The Heat have officially exercised their fourth-year option on Norris Cole, the team announced today (Twitter link). Cole had already been under contract for the coming season, but now his deal will be guaranteed for 2014/15 as well. He’ll be in line for a salary of $2.04MM in ’14/15.
Cole, 24, has been the Heat’s backup point guard for the last two years, winning a pair of titles with the team. The former 28th overall pick posted identical PERs of 7.9 in his first two NBA seasons, along with 6.1 PPG and 2.0 APG in 145 career contests (19.7 MPG).
Despite a recent report suggesting that Miami was gauging Cole’s trade value, a Heat source tells Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld that it was little more than “due diligence.” For his part, Cole isn’t letting the rumors bother him, as Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.
For a complete breakdown on 2014/15 rookie contract options, be sure to check out our tracker. Decisions on those third- and fourth-year options are due by Halloween.
Sam Amico of FOX Sports has tons of info in today's column, let's dive in and check out some of the highlights..
- The Heat certainly aren't desperate to shake up the roster, but word is they’ve explored what backup point guard Norris Cole may bring in a trade. While Cole is rather inconsistent on offense, he's a very strong on-ball defender.
- Amico cautions against reading too much into the reported friction between Bulls GM Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau. Phil Jackson and exec Jerry West didn’t get along in L.A. but they co-existed well enough to see the club win three straight titles. Jackson and GM Jerry Krause got along even worse than that in Chicago, so it shouldn't affect the on-court product at all.
- Ron Howard, currently in camp with the Pacers, is someone to keep an eye on. He might not be a fit in Indiana, but execs from around the league feel that he'd be a nice locker room addition to a young squad.
- It's early, but Amico came away impressed by Omri Casspi in the Rockets-Pelicans preseason opener. Casspi has languished on the Cavs' bench for the last two years but will look to start anew in Houston.
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.
7:14pm: Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweets that there are no rumors about a trade of Mozgov to the Heat, indicating that Mozgov's comments were simply in response to a question about the Heat's need for a center.
12:22pm: We heard in mid-December from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports and Zach Lowe of Grantland that the Nuggets were making Timofey Mozgov available, and it appears that stance hasn't changed in the last month. Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida also reports that Denver is looking to deal Mozgov, and it sounds like the 26-year-old is fully aware that he could be on the move.
"It think it’s logical, you can see that, trading me," Mozgov told Tomasson. "I’m in my contract year. So if they can get something for me… I don’t think it would be a surprise for me (to be traded)."
One team that always seems to be in the market for a big man, and could use some rebounding help, is the Heat. Tomasson writes that the Heat could pursue Mozgov, though it's not clear what could of package they could put together that would entice the Nuggets. One of the team's top potential trade chips, Norris Cole, may not interest Denver since the Nuggets already have Ty Lawson and Andre Miller at the point. Miami could also dangle the 76ers' (lottery-protected) 2013 first-round pick, and multi-team deals are possible, as Tomasson notes.
Mozgov's inexpensive salary ($3.14MM) may make it more palatable for the Heat or another team to acquire him. Miami isn't a likely suitor for pricier bigs, since the club would probably need to include undesirable contracts like Mike Miller's or Joel Anthony's to match salaries, but Mozgov could potentially be had for one or two less expensive players.
8:01pm: The Heat have confirmed the extension via press release.
7:42pm: The Heat have exercised Norris Cole's $1.2MM option for the 2013/14 season, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Cleveland State product averaged 6.8 PPG with 2.0 APG and 0.7 SPG in his rookie campaign last season.
The 28th overall pick in the draft impressed early on in the season, making him look to be one of the early steals of the 2011 class. However, the explosive athlete would quickly hit the rookie wall and had a rather up-and-down year in total. Regardless, the Heat believe that the explosive athlete has shown enough upside to warrant another year under contract in Miami.
On this busy Monday night, here's a look at some random bits of news from around the league.
- Paul George is aiming to make the All-Star game this season, writes NBA.com's Mark Montieth.
- The Bobcats have promised no positions in the starting lineup according to new head coach Mike Dunlap, writes the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell.
- Heat guard Dwyane Wade has left the Jordan brand and will join the Chinese shoe company Li-Ning, according to ESPN.com's Jared Zwerling.
- According to a tweet from HoopsHype.com, Julian Wright is considering an offer from Israel's Maccabi Rishon LeZion. He'll make an offer in the middle of this week.
- The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman gives a detailed list of all the available free agents still left on the market.
- Coming off a championship rookie season, Heat guard Norris Cole has worked hard this summer to improve all different aspects of his game, writes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson.
- Derrick Rose begins cutting drills in two weeks, and is vowing he'll be an even better player upon his return, writes the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson.
- Heading into a contract year, the Sixers are hoping Jrue Holiday can emerge into a leadership role, writes CSNPhilly.com's John Finger.
Erik Spoelstra has had a busy summer, consulting with former NBA coach Paul Westhead about his perspective on fast break offenses in addition to meeting with Florida Gators head coach Billy Donavan to talk about the pressures associated with aiming to repeat as national champions (Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes). Now on the cusp of training camp, Spoelstra opened up on a few notable topics regarding the Heat:
- Juwan Howard will not be a member of the team's training camp, but could eventually join the team down the line.
- Dwyane Wade has been recovering from an arthroscopic surgery procedure in July, but is expected to be ready for the season opener on October 30. Spoelstra added Wade is "not 100 percent" and that he will be brought along slowly as training camp begins. Ray Allen has been recovering from offseason ankle surgery in July, and while Spoelstra says that the sharpshooter isn't 100 percent healthy either, it's not noticeable. Mike Miller is well enough to take part in all the training camp drills, but will be limited at times as a precaution. Lastly, Jarvis Varnardo is dealing with a strained hamstring that will sideline him heading into camp.
- Norris Cole appears to be doing well after experiencing some issues with his groin recently, and has had a strong summer considering the team's goal of improving his playmaking and shooting.
- Dexter Pittman has had a productive offseason and will be in the best condition he's been in going into a training camp.
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…
- Winderman suggests signing Lamar Odom to become a member of the Heat organization would be a terrific career move for the former Sixth Man of the Year. The forward would slot into the starting lineup next to James and Chris Bosh to give the team an extremely potent frontcourt. Money, of course, could pose an issue as the Heat wouldn't be inclined to offer Odom more than the veteran's minimum or the disabled-player exception if Mike Miller is unable to play.
- The Heat may look to add a veteran point guard to the mix but Winderman believes such a move would be counterproductive to the development of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Chalmers and Cole, to a lesser a degree, demonstrated what they could provide the team's backcourt in key moments during the playoffs and should only improve as they gain more experience. While the possibility of adding someone like Steve Nash can't be ignored, the Heat shouldn't risk the future of Chalmers and Cole simply to sign Chauncey Billups or Andre Miller.
- Mike Miller's future with the Heat remains uncertain given his health woes that plagued him throughout the playoffs. If Miller elects to retire due to injury and collects his salary, the Heat would have to wait two years before his cap space clears. The former Florida sharpshooter is set to earn $5.8MM during the 2012/13 season.
As was expected after he underwent knee surgery, Jeremy Lin doubts he will be available for first round action should the Knicks make the playoffs, according to ESPNNY.com's Ian Begley. The original timetable for Lin's return was six weeks, and he'll resume running activities next week.
The Heat head to Boston on Sunday afternoon to take on the Celtics in what could potentially be a playoff preview. Today's game marks the first of three between the two squads during the month of April after the Heat knocked off the Celtics at the beginning of the season. Let's check in with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman for the latest on the Heat.
- Winderman says that the Heat have made the right decision by sticking with backup point guard Norris Cole during his rough patches rather than turning to an unknown entity like Terrel Harris. Cole, a rookie out of Cleveland State, has struggled to run Erik Spoelstra's offense this season while still managing to score 7.1 PPG in just under 20 minutes per contest.
- While the Heat lack a true center, Winderman contends the easiest path to a championship is taken by accumulating the best players possible rather than considering their respective positions. As such, trading a player like Chris Bosh for a mid-level center would not be the best move the Heat could make to move them closer to achieving their goal of a winning a ring.
- There's been a great deal of talk recently from upcoming free agents expressing interest in joining the Heat. From Steve Nash to Jason Terry, the desire to come to South Beach is there, but Winderman questions whether it's really just talk once it comes down to actually signing a contract for less than market value.