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.
### 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.”
### 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.