April 16, 2015

Barkley not especially high on Heat's future; Kenny and Charles weigh in

I asked Charles Barkley today if the Heat will be a top four team in the East next season if Goran Dragic re-signs, as many expect, and Chris Bosh returns from blood clots in his lungs, which is fully expected:

“They won't be a top four team [in the East],” Barkley said on a TNT playoff conference call. “You don't go from out of the playoffs to a top four team. Dwyane [Wade] is going to be a year older. No, they won't be a top four team. They didn't make the playoffs.

"Now if they get LeBron to move back down, they will be a top four team. They are not a top four team. They're not even close as constructed. They need some more building blocks.

“They need to re-sign Dragic first. Once they resign Dragic, they won't have any money. They gave Luol Deng money. Bosh is making a ton. Dwyane is still on the cap.

"Once they resign Dragic, if he decides to stay, and that's a big if. If he decides to stay, they won't be able to bring [in any more costly players]. Then they got to make a decision on [Hassan] Whiteside [who's
under contract for one more season]. It's not as easy as people think it is."

Kenny Smith seemed slightly more optimistic about the Heat long-term.

“Because the Eastern Conference is kind of weak, they definitely would have been a playoff team if Chris Bosh is playing," Smith told me on the conference call. "Where they would have landed, I think around six. I think that's where they would be [at full strength].

"But Pat Riley has been great at bringing in the right people at the right time to kind of move the needle. This will be a good and big free agent year for them. Bringing Dragic in, I don't think people saw that coming. I think he will bring in some more help."

As we noted a couple days ago, the Heat will either have a $3.4 million taxpayers midlevel exception if they're in tax territory (which is very likely if Dragic re-signs and Deng opts in) or a $5.5 million full mid-level exception. Miami also would have a $2.1 million bi-annual exception if it's not a tax team.

And Miami also has a 91 percent chance of landing a top-10 draft pick.

Barkley, by the way, says Cleveland would beat Golden State in the Finals.

Please see the last post for potential Heat draft options and reaction from Wade and Erik Spoelstra... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Please check back tonight. We'll supplement this post with a lot more Heat postscripts.

April 15, 2015

Exploring potential Heat draft options; Wade, others opine as season ends

A disappointing Heat season ended with uplifting news: Miami will enter the May 19 lottery with a 91 percent of keeping a draft pick that once seemed likely to end up being forwarded to Philadelphia.

Though the Heat won 105-101 in Philadelphia, Brooklyn’s win against Orlando (achieved a few minutes before the Heat game ended) assured the Heat of finishing alone with the 10th worst record (37-45).

So in the weighted lottery, Miami has a 1.1 percent chance of landing the first pick in the draft, a 1.3 percent chance of getting the second pick, a 1.58 percent chance of getting the third pick and an 87 percent chance of picking 10th.

But nothing is assured. There’s also a 9 percent chance the Heat could be jumped in the lottery and fall out of the top 10, which means the pick would be forwarded to the Sixers. (To be precise, there’s an 8.8 percent chance of Miami falling to 11th.)

Here’s how ESPN.com’s Chad Ford rates the top 14 NBA Draft prospects. (There are 14 non-playoff teams.)

1)     Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns.

2)     Duke center Jahlil Okafor. (The team with the top pick will have a tough choice between these two gifted young centers.)

3)     Emmanuel Mudiay, China. Ford calls him a “big, athletic point guard” who attacks the rim.

4)     Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Can also play shooting guard.

5)     Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis. Has the Martin Muursepp experience scarred Pat Riley for life in terms of international players in the draft?

6)   Duke small forward Justise Winslow. Heat loves Duke players and wings who defend. (Winslow certainly can do that.) And he shot 7 for 12 on threes in the NCAA Tournament. But he might go before Heat has a chance to draft him.

7)     Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein. Excellent shot blocker.

8)      Croatian small forward Mario Hezonja. See No. 5.

9)     Texas power forward Myles Turner. A 7-0 footer who can shoot, but a sweet-shooting wing player would fill more of a need for the Heat.

10)  UCLA power forward Kevon Looney.  Averaged 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds as a freshman but the 6-9 forward elicits mixed views among scouts.           

11)  Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson. Averaged 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds.

Ford says he’s “the guy who does just about everything well but lacks that one elite skill. Still, I think there's almost no way he falls out of the lottery.” Shot 43 for 116 (37.1 percent) on threes last season.

12)  Kansas small forward Kelly Oubre. Ford said "his length, shooting touch and defensive abilities are all very attractive and you can make the case he has the highest upside of any wing in the draft."

The 6-7 small forward shot 34 for 95 (35.8 percent) on threes in his one year at Kansas, but is expected to develop further as a three-point shooter.

13)  Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky. Yes, he’s not an elite athlete by any means.

But Ford noted that Kaminsky, the Naismith Player of the Year, “went head-to-head against the potential No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft (Towns and Okafor) and the guy widely regarded as the best defender in the draft (Cauley-Stein), and he outplayed them all.”

14)  Utah center Jakob Poeltl. The seven footer “benefited greatly from his strong play in the NCAA Tournament, especially his defense against Okafor,” Ford said on ESPN.com.

Ford’s next five: Wisconsin small forward Sam Dekker, Arkansas power forward Bobby Portis, Kentucky power forward Trey Lyles, Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker and Georgia State shooting guard RJ Hunter.

### If the Heat keeps the pick this year, it still owes the 76ers a pick, which is top-10 protected in 2016 and unprotected in 2017.

### Spoelstra said "at some point in the fourth quarter, I got word of the [Nets] final... You can’t cheat the guys who are out there competing.”

### Michael Beasley, who has a team option for next season, had 34 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and played all 48 minutes. “I’ve never played an entire game ever,” he told Sun Sports.

Zoran Dragic’s 22 were a career high, and Henry Walker’s 21 were a Heat high. James Ennis tied a career high with 17 points and set a career high with 12 boards. Walker won it with a three with nine seconds left.

### Spoelstra played only six players and one of them (Udonis Haslem) played seven minutes. Beasley, Walker, Dragic and Tyler Johnson played all 48; Zoran Dragic played 41.

“Rio was going to play too, but his leg didn’t loosen up,” Spoelstra said of Mario Chalmers. “As disappointing as the season has been, the highlights of the season have been moments like this. A lot of guys out. There would have been opportunities for excuses. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in the season. We had a lot of guys get a lot of experience.”

