Comparing LeBron James’ legacy with Heat to his last four years with Cavaliers

LeBron James will play in eighth consecutive Finals this year. He has won three titles, two with the Heat and one with the Cavaliers. (Photos Getty Images)

In two weeks LeBron James is going to be playing his final game in a Cavaliers uniform, or he’s not. James is going to hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy for a fourth time, or he’s not.

But one thing is for sure, James will have completed an eight-year run that in the era of free agency is unmatched. … in any team sport. And one that the only players from his sport can equal or exceed are a handful that were part of the game’s greatest dynasty – the Celtics teams that won 11 titles from 1957 to 1969.

LeBron James is going to his eight-consecutive NBA Finals – which start Thursday – something all Heat fans should appreciate considering half of those were while he was wearing those red, black and white uniforms while setting up shop on the shores of Biscayne Bay.

James secured No. 8 on Sunday with another historical performance posting 35 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 blocks while playing all 48 minutes in Game 7 against the Celtics in Boston on Sunday. His night will go down as another in a career filled with transcendent achievements.

But to gauge the level of his greatness think of it this way: Sunday’s game may not even qualify for his top five when it comes to clutch performances. In fact, James’ point total was his average when it comes to Game 7s, of which he now has played in eight and won six. And in his two Game 7s in which championships were at stake, James had 37 points, 12 rebounds in four assists in the Heat’s 2013 victory over the Spurs; and 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in Cavaliers’ 2016 victory over the Warriors.

And this is not about who is the greatest ever and comparing James to Michael Jordan – although me belief is James has now surpassed Jordan because of the bigger and stronger James’ ability to do just about everything Jordan could do and most of those things even better.

This about comparing James to himself, but more specifically, the Miami Heat version of James from 2010 to the Cleveland Cavaliers version of James from 2014 to present.

Or put another way: the James who played on the shores of South Beach vs. the James who is playing on the shores of Lake Erie.

James played his first game in Miami at the age of 25. During his four years the Heat averaged 56 wins, advanced to the Finals all four years with two titles. In the postseason (which is what this really is all about), he averaged 26.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists while with the Heat.

James rejoined Cleveland at the age of 30. The Cavs have averaged 52.8 wins the last four years, advanced to the Finals all four years and are in pursuit of their second title. In the postseason, James is averaging 30.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.2 assists in the last four years.

So much depends on the next two weeks but if Cleveland is able to somehow pull off the upset, James equaling his title count with this supporting cast compared to having Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by his side for four years on the Heat is indeed an achievement that at least equals what he did in Miami.

And part of that conclusion: Neither title in Miami will mean as much to James as the championship he brought Cleveland in 2016, fulfilling a promise for a city that sits about 35 miles from his hometown of Akron and one that he spurned in 2010 and hoped to fall back into their good graces four years later.

But even if Cleveland falls short this year, what James has done the last four years individually borders on the superhuman.

Consider: James had two players who are Hall of Fame locks in Wade and Bosh as his wingmen for four years in Miami and Wade is undeniably James’ greatest teammate. And some may even say they underachieved with two titles seeing the Heat clearly were the more talented team (and heavily favored) in the 2011 Finals when they lost in six games to Dallas and Miami started fracturing when attempting to three-peat against San Antonio, which was a slight favorite, in 2014.

Kevin Love has been with James all four years in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving for three. Both could one day end up in the Hall of Fame, Irving especially if he continues this trajectory. And Irving was a stud the last two years, the closest thing to what James had in Wade in Miami. But the consistency with Irving and Love (of which injuries certainly has played a part) is not close to what James got with Wade and Bosh.

Still, whether James is able to pull off the upset in these Finals, the weight on his shoulders the last four years in Cleveland was a much heavier load than what his carried in Miami.

With the exception of Boston’s Game 5 victory, James has been indefatigable in the postseason, perhaps saving his best for last (if this is his last season in Cleveland) by taking on more of the burden this postseason than he has in any of his last seven trips to the Finals.

James is averaging 34.0 points this postseason, his most since he was forced to put up 35.3 points a game to get the Cavs to the Eastern Conference finals in 2009. He has been without Irving, who was traded to Boston before the season started, and an inconsistent and at times broken down Love, who missed Sunday’s Game 7 entirely because of a concussion.

And, yes, the level of competition in the East the last four years has not exactly been stellar, especially with the Celtics missing their two best players in Irving and Gordon Hayward this season, but it could be argued the Heat never faced a team like Cleveland has the last three seasons in Golden State. The Warriors were the clear favorite to win the Finals the last three years and the Cavs once again will enter as underdogs this year.

Win or lose, James’ legacy is secure.

Now about that greatest-player-ever thing. …

[Heat’s Rodney McGruder volunteers time, learns Memorial Day lesson]

[Should the Heat explore a sign-and-trade deal for DeMarcus Cousins?]

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Report: Former Heat star Chris Bosh being sued by mother after trying to evict her from Texas home

Chris Bosh, shown here during the  2016 NBA Playoffs, is being sued by his mother, Freida Bosh. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Mother’s Day will not have the same meaning in the Bosh household.

Former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh is being sued by his mother, according to The Blast, for taking away her home.

Freida Bosh claims she thought documents she signed 13 years ago related to her divorce and transferred the deed to the family home in DeSoto, Texas, to her while removing the name of Noel Bosh, Chris’ father.

Instead, the documents handed over the home to Chris and now the 11-time NBA All-Star is attempting to evict her. Freida is seeking unspecified damages and asking the courts to void the deed transfer.

Freida, who claims Chris promised her she could remain in the home for the rest of her life, learned in August 2017 she didn’t own the home when she was contacted by Chris’ lawyer.

Chris Bosh denies the allegations and is trying to get the case thrown out of court.

Freida Bosh was arrested in December for allegedly allowing drugs to be trafficked out of the same home. DeSoto police raided the house and reportedly found large amounts of drug paraphernalia while executing the search warrant.

The case is pending.

Bosh, 34, spends most of his time in Los Angeles and is trying sell his Miami Beach home. Bosh recently dropped the price of the 12,368-square foot home more than $2 million, according to the Miami Herald. Originally listed at $18 million it now can be had for $15.95 million.

The home, built in 2009, includes six bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, and a guest house. Bosh purchased the home for $12.33 million in 2010, after he and LeBron James joined up with Dwyane Wade and led the Heat to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two titles, 2012, 2013.

Bosh has not played a game since Feb. 9, 2016, after developing blood clot issues a year earlier. He was waived by the Heat last July after an NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor, agreeing with the organization that Bosh’s blood clot issues are considered a career-ending illness. This move was the final step for Miami in receiving cap relief from Bosh’s contract.

In December, Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast hosted by Bleacher Report that he had not ruled out playing again and won’t until “I’m officially done.” He would have to be cleared medically by the league to return and so far there has been no indication that will happen.

Bosh continues to draw on his five-year, $118 million contract he signed with the Heat in 2014. He made $25.3 million this past season and will make $26.8 million next season. The Heat are paying part of that salary while insurance is covering more than half. Bosh’s money no longer counts towards the Heat salary cap.

[Checking in on Dwyane Wade: What’s his offseason been like; what his teammates are saying as he gets closer to The Decision]

[Miami Heat still trying to recover from setback that nobody was prepared for]

[Heat begin offseason by declining team option on Jordan Mickey’s contract]

[What did Josh Richardson learn this past season? ‘That I’m capable of being a great player’]

[How realistic is it for Heat to improve enough internally with this roster?]

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Miami Heat still trying to recover from setback that nobody was prepared for

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh (1) reacts to a call during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

MIAMI — The Heat don’t do much excuse-making.

But they can easily use one to explain the financial situation they find themselves in this summer. The unfortunate story of Chris Bosh. Continue reading “Miami Heat still trying to recover from setback that nobody was prepared for”

Chris Bosh still hoping to make NBA comeback: ‘I’m not done yet’

Chris Bosh (Getty Images)

MIAMI — Chris Bosh has not played in an NBA game since Feb. 9, 2016 because of blood clotting issues, but he’s not ready to end his NBA playing career just yet.

During an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, Bosh was asked about potentially returning to the NBA next season. It’s clear the 11-time All-Star is still hoping to play again.

“I’ve been hitting the gym, I can still play basketball. No, I’m not done yet. … I’m trying to come back,” Bosh said. “I see all these guys shooting threes and not playing defense, man, I got to get some of it.” Continue reading “Chris Bosh still hoping to make NBA comeback: ‘I’m not done yet’”

Heat mailbag: With Dwyane Wade back, is this Heat team better than one he left two years ago?

Dwyane Wade and the Heat took the Raptors to seven game in the conference semifinals two years ago. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

TORONTO – Time for another Heat mailbag, this come coming from the frozen North.

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpostcom.

From @MikeTrimWPTV: 1) Is this current Heat roster better than the one D-Wade left 2 seasons ago? 2) Does this Heat team, with the addition of Wade, beat either the Celtics or Cavs in the playoffs?

1). This is great question. The 2015-16 team won a playoff series (4-3 over Charlotte) and took Toronto to the seven games before losing in the second round.

The numbers are eerily similar but we must note, Chris Bosh played 53 games that season before his second battle with blood clots ended his career.

Offensively, the team two years ago had a rating of 106.1 (14th) and averaged 100.0 points (23rd). This season the Heat’s offensive rating is 105.4 (25th) while averaging 100.2 (28th).

Defensively, the team two years ago had a rating of 104.4 (9th) and allowed 98.4 points (5th). This season the Heat’s defensive rating is 106.3 (7th) while allowing 100.1 (3th).

Those numbers virtually are a wash considering the pace of the game has picked up as has the scoring. With that in mind, the offense from two years ago was better but the defense this season has the slight edge.

Taking Bosh out of the mix for the 2015-16 team and Dion Waiters off this year’s team, the biggest difference in favor of the team two years ago is Wade was two years younger and averaged 19.0 points and the Heat had Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, who combined to give them nearly 26 points per game. This year’s team though has a much-improved Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, and Goran Dragic has emerged into an All-Star. Hassan Whiteside’s numbers are similar – 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds two years ago and 14.2 points, 12.0 rebounds this season. Where he was better in 2015-16 was blocks (3.7 then, 1.6 now) and field goal percentage (.606 then and .546 now).

With a younger Wade, Deng and Joe Johnson, the team two years ago had more offensive firepower and two reliable closers in Wade and Joe Johnson. But with James Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo, this team is deeper.

Who is better? That’s a great debate but I am leaning toward two years ago because solely because of a 34-year-old Wade compared to a 36-year-old Wade.

2). We may have this question answered for us in three months but until then let’s speculate, and I will throw in the Raptors because I think it’s pretty clear Toronto, Boston and Cleveland are the top three teams in the conference.

Knowing what team the Cavaliers will be is impossible after making three trades and bringing in four key players at the deadline. I do know that this Heat team, and any other playoff team in the East, would have had a chance against the Cavaliers team we saw before the moves were made. I suspect the new version will be better defensively and now that LeBron James is happy he will start giving max effort.

As for the Celtics and Raptors, we know this. The Heat finished 2-1 against Boston, including a win on the road, and defeated the Raptors in Toronto last month. Miami has two more games remaining against Toronto, including tonight at Air Canada Center.

Figuring Miami will be a better team once Wade gets comfortable – and Kelly Olynyk and Rodney McGruder return from their injuries – then the natural assumption is, yes, the Heat certainly have a chance to knock off any of the three.

But the playoffs are much different than the regular season and while we never know how far the Heat will ride the Wade Wave, my guess is though Miami could win a couple of games against any of the three, it cannot win a seven-game series.

[Tonight’s matchup: Dwyane Wade will continue to come off bench as Heat face Raptors]

[Dwyane Wade finding time to relearn Heat’s system, get to know new teammates and enjoy Miami]

[Will the Heat continue to use Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo on the court together?]

[Mailbag: Can Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade coexist in Heat’s backcourt?]

[Photos: Dwyane Wade returns to Miami Heat]

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Heat forward Justise Winslow receives inspiration, pep talk from mentor Chris Bosh

Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow shoots during practice in Mexico City on Friday. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

MEMPHIS – Justise Winslow was one of the last Heat players to leave the NBA Mexico games party Friday night, which allowed him to spend more time with his mentor, Chris Bosh.

Winslow and Bosh hung out at the event, at one point Bosh, in Mexico City for the NBA games on a promotional tour with Marriott, had his arm draped around Winslow’s shoulder.

