Tag Archives: Pat Riley

Feel The Heat

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After the first 41 games of this NBA season for the Miami Heat, they appeared to be headed for one of their worst campaigns in franchise history. The Heat were 11-30 and they were barreling towards having one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. The Heat’s roster is comprised of youngsters and relative unknowns who appeared to not have the ability to cut it at this level. But what has happened for the Heat since then has been downright magical.

The Heat would go on to win their next 13 games which included a victory over the Golden State Warriors who are the defending Western Conference Champions. And even after Miami’s 13-game winning streak, they have yet to slow down as they’ve gone 20-4 since their dreadful start. And now the Heat are just a .5-game behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with nearly a month remaining in the regular season.

Erik Spoelstra

The coaching job that has been done by Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra cannot be overlooked. In 2012 and 2013, Spoelstra led the Heat to the NBA Championship, but he never got the credit that he deserved due to the fact that Miami had small forward LeBron James, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and power forward Chris Bosh on the roster for those titles teams. And when James decided to opt-out of his contract with the Heat in 2014 to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami’s chances of winning another title faded. The Heat still had Bosh and Wade as they were able to make the playoffs last season. But things changed drastically when Heat team president Pat Riley allowed Wade to leave last summer as a free agent to join the Chicago Bulls. Riley wasn’t willing to break the bank for an aging Wade, while health issues forced Bosh to unofficially retire as the only player left from Miami’s last title team is veteran power forward Udonis Haslem.

The Heat have attempted to rebuild, but one of their building blocks in small forward Justise Winslow would only appear in 18 games this season after he suffered a torn labrum. However Riley is one of the best to have ever done it in the NBA when it comes to being able to evaluate talent and put a team together.

Center Hassan Whiteside was a relative unknown who had spent the majority of his professional basketball career playing the NBA’s Development League. However Riley saw talent in Whiteside and signed him in 2014. Whiteside has gone of to be an overnight sensation for the Heat. Whiteside led the NBA in blocks last season at 3.7 per contest, and he’s leading the league in rebounds this year (14.1). Whiteside is a double-double machine as he has posted at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in 52 games this season and he has turned into a building block for the Heat.

Goran Dragic

For nearly eight years point guard Goran Dragic was an underrated player during his time with the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns. Riley acquired Dragic from the Suns in 2015 and after he struggled to play alongside Wade and Bosh, he has begun to flourish on South Beach. Dragic is averaging 20.2 points this season which is a career-high, to go along with 6.1 assists per contests as he has given Miami a solid floor general.

Throughout the basketball journey of shooting guard Dion Waiters he has been a player who has been overlooked. In Waiters’ last collegiate season with the Syracuse Orange, he was the Big East Conference’s Sixth Man of the Year. Waiters was selected fourth overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers, but he quickly clashed there with point guard Kyrie Irving who he accused of playing “buddy ball” with center Tristan Thompson. And not long after James returned to Cleveland, Waiters would find himself traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he was bench player in the shadow of small forward Kevin Durant and point guard Russell Westbrook.

Dion Waiters

Waiters would sign with the Heat last summer, but for only $2.89 million which was shocking with money being thrown around the league as the result of a new television deal. But Waiters has done nothing but shine in Miami as he is averaging 15.9 points per game and he has brought the tough-minded approach that he developed on the playgrounds of Philadelphia to Miami.

Pat Riley

Riley would receive a ton of criticism last summer when he re-signed point guard Tyler Johnson to the tune of $50 million over four years. However Johnson has turned into a key contributor off of Miami’s bench as his 13.8 points per game are fourth on the team.

Aside from Dragic and power forward James Johnson, none of the regular contributors for Miami are more than 30-years of age. The Heat have a team of players that have yet to figure out how good they can be and thus they are playing with house money which is a credit to Riley and Spoelstra.

Riley has once again made the Heat into playoff contenders by using his thinking cap as opposed to relying on help. In the four years that James was with the Heat, the Cavaliers had the first overall pick in the NBA Draft three times, yet they were unable to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference once. However the Heat are in the mix for their second playoff appearance without James as they’ve gone about their business in a different way. The Heat never whined and publicly complained about James leaving like Cavs owner Dan Gilbert did, nor have they ever won the NBA’s Draft Lottery. But since Riley has been a part of nine championship teams as a player, head coach, and team president, he knows how to win. And even though that James has gone on to win an NBA Championship since leaving Miami, the Heat are still a franchise that cannot be overlooked due to Riley’s influence.

Riley has lobbied for Spoelstra to be the NBA’s Coach of the Year and he has a valid case as this was written off a few months ago. When critics questioned Spoelstra’s coaching ability during James’ tenure with Miami, Riley backed his coach, and it’s time that the rest of basketball world gives him some credit as well. The Heat might not be a title team at the present time, but if you give Riley the opportunity, he will bring another Larry O’Brien Trophy to South Beach sooner than you think.

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A Tale Of Two Legends

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This summer has seen dollars handed out at an alarming rate in the NBA. The league’s new television deal has seen role players become multi-millionaires while making some superstar players appearing to be underpaid. We’ve also seen franchise players change addresses in the hopes of winning an NBA Championship and/or more money. After 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, shooting guard Dwyane Wade left as a free agent to join the Chicago Bulls. Wade was seeking $50 million over the next two seasons from the Heat which he didn’t receive and thus he bolted to Chicago. Like Wade, Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki opted out of his contract as he was seeking a pay increase. But unlike Wade, Nowitzki and the Mavericks agreed on a new two-year deal that is worth $50 million as this all but symbolizes that he’ll retire in Dallas. And it is a tale of how two NBA franchises approached their veterans players in different fashions.

Dirk Nowitzki

Nowitzki was drafted ninth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998, and they immediately traded him to the Mavericks. But in Dallas, Nowitzki has gone on to be a rock as he is the best player in Mavericks franchise history. In 18 years with the Mavs, Nowitzki has averaged 22 points per contest while helping Dallas win their only NBA Championship in 2011 as he was named the Finals MVP. Nowitzki is the Mavericks all-time leader in nearly every statistical category, and he is closing in on becoming the first and only player in franchise history to score 30,000 career points.

Wade was the fifth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Heat and he would make an immediate impact as he averaged 16.2 points as a rookie in helping Miami reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In 2006, Wade would team with center Shaquille O’Neal to help the Heat win their first NBA Championship. Wade’s Heat knocked off Nowitzki’s Mavericks, and he would be named NBA Finals MVP that June.

Dwyane Wade

Like Nowitzki, Wade is the Heat’s all-time leader in most statistical categories and he has become a cultural icon in South Florida to the point that some people refer to Dade County as “Wade County”.

In 2010, Wade took a backseat when the Heat signed small forward LeBron James and power forward Chris Bosh to make things work as he was all about winning championships. Like Bosh and James, Wade took less money in order to give the Heat cap flexibility to put a quality team around them which led to four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and a pair of championships.

But unlike Nowitzki, Wade has had trouble staying healthy throughout his NBA career as he has never made all 82 regular season starts in the league’s calendar year. This issue was front and center last summer when Wade was seeking a new long-term deal from the Heat which he was never received. Wade who was 33-years of age at the time was unable to persuade Heat president Pat Riley to give him that long-term deal and the two sides came to an agreement on a one-year deal for $20 million.

But this past NBA season it was vintage Wade as he averaged 19 points per game in leading the Heat to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. However when it came time for both sides to talk turkey, Riley simply didn’t see Wade as still being a superstar caliber player which led a disgruntled Wade to taking his talents to the Windy City.

Just like Wade, Nowitzki took less money in order to make things work in Dallas which is what led to an NBA Championship in 2011. Nowitzki has continued to take contracts that were under his market value until now. And unlike Riley in Miami, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t have a problem in backing up the Brinks truck to pay the best player in his franchise’s history in order for him to remain in Dallas.

