June 07, 2015

Wade non-committal on future; Dolphins working through linebacker scenarios; UM/MLS update; Golden; Heat draft; Marlins

Dwyane Wade declined to answer directly tonight when asked by ABC about his future.

Wade, appearing as an analyst on ABC's coverage of The Finals, prefers to exercise an opt-out clause by a late June deadline and sign a multiyear deal instead of making $16.1 million next season, according to multiple sources close to Wade. And by saying he will "worry" about his future "in July," Wade suggested tonight he would exercise that opt out.

But there remains a substantial gap between what Wade wants over the next three seasons and what the Heat wants to pay him, sources said.

Jalen Rose asked Wade: "What about these headlines? Are you leaving Miami?"

Wade: “It feels like Miami up here. It’s hot up here.” 

ABC's Sage Steele then noted Wade has an opt-out clause and can become a free agent July 1 and “leave Miami. You’ve played your whole career there. How close are you to making that decision?

Wade: “Well, listen, it’s summer time. With summer time and free agency, it’s going to be a lot of talk. Right now, I’m glad that the Finals is on, that we’re here. We’ll worry about that in July. Right now, we’re going to focus on these Finals. This is our biggest showcase. We want to focus on it.”

Before he was asked about his Heat future, Wade said: "Since 2006, when we were there for the first time... I’ve been every year to The Finals. I always go. I just want to feel it. I want to be a part of it. I’ve been blessed to go five times. I go every year. I’m happy to be here with you guys this time."

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SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Though the Dolphins like their young players at guard, cornerback and linebacker, there remains some concern internally at those positions.

With linebacker, here’s what we know:

### Who starts alongside Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi? The Dolphins say that decision won’t be made for a long time.

“Probably midway to the latter part of training camp before we’re settled on who the top three guys are,” defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle said.

### The Dolphins are looking closely at two potential starting groups: Misi in the middle, flanked by Jenkins and Chris McCain; or Kelvin Sheppard in the middle, paired with Jenkins and Misi.

For now, they’re giving a lot of first-team snaps to McCain.

But “the message I’ve given to all of them is the best three guys will play,” linebackers coach Mark Duffner said.

### The Dolphins expect to have only two linebackers on the field more than half the time, as they did the second half of last season. So the importance of the third starter shouldn’t be overstated.

### Besides working with the starters at strong-side linebacker (a position handled by Philip Wheeler last year), McCain also is being used to potentially fill the Dion Jordan defensive end role on third downs. It’s a big jump in responsibility for a player who logged just 46 defensive snaps last season.

“He’s got true linebacker skills,” Duffner said, noting that McCain played outside linebacker in a 4-3 at California. He had 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in 24 games there before being dismissed from the team for reasons that have never been disclosed.

“He’s got very good pass rush upside,” Duffner added.

But how good is he against run?

“Hard to say yet,” Duffner said. “Because he’s lanky, people have some questions about that. We’ll see when he gets pads on. With his length and stature [6-5, 250 pounds], that allows for a lot of good things to happen.”

Former Dolphins linebacker and WINZ Dolphins analyst Kim Bokamper puts it this way: “Is he a pass rusher or an every down linebacker? That’s the question for me.”

### There are several key people inside the Dolphins who like Sheppard, even though he couldn’t retain starting positions long-term in Buffalo (which drafted him in the third round out of LSU in 2011 and later traded him) or Indianapolis, which chose not to bring him back after one season (2013).

Pro Football Focus graded him below average overall among starting inside linebackers and especially poor against the run (bottom 20 percent) when he started 15 games for Buffalo in 2012 and seven for the Colts in 2013.

But Duffner said “he’s a fireball in terms of what he’s doing on the field and the weight room. Really excited what he brings.”

### After replacing injured Dannell Ellerbe midway through last season's opener, Jenkins was something of a revelation, with 110 tackles (22nd in the league), 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

The flip side: PFF rated him 24th of 40 linebackers --- seventh in coverage but just 36th against the run.

Jenkins was part of the defense that was steamrolled on the ground in several late-season games, and Jenkins conceded recently that he must “eliminate errors. I'm in position where if I do make an error, it's a big play.” He also said he must “keep my eyes where they're supposed to be in man coverage.”

Duffner is challenging Jenkins: “I want to see him take a step forward as a productive player and aware player.”

### Misi said “nothing is set in stone” about what position he’ll play.

In his first year at middle linebacker last season, PFF rated Misi 12th of 60 inside linebackers. But he missed five games, meaning he has been sidelined 12 games in his five-year career.

The Dolphins explored middle linebackers this offseason, but the Jets’ David Harris never made it to free agency; Mason Foster said Miami finished second behind Chicago in the pursuit for him; and the Dolphins passed on new Patriot Brandon Spikes because of vulnerabilities in pass coverage.

### The Dolphins have given some first-team outside linebacker snaps to Spencer Paysinger, who has 14 starts in four seasons, including one for the Giants last season.

“He has cover skills but he’s marginal to poor vs. the run,” an NFC scout said. “Doesn’t have the strength to play the run well. Good special teams player.”

### Jordan Tripp, who played just nine defensive snaps as a rookie, “has had a great camp,” Coyle said. Duffner also mentioned that Tripp has really come along.

Also, Duffner said the Dolphins had draft-able grades on the four linebackers they signed after the draft, all of whom ranked in the top 14 in the NCAA in tackles last season: Penn State’s Mike Hull (the Big 10 linebacker of the year), Cincinnati’s Jeff Luc, Marshall’s Neville Hewitt and Utah State’s Zach Vigil.

“We were very fortunate to get all four; all are hungry, competitive guys, highly heralded,” Duffner said.

With Luc, “you see physicality, really good movement skills… Hull has a knack for being around the football. He’s made a big play in every practice.”

CANES CHATTER

### Though stadium owner Stephen Ross has declined to comment, several UM officials say they believe Ross will be receptive to negotiating terms to allow UM out of its Sun Life lease if the joint stadium project materializes as UM and MLS hope.

Ross makes more than $4 million annually in revenue from having the Hurricanes as a tenant; UM doesn’t pay rent but the sides split some revenue.

The Hurricanes have 17 years left on the lease. So Ross would lose in the neighborhood of $60 million over 14 years if UM leaves. But for buyout purposes, that number could be reduced somewhat factoring in discounted cash flow or if UM occasionally plays big games at Sun Life.

“Let’s hope Steve doesn’t make it difficult,” said a high-ranking UM Board of Trustee member. “Our fans don’t like it up there; they want to be down south. That’s where our base is. You have politicians involved from the city and county, so this is difficult. But MLS needs us for the political side of getting this done. We don’t want to be a renter. We want to be a partner in the project.”

Donna Shalala, who has left UM, won’t say if she will remain involved in the stadium pursuit, but UM doesn’t expect her to have a significant role in talks moving forward. Provost Tom LeBlanc is filling in as president until Julio Frenk takes over Sept. 1.

### UM offensive lineman Hunter Knighton, who spent 12 days on a ventilator after collapsing at a February 2014 practice, announced Saturday he has been “cleared for everything” by doctors and can resume playing on UM's football team, beginning with practices in August.

“So close to becoming the first D1 player to return from a catastrophic heat stroke,” he posted on Facebook. “All thanks to God for building my faith through this long process. Couldn't do it without my family. My parents and siblings have made some huge sacrifice this past year. Can't thank the Korey Stringer Institute enough for guiding me through this process.”

Knighton collapsed on the UM practice field Feb. 24 and spent two weeks in the hospital.

"On February 24th [2014]...with a 109 degree body temperature and unknowingly suffering with the flu, I was stricken by a heat stroke,” Knighton said in a statement released a couple months after he fainted.  

“The results were not good: brain swelling, multiple seizures, kidney and liver failure. Unresponsive, I was placed on a ventilator for twelve days during which time I fought one of the greatest battles of my life against a loss of blood platelets, double pneumonia and fever.” 

### Neat motivational tactic by Al Golden; we hear he rewarded the best players at each position this offseason by inviting them to his home a couple of weeks ago.

### Good to see Jim Morris and UM get back to Omaha after a six-year drought. It's Morris' 12th trip there in 22 years as UM's coach. Ron Fraser made the College World Series 12 times in 30 years.

HEAT, MARLINS CHATTER

### Dwyane Wade declined to shed any light on his contract situation during a Saturday appearance at a reading competition involving 100 local middle school students, an event held in conjunction with his Wade's World charitable foundation. Wade also spent time with Carlos Oser, a 15-year-old boy diagnosed with Wilms Tumor.

