Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.
1. Miami Heat, 58-24, lost in NBA Finals
2. Orlando Magic, 52-30, lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Atlanta Hawks
3. Atlanta Hawks, 44-38, lost in second round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Chicago Bulls
4. Charlotte Bobcats, 34-48, NBA Draft Lottery
5. Washington Wizards, 23-59, NBA Draft Lottery
Best team: Miami Heat
The Miami Heat proved they were the best team in the Eastern Conference by a significant margin when they dismantled the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year. The 2011-2012 version brings all the key pieces back and features one major upgrade: free agent wing Shane Battier. The Heat retained point guard Mario Chalmers and forward James Jones, avoid using the amnesty clause on forward Mike Miller, and get to enjoy a full year of a healthy Udonis Haslem. Free agent big man Eddy Curry steps in to provide depth behind center Joel Anthony too. Those are all good things, and I haven't even mentioned the Big 3 yet: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All return with a renewed purpose plus redemption as motivation, and all three spent the lockout getting themselves in top shape to accomplish their goal of winning a title.
Anything less than a ring will be a major disappointment. Now that coach Erik Spoelstra has had the experience of going through the fire once, he should be more ready than ever to guide the Heat to some major regular season and postseason accomplishments. 55+ wins in a 66-game schedule isn't outside the realm of possibility for Miami, although they will surely be careful limiting minutes for James and Wade down the stretch in anticipation of the playoffs.
Worst team: Charlotte Bobcats
This is Year One of what will be a multi-year rebuilding process under new GM Rich Cho, who brings overhauling experience from his days as an assistant GM in Seattle/Oklahoma City. There are some intriguing young pieces -- particularly rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, assuming the latter is finally available -- and one proven veteran in Corey Maggette but this season will be a tossaway for owner Michael Jordan, who will continue to look to cut costs and position the team for a high draft pick in a loaded 2012 lottery.
Biggest surprise: Orlando Magic
The upstart Washington Wizards have the potential to pleasantly surprise, but the looming trade of center Dwight Howard almost guarantees that Orlando's season will be the biggest surprise. And it's already off to a wacky start, with drunk dialing, resignations, layoffs and a major signing of Jason Richardson. Who could have predicted all of that two weeks ago? No one. And the Howard rumors are just beginning. Everything from a total rebuilding effort to a desperate spending spree to appease Howard is currently on the table. The Magic will be a daily surprise.
Three Best Players: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade
Nowhere is the talent gap between superstars and everybody else more clear than the Southeast Division. The top-heavy Heat boast three of the top-15 players in the league while Howard is a top-3 talent. Nobody controls the action better than James, there isn't a better 2-way force than Howard and Wade is arguably the best crunch-time performer in the game. You can't go wrong with any of those three, and the drop between the trio and Bosh, the next best player in the Division, is steep.
Biggest Question: Will Orlando trade Dwight Howard?
All signs point to yes on the Magic finally parting with Howard. It was surely be a painful process, no matter how long it takes or how many pieces are received in return. The No. 1 overall pick in 2004, Howard has been everything you could hope for from a modern center and a marketing machine, missing just five games in seven seasons and posting ridiculous statlines (at least a double-double every year plus leading the league in blocks twice) along the way. If Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith is able to temporarily mend the fences between himself and Howard, he's likely to find out that slow-playing the trade process will result in some amazing offers for Howard's services. Howard should have been the 2011 NBA MVP and he plays the games' most coveted position. Someone will throw the franchise at Orlando for the rights to acquire him. It's only a matter of who and when.
2012 Projected Standings
1. Miami Heat
2. Atlanta Hawks
3. Orlando Magic
4. Washington Wizards
5. Charlotte Bobcats
Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:44 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 12:21 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Deals, non-deals, endless rumors and more. It was a wild opening weekend for the abbreviated 2011 NBA free agency period. Here's an extended look at who won and lost over the first 72 hours. Let's break it down: from the biggest moves to the smallest signings, from the trades that weren't to the guys who remain unsigned.
The Biggest Deal
The NBA came to a standstill when a proposed 3-team trade between the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets that would have sent Chris Paul to L.A. fell apart twice thanks to vetoes from NBA commissioner David Stern.
