Nikola Vucevic gives the Heat fits, having twice gone for at least 20 points and 20 rebounds against the team after tonight's 25-point, 21-board performance. The second-year Magic center could have been putting up those numbers for the Heat instead of against them if Miami had been willing to part with either Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, or both, according to John Denton of Magic.com (Twitter link). Denton tweets that the Heat were "feverishly" trying to trade for Vucevic when he was with the Sixers last season, but apparently they weren't willing to give up their top two point guards to make it happen.
The Sixers dealt Vucevic to the Magic in August as part of the four-team Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum blockbuster. The 22-year-old native of Switzerland has blossomed in Orlando, where he averages 12.1 points and 11.2 rebounds per game as the starting center. He's seeing twice as many minutes per game as he did last year with Philadelphia, which made him the 16th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Vucevic saw even less time in the playoffs, notching just three minutes during the Sixers' run to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Heat had evidently seen enough to believe he could address their deficiencies in the paint. Miami has grabbed the fewest rebounds of any team in the league, and certainly the addition of Vucevic would have helped remedy that. Money likely wasn't an inhibiting factor for the Heat, since he's on a rookie-scale contract that pays him just $1.7MM this season. Still, Heat president Pat Riley and the rest of the team's front office probably didn't predict Vucevic would develop as well and as quickly as he has. If they had foreseen it, they might have had pause about dealing away both of their top two point guards, though they're apparently confident enough in the ballhandling abilities of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James to go without a third point guard this season.
The Miami Heat are unlikely to make a trade before Thursday's deadline, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Pat Riley has a history of making splashy moves at the deadline, dating back to the mid-1990s when he acquired Tim Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn. But Winderman writes that these moves have decreased in recent years, and there isn't any indication that he will make a move before Thursday.
Winderman writes that the most attractive trade asset the Heat have is the Sixers' lottery-protected 2013 first-round pick, acquired for the rights to Arnett Moultrie in June of 2012. Joel Anthony and Mike Miller are unlikely to be moved due to their contracts, and Winderman notes that Miller is very likely to be waived via the amnesty clause this summer. Mario Chalmers could be moved, but Winderman does not believe there is a deal out there for the point guard that the team must make.
At 10-3, the defending champion Miami Heat own the best record in the Eastern Conference. Here are the latest notes and rumors surrounding the team on Sunday afternoon:
A report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com suggesting the Lakers could go after LeBron James in 2014 went out like something of a hurricane watch for South Florida today, and Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com adds to Miami's anxiety, tweeting that the Bulls, too, would go after King James when he comes available. Of course, it makes sense that plenty of teams covet the three-time MVP, and Friedell believes the Bulls rank below the Heat and Lakers on LeBron's wishlist (Twitter link). While the threat that he might leave someday is indeed present, LeBron remains under contract with the Heat for at least two more seasons. As Miami focuses on the present, here are the latest Heat-related rumblings:
The city of Miami has been partying since Thursday evening and the celebration will continue at least through Monday when the Heat are honored with a championship parade through downtown. The event should serve as further validation for LeBron James and his achievements after enduring a bizarre two years in South Florida since making "The Decision" to leave Cleveland and join the Heat. Here's the latest news and happenings from South Beach courtesy of the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman...