Heat Mailbag: Has Boston’s Danny Ainge passed Pat Riley as an executive? That, and more

Pat Riley

Time for another Miami Heat mailbag.

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

    From @ChrisHypeTrain: Has Danny Ainge passed Pat Riley as an executive?

Riley, the Heat’s president, and Ainge, the GM and president of basketball operation for the Celtics, have a rivalry going that took an ugly turn five years ago. That’s when Ainge called it “almost embarrassing” that the Heat’s LeBron James complained about hard fouls and Riley responded in a statement by saying Ainge needs to “shut the f— up” and that he was “the biggest whiner” as a player.

The two have gone head-to-head a few times with Riley signing free agent Ray Allen away from the Celtics in 2012; Ainge helping the Cavaliers clear cap space in 2014 by being a part of a three-team trade that allowed Cleveland to dump three contracts and re-sign James away from the Heat; and last summer when the Heat and Celtics were after Gordon Hayward and the free agent chose Boston.

Both have been highly successful with Ainge putting together a Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen that won one title and Riley putting together a Big Three of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh that won two titles. But lately, it’s Ainge who has been the best executive, perhaps in the entire league.

Starting with the 2013 trade with the Nets when the Celtics netted four first-round picks for Pierce and Garnett, Ainge is putting together a team that will be contending for titles for many years to come.

That trade was the foundation to the Celtics’ rebuilding plans and Ainge has been on a roll since. Some of his highlights: hiring coach Brad Stevens; signing Hayward; and pulling off two-more one-sided deals that netted Boston Kyrie Irving from the Cavs, and an extra first-round pick from the 76ers for swapping the first pick for the third pick in last year’s draft and still getting their man, Jayson Tatum.

The Celtics are three-wins from returning to the NBA Finals and have not had Hayward or Irving for one minute during the playoffs. In addition, Boston could have three first round picks in 2019: Sacramento’s, the Clippers’ if it is No. 15 or later, the  Grizzlies’ if it is No. 9 or later.

Riley has built three championship teams in Miami and will go down as one of the greatest executives in NBA history. But after losing James in 2014 he has been scrambling to turn the Heat into a contender again mainly because of circumstances beyond his control. … Bosh’s career coming to an end because of blood clot issues just a couple of years into a five-year contract. Still, some have questioned Riley trading away so many draft picks and handing out long term contracts to good, but not great, players.

Meanwhile, with the Celtics are situated to contend for several years. Ainge clearly has had the upper hand of late and not just on the Heat but on most of the league.

From Randy, Sunrise:  Whose contract is more of a burden on the Heat, Hassan Whiteside or Tyler Johnson?

Whiteside is due $52.5 million the next two years while Johnson is owed $38.5. Both are a major drain on the Heat’s salary cap but which one is more of a burden? That depends on which Whiteside you are getting. If the 7-foot center is the player who has led the league in blocks and rebounding and averaged 17.0 points, though not ideal, the Heat could live with his large contract. But if he’s the player we saw much of last season and into the playoffs, then no question that is the one contract the Heat would love to shed. As for Johnson, you know what you are getting, someone who will average from 12 to 15 points, shoot about 44 percent, 37 from on 3-pointers and bring energy. Johnson, though, is a player you would rather have coming off the bench, which should be the case with Dion Waiters returning, and $19 million a year for a reserve is not ideal either.

[How does Heat package stack up in possible deal for Kawhi Leonard? We take a look]

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

[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]

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

 

How Cavaliers postseason domination of East last three years compares to Miami Heat’s

 

LeBron James went to the Finals each season he played with the Heat, but was Miami as dominant against the East in the postseason as James’ Cleveland teams have been? (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Cavaliers have won 12-of-13 games on their way to a third consecutive Finals appearance, a continuation of the three-year march through the Eastern Conference playoffs that, record wise, has surpassed LeBron James’ runs to the Finals as a member of the Heat.

But are his Cleveland teams more dominant than his Miami teams or have the Cavaliers taken advantage of weak competition?

Cleveland has steamrolled through the East in the postseason since James returned home, going 36-5 in three years. Included have been six sweeps, just two series that stretched to six games (none taken to a Game 7) and the five-game demolition of the Celtics in this year’s Eastern Conference finals in which Cleveland outscored them by 100 points.

Miami’s teams anchored by James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were 48-16 against the East in the postseason during its four-year run to the Finals with just two sweeps, both in the first round; Milwaukee in 2013 and Charlotte in 2014. Miami was pushed to a Game 7 twice in the conference finals, by Boston in 2012 and Indiana in 2013.

The argument is valid that the conference was much more competitive from 2010-2013 than the last three seasons. The Chicago team the Heat defeated in five games in the 2011 finals won 62 games and had league MVP Derrick Rose. The Heat had to go through the Celtics of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the 2011 conference semis and in an epic 2012 finals that went the distance with the Heat needing to win Game 6 (the ‘LeBron Game’) in Boston to force a seventh game. And the 2013 Pacers were a well-balanced team with Paul George that led the league in defensive rating.

To further illustrate the East’s lack of recent firepower: James is the only player to make the All-NBA first team from the East in each of the last three seasons. Every other player has been from the West, giving that conference  12 first team all-pros compared to three from the East.

In James’ four years with the Heat 12 players from the West were first team All-NBA and eight from the East, including James all four years.

