Why do Heat players keep sacrificing money? Exploring the issue; Plus Heat nuggets; Dolphins summon more prospects; UM, Panthers, Trump
There's a lot to appreciate about this Heat organization and this roster, and here's one that shouldn't be overlooked: Six players (more than one-third of the roster) took less money to play here than they could have made elsewhere, either this year or past years.
Joe Johnson said he turned down several substantially higher offers to sign with the Heat. Goran Dragic left several million on the table to re-sign here last summer. Amar’e Stoudemire said he bypassed more than three times as much money elsewhere to join the Heat.
Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh gave up between $10 million and $15 million apiece during the Big Three era. Other Heat alums, including LeBron James and Ray Allen, did likewise.
Heck, even ex-Heat guard Beno Udrih agreed to give up $90,000 so Miami wouldn’t surpass the tax threshold, allowing the Heat to sign Johnson.
It’s no coincidence this sort of thing has happened most frequently in the NBA’s two most successful markets over the past decade: San Antonio and Miami.
So why does this keep happening here? Of the six players who took less money from the Heat than they could have made elsewhere, either this season or at some point in the past, three factors are typically cited: a desire to win, the quality of the organization, and the players’ inclination to give the Heat flexibility to sign other players around them.
But Haslem said all this sacrificing has produced a domino effect that keeps reaping rewards.
“It’s a first-class organization, winning organization, and you see how Pat [Riley] and Micky [Arison] work together, how the players are treated, how we love being here,” he said. “And [players] see other people make sacrifices and they start to wonder, ‘Why is everybody sacrificing to be there? Why is everybody sacrificing to stay there?’ When they get a chance to be a part of it, then they buy in.”
One constant we found about the mechanics of how these sacrifices evolve: None of the players said they discussed taking less money directly with Riley. So this has not been a case of Riley or the Heat circumventing agents and imploring the players to take one for the team.
So much exactly have Heat players given up over the years that they could have made elsewhere? It’s impossible to calculate in Wade’s case, because there are a lot of ways to do the math. But it’s well above $15 million if he had insisted on max contracts along the way, (before his $20 million salary this year) or even in the most conservative estimate, at least $6.5 million.
With Dragic, the sacrifice was at least several million, though he said he doesn’t know the precise amount.
“When the time came and we negotiated, [agent Rade Filopovich] said we can get more somewhere else,” Dragic said. “But the most important thing for me was to be in the right place to try to win a championship. I didn’t even want to question that. Because it’s a winining culture here. Everybody wants to win, at least the players that are here. You want to put yourself in a good situation that you can develop your game, that you can get better and get the highest prize.
“I’m happy here. I went through some struggles but I’m really happy I’m part of this team. Everything looks good now.”
Dragic took five years and $85 million. He could have made more per year by signing hypothetically with the Knicks, who could have offered that $85 million over four years. He also could have pressured the Heat to top $90 million, knowing Riley gave up two draft picks for him.
But Dragic knew Wade was a free agent, and as a result, he didn’t push for more.
“If we didn’t sign D-Wade, that would not be good for us, because he is such a tremendous player and our leader,” Dragic said. “When you sign somewhere, you want to be around good players and good leaders.”
In taking a prorated amount of $1.4 million from the Heat, Johnson eschewed a $2.4 million offer from Oklahoma City and $2.8 million from Atlanta, in addition to a minimum offer from Cleveland, because “for me, it wasn’t about the money. It was more about being happy. I’ve been in a tough situation the past few years. I just felt for me and my family it was best to be here. At this stage of my career, it’s about what a guy is playing for.”
Johnson, who has made more than $190 million in his career, said the fact players keep taking less to play here “says a lot about the organization and how they handle things. It’s been great since I’ve been here. A lot of stories you hear about the Heat, it’s always positive. And it’s not a bad place to live, either.”
In Stoudemire’s case, he took the $1.4 million from Miami despite having “much higher offers. I had offers a little above the midlevel. I wanted to take that sacrifice in order to win.”
Though the Heat still had exception money available, Stoudemire said he never asked Riley for more money when they met last July.
The best sacrifice story in Heat history? It will be hard to top what Wade did for Haslem in 2010, and what Haslem did in return.
After James and Bosh agreed to join the Heat, “I said [to them], ‘Listen, who do we want on this team?’” Wade said. “It was consistent that we wanted UD on this team. I wanted UD here for selfish reasons. I didn’t want him to have to go somewhere else. It’s his organization as much as mine.
“They wanted him here because they know what he brought to us – that toughness, that veteran leadership we needed. Everyone made a conscious decision on the phone and said, ‘Hey, how much we need to give back?’ I was willing to give more back because of our relationship. I would give more because UD means that much to me.”
Haslem, who had five-year, $34 million offers from Denver and Dallas, then agreed to take $20 million over five years from Miami. “Even though it was below what I was offered [elsewhere], it was worth it,” said Haslem, who was genuinely touched by the Big Three’s willingness to do this.
So why do Heat players keep taking less money to stay?
“It’s guys wanting to be a part of the players in the locker-room and just feeling you can be a part of something special,” Wade said. “I think that speaks volumes. It’s a beautiful city to play in. There are not many cities like this. A lot has to do with the organization and the individual players that have been here.
“When people hear millions of dollars [sacrificed], they go crazy. Nothing compares to winning. You can make all the money in the world, but if you want to win and you’ve never won, it’s going to mean something to you more than the actual dollar.”
That has been the case here, and in San Antonio, where the Spurs stars also keep sacrificing.
• For a lot of Heat nuggets from Monday, including why Dragic got a "mental day," click here.
• The Dolphins have used a sizable amount of their 30 predraft visits on cornerbacks and running backs, including Ohio State tailback Ezekiel Elliott, who is visiting Monday and Tuesday.
Among others summoned to Davie: Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd (potential second-rounder with 12.5 sacks last season), Texas A&M second-round offensive Germain Ifedi (Miami sees him as a guard, as our Armando Salguero noted), Rutgers receiver Leonte Carroo (20.7, 10 touchdowns in eight games last season) and Texas Tech receiver Jakeem Grant, who visited Monday, with a source confirming The National Football Post's report about Grant's visit.
Grant is an interesting prospect; he's only 5-6 but very explosive. Grant, who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, ran a 4.38 in the 40 at his pro day and had a 36 1/2 inch vertical leap.
"With that speed and quickness, Grant could get a look as a return specialist in the NFL," NFL.com analyst and former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt said.
Grant returned four kickoffs for touchdowns in his carer at Texas Tech, including two last season. His overall college return average of 26.1 ranked just 54th nationally.
He also caught 90 passes for 1268 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
Of Dodd, CBS’ Rob Rang and Dane Brugler said “based on traits, Dodd checks several boxes with the size, length, athleticism and strength potential to be effective in the NFL. He also improved his ball awareness and discipline as his reps increased last season, showing encouraging growth that indicates he isn't near his football ceiling. His quick, strong hands allow him to rip his way through would-be blocks and he uses his long arms to lasso ball carriers.”
Miami also has studied his defensive end teammate, Shaq Lawson, who’s an option at No. 13.
• The 2019 UM-UF football game in Orlando, which is nearly finalized, will be the season opener, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley e-mailed. That means UM will have tough consecutive openers: Miami plays LSU in Arlington, Tx. to open the 2018 season…
We hear UM four-star defensive end Scott Patchan sustained a torn ACL in the same knee for the second time. A UM official said last week that October is an optimistic timetable for his return, but Patchan isn't buying that. Patchan tweeted a few days ago that he doesn't plan to miss any games.
• Privately, some involved are attributing Donald Trump’s polarizing views/persona for the PGA Tour’s difficulty so far finding a new title sponsor (to replace Cadillac) for the Doral tournament at Trump National Doral (which has left the tournament at risk) and for a drop in group ticket sales at last month’s event. Cadillac dropped its sponsorship for reasons unrelated to Trump.
The tournament is declining comment at the PGA’s request.
• Amazing: Per ESPN, Giancarlo Stanton’s number 450-foot home runs since 2009 (29) far exceed who’s No. 2 since then, Justin Upton (17). And Stanton didn't debut until 2010!
And Stanton, according to Elias, has hit 10 home runs in the 31 games that he and Jose Fernandez have both started together. The Marlins are 9-0 in those games.
• Panthers coach Gerrard Gallant, with his team down 2-1 against the Islanders, said Monday: "I was happy with the game we played last night. Tough one to lose in overtime. We had a bad seven minutes.... I thought we played really good in three games. This series could be [2-1] the other way. Our young players have been outstanding for us."
Game 4 is Wednesday in Brooklyn.... Vincent Trocheck skated today, according to Gallant, and hopes to play in this series.... Roberto Luongo will start Wednesday night. "Luo's our guy," Gallant said.
• Panthers home attendance rose from 66.1 percent capacity to 80 this season (11,265 to 15,384) and TV ratings rose 43 percent, though games still drew audiences much, much smaller than Heat games (.025 percent of Miami-Dade/Broward homes compared with 4.5 for Heat).