Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Miami Heat
Posted on: December 25, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 12:31 am
 

Miami runs away with Christmas win in Dallas

Posted by Ben Golliver.

THE THEORY: A faster Miami Heat is a more dangerous Miami Heat

THE PROOF: Miami runs away with opening day road win

The early word out of Miami Heat training camp was coach Erik Spoelstra's desire to up the tempo in an effort to unleash his team's fierce athleticism and ability to finish plays in transition. A competitive advantage could be found, reason dictated, if Miami adopted some of the University of Oregon's football team's creativity and unpredictability. 

Miami was below-average (No. 21) in terms of pace last season but has all the parts, on paper, to be one of the most versatile, mobile teams in the game. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all move quickly, authoritatively and nimbly in transition, the available point guard options aren't ball-stoppers and center Joel Anthony and power forward Udonis Haslem aren't oafs. The linchpins of any offense attack are going to be James and Wade, of course, and both are good in isolation and halfcourt situations that it was tempting to just slow things down and let them work their guaranteed man-to-man abilities to create regular trips to the free throw line and high-percentage looks for their teammates. Miami was a top-3 team in terms of offensive efficiency last season so any chances amount to Spoelstra tinkering with a winning formula rather than overhauling a broken model. 

Going faster increases the potential for turnovers, lost possessions and decreased overall efficiency, but it also creates the potential, given the sheer quality of Miami's horses, to simply run teams off the court in demoralizing fashion. The Heat went to Dallas and defeated the Mavericks on Christmas Day, 105-94, but their higher-octane approach made this a game that was far less competitive than that score indicated.

Miami ran up a 30+ point lead thanks in large part to its ability to turn Dallas over and convert in transition, where the Heat finished with 31 fast break points. The results were often sensational, none more mesmerizing than the following double alley-oop, which saw James tip a lob pass from Mario Chalmers to Wade, who finished it with a thunderous dunk and a scowling face that said, "Ooh, that was nasty." The play began with Chalmers picking Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki's pocket from the weakside.



James and Wade, together, were extraordinarily efficient, combining for 63 points on 40 shots and getting to the line a combined 25 times. Bosh was mostly an afterthought but with numbers like that it doesn't much matter. Miami committed 23 turnovers, certainly something to keep an eye on, but it got to the foul line at will and torched Dallas' first unit on the break. The blowout potential here is frightening.

Here's one last look at their open court abilities. a Wade to James to Bosh combination which was sparked by a Wade block on the defensive end. There's not a team in the league that can stop this trio if their chemistry is clicking like this at full speed.



Posted on: December 24, 2011 1:19 pm
Edited on: December 24, 2011 10:03 pm
 

The 12 Things of NBA Christmas



by Matt Moore


GAMES. Sweet merciful games.

The wait is over. Ol' Saint Nick has shimmied down the Christmas tree and that means the NBA has returned to our lives, kicking off with five games Sunday and a righteous quintuple it is. Boston tests an unsteady bench against the new-look Knicks (same old Knicks, except for a good rookie and one big exception down low). The Heat must watch the Mavericks' banner raised and then go toe-to-toe with the team that ousted them in the Finals. The Lakers will try to prove that Lamar Odom wasn't the whole team, Kobe Bryant's wrist is fine, and they are still the most dominant franchise in the West against the MVP Derek Rose and the league's best defense. The Magic try to pretend everything's fine while polishing silverware on the Titanic against a Western Conference favorite, the Oklahoma City Thunder. And finally Lob City premiers against the Golden State Warriors, who are looking for something new under Mark Jackson.

It's going to be fun. So on the night before Christmas, we're hear to stuff the stockings with what you need to know for each game. Here are 12 Things of NBA Christmas.

1. "Later on we'll conspire, while we lay by the fire..."

The Heat failed. And everyone pointed and laughed. After all the pomp and circumstance, the unbelievably arrogant approach to their formation and celebration thereof, followed by a somehow more outrageous backlash against three basketball players who decided to play for the same team through free agency, the Heat were left broken and tarnished by a Mavericks team which lacked neither star power nor confidence. Not that you'd know it by the storylines drawn out. Still, the Heat took a nasty fall. But during the summer and all the way through the lockout, we hardly heard a thing from them. A few appearances from Dwyane Wade. Some exhibition appearances by LeBron James. Chris Bosh went to ESPN for a day. That was it. Nothing outrageous, no outlandish proclamations or denials of the fact they had their tails kicked. Now they return to the scene of the crime, where everything started to turn for them on a warm June night in Dallas, when the series shifted on the back of their inability to stop Dirk Nowitzki.