Spoelstra struck an optimistic tone before the game: "If you said, going back to October and November, with this group going forward that you may not make the playoffs but you'll have this group going forward next off-season, that you'll also add a real promising, big, legitimate impact center and an impact top-10 point guard, and you would go forward with those, but I can't guarantee you would make the playoffs, I would take that circumstance. We feel very good moving forward with this group."

### Dwyane Wade afterward: “It’s been a tough year. I’m proud of these guys, proud of each individual in this locker-room. Guys came in and fought. Guys got opportunities and took advantage of it. We had an opportunity to make something of the season and it slipped away from us. No one should walk out with heads [down]."

Will a long offseason help Wade?

"I haven’t had much time off in a long time," he said. "I’ve been playing until late June the past four years. It’s been a lot mentally, physically, with all the injuries and everything. It was a lot. It will be good for me to get away for a while, and come back better next year.

"This is a weird feeling because my season never ended like this. It’s unchartered waters a little bit. We didn’t have enough time together. That probably hurt us the most.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 14, 2015

Previewing Heat offseason: Potential targets, cap and tax situation; Top LB visits Fins; Dolphins, Marlins chatter

We'll get to the Wednesday buzz column and a look at the Heat's future in a minute. First, this:

The Heat’s improbable hopes of making the playoffs evaporated Tuesday night. And the dagger was delivered by the Indiana Pacers, who were bounced from the past three postseasons by the Heat.

The Pacers’ double-overtime win against Washington eliminated Miami from playoff contention. To make the playoffs, the Heat would have needed a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday, losses by Indiana on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a loss by Brooklyn against visiting Orlando on Wednesday.

But Wednesday’s game will still be meaningful because it will affect the Heat’s chances of keeping its first-round pick, which will be forwarded to Philadelphia unless it is in the top 10 immediately after the May 19 NBA Draft lottery.

If the Heat loses Wednesday, it will finish alone with the league’s 10th-worst record and would have a 91 percent chance of keeping its lottery pick, including a four percent chance of moving into the top three of the draft.

But if the Heat wins and Brooklyn loses to Orlando, then Miami and the Nets would be tied for the 10th-worst record, and a coin flip would determine pre-lottery order, thus jeopardizing the Heat’s chances of staying inside the top 10 and keeping the pick. If the Heat were to lose the coin flip/random drawing and fall to 11th, it would have only a three percent chance of keeping the pick. 

So both the Heat and Philadelphia would benefit by losing Wednesday.

The Heat (36-45) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08 and for only the second time in Dwyane Wade’s 12 seasons.

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

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Expect Pat Riley to try to add at least one skilled three-point shooter, possibly two, this summer, while also putting together a new deal for Goran Dragic, who has expressed a preference to stay with the Heat. But Riley will need to improve the roster amid salary cap limitations and luxury tax ramifications.

Presuming Dwyane Wade does not opt out of a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season, the Heat will be above the projected $67 million cap -- barring trades -- unless two things both happen: Luol Deng opts out of $10.1 million in the second year of a two-year deal (he’s non-committal about the opt-out) and Dragic leaves, which would be surprising.

Dragic has said he will opt out of the final year of a contract that would pay him $7.5 million in 2015-16. The Heat could give him a five-year deal worth as much as $109 million, and it might take that much if the Lakers offer a max deal. The most another team could give him: four years, $81.2 million.

Even if Deng opts out, the Heat would still be capped out --- unless Dragic leaves --- because Miami’s cap would include either Dragic’s cap hold or his new salary.

And that would limit the Heat’s spending to minimum contracts and to a midlevel exception, which would be worth either $3.4 million if the Heat is a tax team (which is highly likely if Dragic re-signs and Deng stays) or $5.5 million otherwise.

Miami will be on the bubble between whether it can use the $3.4 million or the $5.5 million if Dragic signs and Deng bolts, depending on Dragic's new deal and other factors. 

The Heat has a $2.1 million bi-annual exception; it was not used last summer, because Miami decided to sign Danny Granger with cap space instead of the bi-annual.

But if it's a tax team, Miami is not permitted to use the bi-annual if it uses the taxpayer’s mid-level instead. Teams cannot use the bi-annual if it pushes them more than $4 million above the tax threshold, and Miami will be in that territory if Deng and Dragic stay.

If the Heat is a tax team, it’s not certain that Miami would use the entire $3.4 million taxpayer’s midlevel exception because of the punitive nature of the tax, though that would be the Heat's choice.

If Miami bypasses using all of the taxpayer's midlevel, the Heat could look to improve through trades, minimum contracts, a portion of the mid-level or through the draft (if it gets the top-10 protected first-rounder otherwise owed to Philadelphia).

Don't rule out the trade route; Deng, Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers and Josh McRoberts hold varying degrees of value. The only motivation for Deng to opt out would be if he believes he can get a lucrative multiyear deal here or elsewhere.

Regardless, Miami must add at least one skilled shooter who can space the floor. The Heat is ranked 24th in three-point field goal percentage this season (at 33.4) after finishing seventh, 10th, second and 12th during the four years of the LeBron James era.

Examining unrestricted free agent options who could fill that role, some of whom could be potential starters if Deng surprisingly bolts:

### The under (age) 30 crowd: The two most appealing options, San Antonio’s Danny Green and Toronto’s Lou Williams, very likely will be out of Miami’s price range. Both should command more than the mid-level exception, let alone the taxpayer’s midlevel.

Phoenix 6-8 swingman Gerald Green (11.9 points per game, 35.1 on threes) would be worth considering if he’s willing to take the midlevel. So might Phoenix 6-4 shooting guard Marcus Thornton, who was once drafted by the Heat and traded immediately after that.

Thornton, 28, had interest in signing with Miami last summer if the Celtics had bought him out. He’s shooting 37.8 percent on threes.

Others available: New Orleans 6-9 forward Luke Babbitt (51.3 percent on threes); Sacramento 6-9 forward Omri Casspi (40.2 percent on threes), Spurs 6-5 guard Marco Belinelli (37.4), Atlanta 6-4 guard John Jenkins (41.2) and two 27-year-old Lakers: 6-4 shooting guard Wayne Ellington (37) and 6-7 forward Wesley Johnson (35.1).

### The 30-plus crowd: Pat Riley often has pursued older veterans to fill specific needs (Shane Battier, Ray Allen, etc), and he will have several past-their-prime but still effective shooters from which to choose this summer.

Considering how this organization likes Duke players, the most appealing could be Chicago’s Mike Dunleavy, who is shooting 40.9 percent on threes at age 34.

Also available: Dallas’ Richard Jefferson (age 35, 42.1 percent on threes), Houston’s Jason Terry (37, 38.6 percent), Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince (35, 46.3 percent), the Nets’ Alan Anderson (32, 34.8) and the Hornets’ Gary Neal (30, 30.5 percent and has declined as a three-point shooter since leaving the Spurs).

### The ex-Heat crowd: The Heat often takes the been there/done that approach with alums, though there’s occasionally the inclination for a reunion, as was the case with Michael Beasley after Chris Bosh’s health scare.

Several capable shooters who once wore Heat uniforms will be free agents this summer, including Cleveland’s James Jones (age 34; 35.8 percent on threes this season), Portland’s Dorell Wright (age 29, 38 percent), Washington’s Rasual Butler (age 35, 38.2 percent) and Detroit’s Shawne Williams (29; Heat staff liked his shooting but didn’t necessarily trust his defense).

### Other options: There are several, including a handful of affordable backup point guards should Miami go that route (Mo Williams, Aaron Brooks, Jeremy Lin, Leandro Barbosa and CJ Watson). There are also a few scorers who aren’t very good three-point shooters, a group led by Indiana’s Rodney Stuckey.

### Please see the last post for more Heat notes.

CHATTER

### We hear the Dolphins are bringing in Mississippi State’s Benardrick McKinney, considered among the draft’s best middle linebackers, to Davie to meet with team officials.

McKinney could be an option with the 47th pick if he's available. 

NFL Network's Mike Mayock calls him "a big downhill player" and also says he is "a poor man's Lavonte David."

Mel Kiper's assessment of McKinney, courtesy ESPN.com:

"He sees most of his snaps in the middle of the field, but you can put the 6-5, 250-pound McKinney in other spots and he'll succeed, and the Bulldogs' coaches have put him on the edge to take advantage of his supreme athleticism and decent pass-rushing skills. McKinney's versatility is driven by what a special athlete he is. He's going to run as fast as many running backs, and jump as high as some good wide receivers. But he's strong, too, and takes on blocks and won't be pushed backward by ball carriers. "

McKinney is the fourth confirmed visitor among inside linebackers, joining UM's Denzel Perryman (local visitor, so doesn't count among 30), Michigan's Jake Ryan and Georgia's Ramik Wilson.

### Another of the 30 confirmed non-local visits: potential first-round running back Melvin Gordon, who ran for 2587 yards on 7.5 per carry at Wisconsin last season. He's visiting next Tuesday.

The Dolphins also have closely studied Georgia running back Todd Gurley, the other projected first-round back.

Kiper has Gurley going 19th and Gordon 24th. He said Gordon "has the explosiveness that you need from a running back taken this high -- he's a true game-breaker -- but he's also proved durable." 

### The Dolphins knew Greg Jennings would be visiting Jacksonville this week and remain in the mix for him, along with Wes Welker. (Jennings is visiting the Saints next.) The Dolphins so far have chosen not to pursue Reggie Wayne. Those are the most accomplished receivers still available...

The Dolphins have agreed to a deal with former UM receiver LaRon Byrd, who has played in five NFL games (Arizona, Cleveland) and joined Miami's practice squad last season before a December shoulder injury.

### Dolphins center Mike Pouncey’s new deal didn’t provide the 2015 cap relief some had hoped for, dropping his 2015 cap number by just $200,000, to $7.25 million, according to cap guru Joel Corry.

### Worrisome considering the Marlins’ 1-6 start: According to interesting research from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan: Over the past 31 years, of the 56 teams that began 1-6, only eight finished with a winning record and only two made the playoffs. The Marlins are 2-6 after tonight.

### The lighter side: Nobody does parties like Chris Bosh, whose belated 31st birthday bash on Sunday included eight food trucks, a gaming area with a beer pong, a cake in the shape of a beer mug and two musical groups performing (including Neon Trees).

Guests received beer growlers and other gifts. "He throws a hell of a shindig," Wade said.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz     

Tuesday evening: On Hassan Whiteside's offensive growth, Heat notes

Count center Hassan Whiteside’s continued evolution among the few
bright spots for the Heat in April.

Whiteside is averaging 19.7 points and 15.7 rebounds in his past three
games, and the Heat has run more plays for him in the post.

He equaled a career high with 24 points against Orlando on Monday on
10 for 14 shooting. He’s shooting 68.1 percent from the field over the
past seven games.

Whiteside said he is “really proud” of his offensive development. “
Just the fact they’re throwing the ball to me,” he said. “[Dwyane]
Wade… [and] Luol Deng [are] giving up [their] shot to throw it to me
in the post. I really feel like the team is believing in me.”

Said Goran Dragic: “I still think he can be one of the main dominant
centers in this league. Hopefully, he will keep improving.”

After missing 12 of 16 free throws against Toronto, Whiteside changed
his free throw motion, with the help of assistant coach Juwan Howard,
and made four of five on Monday.

“I can play with that for the rest of my career,” he said.

Whiteside will spend much of this summer working out at
AmericanAirlines Arena and at a YMCA in Charlotte, not far from his
home in Gastonia, N.C.

"It's going to be a big summer for me," Whiteside said. "My last
couple of summers I had to go to China, I had to go to Lebanon. I had
to go over here.

“This is really the first summer I can get with some coaches and
actually work on my game and actually get on a program where I can
lift weights and become a better basketball player."

A top candidate for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, Whiteside
posted on Instagram on Tuesday: “I know one thing. I won the most
improve life award. I'm Bless !!!!! And hater continue to hate Just
make sure you spell my name right. I been doubted and looked over my
whole life. I'm [used] to it.”

###  Forward Luol Deng, who has a player option for $10.1 million for
next season, said he hasn’t thought about whether he will exercise it.
“I love this organization,” he said. “Everything has been great for me
overall.”

But because he relies a lot on moving without the ball for his
offense, he said the lineup turnover has made the season “difficult.
It’s been very hard to be consistent. I haven’t found a consistent way
to come in every night and knowing exactly what I’m doing.”

### For NBAstore.com’s overall retail sales since the start of the
season, the Heat finished eighth among all franchises. Chicago was No.
1. Dwyane Wade ranked ninth in jersey sales, behind LeBron James,
Stephon Curry, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving,
Tim Duncan and Carmelo Anthony.

Check back later tonight for a lot more Heat and Dolphins.

April 13, 2015

Late Monday night: Updating Heat's playoff, lottery pick odds; Nuggets on Dolphins' signing; Fins notes

This was a good night for the Heat, with Miami remaining alive in its improbable bid for a playoff berth, and one potential obstacle being removed in the Heat’s attempt to keep its lottery pick, should it not make the playoffs.

On the playoff front, the Heat’s win against Orlando and Brooklyn’s loss to Chicago mean the Heat's playoff hopes live another day.

Four things must happen for Miami to make the playoffs: Indiana must lose to visiting Washington on Tuesday, the Heat must win in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Indiana must lose in Memphis on Wednesday and Brooklyn must lose at home to Orlando on Wednesday.

With regard to the Heat’s top-10 protected draft pick, Utah’s win against Dallas tonight assures that the Jazz will finish with a better record than Miami.

The Heat will enter the next-to-last day of the season with the NBA’s 10th worst record and will keep that position if it loses in Philadelphia. If Miami stays in that position, it would have a 91 percent chance of having a pick in the top 10 and consequently, not having to forward the pick to Philadelphia.

Miami can finish with a record no worse or no better than 10th-worst, but there’s still a chance Indiana or Brooklyn can finish tied with Miami for the 10th-worst record. If both finish with the same record as Miami, the Heat would make the playoffs.

But if only one of those teams finishes with the same record as Miami, then the Heat would not make the playoffs and instead would partake in a coin flip to determine pre-draft lottery order, leaving the Heat at risk of falling to 11th.

Of course, this is moot if Miami loses in Philadelphia, which would assure the Heat of having the 10th worst record and being the only team with 46 losses. And that's one reason why the 76ers would have incentive for Miami to win when the teams play on Wednesday.

DOLPHINS CHATTER

A few notes on new Dolphins cornerback Zack Bowman: He started 28 games in seven seasons, including 23 with the Bears in his first six seasons, and five with the Giants last season when they had injuries at the position….

These two stats stand out about his 2014 season: He allowed only 13 of 36 passes thrown against him to be completed; that 36.6 percent success rate was easily the best among 108 cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

But those 13 receptions averaged an absurd 19.3 yards, which was the worst in the league….

Those two stats might have been an anomaly, because in his final year with the Bears (2013), he allowed 44 of 64 passes thrown against him to be caught (16th worst percentage), but permitted only 11.1 yards per catch (22nd best)…

In reconciling all of those mixed messages from his past two seasons, this much is encouraging: The passer rating in his coverage area was 68.8 and 75.1 the past two seasons…

Bowman, 30, a former fifth-rounder out of Nebraska, is also considered a very good special teams player, much like another ex-Giants player than Miami signed (linebacker Spencer Paysinger)…

A Giants web site was critical of Bowman’s run support…

If the Dolphins don’t draft a cornerback in the first two days of the draft, he could end up competing with Jamar Taylor and Will Davis to start on the boundary, opposite Brent Grimes. Brice McCain figures to play a lot in nickel packages.

UPDATE: Bowman said at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday that he was told he will have "an opportunity to start." (We presume he means compete to start.)

Bowman, a college teammate of Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska, described himself thusly to the Dolphins’ radio show, Finsiders: “I’m versatile and at the same time I enjoy playing special teams. I’ve been a part of a lot of good special teams being in Chicago, playing with Devin Hester, who’s a big Miami native. I’m just excited….

"I’m always going to come in here and work my butt off and help this team out in any way I can, whether that’s at corner, dime, nickel, safety, special teams. Whatever I can do, I just want to come in here and help this team win.” 

### Oregon tackle Jake Fisher, who has some experience playing guard, has the Dolphins among his scheduled visits, according to Fox.

Fisher, a potential second- or third-rounder, is the 17th confirmed player to visit the Dolphins among non-local draft prospects; teams can bring in as many as 30 non-local players to their headquarters for medical tests and to meet with coaches and executives.

We’ve written about the other 16 in previous posts, with DeVante Parker and Trae Waynes among the most prominent.

### Michael Crabtree signed with the Raiders, reducing the Dolphins’ options in their search for a veteran receiver.

Among those still available: Wes Welker, Greg Jennings, Jerrel Jernigan, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Robert Meachem and Greg Salas. Though the Dolphins would like to add a veteran, they're also expected to address receiver in the draft.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Crabtree can make as much as $5 million with Oakland next season --- $3 million in base, another $2 million in incentives. That combined total is significantly more than what Miami was willing to pay him.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz        

April 12, 2015

Sunday night: Ten Dolphins, Heat, Canes, Marlins, Panthers nuggets: Where Heat stands; Heat draft options; Potential UM football suspension

A couple of notes on each of five So Flo teams:

### The Heat's slim playoff hopes gained some clarity over the past six hours. And this is where we stand: Six things --- exactly six --- must happen for the Heat to avoid missing the playoffs for only the second time in Dwyane Wade's 12 seasons.

To qualify for the playoffs, Miami must beat Orlando at home on Monday and win at Philadelphia on Wednesday; Brooklyn must lose at home against both Chicago on Monday and Orlando on Wednesday; and Indiana must lose Tuesday against Washington and Wednesday at Memphis.

The Heat would win a three-way tie with Brooklyn and Indiana because of a superior record in head-to-head matchups among the three.

The Heat can no longer be the No. 7 seed and play Cleveland.

Miami can only be the No. 8 seed, which would mean a first-round matchup with Atlanta. But asking the Nets to lose at home to Orlando --- plus the other five things needed --- is obviously a long shot.

### For those wondering about the Heat's chances of keeping its top-10 protected lottery pick, Miami still has the 10th worst record in the league, and if that stands, the Heat would have a 91 percent chance of keeping that pick.

But Utah could tie the Heat if it loses to Dallas and Houston and if Miami wins its final two games.

Indiana and Brooklyn also can still finish with the same record as Miami if those teams go 0-2 and the Heat 2-0; Miami would make the playoffs if all three do. The Nets would make the playoffs over the Pacers if those teams finish tied but with a better record than Miami. 

For draft purposes, a pre-lottery coin flip would break ties for teams with the same record.

Miami could achieve the ninth-worst record if it loses twice and if Charlotte beats Toronto and Houston. Then a coin flip would break a Heat/Hornets tie before the lottery.

Players projected for the mid-to-late lottery range in a deep draft include power rotation players Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Myles Turner (Texas), Kevin Looney, (UCLA) and Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin) and three small forwards with three-point range: Kansas’ Kelly Oubre Jr., Arizona’s Stanley Johnson and Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker.

Over the past 20 years, there have been far more quality players taken 10th overall than otherwise, including Paul George, Caron Butler, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, Paul Pierce and Eddie Jones.

### UM, already shaky on the offensive line, is facing the possibility of playing part of next season without likely starting tackle Taylor Gadbois, who might be suspended several games for an undisclosed rules violation, according to a source. There’s no final decision, and resolution is not imminent.

Gadbois is coming off a knee injury that sidelined him this spring. 

(We have a sense of the violation but am not comfortable reporting it without additional confirmation.)

### Why did Manu Lecomte and DeAndre Burnett leave the UM basketball team?

According to a source briefed on the situation, the school was left with the impression that Lecomte wanted more playing time and Burnett more shots.

One concern conveyed inside the basketball program last season was a suspicion that some of the young players were playing more for themselves than each other.

But UM is still in good shape at guard with Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, Davon Reed, Ja’Quan Newton and James Palmer.

### Could opening week for the Marlins have gone any worse? A 1-5 start and three players injured, included pitcher Henderson Alvarez, who's underdoing an MRI on his elbow, as our Clark Spencer reports.

David Phelps or Brad Hand would be the logical options to replace him in the rotation if necessary, with Phelps owning the better career resume.

Takeaways from the first week: The bottom of the order is a major problem. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is hitting 2 for 14, Adeiny Hechavarria 1 for 22... If Mat Latos doesn't pitch well again on Monday, then there are big problems. The Marlins need him to be the Latos they thought they were getting.... Closer Steve Cishek has been shaky: 33.75 ERA and a blown save in two appearances.

### The good news on the Marlins’ poor start: Over the past four seasons, 14 teams started 0-3 and six made the playoffs, most recently the 2014 Angels, according to our friends at Elias Sports Bureau.

### Veteran receiver Hakeem Nicks, who would make sense for Miami to consider, would welcome Dolphins interest but as of late last week, was waiting to hear back from the Dolphins while planning other visits.

The Dolphins want a veteran receiver who not only would produce, but also set a good example for the younger receivers. Michael Crabtree, Greg Jennings and Wes Welker remain in the mix. Jerrel Jernigan and Santonio Holmes are among others available.

### Cornerback Charles Gaines isn't the only Louisville defensive back with whom the Dolphins have spent time. They also brought in safety Gerod Holliman.... The Dolphins’ draft search has included multiple calls on a former standout rugby player in New Zealand (BYU running back Paul Lasike). He had 79 carries for 364 yards last season (4.6 per carry). He also caught 25 passes for 267 yards.

### Good to see the Panthers wrap up a new one-year contract with Jaromir Jagr that could be worth between $3.5 million and $5.5 million. He had six goals and 12 assists in 20 games with the Panthers and his presence had a beneficial effect on several of the Panthers' young players.

"To get a superstar of his ability with his leadership qualities, you could see the young guys looked up to him in the locker room,'' GM Dale Tallon said. "The play of [Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov] improved.… Just a great role model for our young guys and gives us incredible ability to score goals in critical situations. Shame on me for not trading for him sooner.''

### I asked Jagr today about playing in a market where he goes largely (not entirely) unrecognized in public.

"Lets change it,'' he said. "They could see when watching TV it's a different Panthers with young guys with a lot of talent and speed. They can beat anybody. It's up to us how we play. They're going to come. It's just a matter of time.''

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 11, 2015

Dolphins summon four high-end CBs to Davie; Assessing Fins' CB options

One of the biggest remaining mysteries of this Dolphins offseason is whether they can find a cornerback in the draft who’s better than Jamar Taylor (the current front-runner) or Will Davis for the starting job opposite Brent Grimes.

But we can assure you they’re looking very closely at draft options. I'm told they have summoned three potential first-round cornerbacks --- Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, LSU’s Jalen Collins and Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson --- to meet with Dolphins coaches and executives in Davie.

Those three represent 10 percent of the Dolphins’ permitted 30 visits by non-local players. It's more than 10 percent if you also factor in the visit by Utah's Eric Rowe, a projected second-rounder.

Inside the Dolphins, there remains optimism that Taylor and Davis can develop, but Miami wants to see results -- and quickly.

 “This is year three,” Joe Philbin said of Taylor (off a shoulder injury) and Davis (off an ACL tear). “Neither one played any meaningful time their first year. Last year both of them contributed somewhat and both ended up on injured reserve. They should have enough experience. You know the drill. You’ve been around. You’ve been in the system. Coverages haven’t changed a lot. It’s an important year for them.”

The Dolphins say they view free agent pickup Brice McCain (who started nine games for Pittsburgh last season) as primarily a nickel corner (replacing Jimmy Wilson) and their pursuit of a few free agent starting corners (primarily Buster Skrine) didn’t materialize into signings.

But Miami has explored trades for a corner (Philadelphia’s Brandon Boykin has been reported as a possibility) and is intrigued by Waynes, Johnson, Collins and Rowe.

Exploring the cornerback options in the draft:

### First-round possibilities: Waynes would be appealing if he slips to 14, but ESPN analyst and former Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik said there’s no way he falls out of the top 10.

“He has speed, size. All the things you want in physical qualifications suggests he's going to go in the top 15,” said ESPN’s Mel Kiper, who has him going 11th. “Corners tend to be pushed up. He's got the right attitude. There are times he will give a little ground and guys will beat him inside, but that’s rare. He's without question the top corner in this draft.”

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Collins and Johnson also would be worthy of Miami’s pick at 14, though some rate them lower than that.

Kiper has Johnson 22nd and Collins 30th in his mock draft, and Miami might be able to trade down a bit to get either of them.

“Jalen Collins had only 10 starts at LSU but has good size (6-1), reach, can play physical but also turn and run with the fastest wide receivers in the league,” Kiper said. “He's not a complete package yet.”

And what about the six-foot Johnson?

“A standout on a lousy team; good length for the position and moves as well as any cornerback in the draft,” Kiper said. “He can make man-to-man coverage look so easy at times, and he's an active run defender.”

Marcus Peters, who was dismissed from the Washington team last November after several arguments with coaches, is a first-round talent but “brings with him some off-field baggage after multiple suspensions and run-ins with coaches at Washington,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said.

But, McShay added, “purely based off of tape study, he's the best corner in this class, with very good size, strength, natural athleticism and playmaking instincts.”

Kiper has Peters going 26th. After the experience with Mike Wallace and based on Joe Philbin's past behavior, it's difficult to envision Philbin wanting to deal with a player who has a history of arguing with coaches, as Peters reportedly does.

Connecticut’s Byron Jones, who Kiper has 27th, has seen his stock rise and looms as a late first-round option.

### Second round (Miami picks 47th): Keep an eye on Rowe, who played safety for three years and moved to corner last year. The Dolphins were interested enough to bring him to Davie.

“The two most interesting guys are Byron Jones --- he's late first, early second, and Eric Rowe, who has tested like a first rounder and played like a high pick at a variety of positions,” Kiper said. “Those two guys have moved way up.”

FSU’s Ronald Darby and PJ Williams and Louisville’s Charles Gaines (who visited the Dolphins) are all options in the second round or perhaps lower; Williams’ stock figures to be hurt by a recent DUI arrest.

Quinten Rollins, who played four years of basketball at Miami of Ohio, also has moved up to the second round on some boards, and Miami is looking at him very closely.

“PJ Williams could be a first-round corner because of his length in the NFL's continuing quest to get longer,” Mayock said before his arrest.

“Darby is quick but I think he's more of a third- fourth-round corner. I'm a Quinten Rollins guy. For the kid to not play any college football to step on the gridiron and pick off seven passes and become the MAC Defensive Player of the Year is pretty mind boggling.”

One wild card is Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, a first-round talent recovering from an ACL injury. He “could be a steal if he drops into the second round,” Mayock said.

### Mid-round options: That group includes FAU’s D’Joun Smith (Miami has worked him out and shown interest), UCF’s Jacoby Glenn, Tulane’s Lorenzo Doss, Oregon State’s Steven Nelson, Mississippi’s Senquez Golson, Southern California’s Josh Shaw, Notre Dame’s Cody Riggs, Stanford’s Alex Carter, Ohio State’s Dorian Grant, TCU’s Kevin White and Northwestern State’s Imoan Claiborne.

The Dolphins also have shown strong interest in two players who weren’t invited to the NFL Combine and could be late-round picks: Texas A&M’s DeShazor Everett and Texas Southern’s Tray Walker.

### My thought on Miami's first round pick three weeks before the draft: A receiver or cornerback would seem to make the most sense at 14, and Miami has used at least six of its 30 visits on first-round picks at those positions.

Other possibilities? Kiper has Miami taking Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton. And Miami taking a high-quality tackle who can play guard at an elite level --- or Georgia running back Todd Gurley --- cannot be ruled out by any means, either.

Another option: Trade down a few picks in the first round to draft cornerbacks Collins or Johnson; add a third-round pick in the trade; and address receiver in the second round (perhaps with Phillip Dorsett) and linebacker or guard in the third.

And remember, even though the Dolphins need a starting linebacker, Mayock said there's no 4-3 linebacker worth taking at 14 or in the first round. (Vic Beasley and Bud Dupree are considered 4-3 ends or 3-4 linebackers.)

Please check back later this weekend for a lot more from the Sunday buzz column... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 10, 2015

Friday night: Heat playoff hopes suffer another blow; Spoelstra, players try to explain blown leads

Barring a playoff appearance and first-round upset win, this Heat season will be remembered for two things: myriad games missed due to injury/illness and an inability to hold sizable leads.

Thursday’s latest demoralizing second-half collapse --- combined with wins by the Nets, Celtics and Pacers tonight --- dealt a serious blow to Miami's playoff hopes.

Miami enters Saturday in 10th in the East, one game behind No. 9 Indiana and two games behind No. 7 Boston and No. 8 Brooklyn. A 2-1 finish by Boston and Brooklyn would elimate the Heat.

While preparing for Saturday’s critical home game against Toronto, the Heat on Friday tried to reconcile how it squandered a 19-point halftime lead Thursday against Chicago, after frittering late leads of 14 in Milwaukee and 15 in Detroit in recent weeks, as well as a 16-point advantage against Dallas and Golden State and a 23-point second-half cushion against Philadelphia. The Heat lost all of those games.

Beyond the obvious solution of needing to make more shots (Miami opened the second half shooting 3 for 22 against Chicago), what else can be done to stop these runs before they mushroom into an avalanche?

On Friday, coach Erik Spoelstra pointed to playing better defense. Players cited that as well as a need for better ball movement.

"We go into our first situation, second situation and then the ball stops,” guard Goran Dragic said. “We need to swing the ball side to side. We need to try to shift the defense. We put too much pressure on ourselves on offense. In the third quarter against Chicago, we couldn’t make a shot but we didn’t play good defense.”

During those horrid stretches, shouldn’t the Heat work to get the ball inside more instead of settling for jumpers?

Spoelstra insisted that was not an issue Thursday, saying it was “the most varied of the offensive menu that we had, much different than the Milwaukee game, a little different from the Detroit game…

“We had nine post-up opportunities [in the third quarter]. All of Hassan [Whiteside’s] were very good looks, two feet in the paint. He missed all four.”

On Thursday against Chicago, the Heat became only the second team in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) to lead a game by at least 19 at halftime and trail by as many as six after three quarters.

Wade, who said he takes “a lot of the burden on my shoulder” offensively during though droughts, suggested the Heat has the mental toughness to recover from Thursday because “we’ve been hit with a lot of body blows all season.”

Udonis Haslem said players have rallied around the belief that “nobody believes in us as a team.”

The good news: None of the other three contenders for the final two playoff spots has an easier schedule than the Heat, which has games left against Toronto, Orlando and at Philadelphia.

Remaining games for the other three:

### Indiana: at Oklahoma City, Washington and at Memphis.

### Boston: Cleveland, Toronto at Milwaukee.

### Nets: at Milwaukee, Chicago and Orlando.

The Heat would lose a two-team tiebreaker against Indiana but would win tiebreakers against the Nets and Celtics.

The Heat would win three-time tiebreakers against both Brooklyn and Boston and also against Indiana and Brooklyn because of a superior record in games among those sets of teams. But conference record would be needed to resolve a Heat/Pacers/Celtics three-team tie, with Indiana well-positioned to win that.

If the Heat doesn’t make the playoffs, there’s a good chance that Miami would keep its top-10 protected lottery pick, but it’s not guaranteed.

The Heat’s first-rounder was originally sent to Cleveland in a LeBron James sign-and-trade and now belongs to the 76ers, who get it this year if it’s outside the top 10.

The Heat enters Saturday with the NBA’s 10th-worst record. But finishing with the 10th-worst record doesn’t assure that the Heat will retain the pick.

The weighted NBA draft lottery, scheduled for May 19, first establishes the top three picks. After that, teams receive their pick in inverse order of record.

If a non-playoff team with a better record than Miami should defy odds and land in the top three of the lottery, then the Heat would be pushed out of the top 10 and the pick would thus be forwarded to Philadelphia.

And regardless of Miami’s final record, it still has a chance --– albeit a small one --– of landing a top three pick, as long as the Heat misses the playoffs.

The Knicks, Philadelphia, Orlando, the Lakers, Denver, Sacramento, Minnesota and Detroit will finish with worse records than the Heat. That’s eight teams. Charlotte also has a worse record. That's nine.

But Utah --- which entered Friday 1.5 games better than Miami --- has a tough remaining schedule (Memphis tonight, Portland, Dallas, Houston) and possibly could end up with a worse record than Miami. It's possible Indiana could too.  A coin toss would break a tie in determining pre-lottery order.

But even if the Heat keeps the pick this year, it must eventually forward a first-round pick to Philadelphia in 2016 (when it’s again top 10 protected) or in 2017 (when it’s unprotected).

### On Saturday's Toronto game: The Heat and Raptors split their two meetings this year, Miami winning by five at home in November and losing by 10 on March 13 in Toronto…. Henry Walker is questionable with a sore left elbow.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

April 09, 2015

Postscripts, reaction from Heat disaster; More Dolphins visits; A Kiper surprise; Canes, TV items

Notes, thoughts on a Thursday night:

### Regrettably, this Heat season will be remembered for two things: myriad games missed due to injury/illness and inability to hold sizable leads.

Squandering big cushions regrettably appears to be in this team’s DNA, and it’s something Pat Riley must consider in deciding how much tinkering to do with this roster over the next five months.

In front of a national TNT audience, the Heat was outscored 39-8 to start the second half, and 57-27 overall after intermission, in this stunning 89-78 loss to Chicago that leaves the Heat’s playoff chances somewhere between tenuous and poor.

Has the Heat learned nothing from a season of blown leads?

There was the embarrassment of frittering away a 23-point second half lead at home in a loss to Philadelphia in December. There was the critical one-point loss in Milwaukee 16 days ago, a game in which the Bucks closed on an 18-3 run.

There was the 15-point cushion lost over the final 5:14 of a dismal loss last Saturday at Detroit.

And now this. Miami opened the second half shooting 3 for 22 and closed at 38.6 percent from the field, including 5 for 18 on threes. The Heat shot 11 for 43 in the second half.

Dwyane Wade (nine points) shot 20 percent from the field (4 for 20), equaling a career worst. "A lot of us pressed in the second half," Wade said. "It's our fault as players. We couldn't make a basket. We've got to continue to move the ball. We didn't do that. The mistakes just started piling up."

Luol Deng was 3 for 13, Goran Dragic 7 for 16.

Aside from 13 first-half points from Michael Beasley, Hassan Whiteside did Miami’s best work (19 points, 16 boards).

There were myriad factors in this collapse, beyond the horrible shooting: Not enough ball movement in the second half, too much settling for outside jumpers (partly a result of Chicago’s size and length), too few free throws (5 for 7).

So the Heat (35-44) drops one-half game behind No. 9 Indiana and 1.5 games behind No. 7 Boston and No. 8 Brooklyn. 

Erik Spoelstra afterward: “We are all frustrated. We are all embarrassed when you’re in those situations and can’t stop an avalanche like that. I don’t have an explanation for how we came out flat at the beginning of the third quarter…. We haven’t figured out how to hold the fort.”

### Most of you know that Miami would win a two-team tiebreaker with Boston and Brooklyn but not a two-team tiebreaker with Indiana.

But what about three-team tiebreakers? The first tiebreaker is record for each of the three teams collectively in games against each other.  So the Heat would win three-team tiebreakers against Brooklyn/Boston and Brooklyn/Indiana, aided greatly by Miami’s 4-0 series sweep of Indiana.

But in a Heat/Celtics/Pacers three-way tie, those three teams all finished 4-4 against each other. So the next tiebreaker would be conference record, and Indiana currently leads in that category.

### If you're thinking lottery, Miami has the NBA's 10th-worst record. If that holds, the Heat would have a good chance statistically --- but no guarantee --- of keeping its first-round pick, which it retains if it's in the top 10 after the May 19 draft lottery. Otherwise, the pick goes to Philadelphia.     

### Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft on espn.com has a surprise pick for the Dolphins at No. 14: Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton.

Here’s the rationale of Kiper, who has four receivers (including DeVante Parker and Breshad Perriman) being taken in the top 12:

The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh, but the depth chart for the interior of their defensive line is basically 'Suh and that's about it.' Shelton is a different kind of player than Suh, with a far more limited ability to rush the passer, but if they're on the field at the same time it could free Suh up to be the kind of disruptor the Dolphins are paying for, which is what took place in Detroit, where the Lions had a good rotation along the interior. Shelton isn't just insurance for Suh, he's a nice complement. He's not as disruptive as sack and TFL totals indicate, but he can eat up double-teams at the point of attack and make others around him better. He has great awareness and will occasionally simply discard blocks and make the tackle himself.”

### In addition to the slew of names mentioned in the last post, here are a few more players auditioning for the Dolphins on Friday: Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato (40 touchdown passes, 13 picks, 3903 yards last season), Marshall receiver Tommy Shuler (92 catches, 1138 yards but only 5-9), Auburn safety Robenson Therezie and Bethune Cookman linebacker/defensive end Lynden Trail, a former Gator.

All four were South Florida high school standouts.

Trail could be a mid-round pick and Therezie a late-rounder. The two Marshall prospects figure to be undrafted free agents.

### FSU tight end Nick O’Leary, a potential mid-round prospect, visited the Dolphins this evening, as we noted a couple weeks ago…. Among the unique local prospects auditioning for the Dolphins: 6-foot-7 skilled pass-catching tight end Massachusetts tight end Jean Sifrin, a 27-year-old former Norland student who quit high school and held a variety of jobs (including working at a Miami warehouse that shipped food to Publix) before former UM offensive coordinator Mark Whipple brought him to UMass last year.

### Good to see a group of UM Hall of Fame inductees tonight that included Jonathan Vilma, Rob Chudzinski, Rusty Medearis and Alex Fernandez, among others.

Vilma is not expecting to return to the NFL but “I’ve been too lazy to file my retirement papers. I work out. I don’t train.”

He said Olivier Vernon “put in a good word” for me with Dolphins management last offseason, but nothing materialized.

Vilma, who is around the UM campus a lot, said he has seen “how much hard work” players put in “training, weight room, running, and it’s unfortunate to not see the results from their hard work. I can almost empathize with them at times because I know the hard work they’ve been. I want to be able to brag about UM and talk about the heydays.”

Vilma, working part-time for NBC Sports Net, said he can see the program returning to dominance “in the near future because of the talent in Florida --- Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and you can go as far as Tallahassee and steal some guys. I’m sure we’ll get back to it.”

### Couple ratings tidbits: Among 56 major markets, Miami-Fort Lauderdale’s rating for Monday’s Duke-Wisconsin NCAA Tournament championship game was second-lowest, ahead of only Providence…. In their first head-to-head matchup of the season, the Heat game Tuesday (against Charlotte) drew a 4.9 local rating, compared to a 2.9 rating for the Marlins (against Atlanta). In fairness to the Marlins, they were already down 7-0 after a half inning before the Heat game started.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Dolphins bringing in potential second-rounders, bunch of prospects; Where Heat stands; Where UM

 

In previous posts over the past week, we’ve talked about 13 of the non-local players that the Dolphins have summoned to team headquarters for visits; a maximum 30 are allowed. Miami, through the past two regimes, has ended up drafting or signing several of the players who visited each year.

On Friday, players who attended high school or college in South Florida can work out for the Dolphins. Miami has invited a slew of Hurricanes --- from potential early-round picks (Duke Johnson, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman, etc.) to projected free agents(such as Ryan Williams, Jake Heaps and Thurston Armbrister).

Among some of the others invited:

### FAU cornerback D’Joun Smith: His stock has risen and some analysts have him going late in the second round or at some point in the third. Smith, who ran a 4.34 at FAU’s Pro Day, also has special teams value as a returner. He already has spent time meeting with the Dolphins.

CBSSports.com’ Dane Brugler said Smith, 5-10, “uses his hands downfield and does a great job turning and locating the ball, aggressively attacking with proper timing” and is similar to Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor. Like Taylor, “he has the speed, hips and footwork that translate well to the NFL level, as well as the attention to technique that creates turnovers.”

### FSU receiver Rashad Greene. A potential second- or third-rounder who has gone under the radar. His numbers demand attention: 99 catches for 1365 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

“Although his top-end speed is average, his route coordination and short-area quickness to create separation are his best strengths,” Brugler said. “Accountable and reliable on the field. Greene has the skill-set ideally suited for the slot where he can be an impact player in the NFL, but his lack of size and physicality are question marks in his transition.”

### Louisville cornerback Charles Gaines. A potential mid-round pick, Gaines “possesses the raw athleticism to handle coverage duties in the NFL,” CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang said.

“But his slight frame and lack of ideal physicality are significant concerns. Gaines has proven to be a natural playmaker, catching a touchdown pass early in his career as a receiver, as well as scoring on a kick return, blocked punt return [that he blocked] and following an interception.”

### There’s a professional male model attending, FIU safety Justin Halley (who juggles football with a modeling career). He has walked the runways in Paris and Milan appeared on a cover of Vogue (in Japan).

### This is not a complete list, because the Dolphins don't disclose draft visitors, but here are some of the other non-Hurricanes invited to Miami's local workout, many of whom are projected as late-rounders or potential undrafted free agents:

FAU safety Damian Parmes, Louisiana Tech receiver Sterling Griffin, Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss, Appalachian State receiver Tacoi Sumler, former UM and Bethune Cookman defensive end David Perry, Toledo linebacker Junior Sylvestre,USF defensive tackles Elkino Watson and Todd Chandler, Purdue tight end Gabe Holmes, Bowling Green defensive end Kendall Montgomery, FAU receiver William Dukes, Maryland defensive lineman Keith Bowers and UF receiver Quinton Dunbar.

### According to the aforementioned Rang, the Dolphins have reached out to teams to see what it would take to trade into the top 10 for the purpose of drafting a receiver. The report said West Virginia's Kevin White is the top receiver on Miami's draft board.

But it would be painful to give up a second-round pick to move up, considering Miami has no third round pick. White, Alabama's Amari Cooper and Louisville's DeVante Parker are considered the top receivers in the draft.

UM TRANSFERS 

The University of Miami basketball team suffered a blow to its backcourt on Wednesday when backup guards Manu Lecomte and DeAndre Burnett informed the team they are transferring.

Both were believed to be seeking more playing time than what they likely would have received here.

UM is deep at point guard, with junior Angel Rodriguez and freshman Ja’Quan Newton, and that left Lecomte uncertain how much he would play next season.

Lecomte, who came to UM from Belgium, averaged 7.9 points and 1.8 assists this past season and leaves Miami having played in 71 games and started 40 of them.

Burnett, who redshirted his freshman season with a wrist injury, averaged 7.0 points and 4.2 rebounds in 28 games this past season. His departure is more surprising because he grew up in South Florida and averaged 36 points as a senior at Carol City High. But he wasn't likely to get starter's minutes if he had remained at UM. 

UM's backcourt will return Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, as well as Newton, swingman Davon Reed and freshman James Palmer. Also, 6-foot-5 forward Anthony Lawrence, a three-star prospect from St. Pete, is enrolling later this year.

UM now has two scholarships that it can fill with high school or junior college players or transfers. Kamari Murphy, a 6-foot- 9 forward from OklahomaState, also becomes eligible next season.

### Nice job by the UM football players, coaches and staffers on Wednesday in their annual bone-marrow donation drive; 186 people agreed to be donors, bringing the total to an impressive 729 since UM started the initiative. 

HEAT ITEM

With Brooklyn losing (to Atlanta), Boston winning (against Detroit) and Indiana winning (against the Knicks), the Heat ended the night in 10th in the East but with the same record as No. 9 Indiana and just one game behind both No. 7 Boston and No. 8 Brooklyn.

The Heat would win one-team tiebreakers with the Celtics and Nets but lose a one-team tiebreaker with Indiana.

### We have a Heat story on Luol Deng and Goran Dragic on the sports home page. Please check it out.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz