2018 Free Agency Update: LeBron lays low during early morning madness, as do Heat

Cleveland’s LeBron James during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on May 27, 2018. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As LeBron James’ private plane was tracking from Anguilla to Van Nuys Saturday, backroom deals were being struck all over the NBA landscape.

The frenzy started minutes before the ball dropped on the NBA New Year at midnight and continued well into the morning. Within hours about 20 players reportedly agreed to deals, with most not allowed to sign before noon on Friday.

One team sitting out the madness: the Miami Heat. The Heat’s lack of flexibility makes it very difficult for Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg to become a major player this summer, other than through the trade market.

The biggest names – Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George, Houston’s Chris Paul, Denver’s Nikola Jokic – are returning to their old teams. The four will re-sign on deals ranging from two to four years and totaling more than $500 million. (And this is a summer in which the theme is fiscal responsibility.)

The most intriguing names on the move so far are DeAndre Jordan from the Clippers to Dallas, Trevor Ariza from Houston to Phoenix and two players who obviously do not Trust the Process in Philadelphia, Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli, who will sign with Milwaukee and San Antonio, respectively.

Other than that, few names will tilt the needle as we enter the week, with, of course, one exception.

James spent most of last week holed up in the Caribbean, weighing his options. Saturday morning, he and his financial team boarded his jet for Southern California, where, let’s face it, all signs point to him ultimately staying put as a member of the Lakers. But on Sunday, James’ agent, Rich Paul, reportedly was set to meet with a high-level Sixers contingent in Los Angeles.

Before meeting with Philadelphia, the only reported contact James had with any team after midnight was a phone call with Cleveland general manger Koby Altman. James owes the Cavaliers nothing after delivering on his promise to bring Cleveland a title after returning four years ago but perhaps he learned from the embarrassing way he left his hometown team the first time with a poorly-planned, hour-long infomercial in which he declared he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”

James is not holding this free agent season hostage as he did eight and four years ago, when he bolted Miami and returned to Cleveland. A sign that many believe James’ decision has been made is so many deals being reported in the early hours of free agency. If James had a long list of teams he was considering, everything would have been on hold, much like it was two years ago for Durant and last year for Gordon Hayward.

But James has been trending toward the Lakers for weeks and that narrative become stronger Friday when James informed Cleveland he would opt out of the final year of contract, which realistically narrowed his choices to the Lakers, Cavs and Sixers. The biggest question now is who rides James’ coattails to L.A. With George staying put in OKC, the Lakers (and likely James) have targeted New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins.

Despite the early rush, this will be a tight market for free agents. Just eight teams have cap space of any significance and already two of them, Dallas and Phoenix, have made their big moves. Of those remaining teams, just the Lakers, Philadelphia and Indiana appear willing to hand out substantial contracts. The others – Atlanta, Chicago and Sacramento – could sign mid-tier players and/or use their space for trades.

Many teams are looking back at the summer of 2016 when spending got out of control and some of the worst contracts in league history were handed out, and ahead to next summer when the cap will rise to a projected $109 million and the market will be deeper with Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker and Kevin Love among those all likely to be available.

As for the Heat, the first bit of news likely will involve free agent guard Wayne Ellington. Miami would like to retain the franchise’s record holder for the most 3 pointers in a season, but at what price? The Heat have Ellington’s early Bird rights and can pay him as much as $10.9 million next season but that could put them above the new luxury tax line, which was revealed last night as $123.733 million, unless other salary is shed through a trade.

Ilyasova, Belinelli and Doug McDermott (Indiana) are long-range shooters like Ellington and their contracts were in the $6-$7.3 million per year range. Ellington will receive interest as the market settles but expect him and the Heat to have several conversations.

[Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder’s contract guaranteed for 2018-19]

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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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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]

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Tonight’s matchup: Celtics come to Miami riding 16-game winning streak


When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami.

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

Records: Boston 16-2, Miami 7-9


Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in his first game against the Miami Heat as a member of the Boston Celtics on Oct. 28 in Miami. (Getty Images).



