Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You figured a week later all this hype and hoopla about Miami’s Big 3 would have waned a little bit, right?
There is other stuff going on, summer league, other free agent news, etc.
But the fervor hasn’t let up one bit for what’s going on with the Miami Heat. Almost every player transaction that happens elicits a mention of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh and their joining forces on a Heat team that continues to take shape by the day.
Quentin Richardson left the Heat and signed with their Southeast Division rival Orlando but spent as much time talking about what he was walking away from as he did the Eastern Conference powerhouse he was joining, per Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel:
“Definitely, there was a lot of consideration. I have a lot of respect,” said Richardson, who played 76 games for the Heat last season, starting all but one.
“It came down to me considering them heavily. I felt this was the best situation for me and I feel like we have just as good a chance as they do to win a championship.”
Richardson said that Wade — his sometime work-out partner — was in his ear ever since the Heat pulled off the Triple Play last Thursday.
“I definitely heard from D-Wade,” he said. “D-Wade is one of my good buddies. He was disappointed to see me walk away. He knows me. Everytime I go out there, it’s going to be like a war. I told him that and he told me, ‘The intrastate rivalry is on.'”
Richardson said he had a few other offers. There was one other factor in his choosing Orlando — a big factor: All-star center Dwight Howard.
Everybody, it seems, wants a piece of the hottest crew in basketball.
All it took was a recruiting pitch from James to convince Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a Cavalier his entire NBA career, to flip and sign with the Heat for the league minimum.
This is the same man who spurned more lucrative offers elsewhere last season, after being traded by the Cavs to facilitate the deal for Antawn Jamison, to re-sign with the Cavaliers for a playoff run that came up woefully short of the championship folks in the organization were expecting.
David Hyde of the Sun-Sentinel described this stampede to South Beach as well as anyone:
Have you watched the gravitational pull of greatness help the Heat the past few days?
It didn’t just lure season-ticket buyers overnight. It isn’t just bringing a worldwide media buzz to the point that exhibition games are being mentioned in Europe and Asia.
It goes beyond how this team instantly became an easy team to love in South Florida and hate in any other NBA city.
It’s the players lining up outside the arena. The veteran players. The role players basketball analysts said would be hard to find. The thirtysomethings who want to rub against greatness just once in their careers.
Juwan Howard is reportedly the next veteran to sign on for duty in Miami, joining Udonis Haselm and Mike Miller. Something tells us he won’t be the last. Not when everyone else on the planet wants a piece of this team.
More from Hyde:
None of these are great players. Each comes with legitimate questions. Each also can be accused of piggybacking on excellence in the hopes of gaining a ring. But can’t they be praised for that more?
Don’t fans always ask players to value winning above all else?
Don’t media always ask players to fit egos into the bigger team?
So much of sports is about fitting players into proper roles. So if these players aren’t great talents — or even good anymore by NBA standards, in some cases — they can be slotted into a definitive role that makes their game valuable on this roster.
Their first Sports Illustrated cover is already set (below). Surely, it won’t be their last.
This is the first of many magazine covers for the Miami Heat's Big 3!
We’re not pointing fingers around here. We’ve been caught up in the Miami Matrix as well. We can’t get enough of this story either, even when we know we should try to move on to something else.
Two HT faves, Al Harrington and Josh Childress, have found new homes and we’re yet to connect with either one of them to talk details (though, we are in the process of tracking them both down). And the Jazz pulled off one of our favorite moves of the summer, replacing Carlos Boozer with Al Jefferson after Minnesota GM David Kahn made good on his promise to move Jefferson so he could make room for the feared Darko Milicic/Kevin Love/Michael Beasley frontline.
You can probably guess who we think made out best in that deal. And it’s not about our continued ribbing of Kahn or the Timberwolves, a team we are considering for inclusion in HT’s Adopt-A-Team program (it worked for the Grizzlies last year didn’t it?) this season.
With the Western Conference ranks thinning a bit, what with all the concentration of star power in the Eastern Conference during free agency, the move to secure Jefferson by the Jazz keeps them in the mix among the elite. That’s always a good thing.
Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune:
Given the departures of Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver in free agency, Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor wasn’t about to describe the acquisition of Al Jefferson as the second coming of the trade that delivered Pau Gasol to the Lakers in 2008.
At the same time, O’Connor couldn’t help but herald the arrival of a player in Jefferson who he billed as one of the best low-post players in basketball, following a trade in which the Jazz seemingly gave up remarkably little in return.
The Jazz completed their deal for Jefferson on Tuesday, sending two future first-round draft picks and center Kosta Koufos to Minnesota while absorbing Jefferson’s $13 million salary thanks to the trade exception they acquired last week for Boozer.
“What we feel like is that we really added a premium player to our team,” O’Connor said, adding, “If you had put him in free agency this year with that crop that they had out there even yet, I think he’d be pretty highly rated, and that’s how we look at him.”
The 6-foot-10, 265-pound Jefferson averaged 20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in three seasons with the Timberwolves. O’Connor noted that at 25, after six seasons in the NBA, Jefferson should be entering the best years of his career.
Minnesota general manager David Kahn seemed to echo those sentiments. “Al is motivated to have a career-defining season, and I recognize the Jazz will be the recipients of that, not us. I expect him to help Utah immensely,” Kahn said in a statement.
Who knows, maybe Kahn will give us his take on Miami’s Big 3?