Pat Riley

This is just another example of the business of professional sports and how two franchises chose to operate differently. Riley was reluctant to pay an aging player superstar money as he felt that he was no longer worth it. But Riley called Wade’s bluff when he was unwilling to offer the shooting guard more than $40 million over the next two years. Wade didn’t get the $50 million that he was seeking from the Bulls, but he received $47 million as Chicago simply made him feel wanted as Riley has publicly expressed regret over allowing Wade to leave South Beach.

Riley was looking at the long term for the Heat, but in the short team Miami is not a better team without Wade as they will sorely miss his leadership. And Riley knew that he made a mistake as soon as Wade signed with the Bulls.

Cuban on the other hand feels that he can still win a championship with Nowitzki if the right players are put around him while also making sure that the Future Hall of Famer retires in Dallas. But it was Cuban’s commitment to Nowitzki that has shone brighter than anything else.

Like Tim Duncan who just retired after playing 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Nowitzki has never publicly criticized the Mavericks when it came to money, and you have never heard of any animosity between him and the front office in Dallas which is the exact opposite of Wade and Riley in Miami.

Mark Cuban

From Cuban’s first day as owner of the Mavericks, he has run a top-notch organization and he has treated his employees accordingly. For nearly two decades with the Heat, Riley has built the Heat into a contender, but two of the last three summers have seen him lose James and now Wade in free agency. Cuban didn’t have to weigh the pros and cons of re-signing Nowitzki as he did what was best for business, while Riley will always have to face speculation as to why he let the best player in Heat franchise history as well as on the current roster leave town scot free.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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At The Crossroads

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After missing the NBA Playoffs last year for just the second time since 2004, the Miami Heat rebounded this season to win the Southeast Division. The Heat would advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in a fierce seven-game series. But by the time that the Heat were finished off by the Raptors, they had been depleted by injuries. Heat team president Pat Riley has made it his business to keep Miami in title contention as they’ve won the NBA Championship three times since 2006. And even though that Riley has one of the best basketball minds in the business, he’ll have his hands full this summer as far as keeping the Heat as one of the top teams in the NBA.

Chris Bosh

As of right now the Heat have nearly $50 million committed to player salaries for next season, but that could be changing. Power forward Chris Bosh has missed 67 games over the last two NBA seasons due to complications from blood clots. Bosh did not appear in the playoffs for the Heat, and there is a possibility that he might be forced to retire. In the summer of 2014, Bosh re-signed with the Heat for $118 million over five years. However if Bosh does retire, nearly $24 million would come off of the books towards next year’s payroll. But what the Heat would lose from not having Bosh on their roster is his leadership on the court, and in the locker room as he was a vital member of their championship teams in 2012 and 2013.

Like Bosh, shooting guard Dwyane Wade has been a part of much of the Heat’s success recently. Wade was the fifth overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft by the Heat and he has gone on to become the best player in franchise history. Wade has been a member of each of the Heat’s championship teams which included him being the NBA Finals MVP in 2006. Wade is the Heat’s all-time leader in points (20,221), assists (4,944), and steals (1,414). But at the age of 34, injuries have really caught up to Wade as he has never played a full season in the NBA.

Dwyane Wade

Last summer, Wade was seeking a long-term contract from the Heat which he didn’t receive as Riley wasn’t ready to commit to that on an aging player. The Heat and Wade would agree on a one-year deal for $20 million. Wade averaged 19 points per game in the regular season. But in the NBA Playoffs, Wade was showing signs of once again being “Flash” as he averaged 21.4 points per game as he attempted to will the Heat to victories which should make for a very interesting round of negotiating this summer between him and Riley.

After being a basketball nomad, center Hassan Whiteside has emerged as one of the best shot blockers and rebounders in the NBA. Whiteside was a second-round pick of the Sacramento Kings in 2010, but he spent more time in the NBA’s Development League than anything else.  In 2014, the Heat would pick Whiteside up off of the scrap heap and in 48 games with the team, he would average 11.8 points and 10 rebounds. Last summer Whiteside signed a one-year deal with the Heat for 981k and he easily outperformed that by averaging 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds while leading the NBA in blocks with 3.7 per game.

Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside has tremendous athleticism, but there have been maturity issues for him which has seen him draw the ire of Riley, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, and veteran players such as Bosh. Whiteside did suffer a knee injury in the playoffs against the Raptors which could give the Heat leverage in their contract negotiations with the 26-year old this summer.

As of right now the biggest impact players that the Heat can count on for next season are point guard Goran Dragic and small forward Justise Winslow. The Heat acquired Dragic from the Phoenix Suns during the 2014-2015 NBA season, but he hasn’t had the kind of impact that the Heat were hoping for as he wasn’t the focal point of the offense with Wade and Bosh on the roster. However that could potentially change next season. Last summer, the Heat used the 10th overall pick of the NBA Draft on Winslow. Winslow appeared in 78 games during the regular season for the Heat, but he only made 8 starts. As a rookie, Winslow averaged 6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds as a role player, but you can see the potential there for him to develop a more important role on both offense and defense for Miami.

The Heat should be active players in free agency this summer, and with Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in July, you can expect Miami to put on the full-court press as far as attempting to persuade him to come to South Beach. However it will be more difficult as I don’t see Durant leaving the Thunder with their deep run into the playoffs that currently has them three victories away from their second trip to the NBA Finals with him on the roster.

Pat Riley

Riley knows a thing or two about building a contender as he has only been a part of four losing seasons either as a head ocach of team executive. Riley got creative in putting Bosh, Wade, and LeBron James together in the summer of 2010, and there’s no telling what he has up his sleeve this summer for the Heat. But one thing for sure is that Riley will find a way to put a quality roster together.

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It’s Go Time For Riley

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This past NBA season marked just the second time since 2004 that the Miami Heat missed the playoffs. The Heat went 37-45 and they finished in tenth place in the Eastern Conference as they were dealing with a litany of issues. The Heat were attempting  to recover from the sudden departure of small forward LeBron James who decided to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer. The Heat were also without the services of power forward Chris Bosh for the second half of the season as a result of blood clots. And through it all, the Heat missed the NBA Playoffs by only one game.

Since 1995, Heat president Pat Riley has been the architect of this organization and he has molded it in his championship image under his watch as Miami has won the NBA Title three times. Riley wants to keep that winning formula going and beginning with the NBA Draft tomorrow night, the Heat are entering an important stretch as they look to reshape their roster for the upcoming NBA season.

The Heat have the tenth overall pick pick in the NBA Draft along with their second round pick as they will look for the opportunity to get younger and more athletic. As of right now Riley and the Heat are not showing any indication that they are willing to trade out of that slot as they could still find an impact player there with the likes of Duke small forward Justise Winslow, Arizona small forward Stanley Johnson, and Louisville power forward Montrezl Harrell all potentially being available there.

After acquiring point guard Gorin Dragic from the Phoenix Suns last season, the Heat have every intent to keep him in South Florida and not allow him to test the free agent waters this summer as they are reportedly prepared to offer him a five-year deal worth $80 million. Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade appears ready to opt-out of his contract and even though he and Riley are currently apart on the workings for his potential new contract, I expect cooler heads to prevail with Wade remaining to Miami for next season. The Heat are also counting on Bosh returning and being healthy for next season as they’ll need him to be a catalyst for this team as he has averaged 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds for his 12-year NBA career.

But the Heat’s plans for next season will hinge on what they’ll be able to do tomorrow night at the NBA Draft. Under Riley, the Heat have been in the NBA Draft Lottery three times and it has either been hit or miss there. In 2002, the Heat drafted small forward Caron Butler while they chose Wade in 2003. And in 2008, Miami selected forward Michael Beasley. Butler provided immense value for the Heat as they used him to acquire center Shaquille O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 and he and Wade led Miami to an NBA Championship in 2006. However, Beasley was the second overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft after the Heat missed out on point guard Derrick Rose who was selected by the Chicago Bulls. Beasley has played for three different NBA teams including three separate times with the Heat and he has never lived up to his potential.

Pat Riley

In this instance Riley and the Heat are not that far off from being a contender once again and drafting an explosive wing player could be just what the doctor ordered for them. Winslow has shown that he isn’t afraid of the big stage as he is fresh off of helping Duke win a national championship. Like Winslow, Johnson is leaving school after one season and he has plenty of untapped potential while Harrell continued to improve in each of his three years at Louisville.

Riley has one of the best basketball minds of our time and the gears are working to get the Heat back to the postseason.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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A Harsh Reality For Wade

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https://cdn.evbuc.com/eventlogos/98052713/dwyanewade201290todsgt.jpgThe Miami Heat have been in business since 1988 as an NBA franchise and the case can be made that shooting guard Dwyane Wade is the most important player in franchise history. The Heat drafted Wade with the fifth overall pick of the NBA Draft and the rest has been history. Wade helped the Heat win their first NBA Championship in 2006 as he introduced the world to “Flash”. Wade was named the NBA Finals MVP as he averaged 34.7 points per game in the series win over the Dallas Mavericks. In the summer of 2010, the Heat signed small forward LeBron James and power forward Chris Bosh to join Wade in Miami and form their version of “The Big Three”. And in the process, Wade took a backseat to James as the trio led Miami to the NBA Championship in 2012 and 2013. But when James left the Heat last summer to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade once again became more of a focal point of the offense in Miami this season. Wade averaged 21.5 points per game this season, but at the age of 33, the explosion that was once there in his body isn’t there in the same capacity which has left him and the Heat at an impasse.

Last summer, James, Bosh, and Wade opted out of their respective seven-year contracts that were signed with the Heat in 2010. And when James left Miami, it forced Heat president Pat Riley to scramble as he re-signed Bosh to a five-year, $118 million contract. Wade also re-signed with the Heat, but only for a two-year deal that was worth $31.1 million. Wade’s contract also included a player option of $16.1 for next season. The NBA has a new television deal coming down the pike and because of that, the league’s salary cap is expected to skyrocket soon. Wade like many other stars is seeking more money. But it won’t be as easy for Wade to attain what he is seeking.

In 2010, Wade, Bosh, and James each agreed to take less money in order to win titles and that philosophy was indeed successful. But now that is simply a thing of the past.

Wade is the Heat’s all-time leader in most major statistical categories. But Wade will be 34-years old this January and he has to be realistic about his current worth as a basketball player.

The Heat are reportedly offering Wade less than $10 million per season as Riley has his sights set on putting together another mega-team in Miami. Riley also knows that Wade is not the player that he once was. Wade has never appeared in all 82 regular season games as a professional and he hasn’t played in at least 70 regular season games for the Heat since the 2010-2011 NBA season.

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Pat Riley

We live in a time where players want to be compensated for past accolades, but in the end the NBA is simply a business and thus players tend to get compensated for what they can potentially do as opposed to what they did. The extension that was given to Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant two years ago was the prime example of this. Two years ago, the Lakers signed Bryant to a two-year extension worth $48.5 million. The last two seasons have only seen Bryant appear in 41 games as the Lakers are paying him $24 million a season to be a spectator. Bryant is a five-time NBA Champion and one of the best players to ever lace them up, but at the time of his extension, he was 34-years old and injuries have caught up to him.

Make no mistake about it that Wade is Mr. Miami, but Riley and the Heat are not going to allow themselves to be handcuffed to one player regardless of what he has previously done; especially if he can no longer do it at the same level. If Wade decides to hit the open market as a free agent, he more than likely will not get the money that he seeks either as most executives around the NBA will look at him in the same fashion as Riley currently is. And if Wade ends up getting the huge payday that he is seeking, it more than likely won’t come from a team that will be competing for the NBA Title. Wade’s feelings might be hurt, but like most professional athletes he must realize that when his playing career is over, the arena or stadium that he played at will still be there and eventually he will be replaced on the playing field. It isn’t harsh, but it is realistic. What Wade gave up in salary in the past got him two more NBA Championships so it appears that previously taking less money was worth it.