F: Justise Winslow

F: Josh Richardson

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic


F: Jayson Tatum

F: Marcus Morris

C: Al Horford

G: Jaylen Brown

G: Kyrie Irving

Scouting report: Boston started 0-2 and since has won 16 straight games, equaling the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history. The Celtics are doing it with defense. They lead the league with a defensive rating of 95.8 and points allowed per game, 94.8. Boston is 20th in scoring at 102.9 points per game. Boston has allowed 100 points or more in regulation twice during the streak. … The Celtics are coming off a 110-102 overtime win at Dallas in which Kyrie Irving scored 47 points, his season high. Irving is averaging 22.5 points and 5.3 assists in his first season with Boston. … The Celtics continue to play without free-agent signee Gordon Hayward, who broke his leg in the first quarter of the first game of the season. … The teams meet for the second time this season with the Celtics defeating the Heat, 96-90, in Miami on Oct. 28 for its eighth straight win over Miami. Irving led Boston with 24 points while rookie Jayson Tatum scored 24. Goran Dragic had 22 points for the Heat. … The Heat have slipped to 14th with a defensive rating of 103.9 following a 120-95 home loss to the Pacers on Sunday. … Dion Waiters is looking to bounce back from his first scoreless game as a member of the Heat, missing all 10 of his shots against Indiana. … Miami is just 3-5 at home and has lost five of its last six at AmericanAirlines Arena.

[Mailbag: How much do the Miami Heat miss Rodney McGruder?]

[After blowout home loss to Pacers, Heat hold ‘grueling, dog-eat-dog’ practice Monday in search of consistency]

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Celtics have used defense to build 16-game win streak. It’s a formula the Heat know they must use to have success

MIAMI — It seems like the Heat’s season has reached a tipping point.

After Sunday’s blowout home loss to the Pacers, coach Erik Spoelstra said: “We will find a solution one way or another to get this team playing Miami Heat basketball.”

Well, here come the scorching hot Celtics.

After a two-day break, the Heat (7-9) will look to turn things around and change the narrative when they face the Celtics on Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Boston enters on a 16-game winning streak and with the NBA’s best record at 16-2. Continue reading “Celtics have used defense to build 16-game win streak. It’s a formula the Heat know they must use to have success”

Five takeaways: Dragic not happy after second straight Heat home loss: ‘We don’t want to have a season like last year’

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart looks for an open teammate past Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters during the Saturday’s game in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)


MIAMI – The schedule makers gave the Miami Heat a break the first two weeks of the season. After opening with one game on the road, the Heat returned to AmericanAirlines Arena for their longest home stand of the season, six games.

But Miami is wasting the opportunity.

The Heat lost their second consecutive game, dropping a 96-90 decision to the Boston Celtics on Saturday. Miami (2-3) is 2-2 on the home stand with games remaining against Minnesota and Chicago.

The Heat fell behind at the 10-minute mark of the second quarter and did not lead the rest of the way.

Miami got within three points on a Kelly Olynyk layup with 7½ minutes to play in the game but once again went cold, going without a field goal for 2:25. The Heat then cut the deficit to two but could not overtake the Celtics (4-2).

“We need to bounce back,” said guard Goran Dragic, who led Miami with 22 points. “We don’t want to have a season like last year.”

The Heat started 11-30 last year and missed the playoff on a tiebreaker.

Josh Richardson and James Johnson each added 16 points for the Heat. Boston’s Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 24.

The Heat were without center  Hassan Whiteside, who missed his fourth consecutive game after bruising a bone in his left knee in the season opener.

Here are our five takeaways:

Too many turnovers: The Heat entered the game tied for the seventh-fewest turnovers with 13.8 per game, with opponents averaging 16.5 point off those giveaways. Miami finished with 19 turnovers that led to 21 Boston points. Miami almost reached its average in the first half with 11 turnovers that the Celtics converted to 15 points. The Heat were loose with the ball and unselfish to a fault at times during the game, turning down open shots and forcing the pass, hoping for something better. The final turnover was the most costly. The Heat pulled to within four points when Richardson lost the ball with 1:19 to play. Irving then buried a 3-pointer to give Boston a seven-point lead with 57 seconds to play.

“What you had was a throwback possession game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Neither team was getting great looks. In this new modern NBA, that’s a game in the 80s. When you have a game like that, those turnovers, the throwaway possessions, really crush you. That’s where the game was. Everything else was how you expect it to be against a very good team.”

Defense tightens, offense goes cold: The Heat were much better defensively, holding the Celtics to 42.0 percent shooting (34-of-81), including 31.6 percent in the fourth quarter, and 44 points in the paint. Miami entered the game allowing 108.5 points per game (22nd in the league) and 50.0 points in the paint (27th). This time it was the offense that bogged down, especially in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Miami closed shooting 43.0 percent.

“Everybody was frustrated tonight,” Dragic said. “Everybody was low energy. It’s hard to describe.”

Third-quarter blues: The Heat were in the game at halftime, trailing 47-45 but this game turned in the third quarter. The Celtics built an 11-point lead as the Heat shot 7-of-19 and continued to give away the ball with four turnovers. And as the offense bogged down, the Heat started settling for 3-pointers, launching 11 in the quarter, making just three.

“We just got to figure it out, we got to get guys in the right spot, communicate and get everybody together,” said Justise Winslow, who led Miami with 12 rebounds. “Too many times there were six, seven seconds left in the 24-second clock and all we had left was a pick and roll. We have to get into more actions earlier.”

Olynyk faces former team: The Heat’s first phone call after learning Gordon Hayward was signing with Boston was to former Celtics big man, Kelly Olynyk, who had been released by the Celtics to make room for Hayward. The two quickly agreed to a contract (four years, $50 million) and the Heat had their biggest offseason addition. Olynyk faced his former team for the first time Saturday and made an immediate impact. Within 23 seconds of entering the game, he had a steal and a 3-pointer. Olynyk finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Olynyk helped the Heat get back into the game in the fourth quarter with six early points.

Bruised backcourt: Dion Waiters and Dragic are dealing with early season bumps, bruises and twists. Dragic had his moments in the first half but had a rough start to the second half and appeared frustrated on the bench. But he wasn’t the only one, as Miami went from a two-point deficit at the half to digging an 11-point hole in the third. Dragic returned and was solid in the fourth quarter. Waiters, though, did not play the final 12 minutes after a rough night. He finished with five points in 24 minutes and shot 2-of-8. Most of those misses coming at the rim as he continues to take the ball to the basket in traffic. The shooting guard continues to deal with a problematic left ankle he sprained more than six months ago, but to his credit has not used the injury as an excuse.

Spoelstra said Waiters absence in the fourth quarter was not a health issue.

“We were looking for anything to stem the tide,” he said. “The group we had in there crawled all the way back. We wanted to keep on going and find a way to win. We just couldn’t do that.”

New-look Celtics: The Celtics did not stand pat with the roster that had the best record in the Eastern Conference last season and lost to the Cavaliers in the conference finals. Boston returns just four players, with several departing to make room for Hayward’s four-year, $128 million deal and others being shipped to Cleveland in the Irving trade. The Heat did a good job containing Irving early but were hurt by guard Marcus Smart, who had 12 of his 16 points in the first half . Irving caught fire in the third quarter and finished 10-of-23 from the floor. Rookie Jayson Tatum had 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

“He’s a great closer,” Spoelstra said of Irving. “His handle allows him to get where he wants to get. His range, you have to extend your defense.”

[Erik Spoelstra reflects on free-agent pitch to Gordon Hayward: ‘We absolutely respected his choice’]

[Miami Heat send two-way guard Matt Williams Jr. to G League affiliate in Sioux Falls]

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Tonight’s matchup: Kelly Olynyk goes against his old team as Miami Heat face Boston Celtics

Miami’s James Johnson shoots during a game against the Celtics at American Airlines Arena last season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)


When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

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

Records: Boston 3-2, Miami 2-2



F: Jayson Tatum

F: Jaylen Brown

C: Al Horford

G: Marcus Smart

G: Kyrie Irving


F: James Johnson

F: Josh Richardson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: The Celtics have 11 new players after finishing with the best record in the East last season, including Kyrie Irving, who came over in a trade from Cleveland. Irving leads Boston with 20.8 and 6.2 assists per game. … The Celtics have the fourth best defense, allowing 96.0 points per game. … Boston has won three straight after dropping their first two games. … The Celtics are without Gordon Hayward, who signed with Boston this summer after meeting with the Heat. Hayward fractured his ankle in the season opener. Marcus Morris (knee) also is out. … Miami has lost seven straight in the series, including four in a row at home. … Kelly Olynyk faces his old team for the first time. Olynyk signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Heat this summer. He is averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds. … Heat center Hassan Whiteside will miss his fourth straight game because of a bruised bone in his left knee. … The Heat rank 24nd in the league with a 107.7 defensive rating and are 22nd allowing 108.5 points per game.

