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General managers, scouts analyze Heat; Dolphins, Canes, Panthers, Beckham/MLS chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With training camp beginning Tuesday, we assembled a panel of two veteran scouts, two general managers and a respected veteran assistant coach to assess the Heat’s offseason moves. Some of the feedback:

### Most, but not all, of the response was positive on Justise Winslow.

“He was a top seven talent, and he’s going to be a better player than the two kids taken ahead of him [Stanley Johnson by Detroit, Frank Kaminsky by Charlotte],” one of the GMs said. “Winslow rebounds, he defends, he plays the game the right way. The shooting will come. At the very least, he’s Michael Kidd Gilchrist [10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds for Charlotte last season] but better offensively.”

One of the scouts said Winslow will become a quality starter: “He has to learn to shoot better; he’s got a funny release off the side of his hand. Anytime he shot a jump shot in Orlando, he missed left. The Heat coaches will correct how the ball is coming off his hands.

“But remember, Dwyane [Wade] also had to improve his jump shot and Winslow might have a better body than Dwyane at that age. He’s definitely the heir apparent to Wade. He can handle, can take it in transition, can distribute. He can get in the lane and score or pass.”

Another scout expressed some concerns:  “I was a little underwhelmed by him in Summer League. What he does great is in transition. He can rebound and take it coast to coast. He handles well and he got to basket a lot in Orlando, but I’m not sure he will get to the basket like he did in summer league or get the calls he did. He struck me more as a complementary NBA guy than a major piece.

“He’s not super athletic. His shooting is worrisome. I don’t think he’s a lock-down defender. I didn’t like his body language. He seemed to be projecting that he was too good for summer league.”

### Those who watched rookie second-round guard Josh Richardson came away impressed. “He was better in Summer League than I thought after watching him at Tennessee,” one of the scouts said. “Very good athlete. Can be a defensive factor. Good size if he’s a point. Probably a good combo guard. His progress will depend on his shooting.”

### All agreed Gerald Green was great value at the $1.4 million minimum, with one GM saying he rates Green among the five most explosive bench scorers in the NBA.

“Excellent pickup,” one of the GMs said. “But he’s not the sharpest guy. Sometimes he forgets plays. Has some JR Smith in him.”

One of the scouts: “He’s still mindless with his shot selection. If he’s hot, keep him in. If not, bench him. But he’s a little more under control than he used to be and he’s one of the best athletes in the league.”

The assistant coach said: “He’s a solid team defender but suspect as an individual defender. He will be better in Erik [Spoelsta’s] system. Offensively, they’ve really upgraded their bench.”

### The view on Amar’e Stoudemire: He’ll help but only in measured minutes.

“For what Miami needs right now, for someone to come off the bench, he’s OK,” one of the scouts said. “He can face up and shoot. If he catches the ball in the paint, he can do something with it. But his agility is diminished. It’s hard for him to move laterally like he did.”

Said the assistant coach: “Against younger players, he’s going to get calls because he has the respect of officials. And I still would double team him at times.”

### All rated the Heat a playoff team, but mostly among the bottom tier. “To me, they’re a sixth seed --– maybe better if they have no injuries,” said one of the GMs, adding that might be unrealistic with Wade’s history.

The other GM rated Miami a bit higher, seeing great potential with the Chris Bosh/Goran Dragic tandem Miami never had on the court together last season: “I love what they’ve done,” that Western Conference GM said. “Green can take over a game, and there’s not a lot of bench guys you can say that about. Miami didn’t have that on their bench last year.”

One scout said “they’re in that sixth, seventh, eighth slot. Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington, Chicago are better and I can’t say Miami is better than Milwaukee. But you have to like what they’ve done. They’ve got really good bigs, good size, and don’t forget what Josh McRoberts will give them” after being limited to 17 games last season.

CHATTER

### How odd is it for Ndamukong Suh to have just one tackle, as he did last Sunday? Not that unusual. He has had one or zero in 17 of his past 50 games.

