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1 posts from June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014

Noon update: Former All-Pro calls Fins; Heat trade?; UM good news; LeBron fallout; Realistic FA possibilities; Other LeBron suitors

A quick noon update on four topics:

### Andre Gurode, a five-time Pro Bowl center (2006-2010) and two time All-Pro, reached out to the Dolphins through his agent this week, hoping Miami will sign him to fill in for Mike Pouncey, who is expected to miss two to six regular-season games after hip surgery Tuesday.

The Dolphins returned the call late yesterday but said they are going to hold off bringing him in but didn't close the door.

Gurode, 35, isn't the player he once was. Since leaving the Cowboys, where he played several years at a very high level, Gurode has a total of nine starts for Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland the past three years.

But the Dolphins have been making brief preliminary inquiries about the health/status of some available centers, though it remains to be seen if Miami will bring in any for visits.

Among the veteran free agents available: Dan Koppen, former Dolphin Samson Satele, Fernando Velasco, Brad Meester, Ryan Cook and David Baas. 

### Carol City speedster Trayone Gray told canesport.com that he received an ACT score that will qualify him for UM, though the Hurricanes are not yet in a position to confirm this.

UM wants Gray to begin his Hurricanes career as a receiver, but the staff says he also could play running back. "Trayone Gray is a stud," UM receivers coach Brennan Carroll said.

### ESPN's Chad Ford reports today that the Heat is trying to move up from 26th in the draft to select Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier, partly because LeBron James likes him. Napier, 6-1, averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists for UConn last season, while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 40.5 percent on threes.

Napier won NCAA titles in 2011 and 2014 and was named the Final Four's "most outstanding player" after this year's NCAA Tournament.

When I asked Heat executive Chet Kammerer on Monday whether he though Napier would be available at No. 26, he said he did not know but did not want to talk about any players on Miami's radar. His stock has risen in recent weeks and some mock drafts have him going in the mid-to-late teens.

"No way you take another point guard in the lottery before Napier," LeBron tweeted during the NCAA Tournament.

### New Cleveland coach David Blatt told Israel's Sports5 that he doesn't expect LeBron to leave the Heat.

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WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Mostly Heat chatter today:

### Though his return is not certain by any means, the Heat remains the favorite to retain free agent LeBron James, but he wants issues with the roster addressed, according to an associate with knowledge of the situation.

When James speaks with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh this week, he will gauge their willingness to opt out of existing contracts and agree to deals that give the Heat more spending money. Both of them appear receptive to opting out and taking pay cuts in exchange for longer deals, provided the cuts aren’t too steep.

The good news for the Heat: None of James’ other most attractive suitors have the cap space to give him a max contract, and creating that space will either be difficult or cost them assets that would make their rosters potentially no more appealing than Miami’s. (More on that in a minute.)

### Even though Bosh said he would be receptive to taking a pay cut and a Wade associate said Wade is open to the idea, it might not create enough space to add one of this summer’s priciest free agents if James doesn’t do the same.

A Wade associate said Wade would be receptive to considering a four-year, $60 million deal to replace the $42 million he’s owed over the next two seasons.

But let’s say Wade and Bosh each take cuts to $15 million next season.

And let’s say Udonis Haslem can be convinced to opt out of the $4.6 million he’s owed next season for a three-year deal starting at $2 million or $2.5 million. (Haslem has told me he's open to the idea of exchanging money for years if it would help add pieces to the roster.)

And let’s say the Heat dumps its other cap commitments except Norris Cole --- meaning Miami trades its first-round pick and cuts Justin Hamilton. (Cole is due $2.15 million, by the way.)

Under that scenario, with Wade and Bosh each earning $15 million and James making $20 million (which would be his max for next season), the Heat would have only $5.5 million to $6 million of space under the projected $63.6 million cap, factoring in required cap holds topping $500,000 each for roster spots unfilled up to 12.

The Heat also would have a $2.7 million “room” exception in this scenario and also could sign players to the minimum, topping out at $1.4 million.

But the $6 million or so in cap space in this scenario could not be combined with the room exception.

And what could $6 million buy in free agency?

It wouldn’t be enough to lure Carmelo Anthony.

Luol Deng’s agent, Herb Rudoy, said even though Deng believes the Heat is “fantastic,” there’s “not a chance” Deng --- who made $14.3 million last season --- would agree to that amount of money.

Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry likes the Heat but is looking for $10 million a year or more.

Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol, who earned $19 million last season, would like to play for a winner, but the Heat will have competition from some of the 15-plus teams with significant cap space, including Dallas, which has $30 million, a lot of which will be used on Dirk Nowitzki.

Washington Wizards free agents Trevor Ariza and Marcin Gortat, who each earned $7.7 million last season, are both expecting raises, as is Cleveland center Spencer Hawes ($6.5 million). So is Phoenix forward Channing Frye, who opted out of a guaranteed $6.8 million next season.

But if James also took a cut of several million dollars, Miami could make a competitive offer for any of those except possibly Anthony, whom the Heat will call nonetheless. Though the idea of another James pay cut isn’t appealing to some of his associates, it’s possible he might do it for a few select players.

