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Dolphins making guard a priority; Heat personnel news; Canes excited about new defense; UM hoops; Marlins

3 p.m. update: Over the years, we're sure to hear more interesting anecdotes from LeBron James' four years in Miami, and another one was revealed today, when former Heat forward Danny Granger went on Sirius Radio and said three Heat players committed a "major no-no" during a 2012 Heat-Pacers playoff series. 

"When we got into our altercations with the Miami Heat years ago, Juwan Howard, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen, none of them playing hardly any minutes in the playoff series, came to our locker-room looking for Lance Stephenson, searching him out," said Granger, who was playing for Indiana at the time and later played briefly for the Heat. "That's a huge no-no. This was on an off-day. Words were exchanged.

"I wouldn't let them come into the locker-room. I came out when I heard they were there. Some guys in our organization got involved, and management. We stopped it. That were the leaders on they team. Those guys weren't even playing a lot. They were protecting LeBron. They thought Lance was doing something disrespectful when he did the choke on the sideline" after LeBron missed a free throw.

Here's the problem with Granger's story: Andersen was still with the Denver Nuggets at that time (May 2012). The Heat acquired Andersen the following season.

Perhaps Granger was talking about the 2014 incident in which Stephenson blew in LeBron's ear during a playoff series. 




For years, the Dolphins have tried to get by with young, unproven mid-round guards or journeymen types. They now realize that’s not going to work.

The Dolphins have told people that guard is one of their top three priorities (with defensive end and cornerback), and Miami is expected to try to add at least one veteran, if not two, when free agency begins next week.

The Dolphins like Baltimore’s Kelechi Osemele, but his price has skyrocketed because he can play tackle. The Dolphins are expected to at least inquire, but the bidding could go beyond their price range.

San Francisco’s Alex Boone, who played for new Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster in San Francisco last season, would be more affordable. Boone would have interest.

Geoff Schwartz, 29, who started 11 games for the Giants last season but was released after battling injuries the past two years, “would love to play in Miami,” his agent Deryk Gilmore said. “When healthy, he’s one of the best guards in football.”

Per a team source, Miami held an exploratory conversation regarding Schwartz and has some interest but also wants to explore other options.

Other guard options potentially in play for Miami beyond the aforementioned: Houston’s Brandon Brooks and Ben Jones (Houston has made Brooks a priority); ex-Saint Jahri Evans; Pittsburgh’s Ramon Foster (rated 16th among all guard by Pro Football Focus); Kansas City’s Jeff Allen (10th by PFF), Minnesota’s Michael Harris (23rd); Jacksonville’s Zane Beadles (64th/released Thursday and pursued by Miami in 2014) and Seattle’s J.R. Sweezy (66th).

Miami tried last August to sign Evan Mathis, rated the No. 3 guard by PFF this past season, but Mathis --– again a free agent --– reportedly needs ankle surgery and hasn’t decided whether to play next season.

PFF rated incumbent Dolphins starters Billy Turner and Dallas Thomas 69th and 81st, respectively, among 81 qualifying guards.

### The Dolphins continue to work on resigning Lamar Miller, but the question is whether Miami will agree to give him more than $5 million per season, or whether he would settle for $5 million or slightly less. Miller, who averaged 15 touches last season, has said on WQAM that he ideally wants 20.

### Even though the Dolphins like Rishard Matthews, they’ve told people there’s a good chance he will command more in free agency than what they can comfortably offer.


### Marcus Thornton was disappointed that no team claimed Beno Udrih’s contract because he wanted to join the Heat and the Heat was very interested. To avoid paying the tax, Miami now must wait until April 6 to sign a player --- and there would be mutual interest with Thornton if he’s available then. But Thornton wants a job sooner, ideally.

The other open roster spot could be filled with a developmental prospect on the final day of the season. The Heat explored other ways to try to create more room under the tax threshold but found nothing that was realistic.

### Joe Johnson has gone from being the highest-paid player in the LeBron James-led 2010 free agent class to perhaps the NBA’s best player who’s now earning the minimum. Johnson said Thursday the Heat never asked him to wait until March 8 to sign, which would have eliminated the need for Udrih to give up $90,000. Miami wanted Johnson immediately, and understandably so.

But Udrih giving up just under 100 grand allowed Johnson to play five more games than he would have otherwise if the Heat had asked him to wait, and if he had gone for that idea. So kudos to Udrih.

Including tonight, Johnson is 5 for 8 on threes since joining Heat.

### Dwyane Wade (27 points) and Goran Dragic (25) combined for 52 in tonight's 108-92 win against Phoenix, as the starting backcourt continues a stretch of its best work together in tandem. Hassan Whiteside's streak of six consecutive double doubles off the bench ended at six, three short of the most consecutive double-doubles off the bench since 1987 (nine, by Detlef Schrempf). Whiteside had 9 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocks in 23 minutes.

### Talking to departing Canes players at UM’s Hall of Fame fundraiser on Monday night, it was clear how excited the current ones are about coordinator Manny Diaz’s attacking defense and to be finally set free from their rigid approach under Mark D’Onofrio.

Tyriq McCord mentioned how “a lot of guys like to use instincts and not over-think” --– and that they can finally do that now because they’re no longer playing D’Onofrio’s “read and react” defense. In this system, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad “will have double digit sacks this year,” McCord predicted.

“[Defensive lineman] Chad Thomas sometimes played inside before; my understanding is he will play strictly outside now, like he did in high school,” McCord added. “The safeties and linebackers like this scheme.”

Departing safety Dallas Crawford said safeties coach Ephraim Banda picked his brain and asked what was the team’s biggest problem last year. Crawford told him the importance of “getting fun and passion back" on this UM defense.

### Crawford said a bunch of Canes draft prospects, plus alums Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman, Olivier Vernon and others, are working with dismissed strength coach Andreu Swasey at a high school instead of using UM’s facility. There’s disappointment over Swasey’s firing among ex-players, but we’re told the new staff believed the team wasn’t tough enough last year and Mark Richt wanted a new approach to conditioning.

### Several UM fans continue to ask us about four-star junior college cornerback JC Jackson, a talent who immediately would upgrade at a Miami need position. But to this point, defensive backs coach Mike Rumph's interest in Jackson hasn't resulted in an offer.

Isaac Shipp, Jackson's defensive backs coach at Riverside Community College, said Rumph called him and told him how interested Miami is in adding Jackson to the roster. And Jackson told Canesport this week: 

"I talked to coach Rumph. He'd seen me play against them [in high school], he said I'm one of the best players he's seen, that I can come in and be a great player at Miami. He said I can talk to the head coach and defensive coordinator --- he wants to get me on the phone with them. I'll do that this week or next week."

Meanwhile, Shipp told me this week that UM is Jackson's top choice.

Against that backdrop, it was notable that Peter Ariz reported tonight that Miami is not even recruiting Jackson. That is true in that UM has not made an offer.

And I'm told tonight that UM hasn't even gone through the measures needed internally to offer a player who was charged (and later acquitted) with armed robbery. So for whatever reason --- perhaps his legal history --- UM hasn't moved quickly on this. Also, Jackson needs to get his AA degree in May to even be eligible in 2016.

Though UM signed University of Texas backup Adrian Colbert this week, he's a safety, not a corner. Colbert helps Miami's situation at corner only if the moves results in Jaquan Johnson playing more at corner, which is a possibility. And regardless, UM's situation at corner is very shaky.

### ESPN’s Dick Vitale, by phone Thursday: “I was shocked by how easily [Miami] won [Wednesday] at Notre Dame. When you realistically look at teams that can win six in a row [to win the national title], Miami is one of them….

“Normally, we have maybe 12, 14, 15 teams. I think that's expanded. I think there are 25 teams that can win six games in a row with the right pairings. Miami is in there because Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan give them great, great guard play. Tonye Jekiri doesn't get enough publicity for his defense and the way he defends in the post. They're got enough athletes around. Jim Larranaga will be in discussion for national coach of the year.”

### The Marlins have decided to hold off on trying to acquire a reliever until Carter Capps’ appointment with Dr. James Andrews on Monday. If Capps is sidelined longterm and they stay status quo, then the bullpen would project as AJ Ramos, Bryan Morris, Mike Dunn, Craig Braslow, Kyle Barraclough, Brian Ellington and David Phelps (with Edwin Jackson inserted if he doesn’t win a rotation spot).

### As it turns out, the Marlins will have four TV analysts  replace Tommy Hutton – not the three previously announced. Jeff Conine will do at least 10 games.

### The Marlins believe Justin Bour’s 23-pound weight loss will improve his mobility defensively. How did he do it? “By adding greens, taking bread off a chicken sandwich, staying away from sodas. Did cardio every other day. I plan on having a big year.”