For Jeff Van Gundy and the rest of the lead ABC/ESPN announcing team (Mike Breen, Mark Jackson), Dwyane Wade’s departure will mean few if any trips to Miami for the foreseeable future. Van Gundy is interested to see how the Heat’s young nucleus develops, but also a bit puzzled about how the Wade departure happened.
“I can't imagine Wade in a different uniform,” Van Gundy said this past offseason. “He and Dirk Nowitzki were the next ones [to finish their careers with one team]. I was a bit confused by Pat Riley saying he needed to immerse himself in the negotiations. If he wasn't immersed in it, I don't know who was.
“These things are hard; after Pat's first year in New York, we lost Xavier McDaniel to the Boston Celtics. Obviously not trying to equate the two situations, but when you lose somebody that embodies all you believe in -- as a coach with Xavier and as an administrator with Wade -- those are body blows. It doesn't mean you can't recover from them.
“I feel for them. If you got into Wade's mindset, he may not say so now, but I am sure he had some regrets since it happened. Wade has been such a great, great player, and people for whatever reason underestimate how great he has been. This is going to go down as a top four shooting guard of all time. Never MVP, but not very many better.”
And as far as future free agency goes, “Miami will always be a place where elite players are interested, not only from lifestyle and living situations, but also it’s been an elite organization,” Van Gundy said. “They will be right back in the thick of it vying for the very best.”
Van Gundy, on the remaining key Heat pieces:
• On Hassan Whiteside: “You never know how money impacts people positively or negatively, if they want more of a role – ‘Throw me the ball in the post more!’ - or if they understand who they are and what they do best. It will be interesting to see. He could bump his scoring up to 15 or 16 a game, but you want it to be highly efficient offense as well.”
• On Justise Winslow: “Outstanding defender; he knows how to play, very good passer, but he needs to be guarded on a consistent basis to open up the floor. It’s of paramount importance to them that he develops a jump shot; it doesn’t have to be a three-point shot, just a shot of some range that he can consistently knock in to force defenses to respect it and allow them to spread the floor.”
• On Josh Richardson: “They will build a statue of Wade, Riley and Erik Spoelstra. But [Heat vice president/player personnel] Chet Kammerer should not be far behind. His ability to identify undrafted guys and second-round guys is one of the NBA’s great stories that is never talked about because Chet has zero ego.
“This guy as a talent identifier is as good as it gets. Richardson is in a long line of guys everyone is regretful they didn't get. He defends, shoots it with range, tremendous competitor.”
• On Tyler Johnson: “When a guy signs for a lot of money, we up our expectations of him as a player. He's a good player. He's a tough competitor. He has shown remarkable [growth]. He has got to make sure he doesn't try to constantly justify his salary to the fan base. Do what he's done since he has been in Miami: give maximum effort and strive for great improvement. If he does that, he will earn his money.”
• On Goran Dragic: “With more opportunities, Dragic will have a tremendous year. He won't have to share as much primary ball handling duties with Wade.”
• On Dion Waiters: Is he a serviceable starter if he ends up one? “Not sure,” Van Gundy said. “But I like his strength and defensive intensity. Shot selection must improve.”
• On the veteran additions: “They know and the Heat knows they are one-year rentals with the hope they can strike it rich in free agency next year. If they use their time wisely in Miami, they will improve. That's what Erik has proven.
“I like Wayne Ellington's ability to shoot the ball, but there are other areas he needs to shore up. Derrick Williams had good moments in New York this past year, and you will have a highly motivated Derrick Williams. I like Luke Babbitt as a shooter. James Johnson is an athlete but he’s got to make sure that translates into something you can win with.”
NBA TV NEWS
The offseason’s biggest NBA broadcast news was Doug Collins leaving ABC’s and ESPN’s NBA studio to work for ESPN exclusively as a game analyst, a role in which he has excelled over the years.
Collins will be paired with Dave Pasch on the No. 3 team. Mark Jones replaces NBC’s Mike Tirico as Hubie Brown’s partner on the No. 2 team.
• ABC hasn’t named Sage Steele’s and Jalen Rose’s new sidekick on the ABC editions of NBA Countdown, but Chauncey Billups will sit alongside Rose and Michelle Beadle in the Wednesday and Friday ESPN studio, with Tracy McGrady joining them on Wednesdays…
ABC would love to hire Kobe Bryant for the ABC Countdown show but Bryant is still mulling what to do in his post-playing career, and some TV people will be very surprised if Kobe signs on this year. We’ll see… ESPN/ESPN2 will carry 82 regular-season games, up from 77 last season. TNT will air 64, up from 53.
• Rachel Nichols’ NBA show, The Jump, will air at 3:30 p.m. weekdays on ESPN2 and now air year-round, with Scottie Pippen, McGrady and Stephen Jackson and Byron Scott as analysts. It’s unique in that it’s a daily NBA show without highlights.
“It’s loose, not super structured, just people talking about their opinions,” Nichols said.
Nichols, who wrote for the South Florida Sun Sentinel early in her career, left ESPN for CNN and Turner in 2012 but returned to ESPN last year.
• CBS is sending Dolphins-Bills to 10 percent of the country with its No. 7 team on the call --- Philadelphia Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy and former NFL safety Adam Archuleta. Here’s a map.
• Each of the past three Dolphins games have drawn between 12 and 13 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets, which is very low compared with other markets.
But NFL ratings are down significantly in general, and commissioner Roger Goodell said this week that the problem is viewers aren’t watching as much or as long.
Asked whether some players’ National Anthem protests has turned off viewers, Goodell said, “We don’t think that’s a factor and our network partners don’t either.”
• The Giants-Rams game from London will air nationally on NFL Network at 9:30 a.m. Sunday – the second of three Sunday this season when you can watch 14 consecutive hours of football, if you choose (though eye doctors don’t recommend it).
• The Marlins haven’t decided whether to stick with four TV analysts again next season or settle on one or two. There will be discussions next month… ESPN and analyst John Kruk are parting ways after 12 years, according to The Big Lead.
NOTE TO READERS
• In addition to my full-time job at The Miami Herald, I’m now appearing occasionally on talk-shows for 790 The Ticket, primarily in the evening with Josh Friedman. Because of that, I have decided I no longer will opine on local radio talk shows, something I’ve done periodically during my 26 years writing a media column for The Herald, but very, very little in recent years.
I will continue to give opinions, occasionally, on other local sports broadcasting matters and national TV issues, and I will continue to report personnel moves on all local sports broadcasting developments, including talk radio.
• For my thoughts, notes and reaction on UM’s loss Thursday night, plus Mark Richt’s explanation for why he blames himself, please click here.
• Here’s video of Ndamukong Suh kicking Ben Roethlisberger, prompting the Steelers to complain to the NFL, plus other Dolphins notes.
• Twitter: @flasportsbuzz