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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Roster Trimming Complete, Let Free Agency Begin!

Today, Pat Riley finalized a buyout with James Jones which will count only $1.5 million against the cap instead of the $1.9 million which he was on the books for. I don't know how he did it, but with that move, we are officially down to our 2008 rookies, 2009 rookies and 2010 rookies.

Since our 2009 and 2010 rookies are unsigned as of yet and were either acquired in the second round or as free agents, all we have on the payroll is Michael Beasley ($4.962M), James Jones's buyout ($1.5M) and Mario Chalmers ($847K). Let's get down to the math to figure out how much money we could throw at free agents while keeping Michael Beasley and if we have cleared enough room for three maximum free agents if we deal him.

Assuming we have a $56.1M cap:

$56.1M - $4.962M (Beasley) = $51.138
$51.138M - $1.5M (Jones's buyout) = $49.638
$49.638 - $.847M (Chalmers) = $48.791
$48.791 - $2.842M (6 cap holds of $.4736M) = $45.949

That is the calculation for how much money we could throw at three players without breaking up our Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers core. No, that was not a joke. We may have to shed Michael Beasley if the three maximum free agents are unwilling to take a $1.5M discount on their first year salary. The max free agents in question are entitled to 30% of the cap, which comes out to $16.83M. However if you divide the money Miami has been able to clear up, it comes out to $15.32M per player.

A slight disappointment for me is that if you could have rid yourself of Jones and Chalmers, you could have offered the free agents $15.94M, while keeping 2008's #2 pick. In any case, it is only a $5M discount over three years and each of them still can get one more major deal three years down the line that will more than make up for that gesture.

Alas, dealing away Michael Beasley creates $50.437M in cap room, which divides into three salaries of $16.81M. It almost spooky how that has worked out almost to the penny. The official cap number comes out after the July 1st-8th moratorium and we will no longer have to guess what the cap number will be. I doubt $20K would make the difference in closing the deal with a max free agent, so Mario Chalmers is likely safe, but he better offer his Mr. Clutch #6 to LeBron James or he could be finding himself fighting for that number elsewhere.

We do not yet know for sure if Miami will be adding the trio of max free agents, but they have successfully created a unique opportunity. I am hearing movie catch phrases in my head like "I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse" and "if you build it, they will come". I haven't figured out if Pat Riley is the Godfather or Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. Either way, he looks like a genius right now. May his wildest dream come true.

Monday, June 28, 2010

LeBron + Bosh + Wade trio a possibility?

Today Stephen A Smith proclaimed that LeBron James and Chris Bosh will sign with the Miami Heat to play with Dwyane Wade. Also, we were told that a source close to Wade says Wade believes this will happen, but he will still take his recruiting trips as scheduled.

I find it slightly annoying that Stephen had already made a lot of noise about LeBron going to New York. Also, these rumors are in the wake of being told by a source that Bosh and LeBron to the Bulls was practically a done deal.

The thing about all of this is that Marc Stein and Charlie Villanueva (one of the original NBA tweeters) are tweeting that Bosh will sign with Miami and I actually believe that storyline. After all of these years in Toronto, he is due for some tropical weather. So, if Bosh is signing in Miami, LeBron and Bosh to Chicago cannot happen. If Bosh is not going to Chicago, who will? New York seems to be taking the lead on overpaying for Amar'e and Joe Johnson.

I feel confident that LeBron James and Chris Bosh will leave. I also feel confident that Dwyane Wade will stay. I want to feel confident that this trio will sign with Miami, but I will not allow myself to buy into the hype until I get more concrete evidence. Hypothetically having LeBron, Bosh and Wade for a day felt really good. Hopefully we share this dream with LeBron, Chris and Dwyane and Miami becomes the center of the basketball universe for the next decade.

Mikhail Torrance signs with the Miami Heat

The Miami Heat may have found itself a point guard project worth writing about. Mikhail Torrance was projected as a late first/early second round draft pick. I had actually put a lot of thought into the possibilities of the Miami Heat drafting him with one of their four picks, but ultimately they were able to trade their fourth pick and still take a flyer on him as a free agent.

Not many had the 6'5" point guard going undrafted and it is said that he fell off team's boards due to his disclosure of a condition called athletic heart syndrome. No evidence has been discovered that points to this condition to be a serious concern, but naturally teams are inclined to go after players who do not have heart conditions.

Mikhail does not believe the condition will stop him from accomplishing his NBA dreams. "Your heart's just a little bigger than normal. It's pretty common in athletes." said Torrance, who added "I can't wait for Summer League to show a lot of teams what they passed on."