Wade might not see it today, but the Heat will take care of him. When Wade decides to call it a career, his jersey number will be retired by the Heat. The Heat will also more than likely compensate him handsomely for making public appearances as he is an icon in South Florida. But at the present he is no longer the explosive player that he was a few years ago and it is something that he must realize.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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Who Is Hassan Whiteside?

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Periodically the sports world will give us a feel good story. And one of the feel good stories in the early part of 2015 belongs to Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has taken the long road to success in the NBA. After one year of playing college basketball at Marshall Univeristy, Whiteside declared for the 2010 NBA Draft where he was selected in the second round by the Sacramento Kings. Over two seasons with the Kings, Whiteside only appeared in 23 games where he averaged 1.5 and 2.1 rebounds per contest. Whiteside would bounce around the NBA’s Developmental League along with a brief stint in Lebanon and China respectively. Whiteside was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies last September. With the Grizzlies, Whiteside only appeared in one game and he didn’t tally any stats. The Grizzlies would go on to release Whiteside in November and he would be picked up by the Heat who would assign him to the Sioux Falls Skyforce od the NBADL. Whiteside would then be a bit player for the Heat in the month of December as he averaged 3.1 points and 3.9 rebounds before finally beginning to breakthrough in January.

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Hassan Whiteside

On January 4, the Heat defeated the Brooklyn Nets 88-84 and in the game Whiteside totaled 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks. A week later in a 104-90 victory over the Clippers, Whiteside had 23 points and 16 rebounds. On January 25, the Heat knocked off the Chicago Bulls 96-84 as Whiteside had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 blocks. For the month of January, Whiteside averaged 13.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks including a 16-point, 24-rebound performance in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on January 30.

Whiteside’s strong January has carried over to the month of February as he is averaging 18.3 points and 13.0 per contest. In the Heat’s 102-101 loss to the Minnesota TImberwolves this past Thursday night, Whiteside contributed with 24 points and 20 rebounds. In just 23 games this season with the Heat, Whiteside is already the team’s leading rebounder as he is averaging 8.3 boards per game.

After losing small forward LeBron James to free agency last summer, the Heat have struggled as they are just 21-28, but Whiteside has emerged as a difference maker as he is making the most of this opportunity. And as Heat team president Pat Riley attempts to rebuild this team into a title contender, he appears to have found a vital cog in Whiteside.

Even when the Heat were a title contender with James, they were lacking an interior presence. The Heat still have All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, but he was asked to alter his game since coming to Miami in 2010. Prior to joining the Heat, Bosh was more of a low-post presence during his time with the Toronto Raptors. But now Bosh tends to play more on the perimeter; even spotting up for three-point shots. Now Whiteside has become a presence on the interior for the Heat and he is cleaning up the glass while also making opponents thinking twice about driving to the hole.

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Pat Riley

Whiteside is still a bit raw, but he is giving the Heat more athleticism in the frontcourt that they sorely need. Whiteside will be 26-years old this June and his game will only continue to improve. Riley doesn’t believe in long-term rebuilds; especially with veteran players such as Bosh and shooting guard Dwyane Wade still on the Heat’s roster. Riley will more than likely be active this summer in trying to improve the Heat, but it appears that the center position is one less thing for him to worry about as Whiteside has emerged. The Heat have Whiteside under contract through next season and they have him on the cheap as he is earning 769k this season and $981k for the 2015-2016 NBA season. Riley has been around the NBA for a long time and his track record speaks for itself as he has been a part of nine NBA Championship teams as a player, assistant head coach, head coach, and executive. Riley got Whiteside for next to nothing and I don’t see the young, athletic center leaving anytime soon.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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The Heat Are Going Through The Motions

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We all knew that things would be drastically different for the Miami Heat this season. After four seasons with the Heat, small forward LeBron James decided to return to playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The departure of James forced Heat president Pat Riley into scramble mode as far as fielding a team this season and more importantly a team that could compete in the Eastern Conference. Without James, the Heat still have power forward Chris Bosh and shooting guard Dwyane Wade who were key members of Miami’s NBA Championships teams in 2012 and 2013. But the injury bug has pulled up a beach chair Miami which has led to inconsistency on the basketball court.

