<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:47:32 -0400 Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:47:32 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jose Fernandez Returns With a Bang in Marlins Win]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:14:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479241228.jpg

The Miami Marlins could not have asked for more from Jose Fernandez on Thursday when he helped his team beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4.

After missing 13 months due to Tommy John surgery, Fernandez brought excitement to the mound and the plate at Marlins Park. The right-hander hit a home run, while also picking up a quality start. The victory completed a series sweep for the Marlins over the defending World Series champions.

Things started a little slow for Fernandez statistically, and that may have been due to him being very excited for the start. Noticeably jittery, Fernandez gave up two runs in the first inning while also hitting 99 MPH on the radar gun once. The 22-year old would settle in more after that and only allow one additional run in the next five frames.

In all, Fernandez struck out six and allowed seven hits to go along with the three earned runs. While he was not at his best, Fernandez showed glimpses of the dominant pitcher that the Marlins lost over a year ago. The important thing for Miami was an exceptional amount of command as Fernandez walked none. Often with Tommy John surgery, pitchers struggle to regain their command.

Fernandez's home run came in the fifth inning off Matt Cain. Interestingly, Fernandez was also the last Marlins' pitcher to hit a blast despite missing a year. That previous home run came in the latter part of the 2013 season against the Atlanta Braves.

Helping to support Fernandez in his quest for a win was Justin Bour. The hulking first baseman went deep for a third straight game. Bour hit a three-run shot in this one, which gives him two of those in as many days. Bour now has nine home runs this season and will likely remain in the lineup even when Michael Morse returns.

In the eighth inning, Carter Capps expierenced a rare moment of trouble when he allowed a solo home run. Capps had been on a stretch of nine straight scoreless innings prior to the run. The fireballer still left the inning with his team ahead to earn a hold.

A.J. Ramos entered in the ninth and slammed the door for the 12th time this season with a perfect inning.

The Marlins will head to Wrigley Field for a weekend series against the Chicago Cubs that will begin on Friday. Tom Koehler is set to make the start for Miami.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FIFA Bans Former World Cup Inspector for 7 Years]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:21:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/harold-nichols-AP_10081916341.jpg

FIFA has banned the official it chose to inspect 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting candidates for breaking ethics rules.

FIFA says Harold Mayne-Nicholls of Chile is barred from "any kind of football-related activity at national and international level" for seven years.

FIFA did not specify his offense, saying its ethics committee could give "more detailed information ... after this final decision becomes effective."

Mayne-Nicholls previously spoke of conversations he had with officials in Qatar about possible work placements for relatives at the Aspire youth academy.

In his technical report to FIFA in 2010, he flagged Qatar as the riskiest of five 2022 candidates.

The former Chile football federation head was considering standing for the FIFA presidential election when his ethics case was reported last year. 

Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[Kyle Busch Brushes Wall in 1st Daytona Race Since Crash]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 01:15:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479385200.jpg

Kyle Busch brushed the wall early in his first race at Daytona International Speedway since breaking his right leg and left foot in a crash at the track in February.

Trying to pass Jamie McMurray on lap 17 of the 160-lap race, Busch wiggled and tagged the wall. He lost two laps while his crew worked to repair splitter and body damage on his No. 18 Toyota.

It was a potentially costly setback for Busch, who needs to finish in the top 30 in points to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Busch missed the first 11 races this season following his Daytona crash in the Xfinity Series season opener, but NASCAR granted him a waiver that would make him Chase eligible with a victory and a top-30 finish in points.

Busch won last week's race at Sonoma Raceway, but needs to average a 14th-place finish over the next 10 races to join the Chase. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Photos: U.S. Wins 2015 World Cup]]> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 06:43:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479605440.jpg The United States defeated Japan 5-2 to win the 2015 World Cup in Vancouver.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins Option Marcell Ozuna to AAA]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:25:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-478899362.jpg

The Miami Marlins optioned Marcell Ozuna to AAA New Orleans on Sunday following a prolonged slump for the outfielder.

