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HEAT NOTES: Miami Trades Mason to Kings; Westbrook Returns for Thunder

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Heat didn't do much before Thursday's trade deadline, but did create a future roster spot for an unknown future player by shipping guard Roger Mason Jr. to Sacramento.

The Heat received a 2015 conditional second-round pick (one it will probably never see) for Mason.

"Obviously this is the tough side, the business side, of basketball,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said after Thursday's morning practice.

"The game side of it is beautiful, but sometimes you have to make tough business decisions. Roger was terrific. He earned his spot in training camp, the first cut date. Right now the business side says we need flexibility.''

For Miami, the most important part of the deal was being able to create roster flexibility all while shedding a little money to help ease its luxury tax bill.

Mason -- who was promptly put on waivers by the Kings -- played in 25 games with the Heat after signing with Miami as a free agent last summer.

"The business of the game is very, very tough,'' LeBron James said, adding he had yet to speak with Mason. "He's been with us the whole time and then you wake up and he's not here. No one saw this coming. It's something you can't control. It sucks.''

The Heat, now with 14 players on its roster, will be watching the waiver list to see which players are available.

As long as a player is released by March 1, he is eligible for the postseason.

Former Heat guard Caron Butler is a player thought to be on Miami's radar if he is bought out of the remainder of his contract by Milwaukee.

"We have enough, there's no question about it,'' Spoelstra said. "We're not going around the league looking for a piece to get us a title. The answers are in our locker room. Concerning health, we have the depth.''


As expected, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook returned after missing parts of the past two months after having knee surgery.

The Thunder were 21-4 in Westbrook's absence.

"It's always good for competition, having the best players out there,'' Spoelstra said. "One way or another you have to be prepared for that speed, quickness, athleticism they bring, the tempo they bring in this building. It goes from quick to quicker.''

-- The James-Kevin Durant rivalry picked up on Thursday with Durant aiming for the MVP award James has won the past two seasons.

"It's a 82 game season and the competition doesn't end until Game 82,'' Chris Bosh said. "It's a competitive atmosphere around them.''

James has been paying attention to what Durant's been doing what with Westbrook out of the lineup. With a lot of games remaining, James knows the award is still up for grabs. Durant, however, appears to be the frontrunner.

"For me, it's meant a lot receiving the award but I never put pressure on myself for that,'' James said. "I just went out, played my game and what happened came of that. I try to be the MVP for our team every night and put us in position to win.''

-- James on Indiana shipping Danny Granger to the 76ers on Thursday: "I didn't think Granger would last as long as he did, not after Paul George became the player he did. I wasn't surprised at all. Obviously Grainger is a very good player. He just hasn't found his niche after coming back from his injury.''




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