At 20-26, the Heat are on pace for their first losing campaign since the 2007-2008 NBA season. Thoughts of a fifth straight Southeast Division Title have all but evaporated for the Heat as they are in third place and 18.5 games behind the division leading Atlanta Hawks. On the bright side for the Heat, they still call the Eastern Conference home and in spite of their sub-.500 record they are still in possession of the seventh seed for the NBA Playoffs.

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade

After winning their first three games of the season, the Heat have not won more than two consecutive games since. Wade is leading the team in scoring at 21.4 per game, but he has missed 10 games as a result of injuries and a strained hamstring is going to force him to miss some more time. Bosh is right behind Wade in scoring at 21.3 per game while also averaging 7.5 rebounds and he has missed eight games due to a calf injury. As Wade and Bosh have gutted it out, the supporting cast has changed around them.

Pat Riley

Last summer Riley signed power forward Josh McRoberts to a four-year, $23 million deal. McRoberts was coming off of his best statistical season in the NBA as he averaged 8.5 points and 4.8 rebounds last season with the Charlotte Bobcats. McRoberts was not brought to the Heat to be the next Karl Malone, but he was expected to provide size for Miami on the interior. Last month McRoberts suffered a torn meniscus which ended his season. The Heat are also without reserve power forward Chris “Birdman” Anderson who is day-to-day with with injuries to his elbow and back. These injuries may not seem that significant, but unlike the past four years they are stinging a little bit more.

The past few years saw all of the Heat’s deficiencies masked by the superb talent of James as he was a triple-double waiting to happen. This season the Heat are last in the NBA in rebounding and 27th in assists. The Heat have lost 15 games this season by double figures and they have not been as strong in the fourth quarter as that was the time in which James took over in years past. But Riley appears to be a man that is simply biding his time as far as once again bringing a dominant basketball team to Miami.

After next season the Heat only have $31.85 million committed to salaries for the 2016-2017 NBA season which could lead Riley to becoming very creative over the next two summers. This summer’s NBA free agent market will be headlined by Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Portland Trailblazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol while the summer of 2016 will see teams drooling for the services of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant. If Jordan or Gasol would be too expensive for Riley, I could see him turning his attention to the likes of New Orleans Hornets center Omer Asik or Blazers center Robin Lopez. Asik and Lopez won’t command as much salary as Gasol or Jordan, but Lopez is a tremendous energy player while Asik has asserted himself into one of the top rebounders in the NBA over the past few seasons. For his NBA career Gasol has averaged 14 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and he could be another low-post presence for the Heat. And I highly doubt that Riley would go after Aldridge simply because he and Bosh are basically the same player.

But I believe that Riley will put the full-court press in the attempt to sign Durant. For his eight-year NBA career, Durant has averaged 27.3 points per game and he would fill some of the void for the Heat that they have since James left as he is one of purest scorers in the NBA. Bosh would be 32-years of age in 2016 while Wade is already beginning to slow down and he would be 35-years old at the time.

The Heat are down right now, but they are far from out because of the craftiness of Riley. As a head coach, Riley won five NBA Championship with the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers while getting the New York Knicks within a whisker of the title in 1994. Through wheeling a dealing on the trade market, Riley turned the Heat into title contenders when he took over in 1995 and he brokered the deal in 2010 to get James to come to South Beach. And in spite of the fact that James left the Heat last summer, it is tough for NBA superstars to say no to Riley and South Beach. Just like Riley positioned himself in 2010 to turn the Heat into a title contender, he can and will do it again. Right now for the Heat and their fans, it is just a matter of keeping the ship afloat.

Source: Basketball-reference.com

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Surprise Teams In The NBA

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Led by the Splash Brothers, will the Golden State Warriors win their first NBA Championship since 1975?

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