How many wins will it take for the Miami Heat to make the NBA playoffs?

Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat looks on during the game against the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Arena on May 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat looks on during the game against the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Arena on May 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

In past seasons, the question wasn’t whether the Heat would make the Eastern Conference playoffs or not. Instead, it was what playoff seed would the Heat get?

But Miami is on the playoff bubble this season, according to most NBA experts. Continue reading “How many wins will it take for the Miami Heat to make the NBA playoffs?”

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside tops NBA list of biggest pay raise

 

 

Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside led the NBA in blocked shots last season. Now, the Heat center already is at the top of another list for the 2016-17 season.

Whiteside’s four-year, $98 million free agent contract from the Heat represents the biggest raise in the league this season in percentage and dollars. Whiteside went from making $981,348 in 2015-16 to the first year of his deal that will pay him $21,116,759 this season, a 2,153.71 percent increase and $21,135,402 jump.

Portland’s Allen Crabbe was second with a 1,852.97 percent raise, going from $947,276 last season to $18,500,000 in the first year of his four-year deal this season.

Portland’s Damian Lillard received the second largest raise when it comes to dollars, jumping from $4,236,287 to $24,328,425, an increase of $20,092,139.

Whiteside, who recently expressed his unhappiness over the NBA not more prominently featuring him in a video of the top 50 blocks of the 2015-16 season,  is the lone Heat player among the top 15 in both groups. Some may wonder why Heat guard Tyler Johnson is not included. The Heat matched Brooklyn’s four-year, $50 million offer to Johnson, who made $845,059 last season. Johnson, though, will make $5.6 million this year. His contracts jumps from about $5.9 million in 2017-18 to $19.2 million in 2018-19.

[Heat forward Chris Bosh posts video of work out, hints at return: ‘Yes, I’m hooping’]

[Coach Erik Spoelstra promises more up-tempo offense for Heat]

[While Dwyane Wade reacts to his cousin’s death, Donald Trump attempts to politicize tragedy]

 

 

 

 

Spoelstra: Hassan Whiteside will ‘have to absorb more minutes, more responsibility, more games’ for Miami Heat

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) at Miami Heat media day at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on September 28, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) at Miami Heat media day at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on September 28, 2015. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Hassan Whiteside already earned the big contract he had been playing for in his first two seasons with the Heat.

After playing for less than $1 million each of the past two seasons, the 27-year-old center signed a four-year, $98 million max contract to stay in Miami this offseason. Despite already getting his money, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes he still has a motivated Whiteside on his roster. Continue reading “Spoelstra: Hassan Whiteside will ‘have to absorb more minutes, more responsibility, more games’ for Miami Heat”

Could the Heat be in position to add veteran Rudy Gay?

Rudy Gay #8 of the Sacramento Kings during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 3, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Rudy Gay #8 of the Sacramento Kings during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 3, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Heat are in the process of overhauling their roster, looking for young and athletic players, and it appears that a veteran NBA player wants in.

According to the Miami Herald, Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay has expressed interest in joining the Miami Heat via trade. Gay and the Kings have had a turbulent relationship during his three years with the team, and there is plenty of speculation that the Kings have been looking to trade Gay.

The 29-year-old is a career 45 percent shooter, including a respectable 34 percent from beyond the arc, while averaging 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Last season, Gay averaged 17.2 points per contest and rebounded above his career average, grabbing 6.5 boards per game.

While Gay would certainly add a talented scorer and established veteran to the roster, swinging a trade for the forward will be tough for Miami. The Heat made several additions this offseason, and any player signed this month cannot be traded until December, leaving the Heat with only a few assets to work with.

Beyond that, Gay is set to make $13.3 million this season and also holds a $14.2 million player option for next year. That means that if the Heat were to trade for Gay, they would need to send a package of considerable salaries to Sacramento.

According to CBS Sports, possible trade packages that the Heat could craft include a one-for-one trade of Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic, and the Heat likely aren’t inclined to trade any of those three. The Heat could also offer a package of Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem and Josh Richardson, but that is a price tag that seems too steep for the Heat to consider.

Miami’s best bet may be to allow Gay to play out his contract with the Kings and pursue the forward in free agency.

Read more at the Miami Herald and CBS Sports.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside dominates Drew League

Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside

Even after signing his new $98 million contract to stay with the Heat earlier this month, Hassan Whiteside is staying active this summer.

Whiteside took part in the Drew League, a popular pro-am summer league held in Los Angeles, and dominated. The 7-footer made his Drew League debut Saturday and earned player of the week honors. Continue reading “Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside dominates Drew League”

Pat Riley: Hassan Whiteside ‘worth the investment’ of max contract

Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena on December 22, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Detroit Pistons at American Airlines Arena on December 22, 2015 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Heat decided to give Hassan Whiteside a max contract this summer.

Many questioned whether Miami would make that type of investment in the 27-year-old center, but Heat president Pat Riley believes Whiteside’s four-year, $98 million contract is a good deal for both sides. Considering the explosion of dollars in the NBA’s free-agent market this summer, Riley may be right if Whiteside’s upward trajectory continues. Continue reading “Pat Riley: Hassan Whiteside ‘worth the investment’ of max contract”

Pat Riley: Miami Heat can ‘compete for a playoff spot’ this season

Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 13, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 13, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Getting to the Eastern Conference Finals seemed like a realistic goal for the Heat last season.

