Spoelstra almost turned down first job with Heat

When a club official called with a date for an interview, Spoelstra was inclined to pass because he had tickets to a Grateful Dead concert.



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Watchability: Can Heat replace LeBron?

As LeBron James leaves, the Heat are in better position than the Cavaliers were in 2010.



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NBA 2K15 Player Ratings Revealed for Miami Heat

It’s finally here, the NBA 2K15 player ratings for the Miami Heat have finally been revealed minus a few players (Shawne Williams, Shannon Brown, and Tyler Johnson). 2K Sports is set to release the popular video game on October 7, 2014 on Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, just in time for the NBA preseason.

NBA 2K has been the most popular basketball video game for quite some time now and it seems like every year they come out with new features that separates them from the competition. Some new features of NBA2K15 include new legends, a new challenges feature, and an auction house for MyTeam. 2K Sports has confirmed that some of the new legends will be Rick Barry, Bernard King, Tom Chambers, Bob Cousy, Kevin Johnson and Nate Archibald.
The official rankings haven’t been released yet, however certain NBA teams and players’ rankings have been slowly getting leaked as NBA 2K is releasing 100 NBA ratings for every 5000 Twitter followers. We’ve done our jobs…

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Heat Injury Update: Danny Granger reveals he had knee surgery months ago

Newly acquired Miami Heat forward Danny Granger revealed at Heat media day on Friday that he had knee surgery two months ago. Granger will be on a “maintenance program” similar to Dwyane Wade was last season, but will likely play in the second half of back-to-backs. He expects to be ready for the regular season. Getty ImagesDanny Granger reveals he had knee surgery 2 months ago but will be ready for reg season opener— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) September 26, 2014Granger has been plagued by numerous knee injuries, and has not played a full season in three years. As a result, he has predictably struggled, and has not been the 20 point per game scorer he once was. Granger was able to contribute at the end of last season however, helping the Los Angeles Clippers in their playoff run with solid defense and 35% shooting from deep.The 31-year-old forward is expected to play a significant role for the Heat this upcoming season, presumably as a sixth man. The Heat signed Grange…

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Complete Miami Heat 2014 Training Camp Preview

The Miami Heat are gearing up for their first year of the post-LeBron James era.

With James gone, few are predicting the Heat to remain among the NBA‘s elite.

But before they can go out and attempt to prove the many doubters wrong, the Heat need to use training camp to not only mesh the newcomers with holdovers from last year but figure out who’s going to play and in what capacity as well. 

We’re going to examine the Heat position by position, looking at the likely contributors and what could possibly change during training camp. 

Begin Slideshow

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Watchability: Wade, Bosh in spotlight for Heat

As LeBron James leaves, the Heat are in better position than the Cavaliers were in 2010.



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LeBron: I would’ve stayed in Miami if Heat had won Finals

LeBron James has returned to Cleveland to be the Cavaliers’ savior. If the Miami Heat had won three more games in the NBA playoffs last season, though, the Cavs may have had to look elsewhere. In an interview with CNN’s Rachel Nichols that’s set to air Friday, LeBron hinted that his future might have looked different had the Heat captured a third straight NBA title this summer. “It’s a greater chance, for sure,” James told Nichols, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I mean, it would be hard to leave back-to-back-to-back championships and try to go for four. But, obviously, you really can’t live and think of what may have happened. For me, I’ve always been a person kind of live in the moment.” James, of course, left Cleveland for South Beach in 2010 to team up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the goal of winning multiple championships. The Heat accomplished that goal in 2012 and 2013 but were sent home in five games by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 Finals. “I understand what

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Which Miami Heat Player Has the Most Upside Right Now?

After a rapid rebuild following departure of LeBron James, the Miami Heat enter a new era under Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. A building team typically needs players on rookie-scale contracts to either contribute on the court or to become assets in trades, but the Heat had to rebuild on the fly.

They have only one rookie, point guard Shabazz Napier. They also brought over James Ennis from Australia. If the Heat are going to compete for the Eastern Conference championship, they will need these guys to contribute.

However, none of them offer as much upside as a veteran signed this summer—Danny Granger.


Former All-Star

Dealing with multiple leg injuries, Granger played in just 46 games over the past two seasons. He was dealt by the Indiana Pacers to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal centered around Evan Turner and then immediately waived. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Clippers, where he was quietly productive.

He played just 12 games in L.A., but he averaged eight points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 16.2 minutes per game. Adjusted for 36 minutes, he averaged 17.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

His shot chart, per NylonCalculus.com, shows that he shot from the corners at an above-league-average rate.

So why is Granger the player with the most upside? Remember, Granger was the leader of the Pacers before Paul George, and he was an All-Star in 2009. Check out his shot chart from that season.

As the (South Florida) Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman points out, Granger knows what it is like to be an All-Star, and he’s the healthiest he’s been in two years.

While there is no doubt that Dwyane Wade‘s return to form is the key for the re-imagined Heat, Granger stands as the newcomer who could provide the greatest unexpected boost. 

Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng are known quantities; they do what they do and they do it efficiently, if not spectacularly. But Granger not so long ago was a player opponents game-planned against.

Clearly much has changed in the intervening months, with the way he was flipped between the Pacers, 76ers and Clippers, and then how he was available for such a minimal salary. But he already is at AmericanAirlines Arena working out, seemingly committed to rebuilding his career.

While it’s a double-edged sword, with so many Heat players holding out-opts after the current season, it also could be a source for extreme motivation, particularly with Granger.  

Granger probably won’t return to the All-Star Game, but if he’s healthy he could replace Ray Allen’s production and spot as the first wing off the bench.


Role on the Team

Capable of playing both shooting guard and small forward, Granger should earn plenty of minutes spelling both Dwyane Wade and Deng and projects as a starter in the event that Wade sits out.

A healthy Granger coming off the bench gives Miami a solid top eight of Mario Chalmers, Wade, Deng, Josh McRoberts, Chris Bosh, Granger, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen. That is a group as good as any in the East.

Spoelstra isn’t about to ditch the small lineup approach just because James is gone, and he could use Granger the same way he used Shane Battier in the past. “If Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are your starting power players, and with Pat Riley already talking about Granger getting time in the power rotation, that again appears to be the direction,” Winderman reports.

Playing power forward is actually not unheard of for Granger. According to Basketball-Reference.com, Granger has played 15 percent of his plays at the 4, compared to just 3 percent from the shooting guard position. In his rookie year in 2005, Granger actually played 42 percent of plays at the 4. 

Granger’s versatility will allow Spoelstra to feature him in a variety of lineups. He could see time at the 2 next to Chalmers/Cole and Deng—a lineup in which he would be the primary scorer from the perimeter. He could space the floor for Wade while playing the 3. Or he could join Bosh in the frontcourt, flanked by Deng. 

Upside is not only about talent but also opportunity. Granger’s health and possible resurgence combined with his positional versatility makes him the Heat player with the most upside.

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Will Josh McRoberts Break out or Be Exposed in Expanded Miami Heat Role?

Forget Time Warner, Apple and Apogee Enterprises: Buy stock in Josh McRoberts.

The former Charlotte Bobcat—themselves now the former Charlotte Bobcats—is poised for a breakout season in the comparatively cozy environs of American Airlines Arena. He’s the right player, in the right context and he looks to be squarely in his prime. Big things, dear reader, are forthcoming for the whiskered and multi-skilled power forward.

McRoberts blossomed last season in Charlotte, his age-26 campaign. The forward finished second on the feisty ‘Cats with 6.5 win shares, per Basketball-Reference, and hit 105 of his 291 three-point attempts—both career-bests. He also continued his development into one of, if not the best passing big men in the game.

In 2013-14, McRoberts notched 4.3 assists a night against just 1.1 turnovers. While those figures don’t sound terribly gaudy, according to ESPN, his 32.7 assist ratio led all power forwards by 8.6 percentage points and was good for 14th in the league.

Consider this: His assist ratio was just 3.5 percentage points below Chris Paul’s and 3.8 above Kyle Lowry’s. The dude can dish it.

And what’s especially exciting about McRoberts is the way this unusual skill set will be complemented by, and in turn complement, the Miami attack.

“Playing off more versatile and skilled teammates than those he left in Charlotte should emphasize what he brings to the table,” wrote Hoops Habit’s David Ramil. “Expect McRoberts to be fan favorite in Miami by mid-season and for years to come.”

Miami had such a good thing going in recent seasons because of the way it stretched opposing defenses. In short, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade torched defenders off the dribble while Chris Bosh exerted a gravitational pull away from the hoop on opposing big men by virtue of mid-range magic. And Miami leaned on the corner three to spread the defense even thinner.

This synergy created a buffet of poisonous menu items for opposing defenses. Home in on James or Wade, and Bosh could flay you from 18 feet. Leak out to slow Bosh, and James and his No. 2 would score with ruthless efficiency near the hoop.

Now, losing James changed this calculus quite a bit for Miami. It goes without saying that absent the best basketball player on the planet, the Heat won’t be able to approach the astronomical team true shooting percentage of 59 they posted in 2013-14, according to ESPN.

(About that figure: Michael Jordan, in his Chicago Bulls career, achieved a true shooting percentage of 58, per Basketball-Reference. So the Heat, with Norris Cole taking 500 shots, scored more efficiently than Michael Jordan. Just let that incredible fact settle in.)

McRoberts, though, can go a ways toward reestablishing this terrifying balance. By slotting the new acquisition into the 4 spot, Miami can allow Bosh to slide down low—where he’s surprisingly capable of wreaking some havoc of his own—without losing the spacing the Boshtrich had provided.

Bosh, for one, seems excited to return to the more conventional inside game he played in Toronto. He told the Sun Sentinel’s Shandel Richardson:

I had to play the role for the championships. I feel that I’m back to doing what comes naturally for me, which is being back in the post, being more aggressive. I’m really excited to show the city of Miami what I have.

With McRoberts in tow, the new Miami “O” might look quite a bit like its vaunted predecessor during certain sets—albeit with a bit less firepower.

Bosh can capably inhabit the LeBron role of low-post scorer—he finished fourth in the Association last season in field-goal percentage from within five feet of the basket, according to NBA.com—and lead shot creator, while Wade finds nifty and efficient opportunities as they present themselves and McRoberts acts as the stretchy 4 that keeps defenses honest.

McRoberts cost the Heat a four-year, $23 million contract. This was an unimprovable use of those funds. It’s not just likely that they’ll get more than that out of the diversely skilled forward: it’s a near certainty.

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Miami Heat Have No Choice but to Live and Die with Small-Ball Blueprint

In the wake of LeBron James’ devastating departure, the Miami Heat had little choice but to retain Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—to guarantee Erik Spoelstra’s “pace-and-space” philosophy remained as close to intact as possible.

Ironically, Miami’s subsequent free-agent moves may have made Spoelstra’s small-ball system, rather than his stars, the team’s most indispensable commodity.

With the NBA moving evermore steadily toward a overwhelmingly perimeter orientation, the Heat’s offseason was as much about internal continuity as it was heeding the league’s prevailing strategy.

In a recent column, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel underscored precisely this point:

If Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are your starting power players, and with Pat Riley already talking about Granger getting time in the power rotation, that again appears to be the direction.

And it’s not as if there is much of a Plan B, with Chris Andersen at an age where limited minutes are the preferred approach, and with Udonis Haslem having been marginalized in recent seasons.

Of course small ball is mostly an approach on one side of the ball. The reality is the Heat will face legitimate challenges against legitimate beef, be it Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Andre Drummond or Roy Hibbert in the East. As was the case previously, there are no easy answers there.

Between the patchwork frontcourt and the loss of James’ peerless playmaking, the Heat have no choice but to live and die by Spoelstra’s “pace-and-space” approach, first adopted after an impromptu visit with former University of Oregon head football and current Philadelphia Eagles skipper Chip Kelly.

As ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh writes, Spoelstra was enamored by the idea of turning a “collection of world-class athletes into a merciless scoring machine.”

Hyperbolic though that might sound, the results weren’t that far off, with the Heat finishing in the top six in overall offensive efficiency in each of the last three seasons.

James’ departure is all but certain to derail Miami’s status as one of the NBA’s most punishingly potent attacks. But that doesn’t mean the Heat can’t catch the Eastern Conference by surprise.

Indeed, one of the more underrated stories of this summer’s free-agency period was how Pat Riley—doubtless jaded over losing the game’s principal chess piece—managed to cobble together a more-than-passable board formation.

Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts? These are far from NBA also-rans.

Danny Granger, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem: a trio of eminently serviceable veterans, even if their best days are behind them.

Shabazz Napier and Khem Birch? A pair of rookies with enough palpable promise to instill within Heat fans hope for what’s to come.

Most of them fit—in theory, anyway—Spoelstra’s pace-and-space mold, albeit to varying degrees. In Deng, you have a more-than-passable LeBron analog, while McRoberts offers a better, more versatile version of Rashard Lewis. Granger gives you a classic stretch 4. Napier, meanwhile, is Norris Cole with the potential for something more.

More importantly, the man tasked with running Spoelstra’s show—the always polarizing Mario Chalmers—seems more determined than anyone to prove Miami’s offensive success was more about gestalt than any single god of the hardwood:

“I feel like I’ve finally got a chance to shine, show my real game,” Chalmers recently told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick. “Me, CB, D-Wade and the rest of the guys, we’re going to pick it up, we’re still going to play Miami Heat basketball, and we’re still gonna be a competitor.”

Playing in a historically weak Eastern Conference will only help Miami’s cause. Beyond the Chicago Bulls and James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, the East remains very much a hodgepodge of hopeful upstarts and tenuous talents. What few teams can claim to have, however, is a skipper of Spoelstra’s cut and caliber.

And while the 43-year-old coach seems committed to transposing his offensive template on this year’s jarringly disparate talent, the other side of the ball could find Spoelstra scaling back his traditionally cavalier approach. From AllUCanHeat.com’s Wes Goldberg:

The last thing you will see change is the ‘gambling’ the Heat official talked about. Heat players were trained to jump passing lanes and try to get out in fearsome transition. Without James, now, the Heat won’t be as inclined to get on the fast break.

That Miami’s defense was so often the catalyst for its offense is, of course, a conundrum worth considering. Forced to rely more on wile and patience than opportunistic lane hawking, Spoelstra and Co. are almost certain to see fewer possessions at the other end of the floor.

So while the “space” in Spoelstra’s system should remain the offensive mantra, Miami’s more conservative approach on defense might result in a somewhat slower overall pace.

This will be nothing new for players like McRoberts and Deng, embedded as they’ve been the past few years with some of the East’s slowest teams (McRobertsCharlotte Hornets finished 21st in the league in pace last season, while Deng’s former team, the Chicago Bulls, have consistently ranked at or near the bottom in that category).

Similarly, you’d be hard pressed to find a duo more suited to multiple styles than Bosh and Wade, who both labored under similarly deliberate systems before joining forces with James in Miami four years ago.

As with any team undergoing a monumental roster overhaul, the Heat are bound to endure their fair share of growing pains. Whether their on-the-job-learning proves fruitful or fitful depends heavily on Spoelstra’s ability to recognize what system specifics are worth salvaging and which must be tossed by the wayside.

Still, the stratagems Spoelstra nurtured over the past three years have undoubtedly proven a strategic sword worth living by. Even if losing the player who wielded it best means possibly dying by it as well.

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