LOS ANGELES --- A few Heat notes after this morning's shootaround at Staples Center:
1) Goran Dragic, who missed Monday's game with an illness, expects to play tonight but his minutes will be monitored.
"We don't know how tired I'm going to be," he said. "I was feeling bad the other day after practice. Had a fever. Good sweat. No energy, aching. Now it's over hopefully and I can get back on the court."
Erik Spoelstra said: "I'll have to see how he feels as the game goes on."
2) Justise Winslow, who sustained a knee injury Monday, is a game-time decision, Spoelstra said.
"It's still a little sore," Winslow said. "I'll see if I will be able to play through it and be effective like I want to. If not, I might sit out. I want to be able to play my game, be effective, and not feel like I'm hurting the team.... I'm sure there will be a little pain, but as long as I can tolerate it."
Spoelstra said Winslow didn't participate in shootaround this morning because "we didn't want to warm him up twice." He will be re-evaluated after warmups tonight.
3) Tyler Johnson, working his way back from left shoulder surgery, said he is "very optimistic" he will be able to play before the regular season ends two weeks from today.
"I'm definitely not ready yet," he said. "It will depend on if [the Heat] feels comfortable with the process."
Johnson has begun taking jump shots with his surgically repaired shoulder. He said there's no discomfort initially when he shoots, but there is discomfort the more he shoots.
4) Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union agreed to host at least one episode, potentially more, of an HGTV series in which they will "renovate, revitalize and resell a home in a suburban Florida neighborhood." A run date has not been set.
HGTV's working title for the venture: "Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade Project."
Wade said this morning that the project "is something we're excited to take on this summer at some point. We're big fans [of HGTV]." A home has not been selected.
Couple quick 11 a.m. Dolphins notes:
1) USC outside linebacker Su'a Cravens told Pro Football Talk that the Dolphins are summoning him to Davie for a pre-draft visit. At 6-1, 226 pounds, Cravens needs to bulk up a bit to play linebacker. He also could play safety, and many NFL people envision him there. CBS projects him as a second-rounder, in the range of 57th overall.
Said CBS' Rob Rang: "With his long limbs, tapered frame and impressive fluidity, Cravens looks the part of a traditional NFL strong safety. He's at his best attacking the run, showing excellent recognition and terrific closing speed on outside runs to slice past pulling linemen and lasso ballcarriers for big losses. Cravens shows little regard for his own welfare, taking out the knees of oncoming blockers when necessary to create a pile and allow other Trojans' defenders to get the credit.
"His awareness shows up in pass defense, as Cravens displays impressive route recognition, easing up and accelerating with would-be pass-catchers and showing natural hands for the interception when passers dare test him. Like former USC All-American (and Pittsburgh Steelers great) Troy Polamalu, Cravens can get a little out of control, at times, committing to a lane and lunging for the tackle while leaving cut-back opportunities for savvy runners to exploit. Further, Cravens can get caught peeking back at the quarterback in pass defense."
Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron is Cravens' cousin, it has been widely reported.
2) Will be interesting to see how quality veteran guard Geoff Schwartz does with the Lions (he's signing there today), because he had strong interest in coming to Miami, so much so that his agent took the unusual step of saying it on the record. But after an initial call of inquiry, Miami never pursued him. If he rebounds from injuries, this could be one Miami regrets. This regime's offseason will be judged in part on their decisions at guard (opting for Jermon Bushrod, Kraig Urbik, Dallas Thomas, Billy Turner, Jamil Douglas).
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With the regular season beginning next week, we solicited input on the Marlins from a former general manager (MLB Network’s Dan O’Dowd) and a respected American League scout who watched Miami a lot this spring. Their feedback:
• On the rotation: O’Dowd: “I saw Jarred Cosart [last week] and that’s the best I’ve seen him throw since he was in Houston. He is crucial for their success, a real key to their season. He can take a big step that other guys with limited ability can’t. Jose Fernandez, of course, can dominate. Wei-Yin Chen will be a valuable innings eater. Tom Koehler is consistently a steady guy. We liked Adam Conley [when O’Dowd was Rockies GM]. He can be a solid contributor to a rotation.”
The scout: “Conley has thrown really well. I’ve seen him twice and he was throwing 94 to 96 [mph] the first and as high as 97 the second. The velocity is there. The stuff is plenty good enough to get guys out…. Cosart is throwing well. It’s not the stuff with him; he has to locate.”
• Bullpen: O’Dowd: “AJ Ramos can close but it’s is crucial they fill [the seventh, eighth-inning role]. Even if you ask [Marlins executive] Michael Hill, that would be his question mark… Bryan Morris has a great arm. Mike Dunn has been good for them, but can he throw enough quality strikes?”
The scout: “The bullpen is their issue. Ramos wouldn’t be my choice on a good club to be my closer. When [lefty] Craig Breslow was effective, what he did really well was he was a reverse splits guy; he really dominated righties. He will throw strikes. But they’ve got their work cut out for them. Dunn and Morris are OK but not great. You would like more there. Edwin Jackson, the velocity is still good enough and he was better [as spring went on]. But he always has had trouble finishing off hitters.”
• Outfield thoughts: O’Dowd: “Giancarlo Stanton is an 8 to 10 WAR player [what he’s worth in wins above a replacement player] when he plays an entire season… Last year was a wakeup call for Marcell Ozuna; he has so much talent and I expect him to have a very productive year. Christian Yelich can contend for the batting title at some point. When he gets more comfortable defining his strike zone, he can hit for power, too. It’s a swing I like to show younger players.”
The scout: “Ozuna’s body looks live; he has pep in his step. It looks like he’s going to have a good year. He is driving the ball so you would think there would be some more power [than last season]…. With Stanton’s injury history, you hold your breath when he goes to the wall to make a catch.”
• Infield thoughts: The scout: “Justin Bour doesn’t excite me as a middle of the order threat. I want to see more… [Adeiny] Hechavarria has become really steady. He sucks up everything hit to him… Dee Gordon has been swinging better lately. He'll be fine [off last year's batting title]. But [Martin] Prado hasn’t looked all that good; you could see a decline this year.”
O’Dowd: “With Bour, you can’t expect more than last year (.262, 23 homers, 73 RBI in 129 games). What happens with expectations is people say, ‘Justin did X in 2015, he should be able to do Y in 2016.’ That usually is a killer. Chris Johnson is a low-risk pickup.”
• On manager Don Mattingly: O’Dowd: “What Don brings is an incredible amount of consistency with his approach day in and day out; he never gets too high or too low. Mattingly has been good handling bullpens; he doesn’t overreact. All of the drama and experience gained in L.A. will apply in ways you can’t measure. The wisdom he has gained on handling people and volatile situations will be incredibly important.”
• Overall: O’Dowd: “They are behind the Mets and Nationals going into the season. Those two clubs have fewer question marks. But the Marlins are talented. Sometimes it takes time for talent for show. I expect them to be a sleeper team. They will score runs; their young catcher [JT Realmuto] is one of the better young catchers in the game; they will catch the ball without question. The bullpen is one area that will have to organically come together.”
The scout: He could see them as a .500 team, maybe a bit better if everything breaks right, and third in the division behind the Mets and Washington.
• At the MGM Grand and 11 other Nevada casinos, the Marlins are 20 to 1 to win the National League pennant. Eight teams have shorter odds; six have longer odds.
• The Dolphins insist Mario Williams will set a good example, even though some Bills players said he did just the opposite. So did Williams really quit on his teammates last season, as a teammate told the Buffalo News?
“I didn't see that,” Bills radio analyst Mark Kelso told me. “I saw a lot of frustration. But he did not drop into coverage as much as he thought” --- and should not use that as an excuse for low sack numbers (five in 2015).
• The NFL draft order was announced today, and here are Miami's picks (most of which have been known for months): 13th, 42nd, 73rd, 107th, 147th, 186th, 227th and 231st. The 227th pick, a seventh-rounder, comes via Baltimore in the Will Davis trade.
• The Dolphins brought in Houston cornerback William Jackson for a visit today. He's a possibility for the 13th overall pick. Click here for details.
• Even while he’s sidelined, Chris Bosh has been watching tape with Josh Richardson and offering tips, mentoring Richardson and Justise Winslow and even scolded them last week for not being the first players in the gym one day. That’s genuine leadership.
• How remarkable is Richardson? Ethan explores that in a column on the home page, and here are a few other points to consider:
Not only is he the best second-rounder of last year’s draft but he’s one of only two second-round rookies who has even been in an NBA team's rotation in the past couple of weeks, with Toronto’s Norman Powell....
His 62.3 percent shooting on threes since the All-Star break (38 for 61) leads the league, and only 10 NBA players are shooting better than 62.3 percent on all shots since the break (minimum 50 shots)....
Since threes were implemented in 1979, the NBA rookie record for three-point shooting is 46.7 percent by Anthony Morrow in 2008-09; Richardson is at 50 percent.
• Any thought to the Heat trading Goran Dragic this summer and bidding for free agent Mike Conley has been cast aside because of Dragic’s recent play.
“We love Goran,” Pat Riley said last week. “Now he's playing like The Dragon. His game has opened up. I'm very happy that we have this point guard.”
• Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant meet for the final time on Wednesday, if Bryant can play through a sore right shoulder. He's listed as questionable. Here is a look at Wade's thoughts on Kobe and reflections on their history together.
• UM obviously could use help at cornerback. But barring a significant change of heart, UM has decided not to pursue former four-star cornerback JC Jackson (acquitted on armed robbery) or get involved with former four-star Booker T. Washington corner Nigel Bethel (who isn’t participating in spring practice at Texas Tech) because Mark Richt doesn’t want to bring in players who have had off-field issues, a UM administrator said. Bethel had an altercation with a women’s basketball player in 2014.
Bethel remains at Texas Tech but is away from the team this spring while focusing on academics and the staff has been vague on his status.
• Though cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph said he would love if Jaquan Johnson moved from safety to corner, that's not happening at least for now, safeties coach Ephraim Banda said.
"Jaquan is doing a great job right now, giving us a lot of confidence in him," Banda said, not ruling out Johnson eventually taking some reps at corner. "He's giving us a lot of depth on special teams. Right now he's doing exactly what he needs to be doing."...
James King has moved from linebacker to safety.... Safety Rayshawn Jenkins cites Ryan Mayes as the cornerback who has particularly improved. "His mind is catching up with his body," Jenkins said. Mayes was a disappointment to the former staff.