The Wednesday buzz column is below. First, we'll run some comments from the press conferences for Heat additions Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis:
### Allen: "I've seen Pat Riley in several situations. We've shared small conversation. I had a chance to discuss basketball philosophy with him. He had a lot of great stories [when they met last Thursday]. I followed him as long as I followed basketball. Same with coach Spoelstra - we share very similar ideals offensively, defensively. He said I don't know if you're coming, but I'll tell you this anyway. Him asking me what I liked, how I saw their team. I agreed with a lot of directions the team was going in. I was excited. We got home and had to decide what was best for us and the kids, too."
### Allen was asked if friction with Boston guard Rajon Rondo contributed to the decision: "I can't say it factored into my decision. As teammates, we were brothers. We all have differences. Paul eats corn flakes. I might not like corn flakes. I haven't spoke with him at all. When I came down here, I texted Paul [Pierce] and Kevin [Garnett]. It is sad to me, knowing I'm not going to be with those guys anymore. I'm looking forward to... being a teammate of Dwyane, LeBron, Chris Bosh. Just met Joel Anthony."
### Allen joked: "You mean I'm not starting? [Spoelstra] should have told me that last week." He said "starting or coming off the bench wasn't really an issue" --- "This team won a championship without me. I'm not going to expect coach to cater to who I am or what I do. Whether you start or come off the bench, the best compliment is who you finish the game with. I've always been a guy who goes with what the coaches need or want. I'm not coming here to win on my terms."
### Spoelstra said Allen "will have a big role. We want to get to a point where we are position-less. Ray fits that. His skill set, professionalism as a champion. He fits very well with who we already have here. There are only a handful of players that absolutely strike fear into their opponent, and Ray is one of those players. We brought him here to be a big part of what we do."
### Allen said on "July 6, there was a moment I had to decide. I felt I contributed a great deal to the organization and they've been so good to me. I was thinking is Miami going to be a good fit for me? There was a moment people around me said change is not bad. You have to consider this. It was that moment I said this is going to be a great opportunity for me."
### Allen loves the way the Heat plays, with spreading the floor: "That's what they did to us. That's what we talked about when I met with coach [Spoelstra]. I always played that way in Seattle. I'm looking forward to having a high octane offense, with Dwyane and LeBron pushing it and creating so many shots for everybody else."
### Allen on his surgically repaired ankle: "The [June 14] surgery was good. I was walking within four or five days, not a lot of swelling. I haven't been cleared to work out yet. If I do too much walking, it gets a little tender.... I still have a lot of basketball left in my legs."
### Spoelstra: "Hopefully, we can play faster. Hopefully, it will be less sets than we're running."
### Allen, on the aftermath of the Game 7 Eastern Finals loss in Miami: "I remember walking out of the locker-room and being very disappointed. I remember crying in the locker-room and feeling a sense of letdown. Being at such a high a few days earlier, where we had won here."
### Allen, on Riley's power of pursuasion: "This was my first opportunity to swap stories with him. Very disarming guy. I got a book from him - The Four Agreements. Movie suggestions. He's a guy from my own heart. We talked four or five hours over the course of that day. I took a lot from him. The next day, he texted me some other good quotes."
### Allen said he got texts from both Wade and James before he signed here.
### He said he understands "the sense of sadness and hurt" that Celtics fans feel, "but our home is still in Boston." He said criticism from Celtics fans "doesn't bother me."
### Riley, in introducing Allen: "We have added one of the most professional professionals this league has ever seen. We hope he ends his career here. We hope we can be the one to add his number up in our rafters. He's part of new generation of athletes that may have become better athletes after 30. He averaged 14 points and shot 45 percent from 3. We expect that next year."
### Lewis said: "I'm hungry just to win. With Orlando, I got a taste of being in the Finals. The year and a half I did spend in Washington was tough for me. I tried to be strictly professional, but I was battered by injuries - quad tendinitis the year I got traded, bone bruise in my left knee last season. I've been on the All-Star team, played 13, 14 years, made a pretty good amount of money. My next goal is to try to win a championship. I looked at more than the Heat, but I thought this was a perfect fit for me. I'm not looking to make an All-Star team and score 20 points a game. I just want to help this team reach the goals they're trying to reach."
### Lewis: "I'm a three-point shooter but I'm working on every aspect of my game. With the way the team is built, the way I shoot the ball, I think it can open it up for me in the paint. If it's playing 5 to 10 minutes or 30 minutes, it's doing whatever the coaching staff asks me to do to win games. It's not just knocking down threes. It's defending. When I was in Seattle, I was strictly a 3-man." But then he became a power forward in Orlando.
### Lewis, on his health: "I feel good. I've been working out with a trainer and trying to get my body back in top condition."
### Lewis: "Me and Ray are real close. He helped me get to my first All-Star game. My wife is close with his wife." He said Allen told Lewis that Lewis signing with Miami was "the best news I heard in weeks."
### Lewis on what he expects: "They're going to double LeBron, Dwyane and Chris. And you don't think they're going to leave Ray Allen open? They've got to leave somebody open. I got to shoot a million jumpers tonight to get ready."
### Pat Riley: "His name and record speaks for itself. We're excited and delighted Rashard decided to come to Miami. We found out the last couple days how hungry Rashard is."
### Asked what RIley says in the room to lure free agents, Lewis didn't have a chance to answer before Riley interjected: "Let me answer that. I mention LeBron, Chris and Dwyane and they take it from there. They know coming in what the situation is. They want to be here because of the organization and the Arisons and they see a team that has an opportunity to be a winner. At this stage of their career that's what it is all about. My back pocket bankroll is a little less. We have built a team players want to play for. It isn't me or anything that we do."
### Erik Spoelstra, on Lewis: "I have an hour and a half edit on him. About 40 percent of it was from Seattle, so I could see a lot of he and Ray together on the court. He's a winner. We've had some great battles against us. It's terrific. The versatility is what's key. It's the versatility to play multiple positions. The more we can become position-less, the more exciting it can be. He really adds a dimension to that."
### Riley: "We have 13 players under contract. We will hold right now. The other two roster spots - we have a bunch of eager, young hungry guys [competing in summer league]. What we do with those final roster spots will be determined by the summer league, what happens late in the summer in free agency. There's a trading market we're not really exploring. We're on hold right now." Riley said Mike Miller will meet with doctors again this week, but there is no final decision about whether back surgery will be needed.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The Dolphins went mostly bargain shopping in free agency, and their veteran pickups have received generally decent - but not entirely positive - reviews. Three of the eight are immersed in legitimate battles to start.
Some buzz on the newcomers and where they stand, with feedback from an AFC personnel executive, a longtime general manager, Dolphins people and ESPN Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson:
### Chad Ochocinco (one year, $925,000; worth up to $2 million with incentives): He looked very good in his first week of practice, making a couple of acrobatic catches. But the key will be how quickly he learns the offense after having 4 ½ weeks to study, in between his wedding and VH1 reality show. Davone Bess and Legedu Naanee took more first-team snaps than Ochocinco in mini-camp, with Brian Hartline sidelined by an appendectomy.
Ochocinco’s best quality, at 34? “His first step,” cornerback Sean Smith said. “He’s still pretty quick off the line. Gets on top of you quickly.”
Ochocinco was thrown only 31 passes in New England last year and caught 15. For Cincinnati in 2010, he caught 67 (out of 118 throws) but had eight drops, and Pro Football Focus ranked him 70th of 110 qualifying receivers. His yards-after-catch average (2.9) ranked 89th, and remember, YAC is important in Miami’s West Coast offense.
“His best asset is his ability to get separation on routes,” the longtime general manager said. “But you want a disciplined receiver to be in the right spots, and that’s not what this guy is. I would not have touched him. His personality issues are not going to change. I don’t know if he’s ever going to get it.”
### Richard Marshall (three years, $16 million): He likely won’t start, barring injury, but he will be on the field well over half the time. “A really good third corner,” Williamson said. “He was better two years ago in Carolina, OK at the end of last year for Arizona. His skill set isn’t top notch, but he won’t embarrass himself.”
PFF ranked Marshall 52nd among all corners in 2011, worse than Vontae Davis (43rd) but better than Nolan Carroll (78th), Will Allen (79th, now with the Patriots) and Smith (106th). Joe Philbin likes what he sees, especially “his competitiveness. He has value inside defending as a nickel.”
### Tyrell Johnson (one year, $700,000): The biggest disappointment of the eight pickups. He ended the offseason program no better than fifth on the depth chart. “He was an NFL Combine warrior – a strong, size, speed guy that hasn’t shown anything,” Williamson said.
Among 86 safeties, PFF rank Johnson 65th last season. For perspective, ousted Yeremiah Bell (now with the Jets) ranked 77th and Reshad Jones was 56th.
“We had some mild interest in Johnson, and it wouldn’t shock me if Miami hit on him,” the AFC executive said. “He has speed, some play-making ability, but he’s also had some injuries.” But Miami hasn’t seen any of the play-making skills so far.
### David Garrard (one year, $3.35 million): Ranked 13th in NFL quarterback ratings in his last active season (2010) and enters camp as the slight front-runner.
Still, Williamson asserts that “last year’s version of Matt Moore was better than David Garrard has ever been.” The GM also was skeptical, wondering what’s the point of investing a year in Garrard as a caretaker starter.
The AFC executive added: “Before the back injury, he was tough to bring down. He’s always been efficient, but he doesn’t make a lot of wow plays.”
### Jamaal Westerman (one year, $615,000): Will get work as a backup defensive end and also can play outside linebacker. Made a few plays in the offseason, but Olivier Vernon drew more notice. “Jamaal’s a tough, great kid with some pass rush ability,” Jets coach Rex Ryan told us.
But the Jets didn’t want to tender him at $1.3 million after last year’s 3 ½ sack season. PFF ranked him 20th of 28 outside linebackers in a 3-4. “He’s not a good enough pass rusher to be a starter or as good a special teams player to be a core unit guy,” the AFC executive said.
### Gary Guyton (one year, $700,000): Was effective as a blitzer in minicamp but hasn't challenged Koa Misi for a starting job. “More of a backup than a starter on a good team,” the AFC executive said, noting Bill Belichick lost faith in him last season because of shaky pass coverage. “He’s a nickel guy, not a hammer in the run game,” Williamson said.
### Legedu Naanee (one year, $700,000): Looked good in May/June practices and has a good chance to be one of Miami’s top four receivers. But he needs a solid camp to hold off several younger players on the bubble, such as Roberto Wallace and Marlon Moore. “We like his size [6-2] and his ability,” Philbin said. “He can attack the middle of the field.”
But this is discouraging: PFF ranked him 115th and last among all receivers last year. “To me, he’s a fourth receiver,” the AFC executive said. “A solid blocker, good hands, but he’s not going to stretch the field a lot.” Said Williamson: “Good special team player, but I’m far from excited about him.”
### Artis Hicks (one year, $1.2 million): Signed primarily to play tackle, but he ended summer workouts as the starter at right guard, ahead of disappointing John Jerry. PFF ranked him 91st of 142 tackles for 2011. “The ideal sixth offensive lineman,” Williamson said. The best Browns coach Pat Shurmur could say about Hicks? “He’s an effective pass blocker.”
### The Dolphins have inquired about, and shown some interest in, receiver Josh Gordon, the top prospect in Thursday’s supplemental draft, and also attended his Tuesday workout in Houston. Gordon caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns for Baylor in 2010, then was suspended after a marijuana arrest, transferred to Utah but turned pro before playing there.
Gordon, 6-4, ran a 4.51 in the 40 on Tuesday (despite a pulled quadriceps) and could go in the third or fourth round. Miami has picked only one player in the supplemental draft: Manny Wright, with a fifth-round pick, in 2005.
### Rookie second-round center Justin Hamilton has impressed the Heat this week, displaying a nifty jump hook. “He’s tough, fundamental, very skilled, physical, has a great motor, doesn’t get tired and he’s seven feet,” said David Fizdale, who’s coaching the Heat summer league team.
### With Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen giving the Heat 13 players under contract, the last two spots likely will go to a center and a perimeter player (John Lucas III, Terrel Harris or somebody still with upside). The center could be a veteran (perhaps Joel Pryzbilla, Nazr Mohammed or Ronny Turiaf), or a prospect such as Hamilton or Jarvis Varnado.
At the moment, Miami can offer players only the minimum. But if Mike Miller is ruled out for next season because of a back injury, the Heat would have a good chance of landing a $2.9 million disabled player's exception, which could put them in the running for Kwame Brown if he hasn't already come off the market by then. Chris Kaman appears much too expensive regardless.... For an update on the Heat's summer-league team, see our last post.
### Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who plans to replace Heath Bell with a “closer by committee,” told 790 The Ticket he is unhappy that his son Ozney tweeted, “This [bleeping] guy” after Bell blew another save Sunday. “I don’t like my kid to talk about [that],” Guillen said. "That's not his business."
Oznie was asked why his father keeps using him. "$27 million," Ozney tweeted.
Earlier, Guillen's wife asked him why he keeps using Bell, fearful that it would give Guillen a heart attack.
We spoke to two scouts who blasted Bell’s weight and conditioning: “He’s completely out of shape," one said "It’s one thing with C.C. Sabathia because he has played at that weight all his life. But I've watched Bell a lot over the years and he has never been this big." The scouts believe it's hurting his performance, though Guillen isn't sure about what one way or the other.
Meanwhile, a Marlins official bemoaned, “We’re going to have to live with this” because he’s essentially untradeable, with his salary jumping from $6 million to $9 million in both 2013 and 14, with $9 million guaranteed for 2015 if he finishes a combined 100 games the next two years.
### One player said though the Marlins have warmed up other pitchers on some days that Bell has struggled, the team at one point told relievers not to get in their bullpen work while Bell was pitching so he wouldn’t see that and be distracted. (Not that Bell asked for that.)
Bell has had at least two uncomfortable conversations with Guillen – one when Guillen questioned his pitch selection (which infuriated Bell) and another (airing on Showtime Wednesday) in which he accused Guillen of not having his back. That second conversation made Guillen laugh. “The only thing I do the last three months is try to protect him,” Guillen told 790. “… When you don’t do your job, you try blaming somebody else.”
FYI: When Bell has pitched an inning or less, he has allowed at least two runs 10 times – the most in the majors, and equal to his previous three seasons combined.
### Booker T. Washington’s Matthew Thomas, a five-star linebacker and the top local Class of 2013 prospect, told rivals.com that UM is running fourth on his list, behind Alabama, FSU and Georgia… Vancouver continues to ask for a top prospect for Roberto Luongo, and the Panthers won’t budge. The Panthers are content to patiently wait this out, knowing Luongo prefers to be in Florida and can veto any trade, and that the Canucks want to move his contract.