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16 posts from June 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Report: Mavericks pull into the lead for Whiteside

Make of this what we will.

But, hours before free agency officially opens -- at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Friday -- The Vertical is already reporting that the Dallas Mavericks are "emerging as the frontrunner" for Hassan Whiteside, and the Heat has "lost ground on him."

Teams are not allowed to contact players from other teams, or their representatives, until after midnight. 

So what is this about?

Well, at the very least, the Mavericks must be making it known to the media that they will offer a maximum contract; that's why you have seen reports to that effect. The Heat is not as comfortable with that. Miami seems to be taking somewhat of a passive-aggressive approach here, preparing an offer of less than the max with the intention of upping it, if someone else actually presents a max offer.

This is a dangerous game, since unlike with restricted free agents who sign offer sheets elsewhere, Whiteside is an unrestricted free agent who doesn't need to give the Heat the last word. He also doesn't take especially well to being slighted, even if slighted in this case still means a $20 million annual salary for someone who has never made $1 million and was in Lebanon not long ago.

But maybe the Heat is OK with him walking.

It sure seems that way. 

Mavericks to get first Whiteside meeting, offer max (from 790 The Ticket)

There are so many reports circulating, that you may have missed this.

On my show on 790TheTicket on Tuesday, ESPN.com reporter Tim MacMahon -- as plugged in as anyone to the Mavericks -- was definitive about the Mavericks' intentions with Hassan Whiteside. 

“I mean the Mavericks are getting the first meeting with him. I think there’s something to [Mark] Cuban trying to appeal to his fun loving nature. I would probably be just as concerned if not more concerned about the Lakers and Blazers. It’s not like the Mavericks have had a ton of success in free agency.”

MacMahon then went on to say that the Mavericks would "absolutely" offer the maximum salary. 

"No questions asked. The financial negotiations with the Mavericks will take all of two seconds. One second max for the max.”

A couple of things here:

The Mavericks have the same no state tax advantage as Miami.

And Cuban always loves to stick it to the Heat. 

Here's a more complete transcript from the interview. 



Heat's Summer League roster

    NAME                           POS          HGT         WGT        BIRTHDATE        PRIOR TO NBA/HOME CNTRY      YRS PRO

61     Nathan Boothe                        F/C        6-9        245        02/03/94        Toledo/USA                                 R

60     Michael Carrera                        F          6-5        215        01/07/93        South Carolina/Venezuela            R

55     Kenny Gabriel °                         F          6-8        217        07/03/89        Auburn/USA                                R

63     Chris Horton                             F          6-8        225        06/29/94        Austin Peay State/USA                 R

56     Juwan Howard, Jr.                    G          6-6        219        02/05/92        Detroit Mercy/USA                       R

64     Stefan Jankovic                        F         6-11       234        08/04/93        Hawai’i/Serbia                              R

53     Shawn Jones °                            F          6-8        240        03/25/92        Middle Tennessee/USA                R

67     Damion Lee                              G          6-6        203        10/21/92        Louisville/USA                             R

50     Rodney McGruder                    G          6-5        192        07/29/91        Kansas State/USA                         R

59     Nic Moore                                G          5-9        155        07/01/92        SMU/USA                                    R

62     Chris Obekpa                           C          6-9        226        11/14/93        UNLV/Nigeria                              R

65     Norvel Pelle                              C         6-11       215        02/03/93        Antigua                                         R

  0     Josh Richardson                        G          6-6        197        09/15/93        Tennessee/USA                            1

52     Victor Rudd                              F          6-9        246        03/18/91        USF/USA                                      R

51     Kevin Tumba                           C          6-9        245        02/23/91        Democratic Republic of Congo    R

57     David Walker                           G          6-6        200        11/24/93        Northeastern/USA                        R

12     Brianté Weber                           G          6-2        171        12/29/92        Virginia Commonwealth/USA      1

54     Okaro White +                           F          6-8        204        08/13/92        Florida State/USA                         R

20     Justise Winslow                         F          6-7        229        03/26/96        Duke/USA                                    1

(°): Will only play in the Orlando Pro Summer League

(+): Will only play in the Samsung NBA Summer League

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Report: Kevin Durant scheduled to meet with Heat on July 3

Pat Riley will get in the room.


According to ESPN, Kevin Durant has scheduled a meeting in the Hamptons with the Miami Heat on July 3rd.

That is after he meets with the Oklahoma City Thunder -- with which he is allowed to speak prior to July 1st -- and the Golden State Warriors. Durant is also reportedly planning to meet with the Spurs, Clippers and Celtics, with the Knicks and Lakers trying to squeeze into the mix. 