“He actually gave me a little pep talk,” Winslow said, before elaborating. “Just (about) the game, checking in, seeing how things were going. Just talking about how I feel, my role and that sort of thing. And just encouraging me to stay with it and keep putting in the work.”

The result: The 6-foot-7 Winslow had his best game of the season in the Heat’s 101-89 victory over the Nets in Mexico City  on Saturday.  The maligned forward scored a season-high 15 points by shooting 5-of-6 and making all four of his 3-point shots, a career high. He also chipped in with six rebounds, an assist and two blocks, one arguably a game changer when he sent back a dunk attempted by 7-0 Tyler Zeller midway through fourth quarter and the Nets looking to catch Miami.

“That’s my guy,” said Winslow, who played a half season with Bosh his rookie year before Bosh’s season, and likely career, ended because of recurring blood clot issues.

“Obviously, the way things turned out (for Bosh) were not the way we wanted. But my rookie year sitting next to him everyday, being left-handed, being from Texas. …

“I’m not going to say I look up to him because if he sees that he’ll hang it over my head, but I love that guy and he means a lot to me.”

[Video: After three days in Mexico City, Miami Heat looking for a high as road trip continues]

[Dion Waiters reacts to fans who suggest he comes off bench: ‘I’m not coming off no bench’]

[Miami Heat balancing mixing business with pleasure in Mexico City]

Bosh, who was waived by the Heat in July after failing a physical the previous September, video-bombed Winslow’s postgame interview with Fox Sports Florida’s Jason Jackson, a flashback to the past when Bosh’s video and photo bombs went viral. Bosh spent seven seasons with the Heat and was a part of the Big Three along with Dwyane Wade and LeBron James that won two titles.

The timing could not have been better for Bosh to attend his first Heat game of the season with his protégé looking like the player the Heat (12-13) hoped for when Winslow was the 10th overall selection in the 2015 draft.

“It’s great,” said Josh Richardson, taken 30 picks after Winslow in 2015. “Good confidence booster for him. Justise is a rhythm player. So when he gets into a rhythm he can keep that going for a while. I hope it carries over.”

Winslow started 15 consecutive games, 13 at power forward, before coach Erik Spoelstra made another switch three games ago, returning Winslow to the bench and moving James Johnson back to the starting lineup.

But Winslow said he was undeterred, not taking it as a “bad thing or a good thing,” and just went back to the mentality he takes into games when coming off the bench.

“I just see it as an opportunity to be even more of a playmaker with that second group,” Winslow said. “Especially with the great spot up shooters we have in Wayne (Ellington) and Tyler (Johnson). I like that group. (Starting or coming off the bench) doesn’t really matter to me.”

Winslow, 21, is among the most scrutinized players on the team, mostly because he came in the league as a high pick without an NBA ready shot. But after shooting 40 percent his first two seasons (his second year cut short to 18 games because of injuries) and 25.8 percent on threes, his percentage is inching up.

Winslow is averaging 6.9 points while shooting 42.9 percent, 38.5 on threes. Part of the reason is he is being more selective with his shot, many of his attempts coming on drives to the basket which he is doing more of as Spoelstra gives him the freedom to handle the ball and facilitate  offense. He enters Monday game at Memphis (8-18) coming off he first double figure scoring night in 11 games.

And Spoelstra hopes Winslow remains under the radar on the scouting reports.

“I’ll continue to say this, it’s not about the shooting with him,” Spoelstra said. “Unfortunately, this is probably when people will start to notice. I want that scouting report not to get out for awhile because his shot – he put so much time into it in the off-season – it was already coming and we already knew that. Those open looks, especially when nobody is closing out to him, he’ll make you pay for those.

Spoelstra added that Winslow has a “relative light green light from behind three” but he doesn’t want him shooting eight or nine a game.

Spoelstra then praised Winslow’s all-around game, specifically his defense and, yes, citing the block on Zeller.

But for Winslow, when the shot is falling his overall game appears to receive a lift.

“I changed some things this summer, then I had the slow to start to the season, but now everyone is just feeding me confidence,” he said. “It’s a little making you feel awkward at times when they leave you so, so open. But I’m just going to continue to knock them down and as the defenses shifts the way they guard me or if don’t, (I’ll) just read the defense and take what they give me.”

