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.
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:
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...
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.