When the Heat stumbled last season, the idea was that James, Wade, and Bosh needed more time together, and with their teammates. That chemistry couldn't be built in a day, and that even if they struggled early, it would come. Yet even in advancing to the Finals, there were so many moments where the Heat never looked like they truly belonged together, like they were thrust together without a core concept. We're still waiting for a Heat team that, for lack of a better term, makes sense. A mega-scoring, high-rebound-rate, gamble-defending shooting guard. A prolific do-it-all and rarely do enough, lock-down defender, brilliant vision in a Hummer-like body small forward. And a whisper-thin, mid-range joltin', defensively adequate power forward. It's just an odd combination. They had their trial season, and they fell only two games short of a title. But still short. This is their chance to show the world they've learned from their mistakes and that it was a rare combination of factors that led to their demise against the Mavs. With Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea gone, this isn't the same Dallas team that had the formula to stop what no one else could. The Heat can make a statement Sunday.

But we've heard that before.

2. "He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice..."

All this Lakers drama. You know what's lost in the talk of the Odom trade, of Kobe's wrist, of the Chris Paul trade that wasn't (and should never have been)? Derrick Rose is coming to Los Angeles and he's bringing all the fury a dissed MVP can bring. None of us have him repeating. Very few experts do. But Rose is consistently the most devastating single player in professional basketball and he's going up against a team still starting Derek Fisher, with Steve Blake backing him up. Blake defended Chris Paul admirably in two preseason games against the Clippers. But Rose's explosiveness is the stuff of legend. Plus, once he gets past his primary defender, there will be no Andrew Bynum, serving five games for being naughty in the worst (clubbing J.J. Barae in last year's playoffs in an all-time disgusting move). Rose instead will face Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts at the rim. McBob is a good player and will pay well or the Lakers. But he ain't Bynum.

Rose sees no reason why he can't repeat as MVP. And after an offseason hearing about everyone else and how LeBron left coal in his ECF stocking by shutting him down, Rose likely has some motivation. I'm reminded of a line from "The Dark Knight." "Turn it off. He doesn't want to talk to us. God help whoever he does want to talk to."

3. "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa la la la LOB, la la la la"

Tis the season to be jolly in ... Clipper-land? When has that ever been the case? But Sunday means the debut of Lob City (pause for collective groan for people who quickly tire of memes and/or Lakers fans) against the Warriors. Is the pressure too high? Will they be trolled by Yuletide carols? I don't know what that means but it fits with the song; roll with it. The Clippers are facing a team that has been one of the worst defensively over the past decade or so. Mark Jackson is furiously trying to instill a new attitude, but this isn't a great place to start. Kwame Brown is a better interior defender than Andris Biedrins, but isn't good enough to defend two places at once. With Stephen Curry on a bum kneee, the Oop Outlet could be open on Christmas Day. All eyes will be on the Clippers to see if the newest superteam will live up to the billing or disappoint like so many others have. No pressure, there, Blake.

4. "I'll have a Blue Christmas without you..."

The Lakers need Andrew Bnyum. This is the first time you can really say that. They won the title in 2009 without him. They could have won the title in 2010 without him. He was the only thing really keeping them afloat for much of the last half of 2011. And now with Kobe Bryant injured for their opener vs. Chicago, Bynum's injury is even more in focus. It's his overwhelming presence on both ends that makes the Lakers more nasty and tougher to stop. Kobe Bryant can pull this game out, even with a torn ligament in his wrist. He's done it before, he'll do it again. But the Lakers are going to be sorely missing the young stud that holds the key to their future ... one way or another.

5. "All of the other reindeer, used to laugh and call him names, (LIKE PINOCHIO!)..."

I know, I know, I should have spit that one out for the Clippers. But this is also can refer to the Knicks, who for years have been dismissed first as a team terrible in every phase but recently because of their defense. But then one foggy (I don't know if it'll be foggy Saturday night in New York or not), Christmas Eve, Mike D'Antoni came to say, "Tyson Chandler, with your defense so bright, won't you dominate inside against a Celtics team which is paper thin inside tonight?"

