6 p.m. update: The Dolphins and general manager Jeff Ireland parted ways on Tuesday afternoon, ending a six-year tenure with the team, including the past four in which he had final say on all personnel decisions.
Ross was going to bring in an executive who would have personnel power over Ireland, an arrangement that did not appeal to Ireland. So Ireland decided to move on.
The Dolphins did not name a replacement. Former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is among possible candidates, though the team did not indicate who would be considered. Ross also holds former Jets coach Eric Mangini in high regard, and Mangini reportedly has interest in running a team. The team likes assistant general manager Brian Gaine but not for the top position in the front office, according to our Armando Salguero.
“I want to personally thank Jeff for his hard work and dedication in building the team over the past six years,” owner Stephen Ross said. “After a series of discussions, we both felt that it was in our mutual best interest to part ways. Jeff was a loyal and dedicated member of the Dolphins and we wish him and his family nothing but the best.”
Ireland, in a statement, said: “I’ve spent the last six years with the best organization in football. Steve and I came to an agreement that the best thing moving forward for all parties would be to part ways. I’d like to thank Steve for all his support and kindness. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people during this time and I’d like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
There was growing tension between Ireland and Joe Philbin, according to a source.
The front office believed the coaching staff could have gotten more out of the players. The coaching staff believed there were deficiencies in the personnel provided by Ireland.
Ireland awarded more than $200 million in contracts during free agency last offseason, including hefty deals for receiver Mike Wallace and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. But the Dolphins missed the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
The Dolphins went 7-9, 6-10, 7-9 and 8-8 in the four seasons when Ireland had full control on personnel decisions.
Ross has decided to keep Philbin as coach, according to a source.
The Dolphins fired offensive coordinator Mike Sherman on Monday.
The NFL Draft Advisory Board has told UM linebacker Denzel Perryman that he would likely be a third-round draft pick. His father told me last night he’s undecided whether to turn pro.
Meanwhile, defensive end Anthony Chickillo also hasn’t decided whether to turn pro. The Herald’s Susan Miller Degnan reports that Chickillo was given a fourth-to-fifth round grade.
### Agent Drew Rosenhaus has signed three UM seniors who were invited to the NFL Combine: Stephen Morris, Allen Hurns and Pat O’Donnell.
### According to CaneSport.com, key UM oral commitment Michael Wyche, who has signed a letter of intent with UM, is waiting on appeal on an ACC rule requiring a player attend the same junior college three semesters before enrolling in an ACC school. Wyche has attended East Los Angeles Community College only two semesters.
### The Heat decided to keep Roger Mason Jr. and (as expected) Michael Beasley by today's 5 p.m. deadline to guarantee contracts for the remainder of the season. That means Miami would have to eat a contract to add another player.
It also indicates that the Heat feels no need, as of this time, to create a roster spot for center Andrew Bynum, who reportedly has interest in Miami. Several teams have called about Bynum but Miami was not among them, as of a half hour ago.
The Heat instead remains confident that Greg Oden should be able to help them at some point this season.
Mason said a few hours ago: “When I played, I played well. My expectation is to be here. I decided to come here with other options because I expected to be here.”
He said this team has “the best camaraderie I’ve ever been a part of in 11 years.”
### This morning, Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony both praised Oden’s progress. Bosh said Oden hypothetically could play in a game today, if needed, but “you don’t want to throw him out there too soon. He’s got to get his conditioning under him. He’s got to make sure he’s got his legs correctly. Once he gets in good conditioning as far as doing his drills and can do it with no problem, then I’m sure they’ll insert him in games….
“He’s really going to be able to help us in some areas we need to fill later on. His time is coming pretty soon. He’ll be ready. He doesn’t say much, so it’s hard to get a feel for what he’s thinking.”
Anthony said Oden has looked good in two-on-two matchups against him. The Heat hasn’t done much five-on-five practice work in recent weeks.
But asked if he’s convinced Oden will help the team this year, Erik Spoelstra didn’t specifically answer. “All I’m concerned about is follow the plan. And he’s been following the plan. Very disciplined. Making progress.”
### Spoelstra said Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers are game time decisions for tonight’s matchup with New Orleans. Shane Battier is doubtful.
### The Heat announced the nicknames players will wear on jerseys for four games this year, including Friday at Brooklyn: King James; D. Wade, C.B.; Rio; Battle (Shane Battier's original family name); J Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen); Birdman; Doc (Joel Anthony); B Easy (Michael Beasley); Cole Train (Norris Cole), U.D.; J.J.; Sweet Lew (Rashard Lewis); G.O. (if en plays) and Moneymase (if Roger Mason is still on the team).
Pat Riley, who hasn’t spoken to local reporters since late last June, did a recently-released interview with “Index Universe” in which he discussed some of the Heat’s philosophies – much of which Heat fans already know but are interesting nevertheless.
Among the highlights:
### Riley said flatly: “We don’t like to build through the draft. If you’re going to do that, then you’re probably going to have to lose for two or three or four years in a row, and get high lottery picks. In my 19 years here, we’ve been in the lottery three times. We ended up getting three good players out of that [Caron Butler, Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley].
"We really like the trade route or free agency to find the fourth- or fifth-year player… and now has become a veteran. He’s a talent. He’s experienced. He’s mature. And he will slot into that sixth-man role or a specific role. Or every now and then, go for a real star. That’s how I think about building a team. And that’s how I think about keeping the team relevant, to keep adding one piece. Jerry West taught me this in Los Angeles.”
### Regarding how the Heat makes personnel decisions, Riley said “it’s myself and Erik and Andy Elisburg and Chet Kammerer and Micky Arison. If there isn’t a consensus, and there’s somebody that I really want, then I will probably get to make that decision. But I don’t think we’ve ever done anything here where we didn’t all agree it was the best move.”
### He said Spoelstra believes in analytics: “We have a database of numbers, not only individually but as a team, in which we track every single movement that one of our players makes out on the court. And we will definitely quantify it into a number. And the player will have that number. Erik Spoelstra believes in these numbers. He uses them to set up the offense and defense, especially offensively, and who are the best players to complement LeBron and Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Numbers and analytics play a big part in… how we can space the floor. The numbers tell us that Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis play better when LeBron and Chris and Udonis Haslem are on the court.”
### Riley says Spoelstra is the “face of the franchise now” and “we don’t want a lot of people out there making statements to the media that can contradict one another.”
### One key, Riley said, is “the players trust us because they know we’re competent. We’re going to make them better players. We’re going to make sure they’re the best-fed and nutrition-oriented conditioned team in the league. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t want to really play for us if they didn’t trust that we were competent."