Tue Jul 13 03:15pm EDT
The Miami Heat keep adding and, yes, you should be scared.
I can't believe I'm going to come across as dubious and dour when Pat Riley reeled in LeBron James(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) while re-signing Dwyane Wade(notes), and giddy and effusive when he signs Mike Miller(notes) and Udonis Haslem(notes), but this was before we knew that the players just mentioned each lopped a bit off of their salaries in order to aid adding more help. So Miller's on board, and Haslem's coming back to Miami for five years and just $20 million.
This is significant stuff, because Haslem was a huge boon to the team's defense last season. He is adored by Wade and coach Erik Spoelstra for a reason. Haslem can play undersized center — and undersized power forward, at 6-8, if we're honest — he moves expertly in a zone defense and he can shoot 18-footers all day. Can make a good chunk of them, too.
And Mike Miller? His all-around gifts fit right in. He's spent the last two years trying to pass himself off as a Magic Johnson-type, instead looking like a Pete Myers-type as a result. But if he returns to his heavy shootin' ways, then the passing and rebounding exploits will be gravy. If Miller starts shooting again, it's a great deal for the Heat because he can ably fill three spots in a pinch.
Miami also added Zydrunas Ilgauskas(notes) and possibly Juwan Howard(notes). Cackle all you want, but Howard did well as an undersized center last season in Portland. And, as Ira Winderman pointed out Monday night, it appears that the Heat suddenly have an actual roster.
Can they grab an actual championship? I'll tell you after training camp. No I won't.
Derek Fisher(notes) had to head back to the Los Angeles Lakers. He's not going to be able to get shots up in an orthodox NBA offense, like the Miami Heat's, and his defensive issues would have been a problem in Florida, where they are merely tolerated in Los Angeles.
So returning to the Lakers? Good deal. Perhaps it's now time to ease off that shooting trigger, too.
Morrow can't really dribble or drive, but it hardly matters should he continue to pump in 3-point shots at a rate that exceeds 45 percent. With Devin Harris(notes) always looking for someone to take the corner three (last year it had to be Bobby Simmons(notes), gah), and Brook Lopez(notes) needing all the room he can get down low, this is a perfect pickup for the Nets at a great price.
Turned off by adding a point guard that could help his team win, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has instead looked to further complicate his payroll situation by trading Tyson Chandler(notes) and Alex Ajinca to the Dallas Mavericks for Erick Dampier(notes), Eduardo Najera(notes) and former Bobcat Matt Carroll(notes).
Dampier's contract is not guaranteed for next season, so if he is waived this will be a straight salary dump for Charlotte and Jordan. They would save around $6 million in payroll this season, with Najera and Carroll still on board, though both those players are owed around $10 million more after 2010-11, with Carroll's contract actually running until 2013.
It's a curious move, to say the least. Perhaps a terrible one. If Dampier is retained, then he would fill Charlotte's need for a starting center, considering how it just traded its starting center, or the non-guaranteed deal can be used as payroll relief or trade bait.
It's a great deal for the Mavericks. They had no use for a plodder up front in Dampier with Brendan Haywood(notes) re-signed, so adding the athletic Chandler as a counterpoint helps this team moving forward, even if he misses the de rigueur 25 games a year. Chandler's contract expires next summer, so he'd be off the books after a one-year trial.
Why? Because at his best Q-Rich can be a savvy defender and hit jumpers from behind the arc. But at his worst, he can be woefully out of shape, and we won't know how the guy looks until October. If he returns slimmed down, as was the case with Miami last season, then the Magic will have a solid minutes-sopper at the wing, though one that won't nearly be as good as Matt Barnes(notes) was for them last season.
He's no LeBron, and the Knicks might not be trotting out three All-Stars next season, but Felton can defend quite well, and he's improving as a finisher. Can he put the pedal to the metal in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo offense? We'll have to see, because Raymond has been on slog-it-out teams for his entire pro career.