How can the Miami Heat improve?


How can the Miami Heat improve?

From Comcast SportsNet
MIAMI (AP) -- Pat Riley's approach to free agency has changed considerably since 2010, simply because the Miami Heat have nowhere near the same amount of money left to spend as they did during the coup that brought LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh together. Still, the sales pitch from the Heat president will remain the same. "There's a lot of room out there this year," Riley said. "But there aren't many teams that have a chance, really, to win a title. And I think a lot of veteran players might be interested in something like that." So again, when free agency starts on Sunday, Riley and the Heat will ask prospective newcomers to make a sacrifice. They can also show those recruits that their current formula works -- with this year's NBA championship trophy serving as proof. After draft night came and went without the Heat making any significant changes to their roster, Miami's attention now moves to free agency. Because the NBA's shopping window hasn't opened, Riley didn't discuss any of his specific targets by name. But it is widely assumed that the Heat will try to woo Boston guard Ray Allen, who when healthy remains one of the game's best outside shooters. James, the league's reigning MVP of both the regular season and NBA Finals, shared that terribly kept secret on his Twitter account Thursday night. "While watching the Draft my son Bryce ask Is Ray Allen gonna play for the Heat,'" James tweeted. "I said I don't know. I hope so.'" Let the recruiting begin. Riley said the Heat have "five or six" guys targeted to open the free-agent period. "If we could add a shooter that would help us, because we are that kind of a team," Riley said. "If we could get a real big that had to be guarded and had some versatility, then we might try to go in that direction. If there's a 3-point shooter that's long and can defend, then we might go in that direction. So there is a lot of areas you can go. There isn't one specific thing. I just know that we want to find as much space as we can on the floor for Dwyane and for LeBron and for Chris to be able to operate." The Heat spent years making sure they would have the spending capability to land a trio like James, Wade and Bosh in 2010. This summer, Riley and the Heat will go into free agency only able to offer the mini mid-level exception of 3 million, or a veteran's minimum contract of about 1 million, or the ability to package some future draft picks in trades. Moving players through trades is another option, though Riley said the Heat are "not exploring" that yet. Riley said there have been no discussions about using Miami's one-time amnesty provision this summer, on Mike Miller -- who made seven 3-pointers in the title-clinching win over Oklahoma City -- or anyone else. Riley also said that Miller plans to take a couple weeks to decompress before making any decisions about his future or surgical options. Miller met earlier this week with Dr. Barth Green to evaluate his back, the primary source of his pain during the season. Riley said the team will guarantee center backup center Dexter Pittman's contract for next season, meaning he will earn about 885,000. Eddy Curry might factor into the team's plans again, with Riley saying he would have a conversation before too long with the veteran center who appeared sparingly in 14 games this season, none in the playoffs. He also said that the strained lower abdominal muscle that sidelined Bosh for nine playoff games was more daunting than previously thought. "He's still nursing an injury," Riley said. "He had a significant abdominal injury that I'm sure that if we weren't in the playoffs against Boston then he probably would not have played for another three or four weeks." Wade removed himself from Olympic consideration on Thursday, telling USA Basketball that he will need surgery on his left knee this summer. Bosh, who also played on the 2008 gold medal-winning team at the Beijing Olympics, said earlier this week he was "all in for now" on participating in the London Games, but would reassess after speaking to doctors. And on Friday, that reassessment came: Like Wade, Bosh has taken his name out of the Olympic mix. "This injury was a pretty serious one," said Henry Thomas, Bosh's agent. "He was able to come back and play under the circumstances because he was trying to contribute to them winning a championship. There's still pain. There's still discomfort. And the real concern is if he doesn't rest and do the rehab associated with the injury, this could become sort of a chronic thing for him." Riley also said the celebration of the championship, at least for people like him, coach Erik Spoelstra and other team executives, is pretty much complete now. This past season was fueled in many respects by the pain of losing the 2011 finals to Dallas. Obviously, that pain was replaced by joy this time around -- but Riley is still hoping the Heat find some way to sharpen the focus again, even after winning it all. "One of the things that you need to think about, all of us after last year, how did we feel when we got beat by Dallas here? You saw guys falling down in the hallway here because of their disappointment and how discouraged they were," Riley said. "So whatever the players did last summer, I would advise them to try to go back to their caves and hibernate again." He is not as brash as he once was -- for example, he won't guarantee that the Heat will repeat as champions, like he famously did when he was coaching the Lakers during their "Showtime" era. All Riley will say now is that Miami believes it has built a team capable of contending for a long time. "If you can win it, you enjoy it, you put it in your back pocket," Riley said. "We've won two titles in the last six years. We have a compelling, contending team. It excites me to try to make it better. And so we're a contender. We'll be the defending champion next year, but as long as you have a chance and you feel like you can improve this team, then that's all it's about."

