players will attend.

“I will find time to rest and work on my game. When you don’t have to be on your feet, that’s rest. For me, rest is not playing basketball which is hard for me to do, so hard. I have to police myself.”

Spoelstra said he believes James will be back in the gym within 10 days because he loves the game so passionately. “That’s possible,” James said, smiling. “I love the game so much. I start to miss it. I’m missing it already. My body feels great – I don’t know how it feels like it does right now. You miss the game less than a week after it’s over.

What’s the one thing he can’t wait to? “It’s like: ‘Damn, I wish we could come into the locker room – have another practice, take another flight, have another bus ride. Those 15 guys. You start to miss the guys throughout the summer. I know my family probably doesn’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. You spend so much time with these guys. That’s what you start to miss.”