Winners: Orlando Magic
This fiasco was even uglier than the lockout, which is saying something. All the key parties wound up losing one way or another – see below -- but the Magic slide in as winners because the Lakers emerged from the weekend without acquiring a second superstar to pair with Kobe Bryant, and with both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, two excellent potential trade chips for Dwight Howard, still on the roster. The Magic win whether L.A. ends up pairing those two in a deal for Howard or if the idea of such a deal simply sits out there as a potential offer against which Howard’s other suitors must match up. Orlando needs a bidding war in the worst way and the Paul failure ensures that L.A. still has plenty of motivation, and attractive pieces, to actively bid.
Losers: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets
Paul was seemingly inches from an NBA second life and a brand new level of fame. Instead, he returns to a camp with a roster in tatters and the news that longtime running mate David West is Indiana-bound. His future couldn’t be more uncertain amid the confusion and he’s now forced to deal with questions day after day with no short-term end in sight. Sounds awesome! Thanks, boss.
Hornets GM Dell Demps and coach Monty Williams, meanwhile, are left with a frustrated Paul who obviously still wants out, a barren roster and serious questions about their autonomy as a basketball operations group, not to mention the fact that the league-owned situation could result in another franchise sale at some point in the near future. All this for a team that -- less than a year ago -- was a dynamic playoff force that gave the Lakers a run for their money. The ground fell out from under them.
Monumental Loser: David Stern
It wasn’t just the tremendously questionable decision to veto the trades that makes Stern a loser. It was the way the process unfolded. On what should have been the most exciting time on the NBA calendar following months of petty bickering during the lockout, the spotlight wound up back on Stern. Vetoing the trade directly alienated his league’s most important team, completely undermined the team he operates, and handcuffed the poor Houston Rockets, who were in the middle of a critical strategic time in their franchise’s post-Yao history. The delayed explanation for the veto led to a virtual standstill in other moves, as everyone around the league waited for the largest domino to fall. The eventual attempts at explanation were vague and way too late, leading to an open season of criticism of Stern and talk of walkouts from training camp. One player, Lamar Odom, was so upset by the trade talk limbo that he followed through on that threat, finding himself dumped to the Dallas Mavericks for virtually nothing. Now that it’s all said and done, the Hornets can look forward to worse offers for Paul and/or the prospect that he walks from the team as soon as free agency allows. Nice.
Other Big Deals
It’s great when solid matches come together fairly cleanly. New York made no secret of its desire for Chris Paul but was smart enough not to waste precious time on what ended up being a sinkhole. Targeting Chandler and making the necessary moves to acquire him – amnestying Chauncey Billups and trading Ronny Turiaf – took creativity and guts, and the eventual payoff is the best 3-4-5 combination in the NBA. Chandler fills New York’s biggest need and comes in at a reasonable $58 million over four years, a deal that will carry him through the rest of his prime years.
Chandler manages to cash in his new-found respect from the 2011 title team with an excellent pay day from a marquee franchise that is clearly on the upswing. Knicks fans will love his game (as long as he stays healthy, of course).
Kudos to the Warriors for doing the right thing with Charlie Bell by telling him to stay away from training camp after he showed up drunk to a court hearing following his second DUI arrest in under a year. It was time to take a stand and they took it. That stand didn’t need to include burning the team’s amnesty clause to release Bell’s paltry $4.1 million salary. With David Lee, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins all on the books for big-time money, the amnesty is a critical protection against injury for the Warriors. With a bunch of promising youngsters in place, it will be a shame if an unforeseen, devastating injury slows the organization’s ability to wheel and deal because they burned the amnesty toon soon and wind up crippled when it comes to cap flexibility.
Why did the Clippers bother to amnesty Bell? For the right to make a substantial offer to Los Angeles Clippers restricted free agent center DeAndre Jordan, a player that team consultant Jerry West appeared to question in an interview this weekend. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is impossible to pin down but his management team is highly motivated to retain Jordan, and will almost certainly match the offer given, leaving Golden State with nothing except $4 million of cap room to show for their misguided efforts.
Marc Gasol, like Chandler, was one of the premier names in this weak free agent class. He will reportedly cash in to a similar degree: receiving a 4 year, $55 million offer sheet from the Rockets that the Grizzlies are expected to match. Retaining Gasol was a critical momentum move in Memphis, as the miracle playoff run to defeat the San Antonio Spurs would have been a distant memory if Gasol was allowed to walk and leave a major hole in the middle. Instead, it’s back for more fun for one of the grittiest, most underappreciated groups in the game. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley answered the questions about whether he would step up and pay to play, inking Gasol, forwards Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay and guard Michael Conley to big-time extensions. Good times in Tennessee.
Losers: Los Angeles Lakers and Lamar Odom
Surely seller’s remorse is sinking in after an emotional rollercoaster of a weekend in L.A., which saw the Lakers immediately grant Odom’s trade request, shipping him out of town for nothing more than cap relief and a heavily protected first round pick. The fact that he lands on a major conference rival makes this a very meaningful talent swing and the Lakers are capped out to the point where replacing his many contributions will be exceedingly difficult in the short-term. It’s no surprise that Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher weren’t all that psyched about this move. The Lakers couldn’t have gotten less for Odom and he couldn’t have gone to a worse destination, other than maybe the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On the other hand, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban emerges as a major winner, having flipped a simple trade exception acquired from New York in the Chandler signing for a top-flight, versatile player still in his prime years who happens to be on an affordable, flexible contract. All in less than 24 hours. Meanwhile, a similarly massive trade exception created by LeBron James’ departure still sits unused by the Cleveland Cavaliers and owner Dan Gilbert. Please advise.
Dwight Howard Saga
Winner: Dwight Howard
It might come with a public relations price, but it probably feels like a huge relief for Howard knowing that the world now gets where he stands: he’s formally requested a trade and has been in contact with teams on his wish list. No more goofy games or beating around the bush. He’s a major step closer to a certain future. The scrutiny will surely increase but at least people, especially Magic fans, have a better idea of where he’s coming from and how they should manage their expectations.
Loser: Otis Smith
It doesn’t get any worse than watching your CEO drunk dial Howard and then promptly resign. Oh, wait, yes it does. Your franchise announces major layoffs and Howard tells the world that he hasn’t had any contact with you since requesting a trade and that you never listened to him when he made personnel suggestions. Oh, yeah, you can also make an illogical 4-year, $25 million commitment to Jason Richardson, a veteran wing on the precipice of decline, when everyone knows you should be looking for any possible way to reduce payroll. Brutal. On the bright side, as mentioned above, at least the Lakers are still in play to help the Magic save some face.
Winners: Indiana Pacers and David West
The Pacers land West, one of the biggest and most proven names on the free agent market who fits in nicely to a well-balanced, fairly deep roster that has talent at all five positions. A nice mix of veterans, youngsters and some solid bigs make this a group that might just compete for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs next season. The price for West – 2 years and $20 million – is totally reasonable and hedged nicely against possible deterioration from his recent knee injury and aging. West scores a ticket out of a totally shipwreck in New Orleans, a solid pay day and the chance to hit free agency one more time in two years before his value starts to really diminish.
You can be as high on Thornton’s upside as you like: it’s very, very difficult to justify spending $31 million over four seasons on a guy who has the same skillset as the two players that you’re most heavily invested in, Tyreke Evans and Jimmer Fredette. With one of the lowest payrolls in the league and a need to up that number in a hurry, it’s not like Sacramento spent its way into a corner here, but there’s simply no way to maximize the effectiveness of Evans, Fredette and Thornton at the same time. Evans and Fredette are 22 and Thornton is 24. Thornton doesn’t meaningfully help you win now and he necessitates a stunted or unorthodox development pattern for Fredette and will almost certainly wind up in staring contests over shot selection with Evans. The money had to be spent and at least it wasn’t spread over five years, but $31 million should solve problems, not create new ones.
Having A Plan
Winners: Miami Heat
Getting Mario Chalmers, a quality point guard who was headed for free agency, for 3-years and $12 million, with a team option on the last year to boot, is an excellent value. Getting Shane Battier for the mini Mid-Level Exception is downright ridiculous. By the way, the Heat brought back James Jones, brought in Eddy Curry and managed to retain Mike Miller. Simply amazing. Miami emerged from the weekend as the overwhelming title favorites.