But things have changed. After losing Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, some question whether the Heat will even make the playoffs this upcoming season. Continue reading “Pat Riley: Miami Heat can ‘compete for a playoff spot’ this season”

Miami Heat did not pursue Al Horford in free agency

Al Horford was a key addition for Boston, but was never truly in play for the Heat. (Getty Images)
Al Horford was a key addition for Boston, but was never truly in play for the Heat. (Getty Images)

It says a lot about what the Heat think of Hassan Whiteside that they basically chose him over Al Horford.
Continue reading “Miami Heat did not pursue Al Horford in free agency”

NBA approves rule changes to limit ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy

Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat shoots a foul shot during a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat shoots a foul shot during a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena on April 7, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Heat invested a lot of money in center Hassan Whiteside this offseason. $98 million over the next four years, to be exact.

That investment looks a little smarter Wednesday after the NBA approved a few rule changes to limit the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy. Whiteside has been the subject of the “Hack-a-Shaq” tactic at times, as he’s a 59.8 percent free-throw shooter for his NBA career but improved to make 75 percent of his free throws after the All-Star break last season. Continue reading “NBA approves rule changes to limit ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ strategy”

Post-Dwyane Wade, who is the face of South Florida sports?

After Dwyane Wade left for Chicago, a local writer asked his Twitter followers to name “the new face of Miami sports.”

“Dewan Huell,” Dewan Huell tweeted.

You have to admire his enthusiasm. Huell, a freshman forward for the University of Miami men’s basketball team, is a highly rated recruit but hasn’t played in a game yet, so his comments are a tad premature. They were borne of respect, given that Huell is one of countless Miami natives who grew up loving Wade. 

Now that Wade has left town, who is the most important local athlete, the face of South Florida sports? Scouring the major sports teams for potential candidates:

Can Giancarlo Stanton (left), Ryan Tannehill, Brad Kaaya, Aaron Ekblad or Hassan Whitewide capture South Florida's imagination? (Getty Images photos)
Can Giancarlo Stanton (left), Ryan Tannehill, Brad Kaaya, Aaron Ekblad or Hassan Whitewide capture South Florida’s imagination? (Getty Images photos)

[The Miami sports scene was a lot different pre-Dwyane Wade]

[Wade’s message to fans]

The Dolphins

The Heat’s rise coincided with a long dry spell for the area’s bedrock franchise. The Fins haven’t won a Super Bowl in nearly two generations (1973), and scored their last playoff win when Wade was a freshman at Marquette (2000). They’ve made the playoffs once since then. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill might be South Florida’s leading man if he proves capable of leading his team to a few successful seasons; local opinion varies, to say the least, on whether he has the goods to do that. With a $96 million contract extension, he’ll get at least two more years to sort things out. If the Fins develop one of the NFL’s feared defenses, perhaps defensive end Cameron Wake or tackle Ndamukong Suh will capture the area’s attention.

The Marlins

Though the Marlins haven’t been very good either, they employ two of the must-watch athletes in town. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton and right-hander Jose Fernandez produce highlight-reel moments on the regular. Stanton’s mammoth homers and Fernandez’ video-game stuff get gobbled up on social media. They are two of the franchise’s best ever, but Marlins Park is rarely the hot place to be. Distrust in the team’s ownership is one of the reasons for this, as is a playoff resume that includes two World Series titles (1997 and 2003), two subsequent fire sales, and nothing more. The Marlins, 2.5 games behind in the NL Wild Card race, need a hot second half to make anyone forget about Wade’s painful exit.

The Hurricanes 

If only the Dolphins had a Brad Kaaya. UM’s junior quarterback, who might be a first-round NFL draft pick if he decides to leave after this season, has helped keep the Hurricanes afloat in his three seasons. He is one of college football’s best passers, but UM hasn’t been nationally relevant in more than a decade. Miami used to be a Canes town, so if Kaaya and new coach Mark Richt can break a long stretch of local malaise and bring the program back to elite status, they’ll be the talk of the town. Men’s basketball coach Jim Larranaga has done a wonderful job, reaching the Sweet 16 twice in four seasons, but ‘The U’ was built on football success.

The Panthers 

Coincidentally, the team held a press conference to discuss an eight-year contract extension for young star defenseman Aaron Ekblad on Thursday, while South Florida was still reeling from the Wade news. Ekblad and forward Aleksander Barkov will be with the franchise long-term, so they will build up a new generation of followers if the Cats keep winning. Elder statesmen Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo are more recognizable to the average fan, but the veterans won’t be around as long.

The Heat 

Maybe it’s up to you, Hassan Whiteside. The 7-footer, who seemed surprised to learn of the Wade news, agreed to a max contract last week that will keep him in Miami for the next four years. He will enter next season as arguably the Heat’s most popular player. If he continues producing at a high level, there’s no reason he couldn’t be the most beloved guy in town. If Chris Bosh returns to form, that title could go to the affable forward, the last surviving member of the Big Three. Maybe a new star in town, acquired by the Heat during its rebuild, could capture the hearts of fans.

But he probably won’t do it like Wade.

What say you? Who’s next?