All of which partly explains why the Cavaliers of James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have not been challenged in the East during the postseason.

In the 2015 conference finals the Cavaliers swept a highly-flawed 60-win Hawks team. The next year they defeated Toronto after it needed seven games to get past a Heat team without Bosh and, for the final four games, Hassan Whiteside. This year they crushed the Celtics, the No. 1 seed that fell behind No. 8 seed Chicago, 2-0, in the first round before winning four games after Rajon Rondo went down.

And Cleveland has swept 5-of-6 six first- and second-round series during this period.

Now, Cleveland is preparing for its third consecutive trip to the Finals (starting Thursday) with James in peak form. He is averaging 32.5 points and shooting 56.6 percent in the postseason this year and with the exception of the Cavs’ only loss, Game 3 against the Celtics, James is controlling his opponents like a puppeteer controls a puppet. He seems to have each of them on a string at all times and everything just appears to be easier this postseason that it ever has.

Cleveland’s opponent, Golden State, enters this postseason with a similar story having one-upped the Cavs by becoming the first team to go 12-0 in its conference playoffs. The Warriors are 36-7 against the West in the postseason the last three years.

James’ first two seasons in his return to Cleveland ended just as his first two in Miami did, losing in the Finals in Year 1 and winning the title in Year 2.

James and the Heat followed that up with a second title in Year 3. Now,  whether or not you believe James’ Cavs teams or Heat teams have been more dominant in the conference playoffs, for Cleveland to keep pace with Miami it must find a way to defeat the stacked Warriors in the upcoming Finals.

[A look at a draft prospect who could slip to the Heat at No. 14 — stretch forward Lauri Markkanen]

[Magic Johnson tapping into his mentor, Miami Heat’s Pat Riley, in his early days as Lakers president]

[Mailbag: What kind of player could the Heat sign if they bring back James Johnson and Dion Waiters?]

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2008 Boston Celtics still hurt by Ray Allen’s decision to sign with the Miami Heat

MIAMI — It’s not a secret that Ray Allen’s former Celtics teammates still view his departure to Miami as betrayal.

Now, a few of those teammates are explaining their frustrations with Allen. On Monday night, Kevin Garnett was joined on his TNT television segment, “Area 21,” by former Celtics teammates Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, and Rajon Rondo.

And even though Allen did not join Garnett for the segment, the sharpshooter’s name came up. Continue reading “2008 Boston Celtics still hurt by Ray Allen’s decision to sign with the Miami Heat”

Amar’e Stoudemire’s case for the Hall of Fame is better than you might think

Amar'e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat grabs a rebound against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on January 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Amar’e Stoudemire #5 of the Miami Heat grabs a rebound against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on January 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Six-time NBA All-Star and 14-year veteran Amar’e Stoudemire announced his retirement on Tuesday, signing a one-day contract with the New York Knicks before calling it a career.

The 33-year-old spent his first eight season with the Phoenix Suns, before taking his talents to the Big Apple during the 2010 offseason and playing four and a half seasons with the Knicks. Stoudemire was then sent to Dallas in the 2014-15 season, before he played one final season with the Miami Heat.

The next stop in Stoudemire’s NBA career may be Springfield, as the Florida native has a fairly strong case for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Over an eight-year period, from his second season in the league through his first season in New York, Stoudemire was one of the most dominant forces in the game. During that stretch, Amar’e averaged 23.2 points per game, 8.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. By comparison, certain Hall of Famer Tim Duncan averaged 22.5 points and shot 50.7 percent during the best eight-year offensive stretch of his career.

Stoudemire’s career numbers also compare favorably to those of another surefire Hall of Fame player, Kevin Garnett. In his 14-year career, “STAT” averaged 18.9 points on 53.7 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Garnett has averaged 17.8 points, 10 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks while shooting 49.7 percent from the field through his first 20 seasons.

Critics will look to Stoudemire’s lack of career longevity and the seasons cut short due to injury as the most prominent arguments against his Hall of Fame candidacy.

Despite the injuries, though, he was considered not only a dominant player, but, in a way, a revolutionary one as well. Stoudemire and Steve Nash led the Phoenix Suns’ “Seven Seconds or Less” offense, which made it to the 2005 Western Conference Finals, and they then reached that mark again the next season, although Stoudemire didn’t appear in that playoff run.

A 22-year-old Stoudemire turned in one of the greatest playoff series performances of all-time in those Western Finals against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. In five games, Amar’e averaged 37 points a game on 55 percent shooting and added 9.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. He did not score fewer than 31 points in any game, yet the Spurs still won the series 4-1.

The “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns laid the groundwork for the fast-paced, small-ball basketball that spawned the current NBA powerhouse Golden State Warriors. Several current NBA teams have attempted to duplicate the Suns’ blueprint, and nearly every squad is looking for big men that can run the floor and shoot efficiently from the perimeter.

Stoudemire’s contribution to that movement should not be forgotten, and his role in changing the NBA’s perception of big men may be enough to land him in the hallowed Hall in Springfield.

Gif Credit: SB Nation
Gif Credit: SB Nation

Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh voted one of best teammates in NBA

Bosh was voted one of the best teammates in the league. (Getty Images)
Bosh was voted one of the best teammates in the league. (Getty Images)

The self-proclaimed coolest dude alive is also one of the coolest teammates in the NBA.
Continue reading “Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh voted one of best teammates in NBA”