The Miami Heat participated in a final midday practice before heading off to Boston for game 1 of their first round matchup on Saturday. Hot Hot Hoops was there to cover it all and a full report will be coming soon. In the meantime, there was plenty of Miami Heat-related news and notes that came to light today. The NBA's projected cap space for next year will be about $56.1 million which will be slightly diminished from this season (57.7) but more importantly will be a few million dollars more than what had been originally predicted. What does this mean for the Heat? ESPN's Marc Stein says it puts Miami right in the driver's seat with more flexibility to retain their own players or to get the help that Wade will demand.
The bigger winner, though, appears to be the Miami Heat. The combination of a sudden $2.5 million in unforeseen extra cap space along with Toronto’s failure to make the playoffs –- which means that the Heat will not have to take on the Raptors’ first-round pick as expected –- will give Heat president Pat Riley sufficient financial flexibility to re-sign Dwyane Wade, sign someone like Amare Stoudemire away from Phoenix (as many league insiders expect) and still have room to sign another quality free agent above the mid-level exception. Said (one) team exec: "Miami might have just taken control of free agency."The Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman points out that Pat Riley, in addition to signing a max contract along with Wade, could choose to bring back Udonis Haslem and/or Dorell Wright now.
Immediately, speculation was the Heat not only would be able to retain Dwyane Wade, add a max-level free agent, but also add the All-Star level talent that Pat Riley has been promoting these past few months. Perhaps. Or perhaps Friday meant something else entirely. With the found money, the extra $3 million, it means if Riley truly wants to keep Udonis Haslem, he can. The money now will be there beyond Wade and Free Agent X. And it also means if Riley wants to keep Dorell Wright, he could be able to pull that off, as well. Which makes the issue whether Haslem-Wright would be more valuable to this team moving forward than, say, a Raymond Felton?Also in the news, Dwayne Wade appeared on the "Mike & Mike" show and had this to say about Miami.
"Chicago is my home city, and I love Chicago. But my heart is here in Miami. All the cards are in Miami, and it's their game to lose, more than anything. I appreciate that organizations want me to be a part of them, but right now Miami is in the driver's seat." Wade said his impending free agency has not distracted him during this season. "It's really not a factor to me," he said. "My situation is kind of simple. Miami knows where I stand. We do a lot of communicating with myself, [President Pat] Riley and [owner] Micky Arison."Lastly and more importantly, Celtics Hub, our proud ESPN Truehoop Network brethren were wise enough to ask yours truly about the upcoming playoff series and while the interview went smoothly and I do appreciate being labeled a Heat expert, I don't recall weeping while "admitting" that the Celtics were going to sweep the Heat. As if! I highly advise all of you out there to leave comments here and over at their blog and tell those delusional Boston fans out there what's really going to happen. Oh and you can wish them a safe and speedy recovery for Rajon Rondo as he recovers from some very nasty flu-like symptoms.