What’s worrisome is Suh’s lack of pass rush (no defensive tackle has had more sacks since 2010) and his inability to shake single blocks, which he saw a lot of last Sunday. Remember, even though the Suh-led Lions were first around the run last season, they were 24th, 23rd and 16th in Suh’s first three seasons. So his presence guarantees nothing.

The Dolphins need to start moving Suh around, to keep opponents off balance. But Dolphins defensive end Derrick Shelby said Wednesday that there has been no discussion of that with coaches.

### The Dolphins desperately need to generate pressure with a four-man rush, because mediocre Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles completed 15 of 21 passes for 196 yards against Miami’s blitz, with Bortles posting a 146.7 rating against Miami’s blitz, 71.1 otherwise. Too often, Miami’s defensive backs (excluding Brent Grimes) haven’t been able to hold up in coverage without help.

### Player complaints already are starting, with one saying the team practiced too long and hard in the heat a few days before the Jaguars loss. So Joe Philbin made the right move by cutting practice short this past Friday.

Even after 50 games here (24-26), Philbin told his players last week: “You guys have to have faith in our staff and yourselves in terms of the way we prepare for games.”

### Buffalo tight end Charles Clay returns to play his former team Sunday months after difficult negotiations in which the Dolphins kept expressing concerns about his knee. That prompted the Clay camp to ask the Dolphins: What about Jordan Cameron’s history of concussions? Cameron, for Sunday, gets $156,250 for every game he plays.

### Today's Dolphins inactives: Branden Albert, Dion Sims, Raheem Mostert, Jordan Phillips (a surprise), Billy Turner, Matt Hazel and Tony Lippett. What it means: Jordan Cameron is active and will play. So will Lamar Miller and Earl Mitchell... AJ Francis replaces Phillips as a backup defensive tackle alongside CJ Mosley... Jonas Gray is active and could play behind Miller and Damien Williams.... Jason Fox starts in place of Albert.

### Former UM coach Butch Davis said by phone it’s “uncomfortable” seeing the banners flying overheard before Hurricanes games, the ones calling on UM to fire Al Golden and hire him. Does he feel for Golden? “I feel for all coaches,” Davis said. “It's an unbelievably difficult job and it gets harder all the time.”

So he is flattered? “I don't look at it like that,” said Davis, who has been out of coaching since the end of 2010. “You would be remiss if you didn't say you're always appreciative that people recognize you did the job, you're a good person, that you and your family made a difference in the community. It's a nice feeling to know people respected what you did and felt like you did a good job.”

Let’s make this clear: The banners will have no impact on Golden’s job security, and if anything is having a corrosive effect, according to a player. “It’s going to kill us in recruiting!” former All-American Bennie Blades said, indicating it gives recruits a bad impression of the fan base.

By the way, Laurence Levy, the superfan who shows up at sporting events all over the country wearing a Marlins jersey, told WINZ he will pay for a banner or blimp to be flown over Sun Life Stadium during a future game with the message “Keep Golden. Class, not trash.”

### Updating two issues that seemingly drag on forever (MLS stadium and the Panthers' lease):

Miami city manager Danny Alfonso said Friday that the city feels strongly about holding a voter referendum on David Beckham’s proposed soccer stadium adjacent to Marlins Park, and that the earliest one could be held would be in March. So we're at least six months away from clarity on this, possibly much long. Beckham and the city would strike a deal before it would be put to the voters for approval. Beckham has said the stadium will be privately financed.

Meanwhile, Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko said “private” discussions have resumed, amid several Broward commissioners voicing strong opposition and Broward County still studying whether to let the Panthers leave town if they eventually ask.

The Panthers’ lease runs through 2027-28, and co-owner Doug Cifu said last week: “We’re not moving. [The Panthers and Broward] are in a marriage together and we are going to stay married.”

But the Panthers --– $6 million below the $71 million salary cap ceiling --– are losing a ton and “that’s not fun,” Cifu said.

### Cifu also told me: “I won’t be happy if we don’t make the playoffs this season” and that majority owner Vinnie Viola feels likewise. “[Panthers general manager] Dale Tallon had a formula he followed in Chicago: draft well and be big up the middle. You can’t build a championship team solely through free agency.”

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz   

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