[Life without Hassan Whiteside will continue for Heat on Saturday vs. Celtics]

[Mailbag: Why is Dwyane Wade willing to play off the bench with the Cavaliers, and what does this mean for the Heat?]

[Pat Riley on Heat’s start, NBA defense, Adebayo and Winslow, being inducted into Miami chamber Hall of Champions]

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Mailbag: What does losing out on Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving say about the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat, and president Pat Riley, will remain major players in free agency and the trade market.

The Miami Heat always are in the conversation during free agency or when a star player suddenly is on the trade block.

That’s the benefits of having Pat Riley running your organization and being located in popular destination.

But the Heat were unable to land either of the two biggest names to change teams this summer, Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving (at least for now). What does that say about Miami?

We answer that and more in our latest mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.

From @ChrisHypeTrain: what does this say about Heat, a team looking to rebuild, losing 2 pieces that could have been key (Hayward,Kyrie)

Let’s take each case separately.

First Hayward. The notion that Riley has lost something off his fastball or the Heat are slipping when it comes to attracting big name free agents because they did not land Hayward is silly. The Heat were one of two teams other than Utah that Hayward visited and in the end Hayward chose Boston.

The Heat did all they could and the deal breaker appears to have been that Hayward was much more comfortable playing for his former college coach, Brad Stevens, than anything else. But think of it, the only team other than the one coached by a familiar face to even have that chance was the Heat, a team that did not make the playoffs last season.

As for Irving, the chances of Miami trading for the All-Star point guard were lower than its chances of signing Hayward. Even if the deal with Boston is rescinded (which is unlikely), the Heat still are a long shot to acquire Irving.

With league rules preventing teams from trading free agents they signed during the summer until after the season starts, the Heat had little to offer. Cleveland wasn’t just looking to replace Irving – which Miami could have done with a package that started with Goran Dragic – but it also had an eye on the future to protect itself in case it loses LeBron James. That meant not only receiving a veteran point guard but also young, proven talent and an attractive draft pick, a package Miami could not offer.

From @soy_pinguino: What do you guys expect this season out of Bam Adebayo? If SF gets soft we can always have JJ there and give those extra PF minutes to Bam.

The Heat have been very pleased with what they have seen out of Adebayo, who they took with the 14th pick in the draft. He is athletic as advertised, can run the floor, defend and block shots. He even flashed an ability to handle the ball during summer league.

But to expect Adebayo to be a major contributor early on is asking a lot. What I expect is the 6-foot-10 center/forward to fill the role occupied by former backup center Willie Reed, which is to bring energy, defense and rebounding when Hassan Whiteside is on the bench. Then, if he continues to develop maybe he sees more playing time at power forward.

[Heat mailbag: What will be Erik Spoelstra’s biggest challenge this season?]

[A look at the Heat’s six-game preseason schedule]

[What should the Heat’s All-Time roster look like? Here’s NBA 2K18’s answer]

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Mailbag: What does Kyrie Irving trade mean for the Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?

MIAMI — The top two teams in the Eastern Conference swapped star point guards.

The Celtics acquired Kyrie Irving from the Cavaliers for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and Brooklyn’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick. What does this trade mean for the landscape of the Eastern Conference this season?

We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag. Continue reading “Mailbag: What does Kyrie Irving trade mean for the Heat and rest of the Eastern Conference?”

Kyrie Irving traded to Boston: Celtics offer was too good for Heat to match, too good for Cavaliers to say no

MIAMI — The Heat were part of the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes from the start.

That was because Irving reportedly listed the Heat as one of his preferred trade destinations, along with the Knicks, Spurs and Timberwolves. But really, Miami — even with Pat Riley on its side — didn’t have a chance to land Irving once the Celtics entered the fray. Continue reading “Kyrie Irving traded to Boston: Celtics offer was too good for Heat to match, too good for Cavaliers to say no”