While Bovada has given the Heat the third-best odds to land Durant, well behind the Warriors and even further behind the heavily-favored Thunder, the Heat's late meeting date is potentially problematic. Hassan Whiteside has already indicated that he wants his situation finalized on July 1st, and Dallas -- as ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon told me on 790 The Ticket on Tuesday -- is prepared to offer a maximum deal as soon as free agency opens.

Also, ESPN is reporting that Dwyane Wade's representatives have made it known that he could be available. The Heat not only want to re-sign Wade, but need to agree to terms relatively quickly, to reduce his $30 million cap hold to whatever his new number is. Miami's other option to renounce Wade, and return to him at the end of its dealings with other players, with whatever cap space remains. 

If Durant leaves Oklahoma City, his new 2016-17  salary would almost certainly be the maximum of $26.7 million, which -- unless the Heat trade someone such as Goran Dragic or Josh McRoberts -- would leave Miami with under $15 million total for Wade, Whiteside and Luol Deng.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hassan Whiteside non-committal on returning to Heat as free agency nears

Clearly, Hassan Whiteside is enjoying this experience.

Even so, he doesn't want to extend it too long.

"July 1," the Heat center said, of the date he officially becomes a free agent. "Hopefully I know. I hope it's an easy decision to make."

Whiteside was at the Young Arts Foundation on Sunday to root for high school and college friends in the Dew NBA 3X tournament. Then he spoke to the media for the first time since the Heat season ended in the second round -- with Whiteside out nursing an injured knee.

That knee is fine now, with no surgery necessary. And Whiteside is feeling fine about his current situation, coming off a minimum contract and in line for something near a maximum deal. When he saw the media gathered to speak with him, he smiled: "Hey guys. It's a party now."

Whiteside called it "flattering" that teams he used to call for tryouts, unsuccessfully, are now after him; reports have included Dallas, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers in the chase. And Whiteside didn't do much on Sunday to discourage their pursuit.

"It's open," Whiteside said.

And when asked if he would return to Miami "if all things are equal" -- the Heat can actually offer a bit more on a long-term deal due to larger raises -- he paused, puffed out some air and said, "We'll see."

Whiteside said he hasn't narrowed his list yet, because teams can't directly express interest until July 1st. He called this "a big opportunity" and "a big decision," comparing it to his choice to try out for the D-League rather than go to China.

He disputed any notion that loyalty to a team should be a determining factor, mentioning "fit with the team" and "how they utilize their offense and defense" instead. And he said he wasn't putting a premium of Florida's absence of state tax, because "you can always be traded." (Incidentally, Dallas is also in a state with no income tax).

"There's a lot of things that come into it," Whiteside said. "There's not one specific thing. It's like you having a wife. You can't say one specific thing you like about her, you know, you just got to like her as a whole.... All the dots got to connect."

Of course, Pat Riley needs to connect dots for the Heat, and that's where this gets complicated. Riley said after the season that Whiteside was the Heat's "No. 1 priority." Whiteside heard that comment and said he had a good meeting with Riley two weeks ago. But Riley has also made it clear that he will always be seeking a "whale," and wants a meeting with Kevin Durant. Whiteside seems to be sending a message -- that he's not especially willing to wait.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

LeBron states intention to stay with Cavs, and that's OK for Heat

You typically don't use a parade day to announce an exit.

So I suppose some will say that LeBron James couldn't say anything else -- other than that he planned to return to the Cavaliers for at least another season, after likely opting out of his contract again.

Still, the swiftness and frequency with which he stated it -- telling reporters Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Jeff Zilgitt of USA Today and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com -- certainly suggests that he's made up his mind.

Here's what he told ESPN.com:

"I love it here in Cleveland. I have no intentions of leaving. There are some technicalities to take care of I'll leave up to my agent. That's right from the horse's mouth."

So what does this mean?

It means that the #HeGone crew should dismount their horses.

Regardless of what Stephen A. Smith heard from anonymous sources based in Miami, it was always highly unlikely that James would return to the Heat this offseason. The relationship between him and Pat Riley still seems somewhat frosty, with James insinuating that someone in the Heat camp (someone who sure sounded like Riley) had told him that he was making a mistake by leaving in 2014, and thus became James' "secret motivation" to win in Cleveland. And I can tell you from my reporting that the upper levels of Heat management still aren't enamored with the way James handled the end in Miami -- not just the free agent period, but the entire previous season, when he made his displeasure with Heat rules more known. 

But now, it's even less likely to happen, and that's fine. James is still the best player in the world, proving that against Stephen Curry and Golden State. And he would be worth the $30 million he can command for next season's salary, even if it cost the Heat other players, notably Hassan Whiteside. But Miami needs to turn the page.

And so do Heat fans.

So, #BeGone with #HeGone.

It was a fun fantasy, but little more. It's now up to Riley to create an equally appealing reality. 

Gary Payton, coming to Miami for 3-on-3 tourney, reminsces about 2006 title

Gary Payton played for five organizations over 17 seasons, but he was a champion only in Miami.

Before he returns here this weekend -- as an ambassador for an early round of the Dew NBA 3X, the league's first-ever nationwide elite 3-on-3 basketball competition -- Payton spoke to 790 The Ticket about the Heat's 2006 title There's been plenty of conversation about that championship, since Monday marked the 10th anniversary, and 2006 Finals MVP Dwyane Wade responded to an oral history on ESPN.com by defending the accomplishment on his Instagram account. 

"Now what I'm reading about the series is unfair to me as a basketball player," Wade wrote, next to a photo of him getting fouled by Devin Harris. "Did I get some calls that I could have played through? YES. We all do... but was I attacking every time I touch the ball? YES." 

Does Payton think that team's triumph has been overlooked or disparaged?

"Well, no, I don't care," Payton said. "i don't really care about that. We won it. You know what I'm saying. That team was put together by a great man in Pat Riley. When he put this team together, a lot of people said that he didn't know what he was doing, he took a chance on all these guys, had attitudes, they were always this person that time, all of them had a different attitude toward the game. When we pulled it together and won it, and came back and won four in a row, and beat Dallas in the championship, I don't care, that's the first championship Miami Heat ever got."

Payton said when he's approached by people from Miami, they say, "Man, lot of respect. You gave me our first championship. That's the best championship we've ever seen." Then LeBron came and won two of them. I feel what Dwyane is saying, that we don't get enough publicity about winning in 2006, but I don't care about that. We did what we had to do. We were the best team that year. And no one can take that away from us." 

He also recalled a turning point in that season.

"We had lost in Dallas, and we had gotten beaten pretty bad and people came in with their heads down and acted like they didn't care," Payton said "Pat came in and said, 'What are we gonna do? And I was like, no, 'What you gonna do? You got to make changes in here, you're gonna need to make changes in here. Because you are the one who runs this. You're the President. You're the coach now. What you gonna do?' ... He put us all accountable for something, and made us understand that we have to be accountable for what we do. And then I took the team to a players' meeting and said, 'Look, this is for us. We play for ourselves. You know what I'm saying? Ain't nobody go out there and play for us. He can put X's and O's on the table, but we have to execute that stuff and be a good basketball team.'"

The Heat then won 15 of their next 16. 

"And everything else was history from there," Payton said. 

Now Payton's back, if just for a weekend. The tournament, which is at the National YoungArts Foundation in Wynwood, will feature more than 30 preselected men’s and women’s teams. The winning teams in each city will qualify for the championship event of the tour in Los Angeles in October. The NBA brought the tournament over from overseas. 

"We can pump up the United States and show that we don't just have basketball players in the NBA, but we got some players on the streets who didn't make it, and failed a little bit, and we can see them in this format," Payton said. "And some of these women out here have the talent to get into the WNBA too, they've just got to be seen. We can see them. We can put them on the map." 

Monday, June 20, 2016

LeBron reveals "secret motivation," and it looks like Pat Riley

LeBron James wouldn't reveal it.

Trust me, I tried -- several times. I was covering the Cleveland Cavaliers quite a bit last season for Bleacher Report and, when James revealed during the NBA Finals that he had a "secret motivation," I scrambled to learn what it was.

The people around him were cryptic, but I had a sense it had something to do with one of two things -- either his frustration that Stephen Curry was starting to get more attention, or his desire to prove something to Pat Riley. The latter guess was based on some conversations that I had with him and others during the course of the season. Even though James took the high road publicly, he was interested in what Riley was saying about him in Miami, specifically the "smiling faces with hidden agendas" comment in Riley's April 2015 press conference.

I tried again when James appeared as a guest on Bleacher Report Radio in July 2015, as he was regrouping from losing the NBA Finals to the Warriors.

He laughed but wouldn't give it away. 

“I’m still waiting to win. The motivation has not stopped. Once the postseason starts, if we’re fortunate to get to the postseason, I think we can, we have a great team, that motivation will kick back in." 

Well, now, after he won a title with the Cavaliers, it appears the secret is out. 


That really can't be anyone but Riley. It certainly wasn't Dwyane Wade. It's not Erik Spoelstra's style, nor Andy Elisburg's, nor even Micky Arison's. And he and others -- like Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem -- remained close. 

So you can say Riley has won another ring, if you want, by inspiring James.

Or you can just give James the credit for being a transcendent player who has proven one of his points. 


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quick thoughts after LeBron James' 3rd championship, 1st in Cleveland

Well, #TeamPetty took a decisive, historic loss Sunday night, along with the Golden State Warriors, as the defending champions squandered a 3-1 series lead and plenty of opportunities down the stretch of Game 7.