Ozuna entered the year with high expectations after a breakthrough 2014 season. The center fielder was unable to live up to the lofty goals however, and has struggled to be productive all season.

Following Sunday's loss in Chicago, Ozuna's slash line is .249 / .301 / .337. Of note is a lack of power for the outfielder. Ozuna only has four home runs this season, and has only knocked in 26 runs total.

With Giancarlo Stanton out of commission, Miami needs more production from the rest of the lineup. Ozuna simply has not been able to provide that, and he has also had numerous poor at-bats. In at least one at-bat during Sunday's loss, Ozuna appeared to lose focus and made poor decisions on pitch selection.

Ozuna only has one hit in his last 36 at-bats, and has been held without a knock for 17 straight. Not only is Ozuna failing to pick up hits, but he is also not taking free passes, Ozuna has not walked since June 30th, and had only one prior to that since June 19th.

The Marlins have a lack of options in terms of replacing Ozuna especially with Stanton on the disabled list. Miami could give some at-bats to Ichiro Suzuki and Cole Gillespie in the outfield. Michael Morse will also likely see time at a corner outfield spot. The Marlins may promote Jordany Valdespin from AAA for further depth as well.

Miami is off on Monday before heading to Boston for a quick two-game series against the Red Six.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins' Bats Silenced Again in Chicago]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:12:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479559462.jpg

The Miami Marlins saw their offense stay quiet as the Chicago Cubs shut them out 2-0 on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

The loss gave Chicago a series win, and Miami only managed a total of two runs in its last two games. The Marlins had a few opportunities to bring a run home, but went 0-3 with runners in scoring position. This followed a day after the Marlins had multiple run-scoring chances.

All five of Miami's hits were singles and none were particularly hard hit. Starting pitcher Mat Latos had one of the hits for Miami, and has his batting average over .300. The hit was only part of what was a productive day for the veteran.

Latos dazzled on the mound, but was tagged with the loss. The right-hander allowed only one hit across his seven innings of work. Latos struck out seven, walked one and allowed a run. That lone score came in the first inning on a wild pitch. Latos had two wild pitches in the game, though one could have easily been called a passed ball.

With Latos' spot due up in the eighth inning, manager Dan Jennings called upon Michael Morse to pinch-hit. Morse was activated from the disabled list before the game, and represented the go-ahead run. The veteran would strike out however and Miami was kept a run down.

Marcell Ozuna's struggles continued with an 0-3 day. The center fielder has a season average of .249, and could be in danger of losing playing time.

The Marlins are off on Monday before opening a two-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday. On the mound for Miami will be Dan Haren.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cosart Provides Fireworks as Marlins Fall at Wrigley]]> Sun, 05 Jul 2015 09:44:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-479491478.jpg

Miami Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart was no match for the Chicago Cubs in a 7-2 loss at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

This game was over in the blink of an eye thanks to two long home runs by Kris Bryant. The Cubs' third baseman hit a two-run shot in the first inning that nearly left the stadium. In the second inning, Bryant followed that up with a grand slam to put the game out of reach.

One oddity in this game was the hit disparity between the teams. Miami had ten hits compared to Chicago's four. Yet, the Cubs ran away with the all-important run column. This can be attributed to Bryant's home runs, and Miami's inability to hit with runners in scoring position.

After the game, Miami optioned to Cosart to AAA New Orleans. He will be replaced on the roster but Michael Morse who had been on the disabled list. Cosart's spot in the rotation could go to David Phelps or Jose Urena.

The Marlins were 1-14 with runners in scoring position and left a total of 12 men on base. The opportunities to come back were there all game, but Miami was unable to cash the runs in. This has been a problem for Miami all season long. Being without Giancarlo Stanton for a few more weeks will not help matters.