The questions are going to continue about the Knicks. Chandler has been with the Knicks for a whole ... week. It may not work at all. But he's got a chance to help redefine what defense for the Knicks means, alongside Mike Woodson. And if things go right, the Knicks could go down in history. OK, let's just start with beating the Celtics in the opener.

6. "Please come home for Christmas."

So say Magic fans to Dwight Howard.

7. "And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, the near and the dear one, the old and the young"

The Celtics still have the talent, right? I mean, this is a league where older teams win. Dominate, even. Most of the champions are veteran groups. Yes, the Celtics are ... old. But Rajon Rondo's not. Brandon Bass isn't. They have some legs left. And it's not as many months. So on Sunday against the Knicks, it's not like the Celtics are going to be able to compete with the Knicks. In fact, in most of their games against the Knicks under Mike D'Antoni, the Celtics have used the same tactic employed by the Spurs against the Suns for years: They ran them out of the building. The Celtics actually are a great fast-break team, with Allen sprinting to the corner, Rondo running the break and Pierce a brilliant cherry picker.

So even if they're old, this is still likely a better overall team than the Knicks. But this first game could be relevant in showing us how big a hill both teams have to climb, and maybe who'll take early control of the division.

8. "The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we're still, goodbye-ing. But as long as you love me so, let it snow..."

The Mavericks are going to fade off into the sunset. This is not a young team. Dirk Nowitkzi's game and condition should allow him to play until he's, oh, 60. But think about Petyon Manning. How quickly did this guy, who should have played at a high level into his 40s, see his career change? Granted, different sort of contact sport and all, my point is just that we never know when things change. And if Dirk does suffer any sort of decline because of age, the Mavericks dip too. Jason Kidd is nearly middle-aged, Jason Terry has a lot of frequent flier miles on him and Lamar Odom's no spring chicken. But on Sunday, they get to watch the banner raised in American Airlines, legitimizing Dirk's career and establishing the franchise as world champs. Yeah, it's getting cold, but the world will still love this team for their run last year and they've got enough in them to make another crack at it. Let it snow.

9. "Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh."

Are the Bulls going to be a one-horse open sleigh, or do they have some help? Will Rip Hamilton help the Bulls space the floor against the Lakers? Can Carlos Bozer score on Josh McRoberts after struggling against McBob's Indiana Pacers last season? Can the Bulls score consistently? We know the defense will be there, but the Bulls wanted a scoring upgrade this season. The Lakers, even without Bynum and Odom, are going to be a great test of how far they've come. The Lakers will score. How much the Bulls score will determine if they start the season in a rush or a slide.

10. "Me, I want a hula-hoop..."

In this scenario, Mark Jackson is Alvin and the hula-hoop is a healthy-enough-to-play Stephen Curry. And a defense. And some consistent shooting. And smart basketball. It's a big hula-hoop.

11. "All I want for Christmas is you..."

Blake Griffin got the best Christmas gift possible. The Dunk-o-meter may get broken this season. The Clippers get to test out their new toy Sunday night. Chris Paul will make Blake Griffin the best player he can be. And that is terrifying for the rest of the league.

12. "And the boys of the NYPD choir were singing "Galway Bay," and the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day."

That's from a song about crushed dreams but sticking together because you've built your lives around one another. And after a vicious lockout that divided players, owners, fans and media, games are back. We're stuck with each other. Let's tip it off. Happy Holidays.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 3:02 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 3:03 pm
 

Battier questionable, Curry out against Dallas

Posted by Royce Young

The Heat will already be without center Eddy Curry for Sunday's opener in Dallas. OK, so that's not such a big deal, but Miami might be missing their big offseason signing as well.

Via Heat Index
, Shane Battier is questionable for Sunday's game because of a strained left thigh. Battier hasn't practiced much since signing with Miami, but did go through a 45-minute workout on Thursday and a conditioning session on Friday. The problem is, Battier told reporters he's yet to really test the leg out though.

"How about a strong maybe?" Battier told reporters when asked about his status. "I'm going to try to practice tomorrow and see how it goes. It's progressing well. But with an injury like this, you don't really know where you are until you're in the heat of battle and you have to react and change directions, cut hard and stop hard. You can't simulate that in shooting drills on the side."

Obviously no huge rush for Miami as the player in front of Battier, LeBron James, can probably kind of handle things on his own. Battier was more of a depth addition to help defend other premier scorers for stretches and give LeBron a break. And there's even the potential for Erik Spoelstra to get creative, moving LeBron to defend point guards, Dwyane Wade on the 2 and Battier defending the wing. Which is going to be awesome.

Curry on the other hand is out because of a strained hip flexor he suffered early in training camp. Curry is on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, but he's expected to make the final 15-man roster.

Battier wants to be 100 percent before joining his new team on the court, especially with the crammed 66-game season. There's no room for an injury to nag a player for an extended time.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 9:46 pm
 

2011-12 official NBA season predictions

Posted by Eye on Basketball



The season is finally, mercifully, just around the corner. In two days the 2011-2012 season kicks off. For all the lockout, legality, and lost games, there will be basketball. But we find a dramatically different NBA than we left. The Lakers are in disarray, the Celtics are fading, the Clippers are a potential powerhouse, and the Raptors... okay, the Raptors are still terrible.

So how is this all going to work out? We bring you our predictions for the 2011-2012 season, along with some random predictions on how things will go according to our crystal ball. (Note: We got our crystal ball at a flea market in southern Missouri. It also says "Get 'Er Done" on it.)

Three Random Predictions from Eye on Basketball

Royce Young:
1. Monta Ellis will be the biggest name traded this season. You can probably read between the lines there. That means Dwight Howard isn't getting dealt. The Magic are going to spend the first two months of the season trying to convince Howard to go to free agency, mainly because there isn't a suitable package on the market at this point. The Warriors though have been dangling Ellis on the market for a while, coming close to trading him for Andre Iguodala last season. They want to turn the backcourt over to Stephen Curry entirely and moving Ellis is what needs to happen to both Curry and the organization's development.

2. Flip Saunders will be the first coach fired. The Wizards are sort of a mess. John Wall has a ton of talent and young guys like Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Jordan Crawford have potential. But they don't appear to be moving forward as a team. Saunders is a really good coach and him being fired wouldn't be an indictment on his ability to coach. Sometimes young players just need a new direction, a new voice to listen to. You can't risk stunting development with young players and if the Wizards start slow and more importantly, sloppy, Saunders will get the axe.

3. Kevin Durant will win a third straight scoring title. Only six players in NBA history have ever won three consecutive scoring titles (Michael Jordan, George Gervin, Bob McAdoo, Wilt Chamberlain, Neil Johnston, George Mikan). So it's not some small task. I could see Durant's scoring decrease a bit because of James Harden’s emergence as a legit third scorer. That doesn’t mean Durant won’t average 27 or 28 a game, but I don’t see him bursting into 33 or 34 points per game range. He’ll take another scoring title simply because he just can’t help it. Dude could score 27 a game if he was in a full body cast.

Ben Golliver:
1. The Lakers will land Dwight Howard. The Lakers have dealt from a position of power for as long as anyone can remember, but the last month's insanity has now pushed them into desperation mode. This group, even if perfectly healthy, can't win a title this year and there are so many dead weight contracts a handful of amnesty clauses still wouldn't be enough. Put that together with Kobe Bryant's increasing age and the Lakers have no choice but to swing for the fences and deal every last tradable asset for Dwight Howard. Magic GM Otis Smith has been taking his time, as he should, but there's so much writing on this wall it looks like a New York City subway car covered in graffiti. Gasol, Bynum and whatever else L.A. can muster will head East.

2. We'll have a tank-off for the ages. Given the weirdness of the shortened season and the absolutely loaded 2012 NBA Draft, there's never been a better time for below-average teams to write off a season in hopes of landing a top draft pick. The Charlotte Bobcats, Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers are your top-3 contenders for tankapalooza, but the Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Detroit Pistons and New Jersey Nets are one injury away from being in combustion mode too. The smart money is on the Bobcats but brace yourself for some truly hideous basketball.

