Bring It

The criticism if Lebron is becoming ridiculous, not to mention hypocritical. Last week, people said he’d never leave $30+ mill on the table because he wants to be the richest athlete. Now he gives up the money and is criticized. Last week they said his ego wouldn’t let him share the spotlight and he needed all the credit to be his own. Now he’s criticized for ‘taking the easy way out’ to play with stars and share his fame. Dan Gilbert spent years praising Lebron for what he did for Cleveland (and for Gilbert, helping the franchise value increase by over $100 mill in 7 years), now he strikes back like a child throwing a temper tantrum. They say he’s selfish for announcing his decision live on television; tell that to the Boys & Girls Club who just got over $3 million in donations for it. How is that a net negative? I feel bad for the city of Cleveland (but not the fans who went as far as to burn his jersey. You don’t own this man and he gave you plenty). I have to imagine he would have been criticized no matter where he went for one reason or another. We say we want our athletes to play to win, to play for the love of the game, not the money. Today, we saw a player take that step like never seen before, and its so astonishing people cannot comprehend it and instead rally against it. We wear the bulls-eye now, but we will wear it proudly. We’ll go back to our nineties slogan of being the most hated, hardest working, meanest, toughest team in the NBA. Look out, Lebron is pissed.

Amare to Miami?

Rumors have surfaced today that the Suns will be making a strong push to trade Amare Stoudemire before the February trade deadline and that the Heat are of the teams most interested. Obviously, a player of Amare’s caliber is something we would have to explore. After all, he may be one of our top three choices in this summer’s free agency market behind Lebron James and Chris Bosh anyway. I think the key here is to make sure we do not go overboard just to d something immediately. By that, I mean that including Michael Beasley in such a deal would be a huge mistake. Our core next year should consist mainly of three players: D-Wade, B-Easy, and whoever we can sign this summer or trade for now. Giving up the second guy in order to get the third makes no sense if we could have them all. I’m not even going to touch Amare’s injury history (micro-fracture and eye surgeries) as he seems to be recovered, but the bottom line is he is not that much better than Beasley is now, and certainly not much better than Beasley could become. Now, if we could make a deal involving something like Jermaine O’Neal, we should talk. Because JO makes around 4-5 million more than Amare, the Suns would have to throw in another player or two to make the salaries work. The Heat might need to throw in another cheap piece as well with high potential (such as Dorell Wright). In such a scenario the Heat would almost certainly also need to include a couple of first round picks. I like this trade a lot as we could likely re-sign Amare this summer anc come out with a lineup this year of Alston, Wade, Q-Rich, Beasley, and Amare. With that, we’d definitely begin to contend. Another option is to create a package around Udonis Haslem (though I feel his half-court tendencies would not really mesh with the Suns). I’d also be open to that. If we can keep Beasley, almost anything else should be on the table here.

Heat-Kings (Jan. 23)

  • Heat 115, Kings 84
  • Due to technical problems (unable to find a workable stream for the first half of the game), I was onl able to catch the second half. I’m glad I kept trying.
  • B-Easy seems to finally be rebounding more consistently (he finihed with a career-high 13). The best news is I believe I’m starting to see more consistent effort in his game in general. Opponents can no longer attack him at will and he’s beginning to prove his worth while displaying flashes of greatness.
  • This shoot pre-game routine that D-Wade has begun in the last week or two seems to be making a dramatic difference. He shot a season-best 11-15 in this game and is shooting a rediculous 57%+ in January.
  • Wade also did not commit a turnover.
  • Omri Casspi had a good amount of support in Miami, with a number of Israeli flags being hung around the arena. His makes got more ovation than some Heat buckets. If you don’t know his story or how he ended up on the Kings. you really should check out this Sports Illustrated article: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1164016/index.htm
  • Udonis’ offensive expansion this year has continued to impress me. He incorporated a number of fade-away jumpers and even a running baby-hook this game that he would not even have taken in years past, much less made. It will be tough to keep him if another team offers him a starting role, but we can only hope his stron ties to the city of Miami help keep him here.
  • This really was a full 48 minute effort, even without Wade playing the 4th quarter.
  • Big Cat has ZERO touch on his shots. The short layups and hooks seem to slam off the back rim each time. He also has become a legitimate foul-a-minute guy. Still, his physical presence can be helpful in small doses and he’s alwas entertaining.
  • In an effort to empty the bench late in the 4th, Spoelstra turned to an interesting lineup consisting of two point guards (Chalmers and Arroyo), a small forward (Jones), and 2 centers (Anthony and Magloire).
  • This was the 4th straight game the Heat have played that has been decided by more than 20 points (the Heat have won 3 of the 4). Maybe they’ll get a close game when LeBron gets here on Monday. Hopefully.

Heat-Jazz (Jan. 11)

  • Heat 89, Jazz 116
  • Thankfully, I missed the Clippers on television (the radio was bad enough). Unfortunately, I watched this one all the way through.
  • If, as Dwyane Wade stated following that Clippers loss, the Heat is two different teams, this would certainly be “Miami.”
  • Beasley’s touch was pure early on, as it has seemed to be most of the season. His night began to unrail with two early foul calls, and then a 3rd seconds into his re-entry at the top of the second quarter. Some were ticky tack, some were not. Either way, he has learn to stay out of foul trouble.
  • Wade has two first quarter blocks, reminding everyone that he may be the best shot-blocking guard in the history of the league.
  • The city of Miami was forced to hold its collective breath with 1:22 left in the first quarter, when Wade went down hard holding his right (shooting) wrist. He would later return, but the diagnosis of a sprained wrist may cause some trouble down the road. Wade was certainly off after the injury. No questioning his toughness, though.
  • The offense quickly stagnated with Wade and Beasley off the floor, but the Heat defense did manage to keep it close until Wade’s return mid-way through the second quarter. Unfortunately, Wade’s return resulted in the team losing its sense of urgency and the devastation began.
  • The Heat simply could not stop the Jazz, a far cry from the past meeting between the teams in which the Heat held the Jazz to a season-low 70 points. The problems, though, resulted more from offense than defense. The Heat were having their shots blocked, missing shots with long rebounds, and turning the ball over. All these mistakes led to Jazz fast breaks before the Heat could really get back and get set on D.
  • When Michael Beasley picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter having played only 7 minutes in the game, it would have seemed appropriate to leave him in. The Heat was struggling for offense and players need to get into a rythym. Considering Spoelstra doesn’t often play Beasley in the final minutes, there did not seem to be much of a reason to pull him. What were we saving him for? Taking him out so quickly makes it as if he  fouled out already. Sometimes you need to take the chance. If he picks up his 5th foul, so be it. We needed him then.
  • When ‘Spo finally did bring Beasley back with 3:30 left in the period, he responded with 8 quick points and a block. That offense a few minutes earlier could have turned the game. For everything I love about Spoelstra, and I do believe he is a very good coach that will one day be great, I still have many problems with the way he handles his rotation.
  • Daequan Cook continues to look like he shouldn’t be in the NBA. He continued to shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and miss, and miss, and miss. Where did his stroke go? I can’t imagine he is even a tradeable asset at this point.
  • D-Wright’s jumper has been improving this year, but he still takes too many 3′s, a shot he has not mastered.
  • Boozer looked very good, but not certainly not three times as good as Beasley, which is what it would cost the Heat to sign him.
  • Lets hope that the “Heat” comes out Wednesday against Golden State.