Wade, typically one of sports' most accessible stars, was not made available for interviews. And even though he answered questions from the children in attendance, one youngster who asked about his Heat future was told that "none of those" types of questions would be answered.

Associates say Wade prefers to opt out of the final year of a contract worth $16.1 million before a late June deadline and replace it with a more lucrative longterm contract. But the sides will need to bridge a substantial gap in their vision for what he should be paid over the next three years. Wade has until late June to tell the Heat if he's exercising the opt-out.

Wade will appear on ABC's coverage of The Finals on Sunday and Tuesday, then take a four-day Harvard course on the business of sports media and entertainment. "I'm going to class," he said. "I haven't been to school in a long time."

### The Racine (Wis.) Journal Times quoted an Eastern Conference executive who said Pat Riley “loves” Sam Dekker, the Wisconsin small forward who’s in the mix for Miami’s pick at No. 10.

But we’ve also spoken to people who said Riley likes Kentucky guard Devin Booker, Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson and Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky. Another said not to discount Kansas small forward Kelly Oubre or Kentucky power forward Trey Lyles.

In my conversations with two scouts and three TV/draft analysts, Booker is the prospect in that group who gets the strongest endorsements.

“I think Booker is the next Klay Thompson,” CBS’ Doug Gottlieb said. “Ten would be too high for Decker. He will have to become a more prolific shooter.”

### The Heat, looking for another young shooting guard, has been auditioning a bunch who will go after the first-round or undrafted:

They're trying to schedule high-scoring All-ACC combo guard Olivier Hanlan of Boston College to come in and meet with team officials; they like the three-point shooting of Auburn's TK Harrell, who auditioned recently; and they have a Thursday visit with FSU’s Aaron Thomas (the Seminoles’ leading scorer before being declared ineligible), according to Thomas' Miami Beach-based agent Seth Cohen.

Louisville point guard Terry Rozier, another Cohen client and a borderline first-rounder, also has a Heat visit tentatively planned but might need to cancel because of a schedule conflict.... Miami has become a breeding ground for sports agents (NFL's Drew Rosenhaus, David Canter, Brett Tessler, MLB’s Scott Shapiro, NBA’s Pedro Power, among others). Cohen --- a 17-year Miami Beach resident who played college ball at Yeshiva in New York --– is the latest, with his six clients ranking among the most for an agent in this NBA draft. Impressive for a guy who ran a mortgage business and an Asian restaurant on Miami Beach before breaking into the agent business in 2008.

### Baseball America and ESPN have the Marlins selecting Texas high school outfielder Trenton Clark with the 12th overall pick in Monday’s amateur draft. ESPN’s Keith Law says the Marlins also have been linked to right-handers James Kaprielian (UCLA) and Phil Bickford (Southern Nevada). College pitching appeals to the Marlins.

### How is Dan Jennings adjusting to the manager’s job?

“Good guy [but] there’s a learning curve,” one Marlins player said last week, adding it has been difficult at times. “He’s leaning on his staff.”

He said players don’t make suggestions to Jennings because they don’t want to overstep their bounds. The Marlins are 7-11 under Jennings.   

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 05, 2015

Friday night Dolphins notes: Parker fallout; Tannehill on punter's insult; Coyle addresses issues

Some quick Friday night Dolphins notes:

### DeVante Parker’s foot surgery, which his agent says comes with an eight-week recovery timetable, isn’t a huge setback, but it is a mild setback in two ways:

1) Though Parker has been exceptional catching the ball in OTAs, he was still working on “cleaning up his route running,” as Ryan Tannehill noted to Dan Le Batard on ESPN Radio this week. That will now have to wait.

2) Some Dolphins people had expected Parker to emerge as a starter in Week 1, but that seems far less likely if he plays only a game or two --- or none at all --- in preseason.

The good news is Parker is expected back for the regular season opener Sept. 13 in Washington. And receiver is Miami’s deepest position.

### Tannehill said Parker has come “as advertised. He can catch it with a defender on his back, can track it really well, can make a tough catch, can high point it in the red zone.”

### Le Batard asked Tannehill where Tannehill can improve.

“First of all, red zone. We led the league getting into the red zone but didn't score enough touchdowns.”

Asked if the deep ball criticism is fair, he conceded: “There have definitely been times I missed throws I could have made down the field. It's something I'm working consistently to get better at.”

### Tannehill was asked his reaction to Colts punter Pat McAfee tweeting: “Well today's market showed that a 25-25 record gets you 96 million American dollars... Andrew's about to own a team I think #Tannehill #Luck.”

Tannehill was diplomatic: “Everyone is going to have something to say. It's indifferent to me…. I'm here at the facility working to get better.... If they give Luck the team, good for him.”

Le Batard asked if Tannehill even knew who McAfee was. “Now that you reminded me,” Tannehill quipped.

### Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, speaking to the team-owned Finsiders, on Miami signing Ndamukong Suh: “I was thrilled. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to be around him and see how he works, it’s even more exciting. He’s a rare talent. He’s a smart player,… powerful, quick…. He’s an ascending player in my opinion. He’s a team guy.”

On Suh and Cameron Wake, Coyle said: “I see a chemistry already developing between those two that will be real exciting to watch as the season unfolds next year. They will help each other in a lot of ways.”

### Coyle said Brice McCain “has been the ultimate pro since the day he got here. He has tremendous quickness and top end speed.”

### Coyle said “a guy who’s really stood out is Walt Aikens. He’s playing at the safety spot. Will get some work at corner. He has really stepped up his game.”

### Coyle loves the group of the rookie corners, four new rookie linebackers and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, among others.

“The thing that impresses me most about this rookie group is they don’t act like rookies,” he said. “This is as good a rookie group as I’ve ever been around as far as how they’ve approached it.”

### Greg Likens asked Coyle to explain what he means when he says he’s simplifying the defense.

“It means identifying what our guys do best…. By simplifying things, we say we have these players we’re working with, as opposed to them fitting into the scheme. Let’s see what they do best and really focus on those things as opposed to having a lot of volume on the defense. Our guys have done a great job of mastering what we’re doing.”

### The Dolphins waived linebacker Jake Knott, who needed knee surgery that will sideline him for several months.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 04, 2015

Team-organized kickball event shelves Sturgis; Dolphins, Canes, Marlins chatter; Wade/Dragic talk

BUZZ COLUMN

So how did Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis sustain a quadriceps injury to his non-kicking leg?

Oddly enough, during a team-organized kickball event, according to three sources.

The Dolphins decided to schedule a team-building activity following a recent practice and someone in a position of authority –-- it’s unclear if it was a coach or the strength/conditioning staff  --- decided on a game of kickball.

But that idea turned regrettable when Sturgis sustained a strained quad to his plant leg, an injury that will sideline him for the remainder of the team’s offseason practices, which run through June 18.

Sturgis will resume activity in two to three weeks and is optimistic about being ready for training camp, barring a setback.

The Dolphins and Sturgis’ agent, Paul Sheehy, declined to comment.

The Dolphins know they're going to get criticized for this and there is disappointment internally about this. So I'm not going to lampoon or pile on with criticism here for something that was regrettable but also could be considered something of a flukish injury.

That said, it would clearly be safer to have the players go to a movie or play arcade games at Dave and Busters, something Joe Philbin has done with his team in the past.

Ultimately, it won't be a big deal if Sturgis heals by the end of June, as everyone expects.

One other thought: Some fans voiced frustration with Sturgis on Twitter on Monday, but he’s certainly not to blame for this. Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi has praised how hard Sturgis has worked this offseason.

This much is clear: The Dolphins need Sturgis to heal, win the job and deliver his best season, because even though his competition in camp, rookie Andrew Franks, has a strong leg and has made several 50-plus yard field goals in OTAs, Franks’ accuracy is erratic and he connected on just 37 of 56 field goals at RPI in New York. And the available veteran kickers (Shayne Graham, Jay Feeley) would be merely end-of-their-career stopgaps.

CHATTER

### The Dolphins are hoping to leave defenses scrambling and confused by moving receivers to different positions, something they finally have the personnel to do.

“It makes every play call a threat,” Jarvis Landry said.

For Landry, that means getting some snaps on the boundary --– something he covets.

Echoing a point that his agent, Demarius Bilbo, made earlier this offseason, Landry said this week: “I don't want to be limited to a slot player. I want to have the opportunity to do a lot of different things. The more I do that, the more I show coaches to trust me to put me out there.”

Said Bilbo: “He wants people to know he can be a guy who can go deep. He wants to make plays all over the field. He wants to prove people wrong.

“He feels he’s a No. 1 guy with Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline gone. He has a chip on his shoulder. He still talks about the draft, can’t believe he was passed over by this many teams.”

### So what would happen in the worst-case scenario of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng all leaving the Heat this summer? 

Miami then would have about $46 million committed to 10 players (add $1.3 million if Michael Beasley is retained) -- well below the $67 million cap but not nearly enough cap space to replace the quality lost. If either Wade or Dragic re-signs and the other two leave, the Heat would have practically nothing beyond exception-type money to replace two starters, which would be a major problem.

What’s more, the top 2015 unrestricted free agents play power-rotation positions where the Heat is set: Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Brook Lopez, Paul Millsap and Greg Monroe.

Top 2015 free agents among perimeter players: moody Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Wes Matthews and Lou Williams. Eric Gordon has a team option.

### If Wade leaves, how would that affect the Heat’s chances of retaining Dragic?

“We are monitoring closely what’s going on; Wade is a very important piece for Miami's future; he’s a superstar,” said one of Dragic’s two agents, Rade Filipovich, expressing optimism that the Heat will retain Wade. “Goran wants Wade to stay. But it's my opinion. I can’t answer for Goran. It’s not the focus for Goran.”

### Marlins reliever Carter Capps has been so impressive since his promotion from the minors (11 innings, 19 strikeouts, one run, five hits) that catcher J.T. Realmuto said several hitters, during at-bats, have marveled about his stuff. “Guys have said, ‘Wow: How am I supposed to hit that?’” Realmuto said.

And the Marlins love how A.J. Ramos has thrived in the closer role. Ramos (who now has 206 strikeouts and allowed just 116 hits in 179 2/3 career innings) said that during a game, “on a 3-2 count,” he will think about “how somebody said I wasn’t good enough… I always use that as motivation.”

The Marlins had been poking around for bullpen help but didn’t want to pay Rafael Soriano his $4 million asking price because he didn’t look ready to help anytime soon.

They now seem more comfortable with what they have, despite regression from Bryan Morris (batters hitting .333 off him) and recently-demoted Steve Cishek (.321).

“Our bullpen was among the league leaders to finish last season,” Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill said. “The same guys that were in that pen last year and had success are back this year.”

### Amid Internet speculation that UM junior slugger David Thompson could return to Miami next season if he’s not drafted high enough to his liking next week, an associate said it’s still more likely he turns pro, though not certain.

“We’re hearing first five rounds,” his father, Ed Thompson, said of David’s draft range. “If he falls past the first 10 rounds, there’s a stronger possibility of him coming back. We will have to see how it plays out. It’s David’s decision.”

Thompson is hitting .340, leads the nation in RBI (85) and is tied for the lead nationally with 19 home runs.

### On a day when Seattle promoted one former UM linebacker (Dan Morgan) to director of pro personnel, another, Colin McCarthy, told our Susan Miller Degnan that he’s retiring.

Later Thursday, the free agent linebacker told The Tennessean that his persistent shoulder problems led him to this decision. He missed last season with a shoulder injury that required a fourth surgery and he failed a physical with the New England Patriots this spring. The Dolphins did not pursue him in their offseason linebacker search.

“Rather than coming back and doing something stupid and reinjuring it, I came to peace with basically hanging it up,'' said McCarthy, a fourth-round pick in 2011 who appeared in 36 games with 19 starts, all with Tennessee. "I was very fortunate to get four years in the NFL.

"There's a bunch of would've, could've and should've,'' he told The Tennessean.  "But injuries are a part of the game. And when I did play I gave it all I had and didn't take much consideration for my body, and I really think that is why the injuries came, the surgeries came."

Incidentally, a new report by Inside the League indicates McCarthy’s agent, South Florida-based Drew Rosenhaus, by far and away leads agents in NFL player clients with 95. Ranking second: Joel Segal with 53.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

June 03, 2015

Broadcast notes: NBA Finals, college football; historic NFL move; UM recruiting

Wednesday night media notes and a few other things:

### Because the Warriors fired him after last season, some have asked whether ABC should use Mark Jackson as an analyst on the NBA Finals. We don't have the slightest problem with it.

If anything, his insights should make his analysis more interesting, if he’ll willing to share some level of inside knowledge. Jackson hasn't come off as blantantly pro- or anti-Warrior during ABC's coverage this postseason.

“I read articles that I shouldn't be doing it,” Jackson said on an ABC conference call.  “To me, it was laughable.  I'm having the time of my life calling games.”

After the Warriors won the Western Conference Finals, Warriors forward Draymond Green came over to ESPN’s broadcast location at midcourt and gave Jackson a hug.  Jackson reacted emotionally, which was understandable and human.

“If you came to my church, you would say, ‘Well, he cries every week,’” Jackson said.  “People say thank you.  People show appreciation.  I'm an emotional guy.  That was all it was.  One guy saying thank you and me appreciating his thoughts and his feelings.”

ABC co-analyst Jeff Van Gundy then chimed in:  “I just want to add something.  He bought me dinner the other night, and I said thank you, and the dude was bawling when I said thanks to him like that.  This guy, he is emotional.  He's crazy.”  

### Jackson declined to say if he’s rooting for the Warriors but said calling their games is not awkward.  

### Van Gundy, who makes you think more than most analysts, raised this point: "You know what's interesting --- and Mark was talking about how both sides think you want the other team to win sometimes…. I think a similarly good question is how forthright does the audience want the broadcasters to be?  Because when you tell your truth, there's a lot of anger that comes out. 

“Even within ‑‑ like I think it's a good question to ask TV people too.  How much truth do they want to be told?  How much truth does the league want told?  Because the truth isn't just a positive truth.  If you're going to tell the truth, you would be telling a lot of positive and some negative."

Van Gundy later ranted about how the Bulls handled the firing of his close friend and former assistant Tom Thibodeau.

“The statement they put out [trying to justify the firing] when they let Tom go proves once again that every organization needs a vice president of common sense because when you have a public relations, high powered public relations business put that out and then you have multiple people have to co‑sign it to put it out, and it just absolutely wreaked of a lack of class, it shows that you just need somebody to say whoa,” Van Gundy said.  “Let's just acknowledge his greatness, Thibodeau's greatness, and let's just move on, but it didn't happen that way. 

“And in some ways, in an odd way, I think it was good because, to me, that statement revealed exactly who each person was.  It reveals who Jerry Reinsdorf is.  It reveals who Gar Forman is.  And Tom Thibodeau's statement reveals who he is.  Everybody had to put their name finally on who they were, and they did.  I think that's great."

### Something historic: The NFL announced that Yahoo has been awarded rights to the Jacksonville-Buffalo Week 7 game in London, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Miami time. It will be the first game in NFL history televised only on the Internet outside the home markets. (Buffalo and Jacksonville will get the game on their CBS affiliate.) 

CNN reported Yahoo is paying at least $10 million for rights to carry the game, which will be available for free on-line. The NFL says it’s doing this as an experiment. DirecTV won't be permitted to make the game available to Sunday Ticket subscribers.

### For college football fans big on early planning, here’s Fox’s first-three-week schedule released this week, including a Miami game: 

 

Thursday, September 3

Conference

Network

8:30 PM       

Michigan at Utah

Pac-12

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 5

 

 

3:30 PM

Virginia at UCLA

Pac-12

FOX

 

 

 

 

10:00 PM

Mississippi St. at Southern Miss

C-USA

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

12:00 PM

South Dakota St. at Kansas

Big 12

FSN

 

 

 

 

7:30 PM

Georgia Southern at West Virginia

Big 12

FSN

 

 

 

 

Sunday, September 6

 

 

3:00 PM       

Purdue at Marshall

C-USA

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 10

 

 

8:00 PM

LA Tech at WKU

C-USA

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 11

 

 

8:00 PM

Miami (Fla.) at Florida Atlantic

C-USA

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 12

 

 

4:30 PM

Iowa at Iowa St.

Big 12

FOX

 

 

 

 

12:00 PM

K-State at UTSA

C-USA

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

10:30 PM

UCF at Stanford

Pac-12

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7:30 PM

Central Arkansas at Oklahoma St.

Big 12

FSN

7:30 PM

Lamar at Baylor

Big 12

FSN

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 19

 

 

7:30 PM

Cal at Texas

Big 12

FOX

 

 

 

 

12:00 PM

Tulsa at Oklahoma

Big 12

FOX Sports 1

3:30 PM

UTSA at Oklahoma St.

Big 12

FOX Sports 1

10:30 PM

BYU at UCLA

Pac-12

FOX Sports 1

 

 

 

 

3:00 PM

LA Tech at K-State

Big 12

FSN

8:00 PM

SMU at TCU

Big 12

FSN

 

 

 

 

2:30 PM

Rice at North Texas

C-USA

FCS

 

 

 

 

Friday, September 25

 

 

10:00 PM

Stanford at Oregon St.

Pac-12

FOX Sports 1

 

ABC/ESPN haven’t released their early-season schedules yet, but a bunch of games have been disclosed by conferences, including UM-Nebraska at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 19.

### Couple other quick things: Guard Torin Dorn, who is transferring from Charlotte after a coaching change, visited UM today, according to CBS, and reportedly will decide between the Hurricanes and North Carolina State, according to a Wolfpack fan web site.

Dorn, a 6-5 guard, was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year last year after averaging 12 points…. 

As part of the Seminole Boosters 2015 spring tour, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher will mingle with fans at the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport and Cruise Port Hotel on Thursday. The event, which runs from 6 to 11 p.m., includes a meet and greet with Fisher, casino games and an auction.

Admission is $50 and also includes food and a gold card with points for casino chips and alcohol. Those who want to pay $100 admission receive multiple other perks, including photo opportunities with Fisher and a chance to kick a field goal in the second quarter of FSU's Sept. 5 opener against Texas State (we kid).

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

June 02, 2015

Asking and answering questions on Wade, Heat scenarios: Dolphins notes; Canes recruiting; Marlins

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Answering questions (some yours, some mine) on Dwyane Wade:

### The Heat would love for Wade to take a reduced salary like two other Hall of Fame-caliber players have: Tim Duncan (who earned $10.4 million this season) and Dirk Nowitzki ($7.9 million). Wade apparently has no interest in making anything close to that low. So is that reasonable on Wade’s part?

Absolutely. Here’s why: The comparisons between Wade and Duncan and Nowitzki aren’t fair at this point because the Spurs and Mavericks stars didn’t take big cuts until well beyond this point in Wade’s career.

Wade will be entering his 13th season in the NBA. In seasons 13 through 15, Nowitzki earned $17.3 million, $19.1 million and $20.9 million, and Duncan earned $22.2 million, $18.7 million and $21.2 million.

A Wade associate has told people that Wade would welcome a contract averaging $20 million annually over the next three years. If that's true, it would be understandable, considering the year 13-15 pay ranges for Duncan and Nowitzki. Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, politely declined to confirm that or anything regarding Wade's specific financial expectations.

We've heard the Heat would prefer Wade opt in for $16 million next season, then take a very significant pay cut over the following two years. 

But it's important to note that those numbers were not confirmed by the Heat, which obviously isn't saying what it will offer when formal offers can be made July 1. And I would be surprised if the Heat didn't make a solid offer at that time; whether it's to Wade's liking is another story entirely that must play out.

The variable with Wade, of course, is that he missed 28 and 20 games the past two seasons, whereas Duncan and Nowitzki never missed more than seven in any of the four seasons before their 13th.

The injuries concern the Heat, according to a Heat official, and that's understandable, too.

But in Wade's defense, the Heat sat him in some games two years ago that he could have played in. (Remember the maintanance program?) And he appeared in 86 of 87 playoff games in the Big Three era.

And also consider this: Wade has never made $20 million in a season, making him a bargain by superstar standards. Carmelo Anthony has done it twice and will at least four more times. Kobe Bryant has done it seven times (three times pocketing at least $25 million) and will once more.

Incidentally, in years 5 through 12 of their careers, Wade and Duncan each made $15.4 million on average and Nowitzki $14.6 million. Tony Parker made $11.4 million on average.

### Why doesn’t the Heat give Wade a one-year deal for the $23.5 million maximum in 2015-16, then pay him less the next two?

Miami could do that, but it would result in an astronomical tax bill next season for Micky Arison --- $65 million or even higher if Luol Deng opts in and if Goran Dragic gets close to a max contract.

The tax is more onerous because the Heat is a “repeater” tax team, having paid the tax three of the past four seasons.

### Wade spoke last summer of being interested in seeing what he could command next summer when the cap jumps to $89 million. So why does he now prefer to opt out of $16.1 million next season?

According to associates, Wade decided he wants the longterm security now instead of waiting. At 33, that seems like a prudent approach. Thomas said that there's no definite decision from Wade on the opt out, but the Heat is aware his preference at this point is to opt out.

### But can’t the Heat sign other free agents in 2016, then exceed the cap to sign Wade and Hassan Whiteside?

If Wade is a free agent in the summer of 2016, he clogs Miami’s cap (this is called a cap hold) at a rate of 150 percent of this coming season’s salary, until he signs a new deal.

Whiteside has no full Bird Rights in 2016, so the Heat must fit his salary under the $89 million cap. There is one way around that: Whiteside's Early Bird rights in 2016 allow the Heat --- in the summer of 2016 --- to offer him slightly more than next year's average salary (about $6 million) and exceed the cap that way, but that probably wouldn't be enough to re-sign him if he plays next season at the same level he did this season. Early Bird deals must be two years; Whiteside likely could command more than that as an unrestricted free agent.

Incidentally, while some are predicting Whiteside could lure a mega-deal next summer, the Heat still hopes it can sign him to a more reasonable amount for 2016-17, then possibly reward him if warranted with a bigger pay day in 2017, when he gets full Bird Rights, should he be willing to take a two-year deal with an opt out after 2016-17. Or the Heat could give him a longer deal next summer but not close to the max. 

But it remains to be seen if Whiteside simply takes the highest offer next July or whether he rewards the Heat for being the team that showed the most faith in him last November.

### The Heat wants to retain some 2016 flexibility because it holds out hope of landing a star free agent in 2016, with Kevin Durant the preference. How realistic is it for Miami to keep its four best players and land an impact free agent in 2016?

The odds are stacked against it. Here’s one way that the Heat could do it: If Wade takes about $10 million and Whiteside about $8 million or vice versa for 2016-17 (hard to see that in either case); if Dragic accepts something like $98 million over five years instead of the maximum $113 million and then takes the maximum-permitted 7.5 percent pay cut from year one to two, with the promise his salary would be raised the maximum-allowed 7.5 percent each of the final three years; if Josh McRoberts is traded for little or no money back; and if the rest of the roster is composed of minimum contracts and a projected $2.5 million for this year’s No. 10 draft pick.

In that scenario, Miami could carve out a max offer for Durant or something close for DeMar DeRozan or less than that for Chandler Parsons. Or the Heat could give Wade and Whiteside more money and leave room for a third-tier small forward such as Danilo Gallinari.

Here's another: Get Whiteside to agree to a two-year Early Bird contract (starting at $6 million); Miami can exceed the cap for that. But as noted above, I have a hard time seeing Whiteside agreeing to that unless he regresses next season. 

While Pat Riley and Arison should never be underestimated, keep in mind that Durant not only says he’s “excited” about the Thunder’s hiring of Billy Donovan, but also has distanced himself from South Florida, having recently sold his Miami condo.

### Can Chris Bosh restructure his contract to make this all work?

No. The NBA doesn't allow it. He’ll make $23.7 million in 2016-17.

### What does this mean for Luol Deng, who has a player option for $10.1 million for next season?

It’s difficult to see Miami giving him a sizable multiyear deal, considering the desire to leave room for a run at Durant.

CHATTER

### Please see the last post for our Tuesday scoop on Bosh, who took his latest step this week in his return from his health scare.

### Dolphins defensive players have spoken of how Ndamukong Suh will make their job easier. Apparently, Suh's addition is also helping the team's interior offensive linemen.

"It's helping me," guard Billy Turner told Finsiders host Greg Likens earlier today. "I'm able to develop certain techniques, knowing I'm going against the best day in and day out in practice. Knowing in a game it's not going to be more than that... sets you mind at ease."

### Suh, in practice Monday, continued his penchant of jumping offsides. And be prepared for that, Dolphins fans: Last year, he had 10 penalties called on him. Tampa's Gerald McCoy also had 10; no other defensive tackle had more than five.

### Yes, Turner admits, moving from tackle in college to guard in Miami has been an adjustment.

"The biggest transition is moving the d-linemen closer to me," Turner said. "You want to be as far away from the ball as you can so you have reaction time. Being closer to the d-linemen challenged me early on, but I'm starting to get the pace of it. [It's about] getting your hands on the defender sooner."

### Marlins president David Samson said there is no truth to a New York Daily News report that they offered their managerial job to Jeff Conine and Mike Lowell before Dan Jennings took it.

### The reason the Marlins haven’t yet gotten that luxurious new plane, which was supposed to make traveling more comfortable for players? “Unforeseen delays in production and retrofit of the plane,” Samson said.

### Though the Marlins haven't said what will happen after Jose Fernandez makes two minor league starts Saturday and again late next week, Jennings said today that he won't return to the big leagues immediately after that. Fernandez has spoken of making as many as five minor-league starts.

### UM, which has ESPN’s No. 2 rated 2016 recruiting class, added its 23rd oral commitment today in Clewiston receiver Reginald Henderson, who's so under the radar that he didn't have any other offers and has never received any recruiting mail, according to multiple reports.

There's a reason: Henderson has been ineligible the past two seasons because of grades. But Henderson, 6-4, impressed UM coaches at Miami's 7 on 7 tournament on Sunday. He joins heralded Sam Bruce, Ahmmon Richards and Dionte Mullins among receiver oral commitments in this class.

Later in the day, three-star Maryland-based defensive end Izon Pulley became UM's 24th oral commitment, per rivals.com.

### And if you missed it, UM this week also added a second high-end running back in West Palm Beach-based Travis Homer, who averaged 9.3 yards per carry and had offers from Alabama and FSU, among others.

Among 2016 running back oral commitments for UM, he joins Coral Gables’ Amir Rasul (ESPN’s No. 81 player; averaged 7.0 per carry) and Hallandale’s Zack Moss. Pahokee’s McArthur Burnett, another UM oral commitment, expects to play cornerback at UM.  

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

June 01, 2015

Tuesday PM: Bosh back on court; Wade lands marquee TV gig; Lots of notes, quotes from Dolphins camp; Marlins

Tuesday 2 p.m.:

Good to see Chris Bosh back on the court this week after his February health scare that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Bosh --- who missed the final 30 games of the season with blood clots on his lungs --- has resumed on-court work at AmericanAirlines Arena.

I’m excited,” he said in April. “I haven’t had a chance to work on my game. I’m going to actually get to work on my game. I feel like a young fellow again out there….

“I look at it as a blessing that I have the time to work on my body, work on the things I need to work on. I never have the time usually in the offseason. But this year I have the opportunity to build slowly and correct some things I need to correct and come back next year in the best shape of my life.

I’ve had time to do a lot of thinking,” he said. “As I got ill, the afterthought was maybe I need to miss basketball. I miss it. And I’ve still got 5 ½ more months. Maybe this is what I need. I need to recharge my passion because I was getting beat down a little bit over the last four years. That’s what success does....

“Now is an opportunity to go back in the lab and really work on my game. Build that fire up. It was burning low a little bit. I was running on fumes. I’m going to watch the playoffs and really get motivated.”

Bosh recently vacationed in Peru.

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A six-pack of Heat, Dolphins and Marlins notes:

### Dwyane Wade has lined up a marquee gig this month while his agent, Henry Thomas, continues to talk to the Heat about resolving his contractual situation.

According to sources, Wade will be a studio analyst on ABC’s coverage of The NBA Finals for games two and three, and if necessary, games six and seven. An announcement is expected Tuesday.

Wade will join Sage Steele, Doug Collins and Jalen Rose on the pre-game and halftime shows, beginning with NBA Countdown at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

ABC has been trying to arrange a Wade interview of LeBron James. Now that would be some interesting television.

The former teammates remain close friends, and Wade was the one Heat person to publicly congratulate James for advancing to the Finals.

Meanwhile, Thomas said last week that he will continue to talk to the Heat about Wade's contract. Wade prefers to opt out a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season and instead sign a new three-year deal, preferably with the Heat.

The Heat prefers he opt into the contract. Wade must inform the Heat of his opt-out decision by June 29. So the Heat can keep working to try to convince Wade to opt in, but his preference to opt out has been pretty strong to this point.

By the way, ABC is expected to go without a guest studio analyst for Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday.

### The Dolphins’ kicking situation is growing more worrisome, with Caleb Sturgis now out for all of the June offseason program with a quadriceps injury to his non-kicking leg (as Fox’s Alex Marvez reported).

Sturgis has been the troubling combination of injured/inefficient during his first two seasons, and rookie Andrew Franks --- the other kicker in camp --- has a strong leg, but he too, is erratic.

Franks made three of five field goals today (including one from 54) but missed from 44 and 49 yards. During his career at RPI in New York, he was just 37 for 56 on field goals.

It’s probably time for the Dolphins to consider bringing in a veteran kicker to compete with Franks in June and potentially Sturgis during camp.

So who’s available?

Shayne Graham, who was recently cut by the Saints after New Orleans signed former Redskins seventh-rounder Zack Hocker (who was cut by Miami to make room for Franks). Graham, 37, made 19 of 22 field goals for the Saints last season and his 85.5 career percentage on field goals is seventh-best in NFL history.

Jay Feeley, 39, the former Dolphin, was 30 for 36 on FGs for Arizona in 2013 and 3 for 4 in four games for the Bears last season. Like Graham, Feeley’s 82.6 percent career average also tops Sturgis’ 77.5 career mark.

There’s also Garrett Hartley, who has an 81.7 career average. He was 3 for 3 in two games for the Browns last season after hitting 22 of 30 for the Saints in 2013.

None of the options are ideal. Perhaps the Dolphins’ best hope remains Sturgis. But there are serious reasons for concern. See Adam Beasley’s story on the home page for more on the kicker situation and other special teams issues.

### Armando Salguero has a column on defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle on the home page, and here are a few other interesting things Coyle said today:

On Chris McCain, who continues to get a lot of first-team reps at ex-Dolphin Philip Wheeler’s old strongside linebacker spot: “Chris is a really good athlete. He’s got good coverage skills. He’s got length. He’s got good pass rush skills. He’s a good blitzer. Some of his skill set lends to the linebacker position. Some of it lends to being a pass rusher. Our charge right now is to make sure he’s getting enough work rushing the passer and at the linebacker position. He’s been getting a lot of base work at linebacker and a lot of rush work with our nickel package.”

On cornerback Tony Lippett, who had three impressive interceptions today: “He’s got excellent ball skills, great hands. He’s a very good athlete. But I would not just want to single Tony out because I think our young group overall has really stepped up and been playing well. Tony has done a nice job.”

Coyle said Jamar Taylor, who continues to get a lot of first-team reps at cornerback, has been impressive: “Jamar’s done an outstanding job. He’s come into it very confidently, coming through a good offseason. He’s got his shoulder back rehabbed and ready to go. I see a real spark in Jamar the way he’s practicing.”

### A few offensive OTA observations: Tight end Jordan Cameron made a couple of nifty catches over the middle, including one for a touchdown.  “I really like the ways he’s fit into the offense so far,” Joe Philbin said…. Tim Semisch, the 6-8 rookie from Northern Illinois, also caught a TD pass across the middle and continues to impress….

Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas remained the first-team guards and neither embarrassed himself. Sam Brenner and Jamil Douglas got second-team snaps.  “Jamil has picked up the system well and he’s competitive and Sam Brenner’s been with us for a couple of years, so we’re just kind of looking at different combinations,” Philbin said… Josh Freeman was better than a week ago and threw two TDs but still makes some cringe-worthy throws….

With a lot of the emphasis on red zone work, Ryan Tannehill didn’t throw a deep ball in 11 on 11s… Kenny Stills dropped a TD in the end zone… LaMichael James, who’s ahead of Mike Gillislee as the No. 4 back, also dropped a pass.

### A few defensive OTA observations: Looks like Anthony Johnson has the early edge, with Jordan Phillips, for the backup defensive tackle jobs… Olivier Vernon had two would-be sacks…. Terrence Fede also had one…

Though the throws could have been much better, Lippett made good reads on his three picks. This was an eye-opening day for the rookie. As Philbin said: “The fact of the matter is, he got his hands, he kept his hands on three footballs. That’s a good thing no matter how you look at it.”…

Kelvin Sheppard continues to get some first-team work at middle linebacker, flanked by Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi.