3. Erik Spoelstra will win Coach of the Year. Miami enters the season on what feels like a perfect storm: they key players are in shape, healthy, motivated, focused and extremely, extremely talented. Importantly, they bring with them a mindset of "We've been through the worst of it and we know what to expect now" and also realize that the only team that stood between them and the 2011 championship, the Dallas Mavericks, lost its most important defensive player in Tyson Chandler. Add up all of those factors and we're looking at the possibility of Miami making a mockery of the regular season, running off lengthy winning streaks and only slowing down if they get to the point where homecourt advantage is already wrapped up. A 50-win season is well within reach and, if that benchmark is met, look for Spoelstra, who dealt with rumors about his job last season, getting tapped for Coach of the Year honors.

Matt Moore:
1. The Lakers will figure something out. This franchise does not rebuild. It reloads. And with the assets they have and under the urgent leadership of the younger Buss, something will go down. Maybe it's Dwight Howard, maybe it's a solution we can't see yet that comes out of nowhere. But the Lakers have been a dominant franchise since the inception of the league. They will not go down quietly, not with Kobe Bryant facing the end of his career. Something will shake out for the Purple and Gold.

2. One of the superteams will self-destruct. It's not that superteams are inherently flawed. On the contrary, they have an obscenely high probability of success. But they are not 100 percent proof. And the very problems that can help more complete team efforts topple the superteams (chemistry, selfless play, ball movement, defense) will spell a blowup of one of the juggernauts. Maybe it's the Heat who simply find that they can win a ton of games but never be truly great with the 1-2-3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Maybe it's the Knicks who find that they truly do need a creator to run an offense geared around front-court scoring. Maybe it's the Clippers and Lob City turns out to be the Wizards' Oz. Or maybe it will be the Nets who find that Deron Williams and Dwight Howard aren't enough with the horrible roster they have around them should they land Howard. But one team will find that their experiment with overwhelming firepower was a mistake.

3. Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala will be with new teams by year's end. I'm a believer that situations that reveal themselves as untenable will not hold. And both of those players have been on the trade block for far too long. Smith has wanted off the Hawks, the Sixers have wanted to move Iguodala for a scoring punch for multiple seasons. It's simply unlikely that both teams will elect to stay put the whole year through, especially since both teams are in direct competition for the mid-to-late playoff spots in the East. Where those two end up could have significant impacts on the playoffs.

2011-12 NBA Season Predictions
Prediction Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
Atlantic Division Winner
Central Division Winner
Southeast Division Winner
Southwest Division Winner
Northwest Division Winner
Pacific Division Winner
Eastern Conference Winners
Bulls over Heat

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls

Heat over Bulls
Western Conference Winners
Thunder over Mavericks

Thunder over Lakers

Thunder over Clippers

Thunder over Grizzlies
Finals Winner
Most Valuable Player
Dwyane Wade
Heat, SG

Kevin Durant
Thunder, SF

LeBron James
Heat, SF

Blake Griffin
Clippers, PF
Rookie of the Year
Kyrie Irving
Cavaliers, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Ricky Rubio
Timberwolves, PG

Derrick Williams
Timberwolves, PF


Predictions: 2011-12 Eastern Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8


Predictions: 2011-12 Western Conference Playoff Teams
Seed Ken Berger
Matt Moore

Ben Golliver

Royce Young
No. 1
No. 2
No. 3
No. 4
No. 5
No. 6
No. 7
No. 8
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Heat owner voted down NBA labor deal in 'protest'

Posted by Ben Gollivermicky-arison

After drawing a $500,000 fine for publicly disassociating himself from hardline owners who were holding up the 2011-2012 NBA season, Miami Heat owner Micky Arison actually voted against the league's new collective bargaining agreement.

The Associated Press reports that Arison revealed his decision to cast a "protest vote" to reporters on Thursday.
Arison says it was "a protest vote" primarily in response to the way revenue-sharing components of the deal will be structured. He is the second owner to reveal that he voted against the CBA, joining Dallas' Mark Cuban.

In all, five teams voted against the CBA. Arison would not name the other owners who voted no.

Arison declined to say if he would have cast the "no" vote if the CBA wasn't already assured of passage. Enough votes to pass were already secured by the time Miami made its selection.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that the sticking point for Arison was the league's revenue sharing program, which will require a drastically larger contribution from him.
"While I did everything I could behind the scenes and some not-so-behind-the-scenes to get playing by Christmas," Arison said, "when you come down to it, financially, it's important to understand that revenue sharing and the CBA together, it's a tough financial deal for us, particularly the revenue-sharing piece of it, the way it's structured.

"For us to have to pay revenue sharing to larger-market teams was disturbing, and we will. And so that was a kind of protest vote on our part."
Back in October, Arison wrote to an angry fan on Twitter that they were "barking at the wrong owner" when it came to complaining over the slow development of labor talks. That comment drew a $500,000 fine from NBA commissioner David Stern because it violated a gag order he imposed on the league's owners during the lockout.

"Just to make it clear no one is happier to see the NBA starting on Sunday than me," Arison tweeted on Thursday. "Big things are coming."

The Heat's owner was recently ranked No. 75 on the Forbes 400 richest Americans list with an estimated net worth of $4.2 billion. 
Category: NBA
Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 10:35 pm
 

Video: LeBron James in preseason shoving match

Posted by Ben Golliver

Tensions are running pretty high these days in Orlando.

The Magic got blown out in their preseason opener against the Miami Heat on Sunday and got down double digits against the Heat again on Wednesday night. Heat All-Star forward LeBron James was in the process of going off for 27 points in just 30 minutes, and Magic wing Quentin Richardson had apparently seen enough.

The incident began with James shaking Richardson off the dribble to free himself up for a stepback jumper, which he celebrated by jawing in the direction of Orlando's bench and backpedaling methodically down the court to play defense. As he retreated, he happened to run into Richardson, who took exception to the contact. The two players bumped another time, just to make sure the first incidence was real, and then Richardson wound up to deliver a hard left shoulder into James' chest, which drew a technical foul and sent James reeling a bit. 

Miami led 79-74 at the time of the incident, but Orlando managed to come back in the fourth quarter to win, 104-100, so it's safe to say Richardson's hard foul totally swung momentum in this game and All-Star center Dwight Howard doesn't want to be traded any more. It's a new day thanks to Q-Rich.

Here's the video of the shoving incident between Quentin Richardson and LeBron James via YouTube user DrakesUnibrow.



Hat tip: IAmAGM.com
Posted on: December 17, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 6:48 pm
 

2011 NBA Free Agency Winners and Losers



By Matt Moore


All the big names have landed, and while there are still a handful of guys working out where they'll be playing in 2011-2012, we have a pretty clear image of how free agency worked out this year. So to give you a recap on how teams managed to do, here are your winners and losers for NBA free agency.

Winners

New York Knicks: It takes a lot for them to get a winning status when they picked up Mike Bibby and re-signed Jared Jeffries. Tyson Chandler is a lot. Chandler gives them exactly what they need at center, for a reasonable price considering he's coming off winning the Finals as a difference maker starter and compliments Amar'e Stoudemire well. This could wind up as a disaster, but for pursuing defense over offense and size over speed, they get into the winner's circle.

Los Angeles Clippers: Two days ago I would have planted the Clippers in the losers circle with a dunce cap. $24 million for Caron Butler over three years? DeAndre Jordan for a ridiculous price? Are they stoned in Clipperland? Chauncey Billups who may or may not hate the ground you walk on for denying him free agency? But then they landed Chris Paul. And you go "Oooooooh" like you just figured out that they got off the island and it's a flash-forward not a flash-back. Shooters to go with Paul, veteran defenders to go with Paul, and the big man to provide long-term support for Griffin. The Clippers avoided disaster by getting CP3. But funny how that makes everything seem better.

Miami Heat: Eddy Curry already looks like a waste (has had conditioning issues already). Mario Chambers is a divisive point guard, but he's good enough to start for a team with no cap space. Landing Shane Battier, though, genius. Battier is going to miss threes like all Heat spot-up shooters do. But he's going to make their defensive rotations even better, their team chemistry even better, their basketball IQ even higher. He's worth the money and a win for them.

Indiana Pacers: We were all convinced the Pacers were going to splash onto the scene and overpay for a big man in such a way as to cripple the franchise. Instead, they got David West on a low eight-figures, 2-year deal that guarantees if his knees or production go, they have options and are not stuck. They re-signed Jeff Foster to give them another center, and they were prudent with not re-signing Josh McRoberts for more than he was worth. Good upgrade for them.

