July 14, 2015

3 p.m. Tuesday update: Amar'e discusses signing with Heat; Local radio change; A look at Justise Winslow's summer league play, what he has shown, what Wade has discussed with him and why his minutes are being limited

A few highlights from Amar'e Stoudemire's conference call with Heat writers today:

### Why did he come to Miami?

"I believe the team we're establishing can be a contender in the East for sure. Playing back in Florida, I have a lot of roots, friends and family in Florida. I thought it was a great fit."

Stoudemire has a home in South Florida and "I've been there seven years so far."

### He said he got "a lot of calls" from other teams.

### What are the strengths of his game? "I bring instant scoring. That's something I can do my entire career without a problem. Just my leadership qualities will rub off also."

### Stoudemire said he's a power forward who can --- and is willing --- to play center and utilizing that flexibility "is an advantage to us."

### Regarding playing time, Stoudemire said: "My body is strong enough [where] I can play how ever long they need."

### Stoudemire said he never told Pat Riley the role he wanted. "He knew exactly what I bring to the table. The Miami Heat was the first team that visited me in 2010. They're equipped to understand my style of play."

### Stoudemire said the Heat's power rotation can be very good: "It can be really good. For me, to play along Chris [Bosh] and [Hassan] Whiteside. If Chris is in there with me, I can play inside, I can play outside."

### He said Riley "knows the importance of winning" now and that's "he's put us in position.... It's now time to make a push. We understand what we can do this year with the team."

### Stoudemire said he "has known Chris and Dwyane [Wade] for a long time. Dwyane and I played at the Olympics in 2004. I played with Goran Dragic when I was a rookie in Phoenix."

### Stoudemire, who has had knee issues in the past: "I feel great. Two straight years of feeling strong; that's a positive thing for me."

### Stoudemire said he didn't talk to the Heat after his Knicks buyout in February because he wanted to join a championship contender. He opted for Dallas.

### Stoudemire said he has taken some classes at UM and has trained at FIU.

Joe Goodman will have more on Stoudemire in a story later and I'll have UM, Dolphins, Heat and Marlins chatter posted this evening.

### By the way, tonight's Heat-Celtics game at 7 p.m. EST from Las Vegas will be available live only on the NBA's Summer League pay package on the Internet. NBA TV airs the game on tape at 1:30 a.m. tonight.

### Entercom, which purchased The Ticket and 14 other radio stations from Lincoln Financial, apparently wants to bring in its own management.

Maureen Lesourd, who became The Ticket's GM in April 2013, is leaving the station soon.

It's the latest among several high-level changes in local sports-talk radio this year. WMEN-640 has new ownership and is now being run by longtime South Florida broadcast executive Dean Goodman. WQAM hired a new program director this year (Ryan Maguire) and has new ownership (CBS, replacing Beasley).


More Heat chatter from Las Vegas:

After a promising start, Justise Winslow’s first Summer League has hit a minor obstacle, his playing time curtailed by a condition that seldom shows up in any box score: “general soreness.”

And for the past few days, the 10th overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft has been on something of a maintenance program, words that typically applied only to Dwyane Wade in the Heat’s lexicon.

Winslow said he dealt with similar soreness at Duke and can play through it. After all, the rookie forward didn’t miss any of the Blue Devils’ 39 games last season en route to a national championship.

But the Heat is taking no chances. Miami held him out of the final summer league game in Orlando and the first one in Las Vegas, then limited him to 12 minutes in Monday’s 86-83 loss to Denver.

Those 12 minutes featured just one shot attempt (a three-pointer, which he sank, early in the game), an assist, a rebound and two turnovers. Denver’s Ian Clark launched the game-winning three-pointer over him with 1.4 seconds left.

Winslow and the Heat decline to identify the troublesome body parts.

“I felt good out there,” Winslow told me late Monday night inside Cox Pavilion. “Coach is just limiting my minutes. [It’s] just general soreness, from playing a lot of games. Nothing serious.

“I’m out here to play. Coach is going to play who he wants to play. It’s summer league. It’s a long season. More games, more physical, more back-to-back. It’s just something you have to get used to.

“You have to figure out ways to fight through it. Just try to get acclimated to the game as best I can.”

Count Wade among those trying to help prepare Winslow for the rigors of the NBA schedule.

“Everything between me and Dwyane has been helping me transition from college to the pros,” Winslow said. “We barely talk anything Heat [related]. He’s just helping me get adjusted from everything from the lifestyle to the duration of the season, how to take care of my body, diet and nutrition. Everything has been helping me make a smoother transition.”

Heat assistant Dan Craig, who is coaching the team in summer league, said he wasn’t sure if Winslow would be cleared to play more minutes when Miami meets Boston at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.

“We had him on a 10 to 12 minute limit to see how he was feeling,” Craig said of Monday’s game. “His body responded well to it. We’ll get back with the trainers and evaluate his situation for [Tuesday].

“It’s a lot on these guys’ bodies when you have training camp, play in Orlando, then turn around and fly to the West Coast and then play again in Vegas. That’s why we’re keeping an eye on minutes for certain players.”

Winslow displayed all the qualities that appealed to the Heat through the first four games of Summer League: versatility, ball-handling skills, a willingness and ability to play stout defense, good instincts. He averaged 11.5 points in four games in Orlando while playing four positions.

“He has been great for us on both ends of the court,” Craig said. “Very mature, high IQ player for a young guy. Very poised, very confident. Soaks everything up as a player when coaches are talking to him, [in] film sessions. He’s a very skilled individual.”

What has pleased Winslow most about how he has played?

“My ability to make reads offensively and defensively,” he said. “The biggest thing for me is learning the correct spots to be in, especially on defense. I’m going to try to get to the paint.”

On Monday, he took a rebound, dribbled the length of the court and delivered a nifty pass to an open teammate for a layup. So it’s no surprise the Heat has entrusted him with some ball-handling responsibilities.

“It’s something I try to do, trying to handle the ball,” he said. “Guys want the ball in my hand a good amount when I’m out there. It’s hard to stop. When I get a defensive rebound I can push it. It’s probably one of our best offenses, when I can get the ball off the board and push it myself.”

He said because the Heat plays “kind of a position-less system,…  I’ve got to be able to do a lot of things ----- post up, cut, set on pick and rolls.”

Improving his mid- and long-range shooting will be one of the priorities this summer. Winslow is shooting 13 for 36 from the field in summer league and 2 for 9 on threes.

He shot 48.6 percent overall and 41.8 percent on threes at Duke, but the three-point line is a shorter distance in college.

“He’s not just going to develop just a midrange [game],” Craig said. “He’s going to develop everything. He’s off to a great start. We’ll have him in the gym with skill development for his entire game.”

After summer league ends, Winslow said he might give his body a bit more rest or do “something light” before resuming rigorous workouts. The Heat will play at least two more games in Las Vegas. 

"The most important thing is taking care of my body but you also want to continue to get better,” he said. “Trying to find that balance.”


### As of Monday, the Heat had not yet made an offer to second-round draft pick Josh Richardson. Miami has been thoroughly impressed by Richardson, who was selected 40th overall, but with an overloaded roster, the Heat wants to assess his Summer League play a bit longer before determining a course of action.

Even if the Heat encourages Richardson to spend a year in Europe --- and there’s no indication that will happen --- Miami would still retain his rights, provided it makes a contract offer. NBA teams retain rights of drafted players until a year after their contract ends with a non-NBA team.

The Heat has 17 players signed, but only 13 have guaranteed contracts. The four who don’t: Hassan Whiteside (who will obviously be on the team), Tyler Johnson, James Ennis and Henry Walker.

Teams can keep 20 players through training camp, but no more than 15 once the season starts.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

July 13, 2015

Heat seeking clarity at backup point guard

LAS VEGAS --- For the Heat, the starting point guard job stands as both a strength and source of stability.

But the job backing up Goran Dragic?

There’s nothing close to clarity there. In fact, it might be the most unsettled position on the roster.

Myriad candidates remain in the mix: Mario Chalmers (if the Heat fails in efforts to dump his contract), Shabazz Napier, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, or perhaps a player that’s not even on the roster.

Napier and Richardson are both expected to play when the Heat plays Denver at 8 p.m. Monday at Cox Pavilion (available live only on the Internet, with an NBA TV replay at 9 a.m. Tuesday).

There’s also the possibility that the Heat could go stretches without a natural point guard, because Erik Spoelstra has the option of using Dwyane Wade or Justise Winslow as a primarily ball-handler when Dragic is resting.

If Chalmers somehow makes it to training camp with the Heat, he would be the obvious choice to back up Dragic. But Miami appears intent on trying to purge the final year of his contract; his $4.3 million salary could result in a tax bill three times that amount, depending on the Heat’s final payroll number.

The Heat has time to move Chalmers, because a team’s tax bill is based on the roster on the final day of the regular season, an NBA spokesman said. But Miami appears interested in moving as soon as it can find a suitable deal, according to a league official who has spoken to the Heat.

As for the other options backing up Dragic:

### Napier: He has played with energy and delivered several crisp, creative passes since returning last week from April’s sports hernia surgery. But as was the case in Summer League last year, Napier has struggled so far with his shot. He was 2 for 11 Saturday against Utah.

Napier shot only 38.8 percent from the field last season and 36 percent on jumpers. But he said he doesn’t need to hire a shooting coach.

“The only way it can get better is if I keep shooting,” he said. “Get in the gym and shoot 500 shots a day. If you take a lot of shots every day, it is going to come for you.”

Napier’s 1.60 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked 87th of 97 point guards last season, but his ball-handling has been very good in Summer League (10 assists, three turnovers) and he has played with pace, something important considering the Heat’s desire to play faster.

He insists his confidence hasn’t been shaken by a disappointing rookie season.

“I don't need to prove it to myself,” he said. “I know I am going to be a good NBA player. I just need to continue to work on it.”

He said he doesn’t want to use the hernia injury as an excuse but that it did affect him last season.

## Richardson: The Heat has given him extensive work at both guard positions, and Richardson has been very good over the past two games, on both ends of the court. He had 18 points in the Orlando finale; 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in the Las Vegas opener Saturday.

“I feel perfect running the point,” he said. “I’m a versatile player.”

Though he has nine turnovers, compared with eight assists, overall in Summer League, he has just two turnovers in the past two games.

“I like the fact he played an entire season from that point position” at Tennessee last season, Spoelstra said. “We’ll develop that.”

The Heat drafted Richardson 40th overall, but the diverse skill set displayed in Summer League validates the fact Miami gave him a first-round grade, 24th overall on its draft board.

“He’s able to get us into offense,” said assistant Dan Craig, who’s coaching the Heat’s summer league team. “He does that without turning the ball over, which there’s a lot to be said about that.”

Richardson shot 38.1 percent in Orlando (16 for 42) but was 7 for 14 in the Heat's opener in Vegas. He’s 20 for 24 on free throws, and his defense --- aided by size (6-6), length and instincts --- is an appealing asset. He has six blocked shots in Summer League.

### Johnson: The Heat intended to give him extensive time at point guard this month, but that plan was aborted when he sustained a broken jaw in a midcourt collision in Miami’s fourth game in Orlando last Wednesday.

Johnson now awaits an Aug. 1 deadline at which point a large portion of his $845,000 salary would become guaranteed for next season.

Johnson had some good moments in Orlando but a few of the Heat’s young players stand at risk unless Miami can trade a veteran or two.

“My niche,” Johnson said, “is guarding up the floor, picking people up full court, just being a pest in that way and being able to knock down open shots when they’re available.” 

He feels comfortable enough to play either guard position but knows he must improve his assist-to-turnover ratio; he had seven assists and nine turnovers in Summer League and 42 assists and 30 turnovers last season.

### Justise Winslow is expected back tonight after missing two games because of general soreness. Check back later tonight for more Heat and Dolphins.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz    

July 11, 2015

2:45 p.m. Sunday Heat update; Quarterback buzz on UM, UF, FSU; Dolphins, Heat, Marlins chatter

Quick 2:45 p.m. update: The Heat's flirtation with guard Marcus Thornton ended Sunday when he accepted a one-year deal from Houston at the league minimum.

The Heat brought in Thornton for a visit on Friday and likes his skill set. But Miami wasn't in position to make an offer to Thornton yet because it hasn't yet been successful in trading one or two players with guaranteed contracts, including Mario Chalmers, for the purpose of reducing its luxury tax obligation. Those efforts continue.



After watching other Florida schools produce Heisman Trophy winners (UF’s Tim Tebow, FSU’s Jameis Winston) and first-round draft picks (FSU’s Winston, EJ Manuel and Christian Ponder and UCF’s Blake Bortles) over the past decade, UM enters this season with the most settled quarterback situation among the state’s Big Three.

The question is whether Brad Kaaya will be the best of the group.

Chatter on UM’s, UF’s and FSU’s predicament behind center:

### UM: Kaaya’s improved leadership skills and exceptional command of the offense have particularly stood out this offseason, but offensive coordinator James Coley also has seen growth in on-field points of emphasis.

Better accuracy was a priority. Kaaya completed just 58.5 percent of his passes last season (69th in the country) but that percentage rose to between 78 and 80 this spring, Coley said.

“I want the completion percentage above 70,” Coley said. “That’s elite. We’re all saying he’s an elite player. That’s where he should be throwing the ball at. That’s his goal.”

The staff also wants Kaaya to improve throwing against the blitz. Coaches also expect him to play better away from home; he had eight touchdowns and eight interceptions on the road last season, compared with 18 and four at Sun Life Stadium.

Former Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta, who has been a help to Kaaya, said earlier this spring that Kaaya needs to improve throwing on the run. There has been growth there, partly because Kaaya said he has matured physically.

In the spring game, “you saw Brad scramble and find Stacy [Coley] for a big play that he wouldn’t have done before,” James Coley said. “He would have forced the ball [before]. He’s playing with more calmness. His feet aren’t jittery.”

Kaaya said Al Golden has helped him by deciding to “throw a lot of looks at us in practice that we’re going to get from other ACC teams.”

Kaaya gives no thought to a sophomore slump.

“I plan on playing well,” he told me. “A lot of that goes to guys around me [but] I plan on getting them in the right spots.”

Said receiver Braxton Berrios: “I don't think there's one thing he doesn't do better now than he did last fall. Overall, completely, he's a better player.”

As for backup Malik Rosier, the staff loves his arm strength and believes he can be dangerous in read option sets. During the spring, he completed a 75-yard pass and run to Berrios on a read option play that Kansas State uses.

Rosier said UM coaches are “trying to put in special packages, run/pass plays for me. There are certain plays I'm going to run. Brad is capable of running them but they're more specific towards me. It should be really interesting what we do this year” with those plays.

Considering he had only 17 at-bats all season and skipped the College World Series to work with UM’s receivers, was baseball worth the time investment for Rosier? 

“It really was,” he said. “Coach [Jim] Morris said he liked how I approached it. He talked about on off days this fall to come up to the baseball field and throw and hit. They are looking forward to having me back this year.”

He said he might need to give up one sport “at some point, but right now, I'm just focused on football. As I get older and figure out which sport I like better, I'll make that decision.”

Does he lean toward sticking with football?  “I’m not sure yet,” he answered.

Asked if it was draining physically and mentally to play two sports, he said: “A little of both… but it wasn’t that bad. [Trainers] did a really good job of taking care of my body.”

Remember that UM’s 2016 oral commitments include Palmetto, Fla.-based Jack Allison, rated by rivals.com as the nation’s No. 6 pro style quarterback and 200th best prospect overall. Allison hopes to arrive at UM in January.

### FSU: Everett Golson, who transferred from Notre Dame after graduating, enters camp as the front-runner, but Jimbo Fisher has made clear he will need to beat out senior Sean Maguire.

Golson led Notre Dame to 12-1 season and to the BCS national title game as a redshirt freshman starter in 2012. He threw for 3445 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season before losing the starting job to Malik Zaire because of turnovers.

The concern with Golson: He has 32 turnovers in 26 games, including 12 fumbles.

“People said, ‘Why would I do that?’” Fisher told a Broward County audience regarding his decision to add Golson. “I said, ‘Why not?’ He’s 17-5 as a starter. He’s a senior, been in big moments. He called us.”

Some have wondered whether Golson is the ideal fit for FSU’s offense.

Fisher says that’s not an issue: “Everett can be an [NFL-style offense] guy and do spread stuff or I wouldn’t have taken him. I called the game different for Christian Ponder and Jameis Winston. [But] Everett’s got to win the job. I’m very happy with Sean Maguire. Tremendously strong arm, really like where he’s at.”

Maguire threw for 455 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in limited playing time as Winston’s backup. It would be surprising if he beats out Golson.

### Florida: Redshirt freshman Will Grier ended the spring ahead of Treon Harris, but this battle will extend into August.

Rivals.com ranked Grier as the No. 2 quarterback and No. 46 player in the country in the 2014 class; he threw for a nation-leading 77 touchdowns as a senior at Davidson Day in North Carolina.

At 6-2, Grier is three inches taller than Harris and has a quicker release.

Harris started six games last season for Florida, completing 49.5 percent of his passes for 1,019 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.

He missed part of spring practice because of a death in the family, and coach Jim McElwain said that was a factor in Grier moving past Harris.

“Will’s ahead simply because he’s been here more,” McElwain said.

UF hopes McElwain can do for Grier and Harris what he did last year for Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson, who was fifth in the nation in passing efficiency and was the third quarterback selected in the NFL Draft, behind Winston and Marcus Mariota.

UF’s only other scholarship quarterback is Josh Grady, a former Vanderbilt receiver who’s eligible immediately.

Luke Del Rio, a backup quarterback at Oregon State and son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, has joined UF as a walk-on but isn’t eligible until 2016.

Skyler Mornhinweg, who was a backup last year but started the final three games of 2013, transferred to Columbia. He’s the fifth quarterback to leave UF since January 2013, joining Jacoby Brissett (N.C. State), Jeff Driskel (Louisiana Tech), Tyler Murphy (Boston College) and Max Staver (Houston Baptist).


### DeVante Parker’s agent, James Gould, said this past week that it’s too soon to tell whether the Dolphins rookie receiver will play in preseason but added that it’s not a concern. He said “everything is perfect” in Parker’s recovery from foot surgery and he remains on track to play in the regular-season opener.

Last month’s procedure, which was done after Parker started feeling discomfort, replaced a screw that was inserted in his foot during 2014 surgery. Though Parker has had two foot procedures in the past year, Gould said doctors don’t believe this will be a recurring problem.

“I don’t think it will happen again,” Gould said. “They got it right.”

Incidentally, Gould said Parker’s 10 endorsement deals --- Adidas, Proctor & Gamble among others --- are the most for an NFL rookie. Among the reasons Parker is attractive to sponsors, Gould said, is “he has a quiet confidence and doesn’t have issues off the field.”

### Meanwhile, the Dolphins remain pleased with left tackle Branden Albert’s progress from major knee surgery. Friends say Albert remains determined to play in the regular season opener and the Dolphins say publicly they expect that. But because of the nature of the injury, nobody can say that with certainty.

Albert was walking with a limp in June, which prompted some concern on Twitter. But Albert correctly has pointed out that “I always had a limp when I walked” even before the knee injury.

### In Gerald Green, not only has the Heat found a credible starter to fill in when Dwyane Wade misses time, but Miami also found one who has had success playing alongside Goran Dragic.

Green was on target Friday when he said he "played my best ball with him."

Consider: Green averaged 18.1 points and shot 39.3 percent on threes when he started 33 games alongside Dragic for Phoenix from January through March 2014. During their 1 ½ seasons together, the Suns outscored opponents by 52 points and shot 40 percent on threes when they were on the court together.

"I'm so excited to be playing with him, it's not even funny," Green said. "Being able to have a chance to team up with him again, man, that's just exciting, I can't wait.He gets the ball coast-to-coast. He's almost a one-man fast break."

### The Heat might make an offer to guard Marcus Thornton, who visited Friday, but first wants to see if it can trade a player or two (Mario Chalmers among them).

Responding to Heat fans on Twitter who said they hope he joins the Heat, Thornton tweeted Saturday: "When they offer, I will appreciate all the [love], though."

### Justise Winslow missed the Heat's opener of the Las Vegas Summer League late Saturday night because of what the Heat termed "general soreness."... Whereas Zoran Dragic played for the Heat's Summer League team in Orlando, he is not participating in the Las Vegas portion.

### Pat Riley on Thursday explained how the Heat handled the initial moments of free agency when the clock struck midnight on July 1.

"We had Nick and Andy in one office,"  Riley said of CEO Nick Arison and GM Andy Elisburg. "And I was in the other office. We did not want to slight any of our free agents at 12:01.

" So at 12:01, Nick was on the phone to Henry Thomas [Dwyane Wade's agent] and I was on the phone with Bill Duffy [Dragic's agent]. So we thought there was an equality there. Even though maybe five seconds before that, Nick got through to Henry. But we wanted to communicate, obviously, immediately."

A deal was struck with Dragic within hours, while Wade's deal was completed soon after.

### If the Marlins move Dan Jennings back to the front office next season --- a good possibility if the Marlins play poorly after the All-Star break  --- potential replacements include Mike Lowell, former Marlins Double A manager/minor-league hitting instructor Andy Barkett (though the Marlins always have preferred bigger-name managers) as well as established former big-league managers.

Dusty Baker and Ron Gardenhire were among those discussed internally in May but not strongly considered at that point. Former Padres manager Bud Black is among others available.

Marlins special assistant Jeff Conine has shown no interest in managing.

Lowell told WSVN-Fox 7’s Steve Shapiro that he and the Marlins “had talks” after Mike Redmond was fired.

“Was there interest? Yes,” Lowell said. But the Marlins and Lowell said there was no offer to the former third baseman, whom owner Jeffrey Loria holds in high regard.

### The Marlins have spoken to Ichiro Suzuki about a contract for next season, according to a source. Does the 41-year-old Ichiro want to return?

“I can definitely say I’ll be playing baseball next year,” he said. “Before coming to Miami, I didn’t know much about Miami. I can definitely say the way I feel toward the players, team, city, I’m enjoying it. It’s a good place.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

July 10, 2015

Amar'e's agent explains why he picked Heat; On Greg Jennings and how he compares with Hartline; WQAM goes on road

So why did Amar'e Stoudemire take a minimum deal with the Heat, for $1.5 million?

Partly because he already has made $166 million in his career and partly because he likes the idea of playing for the Heat and living in South Florida, where he has a home.

“He had several teams interested, but Miami was a great fit for him personally,” said his agent, Travis King. “He has a lot of respect for Pat Riley. He’s friends with Dwyane [Wade] and Chris [Bosh] and lives in Miami in the summer. He’s from Florida [Lake Wales]. He always had a passion for the state. He saw an opportunity to make a run at a championship for a year.

“It’s a great franchise. It’s always been intriguing for him to play with Chris and Dwyane, and in [an organization with] Pat Riley. The Heat was his first meeting in free agency in 2010.”

Stoudemire, 32, has battled knee issues in the past and played in 29, 65 and 59 games the past three seasons. But he had no health setbacks during his 23-game stint in Dallas to close the season and the Heat is comfortable with his health.

“He has a lot left in the tank,” King said. “He’s still one of the pre-eminent bigs. It was a tough year with the Knicks and his role wasn’t as prominent with Dallas as he would have thought. He just saw himself in a position to re-establish his market.”

“It was never a money decision. If he plays the way we feel and he feels he’s going to play, I’m pretty sure he won’t be playing for the minimum next year.”

For a lot more on Stoudemire and other Heat news today, please see the last post.


Greg Jennings gives the Dolphins a crisp route runner, a mentor for their young receivers and a player who can deceive corners with savviness and guile on short and intermediate routes.

But his journey to Miami will be an adjustment, because there is no longer the guarantee of starting, or even necessarily the expectation, and the playing time might not be anything close to what he’s accustomed.

Once DeVante Parker shakes off the rust from foot surgery --- he’s expected back for the regular-season opener --- then it would not be surprising if Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills emerge as the Dolphins’ top three receivers, in some order.

There is certainly the opportunity for Jennings to crack the top three, especially if Parker needs time to round into form or if he outplays Stills in training camp.

Either way, Jennings’ playing time figures to diminish somewhat, barring injuries.

Jennings, who has started 114 of 127 NFL games, played 85.6 percent of Minnesota’s offensive snaps last season. It would be surprising if he’s on the field nearly as much for Miami. For perspective, Brandon Gibson --- the Dolphins’ No. 4 receiver last season --- played 45.3 percent of Miami’s snaps.

“I'm not concerned about any of that,” Jennings said. “I'm concerned about what I can do to help this team win. I'm not concerned with everyone around me when it comes to what I bring to the table. I'm confident in my talents. So when it comes to targets and opportunity, that will all come.”

Jennings, naturally, doesn’t believe his skills have diminished significantly since his only Pro Bowl appearances in 2010 and 2011.

“I don't think anybody ever feels like they lose anything,” he said. “Going into my 10th year, there’s a lot more miles. [But] my body feels great. Still can catch the ball. Still can run routes.”

But he also said: "I think every year you have something to prove, not to any outsiders, but just to myself that I can still play this game at a high level.”

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been especially impressed by Jennings’ route running. “It’s unbelievable how he can break corners down, with his savviness of how to get guys leaning,” Tannehill said.

Joe Philbin said Jennings “has been a quarterback-friendly type of receiver through his career. He catches the ball with his hands very well. ... He's a good route runner, crisp. He knows how to come in and out of his breaks well.”

But others have doubts. NFL.com analyst Charley Casserly, the former Redskins and Texans general manager, has serious concerns.

“I wouldn’t count on him to make a difference,” Casserly said. “He’s a good route runner, will be reliable. But he’s not a guy that’s going to change the defense.”

Jennings --- who also visited New Orleans, Carolina and Jacksonville --- said he was leaning against signing with the Dolphins until an April phone conversation with Dolphins president/football operations Mike Tannenbaum eased concerns.

"There were just a few things I had that I wanted to share with him personally, because everybody has a pitch. Everybody has an angle," Jennings recently told ESPN from his charity golf tournament in Minnesota on Monday.

"Shoot straight, because I'm going to shoot straight. Every visit, I shared my heart. This is what I'm looking for: I'm looking to be a leader in the locker room. I'm looking to be respected as a man of God, as a football player. Those are the things that are really important to me -- and more so, who I am, not what I can provide. Those were some of the things we cleared up.”

Ultimately, Jennings told South Florida reporters that coming to the Dolphins simply “felt right.”

As a possession receiver, Jennings essentially will replace Brian Hartline (though Hartline started) or Gibson. So have the Dolphins upgraded?

“Jennings and Hartline are about the same; maybe it’s a slight upgrade for Miami,” ESPN analyst and former Browns scout Matt Williamson said. “Jennings is pretty good after the catch. And he will be good in the locker-room.”

Jennings was more productive than Hartline last season in the most tangible measurements. Jennings had more catches (59 to 39), more receiving yards (742 to 474), higher yards per catch (12.6 to 12.2), better yards after catch average (3.5 to 3.3) and more touchdowns (six to two). Both had five drops, though Jennings had 26 more passes thrown to him.

Hartline, who was cut from a contract that would have paid him $5.9 million next season, instead will make a combined $6 million over the next two seasons in Cleveland.

Jennings signed a two-year, $8 million deal but must play well to stick around in 2016, when he has a $3.9 million salary and a $5.4 million cap hit.

The other Dolphins receivers seem to be soaking up Jennings’ knowledge. “Everyone kind of gravitates to me a little bit, but I gravitate to them as well,” he said. “It’s been a great mesh from the get-go.”


The Orange Bowl and WQAM are partnering to do something unusual: Live broadcasts from college football media days from five conferences over the next three weeks.

Joe Zagacki, Orlando Alzugaray, Marc Hochman and co-host Zach Krantz and Alex Donno will split assignments among media days in Hoover, Ala. (SEC), Pinehurst, N.C. (ACC), Dallas (Big 12), Chicago (Big Ten) and Los Angeles (Pac-12). Programming will feature interviews with coaches, players, conference commissioners and media members.

Zagacki and Alzugaray handle the first two: from the SEC media session next week and the ACC gathering the following. Krantz gets the Pac-12 gig in Los Angeles.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Details on Heat's signing of Amar'e Stoudemire and Marcus Thornton meeting

Veteran Amar’e Stoudemire agreed to a one-year contract with the Heat on Friday for the $1.5 million veteran's minimum, strengthening the team’s power rotation behind starters Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. 

Stoudemire, who has appeared in six All-Star games (the most recent in 2011), remains an effective post presence. He averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds and shot 55.7 percent from the field in 36 games for the Knicks and 23 for Dallas last season.

He started 14 games for New York before negotiating a buyout, then made one start for the Mavericks.

"We are very fortunate that a proven All-Star like Amar’e has chosen the Miami Heat,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “He is going to bring gravitas, leadership and a hardworking mentality to our team as we look to win another championship in Miami.”

Like Stoudemire, guard Marcus Thornton also visited Heat today. He did not receive an offer, but the door was not closed to an offer at some point. "Marcus was happy with the visit and appreciative," said his agent, Tony Dutt. "We'll see where it leads. We're anxious to see what the next step is."

Though it was hardly an afterthought, the Heat also formally announced the re-signing of Dwyane Wade to a one-year deal.

The Heat had targeted Thornton, telling him earlier this week what his role on the team would be, before Gerald Green surprisingly accepted the veteran's minimum.

"For over a decade, Dwyane has embodied what it means to wear the Miami Heat uniform," Riley said. "He has been the pillar and constant of this organization and is a true champion in every sense of the world. We are thrilled that Dwyane has re-signed and will us as we look to win another NBA championship." 

The addition of the 6-10 Stoudemire could be the precursor to a trade involving Chris Andersen or Josh McRoberts. The Heat has been looking to trim payroll to lessen its luxury tax obligation.

Stoudemire was willing to take the minimum partly because he already has made $166 million in his career and partly because he likes the idea of playing for the Heat and living in South Florida, where he has a home.

Stoudemire, 32, played the first eight seasons of his career with the Phoenix Suns before moving to the Knicks for the next 4 ½. His career averages: 19.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 53.6 percent shooting.

Born in Lake Wales, Stoudemire initially envisioned becoming a star receiver for UM, UF or FSU. He didn’t start playing organized basketball until he was 14 but became nation’s No. 1 prep prospect in 2002.

He opted to turn pro instead of enrolling at Memphis and was drafted ninth overall by Phoenix.

After five All-Star appearances in eight seasons with the Suns, he signed a five-year, $100 million contract with the Knicks in 2010 and was an All-Star his first season there.

But he missed substantial time because of injuries (knee, back) during the past four seasons. Stoudemire played in 29, 65 and 59 games the past three seasons.

Stoudemire has one particularly painful AmericanAirlines Arena memory:  After a loss in Game 2 of the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals, Stoudemire sustained a cut to his left hand, requiring stitches, after punching a fire extinguisher box in the visitors' locker room.  

Stoudemire returned for Game 4 and had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a Knicks victory. But after Stoudemire fouled out in Miami’s series-clinching win in Game 5, Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte announced Stoudemire had been “extinguished.” The Heat later issued an apology to Stoudemire.

Stoudemire has diverse interests. He has made guest appearances on several TV shows --- including Law & Order: SVUEntourage, the Mindy Project and Sesame Street --- and also appeared in films (McGruber, New Years Eve.)

Stoudemire started his own clothing line that launched at Macy's in late 2011 and has his own record label, Hypocalypto.

In the summer of 2013, Stoudemire became a major shareholder of Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball club.

Stoudemire told The Jerusalem Post in 2010 that “I am proud to be a Hebrew and embrace my Jewish background,.I have been aware since my youth that I am Hebrew through my mother, and that is something that has played a subtle but important role in my development. I don’t really consider myself to be a religious person, but rather a deeply spiritual individual.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

July 09, 2015

Heat 10 p.m. free agent update; Heat's moves leave them considerable flexibility for 2016: Exploring the options; News on Jarvis Landry, Marlins trade talk & UM roster move


Not only has the Heat retained Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade and upgraded with Justise Winslow and Gerald Green, but Miami also has preserved the flexibility to sign any single free agent it can land next summer, when the salary cap spikes.

Whether the Heat can carve out the space to sign a marquee free agent and keep Hassan Whiteside depends largely on next summer’s market value for Whiteside and how much Wade is willing to accept in a new deal.

We'll get to the landscape and Heat possibilities for 2016 in a minute. First though, a quick update on where this Heat free agent period stands as of 10 p.m. Thursday:

### Amar'e Stoudemire will meet with Pat Riley on Friday morning and the idea of playing for the Heat and living in South Florida (where he has a home) appeals to him, an associate said.

"He wants to be with the Heat," the associate said. "We'll see how the meeting goes. It's not a money decision."

The associate said a deal is close but stopped short of calling it definite because (as DeAndre Jordan proved) anything can happen in free agency.

The Heat has been offering only minimum contracts; $1.5 million would be a minimum contract for a player with Stoudemire's experience.

### Even after signing Gerald Green, the Heat still asked shooting guard Marcus Thornton to visit team headquarters on Friday, and Thornton this afternoon tweeted an emoji of a plane and palm tree. He, too, will meet with Riley (and others) on Friday.

### The Heat made the Green signing official tonight. 

"We are fortunate to be able to sign a proven veteran like Gerald," Riley said. "He is a dynamic talent who possesses great athleticism and has the ability to shoot from distance and spread the floor. He'll be a perfect complement to our team."

As for where the Heat stands in 2016, some points to consider:

### With Chris Bosh, Dragic, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, the Heat has about $48 million in guaranteed cap commitments for 2016-17, well below a cap expected to fall between $89 million and $91 million.

But the Heat very likely will need to use salary cap space to re-sign Whiteside next summer because he doesn’t have full Bird Rights. The only way Miami could sign Whiteside without using cap space would be if he agrees to a two-year contract barely above the NBA’s average salary this season (close to $6 million). That’s unrealistic.

What’s more, Wade will have a big cap hold (150 percent of his $20 million salary) and that number will stay on the Heat’s cap next summer until he re-signs, when that cap hold is replaced by his actual new salary. So the Heat cannot spend $40 million in free agency to get to the cap limit and then re-sign Wade after that.

### It’s too early to know what Whiteside can command next summer, but if the Heat gives him a contract starting at $15 million --- and Miami hopes it costs less than that --- that would bring the Heat to about $63 million for five players unless McRoberts is traded. We aren’t counting James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier, who are at low money and aren’t guaranteed.

Even if Wade took only, say, $10 million for 2016-17 in that scenario, that wouldn’t leave enough to make anything close to a maximum offer for Kevin Durant or enough to lure the next tier of small forwards/shooting guards: DeMar DeRozan, Eric Gordon and Chandler Parsons (player option).

For Miami to be able to make a competitive bid in a long shot attempt to land Durant, the Heat would need to trade McRoberts, get Whiteside at something closer to $10 million for 2016-17, get Wade to take about $10 million and fill out the roster with cheap labor. Or it could simply not re-sign Whiteside.

Beyond Durant, DeRozan, Gordon and Parsons, other wings available next summer include the Heat’s Luol Deng and Green, plus Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Danilo Gallinari, Aaron Afflalo, Jamal Crawford, Joe Johnson, Courtney Lee, OJ Mayo, Nic Batum and Gerald Henderson. With most teams having substantial cap room, the salaries could skyrocket, even for the handful of player in an even lower tier of skilled shooters, such as Chase Budinger and Jared Dudley.

The Heat’s urgency in finding a small forward next summer will naturally depend in part on how good Winslow looks this season, and how Deng and Green play.

What’s important is that if the Heat is able to lure Durant (a long shot) or another high-end player (such as DeRozan or Al Jefferson), Wade could work with Miami and take a modest salary one year with the expectation of a larger payoff in 2017-18, when the cap spikes again. Whether Whiteside could be retained in such a scenario is highly dubious, though.

### What if the Heat cannot reach a deal with Whiteside next summer? Other unrestricted free agent centers available include Jefferson, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Timofey Mozgov, Dwight Howard (player option), David Lee, Roy Hibbert, Chris Kaman, Nene and Mareese Speights.

If the Heat has doubts about Whiteside after this season, it could conceivably pursue Jefferson or Horford if it cannot snag Durant.


### The concern with Green is his defense --- a criticism that his agent recently told The Sporting News is unwarranted.

Green "never really seemed to get it going and then it comes to the point where, if you're not scoring and if your defense isn't picking up, it's hard to stay in the game," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "The next guy is going, 'I needed help here and the guy wasn't here.' We're trying to develop something for the future, not just being out here for everybody to play in the game. We want to get to a top-notch winning level and you've got to do it on both sides." 

For a lot more on Green, please see the last post.

### While most NFL players are vacationing this month, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry and his buddy and former LSU teammate, Odell Beckham Jr. (the NFL offensive Rookie of the Year) are pushing themselves through grueling morning workout at well-regarded trainer Pete Bommarito’s Performance Systems facility in Davie.

Landry is determined to improve his speed to prove he’s more than a slot receiver.

Is his speed better? “Absolutely,” Landry said this week. “I can’t wait to show it.”

Landry flashed that explosiveness when he caught a deep ball from Ryan Tannehill during the Dolphins’ minicamp last month.

“You can see the difference with Jarvis,” Bommarito said. “There’s a difference between straight line speed and football speed. He’s excelled at both.”

Derrick Shelby, Udonis Haslem and other NFL/NBA players also have been working at Bommarito’s facilities this month. Landry --- who spoke to Beckham most every Sunday night last season --- said working with Bommarito has helped with “knowledge, speed training, how to constantly evolve as a pro, get better every day with these guys, great group of coaches to allow us to tap into our football potential.”

Landry also has spent time recently with former Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers at The Chamber, his Davie-based facility.

### San Francisco has shown some interest in re-acquiring first baseman Michael Morse from the Marlins but would have to be willing to pay a good chunk of the $11 million remaining on his contract for Miami to consider this. Nothing was imminent Thursday morning…. The Marlins have received several calls on pitcher Mat Latos, who’s available.

### After tonight's 2-0 win against the Reds, Jose Fernandez owns the big-league record for most consecutive home starts without a loss (22). He's 14-0 with a 1.17 ERA at Marlins Park. He struck out nine in seven innings tonight.

### UM and defensive tackle Corey King parted ways; the former West Boca High player appeared in 13 games (with one start) in the past three seasons, but just one game last season. UM confirmed he's no longer with the team.…

Adidas’ bash to unveil the Hurricanes’ new uniforms will be an invitation-only event for about 500 people from 7 to 10 p.m. on July 18 at Club Liv at the Fontainebleau on Miami Beach. Adidas has been trying to get popular entertainer/record producer DJ Khaled (who has 2.4 million Twitter followers) to provide entertainment.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

7 p.m. update: Stoudemire; Green and Dragic signing; Free agent pursuit; Riley on future; Summer League personnel moves

7 p.m. update: The Heat hopes to sign six-time All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire when he visits on Friday. There is mutual interest between the parties, according to two sources, and ESPN New York reported a deal is "close."
Stoudemire has a home in Miami and likes the idea of playing here, but the risk for Miami would be if Dallas or another team should offer significantly more than a minimum deal. Dallas reportedly is close to acquiring Zaza Pachulia to play center.


A wrap-up of today's Heat news:

### New Heat swingman Gerald Green doesn’t have all 10 fingers. But what he does have is impressive athleticism, an explosive offensive game and a deft three-point touch.

Green on Thursday agreed to a one-year deal for $1.4 million, the league minimum for players with eight years of NBA service and a bargain for a player who was fourth in the NBA in three-pointers two seasons ago.

Green’s acquisition not only significantly improves the Heat’s bench but also addresses Miami’s need for long-range shooting. The Heat ranked 24th in the NBA in three-point percentage last season.

“He can make shots, unbelievable shots that some players, they’re really afraid to take those shots. But he’s not,” said Heat guard Goran Dragic, who played with Green in Phoenix. “He’s an unbelievable player.”

Green, 6-8, has shot 36.8 percent from three-point range in his career, higher than any other guard or small forward on the Heat roster except Tyler Johnson.

The 29-year-old Green has done it despite losing a significant portion of his right ring finger in a basketball accident in the sixth grade.

Green was wearing his mother’s class ring when he tried to dunk on a makeshift rim. The ring caught on a nail and ripped his finger down to the bone. Doctors said the only option was amputation near the middle knuckle.

Green overcame that setback, starred at Gulf Shores Academy in Houston and was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 high school player in the class of 2005. But he decided to turn pro instead of attending Oklahoma State and the Celtics drafted Green 18th overall.

He won the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest in 2007 but stability has been elusive; he played for six NBA teams, three NBDL franchises and teams in Russia and China before settling in with the Phoenix Suns the past two seasons.

Green enjoyed a breakout year with the Suns in 2013-14, averaging 15.8 points in 82 games, including 48 starts, and shooting 40 percent on threes.

But his numbers fell off in 74 games last season, including four starts, with Green averaging 11.9 points while shooting 41.6 percent overall from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range.

“He’s a high motor; everybody knows he’s a really athletic guy,” Dragic said.

Green, who made $3.5 million last season, hoped to command more than that in free agency but ultimately settled for a minimum deal.

Though the Heat has a $3.4 million taxpayer’s midlevel exception, Miami has been reluctant to use it because of the luxury tax implications. But the Heat is still courting veteran free agents.

There is mutual interest between the Heat and power forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire, but Stoudemire is considering several options.

The Heat also has invited free agent shooting guard Marcus Thornton to visit on Friday --- a trip that already has been pushed back twice by the Heat this week.

The Heat spoke to Thornton about a potential role backing up Dwyane Wade before Green surprisingly accepted a minimum deal.

Even after Green agreed to terms, the Heat conveyed that it still wants Thornton to visit. But Thornton was weighing other options in addition to the Heat, including interest from New Orleans.

The Heat has been exploring possible trades that would reduce payroll and substantially lessen its luxury tax bill, which would exceed $25 million without additional moves. Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen are among those believed to be available.



Guard Tyler Johnson sustained a broken jaw in Wednesday's game against the Clippers and will miss the remainder of summer league, which includes a game Friday in Orlando and at least five in Las Vegas.

Johnson, who also lost a tooth in that midcourt collision, has a contract that becomes partially guaranteed on Aug. 1. The Heat had planned to give Johnson an extended look at point guard during summer league.

### Journeyman center Willie Reed, who had impressed in four Summer League games, left the Heat Thursday to accept an offer from the Brooklyn Nets, who were willing to guarantee $500,000 on the contract. With Reed departing, the Heat figures to give more summer league minutes to Joshua Smith, a 360-pound center who went undrafted out of Georgetown.

### Dragic said he would have resigned even if Wade had not; that he didn't consider other teams; and confirmed he took less money than he could have in order to help the Heat. 

"It's a dream come true. I'm really happy I'm here. Now the real work starts.... When you find the right place, you want to stay there as long as possible. I knew where I want to be. I saw what this organization can provide me. Most important for me was to start winning something. In the end, everybody was happy and that was the most important thing."

Joe Goodman will have more from Dragic in a story on the home page.

### Pat Riley, asked about the team's future: "You have to have high expectations. I've always had them. We have always had them. We have moved on from what happened last year. It was an injury plagued year. We never made excuses about that. That was a reality.

"Out of that was born something we feel is pretty good in Justise Winslow. I want to keep the team and hope the team can stay healthy.

"With a complete roster, we can contend in the East and contend high. That's the way it's been in the last 20 years. We are going to go for it. I don't think we'll ever be a team that goes three, four, five years of building."

Riley did not address the Green addition.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

July 08, 2015

Heat signs Gerald Green; Heat invites Thornton, Stoudemire to visit; Johnson injured; Impact of cap, tax news on Heat; Olbermann departure/TV notes; Dolphins check out draft prospect; Stanton

Thursday morning update: The Heat signed 6-8 veteran swingman Gerald Green to a one-year contract this morning and it's great value for Miami: Green accepted a minimum deal at $1.4 million.

Green, 29, who can back up at either small forward or shooting guard, averaged 11.9 points in 74 games for Phoenix, shooting 41.6 percent overall from the field and 35.4 percent from three-point range.

Miami desperately needed three-point shooting and Green's 36.8 percent career accuracy on threes is the best of any guard or small forward on the Heat's roster, aside from Tyler Johnson. He made 204 and 137 threes the past two seasons.

After being acquired by Phoenix from Indiana, Green had his best NBA season in 2013-14, averaging 15.8 points in 82 games, including 48 starts, and shooting 40 percent on threes. But his numbers fell off somewhat in 74 games last season (just four starts) and Suns coach Jeff Hornacek criticized him.

[Green] "never really seemed to get it going and then it comes to the point where, if you're not scoring and if your defense isn't picking up, it's hard to stay in the game," Hornacek said. "The next guy is going, 'I needed help here and the guy wasn't here.' We're trying to develop something for the future, not just being out here for everybody to play in the game. We want to get to a top-notch winning level and you've got to do it on both sides." 

Green's career averages in eight seasons for seven different teams: 10.2 points, 42.5 percent shooting, 36.8 percent on threes.

The Celtics drafted Green 18th overall out of Gulf Shore Academy in Houston and he has bounced around for much of his professional career, playing for the Celtics, Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, Nets and Pacers, and also in Russia and the D-League, before finding a home with Phoenix for the past two years.

More tidbits on Green: A terrific athlete, Green won the 2007 NBA Slam-Dunk Contest. He's the second cousin of Spurs guard Danny Green... Green lost part of his right ring finger in a dunking accident in the sixth grade. He was wearing a ring at the time... Green was rated the No. 1 prep prospect in the nation by rivals.com in 2005 but opted for the NBA over Oklahoma State.

The Heat had invited Marcus Thornton to visit today, and as of 9:15 a.m., that visit was still scheduled. Pat Riley had been speaking to Thornton, conveying what a role would be in Miami.

But the opportunity to sign the 6-8 Green, whose market wasn't as robust as expected, was too much to pass up when he surprised the Heat by agreeing to take the minimum.

Green had hoped to land a full $5.5 midlevel exception, if not more, but that never happened.

Not only did the Heat get him for the minimum, but his luxury tax hit will be $947,000 --- less than his salary. 

### Tyler Johnson sustained a broken jaw in Wednesday's summer league game and will undergo surgery today, agent Pedro Power said. Johnson, who lost a tooth in the midcourt collision that fractured his jaw, obviously is out for the remainder of Summer League --- which includes one more game in Orlando on Friday and at least five in Las Vegas. He will have a metal plate inserted, Power said.

Johnson, James Ennis and Henry Walker all have non-guaranteed contracts. Johnson's deal becomes partially guaranteed on Aug. 1. Walker's guarantees are triggered on several dates this offseason.

The Heat wanted to give Johnson an extended look at point guard, but that plan has been aborted for now. Shabazz Napier, back from sports hernia surgery, remains the Heat's backup point guard for now. But Grantland reported that the Heat has put out "feelers" to trade Napier.


A six pack of notes on a Wednesday night:

###  The Heat has invited at least two veterans for free agent visits: guard Marcus Thornton and center/power forward Amar'e Stoudemire.

Stoudemire's visit on Thursday was first reported by Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling. But the Heat faces competition and Dallas could try to resign him after reportedly losing DeAndre Jordan to the Clippers tonight.

Stoudemire, 6-11, averaged 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds and shot 55.7 percent from the field in 59 games for the Knicks and Mavericks last season.

He started 14 games for New York and one for Dallas after signing with the Mavericks in February following a Knicks buyout. Stoudemire, 33, has been an All-Star six of his 13 NBA seasons.

Stoudemire also has been linked to the Lakers, Rockets, Clippers, Spurs and Suns.

For more on Thornton, please see the last post. Dorell Wright and Gerald Green remain possibilities if the Heat doesn't sign Thornton.

### The good news for the Heat (and the rest of the league) is that the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds came in higher than expected. But it won't save the Heat from a sizable luxury tax bill unless Miami trades off one or two players without taking money back.

The NBA tonight set the salary cap at $70 million ($3 million higher than it had projected) and the luxury tax threshold at $84.74 million (nearly $4 million higher than projected).

If Goran Dragic's new contract starts at about $15 million as expected (with annual raises), that would leave the Heat with a payroll of $94 million.

Because the Heat is subject to the dreaded "repeater tax," that would leave Miami with a tax of slightly above $24 million with its current roster.

But if the Heat trades Chris Andersen and Mario Chalmers for no money back, that would wipe out virtually the entire tax bill if the Heat didn't replace them.

More likely, Miami would replace them with players at the minimum; factoring in the $947,000 tax charge for each veteran player signed to the minimum --- plus the repeater tax --- the Heat's tax bill would be around $5 million if it dumps Andersen and Chalmers for no money back and then signs two veterans at the minimum.

The Heat has been reluctant to use its $3.4 million taxpayer's midlevel exception. Using it could cost the Heat about $10 million in taxes, depending on where Miami's payroll ends up.

### A few items from today's 87-85 Heat Summer League win against the Clippers: Playing his first game since sports hernia surgery in March, Shabazz Napier was impactful in 17 minutes, closing with 14 points, six assists and one turnover, shooting 4 for 9 from the field and delivering the game-winning free throws... Journeyman center Willie Reed was again impressive, with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks in 30 minutes...

James Ennis (2 for 8) and Tyler Johnson (3 for 9) struggled with their shot. Ennis was aggressive, however, and shot 9 for 10 from the free throw line... Johnson had a tooth knocked out in a midcourt collision.... Justise Winslow had no points or rebounds in eight first half minutes, then sat out the rest of the game, with the Heat citing rest as the reason. 

### For the second day in a row, the Dolphins watched the workout of a player available in Thursday’s NFL supplemental draft.

After checking out Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle on Tuesday, the Dolphins joined the Raiders and Lions at a workout today for Connecticut tight end Sean McQuillan, according to the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson.

McQuillan caught 16 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown last season. He’s expected to go undrafted on Thursday.

### Giancarlo Stanton is appearing on Jim Rome’s Showtime program (9 p.m. and midnight tonight), and Rome asked Stanton whom he regards as the best home run hitter ever --- all-time home run leader Barry Bonds or Hank Aaron, who’s No. 2 on the list.

“That’s a tough one,” Stanton said. “You have speculation with one, and you have zero [speculation] with the other. I would have to go with no speculation. I mean, we know how that [steroid] era was and we can’t be sure either way. That’s just how I feel.”

Rome asked Stanton, currently on the disabled list with a broken wrist, if he ever hears talk that he uses steroids because of his power at the plate.

“I don’t get too much of that,” he said. “If I hit a long home run, people kind of blurt it in there every once in a while, but it doesn’t really make me mad. You have to understand the era that we’re just trying to get out of. On the other point, you can see it as a compliment.”

### Couple broadcast notes: ESPN announced that it won't renew Keith Olbermann's contract, which expires at the end of the month, in a decision that appears to have been driven largely by a Disney-ordered missive to cut costs.

According to the Big Lead, Disney has instructed ESPN president John Skipper to “slash about $100 million from the 2016 budget, and an estimated $250 million from the 2017 budget.”

Though the network has disputed a published report that it wanted Olbermann to cease giving commentaries, it's believed that ESPN management was uncomfortable with Olbermann's scathing criticism of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Olbermann joins Bill Simmons as high-salaried talents that will soon be off ESPN's books.

Olbermann's greatest strengths were delivering generally thoughtful, often acid-laced, commentaries and narrating highlights.

But the highlights became obsolete when the weekday program was shifted from 11 p.m. to a late-afternoon slot. And indications were that ESPN was uncomfortable with his torching of Goodell.

"Keith is a tremendous talent who has consistently done timely, entertaining and thought-provoking work since returning to ESPN," the network said. "While the show's content was distinctive and extremely high quality, we ultimately made a business decision to move in another direction."

So Olbermann's second stint at ESPN ends up lasting less than two years --- much shorter than his first, which spanned 1992 to 1998. It's unclear whether Olbermann, 56, will remain in sports broadcasting or return to news; he previously worked at MSNBC and Current....

Kudos to WINZ-940's Andy Slater for breaking the story about Giants star Jason Pierre Paul badly injuring his hand in a firecracker accident....

Because HIPAA does not apply to news organizations, ESPN says it did not violate any laws when Adam Schefter tweeted an image of Pierre-Paul's medical records in reporting that the defensive end had a finger amputated today.

But if a health care worker gave the information to ESPN without Pierre-Paul's consent, that would be a violation of the law.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

July 07, 2015

Dolphins passed on possible Hall of Famer this offseason; Heat's search for a shooter; Canes football, Marlins, Panthers arena update


Asking and answering:

### What seven-time Pro Bowler had interest in joining the Dolphins this offseason but never received a phone call from them?

Andre Johnson, the former All-Pro receiver who attended Miami High and UM.

Playing for the Dolphins “was something I thought about,” Johnson told me at the recent UM Hall of Fame fishing tournament in Islamorada. “I always had a dream of playing at home. I was a huge Dolphins fan. But they never called.”

Even though playing here appealed to him, Johnson said he's not angry with the Dolphins because “I understand the business side. I have a good situation” in Indianapolis, which signed him for three years and $21 million.

Johnson, 33, caught 85 passes for 936 yards for Houston last season after catching 109 for 1407 the previous year --- despite not having a great quarterback. His six receptions per game is best in NFL history and his 85 receiving yards per game is second-highest ever.

If Miami had signed him instead of Greg Jennings, it would have had one of the NFL’s best receiver groups: Johnson, DeVante Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.

But on the flip side, Miami also would have $5 million less in cap space. Johnson’s cap hit is $7.5 million, Jennings’ $2.5 million. Miami has $11 million in space, says the NFLPA web site, though that seems a bit high.

### What’s going on with the Heat’s search for a shooter?

Miami really likes free agent guard Marcus Thornton, 28, who appears to be the most realistic and logical option because he has starting experience (126 games), is a proven scorer (12.7 per game career average) and three-point shooter (37.8 percent last season), has good size (6-4) and isn't too old (28) and also because the Heat is reluctant to use its $3.4 million midlevel exception because it doesn't want to add to its potentially large tax bill. Signing players to the league minimum results in a far lower tax hit.

The Heat spoke with the agent for Wesley Johnson, but he agreed to a minimum deal with the Clippers today. Alan Anderson, who took one year at $4 million from Washington today, wanted more than Miami has available. Gerald Green remains an option but money would be an issue if he holds out for a full mid-level from somebody.

Former Heat forward Dorell Wright, 29, is on Miami’s radar. A career 36.5 percent three-point shooter, he told WQAM-560 there’s a “great chance of me returning to Miami” and “if that opportunity came up again, it would be good for myself and my family." If Miami decides to sign him, it would be for nothing more than the minimum.

Despite expressing interest, Miami ultimately couldn’t afford Lou Williams (three years, $21 million with the Lakers) and Marco Bellinelli (three years, $19 million with the Kings). The Heat also has inquired about a trade for Jamal Crawford, but the Clippers reportedly aren't shopping him.

### What’s the word from the first three games of Heat summer league in Orlando?

Justise Winslow needs to work on his jumper and mid-range game (he’s 12 for 33 from the field), but his versatility has impressed: He can get to the basket off the dribble, finish at the rim (at least without NBA-quality rim deterrents), get to the free throw line, defend with verve, handle the ball deftly and has good instincts. It’s no coincidence the Heat has outscored three opponents by 37 with Winslow on the floor…

The 6-6 rookie Josh Richardson is long and an excellent defender and can play either guard spot, and though he’s shooting 7 for 22, he has a very good chance to unseat Henry Walker if they’re competing for one roster spot, which seems likely.… Journeyman center Willie Reed (12.3 points, 8 rebounds) has a modest chance to stick, but only if the Heat trades a veteran big man to trim salary. And even then, Miami could opt for a veteran at the league minimum unless Reed wows them…

With Mario Chalmers remaining on the trade block, backup point guard is a concern; Tyler Johnson’s ball-handling remains uneven (five assists, five turnovers) and Shabazz Napier hasn’t been healthy.... Miami was off Tuesday but plays the Clippers at 5 p.m. Wednesday on NBA TV.

### What returning under-the-radar UM players are coaches high on?

Start with linebacker Darrion Owens. According to his position coach, he was great this spring and leads Tyriq McCord in the battle for a starting job, alongside Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace.

“He’s a beast; can do it all, goes 100 miles per hour,” linebackers coach Hurlie Brown said recently. “He has no regard for safety.”

Among other under-the-radar players (non prominent ones) drawing praise internally: defensive end Trent Harris (has been leading in the race for the starting rush end job, though Al-Quadin Muhammad might overtake him), guards Alex Gall (likely starter) and Joe Brown, tight end Chris Herndon, and redshirt freshman David Njoku.

UM coaches believe Njoku will become a matchup nightmare at some point in his career (remains to be seen how soon) because of his combination of size (6-4) and speed and ability to play tight end, receiver and H-back.    

### Though the Panthers have never threatened to leave, they also have said their lease agreement at BB&T Center is financially unsustainable and have asked for significant relief from Broward County. So what’s going on?

The Panthers’ bailout request, which met significant opposition from the Broward Commission, was supposed to be addressed by now. But it won’t be for several months, vice mayor Martin Kiar said. “I never would have voted for that,” Kiar added. (Other commissioners expressed similar sentiment to me last year.)

Rob Hernandez, deputy Broward County administrator, said a study is being done to determine if the arena is viable should the commission reject the bailout but instead allow the Panthers out of a lease that runs through 2028, something the team hasn’t asked for.

“Does that mean we want to keep them or let them leave [if they ask]? We’ll know shortly,” Hernandez said. “There’s still a lot of life and debt left in the building and we have to make sure it doesn’t become [obsolete] like the Silverdome [in Pontiac, Mich.].”

Last season, the Panthers had the league’s lowest TV ratings and worst home attendance (11,265). The Panthers said Tuesday that “nothing has changed at this time” regarding their arena wishes.

### Marlins reliever Carter Capps entered Tuesday with 44 strikeouts in 23 innings, or 17.2 per nine innings. How good is that in recent history?

It would be second-best in the past decade. Topping the list, according to our friends at Elias, is the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, who averaged 17.67 per nine in 2014. Next up: then Braves, and now Padres, closer Craig Kimbrel at 16.6 in 2012.

Capps leads all pitchers in strikeouts-per-nine innings this season, with Chapman No. 2.

But after Steve Cishek loaded the bases, Capps allowed a three-run single (you read that right) that delivered the winning runs in a 4-3 Boston win tonight.


### The Dolphins were represented among 26 team present today for a workout by Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, considered the best prospect in Thursday's NFL supplemental draft.

A team might use a mid-to-late round pick on him.

The Dolphins appear content with Jason Fox as their No. 3 tackle but will do their due diligence before every player procurement process.

Dennis Hickey has said he expects Branden Albert to be ready for the season opener, but nobody is certain.

### Goran Dragic's camp had been clear that it anticipated a Heat deal for at least $90 million, and the Heat was ready to pay that to Dragic if it needed to do that to keep him.

So it's admirable that Dragic went to the Heat and offered to give them flexibility and ultimately sacrificed money in accepting a five-year deal for just over $85 million.

An associate of Dragic said Dragic sacrificed because he wants to win, wants to play with Dwyane Wade and also knows that he will make more here than he would have for the Knicks and Lakers because of the lack of a state income tax in Florida.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

July 06, 2015

UM lands another Irvin; Wade on his place in Heat history and more; Rob Konrad, six months after his miraculous swim to safety; Marlins issues; UM; Local standout sues NFLPA

3 p.m.: Following in the footsteps of his legendary father, receiver Michael Irvin Jr. orally committed to the University of Miami on Monday, joining a highly-regarded 2016 recruiting class.

Irvin Jr. recently moved from Texas to South Florida, where he enrolled at St. Thomas Aquinas. Rivals.com ranks him a three-star prospect and the nation's 81st-best receiver prospect.

Irvin, 6-2, caught 223 passes for 2741 yards and 34 touchdowns in three seasons at Prestonwood High in Plano. He told a Dallas radio station that UM wants to use him everywhere --- at receiver, tight end and in the backfield.

Irvin told Canesport.com that his father, who starred for the Canes and the Dallas Cowboys, "was obviously very excited that I chose to go to his alma mater... He has talked to me a million times about going to Miami."

Irvin said UM coach Al Golden "sounded like he was jumping out of his seat" when he called Golden to commit.

Irvin, who also had been considering Syracuse and Georgia, joins a strong group of receivers orally committed to Miami for 2016 --- a group headlined by Aquinas' Sam Bruce.


A bunch of items on a Monday:

### Tuesday marks the sixth-month anniversary of Rob Konrad falling off his boat while fishing in the Atlantic and making a death-defying 16-hour, 27-mile swim to safety. And the humble, grounded former Dolphins fullback has turned down all chances to make a buck off it.

Konrad tells me he rejected a couple of book deals and a movie offer.

“There were some big name folks involved,” he said. “But I made the decision I wasn’t going to go that route.

"It’s nothing I want to capitalize on. I don’t have the time and desire. I’m running three [financial] companies in Florida and one in Chicago.”

But Konrad is writing a lengthy “memo” detailing his ordeal at sea because he wants his children and eventually, grandchildren, to have a record of what happened. “It’s much longer than I anticipated. When it’s done, down the road, they can read it.” He doesn’t rule out turning it into a book someday but said that’s not his mindset now.

Konrad’s near-death experience hasn’t made him reluctant to return to the water. He said last week that he’s bringing his boat to Cape Cod for the holiday weekend. 

“I’ve been on a boat a bunch since then,” he said. “My wife has made me upgrade the technology and promise to always bring someone with me.”

Konrad, who was alone when he fell into the water Jan. 7, said he doesn’t think much about the accident. “I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I’ve been blessed.”

### Some of the more notable questions and answers from Dwyane Wade's entertaining Twitter session with fans this morning (answers are listed above the questions):

  1. DWade retweeted crimson callahan

    When I can no longer play..averaging 20 plus a game at 33 yrs old.. I think I'll stay around for alil while..

    DWade added,

    crimson callahan @acrimsontide2
    @DwyaneWade how much longer do you plan to be in the league?
    128 retweets127 favorites
    1. DWade retweeted Al

      I'm going into my 13th year..my knees get a bad rap but they're tough. You don't make it this long without them

      DWade added,

      Al @From90until_
      @DwyaneWade how's the knees holding up?
      0 retweets1 favorite
    2. DWade retweeted mirgani osman

      Perfectly fine He's a winner!!!

      DWade added,

      mirgani osman @KingGani
      @DwyaneWade how do you think justice Winslow will fit with the team?

      DWade retweeted VP3

      Let me get on that right now... @mchalmers15 whaaaaaat in the world are you doing!!!!!!

      DWade added,

      VP3 @VSalomon22
      @DwyaneWade have you yelled at Mario lately?
      1. DWade retweeted Kobe


        DWade added,

        Kobe @sam_island7
        @DwyaneWade in the end you think you deserve to go down as the greatest Miami Heat ever?
        193 retweets210 favorites
        1. DWade retweeted Mead

          I haven't been carried since my mother gave birth to me..

          DWade added,

          Mead @TommeyM
          @DwyaneWade Do you miss LeBron carrying you
          1,093 retweets725 favorites

            DWade retweeted Nikolai Hernandez

            I like the sound of that lineup. Now we have to make it work

            DWade added,

            Nikolai Hernandez @Nikolaiii_
            @DwyaneWade You, Dragic, Deng, Bosh, Whitside...how excited are you?

### When Giancarlo Stanton went down with his wrist injury, it was clear Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Ichiro Suzuki needed to deliver their best work of the year. Only Yelich is doing that.

Ozuna, in the midst of a 1 for 36 slump, was banished to Triple A on Sunday. His average has dropped from .280 to .249 in the past three weeks.

What's more, Ichiro is in the midst of an 0 for 25 slump, dropping his average from .292 to .250. It's the longest hitless streak of his career. Previous long: 0 for 23 in 2012. Ichiro hasn't had a hit since June 18.

### An update on a few UM baseball departures: Four underclassmen ended up leaving to turn pro: Andrew Suarez got $1 million from San Francisco; Ricky Eusebio signed with Seattle for $100,000; George Iskenderian signed with Milwaukee; and David Thompson signed with the Mets.

But UM snagged South Carolina outfielder Kep Brown, who was considered a top 35 draft prospect by ESPN but fell to the 10th round. Brown has announced plans to attend UM. 

### Something unusual: A player filing a lawsuit against the NFL player's union. The player is ex-Chargers receiver Richard Goodman, a former St.Thomas Aquinas High and Florida State standout.

According to the complaint that I obtained last week, Goodman accuses the NFLPA of negligence and breach of fiduciary duty because the NFLPA did not suspend agent Richard Burnoski or revoke his certification for failing to pay agent dues or maintain liability insurance.

The suit said Burnoski borrowed $25,000 in Goodman's name in 2010, forged his signature and didn't pay the money back. Goodman said Burnoski told him that he had taken care of the problem but actually hadn't done anything. Goodman was sued and his wages were collected in a default judgment against him for more than $47,000.

Goodman hired Burnoski after seeing his name in an online database of agents provided by the NFLPA, which not only represents players but also regulates player agents. The union should not have listed his name because he had failed to pay dues, Goodman alleges.

Goodman is represented by prominent local attorney Darren Heitner.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz