MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The lull of summer, in which the only sport playing actual games is baseball, will soon be over.
Next week NFL teams will begin their respective training camps, with the Miami Dolphins kicking things off on Thursday the 27th.
Once football gets going, the dominoes begin to fall in rapid succession. College football. NFL. NHL. NBA. NCAA Hoops.
Indeed, the busy season for sports fans is almost upon us. To steal a line from a popular TV show, ‘winter is coming’.
But before we all dive in head first to the end of the summer, let’s take a look at some of the biggest mid-year stories surrounding our local teams.
The main thing the Dolphins have done during their offseason is rewarding players with new contracts instead of signing free agents that were previously with other teams.
As for other moves…
The Dolphins added elite tight end Julius Thomas in a trade. Thomas, who just turned 29 in June, is entering the prime years of his career and had two amazing season under Adam Gase when the two were in Denver.
Former Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano, who was one of the top blocking tight ends in the NFL last season, is back for a second go-round in Miami.
Gase is entering his second season as Miami’s head coach with a better team (on paper) than he had in year one. The big question will be whether he can continue to build on the Dolphins surprising 10-win, playoff appearance campaign they enjoyed in 2016.
The Panthers will have a new coach behind the bench for the third time in four years. After what was described by general manager Dale Tallon as “an exhaustive search,” Bob Boughner was named the 15th head coach in Panthers history.
“During the interview process, Bob blew us away with his preparation, his passion, knowledge and dedication to the game,” Tallon said at the time.
Florida is a team packed with young, talented players that could very easily become a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of young…the Panthers also created some relatively big shockwaves when free agency opened and they chose not to offer a new contract to future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr had spent parts of the past three seasons with Florida and was a huge fan favorite.
Tallon made it clear that while Jagr was loved, appreciated and admired throughout the organization, he didn’t fit with the team’s new direction under Boughner.
The Heat’s big story of the offseason has to do with nothing but free agency. Pat Riley is always a major player in the process and the big target of the summer was Gordon Haywayd.
Well, Miami missed out on Hayward (he chose to sign with Boston) so Riley quickly re-signed the players who led the Heat to an Eastern Conference best 30-11 record during the second half of the season.
The surprise move by Riley was signing free agent big man Kelly Olynyk, who he feels is a perfect fit with the Heat due to his ability to stretch the floor and play above-average defense.
The Marlins hosted the MLB All-Star Game this summer but the event wasn’t nearly as big as it has been in other towns.
There was a downtown parade that was not well attended and an overall meh-feeling around South Florida.
Tickets remained available for the actual All-Star Game from both the Marlins and on the secondary market.
Most of the attention surrounding the Marlins, even in the midst of the All-Star festivities, has been the sale of the team by owner Jeffrey Loria.
The process has seemed to drag along as prospective owners have formed bidding groups and tried to recruit investors with deep pockets.
It’s been reported that Loria is looking for well over $1.5 billion for the Marlins but so far nobody has come close to matching that number.
Groups led by Cuban billionaire Jorge Mas, former MLB star and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are all in the running.
Football- The Canes were picked by ACC media to win the Coastal Division and appear in their first ACC Championship Game.
That would be huge for Miami in head coach Mark Richt’s second year. Richt led Miami to its first bowl win in over a decade last season.
Basketball- Five-star recruit Lonnie Walker tore the meniscus in his knee during a practice and will be out for at least a few months.
Believed by many to be a future NBA lottery pick, it’s hoped that Walker will be able to return sometime this calendar year.