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Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Chris Bosh: ‘It’s strange. You see him and it’s like you go back to 2012 just like that’

Chris Bosh and his wife, Adrienne, at the Heat’s game Saturday in Mexico City. (Photo Adrienne Bosh Twitter)

MEXICO CITY – For one night it was like old times for Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat.

Bosh, in Mexico City for the NBA games on a promotional tour with Marriott, embraced his former coach, Erik Spoelstra, before the Heat’s 101-89 victory over the Nets; was introduced as a Miami Heat legend during the game and following the game he video-bombed the postgame interview between Fox Sports Florida’s Jason Jackson and the Heat’s Justise Winslow.

Spoelstra, who said he keeps in contact with Bosh, appeared touched by the moment.

“He looks good,” Spoelstra said. “His family, his kids are doing well. I love CB. He’s Heat family for life but man it’s strange. You see him and it’s like you go back to 2012 just like that. You realize how fast times goes by in this league.”

Bosh received a loud ovation from the crowd of 19,777 at Arena Cuidad de Mexico Saturday when he was introduced along with Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice.

The Heat waived Bosh, 33, on July 4, after an NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor and agreed with the organization’s belief that Bosh’s blood clot issues are considered a career-ending illness. The move cleared his contract from the Heat’s salary cap.

But Bosh, who has not played a game since Feb. 9, 2016, recently said on a podcast he is not ready to close the door on his NBA career just yet.

“That’s still there in front of me,” Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast. “The window is still open. Once I close the doors, it’s closed. I don’t open it back up. That’s kind of me as a human being. That’s just one of the things about me. … But yeah, for me, I don’t close anything until I’m officially done. So until that day, I will definitely let everybody know when that day comes, if it comes soon.

“I’m still, of course, work out and everything. I’m still doing work on the court. That’s very important to me. I’m still keeping my options open for the future. I know a lot of people don’t know that, but don’t write me off just yet.”

[Heat coach Erik Spoelstra says strong NBA presence in Mexico City led to academy coming to country]

[Video: After three days in Mexico City, Miami Heat looking for a high as road trip continues]

[Miami Heat balancing mixing business with pleasure in Mexico City]

 

Chris Bosh not ready to close door on playing career, says on podcast: ‘Don’t write me off just yet’

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh smiles during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Miami and Duke in Coral Gables, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (David Santiago /El Nuevo Herald via AP)

Although Chris Bosh has not played in an NBA game since Feb. 9, 2016 because of blood clotting issues, he’s not ready to close the door on his NBA playing career just yet.

“That’s still there in front of me,” Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast hosted by Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “The window is still open. Once I close the doors, it’s closed. I don’t open it back up. That’s kind of me as a human being. That’s just one of the things about me. … But yeah, for me, I don’t close anything until I’m officially done. So until that day, I will definitely let everybody know when that day comes, if it comes soon.

“I still, of course, work out and everything. I’m still doing work on the court. That’s very important to me. I’m still keeping my options open for the future. I know a lot of people don’t know that, but don’t write me off just yet.”

[Listen to the entire “The Full 48” podcast episode featuring Chris Bosh here]

The Heat waived Bosh in July after an NBA doctor ruled in the Heat’s favor and agreed with the organization’s belief that Bosh’s blood clot issues are considered a career-ending illness. This move was the final step for Miami in receiving cap relief from Bosh’s contract.

But Bosh’s time away from the NBA began before the Heat officially released the 11-time All-Star this summer. Even though Bosh was part of Miami’s 15-man roster last season, he spent the year away from the team as the organization waited until it was eligible to apply for salary-cap relief from his contract to waive him.

“A lot of sitting, a lot of reflecting, and that can be a difficult thing to do sometimes, especially when you’ve never had to do it before,” Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast of his time away from the sport. “But I’m in a good place. I’m lucky to have such a huge support system at home. My wife has just supported me, just grown with me through this whole experience. But yeah, just one day it just all stopped and there was no gradual ease into it. It was nothing like that. It just seemed like bad news was just coming on a daily basis. You know, it happens like that sometimes. It’s all about persevering and getting through those moments.”

After Bosh failed a team physical just before last season, Heat president Pat Riley said that Bosh’s career with Miami “probably is over” and Bosh didn’t seem to understand the team’s position at that point. But on The Full 48 podcast, Bosh hinted that his relationship with the organization has improved since then.

“With the situation with the Heat, that’s over and it went through and everything is all good,” said Bosh, who has reportedly recently listed his Miami Beach home for sale for $18 million. “You know, we still talk on a continual basis. So the smoke has cleared and we can all move on.”

But Bosh is not ready to move on from his NBA playing career. The 33-year-old could still return to the NBA if he provides medical evidence that meets league approval.

Some ask, why would Bosh risk his life to continue playing basketball? Bosh understands this question, but he also hopes people understand his situation.

“That’s a fair question,” Bosh said said on The Full 48 podcast. “I would definitely understand and I do understand when my friends ask me or people ask me the same thing. But I think it’s something about the body of work. It’s about what you do and the impression that you leave, the inspiration that you leave with people. And you know, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life. So for people to understand, whatever it is you love doing, just stop doing it today and never do it again and then use that same philosophy. And they’ll probably find it’s not as easy as you would think.”

[Could that spark be returning to Heat sixth-man Tyler Johnson’s game?]

[Heat in Mexico City as part of NBA’s plan to play games beyond its borders]

[Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will continue to explore all options with starting five]

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A look at each player on the Miami Heat’s 15-man roster to start the season

MIAMI — The NBA is back, which means the Heat are back.

The Heat open the regular season Wednesday in Orlando against the Magic. Here’s a closer look at the 15-man roster Miami will use to start the season …

Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat reacts to a dunk during a preseason game against the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Arena on October 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

C/F BAM ADEBAYO

Age: 20.

Season stats: Played one season at Kentucky, averaging 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks as a freshman last season.

Contract status: Set to make $2.5 million this season, with his deal guaranteed for the first two seasons. The Heat then have a team option in years three and four of Adebayo’s contract.

What to know?: Adebayo was the Heat’s first-round pick this year and he’s now a part of the team’s young core. But it will be tough for Adebayo to find playing time right away with Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson expected to get most of the minutes in the Heat’s power rotation. Foul trouble and injuries could create playing time for the rookie, but don’t expect him to have a big role early on.

Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Quincy Acy #13 of the Brooklyn Nets in the first half during their Pre Season game at Barclays Center on October 5, 2017 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

C/PF KELLY OLYNYK

Age: 26.

Season stats: Averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 75 games (6 starts) for the Celtics last season.

Contract status: Signed with the Heat on a four-year contract worth $50 million in free agency this offseason.

What to know?: With Olynyk’s ability to stretch the floor and pass the ball as a 7-footer, he can used as a power forward and center. And the Heat are expected to use him at both spots this season. Olynyk saw playing time as a power forward next to center Hassan Whiteside and also got some minutes at center when Whiteside exited the game during the preseason. Expect Olynyk to have a big role this season.

The Heat’s Justise Winslow drives to the basket against Washington in Wednesday’s preseason game in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

F JUSTISE WINSLOW

Age: 21.

Season stats: Averaged 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 18 games (15 starts) last season. Season was cut short due to season-ending surgery on his right shoulder.

Contract status: Set to make $2.7 million this season. In addition, the Heat already decided to exercise the fourth-year team option on Winslow’s rookie-scale contract, which guarantees him $3.5 million for the 2018-19 season.

What to know?: After a shoulder injury forced him to miss the second half of last season, it will be interesting to see how the Heat integrate him back in. Shooting has been a constant struggle for Winslow. But there’s definitely a place for him on this team with his defense, passing ability, versatility and potential. Winslow was always expected to have a spot in the Heat’s rotation, but Rodney McGruder’s injury should open up even more playing time for him than expected this season.

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic participating in 5-of-5 drills during the first day of training camp on Monday, (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

PG GORAN DRAGIC

Age: 31.

Season stats: Averaged 20.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists in 73 games (73 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $17 million this season. Heat have Dragic under contract for next three seasons, but the final season of his deal is a player option for 2019-20.

What to know?: After turning in one of the best seasons of his NBA career, Dragic has solidified his role as one of the Heat’s leaders moving forward. With Miami’s core returning, Dragic should be able to build on last season’s success as the Heat’s starting point guard. Dragic had a quiet preseason as he rested his body and mind after a crazy offseason. He played in just two of the Heat’s six preseason games after leading Slovenia to EuroBasket gold in September. But Dragic will be expected to perform as one of the Heat’s top players when the regular season begins.

Miami Heat guard Josh Richardson looks for an open teammate during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hornets 109-106. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

G/F JOSH RICHARDSON

Age: 24.

Season stats: Averaged 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals in 53 games (34 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $1.5 million this season. In September, Richardson agreed to a four-year, $42 million extension with the Heat that will start in 2018-19.

What to know?: The Heat expect big things from a healthy Richardson this season. He impressed in the preseason with averages of 13.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks in five games. Richardson’s versatility at 6-foot-6 should help Miami, as he’s an option at both guard positions and at small forward. Whether he starts or not, Richardson is going to be a big part of Miami’s formula.

Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson is shown during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

G TYLER JOHNSON

Age: 25.

Season stats: Averaged 13.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 73 games (0 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $5.9 million this season, but his contract becomes a lot more expensive after next season when he will be paid $18.9 million in 2018-19 and $19.6 million in 2019-20.

What to know?: Johnson carved out a nice role for himself as the Heat’s sixth man last season. And he will play that scorer role off the bench again this season. Johnson had a solid preseason, averaging 12.5 points on 56.3 percent shooting from the field and 47.1 percent shooting from 3-point range. But if the Heat want to avoid the expensive half of Johnson’s contract, this season is the time to trade him with this year’s salary still a bargain. On the other end of the spectrum, Johnson is a reliable player who is still improving and has been developed within the Heat organization. That’s always an asset.

Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat looks on during a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena on October 9, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

C HASSAN WHITESIDE

Age: 28.

Season stats: Averaged 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in 77 games (77 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $23.8 million this season. Heat have Whiteside under contract for the next three seasons, but the final season of his deal is a player option for 2019-20.

What to know?: Whiteside’s growth last season proved the Heat’s investment in him was a wise one. With max contract salaries going up again this summer, the Heat locked up Whiteside for a fair price. Entering this season, Whiteside has a chance to make his first All-Star team and solidify his spot among the NBA’s top centers. He led the league in blocks in 2015-16 and rebounding in 2016-17. What will Whiteside lead the NBA in this season?

Wayne Ellington #2 of the Miami Heat shoots during a preseason game against the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Arena on October 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

G WAYNE ELLINGTON

Age: 29.

Season stats: Averaged 10.5 points and shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range in 62 games (13 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $6.3 million with the Heat this season. Will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

What to know?: $6.3 million is a good number for a player like Ellington, who proved to be a good fit for the Heat on the court and in the locker room. He’s a shooting specialist and he’ll be a very effective weapon off Miami’s bench this season. With drive-and-kick guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters on the roster, Ellington’s 3-point shooting is important to the Heat’s spacing.

Miami Heat’s James Johnson (16) drives to the basket past Washington Wizards’ Jason Smith (14) during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Miami. The Heat won 117-115. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

F JAMES JOHNSON

Age: 30.

Season stats: Averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 76 games (5 starts) last season.

Contract status: Re-signed with the Heat on a four-year contract worth $60 million in free agency this offseason. The deal includes a player option in the fourth year.

What to know?: Johnson became a fan favorite and a favorite of those within the organization in his first season with the Heat. He got in better shape, became a leader and bought in to the Heat’s culture. Now with a new four-year contract in hand, Johnson’s growth with Miami can continue. He was used in a bench role last season and he prefers to have that role again this season. Whether Johnson starts or not, his play will be important to the Heat’s success.

Miami Heat guard Rodney McGruder (17) shoot free throws with Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) at Miami Heat training camp at FAU in Boca Raton, Florida on September 26, 2017. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

G/F RODNEY MCGRUDER

Age: 26.

Season stats: Averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 78 games (65 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $1.3 million this season. McGruder also has one additional non-guaranteed year on his contract for the 2018-19 season.

What to know?: The Heat will start the season without McGruder, who underwent surgery the day before the opener to repair a left tibia stress fracture. There’s no timetable for his return, but he’s expected to miss an extended amount of time. McGruder, who will still count as part of the Heat’s 15-man roster despite the injury, was one of the top candidates to begin the season as the Heat’s starting small forward.

Dion Waiters #11 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets during their Pre Season game at Barclays Center on October 5, 2017 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

G DION WAITERS

Age: 25.

Season stats: Averaged 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 46 games (43 starts) last season.

Contract status: Re-signed with the Heat on a four-year contract worth $52 million in free agency this offseason.

What to know?: Waiters impressed last season, turning into a key part of Miami’s second half resurgence. The backcourt of Dragic and Waiters, better known as 7-Eleven, should be even better this season with one year of experience playing together under their belt. Under a four-year contract with the Heat, Waiters has the security he’s been looking for. Now, Waiters wants to become a more efficient player after shooting 42.4 percent from the field and 64.6 percent from the free-throw line last season.

Miami Heat’s Okaro White defends against Denver Nuggets Wilson Chandler during the Nuggets win on Sunday. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

F OKARO WHITE

Age: 25.

Season stats: Averaged 2.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 35 games (0 starts) last season.

Contract status: Set to make $1.3 million this season.

What to know?: White is an NBA role player and every team needs a few of those. White can provide defense and some 3-point shooting off the Heat’s bench. He probably won’t have a consistent role at the start of the season, but White is a good option to have if there’s foul trouble or injuries. The 2017-18 season marks White’s first full season in the NBA.

Denver Nuggets guard Mike Miller (3) and Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Denver. The Heat won 106-98. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

F UDONIS HASLEM

Age: 37.

Season stats: Averaged 1.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 16 games (0 starts) last season.

Contract status: Re-signed with the Heat on a one-year, veteran minimum contract worth about $2.3 million this offseason.

What to know?: Haslem is preparing for his 15th NBA season, with the first 14 seasons all coming with Miami. Haslem did not play much last season and was out of the rotation for most of the year, but he did bring invaluable leadership as the team captain. Now with Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk joining the roster and James Johnson returning, Haslem’s playing time is expected to be limited this season, too.

Miami Heat center AJ Hammons poses for a photo during the NBA team’s media day, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

C AJ HAMMONS

Age: 25.

Season stats: Averaged 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 22 games as a rookie for the Mavericks last season.

Contract status: Set to make a guaranteed salary of $1.3 million this season. Has his contract guaranteed for $1.5 million in 2018-19.

What to know?: The Heat acquired Hammons from the Mavericks this summer in the trade that sent Josh McRoberts to Dallas. But don’t expect Hammons to play much this season. He didn’t play in the preseason as he battled an illness and his role will be limited in the regular season, too, with plenty of players ahead of him in the Heat’s frontcourt rotation.

Miami Heat forward Jordan Mickey (25) goes up for a shot against Charlotte Hornets forward Johnny O’Bryant III during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Hornets 109-106. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

F JORDAN MICKEY

Age: 23.

Season stats: Split last season between the Celtics and their developmental league team, the Maine Red Claws. In 25 games with the Celtics, he averaged 1.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.6 minutes per game. He appeared in 12 regular-season games for the Red Claws, averaging 20.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting from the field and 43.8 percent shooting from 3-point range to go with 8.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.

Contract status: Signed a two-year contract with the Heat in free agency this summer, with the first year guaranteed at the $1.5 million veteran’s minimum and a team option for the 2018-19 season.

What to know?: At 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, the power forward has two skills that really intrigue the Heat. He can stretch the floor with his outside shot and has an incredible knack for blocking shots. This skill set along with his guaranteed salary was enough to earn him a spot on the Heat’s 15-man roster. Miami will continue to try to develop Mickey’s game, and don’t be surprised to see some flashes from him throughout the season.

[Anthony Chiang’s Miami Heat predictions: Josh Richardson will have a breakout season]

[Tom D’Angelo’s Miami Heat predictions: Hassan Whiteside will be recognized as one of the league’s best]

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30 years of Miami Heat: Ranking the top 30 players in team history

A look at the top players in Heat history.

With the Heat just days away from the start of their 30th NBA season, now is a good time to take a closer look at the players who helped make this organization what it is today. Whether it’s based off of pure talent, off-the-court impact or just longevity, there are a lot of names that helped the Heat over their first 29 seasons of existence.

In celebration of the Heat’s first three decades, we bring you the Palm Beach Post’s top 30 players in team history … Continue reading “30 years of Miami Heat: Ranking the top 30 players in team history”