Phoenix Suns: Shannnon Brown is a great fit for the system, and they managed to convince Grant Hill to return. Brown in the run-and-gun system under Gentry should excel with Aaron Brooks stuck in China. Hill still played brilliantly last season and staying in Phoenix means he stays with that training staff which has extended his career after one filled with injury issues. The Suns didn't make any significant step forward, but in terms of just making good value signings, they did as well as most. 

Mid-level centers: Kwame Brown got one-year, $7 million. DeAndre Jordan made out like a bandit. Marc Gasol walked away with more money than Kendrick Perkins and Nene (though Gasol is arguably the best free agent in this class, just without the name value). It's a league short on legitimate star centers, and while the biggest free agent center names (Chandler, Nene, Greg Oden) did not land monstrous deals, the mid-level centers available rose up to meet in the middle of the band. Good year to get paid. 

Losers

Boston Celtics: They had David West stolen out from under them in the midst of the Chris Paul debacle. They re-signed Marquis Daniels which isn't bad but isn't great. They traded Glenn Davis in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Bass which is pretty good but doesn't address most of their concerns. They gave Jeff Green a big one-year deal after which it was discovered he will miss the entire season after surgery when a heart condition was revealed after a stress test. Their bench is unbearably thin with starters that can't log big minutes. No, it was not a good few weeks for the Celtics.

Orlando Magic: Giving Jason Richardson and Glen Davis mid-size contracts is not the way to keep Dwight Howard, I don't care how good a friend he is with them. The Magic sacrificed their future, which is going to become very important to them in the next six months, in order to try and make another run with the same team that didn't succeed last year, plus Davis who is a big who doesn't help their issues in rebounding and has conditioning issues. Re-signing Earl Clark doesn't make a big enough impact to matter.

Detroit Pistons: Re-signing Tayshaun Price at that price makes no sense whatsover, especially not for four years. They need to be looking to the future. I understand the desire to reward Prince for his time and send him off in Detroit white, but this team has questions it has to answer quickly, and Prince gets in the way of development for Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko. Rodney Stuckey's re-signing gets in the way of Brandon Knight's development and continues his very mixed-results stay in the Motor City. 

Dallas Mavericks: Maybe 2012 will make up for it. But if we're just judging the Mavericks on what they gave up and what they got back, this wasn't a good offseason. Even outside of the trades which brought in a quality player and sent two out, Dallas lost its starting center and part-time starting two-guard in agency, without really bringing in anyone. They're deep enough to survive it but this was a team that would have been considered favorites had they brought back the gang. As it is, there are questions about the Mavericks this season and beyond.

New Orleans Hornets: Setting aside losing Chris Paul in trade and impending free agency, the Hornets re-signed Carl Landry for a high one-year deal and brought back Jason Smith for three years. The deals are cheap. It's not a bad set of deals. But it's still a little perplexing considering the overwhelming need for this team to tank in order to ensure a top five pick to go with  

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo hasn't signed yet, which isn't a problem but the fact that no team was willing to bother with making him an offer knowing the Nuggets would match means he may not sign for as much as he could have. Bear in mind DeAndre Jordan is a less established player than Afflalo and was helped by the Warriors' attempt to free him from Los Angeles. Afflalo could have likely wound up with top dollar as an unrestricted free agent. Denver may wind up as the best thing for his career, though.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 1:50 pm
 

Heat extend contract of coach Erik Spoelstra

Posted by Ben Gollivererik-spoelstra

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra can breathe a little easier.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that Heat president Pat Riley has extended the contract of his head coach so that he can guide the development of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh without fearing for his job security.
Erik's contract has been extended," Riley said, declining to give the length of the extension. 

"We have one of the great young coaches in the league," Riley said. "He's the perfect coach for this team. He never would have been a lame-duck coach."
Spoelstra came under fire at the start of the 2010-2011 season, when the newly-formed Big 3 got off to a slow start. He weathered that storm, thanks to Riley's steady backing, and guided Miami to the 2011 NBA Finals, where they collapsed in dramatic fashion against the Dallas Mavericks.

Spoelstra, 41, is entering his fourth season as coach of the Heat. His career record is 148-98.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com