Postcard from Camp Day 2: Last day before the pads come out


Postcard from Camp Day 2: Last day before the pads come out

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick had some fun with reporters on Friday morning, explaining that there's not a whole heck of a lot that can be taken away from practices where there's no contact. 

With that in mind, here is what we saw from Day 2 of training camp practice -- knowing full well that this isn't really training camp because the pads have yet to come out. 


* Rob Ninkovich and Joe Cardona were absent from practice for the second consecutive day. Belichick said both are out due to "personal reasons."

* Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell were not spotted on Friday. They seemed to finish Thursday's practice without any issues so the team could simply be trying to manage to important pieces to their passing game. Both have had significant injury histories and could benefit from the occasional down day. 

* Kony Ealy was back on the field after missing Thursday's work. He joins a defensive end group that includes Trey Flowers, Geneo Grissom, Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise. 

* Cody Hollister appeared to suffer an upper-body injury early in practice after diving to catch a Jacoby Brissett pass. He did not return. 

* Patriots owner Robert Kraft showed up at practice early on in the session and was greeted by loud cheers from the crowd in attendance. 

* Kickoff work was part of the focus of Friday's special-teams periods. Emphasizing the point that special teams are considered a critical phase, the Patriots gave Stephon Gilmore and Chris Hogan -- both of whom are presumed to have big defensive and offensive roles -- reps on the kickoff team. That's not unusual in Foxboro, where Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung are among their most important special-teamers.

* Undrafted rookies David Jones and Will Likely both worked as kick returners. 

* Behind Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon at the tackle spots are Cameron Fleming (left) and LaAdrian Waddle (right). Rookies Tony Garcia (left) and Conor McDermott (right) have worked with the third team. 



* During a 4-on-3 drill down by the goal line, Jimmy Garoppolo completed a pass to Chris Hogan but Hogan was kept out of the end zone by Cyrus Jones. Hogan took exception to Jones' physicality and the two went facemask-to-facemask. Jones then tried to slap the ball out of Hogan's hands twice. Bill Belichick saw it all and said something softly to Jones before Jones headed back to where the defensive backs were congregating, high-fiving assistant Steve Belichick and others.

* For the second straight day, Garoppolo was picked off by Jordan Richards and Eric Rowe in quick succession. The first came on a pass deep down the field that was uncharacteristically end-over-end by the time Richards camped under it. The second -- two plays later -- came on a back-shoulder throw intended for Devin Lucien. It looked like Lucien had the chance to snag it, but somehow Rowe came up with it while falling to the ground. 

*  Tom Brady and Garoppolo were generally very accurate during 7-on-7 work, but corners had their hands wrapped in gloves with no fingers. The drills seemed competitive, but they weren't all-out. The second set of 11-on-11 plays were also done with defensive backs wearing gloves.



* Brady incomplete to Cooks down the sideline. Glimore there in tight coverage. 0-for-1

* Brady complete to Cooks but would've been sacked by Wise. Long rep. 0-for-2.

* Brady incomplete to Hogan. Gilmore in coverage. Gave a little bump. Flag? 0-for-3.

* Brady complete to Lewis with Harris in coverage. 1-for-4

* Brady complete to open Edelman. Miscommunication for J. Jones and Gilmore. 2-for-5. 


* Garoppolo intercepted by Richards. Hogan was the target. Coleman in coverage. 0-for-1.

* Garoppolo complete to Burkhead. 1-for-2. 

* Garoppolo intercepted by Eric Rowe. Rowe was all over Lucien. 1-for-3.  

* Garoppolo complete to Edelman with Coleman in coverage. 2-for-4. 

* Garoppolo complete to Edelman. Good coverage by Coleman, though. 3-for-5. 


* Brissett complete to Carr. 

* Brissett incomplete to Develin. Roberts in coverage. 

* Brissett complete to Cotton with Thompson in coverage. 

* Brissett complete to Hollister with King in coverage. 


11-on-11 (corners wearing restrictive mitts)

* Garoppolo complete to Burkhead. 

* Garoppolo complete to Bolden. 

* Garoppolo complete to Hogan with Coleman in coverage. 

* Garoppolo complete to Lewis. 

* Garoppolo complete to Lewis with Van Noy and McCourty converging in coverage. 5-for-5.


* Brady incomplete to Edelman. Broken up by Rowe. 

* Brady complete to Gronkowski with Harmon in coverage. 

* Brady incomplete to O'Shaughnessy. 

* Brady complete to Hogan. 2-for-4. 


* Brissett complete to Carr. 

* Brissett complete to G. Gronkowski. 

* Brissett complete to Carr. 

* Brissett incomplete to Hollister with Richards in coverage.  3-for-4. 


7-on-7 (corners wearing restrictive mitts)

* Brady complete to White. 

* Brady complete to White. 

* Brady complete to White. 

* Brady complete to Cooks with J. Jones in coverage. 

* Brady complete to Hogan. 

* Brady incomplete to White. Pass broken up by Chung. 5-for-6.


* Garoppolo complete to Carr deep down the sideline. Coleman in coverage. 

* Garoppolo complete to Allen down the seam. Would've been lit up. 

* Garoppolo complete to Carr with Coleman in coverage. 

* Garoppolo complete to Burkhead. 

* Garoppolo incomplete out of the back of the end zone. 

* Garoppolo incomplete. Broken up by the paddle. 4-for-6


4-on-3 at the goal line

* Brady to White with McClellin in coverage. 

* Brady to Edelman.

* Garoppolo incomplete to Lucien. Rowe breakup. 

* Garoppolo incomplete to Slater. Coleman breakup. 

* Brissett to Lewis. 

* Brissett out of the back of the end zone.


* Brady incomplete to Gillislee. Through his arms. 

* Brady to Lengel with Roberts in coverage. 

* Garoppolo complete to Burkhead. Noice route. 

* Garoppolo complete to Hogan but Hogan kept out of the end zone by C. Jones. Feisty.

* Brissett complete

* Brissett incomplete. Throwing it hard. 

Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers


Morning Skate: Kassian completes transition from villain to hero for Oilers

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling that US democracy still works even there are extreme factors that our founding fathers couldn’t possibly have imagined. 


*Edmonton Oilers reclamation project Zack Kassian continues his journey from villain to hero in the eyes of the Oil Faithful. 


*Old warrior Chris Neil is weighing NHL offers right now along with a number of other older veterans still waiting for the right situation to present itself for next season. Many of these veterans are probably going to have to report to training camps on tryout agreements and beat out younger players for jobs, and that may be exactly what happens with a grizzled, tough old bird like Neil. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bruins bring in a veteran or two on PTO agreements in camp, and that could be the ultimate fate for guys like Neil, Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan and even Thomas Vanek. 


*The Vegas Golden Knights are still looking to inspire with a developing locker room message as their maiden voyage still awaits this season. 


*PHT writer James O’Brien has longtime Habs defenseman Andrei Markov leaving for the KHL after he couldn’t come to an agreement to stay in Montreal with the Canadiens. 


*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Ryan Kennedy has a prospects mailbag at this quiet point in the summer, and he’s very, very high on Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat. 


*The Hockey News details why somebody needs to step up and sign the legendary Jaromir Jagr as one of the aforementioned veteran forwards still looking for a job. 


*For something completely different: Solid Steve Lattimer reference in this Pro Football Talk story about performance enhancing drugs.