Miami Heat ties to Finals not limited to LeBron James

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh led the Miami Heat to four consecutive Finals appearances and two championships. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat were eliminated from the playoffs more than five weeks ago. But the Heat have plenty of ties to the Finals, which starts Thursday and pairs Cleveland and Golden State for the fourth consecutive year.

But for the Heat, this isn’t exactly how they want to be connected to the Finals.

Here are six Heat ties to the 2018 Finals:

LeBron James: OK, we get the most obvious out of the way first. James is playing in his eighth consecutive Finals, half of those with the Heat and half with the Cavs. With Miami, he won two titles. Unless the Cavs pull off the upset, he likely will be 1-for-4 with Cleveland.

A Finals four-peat: The Cavaliers and Warriors join just three other franchises to appear in at least four consecutive Finals, including the Heat, the last to do it from 2011 to 2014 with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Until then, just the Celtics (1984-87) and Lakers (1982-85) accomplished the feat. Boston also appeared in 10 straight Finals from 1957-66.

Kevin Durant: The Heat were one of six teams the former MVP met with during the summer of 2016, giving the contingent led by owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley about two hours of his time in the Hamptons. The Heat thought they were in a good spot considering they were the second-to-last team – in front of the one he had played with for the first nine years of his career, Oklahoma City – to meet with the jewel of the summer’s free agent crop. But in the end, it was Golden State, which sent Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala to the meeting, that landed Durant. The quintet has now become known as the “Hamptons Five.”

Okaro White: Okaro White has not played a minute this season for the Cavaliers and he’s been on the inactive list for all 18 playoff games, But he’s in the Finals. White, from Florida State, turned two 10-day contracts with the Heat during the 2016-17 season into a two-year deal. He started this past season in Miami and had surgery for a broken foot a month into the season. White was traded to Atlanta on Feb. 8 for Luke Babbitt, waived by the Hawks and signed to a 10-day contract by the Cavs. Cleveland then signed him for the rest of the season on April 6 giving him a front-row seat for the entire playoffs.

The Cleveland staff: Former Heat players James Posey and Damon Jones are a part of Tyronn Lue’s staff. Posey played two seasons with the Heat (2005-07) and was a key member of the 2006 title team. Jones played one season in Miami (2004-05) but made his mark. Jones played in all 82 games, starting 66, and set a franchise record with 225 3-point field goals, one that held until this past season when Wayne Ellington recorded 227 threes. Jones then signed with the Cavs prior to the 2005-06 season.

Shaun Livingston: The Heat took a chance on Livingston, signing the free agent guard in October 2008 after a knee injury forced him to miss the entire previous season. But three months later, and after playing in just four games for the Heat, Livingston was traded to Memphis. Since, Livingston has been with eight different organizations, waived four times and traded twice before finding a home with the Warriors in 2014. He joined Golden State at the start of their Finals run and now has been an integral part of two (and perhaps three) title teams.

[How Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are caught up in Twitter account scandal linked to Sixers’ executive Bryan Colangelo]

[Shane Battier will remain with Heat front office after withdrawing name from Pistons search]

[Mailbag: Were injuries to blame for Heat’s first-round playoff exit?]

[James Johnson undergoes offseason surgery for sports hernia]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

What former Heat guard Mario Chalmers had to say about iconic Dwyane Wade-LeBron James photo

 

The iconic photo from 2010 of Dwyane Wade under the basket in Milwaukee with his arms outstretch as LeBron James is completing a tomahawk dunk in the background made the rounds on social media this week.

The shot was revisited after ESPN’s Dave McMenamin posted that Wade once told him that was the one photo he will ask LeBron to sign to hang in his house when he’s retired.

The photo also caught the attention of former Heat guard Mario Chalmers, who shared four NBA Finals appearances and two titles (2012-13) with Wade, James and Chris Bosh as the Heat’s point guard. Chalmers posted on his Instagram account that the play, which occurred during a game early in the 2010-11 season, James’ first in Miami, came off his steal.

Chalmers, of course, likely was joking as he followed the comment with a ‘lol.’ But if not, his memory is a bit fuzzy.

The play, which came in the first quarter, started when the Bucks’ Brandon Jennings missed a 3-point shot and the rebound was tipped to Wade, who picked it up on the run near the three-point circle and sprinted downcourt. Wade left the ball for James off his dribble just above the foul line. James grabbed it, took off and threw it down.

Chalmers, in fact, wasn’t on the court as the Heat started Carlos Arroyo at point guard. Chalmers, though, can be seen celebrating as the camera panned to the Heat bench after the play.

Chalmers did play 16 minutes that game and did have one steal.

Of course, Chalmers went on to have plenty of highlight reel moments of his own in those four years, starting every regular season game from 2011-12 to 2013-14, including every playoff game during the Heat’s two championship runs.

