This morning’s Miami Herald has an interview with Miami Heat owner Micky Arison about the state of his franchise (and by “state” we mean 7-17, $7 million above the luxury tax with little salary relief in sight). To his credit, Arison speaks pretty candidly about Shaq, Dwyane Wade and many of the personnel moves his team made (or didn’t make) this offseason:
The Heat’s 7-17 record isn’t what owner Micky Arison expected 18 months removed from an NBA title and with a payroll $7 million above the luxury-tax threshold. Arison this week spoke candidly and explained several scrutinized decisions.
”Disappointing,” Arison said. “If our players play to their capability, we could be a very good team, and we haven’t done that. I knew with Dwyane [ Wade] coming back off two surgeries, it would take a while, but it’s been tougher than I expected. You look at the players we’ve got on the floor [in losses to Washington and Indiana last week] and you felt like you had the better team. We’ve been struggling at home, and it’s baffling.
“You and I know he’s not the Dwyane Wade of pre-injury. He’ll get better. . . . We need our best players to play well, and we haven’t gotten that consistently. I’m sure Shaquille [ O’Neal] is not happy with [the season]. He had a leg injury early. . . and personal issues [divorce]. I can’t imagine one year of age makes that much of a difference.”
Giving O’Neal, 35, a five-year deal (he’s in year 3 at $20 million per) ”was a stretch, but it was a fair stretch to get the players around him to win a championship, and it worked,” Arison said. “Remember, he opted out of a $32 million year so we could get better. He was rewarded with a longer-term deal at a lower salary. And the demands he was making on Jerry Buss were much, much bigger than what he made on us.”
Arison defended Miami’s approach with James Posey: ”We offered the same [money] as other teams” (though his agent said Boston offered two years, Miami one). “But it’s tough psychologically when the team you’re on asks you to take market value and that’s half of the [$6.4 million] you were making.
“I was very happy for Jason Kapono — he got an incredible contract [four years, $24 million from Toronto], but we thought it was a little over the top.”
Arison would consider taking on a large multiyear contract to acquire a key piece ”but nothing like that has crossed my path. I’m hopeful we can get back into this.” And if the Heat misses postseason? “It would be annoying.”