A few Wednesday night quick hits:
### Three Dolphins defensive players – Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Jimmy Wilson – answered fans' questions on a conference call tonight, and predictably, there was plenty of happy talk, not unlike what you hear from most teams this time of year. A few highlights from each of them:
Wheeler said there’s such an emphasis on securing more takeaways that “we’ve got balls set up where we can’t even walk into a meeting without stripping someone.”… He said: “We’ve got a complete team. I see a lot of good decisions by Ryan Tannehill, a lot of athleticism at receiver, running back, tight end.”
Ellerbe said: “If guys make plays they’re capable of making, we’ll have a top three defense. We’ve got a fast defense, we’ve got playmakers. It’s one of the fastest teams I’ve played on.”…. On Tannehill: “Our quarterback is playing like a veteran. It surprises me how quick he is. We can play the power game, we can spread them out. We have some of the best tight ends in the game.”
Wilson: “Being able to see Tannehill as a rookie and see him now – he’s increased his skill level leaps and bounds. You have to have more of brain capacity. That’s what he’s picked up. He’s handling the blitzes well.”... Please see my story on the sports home page for the Dolphins' full training camp schedule, announced today.
### Linebacker Devante Bond – a key piece of this UM recruiting class – will not know until after Aug. 2 whether he will qualify for UM, his coach at Sierra Community College said today. Bond is waiting on results of two classes he’s taking.
Coach Jeff Tisdale said he didn’t know Bond’s chances of qualifying but called him “as good a pass rusher as I’ve ever seen.” Bond had 17 sacks last season, and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has said he will be an immediate factor, should he qualify.
### The Heat would face a luxury tax bill of more than $33 million if it doesn’t use the amnesty clause in the next week. But consider that the Nets – after acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry – will face a tax of at least $70 million next season, topping the all-time record (Portland’s $52.9 million bill in 2003). And that bill is in addition to the $98 million the Nets must pay in player salaries.
That’s an absurd cost to finance what could be the fourth best team in the conference, behind the Heat, Bulls and Pacers.... (For more on the Heat's tax conundrum, please see my story on the sports home page.)
### So this is the team Cleveland has assembled to try to lure LeBron James back to Ohio next summer: Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waters, Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee, rookie No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, free agent pickup Jarrett Jack, and Andrew Bynum and his nuclear knees (Bynum has a team option for 2014-15, as do most of these Cavaliers).
There’s definitely some good young talent on the Cavaliers' roster, and James’ associates don’t rule out a return to Cleveland because of his affinity for the region. But the Heat will clearly be the favorite to keep him next summer.
### Players selected in last month's MLB draft must have signed and passed a physical by 5 p.m. Friday. So realistically, the Marlins need to sign third baseman Colin Moran, the draft’s sixth overall pick, by Thursday afternoon to give him time to take the medical tests, and have the results processed. The Marlins remain optimistic it will get done. They view him as a potential longterm answer at third base. [UPDATE: Moran and the Marlins agreed to terms Thursday afternoon.]
### Steve Lapa, general manager of WMEN 640, has extended Dan Sileo’s on-air audition for two weeks, through the week of July 15. He said if the feedback is good, he will offer Sileo a full-time gig. “So far, it’s been even, pro and con,” Lapa said.