### If James doesn’t take a cut, but Wade and Bosh takes cuts of about $5 million apiece, the $6 million or so that would be created in space would make the Heat a contender for players such as point guards Darren Collison, Kirk Hinrich, Patty Mills or Steve Blake (each could warrant a share of that money if Miami splits it up), Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce (an associate said he wants to play for a winner and included Miami, the Clippers and the Nets among several possibilities), Charlotte power forward Josh McRoberts, Lakers power forward Jordan Hill (Miami has pursued him before) and Clippers forward Danny Granger.

The Heat then could use its $2.7 million room exception and minimum contracts on the likes of Ray Allen (ESPN says he's leaning toward playing), Chris Andersen (still has interest in possibly returning despite opting out), Marvin Williams, Jordan Hamilton, Chris Kaman, Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Jodie Meeks, Caron Butler or Emeka Okafor.

The Heat also has a $2.2 million trade exception from the Joel Anthony deal.

If four or five quality rotation players can be added through these means, the roster would be much better even without signing one of the most expensive free agents. And the Heat would not be paying a luxury tax in this scenario.

### The Heat could create more space by asking Bosh and Wade to go down to $12 million next season and making it up on the back end of their deals, so that each gets $60 million over four years. In this scenario, even without James taking a pay cut, the Heat could have enough space (around $11 million) to land Lowry.

But the Heat would then be clogging its cap with a 36-year-old Wade making $18 million in 2017-18, with no assurances that James would still be around at that point. And you would be asking two-thirds of the Big Three not only to accept a huge cut from $20 million to $12 million next season but also take far, far less than LeBron would be making.

### James planned to opt out even if the Heat had won the Finals and likely will at least listen to suitors that interest him, according to the associate. 

But none of those attractive suitors have the cap space Miami did four years ago.

James likes Clippers coach Doc Rivers and is close with Chris Paul, but creating enough space to sign him would require the Clippers to find teams able to take DeAndre Jordan ($11.4 million), Jamal Crawford ($5.4 million), Jared Dudley ($4.2 million), Matt Barnes ($3.3 million) and Reggie Bullock ($1.2 million) without sending contracts back AND persuading James to agree to a salary as much as $8 million under the $20 million max next season. (Thanks to NBA salary cap guru Larry Coon for confirming my calculations on this.)

The idea of the Clippers being able to rid themselves of that much salary (especially Dudley, Barnes and Bullock) without taking any back appears unrealistic.

The Clippers' other alternative, if James wants to sign there, is to propose to the Heat a sign-and-trade with Blake Griffin. But Yahoo! reported the Heat has told people it’s adamant against sign-and-trades for James.

And for James, he would need to ask himself this: Would playing for a Griffin-less Clippers in a tougher conference offer any better chance of winning than Miami does? He would be opting for Paul and Jordan instead of Wade and Bosh and whatever supporting casts each team can assemble.

Houston will make a run at James, but to offer James even $19 million, the Rockets would need to find a taker for Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin --- who are each due $14.9 million balloon payments and have $8.4 million cap numbers --- and make other minor moves.

Chicago would need to amnesty Carlos Boozer and likely trade Taj Gibson to make James a representative offer.

Though the idea of returning to Cleveland down the road holds some appeal to him, James would want the Cavaliers to add another significant piece for him to even consider that this summer, the associate said. And doing that would require parting with Anderson Varejao and perhaps other pieces.

ESPN reported several teams, including Cleveland and Atlanta and the Lakers, are exploring ways to create enough cap space to add both Anthony and James at reduced salaries. The odds are against that, though the Heat hasn’t given up hope of Anthony joining the Big Three at reduced salaries.

James can explore that Anthony scenario immediately if he chooses, but the Heat cannot call Anthony until 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

### James can sign for as much as five years, $115 million with the Heat but no more than four year, $85.5 million with other teams.

### The Heat, awaiting word from Allen, hasn’t told several of its non-Big Three free agents --- including Rashard Lewis, Michael Beasley and James Jones --- whether it wants to keep them. Jones seems likely to be invited back, especially if James returns.

UM LANDS FOUR ORAL COMMITMENTS

We usually don't pay much attention to oral commitments for 17 months down the road, because kids can change their minds a hundred times before National Signing Day.

But UM snagged two significant 2016 oral commitments this week: Palmetto High's Jack Allison, considered one of the best quarterbacks in the 2016 class, and Oakleaf (Fla.) linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, who projects as a top-100 player in that year's class. 

Allison --- who threw for 1600 yards, 16 TDs and 6 picks last season --- had numerous other offers, including Alabama and Missouri. Richardson had offers from UF, Georgia and Michigan, among others.

Meanwhile, UM added two oral commitments for the 2015 class on Tuesday: 6-foot-6 Pompano Beach Ely receiver Therrell Gosier, a three-star prospect who appeared in just two games before the playoffs last season because of a concussion; and no-star Ocala Trinity offensive tackle Geron Christian, whose only other listed offers (according to rivals.com) were from Arkansas, FAU, East Carolina and Middle Tennessee State.

Gosier also is a standout basketball player at Ely.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz