Tag Archive for: Miami Heat

Is Juwan Howard the only man willing to coach the Lakers?

It appeared the Miami Heat had escaped a bit of a crisis.

Short on assistant coaches with real playing experience who connect in that way with their current players, the Heat appeared to be keeping Juwan Howard through at least this offseason. About a month ago, our Greg Sylvander wrote this piece about Howard’s importance in the locker room and on the practice court, and why the Heat could not afford to lose him now.

Then, amid the rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers’ interest in Howard, Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue (LeBron James’ former coach) emerged as primary candidates.

Now both have turned down what was once among the prized jobs in sports.

Jason Kidd remains somewhere in the picture.

But here we are…

This makes sense for a lot of reasons, foremost among them James’ respect for Howard — and also Howard’s lack of head coaching experience, which may make it easier for James to get his way. James has played better for coaches with some experience than those without any (David Blatt, Luke Walton).

And it’s not like elite proven candidates are clamoring for the job.

If you want a full list of Lakers coaching candidates, look here.

Or here…

 

What’s not clear is what the Heat will do if Howard leaves. Dan Craig is still around, as is Chris Quinn, but the reality is that it helps to have a strong black voice on a staff in the NBA, and the Heat don’t have one. Anthony Carter is a relative newbie, and didn’t have Howard’s playing chops.

 

Miami Heat looked better than they played

The Miami Heat had one of their more mediocre seasons in the past quarter-century.

But, in the eyes of some fans, they’ve never looked better.

By any measure, the Vice jerseys were a huge hit from the start, even though the Heat could never seem to win in them. The personnel department is going through a rare rough stretch, but the marketing department has been on fire for a while now, from the jerseys to the court color change to everything that revolved around Dwyane Wade’s #OneLastDance.

And the numbers prove it:

Twenty-four percent.

There are 30 teams, so the Heat should have been at three percent.

So it’s really a remarkable achievement, and the timing was right to coincide with the Wade celebration.

Now they just need another star to wear them, one in his prime, so they’ll win a bit more often.

Why is Pat Riley assisting the enemy?

One of the remarkable things about the late-career Pat Riley story is that he keeps getting asked for his advice about other franchises — even as he’s uncharacteristically struggling to fix his own.

First, there was all that Los Angeles Lakers chatter, following the resignation of Riley favorite Magic Johnson — and reports that owner Jeannie Buss wanted to bring Riley back aboard.

And now, the organization that supplanted the Heat as the power brokers in the NBA apparently has consulted with Riley as well.

This was an interesting nugget from the only person on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith, in reference to scuffling Warriors guard Klay Thompson who, like Kevin Durant, is due to become a free agent.

“Even folks like Pat Riley have spoken to folks within the Warriors organization to say, ‘Your priority had better be keeping the Splash Brothers together. Not only have they heard that from Pat Riley, they’ve heard it from Jerry West, they’ve heard it from others. Keeping the Splash Brothers together. Obviously you know that Kevin Durant is the best player on the team, he’s one of the top two players on the planet. But the point is they anticipate — although they hope otherwise — they anticipate that he may leave….”

That is typical Riley thinking, it would seem, not wanting to sink to the bottom. Recall that after the Heat added Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger in the summer of 2014 — and then watched LeBron James walk — Riley immediately maxed out Chris Bosh to top a competing offer from Houston, while giving Dwyane Wade just enough to stay. (Riley has later said he regretted the decision not to max Wade first, which ultimately contributed to the fractious negotiations in 2015 and the ugly departure of 2016).

But there’s a deeper question here:

Why is Riley, the man who would fine his players for picking opponents off the floor and scowled every time BFF’s Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing went to dinner during a Heat-Knicks series, helping the team he and the rest of the NBA have been chasing? West, Riley’s mentor, isn’t even with the Warriors anymore, but now with the Los Angeles Clippers, who are far better positioned than the Heat. Did anyone — save perhaps Riley pal Gregg Popovich — offer the Heat advice during the Big 3 run?

No. They were all too busy legislating against the Heat, voting through punitive luxury tax penalties to ensure the Heat’s eventual breakup. If the Warriors are dying their last breaths, let them die Pat. Don’t throw them a lifeline. Or just tell them to sign a contract equivalent to James Johnson’s.

Is there hope in the East for the Heat?

Well, that went as expected.

The Eastern Conference first round was full of mismatches, especially with Indiana missing Victor Oladipo, and so it should have surprised no one that all four series were slaughters, with the favorites taking 16 of 18 games.

It was also a stark reminder of how far the Miami Heat are from serious contention in the conference. They finished behind the Nets, Pistons and Magic, teams with just a couple of certifiable stars between them. The Heat can talk about injuries (and they were banged up than the Magic in particular, though not the Nets). But the reality is, they’re just not good enough — and with Dwyane Wade retiring, likely about to get worse.

This isn’t us saying it.

It’s you.

After the four top teams in the East easily advanced, we polled it at @5ReasonsSports.

At last count, the Raptors and Celtics were “leading” at about 33 percent each, followed by the 76ers, with the Bucks way behind — because they have Giannis.

But the most popular response was “none of the above.”

It’s hard to envision the Heat passing the Bucks anytime soon. The 76ers? Even if Jimmy Butler leaves, they still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in their early 20s, and probably Tobias Harris. The Celtics may lose Kyrie Irving, but they are still stocked with assets.

The only real wild card is Toronto, considering they could lose Kawhi Leonard, likely to the Clippers.

But — and this is sad to say — if you’re betting Masai Ujiri vs. Pat Riley lately, you go with Ujiri.

Hassan Whiteside caught up in weird story

Is Michael Avenatti corrupt enough to run for President yet?

The attorney, who became famous by representing Donald Trump-associated porn star Stormy Daniels — and for oddly tweeting “basta!” all the time — was thinking about running for the White House. Lately, he’s had to run from the law, with a number of corruption and embezzlement and tax fraud allegations about him.

But this?

How exactly did Heat center Hassan Whiteside get caught up in this?

I mean, read the headline of that again.

Could that be any more 2019?

Allegedly, it happened nearly three years ago, not long after Whiteside signing his mega-max contract to remain in Miami.

And it’s a confusing tale.

Here’s the full story, in the Los Angeles Times….

LINK.

And here’s an excerpt:

When Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat wired $2.75 million to Michael Avenatti in January 2017, the pro basketball player intended most of the money to go to his former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.

Avenatti was Gardner’s attorney. An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3 million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment. Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner. Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.

Here’s more…

Gardner’s settlement with Whiteside — Avenatti never gave her a copy — required the basketball player to pay her $2.75 million in January 2017, then the remaining $250,000 on Nov. 1, 2020, the indictment says.

Whiteside wired the $2.75 million on Jan. 25, 2017, to a client trust account at Eagan Avenatti. Rather than taking his fee of about $1 million, plus expenses, Avenatti kept all the money and misrepresented the settlement’s terms to Gardner, according to the indictment.

Black Sports Online had his own reaction, and we’re including it, only because Robert Littal loves using the phrase “side chick.”

Avenatti, by the way, has responded, as he always does:

I look forward to ALL of the details coming out regarding Hassan Whiteside’s settlement, the money received by the client, the money deducted for fees and costs, etc. and the reason why he paid the money. I especially look forward to the inquiry by the and its commissioner.

Basta!

Or something.

 

The Pat Riley to the Lakers thing won’t die

South Florida sports fans are particularly sensitive about this stuff.

After all, they thought they had a championship coach for the Miami Dolphins when Nick Saban signed on in 2005. He started slow that first season, but won his last six behind Gus Frerotte, signed Daunte Culpepper and seemed poised for greatness until that season soured. Then, toward the end, with rumors swirling, Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde had the guts to ask him flat out if he would be going to the Crimson Tide.

And you recall the answer…

Soon after, Saban was the Alabama coach.

Still is.

With all those championships.

Recently, as the Los Angeles Lakers have continued to melt down — they’re interviewing Ty Lue for head coach, for bleep’s sake — Pat Riley’s name has been linked on social media to them again. Yes, that Pat Riley. The Heat-president-since-1995-Pat Riley.

Riley, of course, made his name with the Lakers, sort of as a player — and Jerry West’s practice dummy — and then as a broadcaster and the slicked back savant of Showtime. He also stumbled into a discussion about returning in 2004, before Jerry Buss ended up sending him Shaquille O’Neal instead. Jerry has passed, but his daughter Jeanie is trying to recreate the past, and so the reunion story won’t go away. Especially now that Magic Johnson has gone, to tweet inanities instead. And especially since it appears that LeBron James and Riley have patched things some, after Riley was red hot about him for the past few years, and James was annoyed by Riley continuing to mention him.

Riley’s been making overtures like this one (see link).

Oh, and there was this…

That’s why I felt the need to get Riley on the record about the Lakers, and his own future.

Here it was, Saturday:

But you knew it wouldn’t end there. Not with Riley in Malibu already for much of the summer. Not with ESPN’s ridiculous obsession over the Lakers, above all teams currently in the playoffs. Not with it possibly serving his interests to make the Heat, um, sweat a little, as the succession plan still needs to take shape.

So Jeannie wants him back?

That’s not a surprise.

But if Riley goes now, he’s at risk of Saban-ing himself.

Yes, there is an infinitely greater record of goodwill here. Saban was 15-17. Riley has won three championships, and made the playoffs 80 percent of the time.

That, though, is why it will hurt some fans more.

Especially after Riley ripped LeBron for taking off.

Marc Stein on Pat Riley: “I won’t doubt him again”

The newly-minted Basketball Hall of Famer, Marc Stein — long of ESPN and now of The New York Times — joined the Five Reasons Sports flagship on Thursday to discuss the NBA playoffs, NBA player movement, the Miami Heat and Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

You can find the full episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marc-stein-on-nba-playoffs-riley-wade-dirk/id1336060206?i=1000435259473

Here are some highlights:

On Pat Riley…

 

On Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks….

 

On the Miami Heat’s trade for Jimmy Butler falling through with the Minnesota Timberwolves….

Pat Riley y la encrucijada del Miami Heat

Pat Riley ofreció una extensa rueda de prensa el pasado sábado para analizar la temporada del Miami Heat.

El fracaso de la eliminación hace que la fanaticada busque a los culpables de esta debacle.

Un equipo que se suponía debía clasificar sin problemas en la Conferencia del Este terminó despidiendo a Dwyane Wade con una amarga despedida.

Ahora hay que responder de alguna manera, y ese camino aún no parece despejado.

Ethan Skolnik y Chris Wittyngham analizaron las ambiguas palabras de Riley en su último episodio de Five Reasons:

Con el Miami Heat luchando con el tope salarial por diversas circunstancias, Pat Riley parece aferrarse a la esperanza de que tanto Hassan Whiteside como Goran Dragic no ejerzan sus respectivas opciones para continuar con el equipo.

Whiteside quiere ser titular y en el Miami Heat de la 2019-2020 parece que ese no será su rol.

Dragic, por su parte, estaría mas abierto a renegociar su actual contrato, dejar pasar esta opción y volver a firmar con el Heat por mas años y una cantidad similar de dinero.

Estos dos escenarios combinados le abrirían la posibilidad a Pat Riley de tratar de buscar a algún pez grande en la agencia libre.

De lo contrario, se tendrá que conformar con lo que tiene disponible.

¿Hay un Dwyane Wade en este roster?

Riley afirmó el sábado que los contratos de cuatro años de James Johnson y Dion Waiters se materializaron tras la negativa de Gordon Hayward hace un par de años.

Así, tras ese 30-11 estéril, se comenzó a confeccionar la ensalada de roster que le tocó manejar a Erik Spoelstra esta temporada.

Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo y Derrick Jones Jr. dieron pasos importantes hacia adelante esta temporada y junto a Josh Richardson son los llamados a ser la nueva cara de esta franquicia.

¿Hay un Dwyane Wade en alguno de ellos?

Ricardo Montes de Oca, Leandro Soto y Alejandro Villegas lo ponderaron en el EP 30 de Cinco Razones Podcast :

The Game of Thrones, Miami Sports match game

Screenshot photo from Games of Zones on Bleacher Report.

 

Eighteen months.

That’s how long it’s been since the last episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, during which time South Florida’s various major athletic teams have won a grand total of one postseason contest — that thanks to Dwyane Wade, who wasn’t even here when that last episode aired.

There’s always been some crossover between sports fans and Thrones fans, except in our network, in which a surprising number of millennials have never seen the show. This is where I would compare Giancarlo Navas of Miami Heat Beat to Reek if I wanted to be mean. But I don’t.

But we did feel it was appropriate to ask the question above.

We already know that Pat Riley is Tywin Lannister — no, we don’t expect Riley to die on a toilet. Bleacher Report made the comparison in a brilliant Game of Zones video, and others have come to the same conclusion:

We threw the rest to you and, as usual, you delivered….

Let’s start with the best one, which a few submitted….

 

This one was kind of obvious…

Some Big Three takes… (no Red Wedding here)….

Another one we saw a few times…

Dolphins fans jumped in….

 

So did Marlins fans, those that are left…

A little love for Mr. 305….

Some of you had jokes…

Of course, #JustiseBetter was associated with a couple of series favorites…

 

But we had to slip this in before the wire…

 

Heat to Dion Waiters: Time to Shape Up or….

It was the open secret of the Miami Heat season.

The proverbial elephant in the room.

Dion Weighte- (er, Waiters) was overweight.

And the Heat, behind the scenes, weren’t happy about it.

Very not happy about it.

Heat fans, on the other hand, were equal parts amused and annoyed, until Waiters went on a three-point shooting spree to salvage his season somewhat.

This has been going on forever, actually.

Look at the date on this one:

We all know how Pat Riley feels about conditioning. Miami Heat shape. World class shape. He forced Tim Hardaway to meet a certain weight, even after Hardaway was a multi-time All-Star. He briefly banished Antoine Walker and James Posey after the 2006 championship, after Walker promised to keep drinking all offseason and seemed to diligently fulfill his promise. He has nearly killed men in practice; just ask them.

So it was a matter of time before the team snapped. The Heat tried to put on a good face about this, as they typically do, when there’s something they’d like to not make a public issue — particularly when they’re paying a player $52 million guaranteed over four years to overeat and underperform.

For instance…

Recently, roughly two weeks ago, Spoelstra said that Waiters was getting into better condition and that’s why he was playing better. There wasn’t much of the season left.

It is not like Spoelstra to call players out publicly. That’s a Riley thing. That’s what made Friday’s Spoelstra press conference so remarkable. He basically spoke for both of them, with more pointed words for Waiters than anyone else on the roster. Actually, Waiters was the only player targeted with even a tinge of negativity, as Spoelstra waxed poetic about Dwyane Wade, gushed over the Heat’s kids (especially the clearly beloved Bam Adebayo) and even said he believed in Hassan Whiteside.

Waiters?

Well.

Here are some tweets.

And this…

And this was the money quote…

Just in case no one understood…..

“Pat and I are on the same page on this.”

That’s a message they meant to deliver. Together.

This time, there’s no Good Cop.

Just Bad Cop and Worse Cop.

Expect Riley, if he ever speaks to the assembled media again — we’re expecting next week — to deliver it even more sternly. They have two years left on Waiters’ contract and he has been difficult if not impossible to deal. They need to try to make something work.

So it will be interesting to see what happens if he can’t make weight.