Think you can predict the Heat’s offseason moves? Remember 2003 before answering

You think you know what will  happen with the Miami Heat in Thursday’s NBA draft and the free-agency period beyond?

Nobody knows. Nobody could.

There are too many moving parts in this process, especially with Pat Riley in charge of it.

Dwyane Wade and his son with Pat Riley after the Heat selected Wade with the No. 5 pick in the 2003 draft.
(File photo)

Look back to 2003, the year that Miami made its most successful first-round pick ever – Dwyane Wade. The followed happened that offseason, one seismic step after another, and the most astonishing news of all broke just days before the start of the regular season. Remember?

Well, here it all is, with the blockbuster headline buried near the bottom of the list, startling enough to make Wade wonder if he was even starting his career with a stable franchise.

  • Junior Dwyane Wade leads Marquette to the Final Four but the Golden Eagles get blown out by Kansas 94-61 by Kansas. Wade, who was married with a 1-year-old son at the time, said “I’m known for having a great season but I didn’t go out a winner, so it will be a tough decision.” Luckily for the Heat, he decides to leave college one year early and enter the draft.
  • Wade works out in June for at least nine teams, including Miami, which is coming off a 25-57 season and has the No. 5 overall pick.
  • Certain stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh come off the draft board before the Heat can act but Riley takes Wade and says “we feel like we have, contrary to what people might think and other than LeBron, one of the best players, if not the best player in the draft.”
  • The agent for Heat point guard Anthony Carter blows it by failing to inform the team that his player wants to exercise his option for the coming season. When the deadline passes without notification, Riley no longer is obligated to pay Carter his salary and the option on keeping him becomes the team’s instead. The Heat let Carter go and gain an additional $4 million to spend on free agents.
  • Riley speaks generally with reporters about the possibility of saving his money for the next offseason, when Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett might be available as free agents.
  • Riley makes a one-year offer to Alonzo Mourning, who missed the previous season with a kidney ailment, but is satisfied to let the greatest player in Heat history go. The New Jersey Nets sign Zo to a four-year deal and he says he is going because he is trying to get a ring and can’t wait for the Heat to get better.
  • Riley signs Elton Brand to a six-year offer sheet but the Los Angeles Clippers match the offer and keep the free agent.
  • Riley goes after the Clippers again, signing Lamar Odom to an offer sheet for six years and $65 million. This time the Clippers can’t match and Odom joins Miami.
  • Wade plays his first exhibition game in Puerto Rico against the Philadelphia 76ers and shows immediate promise with 18 points, eight rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.
  • Wade signs his rookie contract for three years at $8.5 million with a team option for a fourth year.
  • Riley quits as Heat coach four days before the regular-season opener and names assistant Stan Van Gundy to replace him. Riley says he will remain as team president for the final two years of his 10-year Heat contract, adding “I feel the time is right because this team is headed in another direction. It’s turned around. It’s fresh. It needs another voice.” Riley is 58.
  • Miami goes 42-40 and makes the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. After beating the Hornets in the first round, the season ends in the conference semifinals against Indiana.
  • Riley tears it all up and rebuilds the following summer, trading Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal.

 

It couldn’t possibly be as dramatic as all that this offseason, right?

Well, I’m not predicting anything. Riley won’t let me or anybody else do that, and he likes it that way.

[Koepka and Berger make it two wins in a row for PB County high school products]

[LeBron may be 3-5 in NBA Finals but he’s a long way from being a loser]

[Thermodynamics of NHL life: Players on ice and coaches on hot seats]

 

Not fair, not smart, comparing Justise Winslow to Dwyane Wade

So Mike Krzyzewski says that Miami Heat first-round pick Justise Winslow could be the next Dwyane Wade. That’s what the Duke legend told Jay Bilas anyway, and that’s a mouthful.

Duke's Justise Winslow responds to a question during the NBA basketball combine Friday, May 15, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Duke’s Justise Winslow responds to a question during the NBA basketball combine Friday, May 15, 2015. Jason Lieser of Palm Beach Post standing directly behind him (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Everybody goes a little daft with the draft. Let’s just agree that nobody in this rookie class deserves to enter the league with that kind of pressure on him.

[Most needed position would have meant passing on Dwyane Wade]

[Jeremy Foley still doing a lot of things right at Florida]

[NFL guessed wrong 50 years ago picking Atlanta over Miami]

The No. 10 spot in the NBA draft isn’t supposed to produce Hall of Famers, NBA Finals MVP’s and other foundational franchise saviors. If it happens, great, but go leaping after that dream just because it makes you smile.

Winslow, I think, will be very good for the Heat. Pat Riley certainly thinks so. He talked about Winslow’s fall to No. 10 and likened it to the year that Caron Butler came to Miami at the same number and in the same way. Butler, a small forward like Winslow, had a strong rookie year, starting 78 games and averaging 15.4 points. Can’t ask for more than that.

The thing with Butler is he didn’t become an all-star until his fifth NBA season. He had already played for two other teams by then, the Lakers and the Wizards. Riley used him for trade bait after two Heat seasons, packaging the promising young pro in the deal that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami.

Winslow, we’re hoping, will be so productive that he sticks with the Heat for a long time, starts a lot of games and maybe even becomes part of a championship unit.

Riley doesn’t always see draft picks the way everybody else does, however. Unless it’s a star like Wade, he’s thinking about trading them for veteran help almost from the day the kids arrive.

Here’s another small caution. Guys get drafted at No. 10 for a reason, and the last four who did haven’t amounted to much at this point.

Four years ago it was Jimmer Fredette, the long-range fad of the NCAA tournament from BYU. He has started seven games in his career. Total.

Here are the numbers on the three most recent No. 10 picks. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

***

AUSTIN RIVERS, 2012 Draft

Yr.                 Starts   Pts. Avg.     Reb. Avg.   Assists avg.

2012-13           26          6.2              1.8                   2.1

2013-14            4           7.7              1.9                 2.3

2014-15           5             7.0                2.0                   2.0

***

C.J. McCOLLUM, 2013 Draft

Yr.                   Starts     Pts. Avg.   Reb. Avg.   Assists Avg.

2013-14           0             5.3                1.3                0.7

2014-15           3             6.8               1.5                 1.0

***

ELFRID PAYTON, 2014 Draft

Yr.                     Starts     Pts. Avg.   Reb Avg.   Assists Avg.

2014-15               63           8.9           4.3               6.5

***

Payton, Orlando’s point guard for most of his rookie season, has been the best of them, but unless you’re a big-time NBA fan, you may not have heard of him.

Not to pile on Rivers, either, but he’s playing for his dad, Doc Rivers, head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, and still started just two of 41 regular-season games since coming over from New Orleans midseason.

Rivers was a one-and-done star at Duke, too, just like Winslow, if it matters.

Probably doesn’t.

Can you imagine if Heat had passed on Dwyane Wade and drafted most urgent need?

[cmg_cinesport url=”http://cinesport.palmbeachpost.com/embed/palm-beach-sports/nba-draft-lottery-preview-miami-heat/#autostart=on;”%5D

Pat Riley needed a point guard to ignite a sluggish lineup in 2003. He could have drafted T.J. Ford of Texas or Kirk Hinrich of Kansas to fill that hole. Aren’t you glad he didn’t?

[Tom Brady is using all his allotted timeouts]

[If you take the party out of Johnny Football, what’s left?]

[Anybody seen Darko, the dud of the 2003 NBA draft?]

Drafting No. 5 overall, Miami took Marquette shooting guard Dwyane Wade instead. Three NBA titles later, that decision to take the best available player clearly made all the difference for the franchise. Wade hopefully isn’t finished yet, either, if the Heat can keep him happy with a new contract this summer.

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) before pre-game introductions at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida on June 12, 2014 (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) before pre-game introductions at 2014 NBA Finals. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Not that Hinrich would have been a total disaster. He’s still in the league and working on a career average of five assists per game. Ford didn’t last quite as long because of injuries but he did start on playoff teams in Milwaukee and Toronto.

Compare almost anyone to Wade, however, and you come up short.

Well, there is LeBron James, of course, who went No. 1 overall in the 2003 draft, but Riley didn’t have a shot at him back then. What he got was an astoundingly athletic alternative in Wade, who never backed down to LeBron or anyone else from his first days in the league.

There’s a longer version of this Wade draft item coming on Thursday. You’ll find it in our print edition that morning and on the web, too, at mypalmbeachpost.com.

A little appetizer. There’s something in there about Wade beating LeBron on a last-second summer league shot when both were new to the league.