Chalmers was trade by the Heat to Memphis in November 2015. He currently is a free agent after playing in 66 games last season for the Grizzlies.

 

[What would it take for Heat to get into conversation for Andrew Wiggins or Karl-Anthony Towns?]

[Mailbag: Chances Heat trade Dragic; could Suns try to pair Dragic with Luka Doncic? More on Winslow]

[Udonis Haslem wants to be part of Heat organization after playing career is over: ‘It’s important that the culture is carried on’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

 

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

Heat president Pat Riley has built winners before. Can he do that with this roster? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

When it comes to developing players and cobbling together a roster that has a chance to compete, the Miami Heat has a track record.

For 23 years Pat Riley has been trusted with building, tearing down and rebuilding rosters that have put the Heat in a competitive position. And three times they have been the last team standing.

But Riley finds himself in his toughest spot since arriving in the summer of 1995, mainly because of a starless roster and very little flexibility. Still, Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra expressed confidence following a season that ended with a thud that this roster still has room to improve if Riley is unable to land that “transformative player” he spoke of during his postseason media session.

But how realistic is that plan?

This is not 2004, when the Heat accumulated enough assets to acquire a superstar like Shaquille O’Neal to pair with a rising Dwyane Wade and form the nucleus of a championship team. Riley had enough talent to put together a deal for that transformative player and used Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and Caron Butler to land Shaq.

And this is not 2010 when the Heat were able to clear enough cap space to acquire LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team with Wade and start building a roster that dominated the Eastern Conference for four years, resulting in two more titles.

This is 2018 where the only player outside of Wade, who at 36 is contemplating retirement, to make an All-Star game is 32-year-old Goran Dragic and the flexibility is nonexistent with about $120 million committed to 11 players for 2018-19. That’s $19 million over the expected salary cap.

And even Riley admitted, “We have a logjam. We have too many good to great players. We have too many.”

Make that too many ‘good’ and not enough ‘great.’

So, unless Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg can put something together that almost certainly would have to include the Heat’s younger assets like Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo and/or Justise Winslow for an All-Star caliber player such as Kawhi Leonard or DeMar DeRozan or free agent DeMarcus Cousins, who would have to arrive via a sign-and-trade, then the Heat are stuck with this roster and trying to improve internally.

For the optimists, there is a track record with this organization developing talent, including several examples on this roster whether they were players overlooked coming out of college or those looking to take the next step to becoming a solid contributor either off the bench or as a starter; or playing at an All-Stare level.

The former group includes Udonis Haslem, Richardson, Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder. The latter includes Dragic, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk.

Two players with an incomplete: Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow. Waiters made progress before injuring his ankle late in the 2016-17 season and now is in the process of rehabbing that ankle after season-ending surgery last January. Winslow appeared to turn the corner the second half of last season but still has not lived up to the expectations of a 10th overall pick.

But the flip side is perhaps the most vivid and discouraging example. No player in recent Heat history, or perhaps ever, has been as much an enigma as Hassan Whiteside.

After handing him a $98 million contract two summers ago, the feeling was he was in the perfect spot to develop into a dominating, forceful center that could turn the Heat into a yearly contender.

But the game has changed and Whiteside has not. … emotionally or physically. The 7-foot center could not have fallen any further after taking a step back during the 2017-18 season and then completely disappearing in the playoffs, which lasted just five games before Miami was eliminated by Philadelphia.

Whiteside’s regression and an aging roster arms the naysayers who believe Miami is nothing more than a .500 team that will be in a dogfight just to sneak into the playoffs.

After all, how much better can James Johnson get at 31? Or Ellington at 30? Has Dragic, at 32, peaked? And even if players like Waiters, Winslow, Richardson, Olynyk, Tyler Johnson, Adebayo and McGruder elevate their games, are they the nucleus to a championship team?

As for Whiteside? That mystery will continue.

“You can come in with talent then you go to an organization and you make a commitment about conditioning and world class and all those things,” Riley said. “Can you become a better basketball player off the court? Can you transform that into a real competition? That’s where you measure a player’s improvement. So, you always internally improve.

“I know this for a fact when I was with the Lakers. Each and every one of those players went home and did something better. Even the greatest of the greatest get better. There is a ceiling to everybody. I think that comes with age.”

The question is: Has this Heat roster already reached its ceiling?

[Mailbag: Would expiring contracts be enough for the Heat in a Hassan Whiteside trade?]

[Erik Spoelstra says there’s a storyline that hasn’t drawn much attention, and it involves Rodney McGruder]

[The number of head coaching changes in NBA since Erik Spoelstra’s first season is staggering]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

Shane Battier didn’t always think he would stay in Miami, but now he considers it ‘home’

Shane Battier accepted a front office position with the Heat as the vice president of basketball development and analytics last year. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When Shane Battier signed with the Heat in the 2011 offseason, he saw Miami as a temporary home.

More than six years later, Battier is still a South Florida resident. And it doesn’t look like the 39 year-old Michigan native will be leaving any time soon after accepting a front office position with the Heat as the vice president of basketball development and analytics last year.

“There’s a community here that we love and we want to be a part of,” said Battier, who retired following the Heat’s appearance in the 2014 NBA Finals. “When we first got here, we didn’t think we were going to stay, to be honest with you. We didn’t know where we were going to end up, but we didn’t think we were South Floridians. But we love the community, we love the diversity, we love the energy of Miami. It’s home.” Continue reading “Shane Battier didn’t always think he would stay in Miami, but now he considers it ‘home’”

Erik Spoelstra shakes off Michael Beasley’s comments: ‘Jeez, Beas. You threw me under the bus, man’

Head Coach of the Miami Heat Erik Spoelstra leads Michael Beasley #30 of the Miami Heat against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 19, 2008 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

MIAMI — Coach Erik Spoelstra has positive memories of forward Michael Beasley.

Beasley played through three separate stints with the Heat, all under Spoelstra. It began when the Heat selected Beasley out of Kansas State with the second overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, continued when they signed him for the 2013-14 season to play alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the Heat later brought him back for a third time after he returned from China late in the 2014-15 season. Continue reading “Erik Spoelstra shakes off Michael Beasley’s comments: ‘Jeez, Beas. You threw me under the bus, man’”

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]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

Tonight’s matchup: Heat look to end Cavaliers’ win streak, face Dwyane Wade and LeBron James

MIAMI HEAT VS. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun, NBA TV/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 10-9, Cleveland 13-7

Line: Cavaliers favored by 4 points

Dwyane Wade #9 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walk backcourt during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center on October 20, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: Justise Winslow

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Cavaliers

F: LeBron James

F: Jae Crowder

C: Kevin Love

G: J.R. Smith

G: Jose Calderon

Scouting report: The Heat are still without swingman Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and forward Okaro White (left foot surgery). … The Cavaliers will be without Derrick Rose (left ankle sprain), Isaiah Thomas (right hip), and Tristan Thompson (left calf strain). … Cleveland has won eight straight games since starting the season with a 5-7 record. … The Cavaliers will take on the Heat for their first back-to-back situation since Oct. 28-29. Cleveland defeated the 76ers 113-91 in Philadelphia on Monday night. … Cavaliers forward LeBron James has been dominant this season, averaging 28.6 points on 57.8 percent shooting from the field to go with 8.1 rebounds and 8.5 assists. … Former Heat star Dwyane Wade is averaging 10.4 points on 42.3 percent shooting in a bench role for Cleveland this season. … Miami has won three straight after starting the season with a 7-9 record. The Heat have posted the league’s fifth-best defensive rating during their short win streak, allowing 97.2 points per 100 possessions. … The Heat have connected on 162 3-point field goals this month, already the most during the month of November in team history. Miami is also just 12 short of tying the most 3-pointers made in any month in franchise history, which came when the Heat hit 174 threes in March 2017. … Heat point guard Goran Dragic was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 23.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games last week. He shot 52.4 percent, including 57.9 percent on 3-pointers. … Among the 179 players defending eight or more shots per game this season, Heat small forward Josh Richardson is statistically the top one. Richardson is limiting the player he’s guarding to a league-best 33.0 percent shooting, which is 11.8 percent worse than their normal shooting percentage.

[Goran Dragic named Eastern Conference Player of the Week]

[The numbers behind why Josh Richardson is playing like one of the NBA’s top defenders]

[Erik Spoelstra on seeing Dwayne Wade in Cavaliers uniform: ‘I hate it’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

Erik Spoelstra discusses the end of Heat’s Big Three era: ‘I look at that team with so much respect and joy’

SALT LAKE CITY — Even with all of the negativity surrounding the end of the Heat’s Big Three era, coach Erik Spoelstra can look back and remember the good times.

“I look at that team with so much respect and joy,” Spoelstra said in advance of Friday’s game against the Jazz, the fifth stop on Miami’s six-game trip. “It’s a chapter out of all of our lives that will always be there. Nobody can ever take it away from us. It is not easy to do what that team did and I think eventually everybody will be able to look back on that in such high regard and celebrate really what we were able to accomplish together.” Continue reading “Erik Spoelstra discusses the end of Heat’s Big Three era: ‘I look at that team with so much respect and joy’”

Miami Heat celebrate 30th anniversary in NBA: The Palm Beach Post looks back

The Miami Heat will celebrate their 30th season in the NBA this year.