Losers: Portland Trail Blazers
During a Monday press conference, Portland announced its intentions of starting Brandon Roy and spoke excitedly about the prospect of Greg Oden’s return. By Friday, Roy had decided to pursue a medical retirement, apparently without giving the team any notice, and Oden had suffered yet another medical “setback” that puts his 2011-2012 into jeopardy. Then, with executives scrambling to pursue contingency plans, franchise forward LaMarcus Aldridge was forced to undergo a heart procedure that is expected to keep him out up to two weeks. The Blazers salvaged the weekend by signing veteran Kurt Thomas to fill a much-needed hole, but wound up giving a 2-year deal to a 39-year-old. After all of that, the team is still weighing whether or not to amnesty Roy. That’s a tough stretch.
Winners: Washington Wizards
The Wizards scored a draft pick and Ronny Turiaf for virtually nothing thanks to the cash considerations included by the Knicks for their work in facilitating the Chandler trade. Filling a roster hole for free and grabbing a future asset is always a win.
Loser: Chauncey Billups
Billups compounded a tough situation – getting amnestied by the Knicks without much warning – by flipping out publicly in the hope that he would scare off potential bidders for his services. He could quickly change from loser to winner if his nuclear strategy works and he winds up getting to pick a contender to latch on to, but for now a guy who was always known as a class act sure looks like a jerk. How many times do you think Billups has said “the NBA is a business” during interviews? 10,000? How do you forget all of that so quickly and threaten to disrupt a team’s locker room? He crossed a line.
Winners: Phoenix Suns
They weren’t flashy moves, but re-signing veteran forward Grant Hill back for just $6.5 million and snatching up former Lakers guard Shannon Brown for $3.5 million were very nice value plays that addressed needs. Of course, the Suns have made their fair share of mistakes in recent years, so value plays were about the only moves at their disposal.
Loser: J.J. Barea
Who is going to pay this man? Have we figured that out yet? Had there not been a lockout and had the old Mid-Level Exception system been in place, he likely would have seen a monster financial bonanza off of his impressive NBA playoffs. Instead, he waits and wonders. He could very well still get paid, but something says this free agency process didn't play out quite like he expected. Update: On Monday morning comes word that Barea will get his money, $19 million over 4-years, but is signing with the 17-win Minnesota Timberwolves to do it. From first to worst. Ouch.
Posted on: December 10, 2011 9:16 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 9:28 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Just a few months after the Knicks exercised their $14.2 million option on Chauncey Billups, they were turning around and using the amnesty clause to cut him and that $14.2 million off the salary cap.
Why? In order to sign big man Tyson Chandler, but the fact Billups was axed with seemingly no second thought, especially with the team not really having a point guard to replace him, was a bit surprising. Not just to us, but to him.
And he was ready to vent a bit about it. Via ESPN NY, Billups talked about getting waived, the Knicks, what his next plans are and where he wants to go.
On the Knicks: "I think they are probably a couple of pieces short, but I wont say what those pieces are." Presumably a point guard, right?
On his place within the organization: "From the first day I got there it was about who was going to be next point guard, without giving me a real chance. The whole deal with Denver was about Melo ... But I dont think the Knicks valued what else they got in the deal.
"If Im healthy versus Boston, we've got a really good chance in that series. But once I got hurt "it's like (the Knicks) forgot all about the impact I did have on that team."
Billups said that he doesn't see the Knicks succeeding by running the ball through Carmelo Anthony, "especially in Mike's system, where the point guard is so important."
Billups also played a strange "woe is me" card though saying that he's been through a lot and that the Knicks didn't give him a fair chance.
"I dont know of any player of my magnitude ... thats gone thru what I've gone through. Not one," he said. "It's not in my makeup to be selfish, but it just feel like this time i need to be a little more concerned with me ... I can go back 13, 14 years where everyone loves me and yet I'm always the one who pays the price."
What's next for him? He heads to the waiver wire where any team can claim him. If nobody does, then he'd become a free agent. But it's not that simple for Billups.
"If I get claimed by team I dont want to play for, I would absolutely consider retirment," he said. Would one of those teams possibly be the Heat?
"I want a chance to win, so any team that's playing for it all, I'd be interested in ... I'm still playing at a high level. I'm not interested in going somewhere to be a mentor coming off the bench."
The better the team, the better a chance Billups would get another shot at the team that seemingly cast him aside without much thought.
"I would like a chance at them, I'll tell you that much," he said. "I'd absolutely love that."
Posted on: December 9, 2011 11:30 am
Posted by Royce Young
Mario Chalmers is returning to the Heat as he tweeted Friday morning.
"Imma MIAMI HEAT player until they don't want me no more. Let's get this ring," he tweeted.
The final details of the deal haven't been worked out as of yet, but Chalmers will report to Heat camp Friday afternoon. Chalmers was a restricted free agent with Miami and will likely enter camp as their starting point guard. The Heat are pretty darn thin at that position, but they don't have to have depth there with both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James handling the ball.
Chalmers averaged 6.8 points and 2.5 assists per game last season but played even better in the postseason. In the NBA Finals he averaged 11.8 points and hit a pretty notable shot in Game 2 that didn't end up mattering, but it was still a big shot.
This is the third guy the Heat have locked up in the past two days with Shane Battier and Eddy Curry signing with Miami on Thursday.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Royce Young
The Miami Heat and Eddy Curry have had an odd on-again, off-again relationship over the past few months. After getting a couple workouts in Miami late last season, the Heat passed on the former lottery pick.
But finally, Curry will be taking his talents, or what he has left of those, to South Beach. According to HoopsWorld, Curry will sign a deal with the Heat Friday, presumably for a year.
Curry was close to signing with the Heat last season but his weight and shape were an issue. Curry spent all summer working out and getting in better shape to try and win a deal with the Heat. His trainer, Tim Grover, said in October that Curry was in "excellent shape" and that there was "no question" he would be ready to join a team once the lockout ended.
Curry "played" last season on the Knicks but was dumped to the Timberwolves to help facilitate the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. He was then bought out of the remainder of his contract by the Timberwolves. He didn't appear in a single game last season and has played just 10 games combined since the beginning of the 2008-2009 season. So... get excited Heat fans!
The Heat are in desperate need of big man help, especially if their flirtation with Samuel Dalembert falls through. Even still, their lineup of old big men is falling apart as Jamaal Magloire has already signed with Toronto and it's unlikely they'd bring back Erick Dampier and Juwan Howard. Dexter Pittman is already there and sort of an Eddy Curry himself, but the Heat are willing to take a stab in the dark with Curry's talent.
It's a low-risk move for the Heat and a dream come true for Curry who has the opportunity to totally reinvent himself while also making an impact on a contending team.
I'm rooting for Curry. I'm a big fan of redemption stories and knowing the talent Curry has, or maybe had, he could still be something in the NBA. We make fun of Isiah Thomas and his outlandish contract he gave Curry, but he saw something. It's just a matter of getting it out of him.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:07 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 10:39 am
By Matt Moore
No "sources say." No "person close to the situation." Just a simple, direct message. Shane Battier announced where he'll be playing in 2011-2012 as a free agent on Twitter, in just one tweet.
"Let's Go Heat!!!!!" , Battier tweeted Thursday morning, a good 28 hours before the official time teams can announce signings. Battier also said that it came down to a "winning role" for his decision. He then quoted Jimmy Buffet, officially making him the most non-NBA-player NBA player ever.
SI.com reports Battier will make the full-taxpayer-MLE for Miami, a 3-year deal wtarting at $3 million which is a pretty nice price for Battier in this market, even at age 33.
Battier fills a need for the Heat perfectly. A capable outside shooter with excellente defensive abilities, Battier can catch and shoot off the drive-and-kicks LeBron James and Dwyane Wade love so much, and can take the tougher defensive assignments, allowing James and Wade to focus on the offensive end and to roam for blocks and steals. He frees them up to improvise defensively instead of having to stick their assignments. Battier's a crafty veteran who has been apart of long winning stretches, helping the Rockets to a 22-game winning streak four years ago and the Grizzlies to a playoff run to the second round last season, including hitting the game-winner for their first ever franchise win.
Now he's taking his no-stats All-Star talent to South Beach. This is probably not what the owners had in mind when they set out to ensure competitive balance.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:58 pm
Posted by Royce Young
It's a new season for LeBron James. And thank heavens, because he doesn't want to do last year over again.
It started with "The Decision," a decision he now regrets. But it ended with him watching the Mavericks party on his home floor as he turned in what can only be described as a disappointing NBA Finals performance.
He's heard all the jokes, the slams, the rips over the past few months. A season lost to a lockout would've been bad for everyone, but especially for LeBron who would've had the bad taste of Game 6 in his mouth for a lot longer, something he called one of the "worst times of my life."
But last season, and everything that came with it, was a big learning experience for the self-appointed king. He's in a reflective spirit right now and looking back, he'd love to change a lot. One thing that definitely comes to mind is his embrace of the so-called "villain" role.
"It basically turned me into somebody I wasn't," LeBron said in an interview on SportsCenter. "You start to hear 'the villain,' now you have to be the villain, you know, and I started to buy into it. I started to play the game of basketball at a level, or at a mind state that I've never played at before ... meaning, angry. And that's mentally. That's not the way I play the game of basketball."
LeBron's not saying he didn't have fun last season, but the pressure of his decision and the spotlight on his team was a lot to handle. Even when he and his teammates tried to have fun, it didn't work. For instance, Dwyane Wade mocking Dirk Nowitzki's illness during The Finals was seen more as immature and stupid rather than light and fun.
In Cleveland, LeBron was notoriously carefree. His team was really good, so that helped, but there were the pre-game antics from his team posing for pretend pictures to handshake routines that went on for so long that they almost delayed games to dancing while the game was going on. In Cleveland, LeBron was home, he was himself. It was fun.
"I got to this point by playing this game a certain way, [I'm] getting back to loving the game and having fun with the game," LeBron said. "I play the game fun, joyful, and I let my game do all of the talking and I got away from that. That's what I lost last year. Going through my first seven years in the NBA I was always the liked one and to be on the other side -- they call it the dark side or the villain or whatever they call it -- it was definitely challenging for myself. It was a situation I had never been in before, and it took awhile, it took a long time to adjust to it."
LeBron's admitted before that "The Decision" was a bad call and that if he could do things over, he wouldn't have a one-hour special announcing his destination.
"The fact of having the whole TV special and people getting the opportunity to watch me make a decision on where I'm going to play; I would probably change that," he said. "Because I can see now if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan and I was very passionate about one player and he decided to leave, I would be upset too by the way that he handled it."
Self-awareness has often been the No. 1 thing that LeBron lacked last season in Miami. He never seemed to have understood why people were angry with his actions or why people all of a sudden were booing him. It never made sense to him, while it made perfect sense to everyone else. But it sounds like he's getting it now. It sounds like he's starting to see the world as something that doesn't revolve around LeBron. Which is how you start to rehabilitate your image. You've got to tear yourself down and build it back up.
For LeBron, the 2011-12 season is important for a lot of reasons. He wants that title desperately, but it also sounds like he wants to find himself again. Which in this case, might be all he should be looking for.
Posted on: December 3, 2011 7:24 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 6:49 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
With their Christmas Day season opener just a little more than three weeks away, the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat have released a preseason hype video to set the tone for the 2011-2012 NBA season.
The 96-second clip dubbed "The Wait Is Over" opens with a burning basketball graphic before flashing highlights of LeBron James and Chris Bosh dunking, Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller hitting jumpers, Joel Anthony blocking a shot, Udonis Haslem completing an alley-oop and a bunch of team hustle plays. The graphic ends with the words "Are you ready? Let's go Heat."
It's pretty typical "hype video" fare, although it's interesting to see that Miller, who is rumored to be waived via the amnesty clause, is included. Since he's currently under contract and it would have probably been assumed he was gone if he wasn't included in the video, it does make sense that he made the final cut. His highlight can always get edited out in the future (just like his roster presence in real life!).
The tagline "The Wait Is Over" references the anticipation the Heat bring into the season following a devastating loss in the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks, but it also seems to be a nod towards the end of the lockout. Heat owner Micky Arison was fined $500,000 by the NBA when he made comments saying that fans shouldn't blame him for the labor impasse, implying that he was ready to end it and get back to work.
Given that Miami is the odds-on favorite to take home rings in 2012, their excitement is totally understandable. As always for the Heat since the Big 3 came together, the task is delivering substance in the wake of the monstrous hype.
Video uploaded by YouTube user thedwade3333333.
Hat tip: IAmAGM