Riley Had Talks; Caron Butler to Orlando?

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

There are three news items of note for the Miami Heat. First and most obvious, they have the 19th pick in the draft tonight. Secondly, there are rumors out of Orlando that Caron Butler may be included in a three-team deal involving Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis. Finally, Pat Riley has admitted to having "philosophical" talks with the Lakers that ended in mutual agreement that there was nothing to do.

The Heat have been fortunate with their last two picks, both lottery, and it will be interesting to see how they fare this year. One scenario has St. Joe's point guard Jameer Nelson dropping into their laps as 18 other teams get concerned about his height. That would be a major coup for Miami, just as it was when Caron Butler slipped to tenth two years ago.

Speaking of Butler, the rumors are that he and/or Seattle's Ray Allen may be the third team involved in the dead Steve Francis-Tracy McGrady trade. Francis wants nothing to do with Orlando, and apparently the whole deal was a sham, but Orlando has said they will wait till after the draft to deal T-Mac. When it does happen, Miami may be involved one way or another. It's no secret Miami has two large contracts that can match almost any salary.

The man who helped draft Butler and who will still give his input tonight is Pat Riley. Riles has had discussions with the Lakers, he admitted yesterday in a statement. Eh, so what . Who hasn't had discussions with the Lakers. I can almost guess verbatim what they talked about, after the usual chit-chat. Riley will be essentially getting a $30 million chunk of equity if he stays one more year in Miami, because his 10% ownership share will vest. The Lakers knew that but wanted to talk anyway to see if he would be willing to leave a big chunk of that on the table to head up the Lakers again. He probably said if the salary is high enough, or if I am guaranteed an equity stake in the Lakers franchise, then sure. It was far too big a price for Jerry Buss, so they went their separate ways.

That hardly even qualifies as a conversation, let alone "talking." Nevertheless, it is a modification, however, slight to his previous intimations that no talks were held. It's nowhere near the level of "I did not have contextual conversations with that team the L.A. Lakers," but it's curious why he wouldn't mention it earlier if it did happen. Because it's really no big deal.

Pfund has said that he believes Anderson Varejao and Donta Smith will be available when the Heat pick 19th in Thursday's draft. Others that may be available include Jameer Nelson, Sebastian Telfair, Robert Swift, Peter John Ramos, and Big Al Jefferson.


John Denton ofThe Palm Springs Desert Sunwrites: Miami Heat: Jameer Nelson 6-0 Saint Joseph’s -- Falls because of his size, but this is a good fit in Miami’s up-tempo offense.

Josh Ward ofThe Oklahomanwrites: Perhaps the AND 1 Mix Tape Tour's greatest accomplishment to date was sending playground legend Rafer Alston to the NBA.Known as "Skip To My Lou" on the tour, Alston is now a guard for the Miami Heat.

Paul Klee ofThe Southern Illinoisianwrites: The Miami Heat, who hold the No. 19 pick, told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that [Donta] Smith had moved into their range.Smith, who originally announced he would transfer to Louisville following his sophomore season at SIC, could go anywhere from No. 11 to No. 32, Naiditch has said. Naiditch said Sacramento (No. 26) and Boston (Nos. 15, 24 and 25) could take him with their assigned picks.... Seattle, Denver, Memphis and Indiana have also shown interest in the swingman, who can play and defend up to three positions. At 6-foot-7, 230 pounds, the junior college All-American averaged 26.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Harvey Fialkov ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: "It's certainly not an exact science. You can't measure the heart or how driven they are to get better," said Miami Heat director of player personnel Chet Kammerer, who spent more than 200 nights in hotels and more than 100,000 miles in the air last year as he circled the globe in search of potential talent."Some haven't reached their plateau or their level of commitment could still be on the rise. Or their college system hasn't showed what they can do. Others, like Brad Miller, kept improving as he got older ... the late bloomers." Miller and Wallace, both two-time All-Star centers who went undrafted, are prime examples that point out the fallibility of the evaluation process.

Greg Cote ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Telfair is notable in part because he could fall to the Heat, picking 19th tonight.So might California prep star Robert Swift, a 7-0 baby hoss. So might the 7-3 center from Puerto Rico, Peter John Ramos, who also would tempt Miami's priority need of frontcourt size. So might St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson, the national college player of the year but bearing doubts about a 6-footer making it as a starting NBA point guard.

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Randy Pfund made no bones about it. His first public comment concerning tonight's NBA draft was about how much better he felt picking at No. 19 than he did the past two years picking in the lottery.That feeling comes from the Heat having a more complete team already in place, without many holes to fill. And even though the Heat is looking to add frontcourt depth and could use point guard help as well, Pfund doesn't feel pressure to find all or any of those with tonight's three selections (19, 47 and 53). The Heat's talent base is allowing Pfund and team president Pat Riley to truly go with the ''best player available'' approach... Pfund added that if the Heat selects a player without college experience, it wouldn't necessarily mean that player is bound for the bench next season. Pfund said there are a handful of high school players ready to play a significant role in the NBA next year. ''The question is which one,'' Pfund said. Swift, Telfair, Jefferson and Smith are all possibilities. Of those, only Smith, a shooting guard, doesn't fill an immediate need for the Heat.