In celebration of the Heat’s first three decades we bring you several features looking at the rich history of the Heat in South Florida:

30 memorable moments from the team’s history



Ranking the top 30 players in team history


Miami Heat have provided good entertainment throughout their 30 years


Aboard the Imagination and in the Dynasty lounge, the Pat Riley era begins


The early years and an intern who now deals with multi-million dollar contracts


How a group of South Florida sports fans became Generation Heat

30 years of Heat: The early years and an intern who now deals with multi-million dollar contracts as the General Manager

MIAMI – Andy Elisburg was a 20-year-old intern with the Miami Heat in 1988 when managing partner Billy Cunningham said he needed some chores to be done around the office.

“No problem,” Elisburg said, “I’ll get one of my guys to do it.”

Cunningham looked at Elisburg: “You have people? You’re an intern.”

Elisburg epitomizes where the Heat have come in 30 years. Starting as an intern for public relations director Mark Pray, Elisburg, who turns 50 next month, was a student at St. Thomas University when he was hired to do, well, everything, and started working his way up to senior vice president of basketball operations/General Manager.

Andy Elisburg has worked his way up in the Heat organization from an intern in the public relations department to General Manger. (Photo David Alvarez)

When Elisburg worked with numbers nearly 30 years ago it was those he’d type into a bulky computer to be included in the media guide. Today when he works with numbers it’s negotiating multi-million dollar contracts.

The Heat start their 30th season Wednesday with their season opener in Orlando. Elisburg is one of a handful of people who have been with the organization continuously for the three decades, including broadcaster Tony Fiorentino (who was an assistant coach on Ron Rothstein’s original staff), Eric Reid and Jose Paneda.

Back then, the Heat had about 20 employees, not including players. Today, that number is close to 200.

Only a handful of people, including partners Cunningham and Lewis Schaffel, Rothstein, assistant coach Dave Wohl, director of player personnel Stu Inman and trainer Ron Culp, had worked in the NBA.

For the others it was on the job training.

“Those first games it was really crazy because people really had no idea what to do,” Elisburg said.

During the very first time out of the very first game at Miami Arena, Pray handed the partial box score to a runner with instructions to make copies and “give one to everybody.”

The runner suddenly stopped, looked back and wondered, “how am I going to make 15,000 copies for everyone in the building.”

Finally, he was told, “not everyone. … everyone on press row.”

“It was an incredibly rich and wonderful experience,” Elisburg said. “With the fans, we got a chance to experience NBA basketball and professional sports together. It was very much kind of trial by error in learning what works and what doesn’t and what we had to do.”

Elisburg recalls the entire staff rolling 15,000 posters the night before that opening game.

And although Rothstein had spent five seasons as an assistant coach in Atlanta and Detroit, moving over one seat on the bench was a major adjustment for him, too.

“Anytime you get your first head coaching job the reality is you are a little naïve,” Rothstein said. “The real world hasn’t hit you yet. You’re really full of yourself. You really are. I knew that we weren’t going to be good and I knew that we would lose a lot of games. I had no idea it would be that tough.”

Everybody grew together. … through 17 consecutive losses to start their inaugural year, 33 wins the first two years combined, the first coaching change in 1991 when Kevin Loughery replaced Rothstein and their first taste of the postseason in 1992.

“The philosophy of the Heat from the beginning was we’re going to build through the draft which is exactly what we did,” Rothstein said. “We actually were the first of the expansion teams to make the playoffs, Year 4, unfortunately that was after I was gone. I felt our first three years really set the foundation. Year 4 didn’t happen in a bubble.”

Those drafts netted Rony Seikaly, Grant Long, Glen Rice and Steve Smith, the heart of that first playoff team.

Fast forward 30 years from Nov. 5, 1988, the night of the first ever regular season game for a South Florida NBA franchise, to now where three championship banners hang in the rafters of the AmericanAirlines Arena.

But that does not tell the whole story about where this franchise has come, an ascent similar to the one taken by the intern in the public relations department who now holds the title of General Manager.

“You never know when you start something up that it becomes your home and your family,” Elisburg said. “You don’t think 30 years from now we’re going to be here.

“One of the things that is really special when you are a part of something like this is you’re building something beyond you. We’ve built a foundation what will stand the test of time, a history that people will be part of. It’s been special being part of all the things we’ve achieved and the struggles.”

Miami Heat celebrate 30th anniversary in NBA: The Palm Beach Post looks back

30 memorable moments from the team’s history

Aboard the Imagination and in the Dynasty lounge, the Pat Riley era begins

The early years and an intern who now deals with multi-million dollar contracts

A look at how a group of South Florida sports fans became Generation Heat

Ranking the top 30 players in team history

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]