Here are some quick thoughts, from a Miami perspective:

-- First, recognize that LeBron James is still the world's best player, and it isn't especially close. He doesn't need a regular season MVP to validate that. He was the dominant force throughout this series, while Stephen Curry was too sloppy in too many situations.

-- Second, be proud that James chose your city to ply his trade for four seasons. Twenty-six other cities -- and two teams in New York and Los Angeles -- would have loved the chance. 

-- Third, take some pride that he took his template for team-building from the Heat. He has said so himself. Though, somehow, I don't think Erik Spoelstra will get a playoff share. 

-- Fourth, don't stress too much when you hear James say this championship is extra special. ABC/ESPN's Doris Burke set him up for that, and James said it was because he "was home." Of course. That's been the narrative all along. And this one was especially difficult, considering James had to win two games in Oakland, where the Warriors had lost only twice during the entire regular season. But I'll still maintain that the first title was the most meaningful, because it's the one in which he validated himself as a champion. 

-- Fifth, tell your friends what a smart tweeter (@TeviEber) observed.... "LeBron still has never won a championship without Dwyane Wade in the room." Wade was at Oracle Arena on Sunday. 

-- Finally, don't watch the parade, where fans who cursed James will get the ultimate sports reward. Unless torture appeals to you. Better to go to the beach instead. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Haslem planning offseason workouts with Bosh, assumes he will play next season

Udonis Haslem claims he doesn't have any inside information.

Haslem BoshHe says he didn't ask Chris Bosh -- when the two hung out together last week to watch Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Bosh's house -- if Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, will definitely be back on the court when the Miami Heat reunites in late September and begins practicing again. 

But as far as he knows, Haslem, a 13-year Heat veteran, said Thursday, he's operating under the assumption Bosh, who missed the second half of the season for the second year in a row following another bout with blood clots, will be playing and not sitting on the sideline for the Heat next season.

"We didn't speak about it, but that's what I'm assuming," Haslem said Thursday after he drove over to South Broward High School and posed for photos and signed autographs for dozens of kids at a Miami Heat youth basketball camp. "I don't know much, but as far as I know that's what I'm assuming."

"His spirits are well," Haslem continued. "We talked about this summer. We're planning on getting a couple workouts in together. Like I said, I've already started my workouts. We talked about getting some workouts in together, spending some time together this summer out there in L.A.

"I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling good. Actually said he feels great. Those were his exact words: 'I feel great.'"

The Heat have not updated Bosh's status since Pat Riley's end of the season press conference saying then that the team remains hopeful and is working toward getting Bosh back on the court next season.


Haslem, who turned 36 last week, said he still feels like he can play at least another three seasons. Haslem, who becomes a free agent on July 1, is a player Riley referred to as "a forever guy" for the Heat.

"If you talk to the right guys they'll teach you where to find the fountain of youth," Haslem said. "Hanging out with Juwan [Howard] the last couple years he gave me a couple tips on how to find the fountain of youth. There's only a few guys that know the directions. Me, Juwan, Richard Jefferson, Dwyane [Wade] has found it.

"It starts up in here," Haslem said pointing to his head. "It starts up in your mind. That's where you start the process and the plans. I feel good man. Obviously my minutes [were] limited so I didn't have to play that much. I've really been able to save my body a lot. I feel fine. I'm in the weight room a couple times a week, continuing to keep the body strong. Rehabbing on my plantar fascia that I tore. [I'm] just working on the body. Right now that's the most important thing."

Haslem tore the plantar fascia in his left foot near the end of the regular season. He played through the pain in the playoffs and provided some valuable minutes in the series victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

"When you pop it or tear it, it's almost like a surgery in itself," Haslem said of the tear. "That's the way they explained it to me. That's something where it doesn't really matter your age. It can happen to a young person or when you're old. The recovery is the same."

Haslem said he expects to be fully healed in about a month and a half. 

"I know for sure I've got two years in me," Haslem said. "Two years ago I had to come in and play -- Hassan [Whiteside], Bird, everybody was out. I gave solid minutes, played well. This year we were in the playoffs -- Game 6 in Charlotte. I can be ready in those type of situations for a couple years. I mean, honestly, I can play in a situation where I can play 10 to 15 to 20 minutes a night honestly if I had to. But that's just not the situation I'm in so.

"I keep my notes, though. I watch these guys around the league. I watch the guys around my age -- the David Wests, the Richard Jeffersons, the guys that are getting consistent minutes that are in the rotation and you know I'm very realistic about who I am and what I am at this age. So I watch those guys and see what those guys do and I take notes. I feel like if I'm a little bit above the level those guys are at as far as how I take care of my body and keep myself in shape. Like I said, those guys contibute minutes at their age. I can as well."



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