### Jose Fernandez, who was awfully impressive in an instructional league appearance today (see Manny Navarro’s story for more), will start for Jupiter on Saturday and make at least one additional start in the minors. Fernandez could make as many as five minor-league starts, but the Marlins could opt to bring him to the majors sooner than that. He seems on course to return by late June or early July.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz  

May 30, 2015

Marlins vow not to repeat 2012 purge; Wade; UM recruiting; Dolphins notes

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The last time the Marlins went on a spending spree and flopped --- just like they’re doing this season --- owner Jeffrey Loria pressed the “reset button” and slashed payroll from $101 million in 2012 to $50 million and $45 million the next two seasons.

So might Loria again shed salary to dramatically reduce the Marlins’ $81 million payroll, of which $12.5 million is being covered by the Dodgers?

Marlins president David Samson insisted that’s not going to happen again.

“No,” Samson said adamantly. “These are our players and they need to play better. And we need to win more games.”

So any talk of again hitting the reset button? “No. Absolutely not,” Samson said. Nor apparently is Loria so fed up that’s he ready to give up and sell, despite receiving occasional overtures.

Let’s be clear: If the Marlins remain well below .500 (they're 10 under after winning two in a row against the Mets), there should be roster changes and there assuredly will be. But what Loria absolutely cannot do is drastically reduce payroll for the next two years as he did after the 2012 debacle.

Even if the Marlins become sellers this summer and take cheaper players back in trades, they simply must re-invest that money next offseason and maintain a payroll at least in this current range, preferably higher heading into 2016. Not re-allocating money saved in trades would be a punch to the gut of Marlins fans and their best players.  

Frankly, there’s less the Marlins can do now to shed big contracts than they did in 2012, when Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle all had trade value.

Injured Michael Morse (two years, $16 million), injured Mat Latos (one year, $9.4 million) and Steve Cishek (one year, $6.5 million) don’t have much trade value the way they’re playing, though that would change if Latos and Cishek return to form.

The Marlins aren’t trading Christian Yelich, who had a big hit today and is finally coming out of his slump; he’s due just $1 million next season in the second year of seven-year, $49 million deal. Marcell Ozuna is very cheap for another two years.

Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria obviously aren’t going anywhere, though Hechavarria will become more expensive this offseason.

A few players who could attract interest if the Marlins become sellers: Martin Prado (the Yankees are paying $3 million of his $11 million salary both this year and next); Dan Haren (the Dodgers are paying his $10 million, which the Marlins have allocated to pay Latos) and Mike Dunn (signed for 2015 and 2016 at a combined $5.8 million). But dealing Prado would leave a gaping hole at third base.

And here’s another problem: The Marlins’ farm system is bereft of offensive prospects above Single A. Their top four position player prospects, according to Baseball America, are a long way away: second baseman Avery Romero (.279, 15 RBI at Class A Jupiter), outfielder Isael Soto (.125 at low-level Class A Greensboro and now out with a torn meniscus), third baseman/second baseman Brian Anderson (.235, 21 RBI at Jupiter) and outfielder Austin Dean (.280, 25 RBI at Jupiter).

There’s greater depth among pitching prospects, including Tyler Kolek (last year’s No. 2 overall pick has been uneven at Greensboro: 3-2, 4.73 ERA); lefty Justin Nicolino (“chance to be a back-end starter,” a scout for an American League team said); Jose Urena (was hit hard Tuesday in his Marlins season debut; “his secondary stuff is not very good; probably projects as a reliever,” the scout said); Kendrys Flores (3-3, 2.06 ERA in Double A Jacksonville; acquired from San Francisco in the Casey McGehee trade); and 2013 second-rounder Trevor Williams (1-6, 5.40 in Jacksonville).

Asked if Loria is dispirited, Samson said: “We all share the frustration. None of us ever believed this team would ever be 10 under .500. But it’s never too late. It’s still early enough in the season to turn it around.”

CHATTER

### If Dwyane Wade surprisingly leaves Miami, where would he go?

Two associates mentioned the Lakers as a possibility (he has a good relationship with Kobe Bryant) and another referenced Dallas. For what it’s worth, the Knicks have oodles of cap space and Carmelo Anthony reportedly attended Wade’s wedding.

So Wade will have options if he wants to have options. Wade’s preference is to stay if Miami makes him a “priority” financially, as one friend termed it.

### If Wade and the Heat compromise, a salary in the $15 million range in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 would be the logical end point. That would be less than what Wade wants but more than the Heat wants to give him those seasons, according to an associate briefed on the discussions. As of late this week, the sides weren't at all close in finding a middle ground. 

But even if the Heat could get Wade and Hassan Whiteside starting at $15 million each in 2016-17 --- and Whiteside could end up commanding more than that --- the Heat (with Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic) still couldn’t afford the top free agent small forwards in 2016 such as Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green, neither of whom would be available if they re-sign as restricted free agents before that.

And even if they trade Josh McRoberts in that scenario, Miami still probably couldn’t even afford the next tier of 2016 free agent small forwards, such as Chandler Parsons (player option), Nic Batum, Jeff Green and restricted free agent Harrison Barnes because their market value will increase as the cap skyrockets. (Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler are among other small forwards set for free agency in 2016, should the Heat move on from Luol Deng.)

Bottom line: Regardless of what Miami pays Wade, the odds are against the Heat being able to make a real significant move in 2016 free agency if Bosh, Dragic and Whiteside are all earning big money.

In determining what to pay Wade, the variable Miami can't predict is whether Whiteside will do enough next season to earn something close to a max contract. Remember: the Heat is not permitted to sign Whiteside until July 2016 and must save the cap space to fit Whiteside under the $89 million without surpassing it to sign him.

### The Dolphins, who are obviously shaky at guard, inquired in recent days about guard Chris Chester, who started the past four seasons for the Redskins before being cut last week. But Miami wasn't as aggressive as Atlanta, which signed him on Saturday.

The Dolphins, for now, continue to hope that a combination of Billy Turner, Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas can fill two starting spots. If they prove incapable, the Dolphins could turn to Jason Fox, J.D. Walton, Jeff Linkenbach, Jacques McClendon or another veteran in August or early September.

### Something encouraging about new Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi: Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (San Diego's first-round pick) and Ajayi were the only two college running backs who caused opposing defensive players to miss more than 60 tackles last season, ESPN's KC Joyner told us. No other back had more than 50.

### Interesting career move: Former Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman took a job as a high school coach at Nauset Regional in Massachusetts. Good for him.

### There’s at least one coach skeptical about UM snagging oral commitments from 30 players (21 for 2016, five for 2017, four for 2018), which is by far the most in the Atlantic Coast Conference. By comparison, FSU has 17 over the next three seasons, including 14 in the upcoming class.

"There's an unnamed ACC team that's got this recruiting class full, another one almost full and half of the other one full, too," California coach Sonny Dykes, who didn’t mention Miami by name, told ESPN.

"Do they really think they're going to sign those guys? I mean, that's done as a signal: ‘We're ahead of the game, we know what we're doing, we're really cool,' and so there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than trying to find the best football players."

Though UM’s 2016 class is well-regarded, Dykes offers this caution: “If you look at Texas, they were done with [the next year's] recruiting class… by the second week of February… and a lot of those guys didn't pan out.”

### Plantation American Heritage coach and former UM player Mike Rumph told WQAM in February that he met with Al Golden to express his concerns that UM coaches need to make themselves more visible at local schools, like he says Southeastern Conference coaches do.

And now? “It has been a 100 percent change,” Rumph told me Friday. “They are connecting with guys on Twitter, being around a lot more.”

He said receivers coach Kevin Beard, defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio and defensive line coach Randy Melvin have all come by his school this spring.

And on Sunday, UM hosts a seven-on-seven tournament involving 48 local high schools. The on-campus tournament begins at 10 a.m., runs all day and is open to the public.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz    

May 29, 2015

Saturday: Ex-Heat player arrested for fraud; Dolphins coaches opine on issues; Heat nuggets; NFL players go homeless (briefly)

One quick item from this morning regarding a familiar name:

Chris Gatling, who played 78 games for the Heat and was a member of the team on three different occasions many years ago, was arrested in Scottsdale, Arizona on Thursday, on allegations that he masterminded an illegel credit card and identity theft scam, according to TMZ.

This wasn't his first brush with the law; he was arrested on theft and forgery charges two years ago.

Here's the TMZ link with details:

http://www.tmz.com/2015/05/29/nba-all-star-chris-gatling-arrested-arizona-credit-card-scam-kingpin/#ixzz3bdCIek1s

Gatling came over to the Heat in the Tim Hardaway trade in February 1996 and averaged 15.2 points in 24 late-season games for Miami in 1995-96.

The Heat acquired him twice more --- once, via trade, when he was on the team for just two months before being traded again, and another in time in 2001. He played 54 games in that final stint with Miami in 2001-02. The former All-Star played 11 years in the league.

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A six-pack of notes on a Friday night:

We shared some insights from Dolphins offensive line coach John Benton in a post on Tuesday. Here are a few more notable comments from Dolphins coaches this week:

### Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi told The Finsiders’ Greg Likens that there’s still faith in Caleb Sturgis, who finished 29th and 28th in field goal percentage his first two seasons and is now being challenged by RPI rookie Andrew Franks, who’s an underdog in this race.

“Caleb is a talented player; he hasn't lost that talent,” Rizzi said. “The first thing Caleb would tell you is he hasn't been as consistent as he's wanted to be. His injuries have hampered him a little bit…. It's been a little bit of a rollercoaster. He has been working his tail off. I haven’t seen a guy in the building more than him this offseason. I still think the arrow is up on this guy.”

### Incumbent Jarvis Landry, Alabama rookie Christion Jones (who returned two punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns at Alabama) and Kenny Stills all worked on returns this week, and Rizzi spoke of the challenges of using Landry both at receiver and in the return game.

“Obviously we know what he means to the offense,” Rizzi said. “He’s a valuable offensive player. And that is a delicate balance. It’s one of your jobs as a special teams coach to know how much play time the offensive and defensive starters are getting and factor that in.

"We’re trying to develop more of a stable of returners so we can have a little deeper pool. A guy like Damien Williams we saw back there a couple of times last year in kickoff returns. Jarvis is still a huge part of what we’re going to do. He’s a very talented player."

Landry finished fourth in the NFL in kickoff return average at 28.2 and 13th in punt returns at 8.2.

### I asked offensive coordinator Bill Lazor this week if he expects the additions of Jordan Cameron and DeVante Parker will help the Dolphins evolve from below average to above average in the red zone.

Curiously, Lazor didn’t discuss either of those players in his answer, instead opting to put the onus on himself.

“Let’s put it on me,” he said. “We’ve put the responsibility on me to evaluate the guys that we have and to use each of them the way they can best be used in the red zone. That’s the promise I’ve made to them. We haven’t started working on it in this setting yet, but we worked on it on air, we were at a pretty high completion percentage on air. That’s a start. I think that’s my responsibility and the coaching staff, to evaluate the guys you have and use them how they should be used.”

### Lazor on Dallas Thomas, who has been getting first-team reps at left guard: “I saw improvement as the season went on from the preseason through the season and I expect nothing less because Dallas has been busting his butt. I think everyone is going to be happy with the direction he’s going. Certainly we’re all rooting for him.”

### Couple Heat items: According to his agent, Luol Deng hasn’t made a decision about whether to opt out of a contract worth $10.1 million next season.

Apparently, Deng and the Heat are still mulling their options. If he opted out, it would be to try to get the security of a multiyear deal, as Dwyane Wade is currently exploring…

Mario Chalmers underwent arthroscopic knee surgery today but the Heat said he’ll be ready for training camp…. The Heat’s home preseason games: Charlotte Oct. 4, San Antonio Oct. 12, Washington Oct. 21. Tickets are already on sale.

### Media notes: The NBA Finals aren’t starting until next Thursday because the league decided (beginning last year) to set firm dates --- without a possible move-up –-- for logistical reasons.

Something unusual: Two St. Louis Rams immersed themselves into the city’s homeless community for an ESPN report airing at 10 a.m. Sunday, with re-airings on later editions of SportsCenter. 

In an attempt to get a closer look at the hardships homeless people in America endure, Rams defensive ends William Hayes and Chris Long took to the streets for 24 hours with no place to sleep or eat, no connection to the outside world and only $4 each. 

ESPN says “Haynes and Long wore second-hand clothing and makeup was used to help conceal their identities. They were outfitted with small cameras and microphones, and an ESPN crew observed them.”

Hayes: “It was the worst night I’ve ever had in my life for sure …. My body hurts so bad right now.” 

Long: “It’s amazing though when that cop went to talk to me, just how unsettled that felt, compared to like if a cop normally talks to me walking down the street.” 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

May 28, 2015

Fallout, notes, thoughts on Wade/Heat contract impasse; Dolphins, Canes, Marlins

FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Please see the last post for our scoop on the Dwyane Wade/Heat contract impasse, which has left Wade mulling whether to opt out of his contract in late June and potentially consider other teams:

Here are some additional points to keep in mind: 

### One Wade associate said the Wade camp's impression is that the Heat believes Wade is bluffing and that he wouldn’t really leave.

It's still difficult to envision Wade leaving and only Wade knows for sure if he would really leave if the Heat refuses to budge in contract talks.

That said, several Wade associates have said he's open to considering signing elsewhere if the Heat doesn't increase its offer. And one of them said Wade simply wants to feel like he is being taken care of, like he's being treated completely fairly.

As hard as it is to see Wade departing, don't underestimate a proud, accomplished athlete's desire to feel appreciated.

It's not like Wade is asking for Kobe Bryant money, either. Kobe will make $78 million over a three-year period, including next season. But at the same time, Wade doesn't want to make far below what elite players earn. That's certainly a justifiable position.

### That said, this is certainly not a case of the Heat wanting to mistreat Wade. From Miami's perspective, this has everything to do with preserving cap flexibility.

Here’s what the decision essentially comes down to for Pat Riley and Micky Arison: If they give Wade the big-money contract he wants, and if they give Hassan Whiteside the type of huge contract he could command as an unrestricted free agent next summer, is a nucleus of Wade, Chris Bosh, Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Josh McRoberts (and potentially Luol Deng) enough to contend for a championship if supplemented only with very low-money role players and this year’s No. 10 draft pick?

That might get the Heat to the second round, but it’s questionable if it’s enough to get the Heat past Cleveland or beat Golden State or whoever emerges out of the West in future years.

Therein lies the Heat’s quandary in paying Wade what he wants. Deng, incidentally, hasn’t said if he’s opting out of a deal that would pay him $10.1 million next season.

Keep in mind that if Dragic re-signs, he could make as much as $21.8 million annually if he gets a max deal (and that might be necessary to keep him). Bosh’s five-year, $118 million contract will pay him $23.7 million in 2016-17.

If Hassan Whiteside continues to develop next season, he could command $20 million or more annually as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

So if the Heat kept Bosh, re-signed Dragic and Whiteside and gave Wade something much closer to $20 million than $10 million annually, that would leave the Heat with very little cap space for 2016-17.

Throw in the $5.8 million due McRoberts in 2016-17, let alone a new deal for Deng, and that would leave the Heat potentially well above an $89 million cap.

Conversely, most of the league would have cap space to pursue players in a 2016 free agent class that potentially will include Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah and Mike Conley, among others.

But even if Wade settles for something in the range of $10 million for 2016-17, the Heat still wouldn’t have the cap space to pursue the elite free agents of that class if it re-signs Dragic and gives a mega-deal to Whiteside.

### For the Heat, the problem with Wade forcing the issue now is that it doesn't give Riley next year to judge whether his current nucleus is good enough. Riley would have cap room if he part ways with Whiteside next summer, but the Heat assuredly will want to keep Whiteside if he keeps improving.

At the same time, Wade's decision to try to force the issue now is understandable, because why risk an injury next season without the security of a new three-year contract? 

### One friend of Wade pointed out that Dragic’s future is another chip that Wade holds in negotiations, because the chances of Dragic bolting this summer would increase if Wade does.

For Dragic, one of the appealing aspects of re-signing with Miami is playing alongside Wade.

Dragic prefers to remain with the Heat (and playing with Wade), but the Lakers and Knicks, among others, are ready to pounce if Dragic considers other options.

### If the Heat relents and gives Wade a contract close to what he's seeking, there will be an even greater need for cheap labor to fill out the team's supporting cast. And that would make it more likely for the Heat to keep its 10th overall pick (instead of trading it) in order to add a player who would come cheaply, or relatively cheaply, for five years.

### The Heat has always prefered Wade be lighter than heavier, even more so now that it intends to run more next season. So it's encouraging that Wade has dropped his weight from 228.2 to 216.5.

CHATTER

### This was in no way related to the Wade story, but we hear the Heat auditioned two draft-eligible shooting guards Thursday: Auburn's KT Harrell, who averaged 18.5 points and shot 43.4 percent on threes last season (among the best in the nation) and Tennessee’s Josh Richardson (16 points, 35.9 percent on threes).

### UM and FIU, who meet at 7 p.m. Friday in the Coral Gables regional, haven’t played in baseball since 2008 because of bad blood between UM coach Jim Morris and FIU coach Turtle Thomas.

Thomas was on the UM staff from 1988 to 1999 (Morris came to UM before the 1994 season) but the two men had a dispute over recruiting practices and mutually agreed (in a midseason meeting with then-athletic director Paul Dee) that Thomas would leave at the end of that 1999 season.

According to a UM baseball source, UM believes Thomas put the Hurricanes in a “pickle” by making (accepted) offers to more players than they had scholarships for. There could have been other issues, too, but both coaches have shown no interest in discussing the matter.

### Good to see Joe Philbin (beginning his fourth season) brainstorming for ways to try to keep his team fresher at the end of the year. One player said he was worn out by the end of last season and blamed some of the coaching staff’s decisions as a factor in that.

The Dolphins lost three of their last four in 2014 and are 3-9 in their final two games over the past six years.

### Among the developments that impressed us during Tuesday's OTA session were the ball skills displayed by Brice McCain and Bobby McCain. Each deflected a pass.

On the flip side, Brice McCain was called for holding on DeVante Parker, and Bobby McCain let an interception bounce off his fingers, into the arms of receiver Tyler McDonald.

### The Dolphins have been impressed with Walt Aikens' maturation this offseason, and Aikens took second-team safety snaps Tuesday, behind Reshad Jones and Michael Thomas.

Thomas was filling in for Louis Delmas, who is participating in parts but not all of practice after last December's ACL surgery.

### Liked what we saw from defensive end Terrence Fede, who had at least one would-be sack.

### The private sentiment among some inside the Marlins clubhouse, expressed by one player, can be summarized this way: Yes, we like Dan Jennings personally and respect him. But if the team spent money and says it’s committed to winning, how can it hire a manager with no coaching experience beyond high school baseball? Jennings has leaned on Jim Leyland and Jack McKeon, among others, for advice.

Wade, Heat have significant difference in contract negotiations; Wade open to leaving Heat if it doesn't get resolved

The Heat and Dwyane Wade have been discussing potential resolutions of his contract situation and there’s a significant difference in what both parties believe he should be paid for the next three seasons, according to multiple sources.

Though Wade prefers to stay with the Heat, where he has spent his entire 12-year career, he is now open to considering other teams this summer if the Heat does not raise its offer, according to three sources with direct knowledge.

Wade must decide by late June whether to opt out of a contract that would pay him $16.1 million next season.

The Heat wants to keep him but believes that paying him what he’s seeking would dramatically reduce its flexibility to add additional players during the summers of 2016 and 2017.

Last summer, in order to give the Heat flexibility to augment its roster, Wade opted out of the final two years of a contract that would have paid him $41.6 million. He instead accepted a two-year, $31 million deal, which included a player option for next season at $16.1 million.

Wade said last summer that he was curious to see what he could command in the summer of 2016, when the cap is expected to skyrocket from $67 million to $89 million. That led to the belief that Wade would opt-in this summer.

But according to associates, Wade wants to opt out this summer, with the hope that the Heat would give him a  lucrative three-year deal that would extend past his 36th birthday.

That does not appear to be the Heat’s preference. The Heat apparently would be content with Wade opting in for next season, then re-signing for good, but not huge, money for another two seasons after that.

Regardless of whether Wade opts out or not, there is believed to be a sizable gap between what Wade would like over the next three seasons and what the Heat would prefer to pay him.

Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, declined to discuss the gap in negotiations, the chances of Wade leaving the Heat or whether Wade definitely will opt out.

“With the amount of time he has spent with the organization, every effort will be made to try to work something out," Thomas said. "The five times he played for a championship, resulting in three championships, is a significant accomplishment for any professional. We are continuing to talk about a resolution that would be satisfactory to both sides.”

Is Wade angry with the Heat's offer?

"I am going to continue to have conversations with the Heat and try to make this work," Thomas responded.

Thomas declined to speculate how he believes this will turn out. "We will continue to talk," Thomas said. "It’s relativity early in the process."

Wade hasn't commented about his contract situation but said after the season: “I feel like I’ve got a few good years left."

Wade’s desire for one last big contract from the Heat can easily be justified: He helped the Heat win three titles, played a vital role in luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami, has consistently performed at an All-Star level, sacrificed substantial potential earnings to give the Heat flexibility over the past five years and comported himself with class.

What’s more, Chris Bosh’s Heat contract averages $23.6 million per season and Goran Dragic (if he resigns with Miami) could be making as much as much as $21.8 million annually. And keep in the mind that the Lakers paid Kobe Bryant $30.4 million and $23.5 million the past two seasons and will pay him $25 million this coming season.

But here’s the conundrum from the Heat’s perspective: Say, hypothetically, the Heat gives Wade $20 million instead of, say $10 million, in both 2016-17 and 2017-18.

If Dragic re-signs and if Hassan Whiteside commands a huge contract from Miami as an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Heat could be paying more than $80 million to four players in 2016-17. Throw in the $5.8 million due Josh McRoberts in 2016-17, and that would leave the Heat with no room under an $89 million cap to address small forward or bolster its bench.

There’s also the delicate matter of Wade’s injuries. He missed 20 games last season after sitting out 13 and 28 the previous two. In a news conference after the season, Heat president Pat Riley emphasized the importance of Wade being available.

"He's got to change the narrative himself about his body and about his injuries and about his missing games," Riley said. "And we had a discussion about this. But he always has to answer those questions, and I know those questions are legitimate because they're real.

"So night in and night out, there's always the question of whether or not he can or he can't. And so I'd like to have him try to get past that first hurdle mentally and do whatever he has to do to get himself ready to practice and himself ready to play, each and every night….

There is no doubt that we're going to need Dwyane every single night that he's available. He is a great, great, great player, right up there in this organization for the 12 years he's been here, best of the best."

Riley added that “players today have a tendency to be able to play longer. And if you go back into the '70s, I saw all the great ones leave around 34 or 35 years old, because of injury or age. That's when you were supposed to retire. Very few played longer than that. This could probably be the greatest challenge in his career.”

The Heat expects Wade to return for a 13th season with Miami. Kentucky guard Devin Booker, a strong candidate for the Heat’s selection with the 10th pick in the draft, said Riley told him that “D-Wade is getting older now, is on the last part of his career, and come and learn from him.”

Associates aren’t sure what will happen and would not be shocked if Wade leaves. With the history of success together and everything Wade and the Heat have invested in each other, it’s difficult to fathom Wade finishing his career elsewhere. But Wade staying can no longer be assured.

Keep this in mind: The chances of Dragic signing elsewhere increase if Wade leaves.

Wade is an 11-time All-Star and eight times has been named to the All-NBA’s first, second or third team. He was not on an All-NBA team this season but received two third-place votes.

He has ranked seventh, 18th and 24th in ESPN’s NBA efficiency ratings over the past threes season. He shot 47 percent last season, lowest since his rookie season but second behind J.J.Redick among shooting guards.

“I always figure out a way to keep myself being as efficient as I can be,” Wade said after the season. “For me, it’s always just about working on my game. This year, I became a better post player, became more comfortable down there…. I love to score. It’s going to be easy to work on trying to score.”

Wade said last month that the roster needs augmenting and “I have my own ideas but it’s not my job to say what areas need to be addressed. Our organization is going to address the areas that need to be. Obviously, it’s not enough [on the roster] because we’re sitting where we are right now.

“You want to always add to make sure you complement those players with other players around them. I know one thing about the Heat organization. We’re not going to just sit around and hope. We’re going to try to figure out to make sure we can be as competitive an organization as we became accustomed to.”

Wade is keeping himself in excellent shape. He announced on Instagram on Wednesday that he has completed a 30-day diet and has dropped his weight from 228.2 to 216.5.

"I now know what I need to do to lose the weight I want when I want,” he posted. “Now that my 30 days are over I must maintain this level of eating and make it a [lifestyle (with] some cheat days).”    

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz