WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Contrary to a published report, the agent for suspended defensive end Dion Jordan said this week that the Dolphins have indicated they are excited about having him back and that he’s in excellent shape.
Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to rule on Jordan’s bid for reinstatement by the end of July and “I feel very strongly he will be reinstated without question,” agent Doug Hendrickson said by phone. “He's done everything he has been asked to do. We feel very good where we're at. We expect Dion to start training camp with the Dolphins.”
Jordan is owed $600,000 in base salary for 2016 and is due a $1.69 million signing bonus if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of training camp. “They are excited to have him back,” said Hendrickson, who has spoken to the Dolphins. “Every team wants top talent.”
Hendrickson said the Dolphins haven’t indicated whether they plan to keep him at defensive end or move him to linebacker. Defensive end makes sense for 2016, despite the team’s considerable depth there, because asking him to learn linebacker in his first camp back might be too much to ask.
As for a report elsewhere that he isn’t in the best of shape, Hendrickson said: “Dion is in exceptional shape. [Any suggestion otherwise] is a bunch of foolishness. He's been training eight hours a day in San Francisco. You can’t mimic being in football shape. Once he's reinstated, he will be in football [shape].”
Jordan’s trainer told USA Today last month that he has lost 12 to 13 pounds of fat and was a bit under 270 pounds.
Hendrickson has said Jordan hasn’t failed or missed a drug test since his April 2015 suspension.
According to NFLPA records, Jordan returned $3.35 million of his initial $13 million signing bonus and also returned a $1.69 million roster bonus. He is due to earn $690,000 in 2017, the final year of his contract, with a $2.5 million roster bonus activated the fifth day of 2017 training camp.
“I hope everything work out,” said defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, one of many teammates offering support to Jordan. “Everybody knows how great of an athlete he is.”
• Mitchell said he and Jordan Phillips are splitting first team snaps evenly alongside Ndamukong Suh… The Dolphins surprisingly opened team minicamp drills with Dallas Thomas (not Laremy Tunsil) at left guard and Billy Turner at right guard, but coach Adam Gase cautioned there is no depth chart yet.... For a ton more Dolphins notes from today, please click here.
• Marlins president David Samson’s measured assessment of his team: “We've been relevant for 2 1/2 months and we’re in a position we haven't been the last few years. We have put together a good team.” (Quick aside: The frustration is the 2-7 record against doormats Atlanta and Minnesota)… Samson said the Marlins won’t hesitate to add payroll if they remain in contention for postseason: “Jeffrey Loria’s [approach] has been the same for 17 seasons; when we’re in the race, we add.”….
Though the Marlins have increased their scouting budget – including internationally -- Samson said they’re still not in position to offer big contracts to free agents from Cuba and Japan. But if the front office says “this is a guy we absolutely want, we would have to take a look,” Samson said.
• Though nothing was announced, we hear the Heat summoned these 10 players to audition at a free agent camp this week: shooting guards Rodney McGruder (who played on its D-League team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Quinton Upshur (Northern Arizona/Portugal); Brandan Kearney (University of Detroit); Juwan Howard Jr. (son of the Heat assistant/played in Spanish League) and Jabril Trawick (Georgetown/Sioux Falls), plus forwards Okaro White (FSU/Greece), Xavier Gibson (FSU/Greece), Kevin Tumba (Belgium), Kenny Gabriel (Auburn/Turkey) and 6-11 Norvel Pelle, a skilled shot-blocker who was the No. 1 center in the 2011 high school class, failed to qualify at St. John’s and has played in the D-League, Taiwan and elsewhere since.
Players who finished this past season in the NBA cannot be brought in for workouts before July 1.
• Though Miami has no draft pick on June 23, the Heat has been attending workouts for draft-eligible players and Pat Riley said his staff "is putting together the books just as though we had a lottery pick. We'll see whether we jump back in the first and the second if we can. We will be very well educated on the players who may not be [drafted]."
The Heat had two second-round picks in its rotation: Hassan Whiteside, drafted by the Kings, and Josh Richardson, drafted by Miami. So how unusual was this?
Of the 180 players drafted in the second round this decade (2010-15), only 18 were NBA rotation players in the final several weeks of this past season. Counting injured Dallas forward Chandler Parsons as a 19th, that’s 10.5 percent. So what Richardson did wasn’t normal.
• FIU athletic director Pete Garcia declined to say when asked, via email, whether baseball coach Turtle Thomas will be retained, and FIU people expect Garcia to strongly consider UM pitching coach J.D. Arteaga if he makes a change. FIU was 29-29 this season.
• I’m surprised Edgar Michelangeli did another preening bat flip after hitting a home run during Sunday’s game against Boston College, considering Michelangeli admitted Jim Morris told him pointedly “not to do it again” after he did the same thing in the ACC Tournament. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser says everyone in the ACC is now going to drill him next season.
Morris said Michelangeli toned it down a bit from what he did in the ACC Tourney but needs to "tone it down" further.
• Among the many impressive things Jim Larranaga has accomplished at UM, here’s another: With this week’s oral commitment by 2017 Bowie-Md.-based 5-7 point guard Chris Lykes, Larranaga has landed three top-50 recruits in a year: incoming Bruce Brown (rated 26th by ESPN in 2016 class) and Dewan Huell (28th in 2016 class) and now Lykes (46th in 2017).
In the previous 12 years, UM had only two top 50 recruits: DeQuan Jones, 22nd in 2008, and Durand Scott, 25th in 2009.
ESPN says Lykes (who averaged 22 points as a junior at Gonzaga High) “is a constant threat on the offensive end of the floor. He can go wherever he wants with the ball. His handle and court vision are excellent and he is a crafty passer and finisher.”
And UM is in the mix for another high-end prospect. Malik Newman, rated a five-star player and the No. 8 player overall is the 2015 recruiting class, is reportedly transferring from Mississippi State and will visit UM this weekend, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports.
Newman, a 6-4 combo guard, visited Western Kentucky last week and visited North Carolina State today. He would be required to sit out a season.
Newman was considered a potential lottery pick when he enrolled at MSU last season but was slowed by injuries and averaged 11.3 points on 39.1 percent shooting. He shot 37.9 percent on threes (61 for 161). He entered the NBA draft but withdrew last month when he got word that he likely would be a late second-round pick.
• Three-star Oak Leaf cornerback Nick Roberts, originally offered by Al Golden's staff, decommitted from UM this week after it became clear the new staff wasn't pursuing him. UM is eyeing other corners.
• A couple things that our ace Panthers reporter, College World Series-bound George Richards, and I are hearing: The Panthers are now very optimistic that they will re-sign impending free agent defenseman Brian Campbell and also want to add another high-quality defenseman, via trade or free agency… The Panthers want to lessen Roberto Luongo’s workload to keep him fresher and will be looking at potential replacements for free agent backup goaltender Al Montoya.