Friday was a night that I'm never going to forget. I'm very lucky to have the job that I have, because it allows me to get closer to the teams that I love then most people dream of. I knew earlier this week that whenever the Heat held a press conference for their new players that I would be there, but I never expected anything like what went on last night.
When I pulled up to the arena around 6:30, 90 minutes before the scheduled start time, there were already tons of people outside the AAA. There was dancing, live music, lots of TV trucks...it was quite the scene. When I got inside I went out to the stage area to get a looksie and was treated to the dress rehearsal of how the big three would arrive to the crowd.
I also got to hear Mike Biamonte (Heat's PA announcer) say the new guys' names for the first time. It was the first of many times last night where I got goosebumps. After hanging out for a bit it was finally time for the big introductions....so I thought. We all hung out for over an hour while waiting for Dwyane, Chris and LeBron to come out, watching a lot of cool videos and getting pumped up by DJ Ire.
What we didn't know was what the players were upstairs signing their contracts, officially becoming members of the Miami Heat. When they finally did come out though....well like I said earlier, it's something that I will never forget. The combination of the fans going crazy and the way the players reacted to it was awesome. I think my favorite was Chris Bosh, just opening up his arms and screaming along with the fans.
Watching them interact with all the fans down on the floor, watching them with each other, how comfortable and playful they were...like you'd expect any group of friends to act. It was just great, and I couldn't care less if the rest of the league hates Miami now for becoming the Yankees of the NBA. The Heat didn't break any rules (and neither do the Yankees, btw), but is just the lottery winning team that landed the trifecta.
Pat Riley and Micky Arison got standing ovations when shown on the big screen. LeBron James was shown on the jumbotron while one of the other guys was talking, and as the fans got louder, James' smile grew bigger and bigger. Chris Bosh showed the large latin population his skills in the Spanish language. Now they both know how dedicated Heat fans are, and the crowds are only going to grow in size and the cheers are only going to get louder.
After that was over it was off to the press conference, filled with all the local media as well as some national press, including ESPN's Rachel Nichols. It started with the big 3 speaking for over 30 minutes, then Pat Riley and Coach Spoelstra for another 25 minutes. Definitely the longest press conference I've ever had to cover, but I enjoyed every second of it.
So yeah...I hope you all don't mind me posting about that. I know its not ‘news' but it was such an amazing experience that I wanted to share it with you all. I've got the audio from the press conference and I will add some of it to the bottom of this post. But before that, I'll give you some real news.
At this point is anyone really that surprised that Pat Riley capped off his amazing signings by getting both Cleveland and Toronto to agree to sign and trade deals for Bosh and James. Yeah...the Heat are essentially skipping the NBA Draft for a few years, but considering what they get in return, who cares? I also think that at some point Riley will find a way to get a pick or two elsewhere if he really wants to.
So here is the low-down on the James and Bosh deals. First the sign and trades:
Toronto will get the 1st round pick they sent to us in the Shawn Marion-Jermaine O'Neal trade as well as the Heat's 2011 1st round pick, assuming Miami makes the playoffs (it's a lottery protected pick). That means the two 1st round picks the Heat would have had in the 2011 Draft now go to Toronto.
The Cleveland deal is a little more complicated, but here is the easy part. They get Miami's 2nd round pick in 2011 (as long as its 41st overall or later) and Miami's 2nd round pick in 2012. The Cavs also get 2 future 1st round picks from the Heat, but not until at least 2013 because you cant trade 1st round picks in consecutive years and Miami sent both their 1st rounders from 2011 to Toronto.
Here is how the 1st round picks break down. Remember, they cant be in back-to-back years. 2013 and 2014 are both top-10 protected (has to be 11th overall or later). 2015 is an unprotected pick, unless the Cavs take the 2013 pick. If they do, then the 2015 pick becomes top-10 protected. 2016 is also protected but 2017 would be unprotected, if it takes that long to finish the deal.
Both teams also will get a trade exemptions worth $14.5 million.
Now to the contracts. ESPN is reporting that LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed identical six-year, $110.1 million deals. Dwyane Wade signed a 6-year deal worth $107.5, taking even less money to help his team sign more players. The deals have Bosh and James making $14.5 million in 2010-11 while Wade will make $14 million, giving the Heat more breathing room to sign a better supporting cast.
Overall, each player is leaving $15 million on the table over the life of their contracts. They also have the choice to opt out of the final year of their contracts in 2015-16. However, if they plan on making this a true decade-long dynasty then I think by then they'll already be negotiating contract extensions.
As for guys not yet on the Heat roster, we'll start with Udonis Haslem. Dwyane Wade came right out and said that he wants U-D back, and Pat Riley said he felt good about what Miami was going to offer him.
For over a day now there have been reports that the Heat and Mike Miller have agreed on a 5-year deal worth $30 million but Pat Riley would not confirm this. He said we'll know more in next couple days about the guys they are looking into (Udonis and Miller, though he never actually said Miller's name).
Riley also has a meeting scheduled with free agent point guard Derek Fisher on Saturday. Fisher made $5 million in the final year of his contract last season, and negotiations with the Lakers have been moving very slowly. Whether Fisher is serious about signing with the Heat or if he's just using the meeting as leverage with the Lakers will be something we'll find out soon enough.
Finally...here are some sound bites from Friday's press conference. Tonight I'll give you the cuts from D-Wade, LeBron and Bosh. The Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra sound will come later this weekend. To hear the clip, click on the link and it should play in your browser.