« July 30, 2014 | Main | August 2, 2014 »

1 posts from July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

1:20 p.m.: Olsen suspension; Heat signs Williams; Wade looks ahead, speaks on LeBron and other issues; Marlins trade fallout; Dolphin, Canes, Bosh

1:20 p.m. update: NBC 6's Adam Kuperstein reports that UM quarterback Kevin Olsen will be suspended at least one game for a failed drug test, his second suspension in the past nine months. (A Herald source has confirmed the suspension.)

That means Jake Heaps, the transfer from Kansas, likely will be UM's starter in the season opener at Louisville. Ryan Williams hopes to take the job back when he returns at some point; he's targeting mid-September.

UM has been concerned about Olsen's maturity for months, even before this latest failed test. After Olsen completed 7 of 21 passes in the spring game, a UM official said the program would be in trouble if it didn't add another quarterback.

################################################################################################

 

1 p.m. update: The Heat added a 13th player today by signing journeyman 6-9 forward Shawne Williams to a guaranteed contract at the league minimum ($1.2 million), according to agent Happy Walters. The team has a team option for 2015-16. 

Williams averaged 5.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in 36 games for the Lakers last season (including 13 starts), while shooting 38 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from three-point range (42 for 129). He also spent 23 games last season with the Lakers' Developmental League team.

He has appeared in 251 NBA games, including 36 starts, over six seasons with Indiana, Dallas, the Knicks, Nets and Lakers. His career averages: 5.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 40.3 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent on threes.

His best chances of contributing is if he displays the three-point shooting touch he did for the Knicks in 2010-11, when he hit 85 threes and hit 40 percent from distance. He's ideally a stretch four but also can play small forward and even some shooting guard. His rebounding numbers improved last season, which helps his chances if that trend continues.

Williams, who has averaged 21 minutes per game each of his past three NBA seasons, was drafted 17th overall by Indiana out of Memphis, in 2006.

The Heat now has 11 players with guaranteed contracts, and two non-guaranteed (Justin Hamilton and James Ennis), though half of Hamilton's salary for next season is guaranteed with the passing of a deadline today.

#######################################################################################

No, this was not the preferred course, not the way Dwyane Wade envisioned his Heat journey continuing, without the game’s best player alongside.

But Wade has handled the move gracefully --- accepting an $8 million pay cut, never expressing displeasure about LeBron James bolting to Cleveland even after Wade opted out of a lucrative contract and never attempting to persuade James to stay because of respect for his friend's wishes. 

And Wade’s initial disappointment has been replaced by motivation and determination to prove his skills have not diminished.

“I need it, I need it,” he said Friday of doubts about whether he can handle a bigger load.

Before the second day of his fourth-annual Fantasy Camp at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, he spoke of needing something “to challenge you” later in your career. This will undoubtedly do it.

“I can’t go back five years,” Wade, 32, cautioned, two days after Pat Riley said Wade might be able to return to what he was before James arrived.

“I ain’t trying to go back five years,” Wade said. “If we all could, we would, but that’s not likely … I really don’t know how it’s going to be. I’m used to something from the last four years. Until we get into training camp and the preseason games, you really don’t know how it’s going to be yet.”

But he knows there will be more shots, more responsibility, assuredly a higher scoring average (he was at 26.6 the last season without James and 19.0 last season) and an overriding need to stay healthier than last season.

He missed 28 games last season, with 13 attributed to “rest” for his knees, and has no intention of doing that again.  Asked if he expects to play in 75-plus games, Wade indicated that was the plan.

He hopes coming to camp lighter will reduce some of the load on his knees. While declining to divulge details, he said he weighs less than he did to start training camp last season and will continue to lose more. He’s doing it by following the Paleo diet program that was used last summer by Ray Allen, who recommended it to Wade and James.

Wade has finished the most restrictive 30-day part of the diet (“very tough”) and will continue the program all summer, before reincorporating carbohydrates when training camp begins.

“I’m not where I want to be. I’m not at the training camp weight I want to be at,” he said. “You take away all the good things we all love to eat. You’ve got to add more asparagus, more zucchini, it becomes a big part of the diet. It’s very challenging. One of the hardest things I’ve done. “

Wade offered clarity on several issues involving free agency.

He said based on conversations with James and instinct, he knew James would sign with Cleveland when they both disembarked from a Las Vegas to Miami flight on July 10, but that James did not tell him with certainty until the next day, shortly before his announcement.

“We had a long flight back from Vegas, and I probably knew then, without him telling me at that moment,” Wade said. “You can tell where someone’s heart is and what they’re thinking. Me as his friend, I just support him. As crazy as that might sound, I’m supportive of my friends and doing what makes them happy. You’ve got to do what makes you happy, selfishly. The decision to go back home was that.”

He said the Heat never asked him to come to Las Vegas to recruit James and he was there merely to spend time with James and enjoy himself.

“Just hanging,” he said. “You don’t really talk about the future, basketball every day.”

He said he did not opt out of the last two years and $42 million of his contract based on the belief James definitely would return.  He said he did it to give himself and the team more flexibility, even though he told his agent early in the process that he would not consider offers from other teams.

Wade took a two-year, $34 million contract instead of a longer deal some had expected. He said a shorter deal gives himself and the team more flexibility for the summer of 2016, when the cap could skyrocket to as high as $80 million, according to some projections. He trusts the organization will do right by him.

“You do what you feel is right,” he said of opting out and taking a pay cut. “I’m blessed financially. Not saying I want to give all my money away. I understand the position we’re in, if you want the success you want, you have to give a little.

“I’ve been the front-runner on that. I have taken the responsibility of trying to help put us in the right position as much as I can. It gives us a better chance to succeed. I will be a part of this organization for many, many years to come in some capacity. Hopefully, I can always help some way. I’ve been able to do it as a player. Hopefully, further on I can do it as well.”

He said after James announced his decision, he called Chris Bosh to gauge his intentions and that Bosh needed another hour or so to decide, before opting to stay with Miami instead of leaving for Houston.

Wade said he called only one Heat free agent target: Pau Gasol. He called him twice because he loved the idea of adding Gasol to the Big Three. But that was unlikely to happen even if James had stayed.

“Ownership has done a great job recovering from [James’ exit],” Wade said.  Riley “did a good job of recovering as good as you can. Obviously, we still have some work to do. It’s our job to come back next year and get the continuity we need. It’s a good Eastern Conference. It’s about how fast you can become a good team. Some teams, like ourselves and Cleveland, need to work to be that team because other teams are already ahead of them because they’ve been together. I’m confident in the guys we have.”

The immediate future includes his wedding; he and longtime girlfriend Gabrielle Union will marry on Aug. 30.

The longterm future? Wade hopes that includes finishing his career here.

“It’s very rare in sports” to play for one team,” he said. “I’m 11 years in, going into my 12th. It means something to me, my family as well. I’m blessed we have great ownership, great management. It’s a great city. I was put in a great position. So it made it easier for me to say, ‘Miami is my home.’”

### Wade spoke to two print/Internet reporters (myself and Ethan Skolnick) after the news conference, but his only one-on-one basketball-heavy broadcast interview was with WQAM, a title sponsor for his event, and airs on Danny Rabinowitz’s show at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We have good talent,” he said in that WQAM segment. “Obviously, other teams have younger guys that have talent.”

MARLINS NEWS 

### The good news on the Marlins’ six-player trade with Houston today: Right-hander Jarred Cosart has a 10-8 career record (very good considering how poor the Astros have been) and solid 3.57 career ERA, can hit the upper 90s on the radar gun (according to GM Michael Hill), is only 24 and won’t be a free agent until 2020.

He will be a clear upgrade in the rotation over Jacob Turner (5.69 ERA) and projects as a No. 3 or more likely No. 4 starter. And the Marlins needed an extra arm next year, considering Jose Fernandez MIGHT not return from Tommy John surgery until around the All-Star break….

Kike Hernandez can play second base, shortstop, center field and left field and has had a terrific year offensively (.337 in 67 games in Triple A Oklahoma City) and .284, with one home run in 28 games for the Astros. “We love the bat, and he’s a solid defender,” Hill said. If he keeps hitting like this, he could be the second baseman next season. And he’s under team control for six more years....

Outfielder Austin Wates, who was assigned to Triple A, gives the Marlins “a premium base stealer,” as Hill put it. He’s 98 for 121 in steal attempts in his career and he has hit between .293 and .310 in all four of his minor-league seasons (.309 this season)….

There are still serious questions about whether Jake Marisnick --– one of three players dealt to Houston --- would hit major league pitching.... Giving up third base prospect Colin Moran wasn't easy, but Casey McGehee is under team control through 2015 and the Marlins will want to keep him beyond that if his 2015 season is anything like his 2014 season.

### The bad news: Cosart has been awful in July, relinquishing 21 runs in 21 1/3 innings… He has allowed too many base-runners this season (170 in 116 innings). "He's got some delivery issues," ESPN's Keith Law said... Cosart's 4.41 ERA for the season ranks 80th of 94 qualifying MLB starters, and his .267 batting average against ranks 71st (though much, much better than Jacob Turner’s .319)….

Though Hernandez has made himself into a very good hitter, the hope is he doesn’t revert to his offensive form last season, when he hit .236 in 116 games in the minors….

The Marlins gave up a valuable 2015 competitive balance draft pick and they could ultimately regret trading Moran if he becomes a .300 big-league hitter. Moran was hitting .294 at Class A Jupiter.

“He’s going to a really special player,” Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said of last year’s No. 6 overall pick.

DOLPHINS NOTES

### Even with three more botched snaps Thursday (involving Nate Garner --- who took the first-team center snaps --- and David Arkin), Joe Philbin still insists: “I’m confident we can get it fixed.”

But even beyond the snapping issues and one or two unsettled offensive line positions, the passing game is not where the Dolphins want it.

“We still had a drop or two,” Philbin said. “We still had maybe an accuracy issue here or there. When the plays present themselves to make, we’ve got to do a better job making them on a more consistent basis.”

Brian Hartline put it this way: “You can see it coming along. You can see guys, myself included, playing better, playing faster. [But] we’re nowhere near where we want to be. We’re still working on timing. We’re still working on getting in and out of the huddle faster, getting lined up faster, maintaining our tempo through the heat. That will come with time.”

### The undrafted rookie running backs, Damien Williams and Orleans Darkwa, are both pushing Mike Gillislee, and Williams has been more impressive than Daniel Thomas at times.

“They are both fundamentally sound football players,” Philbin said Thursday of Williams and Darkwa. “I thought in the last drill we had, I think we ran an outside zone to the left and they do a good job of ball security. They are not afraid to step up there in pass protection. I like the group. I think it’s a good, young group.”

### Really like how the secondary is coming along. Reshad Jones has had a good camp, Louis Delmas appears to be an upgrade over Chris Clemons, Cortland Finnegan has been solid and Jamar Taylor seems much improved. And Brent Grimes remains one of the team's best players, of course.

BOSH SPEAKS

### Chris Bosh, speaking Thursday morning to 790 The Ticket’s Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor, said of his five-year, $118 million contract: “The [Heat] stepped right up to the plate. That made my decision easy. It makes me feel special and extremely motivated. There wasn’t much to think about.”

### Bosh said he was “shocked” by LeBron James’ departure but “that got me excited for the next chapter, to rise up to the challenge. It gives us an opportunity to play with a chip on our shoulder. It’s revitalized my attitude toward basketball a little bit. We have a very good team.”

### Of assuming a bigger role offensively, Bosh said: “It’s cool to be in that situation again. I’m a much better player than I was the last time in that position.” 

UM CHANGES

Linebackers coach Micheal Barrow is leaving the program, going on a sabbatical because of a family medical issue. Barrow played at UM from 1989 to 1992 and has been on the coaching staff for seven seasons. Canesport.com said that Barrow's mother is sick and he wants to care for her.

Hurlie Brown will move from running backs coach to linebackers coach to replace Barrow, and Tim Harris --- who joined the program earlier this year --- will become running backs coach.

Former UM receiver Kevin Beard replaces Harris as assistant director of football operations.