Cole Gillespie took advantage of a rare starting opportunity with a pair of doubles. With Stanton out and Ichiro Suzuki struggling, Gillespie has found some unexpected playing time. That time may dwindle now with Morse returning however.

After Cosart gave up seven runs in 1.2 innings, the bullpen did an admirable job of containing Chicago's lineup. David Phelps, Bryan Morris, and Brad Hand combined for 6.1 innings of no-hit relief.

Miami will try to win the series on Sunday when Mat Latos makes the start against Chicago.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Green Bay Packers Player Arrested in Miami Beach]]> Sat, 04 Jul 2015 17:01:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/andrew+quarless+green+bay+packers+mug+070415.jpg

Miami Beach Police arrested an NFL player after they say he shot his gun into the air early Saturday morning.

Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless, 26, was charged with discharging a firearm in public around 5:30 a.m. Saturday.

A parking attendant on the 500 block of Lenox Avenue told police he spotted a black Porsche Panamera with two men and two women inside. According to the arrest report, the two men got out of the Porsche and approached a white vehicle with several women inside.

The attendant said the discussion soon became hostile. That's when he told police he spotted Quarless walking up to the white car with a semi-automatic handgun. The witness then told police Quarless pointed the gun in the air and fired off two rounds before taking off in the Porsche.

Another witness told police Quarless "discharged his firearm in an apparent attempt to emphasize his dominance and manhood," according to the police report.

The white vehicle left the scene and was not seen or heard from again, the report stated.

Police put out a "be on the lookout", or BOLO, alert for the Porsche. Officers spotted the vehicle parked on the 400 block of Washington Avenue with its lights on.

According to the report, Quarless was discovered nearby, "attempting to conceal himself and the black firearm in a nearby plant."

It is unclear whether Quarless has an attorney.

A spokesman for the Green Bay Packers issued a statement, saying, "We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment."

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Bour Homers Again as Marlins Win 4th Straight]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 20:43:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-474879982.jpg

Justin Bour stayed hot and helped the Miami Marlins beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Friday as they extended their win streak to four.

Bour's home run was his fourth in as many days and tied a franchise record. This marks the eighth time that a Marlins player has accomplished the feat. Bour's blast gives him ten on the season, and he is filled in admirably at the cleanup spot.

Since Giancarlo Stanton was lost to a broken hand, Miami has gone 4-1. A lot of the success can be attributed to Bour, who has provided the power that the Marlins badly needed. The first baseman was in danger of losing his job to a returning Michael Morse, but that seems unlikely now.

Christian Yelich also went deep in this game with a home run in the first inning. The left fielder is one of the hottest hitters on the team, and now has five home runs this year. Yelich began the year slow and also had a stint on the disabled list. Overall, Yelich is hitting .253 on the year, and has hit in a variety of places in the batting order.

Tom Koehler continued his fine season with his seventh win. Relegated to the bullpen at one point, Koehler has provided Miami with consistent success in any role he was placed in. Koehler has a 3.52 E.R.A this season after only allowing one run in six innings in this one.

With Carter Capps unavailable, Miami was forced to rely on other arms to secure the win. Steve Cishek worked a perfect seventh inning before Sam Dyson contributed a scoreless eighth. A.J. Ramos pitched the ninth for his 13th save of the year.

Jarred Cosart will get the ball on Saturday when the Marlins seek a fifth straight win.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Sign First Round Pick Winslow]]> Fri, 03 Jul 2015 19:19:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/062615+justise+winslow.jpg

The Miami Heat continued their busy week when they signed recent first-round pick Justise Winslow to a contract on Friday.

Winslow's salary was not announced by the team but is expected to be in the range of $2.5 million. The slot value for the tenth overall pick is $2,068,000, but teams often go a little above that recommended number. Winslow was picked in that spot by Miami, in what has been referred to as a steal for the team by many.

Already this week, Miami has come to terms with Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade on new deals. Those signings came on the heels of Luol Deng opting into the 2015-16 season. The flurry of moves has allowed the Heat to get a clear picture of the roster that the team will have next season.

Winslow will be an interesting piece for Miami and could see substantial playing time. When the year begins, expectations are that Winslow will be a reserve. With production, he may be able to increase his minutes quickly. If Miami makes trades, Winslow could find himself with increased minutes via that route as well.

While a deal remains unlikely, the Heat have also reportedly met with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. The star is seeking a max contract which is not something that Miami could presently offer. Signing Aldridge would require multiple trades or a steep discount from the All-Star.

Miami has little wiggle room in terms of the salary cap, but still is expected to fill out the bench more as the off-season progresses.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marlins' Stanton Named NL Player of the Month]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 21:58:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-477137296.jpg

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton was named the National League Player of the Month for June on Thursday.

Stanton dominated opposing pitchers in the month and hit home runs at a prolific rate. Despite missing the last few days of the month due to injury, Stanton had 12 home runs and 23 runs batted in. A broken hand sidelined the star after Friday's loss, but his stats were good enough for the monthly award.

In the month, Stanton also hit .344 which was a vast improvement over his start to the year. All year long Stanton had been mashing home runs, but at the same time had a lackluster batting average. In June, Stanton put together solid at-bats and provided more than just power.

When he went down with the hand injury, Stanton sat atop the MLB leader boards in both HR and RBI. Despite being out of action for nearly a week, Stanton is still leading in home runs and is near the top in runs batted in.

This is the second time in Stanton's career that he has taken home Player of the Month honors. Back in May of 2012, the slugger also was given the prestigious honor. That month, Stanton posted numbers that were very similar to this June with his .343 batting average to go along with 12 HR and 30 RBI.

Earlier this year, Stanton also was named of the Player of the Week on June 14th. That marked the third time in his career that the 25-year old won weekly honors.

Stanton should be able to return in early August, and could also end up being named to the All-Star Game despite being unable to play.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Contador Eyes 3rd Tour de France Title]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:40:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Alberto-Contador-2-July-2015.jpg

Tour de France contender Alberto Contador's serious-looking face cracked into a beaming smile during a lighthearted moment at his pre-race news conference on Thursday, when he was joined by an unexpected guest.

It happened when two Dutch television journalists presented the Spanish rider with a canary in a cage, popping it down on the table right next to him.

Contador used to breed canaries when he was younger, something he says he no longer has time to do since becoming a professional rider, and he sat gazing curiously at the tiny yellow bird as it hopped around.

Yellow will be all Contador has on his mind from this Saturday onward as he tries to win back the famed jersey he won twice before, in 2007 and 2009.

The showcase race starts with an individual time trial around the Dutch city of Utrecht and ends July 26 in Paris.

Contador's 2010 Tour title was stripped from him after a failed doping test for the fat-burning, muscle-building drug clenbuterol, and his 2011 Giro d'Italia title subsequently also scrapped. Following a suspension, Contador looked well set for a podium finish at the 2013 Tour, only to slump late on in the race and finish fourth.

His frustration turned to agony when, on the 2014 Tour, he dropped out on stage 10 after a bone-breaking downhill crash during a mountain stage. Remarkably, he continued to ride for 20 minutes with a fractured left tibia — and with blood gushing from his right knee — before agony overwhelmed him.

Contador, dejected, ruled himself out of the Spanish Vuelta only to recover quicker than expected, change his mind and win the race for the third time.

Now, he has another objective: the Giro-Tour double.

"If I win just another Tour it's not going to change my career, but if I achieve the double this is something people are going to remember," Contador said Thursday. "I take a lot of motivation from this."

After winning his second Giro title in May, he now has the chance to become the first rider since Italian Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete that double the same year.

He has thought about nothing else since the Giro ended.

"I sacrificed everything. Every day, every minute I have been working toward this," he said, looking serious again with his canary friend now removed from the table. "There was no celebration. I put absolute focus on the bike. It's a new challenge for me."

A hugely ambitious one, given the strength of the opposition.

Barring his way are defending champion Vincenzo Nibali and 2013 winner Chris Froome, who also has a burning desire to win after crashing out on the cobblestones in last year's Tour. Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana, runner-up to Froome in 2013, is also a threat.

"I have been training and resting. But I think I'm well recovered physically and also mentally, which is probably more important," Contador said. "There are four favorites everybody talks about but I think there are more riders ... (Romain) Bardet, (Alejandro) Valverde, (Thibault) Pinot."

While Nibali's Astana team and Froome's Team Sky have changed their Giro lineups, Contador's Tinkoff-Saxo team has retained five riders from that race.

"They're experienced and strong," Contador said. "I trust them."

Contador will be nervous, however.

This year's opening nine-day swing from the Low Countries across northern France again features the dreaded cobblestones. Rain and slippery stones are a nightmare for most riders, while some like Nibali glide over them with dismissive ease.

"The first objective is to try and avoid crashes. It's a very complicated start to the Tour," Contador said. "The first nine days there are at least six very intense stages, maybe more. It's going to be a Tour with no rest."

By his own admission, Contador felt in better condition heading into last year's Tour.

"If I had to choose between last year and this year's feeling I'd take last year's," he said. "I come here with a clear objective. I know it's very difficult."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wade Agrees to 1-Year Deal With Heat]]> Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:19:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/460860258.jpg

The Miami Heat will not have to experience life without Dwyane Wade as he has agreed to a one-year contract per NBA.com.

Wade had opted out of a contract that would have paid him over $16 million in the 2015-16 season, and became an unrestricted free agent. When Wade opted out, there was speculation that he was seeking a multi-year deal. This one year offer gives both Wade and the Heat flexibility for next off-season's salary cap jump.

“It has been an honor and privilege to play with the Miami HEAT the past twelve years. The HEAT family and I have shared incredible moments over the years and I look forward to continuing our journey. I am extremely proud of my personal contributions in helping to build the HEAT franchise and for bringing three NBA championship wins to our great city. For my entire NBA career, Miami has always been my city and my home. I’m overwhelmed with the love and support the Miami community have consistently shown me and my family throughout the years," Wade said in a statement.

In recent days, Miami reportedly came to terms with Goran Dragic on a new deal as well. With Luol Deng picking up his player option, the Heat have a formidable starting five and few questions left to answer. Hassan Whiteside and Chris Bosh are expected to join the aforementioned trio each night.

Wade's salary for next season will be worth a reported $20 million. This gives the Heat and president Pat Riley little wiggle room financially for next year. At this point, barring trades Miami will merely be able to fill in the bench with some low salary additions.

Riley could have something more up his sleeve however. There were reports earlier on Thursday that Miami planned to meet with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. In order to add a player such as Aldridge, the Heat would have to clear significant payroll room. It may not be a possibility without including a player such as Bosh or Wade in a trade.

“This contract is a win-win for both Dwyane and the HEAT. Not only does Dwyane get to extend his Hall of Fame-worthy career with the only franchise for whom he has ever played, but he will have the flexibility next summer to sign an additional deal. And the HEAT gets to keep their franchise cornerstone while having the ability to build a championship-contending roster," Wade's agent Henry Thomas added.

Next off-season, the NBA will dramatically increase its salary cap number. This has led to interesting contract negotiations thus far this off-season. Players and teams are coming to terms with next year in mind. Wade could potentially earn more as a free agent next year, and the Heat can possibly go after a top tier free agent.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dragic Inks 5-Year Deal With Heat: Report]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:18:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-464284460.jpg

The Miami Heat have come to terms with Goran Dragic on a new five-year contract, according to a report by ESPN.

Dragic became a free agent at midnight on Wednesday and was able to negotiate with any team. Miami was quick to retain Dragic's services after the guard made a big impact in the latter half of last season. The deal is reported to be worth $90 million, and includes a player option after the fourth season.

When Dragic was acquired in a trade-deadline deal with the Suns, he took over a spot that was in dire need of a change for Miami. The Heat had tried several different options at point guard with inconsistent results.

Losing Dragic would have put Miami in a precarious position, and this signing could have a domino effect. Signing Dragic could aid in Miami's mission to retain Dwyane Wade. Like Dragic, the Heat veteran became a free agent at midnight. Wade may talk with other teams, but a return to Miami is still considered the most likely scenario.

When Dragic decided to decline his player option for the 2015-16 season, there was speculation that he may wait to see what Wade does. Knowing how much money is available to the team this season, and in future seasons should allow team president Pat Riley to make more moves rapidly.

The Heat may need to offer Wade more than his market value depending on the efforts of rival teams. The New York Knicks could pose a challenge to the Heat in keeping Wade in Miami. One factor that could weigh on Wade's mind however is the ability to contend. The Heat have a playoff contending roster with him on board.

Miami still needs to fill out its bench and possibly make trades for versatility financially. Josh McRoberts could be a candidate to head elsewhere this off-season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bour Blasts Marlins Into Win Column]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 22:20:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-474157094.jpg

The Miami Marlins picked up a big win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday by a final score of 6-5.

Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, Miami put the first two runners on base. With the fourth spot in the lineup due up, Justin Bour stepped to the plate. Prior to his injury, this at-bat would have been seen by Giancarlo Stanton.

Bour did his best Stanton impression with a line drive three-run home run to right field. The blast ended the game and turned what looked like a loss, into an exciting win for Miami. It was the eighth home of the year for Bour and his second in two games.

The Marlins have now won two games in a row over the defending champions and guaranteed a series victory with this win.

Dee Gordon provided excitement on the bases for a second straight day, but stopped at third base this time around. In game one of the series, Gordon had an inside-the-park home run and settled for his fourth three-bagger of the year in this one.

Dan Haren made the start for Miami and struggled which has been rare for the veteran this year. Haren allowed three earned runs on ten hits in his 5.2 innings of work. Thanks to Bour's home run, Haren ended up with a no-decision instead of a loss.

The win in this one went to Steve Cishek who worked a scoreless top of the ninth. The former closer is now 2-5 on the season.

Thursday will be a big day for the Marlins as Jose Fernandez will make his return to the mound and start for the team.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Heat Making Progress on New Deal With Wade: Report]]> Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:09:11 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-466555146.jpg

The Miami Heat are wasting no time in their efforts to retain Dwyane Wade for multiple seasons, according to a report by Yahoo.

Wade has played his entire career with Miami and recently declined a player option for the 2015-16 season. When Wade opted out of the contract, he became an unrestricted free agent. While Wade can meet with other teams, it is possible he'll sign a new deal with the Heat quickly.

Keeping Wade in Miami is a priority for the Heat even if he ends up being paid more than anticipated. The Heat have built a contending team around Wade and would be grasping at straws to replace both his production and his leadership. The guard has been a part of all three championships in franchise history, and has authored many of its best moments.

If Wade had picked up his option for next season, he would have earned north of $16 million. It remains to be seen how much the Heat would pay under a new deal should they come to terms with him. Wade was rumored to be seeking an increase in pay as well as a longer term of length on his contract.

Earlier on Wednesday, there were reports that the Heat came to terms with Goran Dragic on a new five-year deal. Dragic's contract is expected to be $90 million which comes in under maximum value. The discount provided by Dragic may have helped Miami give Wade the salary bump he was seeking. In previous seasons, Wade had been unselfish and took less money to aid in the team's roster decisions.

Assuming Wade and Miami reach agreement on a new contract, the Heat will be looking at a starting five of Wade, Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>