The Carlos Boozer Audition

It is common knowledge among NBA circles that Carlos Boozer would love to play in Miami. He has said as much in interviews and retains his offseason home in the area. Every time the Heat play the Jazz, you get the feeling Carlos is trying to prove to Mickey Arison and Pat Riley that he is the man for us. Unfortunately for him, he just isn’t the right guy. Not for this team. The problem with Boozer is that he is a power forward, and only a power forward. While we talk of adding such PFs as Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudamire, we do so knowing that a move to the Heat would be a move to the Center position for them as well. Not only do I believe that Michael Beasley will soon clearly be a better player than Boozer, but the obvious fact remains that even now Beasley is a tremendously better value given his rookie scale salary. The whole reason Mario Chalmers has been given such a long leash is that for the money, he too could really help fill out the roster in the coming years. Heck, the Heat even seems to believe it can re-sign Udonis. If that’s the case, the Heat are simply set at PF with Beasley and potentially UD for years to come. Our weak points are clearly PG and C. Small forward is an issue in that we don’t have star talent there (LeBron James could certainly change that…), but there is depth. I see the Heat making a strong charge at LeBron (I’ll discuss my opinion on that possibility in a later post) and likely moving on to Bosh, who would fit great, not to mention the added advantage of his sharing agents with one Dwyane Wade. Backup plans may include Amare and Joe Johnson.

Heat-Suns (Jan. 8)

  • Heat 109, Suns 105
  • Less than a day after signing with the Heat, Rafer Alston started for Miami. As I suggested at the time of signing, Carlos Arroyo appears to be the one out of the rotation. Mario Chalmers may not have been able to keep his VIP pass to the starting lineup, but it would appear he will not ever come out of the rotation entirely until or if the Heat ever truly gives up on him.
  • B-Easy continued his recent string of strong starts, providing some key early offense to keep up with Phoenix.
  • Wow, are the Suns quick. When they are on, their offense is absolutely beautiful, coming as close to a video game as humanly possible. It was definitely the right move for Alvin Gentry to move them back to their high-powered offense. It may not win in the playoffs, but given the current constitution of their roster, no other strategy could play to their strengths as well.
  • Dorell Wright was a huge spark in the second quarter providing some much needed defense in the form of four steals. He also hit some nice jumpers and displayed more of the incredible athleticism that’s kept the Heat from giving up on him in the past.
  • This team really is resilient, rallying from 13 down early with a 25-7 run. If only some consistency could sneak in.
  • For better or worse, Jermaine O’Neal does not seem to ever get discouraged. He is never afraid to shoot, whether the shots have been falling or clanking.
  • Skip came up big in the second half with all ten of his points. More than anything else, I was impressed by his poise. He did not hesitate to take the open three when given space (unlike the recent Mario Chalmers). He also seemed to retain a good grasp of the Heat offense and did get the Heat into their sets early as Spoelstra likes (granted, playing against the Suns makes most teams run more).
  • Beasley finally got some semi-crunch time minutes, playing deep into the fourth, but again not in the last couple minutes when it seems his offense could have been helpful. It’s just tough when Haslem is as clutch a player as he has proved to be.
  • As noted before, JO kept shooting, but came up big with the go-ahead jumper and key free throws down the stretch.
  • It barely needs to be noted, but Wade was again great, coming very close to his fourth career triple-double. He only had 1 point in the 4th quarter, but still did a good job distracting the D. Hopefully this recent stretch of strong play is an indication that he has finally played himself into the equisite game shape us spoiled Heat fans have come to expect.

Heat Signs Rafer Alston

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Riles. The wheels were put in motion before Chalmers’ stinker against Boston in the form of Chris Quinn being traded to the Nets to open up the roster spot. After the game, the need was as clear as it had ever been. Now, is Skip the long-term answer? Of course not. Not in his early thirties. But he is better than Mario Chalmers and Carlos Arroyo. We get a guy who knows our system, who gets along with Dwyane Wade, and who can run a high octane offense as he did stepping in for Jameer Nelson in Orlando last year. Seeing Skip back in a Heat uniform and Chalmers on the bench for the foreseeable future (I believe Arroyo will end up the odd man out despite having been starting) is certainly welcome. Hopefully some stability, quality, and experience at the position will pay some dividends for Miami.

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