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1 posts from June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

3 p.m.: UM names Jim Morris' successor; LeBron opts for free agency; Dolphins injuries; Heat addresses NBA Draft issues; UM

### 3 p.m. update: UM announced what we reported previously, that Jim Morris has received a 3-year contract extension through 2018. And UM added this new piece of news: Gino DiMare, a longtime UM assistant and former UM player, will succeed Morris as coach at that point, beginning in the 2019 season.

UM made the College World Series in 11 of Morris' first 15 years as coach but hasn't made it the past six.

### 9 a.m. update: LeBron James' agent has informed the Heat that James will exercise his early termination clause and become a free agent next week. The move isn't surprising, because James likes to have flexibility.

The Heat has long been considered the favorite to retain him, but several teams --- including Houston, Cleveland and Chicago --- will court him. The Clippers also want him but would need to part with several pieces, including DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford, to be able to make him a max offer.

James would have earned $20.6 million next season and $22.1 million the next if he hadn't exercised his opt-out.       

Under terms of the labor agreement, James would be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for as many as five years and $115.1 million.

If James moves to another team, he would be eligible to sign a four-year contract for as much as $85 million.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also must inform the Heat by next Monday whether they will opt out of their contracts. Both appear open to it for the purpose of signing long-term deals and giving the Heat more flexibility to upgrade the roster.

### Dolphins center Mike Pouncey had hip surgery today and it's projected he will miss at least three months, according to two sources close to the situation. The story was first reported by ESPN.

Meanwhile, running back Knowshon Moreno needs arthroscopic knee surgery and is out four to five weeks. He could be back by the Dolphins' preseason opener Aug. 8, though the Dolphins could proceed cautiously and keep him out of initial exhibition games.

Under the most optimistic of timetables given to Pouncey, he could return potentially for the Dolphins' third or fourth game in late September, but that's far from certain and he might not return until October. The recover time from this injury --- a torn labrum in the hip --- sometimes can take closer to four months.

The Dolphins open Sept. 7 against New England, then play at Buffalo Sept. 14, against Kansas City Sept. 21 and vs. Oakland Sept. 28 in London. The Dolphins have a bye week after the Raiders game.

If the Dolphins believe he isn't ready to help before the bye, they could place him on the physically unable to perform list, which would sideline him for six weeks.

Pouncey was in good spirits after today's two-hour procedure and is already talking about how soon he can get back, according to a close associate.

Pouncey suffered the injury during the team's offseason program, but neither the Dolphins nor Pouncey initially believed it was too serious. He took a lot of snaps during the final two days of the team's three minicamp practices last week after sitting out the first day.

Sam Brenner took most of the first-team snaps at center during the mini-camp practice that Pouncey missed last week. Brenner started four games at guard last season and graded out poorly, according to Pro Football Focus.

Nate Garner also can play center, having filled in for Pouncey for two games that Pouncey missed last season.

Right guard Shelley Smith also has taken practice snaps at center.

Undrafted Utah State rookie Tyler Larsen is a natural center who's trying to make the team.

Veteran free agent centers still available include Samson Satele, David Baas, Mike Gibson, Andre Gurode, Dan Koppen, Brad Meester, Fernando Velasco and Kyle Cook.

### While declining to speak about any player being considered by the Heat, team vice president/player personnel Chet Kammerer addressed several NBA Draft issues today, with the Heat holding the 26th and 55th picks on Thursday:

 ### Though Miami is permitted to trade the pick after the selection --- but not before --- Kammerer said dealing the selection is not the thinking at the moment (though that always could change). “At this point, we would like to add someone on our roster,” he said.

The first-round pick comes with a 2014-15 cap hit close to $1 million. The Heat isn't allowed to trade its first-round pick before the draft because of a rule prohibiting teams from trading their first-round picks in consecutive years.

### Kammerer said: “We have 20 guys that we really like. Hopefully one of those 20 will be there. That doesn’t mean we might still not get a good player [otherwise]."

### At what position is a really good player likely to drop to 26? “Wing player has more depth than anything else," Kammerer said. "Power forwards and centers are pretty limited. Even ones, twos and threes --- there are depth at those positions."

### Kammerer said: “We’ll go with the best player on the board, who we think has the highest percentage [chance] of being an NBA player.”

### Does the Heat prefer a player who's undeveloped with great longterm potential or a player who's ready to contribute now in this win-now era of Heat basketball?

"We’re more about having a player contribute immediately," he said. "We eliminate people who we really think could be [really good] but might have to wait two or three years. We need a couple breaks [to get that type of player at 26]. That’s possible.”        

### Kammerer said there's "a misconception that we don’t look at European players. We have looked at a lot of international players. I’m not saying we are going to select one this year."

### The Heat has worked out 40 players. Of those, several are from Florida colleges, including UM guard Rion Brown, who is an NBA long shot at best.

### “I feel a little pressure this year because we do have a pick at No. 26. We feel like we’re thorough and professional and well prepared. We have covered this as thoroughly as we can. We might not make the right pick but it won’t be because we’re not prepared. We have done our homework. Hopefully, we’ll get a break or two.”

### Kammerer mentioned Tim Hardaway and Keith Askins as the two former Heat players who helped in the scouting and evaluation of draft prospects this year. He also said Tim Hardaway Jr., selected by the Knicks at No. 24, ended up being the second-best player taken in last year's draft.

### On 2013 second-round pick James Ennis, who will play for the Heat's summer league team in Orlando and Las Vegas:

“We’re very optimistic about James. He exceeded what we expected. He should have been MVP in the league [in Australia]. His numbers were very good. He [also] played in Puerto Rico, did a nice job there. We will be seeing him in a few days. We are very happy with what transpired.

“James did a good job across the board. We wanted him to expand his range. He shot the ball well from three. He was fourth rebounder in the league [in Australia]. Averaged over seven rebounds a game for a wing, which was very good. We want to see him create a little more off the dribble. A lot we’ll see this summer and in the fall.”

### Among players linked to the Heat at No. 26 in mock drafts done by national outlets: Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier (could end up going higher; Kammerer declined to say if he thinks he will be there at 26); Colorado point guard Spencer Dinwiddie; and Michigan center Mitch McGary (coming off a back injury).

QUICK FOOTBALL NOTES

### UM lost an ascending oral commitment this past weekend when New Jersey-based three-star offensive tackle Kevin Feder flipped to Ohio State.

This marks the second time in two years that Urban Meyer has tried to snag a UM offensive line oral commitment.

Last year, his efforts failed with new UM offensive lineman KC McDermott, much to Meyer’s shock.

The expression on Meyer’s face was “like the state of shock where the guy has literally never been told no in his life,” McDermott said. “It literally looked like a kid the first time you tell him 'no, you can't do something.' It looked like he was a baby about to cry. It was so funny.”

### Offensive lineman Billy Turner, the Dolphins’ third-round pick from North Dakota State, is one of only five players in the entire NFL draft that remains unsigned. (The others remaining were drafted in the first or second round.) But the unresolved issues with Turner are not insurmountable and this figures to get done in mid-July.

### There are still a handful of veteran free agents who might be able to help --- guard Daryn Colledge, linebacker Pat Angerer, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, tight ends Jermichael Finley and Dustin Keller, among others.  But the Dolphins so far have passed on all of them, despite initial inquiries about Colledge and Finley, who has been cleared medically by his own personal physician after a neck injury.

### Please see the last post for a lot more Dolphins. Twitter: @flasportsbuzz