06/20/2014

5 p.m. update: LeBron report shot down; Knee bothering Moreno and ten notes, postscripts, thoughts from Dolphins minicamp

Quick 5 p.m. update:

### Heat people and a source close to LeBron James vehemently denied a report from David Pingalore, an Orlando TV reporter, that James met for lunch with owner Micky Arison and "stormed off when asked about a pay cut."

The Heat and the associate of LeBron said none of that happened.

Pingalore went on Andy Slater's WINZ-940 show today to defend his story, insisting that James had a "few choice words" for Arison, a visual that seems ludicrous.

Again, the Heat and the LeBron associate said none of that happened.

### James, incidentally, was photographed in the Bahamas, where LeBron and his family are vacationing with Ray Allen and James Jones and their families.

Meanwhile, Bleacher Report today reported that Houston will vigorously pursue James in free agency. So, presumably, will the Clippers, who would need to dump DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford and a few other pieces to clear out enough cap space to make him a max offer.

The Heat has long been considered the front-runner to retain James, who has remained publicly non-committal about his intentions.

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have June 30 deadlines to exercise opt-out clauses.

"I can't think of a reason why LeBron would not just stay the course in Miami and put his trust in Micky Arison and Pat Riley," Jeff Van Gundy told Dan Le Batard's ESPN Radio show.

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Ten tidbits following the conclusion of the Dolphins’ offseason program (and we’ll have a lot, lot more in the next week):

### Knees were an issue for two of the Dolphins’ top free agent pickups this week.

As Pro Football Talk and NFL Network reported today, Knowshon Moreno sat out practice with a knee injury this week and might need arthroscopic surgery, based on what a doctor tells him next week. If he needs the surgery, he likely would be available for preseason games, barring a setback.

Cornerback Cortland Finnegan sat out team drills last week because of a knee issue. But the fact he participated in less grueling work during practice bodes well. Still, it’s an issue worth monitoring, considering the Dolphins’ lack of veteran depth at the position.

Oddly enough, the one free agent who came to the Dolphins with a history of knee issues (Louis Delmas) hasn’t had any problems through the offseason program. Delmas didn’t practice for the Lions last season because of his knees but played in every game after missing eight in 2012 and five in 2011.

### Considering Rishard Matthews had been in Joe Philbin’s doghouse, I found it interesting that when Philbin was asked what stood out to him in the offseason program, the first name he mentioned was Matthews. "Rishard had a really good camp," Philbin said.

Philbin then mentioned four other names: Dallas Thomas, Jelani Jenkins, Jamar Taylor and Will Davis.

Matthews said he and Philbin ironed out their issues during an offseason discussion. Matthews admitted being late to a couple of meetings, among other things.

### Philbin said something about Reshad Jones that I could not recall him saying about any player in his time here. “It’s very noticeable that he’s practicing harder” than a year ago, Philbin said, also noting that Jones is “pursuing the football more consistently.”

The Jones/Louis Delmas tandem has playmaking potential, but Jones must regain his 2012 form.

What “we liked about him and the reason we brought him here (is) we liked his play speed,” Philbin said of Delmas. “He played the game physical and aggressively and confidently. He’s had great energy. He seems to really have fit in well here, seems to enjoy his teammates and coaching staff so far. It’s been a good mesh so far.”

### A trio of undrafted defensive tackles --- LSU’s Anthony Johnson, Georgia’s Garrison Smith and Temple’s Kamal Johnson ---- all made notable plays in the three-day mini-camp this week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them makes the active roster and one makes the practice squad.

### Journeyman cornerback Jalil Brown, whose 37 NFL games include two starts for Kansas City in 2012, was impressive in the offseason program and is making a strong push for a roster spot. Brown clearly has been one of the team’s top five corners; rookie Walt Aikens has been beaten several times.

### Defensive end Olivier Vernon said Bill Lazor’s offense is doing “a lot of things I’ve never seen before. They confuse the heck out of me sometimes, but they’re moving fast. Ryan Tannehill’s taking control. He’s shown his leadership ability and a lot of the guys are very impressive, especially Jarvis Landry, Brandon Gibson, coming off his injury. You couldn’t even tell he got hurt.”

By the way, Cam Wake says there’s an upshot for Miami’s defense in having to defend an offense with a lot of pre-snap motion.

“We’re realizing that it’s helping us,” Wake said. “There are teams that are going to do the same things to us. You [now] have a little bit of awareness that, hey, ‘Maybe this guy is going to move or maybe they want to shift and what’s going to happen after that?’ So it keeps you on your toes. It makes you a little more prepared.”

### Dion Jordan said he wants to develop a pass rush move that Jason Taylor had (“a long arm stick right in the chest of the offensive tackle”) but “I haven’t been able to do that much because we’re not in pads.”

He said Taylor’s biggest value to him during the offseason program has been “teaching me a lot about fundamentals.”

### Jordan isn’t the only defensive end who has put on weight. Philbin said Derrick Shelby added five or six pounds, and Wake said he has done the same. Perhaps that makes all of them a bit more stout against the run. We'll see.

### You can’t question Mike Wallace’s work ethic. He was on the field far longer than any player on Wednesday, catching balls from a machine.

“You’ve seen him after practice; nobody is holding a bat to his head,” Philbin said. “This guy is out there working and doing the little things that can make the difference when the season comes around.”

As for Wallace’s mental state, “I’m happy,” he said. “I don’t have any complaints. I think this offense fits me really well. We shake it up all of the time, not do the same things as wide receivers usually do. Being able to come from the backfield, getting all of the way to the inside in the slot, moving around, motion a lot. Just throwing the defense off. It’s always going to be fun when it’s easier to get open.”

### Some have wondered why Miami hasn’t re-signed Dustin Keller, off a serious knee surgery, but keep in mind that the Patriots passed on him after bringing him in for a visit last month.

And while the Dolphins’ backup tight ends aren’t nearly as accomplished as Keller as a receiver (heck, they aren’t even in the same area code), all made plays in the passing game during the offseason program, from starter Charles Clay (no surprise there) to Michael Egnew (got open a lot), to Arthur Lynch (several impressive catches) to Dion Sims. The concern with this group is whether they’re good enough blockers --- an area that isn’t a strength for Keller.

06/19/2014

An entertaining 55 minutes: Everything notable Pat Riley had to say in Thursday news conference

A quick posting of what Pat Riley had to say during his season-ending 55-minute news conference (please excuse any typos for the moment):

### On whether he expects to keep the Big Three: “I’m an Irish guy that believes in big dreams. I’m optimistic. Until it’s proven different, I have a level of optimism there isn’t a better place for players to be than Miami. They have invested heavily [in this].”       

### Riley began his news conference with a sermon: “We need to have perspective about things. Everybody needs to get a grip, media, Heat players, organization, all of our players. All of our fans have to get a grip on greatness and on teams. I’ve been here for 45 years in the NBA. I’ve witnessed dynasties and great teams. The 80s Lakers five championships in 12 years. Seven times they didn’t win. You’ve got to deal with it.

“Celtics – 12 years together in the 1980s, 3 wins, 9 losses. The Chicago Bulls 11 times – in 11 years, 6 titles. That’s five times Michael Jordan, Horace and Scottie lost. Kobe’s Lakers won five, lost 12 times. Spurs in 17 years won five titles. Lost 12 times.

### Then Riley delivered this message, which he said he will share with his players: “This stuff is hard. You’ve got to stay together if you’ve got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it. This is four years into this era. Four Finals. It’s only been done three other years before and two championships, from day one to the end it was like a Broadway show that sort of run out of steam. We need to retool. We don’t need to rebuild. And that’s what we’re going to do. I’ve been a leader and decision maker and that’s been my level of expertise. I will do what I can to retool the team. Everyone get a grip. It’s been a great run.

“That cements a forever bond is going through what we went through this year and staying the course. I’ve been through that experience. 1982, when we beat Philadelphia, they came back the next year and got us.

“We’re going to find out what we’re made of here. It’s not about options or free agency. It’s about what we have built over four years here. Losing is just as much a part of it as winning is. If you’re a team you deal with it.

“There is no hugging, no high fiving. It’s looking around the room and seeing who’s going to stand up. What are you going to do to come back and make the team better? We have a long-term opportunity for long-term success.

“That’s my message to players. They’re hearing it right now. Take accountability to your own actions and not lat it off on somebody else.

“I had 15 exit meetings the other day and you learn a lot in exit meetings with players after you win. I had kisses all over my face when we won. Yesterday was just a good handshake."

### On LeBron not committing yet: “It’s a present day mentality of all players in the league. They have the inalienable right when they have options in the contract, they have the right to pursue those options. I don’t take anything away from what LeBron has to say. He has the right to do whatever he wants to do --- He said, ‘Give me a week before I can be coherent with my thoughts.' I’m confident we have an organization that’s been strong.’

“We have great coaching, great leadership. I didn’t come down here 19 years ago for a quick trip to South Beach to get a suntan and I don’t think they did either. All those guys who have come here got exactly what they wanted --- the best competition on the biggest stage. We won two of the last three.”

### On Wade: "I would be very surprised if he was anywhere else but a Heat uniform next season. Dwyane is a champion, a Miami Heat for life. He is examined more than anyone else. It really is time for everyone to take heed of the message sent to us by the Spurs. They went home and looked at themselves. We’re judged a lot more harsher [than the Spurs]. You can criticize him on his performance. But he isn’t a what have you done for me lately guy or a Johnny do nothing! That’s an insult for a guy since 2003 who has made magic for us.

"Does he have to reinvent himself? Absolutely. Does Erik have to reinvent himself a little bit? Yes he does. It’s going to take execution and coming back with a great resolve.”

### “We have a lot of room for flexibility depending on what happens…I don’t feel any pressure at all. I don’t think we need to recruit Chris and LeBron and Dwyane again. Four trips to the Finals, two world championships. I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own. We will have good conversations with them on what we need to do to improve.”

### Would owner Micky Arison pay the mid-level exception and thus increase his luxury tax bill? “He will do anything to get those guys to come back. There has been a perception he doesn’t want to pay the tax. That’s BS. He's never asking anyone to take a cut to avoid paying the tax."

"That’s a voluntary thing from the player. We are not asking them to do that. Micky will do whatever he has to do to keep this team together."

Riley said it's not their responsibility to take pay cuts: "Their responsibility is for them to take the best deal they can take from a monetary standpoint.”

### Riley said: “We have two young players we like in James Ennis and Justin Hamilton. The team has to be layered with some young guys. We have high hopes [on Ennis].”

### On why Mike Miller was amnestied: “We had extreme duplication at Mike Miller’s position. The prime motivation was to be in a better position this year. We wanted flexibility. We all love Mike.”

### If his Big three all leave: “Worst case, we could have most room in the history of the NBA. I’m not planning on that.”

### On Chris Andersen: “Chris had one of the best seasons he ever had until he suffered an incredibly painful injury vs. Indiana. That might have had an impact. He also started to get game planned. Teams started to put bodies on him, wouldn’t let him roll to the rim and catch and finish. They looked at Chris like he was a star and somebody we have to neutralize.”

### Riley said Ray Allen did not give him an idea if he wants to retire but will “be in touch…. We probably asked a little bit too much of him.”

### “The four years we had with LeBron we hope turns into another 8 or 10. All three of them have opt outs. They created the flexibility. They will think about. We’re not walking around on eggshells anymore and not talking about it. We need to talk about it now.

“I love LeBron. He knows how we feel about him. You need to give him time to get away. I sent an email to everybody after the game. This storm will pass. There are a lot of broken pieces on the ground and we will leave them there.”

### What would he prefer the Big Three do as far as opt outs? “Whatever they want to do. However we can keep those guys together, Bird McHale Parish together, Worthy, Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker together. All those guys stayed together and in their worst moments, they allowed management to re-tool."

### Can the Heat add a fourth star? "That’s a pipe dream but everybody thought 2010 was a pipe dream, too. I don’t harbor that thought. That’s not where we are headed. That’s not what we’re thinking about."

Would Riley ask players to take a pay cut? Riley said: “I’m not going to get down on my knees. I wouldn’t do that to a player.”

### On Wade: “What does he have to do mentally and spiritually to get him to another level at that age of 32. He does have pain but he doesn't have the debilitating injury that could end his career. Is there something that would allow him to become physically better? He’s too smart, too good, too talented to not play a major role for years to come.”

Wade coming off the bench “has not been discussed. We would probably have to get in a room with boxing gloves to have that discussion, which I would not want to do."

### RIley said "One of the things that was a common thread that came out of most of the meetings" with players was this: "Mentally exhausted, mentally fatigued. I understand that. I don’t accept it. If you go to the Finals four years in a row, maybe they didn’t know how to prepare themselves for 4 years in a row in the Finals.

"If that’s something of an excuse or you use that as a crutch, then that’s what it takes --- a real special team and it takes a special mentality to be able to do that and also win a championship. If players are saying this was a tough year and grind every day and every night, well welcome to the NBA and the world of world championship basketball. They should have a discussion with Bill Russell about winning eight straight championships. I saw that in the team. I saw the mental fatigue. I thought we were hitting stride when we beat Indiana in Game 6. When we had two games in San Antonio. I said we’re in a good place. And then we ran into a buzzsaw.

### On Greg Oden: “We talked about it and we know him physically better than anybody else would. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Greg. Next year we would raise protocol on him. You don’t want to walk away from that kind of a talent.” He said the plan was for Oden to play eight minutes a game until he suffered a "severe" back injury in March.

### On Spoelstra: “Take stock in what happened this year, take stock in the last four years. Take stock in your offense. Take stock in your defense. We were a top five defensive team. He comes from a defensive background. We were down in the middle of the pack most of the season. History shows you anybody down that low very rarely wins a championship. You've got to have a dynamic defense first that rebounds the basketball and you've got to have a dynamic offense in today's game. Erik is a student. He will go to work on this and study it. He’s got somebody he can talk to that knows something about coaching. He will reinvent himself in some way, shape or form to help this team become better.”

### On free agent Mario Chalmers: "We all have our days. Mario, God bless him, we don’t beat OKC [without him]. We have great respect for Mario. He had a tough, rough Finals. A lot of players have had tough, rough Finals. It’s reason for him to get motivated and better. He’s six years in the program. He’s a starting point guard on four consecutive Finals teams. He’s going to have to take stock in what happened and why it happened and study it and come back better."

### He said his message (expressed at the top of this post) "will get back" to players. "You leave them alone for 10 days. You give them time to get those thoughts of their minds of why they were inept? Why they didn’t get it done? They’ll get the message over the course of the summer."

### What does this team need? “All of a sudden, people say we need to improve at every position. We need to get our core back. We need to organically grow from within. The Spurs made one move --- they got Marco Bellinelli. It was Patty Mills from within their organization. It was Boris Diaw from within their organization. It was Manu Ginobili being better. It was Kawhi Leonard -- the bloom is off the rose."

### He said a player signed to the mid-level "better be able to play and prove he can play and is a starter. The players we decided on were in their prime and slipped out of their prime. Ray was off the charts. I still prefer the in-his-prime veteran who simply wants to move, come here and win a championship and have a great impact on the team. We would love to have players that are young and would grow into major roles.”

### He said every member of the Big Three doesn’t need to be at the same salary.

### On his relationship with LeBron: “I’m an arms distance guy. It’s a texting relationship, a short meeting in the hallway or at practice. I don’t bring him in for long dissertations. He would probably yawn on me in five minutes or 10. He knows I love him. He knows I respect him. [As a team president], you don’t pander and you don’t punish. There’s a fine line in between. Players today are different in how they think and how they think. I’ve always felt I have a great relationship with LeBron. He was restless [in our meeting]. He wanted to get out of town with his family and decompress.” 

### He said LeBron's wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. LeBron and his wife have two sons.


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06/18/2014

Wednesday night report: News, notes, observations from Day 2 of Dolphins minicamp

Snippets from Day 2 of the Dolphins’ three-day minicamp:

### The offense was much better today than Tuesday, including (we kid not) a few deep balls that were actually completed!: a 30-yarder on the sideline, from Ryan Tannehill to Armon Binns, who made a leaping catch despite solid coverage from Jamar Taylor; and another long throw from Matt Moore to Brian Hartline.

Tannehill threw a pick (off a deflection) to Cam Wake and another to Reshad Jones after a referee whistle but also tossed two darts for touchdowns –-- one to Mike Wallace in the corner of the end zone and a 12-yarder to Michael Egnew. Tannehill also threw a beautiful strike to Charles Clay between Jalil Brown and Don Jones.

“Lot better today,” Tannehill told the team-controlled Finsiders radio show. “Still not perfect. We had a lot less mental errors. It’s exciting to see the progression from yesterday.”

### Tannehill, on new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor: “He’s very precise. He wants everything exactly like he talked about. That gives me comfort.... That accountability is raised.”

### Tannehill likes the amount of pre-snap motion in the offense: “It’s been great. Just the difference from last year, moving guys around, is huge. Just being comfortable with moving, shifting tight ends and backs. It’s challenging. But it’s going to create a lot of mismatches on offense. We’re going to put people in positions they don’t want to be on defense, get the ball to our playmakers all over the field.”

### Encouraging: Eight months after a major injury, Brandon Gibson said his knee is fine, and Tannehill noted Gibson “is moving well, but still not 100 percent.”

### The Dolphins are making considerable use of running backs in the passing game, and Daniel Thomas was particularly impressive in that regard today.

“Our backs are going to line out and catch balls,” Tannehill said. “When you have [backs] who have good hands and can make people miss, it adds a whole other dimension to your offense."

### For those hoping Dion Jordan will take playing time away from Derrick Shelby, be advised of these comments from Philbin, who really likes Shelby:

“The thing about Shelby is you watch him on film and the cut ups at the end of the season and then you probably gain a better appreciation for him than you do during the year,” Philbin said. “He’s very, very disciplined. He really carries out his assignments and his technique well. He’s smart. He’s in the right spot. So he’s made a nice contribution over these couple of years. I’m excited about what he can do for us this year as well.”

### With Koa Misi given a break from team drills today, Jelani Jenkins got extensive work with the starters. “He picks things up quickly,” Philbin said. “I noticed him today.”

### Dannell Ellerbe, who played middle linebacker with Misi out of team drills, continues to have problems in pass coverage.

### Philbin pointed to Jamar Taylor and Dallas Thomas as young players that have emerged.

### Knowshon Moreno again sat out most of team drills for reasons Philbin has declined to explain. But Philbin has praised Moreno both days, so he’s not in the doghouse per se.

### Philbin, on newcomers Shelley Smith (the starting right guard) and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell: “Shelley, he’s kind of a guy that doesn’t make a lot of noise, real hard worker, very strong guy and he’s done well. Earl --- I love the way he works. He shows up on pursuit on plays away from him. He’s hustling to the ball. He would probably be one of those guys that you might classify as a quiet leader. Really pleased with him.”

### Caleb Sturgis, plagued by inconsistency last year, has been less erratic this year. He nailed a field goal from just over 50 yards today.

### Rookie receiver Matt Hazel continues to do a good job getting open. Meanwhile, ex-Titans receiver Damian Williams dropped a pass and hasn’t distinguished himself.

### Walt Aikens finally made a play today (breaking up a pass to Binns) and Jimmy Wilson batted down a Tannehill pass. Wilson is clearly the first-team nickel corner. Aikens, by the way, again got some work at both safety and cornerback.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

06/17/2014

Why UM's desperate move at quarterback could make some sense; Lots of Heat chatter; Dolphins

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The university once known as Quarterback U hasn’t had one drafted before the seventh round in 22 years. And now, less than three months from the opener at Louisville, UM is welcoming a quarterback, Jake Heaps, who lost his starting job for a 3-9 Kansas team and finished 126th of 127 major college football qualifiers in completion percentage last season.

What in the name of Brock Berlin is going on here?

UM’s decision to bring aboard Heaps --- who is eligible immediately --- and allow him to compete with Kevin Olsen and incoming long shots Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier for the starting job --- might seem desperate, but there is reasoning behind it.

Though Olsen could still win the job, there were serious concerns internally about automatically handing the position to him in the wake of Ryan Williams’ knee injury.

One UM official, after Williams’ injury during spring ball, admitted he was very worried. Heaps, while erratic throughout his career, is by far the most experienced option for the difficult season opener.

There’s no question about Olsen’s arm and raw talent. But several concerns have been voiced privately. Among them: Olsen needs to be more receptive to coaching, polish his mechanics (which contributed to his dismal 7 for 21 showing in the spring game), stop throwing into double coverage and not force the home-run ball when it’s not there. In other words, don’t be afraid to take what the defense gives him.

He must be studious about film work (he has improved somewhat in that area) and gain a complete grasp of the offense. Olsen was stumped when asked several questions by the offensive coaching staff during a meeting late in spring practice. One UM source said the impression is that he works harder when his brother Greg, the Carolina Panthers tight end, is in town.

UM has been trying to figure out what buttons to push, so that Olsen is motivated to work maniacally, instead of feeling entitled to the job with Williams out. Bringing in Heaps, who has one year of eligibility, solves that issue.

Here’s the good news on Heaps: He was rated Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 2010, set freshman passing records at BYU, has a strong arm, is intelligent and has 28 games of starting experience, combined, at BYU and Kansas. He has 32 TDs and 27 INTs in his career.

The bad news: ESPN’s quarterback rating system ranked him 122nd in 2013, sixth-worst among all FBS starters. His 49 percent completion rating was abysmal, though mitigated somewhat by 48 drops by Kansas receivers (not all thrown by Heaps). He twice left schools after being beaten out, at BYU after 2011 and Kansas this year.

Williams’ mother said Williams hopes to return for the fourth game, Sept. 20 at Nebraska, but UM has no idea if that will happen. So Heaps is an insurance policy, as one UM official termed it.

Heaps said he visited UM a month-and-a-half ago and has been studying the UM playbook for a while.

“This has been definitely been in the works for a while now,” Heaps, who's married and a devout Mormon, told our Manny Navarro. “If they didn't think I could bring anything to the program, this wouldn't have happened. All I wanted was a strong opportunity to compete.”

Adding Heaps also could allow UM to potentially redshirt Kaaya and Rosier, which could be of benefit down the road. 

CHATTER

### Please see the last post for details about what LeBron James and Chris Bosh said today.

Here are two other notable comments from LeBron:

1) "I've been fortunate enough to play in five Finals. On the other end, I've lost three of them. That doesn't sit well with me at all, to be in this position, being able to get to this point, and be under .500 and not be able to be successful in those games."

2) "We need to get better. We have some holes that need to be filled." Heat fans can be encouraged by his use of "we."

### Perhaps Steve Kerr was right last summer when he said the Heat would ultimately be doomed by exhaustion.

“We’re playing until the [beginning] of the summer – to have to do that every year, it takes a toll,” Chris Bosh said Tuesday. “The whole thing felt forced [this season]. If we won, it would just be a relief. Pure joy – you didn’t see much of that. Toughest year I ever had.”

Bosh said “we’re going to have to find a way” next season to solve that conundrum. “I don’t know think there is an answer to it.”

As retiring Shane Battier put it Tuesday: “With the success we’ve had, you become numb to success and being able to improve from losing. Wins were relief and losses just nagged at you. When it gets to a point like that, it’s dangerous. I don’t know how you correct it.”

### Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether to retire but “if I came back, there’s no other place I’d rather be" than Miami.

### Bosh said communication among the three is better now than in 2010, when they came together.

"I think it's easier to get on the same page now," Bosh said. "Because we know each other. I didn't really know those guys. I didn't know LeBron and D back then, like that. We hung around each other, but not really. So we didn't really know each other. I think communication is so much easier, because we can get the kids together, we can go out together with the wives. We can do something, and we know how to talk to each other. And those things allow us to connect and feel each other out. Before, it was awkward." 

### The Heat hasn’t told Michael Beasley if it wants him back, and Erik Spoelstra, even in praising his “courage” to come to Miami, said: “We’ll see what happens with his career; we’ll see where he goes next season.”

### As for Greg Oden, Spoelstra also declined to answer when asked if the Heat wants him back. Oden is the Heat's only free agent who has declined to say whether he wants to play in Miami. 

"He'll have a very committed summer again, and then we'll see," Spoelstra said. "I loved having Greg around."

### ESPN reported "mutual" interest between the Heat and Toronto free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, but Lowry reportedly wants $11 million per season, and the Heat couldn't afford that unless the Big Three all take substantial pay cuts.... Mario Chalmers said he's "excited" about free agency while reiterating his desire to return.

### UM, which could use more size in its frontcourt, will host three-star, 6-foot-10, Class of 14 prospect Isaiah Manderson at some point soon and hope to convince him to enroll ASAP. Manderson committed to Oregon State but received his release after coach Craig Robinson (President Obama's brother-in-law) was fired.

Manderson --- who received offers from FSU, UCLA, Maryland and others during his initial recruitment --- is a good rebounder with a developing offensive game. He reportedly has no other visits scheduled besides Miami.

### Please see the last post for Dolphins tidbits and notes from Tuesday.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz                 

6 p.m. update: LeBron, Bosh address future; Tidbits, observations from Dolphins OTA practice; UM quarterback talk

Dwyane Wade declined to comment to reporters today; LeBron James was non-committal about his future; and Chris Bosh said he wants to stay with the Heat and believes LeBron and Wade also want to stick around.

A quick synopsis:

### James said he hasn’t decided whether to exercise his early termination clause  but “being able to have flexibility is what we all would like.”

LeBron passed on an opportunity to say whether he intends to stay with the Heat or whether he wants to look elsewhere.       

"I haven’t even begun to wrap my mind about it. I need to get away with my family before I start to think about what will happen next."

Among factors that will influence his decision, James cited family and a desire to win. "For me, I just want to win," he said, "and that's all that matters to me."

He said the Heat doesn't need to tell him anything, per se, to influence him to stay.

"I understand what this team, this franchise, brings to the table."

He said he plans to talk to Wade and Bosh before making a decision.  "I think there will be a conversation between the three of us," he said. "I'm not sure what Dwyane is thinking right now."  

Asked if he would talk to outside free agents about possibly signing here before making a decision, LeBron said he didn't even know the list of free agents and did not necessarily feel it's his place to do that before Pat Riley determines which players he wants to pursue.

Asked three times in some variation if the Big Three might be interested in taking less money like the Spurs' Big Three, LeBron essentially deferred, showing no interest in addressing the matter.

### Bosh said he hasn’t decided whether to opt out but: “I want to be here. My family is here. I love working here. It's a great place.

"We will talk with Riles, hear his plan, talk with our families and try to figure this out. I’m sure Riley has finite plan moving forward. It starts with listening to him. Eventually we will come together and figure this thing out. We feel that if we stay together, we can continue to compete. Everything is a possibility. That's why they negotiate. But I want to be here."

He also is optimistic about the Big Three staying together: “We like it here. We have a pretty good thing going.”

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Quick notes on the first of the Dolphins' three OTA practices this week:

### The Dolphins, who have only two cornerbacks who have started more than two NFL games (Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan) have passed on a slew of veterans this offseason, assuming Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are ready to handle the No. 3 and No. 4 jobs.

Early signs are very encouraging for Taylor, who intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass Tuesday. Davis either seems to break up passes or allow too much space to receivers; there isn’t a lot of middle ground.  

"Like where they're at," Joe Philbin said of Taylor and Davis. "They're progressing well. You feel Jamar a little more [than last year, when he was slowed by a groin issue]. Davis made a couple nice plays today."

### Lamar Miller, being used more as a receiver out of the backfield, remains clearly ahead of Knowshon Moreno for the starting running back job. He had a long run for a touchdown Tuesday.

### Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry continues to make an impression; he has had a few one-handed receptions in camp.

“He’s sneaky quick, sneaky fast,” Philbin said. "He understands the soft spots in a zone. There isn't a lot of hesitation to his game."

### Most impressive of the undrafted rookies? LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who’s running with the second team. “Quick and explosive,” Philbin said.

### Rookie cornerback Walt Aikens lined up at safety for a few plays. He appears to be the sixth best cornerback, at best, in camp.

### Philbin seems concerned about the backup tight ends behind Charles Clay. "We've still got some things to sort out," Philbin said of the position.

Dion Sims is No. 2 on the depth chart, but Philbin said he wants to see him successfully block defensive ends during games. "He has a lot of great traits [but] he has some work to do," Philbin said.

Rookie Arthur Lynch made a couple of tough catches in practice Tuesday. Philbin said Michael Egnew has had a solid camp.

### Rookie seventh-rounder Terence Fede showed impressive athleticism in intercepting a Matt Moore pass.

###  Quarterback play was spotty Tuesday, with Tannehill throwing the pick to Taylor and having another pass nearly intercepted by Louis Delmas. Jalil Brown intercepted Moore.

Meanwhile, Pat Devlin overthrow Rontavious Wooten and Marcus Thigpen on deep balls and hardly shows the type of improvement you would have hoped for by now. And undrafted rookie Brock Jensen isn’t as good as Devlin.

### Rookie receiver Matt Hazel had a couple of nifty catches but fumbled one of them…. Earl Mitchell and Dion Jordan each had sacks.

### Good to see Brandon Gibson back in 11 on 11 drills ---eight months after a major knee injury.

### Dallas Thomas remained the starting left guard and remains ahead of Billy Turner at that position.

### The No. 2 defense: Jordan, Derrick Shelby, Johnson and A.J. Francis on the defensive line; Jelani Jenkins, Jason Trusnik (middle) and Jonathan Freeney at linebacker; Brown and Davis at cornerback (Taylor was filling in for Cortland Finnegan on the first team); and Jimmy Wilson and Don Jones at safety.

Keep in mind that Jared Odrick remains out of 11 on 11 drills.

### Like Finnegan and Moreno, Mike Pouncey also was given time off from full 11 on 11 drills. Sam Brenner filled in at center.... Moreno appears to have lost some weight, and Philbin insisted he's pleased with him.

### The Miami-Dade County commission approved Sun Life stadium renovations. Please see the home page of The Herald for a full report.

### Adam Beasley will have a story posted shortly on Tannehill, who is getting on his receivers more than the past two years. He chewed out Rishard Matthews Tuesday and also yelled at Wooten. Philbin said he is showing more leadership and is completing more "vertical" passes than during OTAs last year.

### In adding Jake Heaps, UM now has Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 2010 (Heaps), the 12th in 2013 (Kevin Olsen) and the 8th in 2014 (Brad Kaaya).

The good news on Heaps, who will challenge Kevin Olsen for the starting job: He has a strong arm, is very bright, set several freshman passing records at BYU and has experience starting 28 games combined for two schools (BYU and Kansas).

The bad news: ESPN’s quarterback rating system ranked him 126th of 127 qualifiers last season. His completion percentage (49) ranked 123rd of 127, though he was hurt by a ton of drops. He twice has left schools after being beaten out, at BYU in 2011 and Kansas after last season.

But UM knows it cannot assume Ryan Williams will be back by mid-to-late September (his goal) and has serious concerns about whether Olsen is ready. 

06/16/2014

Monday night report: Examining Heat's options in free agency and other looming issues

Here's a summation of looming issues and options for the Heat, with free agency beginning July 1: (Note: The free agent segment of this post is a more in-depth version of my story elsewhere on the Herald's sports home page.)

### The Big Three: As part of their six-year contracts, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have early termination clauses that can be exercised either this summer or next summer.

If they stick to those contracts and eschew free agency, James and Bosh would each make $20.6 million in 2014-15 and $22.1 million in 2015-16. If Wade does not exercise his early termination clause, he would be paid $20.2 million in 2014-15 and $21.7 million in 2015-16.

If all three decide to become free agents this summer and re-sign with the Heat, James and Bosh would be required to take very slight pay cuts next season (to $20 million) --- under terms of the labor agreement --- but would each be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for as many as five years and $115.1 million.

Wade would be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for four years and a maximum of $87.2 million, but he realistically likely wouldn’t command anywhere close to that if he opts out.

If James and Bosh exercise their early termination clauses and join other teams, they would be eligible to sign four-year contracts for as much as $85.5 million.

Wade and Bosh have both said they want to remain with the Heat but have not said whether they will exercise their early termination clauses. Bosh, in fact, has said the Big Three wants to stay together here.

James declined to discuss his future when asked Sunday night.

### Birdman situation: Chris Andersen plans to opt out of his $1.4 million contract for next season and become a free agent, Yahoo! reported today.

### If the Big Three become free agents, here's who’s left under contract: Udonis Haslem has a player option for $4.6 million that he said he plans to exercise, unless the Heat convinces him to take a pay cut in exchange for a multiyear commitment. Norris Cole, at $2.15 million, is the only Heat player who has a guaranteed contract next season without a player option. Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal for $816,482.

### Heat free agents: Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Toney Douglas and Shane Battier all have expiring contracts. Battier is retiring.

### Salary cap situation: If the Big Three do not exercise opt-out clauses, then the Heat will be operating above the projected $63.2 million cap and will be limited to signing outside players only to the minimum (topping out at $1.4 million) or with its $3.27 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

The Heat might not even necessarily use the taxpayer midlevel exception in this scenario because it faces an onerous “repeater” luxury tax because it has surpassed the luxury tax threshold at least three of the past four seasons.

But if at least one of the Heat’s Big Three decides to become a free agent this summer, then the Heat would have cap space. That space would immediately evaporate if the player who opts out re-signs with the Heat for a 2014-15 salary in the range of $15 million or more.

The only way the Heat could achieve meaningful cap space to add a high-impact, costly free agent would be if one or more of the Big Three leave or if James, Wade and Bosh all accept large paycuts. In this scenario, the Heat could not exceed the $63.2 million cap except to sign players to the minimum. Miami also would have a $2.7 million “room” salary cap exception in this scenario. 

Pat Riley can never be discounted, but the odds are against the Heat having the space, and the ability within the constraints of the salary cap, to add a fourth high-salary player.

If the Big Three return next season, the likely scenario is that the Heat can augment its roster only through trades, minimum contracts and the $3.2 million exception.

### Available outside unrestricted free agents that would probably be too costly unless one of the Big Three leaves or all three take pay cuts: That list includes Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat, Boris Diaw, Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza and possibly Paul Pierce, Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jordan Hill.

Nevertheless, Riley always thinks big and the Heat likely will make calls to several of them.

### Available outside unrestricted free agents that would be more affordable:

At point guard, the Heat likely will explore point guard options from a group including Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Devin Harris and Shaun Livington, among others.

At small forward/shooting guard, veteran options who might command no more than the minimum include Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jodie Meeks (162 threes on 40 percent three-point shooting), Caron Butler (Miami tried to sign him before he opted for Oklahoma City), Rodney Stuckey, Vince Carter, Anthony Tolliver and Al Harrington.

Because of amnesty rules, the Heat this summer cannot sign free agent Mike Miller, who had two years left on his contract when Miami parted ways with him last summer.

But the Heat also knows it needs to add youth. Younger wing options who potentially could be plucked at the minimum include Jimmer Fredette (hasn’t lived up to expectations but did make 48 percent of his three-pointers in 49 games, mostly for Sacramento), Jordan Hamilton (has a developing three-point game), swingman Wesley Johnson (made 100 threes on 37 percent shooting for the Lakers), Xavier Henry (10 points per game for the Lakers), Al Faruoq Aminu (7.2 points, 6.2 rebounds for New Orleans but just a 27 percent three-point shooter) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (limited offensively).

At center/power forward, the Heat could try to implore Chris Kaman, who Pat Riley has always liked, to accept the minimum after making $3.1 million this season. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 39 games for the Lakers.

Veteran 6-10 center Omeka Okafor, 31, also would be an interesting option at the minimum if deemed healthy. He didn’t play this season because of a herniated disc in his neck but averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a starter for Washington in 2012-13.

Other potential options at the minimum: Kris Humphries, Elton Brand, Nazr Mohammed, DeJuan Blair, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Aaron Gray, Matt Bonner and Drew Gooden.

### The draft: The Heat has the 26th and 55th selections in the June 26 draft. Because Miami traded its first-round pick last year, it is not permitted to trade its 2014 first-round pick before it selects a player. But the Heat is permitted to draft a player on behalf of another team and trade that player after the draft. The first-round pick will cost $958,100 against the salary cap.

The Heat’s two draft picks and other prospects will play for Miami's summer league team that will compete in Orlando and Las Vegas in July. Among other prospects expected to be on those teams: small forward James Ennis, the Heat’s 2013 second-round pick who played in Australia this past season.

06/15/2014

Noon update: Birdman opting out? Monday Heat notes; Examining the Wade money quandary

We're placing a Monday Heat update on this post, atop a post from last night which includes postgame reaction and an in-depth look at the quandary involving Dwyane Wade. Please scroll down to THOUGHTS ON WADE'S FUTURE for that portion of this post. Before we get to that, here are some Monday Heat notes: (And check back tonight for a new post with a lot more.)

SAN ANTONIO - Decisions made by LeBron James, and to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, will largely make or break this Heat offseason, with all holding the right to become free agents.

But decisions also must be made on most of the eight Heat players whose contracts are expiring. And a ninth, Chris Andersen, apparently will also hit the market, with Yahoo! reporting today that he will opt out of his contract which would have paid him the minimum $1.4 million next season.

Of those eight, one (Shane Battier) is retiring, two (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) said Sunday they aren’t sure if they will continue their NBA careers and four (Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, James Jones and Toney Douglas) expressed a desire to return, though it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual. Greg Oden has declined to say if he wants to return.

Several, but not all, might be invited back on low money deals.

If Allen, 38, chooses to return, he might need to take a pay cut from $3.2 million to the $1.4 million minimum. He said he will decide in the coming days whether to retire.

“I’ve had a great career,” Allen said. “I’m content with what I’ve done. In the next couple of days, I will think about it and see where my true heart lies. To make [a decision] on my terms is the most important thing. Whether that is me retiring or staying here or going somewhere else, it will be on my terms.”

Lewis, 34, said simply “I don’t know” when asked if he wants to continue playing. Despite his lack of playing time, Beasley said: “Why wouldn’t I want to come back?”

Though a return by Chalmers isn’t out of the question, the Heat likely will explore an upgrade at point guard.

“If it’s an option, definitely I would love to come back with this team,” Chalmers said after Game 5, when he was replaced by Allen in the starting lineup.

There’s no decision for Battier, who is becoming a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

“When I’m old, fat and gray, and my grandkids say, ‘You never played in the NBA,’ I can tell them I did it at a high level,” said Battier, who kept a diary of sorts this season to use in a book. “I gave everything I had to this game and I don’t have any more to give.”

### Privately with his team and publicly with the media, coach Erik Spoelstra took the glass-half-full perspective afterward.

Haslem said he told the players: “Keep your heads up. You’re champions. Four straight Finals. We have a lot to be proud about. We just ran into a better team.”

Spoelstra told reporters: “Even as painful as it feels, you have to have perspective. Even the team we’re playing against has never been to the Finals four straight years. You can’t be jaded enough not to appreciate that.”

MORE REFLECTIONS

### Battier:  “It was a trying year from the standpoint there were very few pure moments. We were always trying to conjure something and for a while there in the second half, it worked. But you can’t win a championship trying to conjure something. It has to be who you are and it has to be pure, and that wasn’t the case for us this year.

“Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking up our defensive rank before the Finals and no team outside the top 10 had ever won the title. We just didn’t have the fundamentals to stop an offensive juggernaut like the Spurs and we were exposed.”

### Bosh: “I thought we’d get over the hump and we never did. They dominated us. They picked us apart. They made us question what we were doing. They played faster, stronger, tougher, like they wanted it more. They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen.”

### Haslem: “It’s demoralizing when you’re playing your heart out and they’re still making shots. If someone had told me we would lose three straight, I would find that hard to believe.”

### Spoelstra: “They are the better team. We felt confident coming into the series that we were going to be able to score…. We felt we could rely on that, but they shut us out of the paint pretty consistently. And they were exploiting a lot of things we’re typically strong at [defensively].”

NOTABLE NUMBERS

### The 70-point total scoring differential between the teams was the largest for an NBA Finals series of any length.

### The Spurs produced the highest shooting percentage ever in an NBA Finals (52.76). The old record: The Bulls shot 52.72 percent against the Lakers in 1991.

### James has scored 30 or more points in each of the last six games he has played with his team facing elimination. His teams are now 5-1 in those games. James is eighth and Wade 17th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.

### Allen’s 55 career three-pointers in the Finals are one short of Robert Horry’s Finals record. 

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Thoughts and reaction after the Heat’s season-ending Game 5 NBA Finals loss to San Antonio:

### LeBron James said he loves Miami but declined to discuss his future, including whether he will opt out of his contract. “I haven't even really thought about that yet. I love Miami. My family loves it. You guys are trying to find answers. I'm not going to give you one...

"Obviously, we need to get better, every position.... We lost one, we won two, and we lost another one. Take 50 percent in four years in championships any day... I know me and D-Wade and Chris Bosh not proud of the way we played. All three of us, the last thing we're thinking about is what's going on this summer."

### More LeBron, who had 31 points and 10 rebounds: "Mixed emotions. Started off very well as a team. We had a great first quarter. From that point on, they were the better team, and that's why they're the champions in 2014. We came up against a better team this year. They were the much better team. That's how team basketball should be played. It's selfless. Guys cut, move, pass. It's all for the team. It's never about the individual. That's how team basketball should be played. They dominated us in every facet of the game."

He said the loss in 2011 to Dallas was "more hurtful than this one."

### Chris Bosh said he hasn’t decided whether he will opt out of his contract. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I’m having frosted flakes or honey nut cheerios for breakfast.”

In a more serious moment, Bosh said: “They exposed us. They picked us apart, made us question what we were doing. They played stronger, faster, tougher. They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen. Anti-climatic ending to the season.”

### Wade followed a 3 for 13 shooting performance in Game 4 by delivering an 11-point dud in Game 5, missing eight of his 12 shots from the field. That’s something of an anomaly, considering Wade led all shooting guards in field-goal percentage five of the past six seasons.

The greater long-term concern was his defense, which was so atrocious at times during this series that it was ridiculed in a YouTube video. And his ball-handling was sloppy; he had three turnovers Sunday and 18 in the series, compared with 13 assists.

"Just struggled a little bit," he said. "I felt fine. I just struggled a little bit offensively. I wish I could have done more, but it's the nature of the game."

Wade said of the Big Three: "It's been a hell of a ride in these four years.... We've been succcessful in the sense of what we tried to accomplish, and that is going to the Finals, and we did it. We'd love to be four for four. It was just wasn't in the cards for us to be that. We have no reason not to be proud of each other for what we've accomplished on and off the court for these four years together."

### Udonis Haslem: “I never thought we could lose three straight. We played as hard as we could. We ran into a better team.”

### Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether he wants to play next season.

SOME THOUGHTS ON WADE'S FUTURE

### Wade assured reporters over the weekend that this is the best he has felt in a long time.

 Regrettably, his game was the worst it has looked in a long time.

We witnessed an old Wade instead of the Wade of old during the past week, and it’s awfully worrisome if you’re trying to figure out how to augment this roster within the constraints of the salary cap and the punitive luxury tax.

Wade, 32, is too accomplished a player to be discounted from here. But his immensely disappointing Finals leaves the Heat in a difficult and delicate predicament heading into a pivotal offseason.

To lessen its luxury tax burden, it would not be surprising if the Heat asks Wade to opt out of the last two years of his contract, which would pay him a combined $42 million, and instead accept a longer deal with a lower annual salary. But while Wade has said during the playoffs that he has not decided whether to opt out, he also has indicated he does not believe it’s necessary to take another cut to keep the Big Three together.

And keep this in mind: Unless Chris Bosh also takes a big pay cut, then Wade accepting a large cut would not give the Heat enough cap space to sign a pricey free agent. Instead, it would merely reduce the Heat’s tax burden and make it more palatable for ownership to authorize using its $3.2 million midlevel exception.

From a personal standpoint, Wade’s only incentive to opt out of a combined $42 million guaranteed over the next two seasons would be for long-term security that would assure him a sizable salary at age 35 and 36.

Perhaps Wade considers opting out this month if the Heat makes him a respectable offer, potentially in the four-year, $60 million range that would lessen the Heat’s immediate tax burden but also clog its cap with an even further diminished Wade in 2016-17 and 2017-18. (Four years is the longest contract Wade can be given.) 

But it’s almost impossible to envision Wade taking a cut to the $12 million range when he’s due more than $20 million next season. Asking him to take a cut that significant assuredly would insult him and perhaps make him less likely to opt out.

If Bosh and Wade were to each take cuts from $20 million to $12 million next season, the Heat would have about $8 million in cap space even while paying LeBron James $20 million. But it’s unrealistic to expect either to do that.

NOTEWORTHY

### Erik Spoelstra’s lineup changes ultimately made no difference. The decision to replace Mario Chalmers with Allen made sense, and the Heat stormed to a 22-6 lead. But Allen shot 1 for 8. Chalmers said he was told Sunday morning he wouldn’t start and it was “tough” to hear.

 The decision to use Udonis Haslem could be justified, considering Tim Duncan shot 32 percent (8 for 25) when Haslem was on the court during last year’s Finals. But Duncan hit three of four shots against Haslem in the first half Sunday, when the Spurs took the lead for good.

### Bosh announced Sunday morning: “We’re going to win this game.” He didn’t make enough of an impact, scoring four points in the first half (2 for 6) and finishing with 13.

### In his final NBA game, Shane Battier had no points or rebounds in 11 scoreless minutes. He was emotional afterward, something he had said he didn’t expect.

### Biggest challenge of the offseason? Finding a quality point guard with its exception money. The position clearly needs upgrading. It’s probably time to move on from Chalmers.

And Norris Cole is too unreliable a shooter to be projected as anything more than a backup at this point. Cole shot a combined 10 for 41 in the past two Finals.

### The Heat missed 20 of 24 shots during the last nine minutes of the second quarter and the first four of the third and overall shot 37.5 percent (21 for 56) after the first quarter, closing at 40 percent for the game. Hardly something you would expect from a team that led the league in field-goal percentage this season at 50.5 percent.

Sunday 5 p.m.: UM adds QB; NBA players reach out to Chalmers; Dolphins studying Eagles; Heat, Marlins chatter

Notes from San Antonio on various topics on a Sunday afternoon, as we await Game 5 of the Finals in a few hours:

SAN ANTONIO --- Mario Chalmers entered Game 5 of The Finals on Sunday calling the past few weeks the most difficult of his career and unsure what the future will hold.

An impending free agent, Chalmers prefers to return next season. That’s certainly not out of the question, but it would be surprising if the Heat doesn’t explore trying to upgrade at the position.

Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, veteran NBA guard Brandon Rush and former NBA guard Damon Jones all reached out to Chalmers in recent days, offering both encouragement but also a pointed message: “Stop playing passively.”

Chalmers said he agrees he has been playing passively but he said he also is cognizant of getting the ball to teammates.

He entered Game 5 having shot 5 for 18 in the Finals, with 14 assists and 10 turnovers.

The past few weeks have “been very tough, but it comes with the job,” he said. “My teammates have all been supportive. At times like this, you’ve got to perform. I’ve dealt with adversity before.”

Over the past few days, Chalmers has watched tape of some of his best moments as an NBA player, a reminder of what he is capable of.

“I’ve watched a couple of games – last year’s Finals, games earlier this year, playoff games over my six years,” he said. “It shows that you can do it. I’ve been in this situation before and I know what I can do at this level. Just got to keep believing in myself.”

### Chris Bosh had this to say this morning, via ESPN's Mike Wallace: "It's not ending tonight." And of the Big Three, he said: "We'll be here forever."

### While nobody with the Heat has publicly criticized Erik Spoelstra's strategy, it was notable that Bosh said early Friday morning: "We're going to need a better gameplan and mindset."

### Shane Battier, at peace with his decision to retire, said Saturday he does not expect to become emotional when he walked off the court for the final time.

“I wasn’t emotional when I graduated from Duke or high school,” said Battier, who will become a college basketball analyst for ESPN. “I’ve enjoyed my career but there are other things I feel more strongly about.”

### The fact Wade missed so many regular season games (28) –-- including some on short notice –-- frustrated LeBron James at times, who said Saturday (without mentioning Wade) that “in the regular season I got frustrated a lot,… because we have guys in and out of the lineup. I'm all about chemistry and habits, and it affected our team.  There were guys that didn't know if they were playing, did know they were playing, and it affected our team a little bit."

### Despite having absolutely no inside information, that didn’t stop Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons from telling ESPN this weekend that he expects LeBron James will leave the Heat.

"I think if they would've won the championship it would've been a different story and they would've came back to do it again," Parsons said. "But he's got so much responsibility. I think them losing will make him make a move and opt out, and you'll see him in a different jersey next year. He's done all he can do there and it's time for him to move on. I could see him maybe going back to Cleveland.”

### Spurs players say one compliment they hear a lot is how aesthetically-pleasing their style of play is.

“You hear it all over the place,” guard Danny Green said. “Everyone is talking about well we move the ball. I’ve heard from [Pacers and former Spurs guard] George Hill. He thinks we’re playing pretty well.”

### James entered Game 5 as one of only two players who has averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds when facing playoff elimination. Wilt Chamberlain was the other.

### One interesting point raised by Charles Barkley: "The biggest problem with the Heat is the way their offense is built. To stand Chris Bosh out [on the perimeter] is a detriment to him. He’s got to be able to
punish Boris Diaw down low. When the Spurs switch the pick-and-roll, Bosh is turned one-dimensional. Every time Oklahoma City switched the pick and roll, the Spurs got the ball to Tim Duncan and he was either fouled or got a layup. Duncan is not going to let a point guard guard him. Chris Bosh does not do that."

### In last year’s Finals, the Heat was outscored by 57 when James and Wade played together. In these Finals, they’re minus 21 together…. The Heat’s best lineup in these Finals? The Big Three, Ray Allen and
Chalmers (plus 14, shooting 59 percent).

### Not only do Dolphins players say their new offense reminds them of Chip Kelly’s offense with the Eagles --- where new coordinator Bill Lazor worked last season --- but Lazor has been using video of the
Eagles offense as a teaching tool, according to receiver Rishard Matthews. There are some differences between the offenses.


"Last year, it was one-dimensional a little bit,” Matthews said of Mike Sherman’s approach. “This year, everybody loves the offense.”

### Quarterback Jake Heaps --- the highest-rated quarterback in the 2010 class --- is transferring from Kansas (where he's graduating this month) to Miami.

Heaps, who is be eligible immediately as a senior, has had a disappointing career. He played well for BYU as a freshman but left the next year after losing his starting job. He played for Kansas last season, throwing eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions and completing 49 percent of his passes for a 3-9 team.

Internally, UM is concerned about its quarterback situation. But Heaps, based on his spotty track record, hardly seems the answer. Ryan Williams hopes to return from a knee injury by mid-to-late September. Kevin Olsen remains the front-runner to start the opener, with newcomers Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier also expecting to get some first-team reps early in camp, barring a change of heart by the coaching staff.

### One factor that has improved the Marlins’ internal clubhouse dynamics: The jettisoning of several me-first players who rubbed some teammates the wrong way.

“There’s a different atmosphere where you have everyone trying to help each other – that’s something we hadn’t seen before,” reliever Mike Dunn said. “In past years, we had guys pulling for themselves
over the team.”

Dunn didn’t disclose names, but another team source said that list included Hanley Ramirez, Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes, among others.

06/14/2014

Saturday 8 p.m. update: LeBron's message; Interesting words from Haslem; NBA Finals chatter; Analysts lash out at Heat

Highlights and nuggets from the Heat and Spurs media availabilities today on the eve of Game 5 of the NBA Finals:

### Here's what LeBron James said he will tell his teammates Sunday, with Miami trying to become the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Finals:

"Why not us?  Why not us?  History is broken all the time.  And obviously we know we're against the greatest of odds.  No team has ever come back from a 3‑1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from a 2‑0.  There was a point where no team came back from a 3‑0.  There was a point where no team came back from a 3‑1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, and then Phoenix did it.  One of our teammates was on that team, James Jones.

"There is a point where no team came back from a 3‑1 or 3‑0 deficit in the ALCS, and then the Red Sox did it against the Yankees.

"So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it?  That would be great.  That would be a great story line, right?

"But we'll see what happens.  I've got to live in the moment, though, before we even get to that point.

### James, who is averaging 27.3 points in the series, said: "I've been telling myself I need to do more.  Is it too much to ask myself?  I don't know.  I don't know.  I need to do more because what I'm doing isn't enough."

### On pace to set a record for allowing the highest field-goal percentage ever in an NBA Finals, Heat players reiterated Saturday what they’ve been saying for a week: The defensive breakdowns need to stop.

A tape posted on Deadspin.com displays numerous examples of delinquent defense by Dwyane Wade in these NBA Finals. But among Heat players, he’s hardly alone.

“It’s shocking – the way they’ve been scoring, it’s almost like we have no defensive presence out there,” Rashard Lewis said Saturday. “It’s almost like they’re an offensive juggernaut right now.  It felt like everything we did, we were a step slow in all our rotations. We were always late.”

Lewis said “more than anything, we have to control the penetration. When they penetrate and get into the paint, it creates those wide open threes and dump-off layups.”

LeBron James said Saturday that “great offense beats great defense any day. But we’ve had some mistakes.”

### Erik Spoelstra, asked if he expects to use Udonis Haslem more, said:

"Possibly.  He's on my mind.  These are the type of games where he's proven himself, and you need somebody to rely on that's been there and has proven that those tough things, when your back is against the wall, but we'll see."

### Haslem wondered if the Heat has fallen “into the trap” because there’s no hostility toward the Spurs.

“Everybody knows we don’t like Indiana,’ he said. “Everybody knows we don’t like Brooklyn, going back to the Boston days. These guys, when Tim Duncan gets an offensive foul, he’ll grab you and ask you if you’re OK. You kind of fall into that level of relaxation against these guys. Right now, I don’t want anybody helping me up unless they’re on my team. Don’t help me up when you knock me down, Tim. And I’m not going to help you up.

“We’ll have that discussion. It’s not to say, ‘Go out and play dirty.’ That’s not what we’re going to do. Definitely, there needs to be more of an edge, make things tougher. We have the personnel to get their field goal percentage down.”

### When a reporter told James he seemed in a pleasant mood and asked him if he was angry the past couple of days, he said: “Of course. I was extremely upset, sad, very emotional to myself after Games 3 and 4.”

But he added: “I’m in a good place in my life. It’s basketball.” He said having “two championships” helps his peace of mind.

Several players said the team’s mood is upbeat. “We have no time for shock and awe,” Chris Bosh said, “or the same thing will happen Sunday.”

Said Lewis: “Guys on this team stand up to challenges. We play at our best with our backs against the wall.”

### Wade told TNT's Rachel Nichols that Bosh invited Wade, LeBron and Haslem to dinner last night to talk about the series.

### Asked if he would get on teammates who are making mistakes, James said: "I hold guys accountable. I don't let things slide."

### James said his ankle, which he “turned” in Game 2, is “a little sore, but it hasn’t limited me much. As the night goes on, it gets a little worse.”

### Wade said physically, he is “totally fine” and “way better than I’ve been in a long time.”

Of his 3 for 13 shooting in Game 4, he said: “That doesn’t happen to me often.”

On an off day Friday, he went to the arena “to feel the ball and wonder why I missed so many floaters. I’m high percentage around the basket, so I don’t like missing those shots.”

### Yahoo! reported that Chicago and Houston are the favorites to sign Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who likely will receive a call from the Heat when free agency begins. Anthony reportedly will opt out of his Knicks contract.

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SPURS NOTES

Even though the Spurs have a 3-1 series lead, guard Manu Ginobili said the fact the Spurs squandered two chances to close out last year’s Finals gives them pause for thought heading into Game 5 on Sunday. “We were match point last year twice and they still beat us,” he said.

And Tim Duncan said that lessens the likelihood of the Spurs feeling comfortable heading into Game 5.

“We go back to last year and we learn from that,” Duncan said.  “We're 30 seconds away [in Game 6].  We feel that we have it in the bag and it slips out of our fingers. We know that they're back‑to‑back champs and they've been in this situation before and they have all the confidence in the world that they can win these games.”

### The Spurs ran nearly a mile more than the Heat during Game 4, according to SportVU data. And yet whereas the Spurs played crisply and efficiently and with great energy throughout, the Heat seemed a step slow and sluggish at times.

There are several reasons for this. Because Heat players have been beaten off the dribble so much the past two games, other defenders have needed to leave their man to help, leaving other Heat players scrambling to defend the shooter that’s often left open as a result.

“Moving the ball, changing sides, anyone would struggle with that,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “And keeping that [fast] pace maybe hurts them.”

But are the Spurs a better conditioned team, as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith keeps insisting? Ginobili and Danny Green were reluctant to touch that topic, but Green suggested one difference in energy level probably results in how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has limited the minutes of his starters.

Consider: Over the past three regular seasons, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have combined for 20,888 regular season minutes. Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili have played 15,699.

“We just have a very deep bench that helps us,” Green said. “All season we haven’t had to play anyone more than 30 minutes per game which is big for us.  Nobody has played crazy minutes.”

### Green said he is “shocked” the Spurs have won the past two games by a combined 40 points. “We didn’t expect to win both like that,” Manu Ginobili said.

### Tim Duncan, asked if he might retire after this series, said Saturday: “I'm not saying I'm retiring.  I'm not saying I'm not retiring.  I'm not saying anything.  I'm going to figure it out as it goes.  I've always said if I feel like I'm effective, if I feel like I can contribute, I'll continue to play.  Right now I feel that way, so we'll see what happens."

Duncan has a $10.3 million player option for next season.

### Chris Bosh said the Heat is surprised every time Kawhi Leonard attacks the basket, but Leonard doesn’t understand why. “I’ve been driving the basketball all year,” he said.

Leonard has scored 49 points over the past two games after Popovich implored him to be more aggressive. “That’s the reason Pop’s been riding him and pushing him to be the guy,” Green said.

### Green said the Spurs are assuming Wade will not have another night like Game 4, when he scored 10 points and shot 3 for 13.

“D-Wade younger was more explosive but it doesn’t mean he’s not efficient,” Green said. “I still play him and think he’s D-Wade. We know he’s not going to shoot like that game.”

As Ginobili noted, “He was pretty quiet in Game 6 last year (14 points) and came in Game 7 and killed us” with 23 points.

### Parker said the fact he has been able to experience this run with Ginobili and Duncan “makes it all worth it.  All three, we took less money to stay here and to win championships.  So it makes it even better to have been able to play my whole career with Timmy and Manu and experiencing those great moments we're never going to forget our whole life.”        

### The Spurs can’t stop raving about the impact of Boris Diaw, who became a starter in the third game. “He’s been fantastic in both games,” Ginobili said. “Attacking the rim, finding a teammate open, punishing them with mismatches.”

### Through four games, The Finals are averaging 14.9 million viewers, compared with 14.8 million for last year’s Heat-Spurs Finals. San Antonio produced a far higher rating than Miami-Fort Lauderdale for game 4 --- 47.4 to 28.8.

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In the wake of another Spurs’ blowout win, national TV pundits unleashed a torrent of criticism toward the Heat on Friday. Among the notable comments:

### TNT/NBA TV’s Charles Barkley: “These were two beat downs. This series is over. I was 100 percent wrong. I picked the Heat to win the series. As much as I respect what they’ve accomplished, they can’t beat the Spurs. Boris Diaw made Chris Bosh ineffective” because Barkley said Diaw can defend Bosh by the three-point line better than others can.

Barkley said LeBron James “doesn’t have that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant thing. He let the lead increase (in Game 3) and he never became aggressive. As great as a player he is, that’s the one thing he doesn’t have. At some times, I wish he was a little bit more selfish. He’s just a nice guy. He doesn’t have that nasty instinct.”

“Kawhi Leonard is one of the few players that can make him work. He is athletic enough and strong enough physically. The biggest problem with LeBron is that he is quicker than most guys and he’s stronger than most guys. Kawhi Leonard reminds me of the great Scottie Pippen. He can guard a guy. He’s quick enough and has some meat on his bones.”

### ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: “It’s over. They don’t have anything outside of LeBron James. Nobody else showed up. It was a pathetic performance. Kawhi Leonard again looked like the best player on the court. If they win, it will involve divine intervention.

“The Spurs are not just a better team; they are a team in better condition. The thing that has gotten me depressed is [the Heat] were tired in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Dwyane Wade was heaving. With this sense the Miami Heat is no longer good enough, you’ve got to get LeBron help. If you don’t, LeBron may say goodbye.”

### ABC’s Jalen Rose: “Bosh didn’t show up. Gravity caught up with Wade. Rashard Lewis and Mario Chalmers would not be starting on teams this elite if they didn’t have [the Big Three] to play with.”

### ABC’s Bill Simmons interjected: “I don’t think [Lewis or Chalmers] would be playing for teams this elite… I saw a guy [Wade] who looked really tired, played three games in five days. He had no lift, wasn’t hustling. He’s not the same two-way player any more.”

### TNT’s/ NBA’s TV Shaquille O’Neal: “When the Heat turns to one-on-one, they’re not that good. When they hold the ball, they’re not a very good team and they’re showing it right now. The Spurs want it more. You need to have a lot of energy and effort. The Heat don’t seem to have that. They miss… Mike Miller.”

### ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “No energy. Defensively lost. They have no idea what to do. They were shell-shocked.”

### But noted Heat critic/ESPN pundit Skip Bayless warned: “It’s not over. If any team has the psyche to make history, it’s” the Heat.

 

LeBRON’S TAKE

James, asked if the Heat needs to make tactical adjustments, answered this way: “They put you in positions that no other team in this league does, and it’s tough because you have to cover the ball first, but also those guys on the weak side can do multiple things. They can shoot from outside. They can also penetrate. So our defense is geared towards running guys off the three-point line, but at the same time, those guys are getting full steam ahead and getting to the rim, too.”

James said the other “challenge” is Diaw’s insertion in the starting lineup beginning in Game 3. “That has given them another point guard on the floor.”

### The Heat is the first team to lose by at least 40 points combined in consecutive Finals games since the 76ers did against Portland in 1977.

### Before the Heat did it this week, no team had trailed by at least 20 points in consecutive NBA Finals games since the Nets against the Lakers in 2002.

### Before this week, the Heat had not trailed by as many as 19 points in consecutive home games since December 2008, against Atlanta and Milwaukee.

### The Heat has played 86 playoff games over the past four seasons, the most in history, breaking a tie with the Celtics, who played 85 from 1984 to 1987.

### James’ 19 points in the third quarter of Game 4 were the most by a player in a home Finals game since Michael Jordan had 22 in the second quarter of a 1993 Finals game against Phoenix.  “I had a huge third quarter but it meant nothing,” James said.    

### Udonis Haslem’s contract situation seems pretty straightforward: He has a $4.62 million player option for next season, the last year of his contract, and he said Thursday that his plan is to opt into that contract, as everyone would expect.

But there’s a variable that could leave him with a more complicated decision to make this summer.

If the Heat believes it can somehow convince Carmelo Anthony to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Heat likely would ask Haslem to opt out and sign a multi-year deal for less money.

Even if Anthony proves to be an unrealistic target, the Heat would still have the option of asking Haslem to opt out and take a pay cut to lessen its onerous luxury tax burden, in exchange for a new multiyear contract.

Haslem made clear Thursday that he would love to spend several more seasons with the Heat.

Asked if he would be willing to take less for a longer deal, Haslem said: “It’s something I would sit down and talk about with my family and Hank [agent Henry Thomas].”

Haslem, who turned 34 on Monday, has sacrificed for the Heat before; he took a five-year, $20 million contract in 2010 instead of five-year deals which could have reached $35 million with Dallas or Denver.

The Heat has shown loyalty to Haslem, declining to pursue a February trade with Philadelphia that would have potentially sent Haslem and other pieces to the 76ers for Evan Turner.

Haslem, 6-8, noted: “If I was an inch or two more, I would be making $2 million more. But if I’m not the size I am, maybe I’d be lazy and not have the work ethic I have.”

### Twice in this postseason, James has publicly called for more minutes for James Jones. And after Game 1 of the Finals, Dwyane Wade publicly implored Erik Spoelstra to go deeper into his bench.

Do any of these comments by the Heat’s stars bother Spoelstra? The coach indicated they do not, adding: “There’s open communication about it.”

06/13/2014

Postscripts, thoughts, notes, player reaction after Heat's Game 4 loss

Postscripts from the San Antonio Spurs' 107-86 Game 4 drubbing of the Heat in the NBA Finals, which leaves Miami one loss from elimination.

### It began, inauspiciously but appropriately, with a Chris Bosh turnover.

That would be a harbinger of a night of incompetence.

“They smashed us two straight home games,” LeBron James said. “They were much better than us in these two games. It’s that simple.”

Are the Spurs simply better? “Right now, they’re playing better than us,” Dwyane Wade said. “We’ll see at the end of the series, whoever wins is the better team. They whipped our butt.”

### Spoelstra's take afterward: "They played great. And I can honestly say I don't think any of us were expecting this type of performance. We just couldn't get into a rhythm on either side of the ball, and then it just went from there.... I've got to do a better job. We've got a couple days to figure it out, but we'll lay everything out, look under the hood and see what we need to do.

"We have to make some adjustments. We'll look at everything. But I'm going to take a step back, exhale. I've got to find a way to do a better job for my group. What I told our team is: When we're right, we can beat anybody anywhere."

### The Heat’s defensive deficiencies in Game 4? Hardly surprising, considering the lapses and miscues we witnessed the first three games of these Finals.

But this dreadful display on offense --- 12 for 34 first-half shooting (35.3 percent) , 45 percent for the game ---  was unexpected and uncharacteristic, considering the Heat shot 50.5 percent in the first three games of this series and this season became the first team since the 2007-08 Phoenix Suns to make at least half its shots.

In Game 4, Heat players couldn’t stick open threes. They couldn’t finish in the paint (4 for 15 in the first half, 15 for 34 in the game). They looked rushed, sloppy and disjointed offensively. They closed with as many turnovers as assists (13).

“We got great, great shots and just missed,” Bosh said. “Dwyane [Wade] and LeBron [James] missed a couple of layups. Ray Allen missed a couple opens threes. That’s what’s tough about this…. It’s jarring. I didn’t expect this at all. It’s discouraging. They are taking us out of everything we’re doing.”

Carmelo Anthony, please pick up the white courtesy telephone. But you will need to leave $40 million-plus on the table over the next four years if you want to hook up with your buddy LeBron James in Miami. And if Anthony --- who would help only offensively --- proves an unrealistic target, a young, athletic, affordable wing player is sorely needed.

### Playing his third game in five nights, Wade looked sluggish and diminished, in no way resembling the player who was usually efficient when healthy this season, the one who tied Otis Birdsong for the highest shooting percentage by a starting two-guard in a single season since the NBA implemented the three-point shot in 1979.

Wade, whose mid-range game was immaculate all season, missed a bunch of makeable shots (1 for 7 in the paint in the first half), lacked explosion and opened 1 for 10 before closing 3 for 13, with three turnovers, on a 10-point night.

“I’m a very accurate shooter,” Wade said. “I don’t like missing. I’m not used to missing. Law of averages.”

### As for James, he too often settled for jump shots in the first half, with an 18.4-foot average shot distance, compared with less than 11 feet in the first three games. He attacked more in a 19-point third quarter but received precious little support.

“I tried to will us back in the game, had a huge third quarter, but it meant nothing,” he said.

James disputed a reporter who suggested he has to carry the load. “It’s not all on my shoulder,” he said. “I take a lot of it.”

### Mario Chalmers? Instead of benching him for extended awfulness, Erik Spoelstra instead stuck with him a bit longer than usual in the first quarter. But Chalmers was again dominated by Tony Parker.

Consider that Chalmers entered Game 4 as the first starter in 30 years to play at least 50 minutes, score 10 points or fewer and shoot 25 percent over the first three games of an NBA Finals.

Rashard Lewis? A forgettable night: 1 for 4 shooting in 16 minutes. Spoelstra replaced him with Ray Allen to start the second half.

Bosh? He opened 3 for 4 in the first quarter, then shot 2 for 7 the rest of the night, finishing with an underwhelming 12 points and four boards.

### Even Chris Andersen, who shot 64 percent during the season, seems to lose his ability to finish around the basket when he plays the Spurs. He was 1 for 4 Thursday and is 3 for 11 in the series.

### No team has rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Finals. And the Spurs are 10-0 when lead a best-of-seven series, 3-1.

“We put ourselves in a position where it’s about making history. We have to worry about Sunday first,” James said. “Of course we’re a little down right now. As one of the leaders of the team, I have to figure out a way to get us to a 3-2 deficit.”

### Bosh’s assessment afterward: “We need to go home and do some soul-searching and get it together. If anybody can do this, it’s us. I have belief in our guys. We’re seen our fair share of adversity. This is adversity in all caps. If a guy has a single bit of doubt, he doesn’t belong here.”

### Bosh said “we’re going to need a better game plan and mindset.”

### James didn’t agree with Bosh on one thing. “Soul-searching? We don’t need much of that. As far as soul-searching, we’re a veteran club that has been to four straight Finals. We know what it takes to win. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”

### What about the booing from the AA Arena crowd? “Maybe they’re right. Maybe they deserve it.”

### It’s regrettable that Michael Beasley never gained Spoelstra’s trust because he could have helped in a game when the Heat was desperate for offense, though he assuredly would have been targeted defensively.

Beasley averaged 25.2 points per 48 minutes this season, which was 54th in the league, but wasn’t even in uniform Thursday.

### Spoelstra changed his rotation, opting for Shane Battier over James Jones in the first half and inserting Toney Douglas in a move that reeked of desperation. Neither move paid dividends.

### The Heat is closing in on setting a record for highest shooting percentage ever allowed in a Finals (52.7 by the 1991 Bulls). The Spurs, are shooting 54.2 percent after shooting 57.1 percent in Game 4.

“They are a high-oiled machine, move the ball extremely well,” James said. “They put you in positions where no other team in this league does. Guys on the weakside can do multiple things, shoot it from the outside, penetration. Our defense is geared toward running guys off the three-point line. Any little mistake, they make you pay for it.”

### Boris Diaw’s impact cannot be understated. He filled the box score with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists and the Spurs are now plus 60 with Diaw on the court in this series.

“Diaw has given them another point guard on the floor,” James said. “It’s a challenge for us all.”

### Short stuff: Tim Duncan surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most minutes played in NBA playoff history… The Heat trailed by 19 at halftime after trailing by 21 at halftime of Game 3....

The Heat had gone 48 playoff games in a row without consecutive losses, a streak that ended short of the record 54, by the Celtics in the 1960s…. Of Leonard’s 11 career playoff double-doubles, five have come against the Heat, including a 20-point, 14-rebound gem Thursday.

### The Heat will take Friday off, practice in Miami Saturday, then fly to Texas to fulfill media obligations in San Antonio late Saturday afternoon.