"I was projected to go late first round, early second... but it was a blessing in disguise. I got to pick the organization I want to play with. The Miami Heat's a great organization."

He named the clearing of the roster as a reason for his decision to sign with Miami and believes Dwyane Wade will return. He will report to the team on Sunday. According to Draftexpress, he was the 34th best prospect in this draft, ahead of Heat draft picks Jarvis Varnado (#42), Dexter Pittman (#50) and Da'Sean Butler (#68). I don't put too much stock on the draft rankings, but I believe Miami got themselves a player who is capable of playing two positions and therefore has a good chance of making the roster. How many of these guys make an impact remains to be seen, but you can judge for yourself starting on July 11th with NBA's summer league broadband ($14.95).

Sources:

http://blog.al.com/tide-source/2010/06/torrance_signs_as_free_agent_w.html

http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Mikhail-Torrance-5846/

Friday, June 25, 2010

Miami Aces Draft and Gets Bang For the Buck

When the season was drawing to a close I was among the group of people who preferred Toronto missing the playoffs in order to get a second rounder in addition to a future first rounder. A first rounder this year might have helped get rid of James Jones's salary, but my thinking was that in order to add young talent to the roster this year, the top of the second round was the place to be.

The day before the draft Miami traded DaeQuan Cook for the second pick of the second round. This got me even more excited about the draft, because this meant we were going to get some of the best talent that did not require a guaranteed contract and would thereby not count against the cap when the free agent period commenced.

I must admit that it was not all rosy for me as I was intrigued by the long term potential of Hassan Whiteside and Solomon Alabi and am not typically a fan of signing players with weight problems. So, of course, I was a bit disappointed with the selection of Texas center Dexter Pittman over the aforementioned centers. However, I do believe "Sexy Dexy" is more NBA ready and could make an impact on day one and solidify the post rotation. His physical play matches up with well with Boston and fills a need in a league severely lacks true bigs. The Heat wanted a back to the basket banger and after having already lost 100 lbs, they may have landed the best one. The reason I am sold on this pick is that he seems up for the challenge of playing for an organization that will place an emphasis on getting him into the best basketball shape possible.

Our second pick was PF Jarvis Varnado out of Mississippi State, who I had Miami picking with the 48th pick in my mock. I have a feeling Alonzo will get a tear in his eye when he watches this guy play. A center in college who projects as a power forward, Varnado makes Joel Anthony seem redundant. I do expect Miami to hold onto Joel's rights as long as possible and maybe even bring him back for the minimum if that discussion has already taken place, but Miami will not miss a beat in the shotblocking department thanks to this pick. ESPN analyst Skip Bayless had this to say about the player on Twitter "I could be wrong, but from what I saw on TV, JVarnado will be little better NBA player than Favors. Aminu. And Pat Riley stole him at 41?!".

Speaking of Bayless, here's what he said about the next pick "Heat also got DButler at 42 while clearing enough cap space to sign THREE max players. LeBron should go to Miami if wants to win title". In Da'Sean Butler the Heat gets the guy USA Today calls "the steal of the draft":

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/gameon/post/2010/06/did-pat-riley-and-heat-get-the-steal-of-the-draft-in-desean-butler/1

I likened the drafting of Da'Sean to the Bills drafting of Willis McGahee years ago and many agree that this player has what it takes to come back from his torn ACL and make Miami very proud for years to come. In looking at this video that JRod shared during the blog's draft party, I see a swingman that has a very good head on his shoulders and knows how to get to the right part of the floor to take the shot he wants. Take a look at how many game hitters he made, I don't think these plays happen by coincidence. We have a player that does not shy away from the big moment and that could be key to the team's long term success:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHBeilhy1BI

I believe Pat Riley is very happy with the results of his draft, saying "We feel like, contrary to what other people might think, we did draft three first-round picks in the second round". While I am going to disagree with Riley on principle, my analysis of the draft a month ago was that there was not much separating picks 15-45. Riley chose to make three picks in the 30-45 range and was rewarded with first round type of talent. It may sound like spin, but it was my sincere evaluation of the talent that was available this year... you may see just as many solid players come out of the top of the second round as you see in the bottom half of the first.

I encourage you guys to get excited and watch the return of our summer league team in two weeks. The summer league package is available at NBA.com for an Early Bird price of $11 and I will be certain to be watching it online if I am unable to make the trip to Las Vegas myself. The most exciting off-season in Heat history is upon us and stage 1 seems to have been a glowing success. In closing, I will leave you with more analysis of our draft by USAToday:
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/basketball/nba/2010-06-24-1903069196_x.htm