WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Hassan Whiteside's future with the Heat remains very much in question. Dwyane Wade's? Not so much.
There was a time, a couple of years ago, that Wade openly expressed curiosity about what he could command in free agency this summer, when the cap will soar from $70 million to a projected $89 million. That’s no longer the case.
Wade told me this week that he does not want to even test the free agent market and instead wants to wrap up a new deal with the Heat without the drama of last offseason, when the sides initially were far apart before agreeing on a one-year, $20 million contract.
“The whole free agency thing, I didn't want to be in it last summer; I don't want to be in it this summer,” he said. “I don't want to be on the market at all…. I’m not curious at all. I want to get to it [with the Heat]. I want to be able to sign my deal and move on and not have to deal with any rumors, any free agency, any this, any that. This is where I want to end my career. So we'll figure it out.”
Because Miami likely will be using ample cap room, the Heat cannot exceed the cap to sign Wade, meaning his salary will consume some of the $37 million Miami would have available --- a figure that would grow by nearly $6 million if Miami could somehow find a taker for Josh McRoberts without taking money back.
Though another $20 million payout isn’t expected because the Heat wants cap flexibility, Wade will command a substantial salary. He’s showing improved durability, ranks among the best in the league in clutch shooting and is 28th overall in scoring at 18.7 per game (seventh among shooting guard). Trust was restored in the Heat/Wade relationship after last spring’s temporary breakdown, and Wade fully expects to reach a new deal.
As for Whiteside, Heat officials clearly were not pleased with his elbowing of Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, which resulted in a flagrant 2 foul and automatic ejection. That led to the Spurs scoring seven points in 16 seconds early in the fourth quarter.
"That's something that we'll deal with, with Hassan," Erik Spoelstra said. "We don't condone that kind of play. We've been through this with him before, but it's a disappointing play. That's not a basketball play."
Wade said he didn't see the play but "it's on him. That's something he needs to deal with. He's been pretty good to this point. He just had a lapse in judgment."
Wade said there's only so long "you can hold somebody's hand and walk them through it."
Wade also said "we're all supposed to be in here for one common goal and sometimes we don't know what he's thinking" because he's so quiet.
The Heat sent Whiteside home after his ejection because it did not want him speaking to the media.
"He knows what he means to this team and [that] he has to keep his head in every situation," Chris Bosh said. "It wasn't that much of an emotional game. You can give advice. The next step for him is really learning about reputation. Unfortunately, he's taken a step back, whether it's right or wrong. Whether he made contact or not, I really don't know. People see that and tend to expect certain things.
"You have to build your reputation back up," Bosh said. "He's willing. We just have to encourage him and keep telling him what it takes to win because we haven't even begun to scratch the surface 50 games in. It's going to get a lot more emotional, tighter, more tense in the locker-room and on the court as this season goes on."
Until this point, "He's done great," Bosh said. "We've been talking to him all summer and the preseason and during the season. It's to the point we don't have to tell him what we expect of him. We're adults. There's only so many times you need restraining. It's not UFC. It's not that emotional. We haven't had emotional games yet. If you think that's emotional, wait until March or April."
Even before the ejection, TNT's Charles Barkley said Whiteside "shows up once a week. He's too inconsistent for my taste." After the ejection, Barkley said: "That's Whiteside being Whiteside."
Barkley also said: "This team will only go as far as Hassan Whiteside takes them." Bosh has said he strongly disagrees with that statement.
### As our Ethan Skolnick reported, the Heat -- looking to possibly add a shooter --- has shown interest in Sacramento’s Omri Casspi (12.3 points, 42.2 percent on threes and due $3 million this season and next).
We hear Miami simultaneously has been aggressively trying to trade salary at the end of its bench, primarily Chris Andersen and Jarnell Stokes, because it wants to lessen its luxury tax burden. Miami knows it has a better chance to dump Stokes (earning less than $1 million) than Andersen ($5 million). Dealing Stokes without taking a player (or money back) would also open a roster spot.
### Pat Riley, on TNT tonight: "I want to win now. I'm getting too old to win down the road. I want to win now."... Riley and Shaquille O'Neal were at the Super Bowl Sunday, where Riley told Shaq that the Heat is retiring his jersey.
### We'll have a look inside Wade's climb up the all-time scoring leaderboard later Wednesday.
### Guard will be a big Dolphins offseason priority and beyond their interest in Ravens free agent Kelechi Osemele, there's a natural connection with impending free agent Alex Boone, who played last season for new Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster. Like Osemele, Boone not only could start at guard but also fill in if there's an injury to starting tackles Branden Albert or JaWuan James.
Six-time All Pro Jahri Evans was released by the Saints this week and already is drawing interest from several teams.
### These UM new coaches really like their offensive talent. Why so?
“Versatility,” offensive coordinator Thomas Brown said. “We have some tight ends that can pose some mismatches, guys that can flex out and beat a smaller player one-on-one but also be effective in the run game and receivers who can stretch the field vertically and get on top of smaller DBs. And some home run tailbacks and a quarterback who can make a bunch of plays. I think we have it all.”
### Unfortunate that UM and Heat home games conflicted Tuesday. It will happen a second time this season on Feb. 22 (Heat-Pacers, UM-Virginia). UM athletic director Blake James said the school tries to avoid direct home conflicts but “due to a variety of scheduling challenges, sometimes it is unavoidable.”
### The Marlins and Fox -- who did not retain TV analyst Tommy Hutton -- are considering splitting the package among two or three analysts. Preston Wilson could get a partial package of games if that happens. The Marlins had strong interest in former UM and big-league player FP Santangelo for the job, but his Washington Nationals' TV contract prevented that from happening.