Amar'e Stoudemire is earning the money Chris Bosh wants

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Not going to lie, people. Between the earthquakes, floods, financial crises, the Suns being the stodgy, deep, rebounding team whipping the Spurs and Amar’e Stoudemire being the mature playoff performer while Chris Bosh acts out, I’m pretty sure the end is nigh.

Seriously, where are we?

While Chris Bosh is messing with Toronto fans’ souls on Twitter, Amar’e Stoudemire is flexing, defending, and working in the playoffs. Just months ago he was a failed centerpiece who didn’t defend or rebound. Now? He’s the primary big man on a team that looks like it’s on the verge of a Western Conference Finals appearance.

How big has Stoudemire been, in the ways we’re not used to him being? In Game 2, down the stretch, with the Suns trying to desperately hold on to a lead, Stoudemire grabbed two huge offensive rebounds to extend the Suns’ possessions. He’s forcing the Spurs to collapse on him which is opening up the outside game. He’s leading. He’s winning.

Chris Bosh? Who everyone says is the best power forward on the free agent market? He’s lounging Staples-side like Keanu Reeves and pissing off fans and teammates. Meanwhile Stoudemire’s been working on an extension with the Suns and not letting it affect his game.

But the value the Suns may have previously wanted to give Stoudemire may be outdated. As the New York Times notes, Stoudemire has likely boosted his free agency value significantly. If he does opt-out and the Suns don’t reach an extension, he could end up getting the money he’s maintained he’s worthy. You know, the max contract that Chris Bosh seems to think he and his position as the primary player on the second worst defense in the league deserves.

The choice between Bosh and Amar’e would be pretty complex. If you want consistency, Bosh is your guy. He’s good for 20+ and 10+ every night. But he’s also unlikely to excel beyond his normal boundaries, while Stoudemire can disappear from game to game and then detonate for some ridiculous 30+ and 15 stuff.

But of course, people will argue that Bosh’s defense is the difference maker.

Too bad the data doesn’t necessarily support that. In addition to the fact that Bosh was a part of one of the worst defenses in the NBA, Synergy has some interesting data to add. Turns out Amar’e is a whole .5 percent worst in direct defensive play situations.

And against the pick and roll man situations, which is, you know, kind of important as it’s the most frequently used play in the NBA, Bosh gives up a score 56% of the time, versus only 38% for Stoudemire.

Bosh is a better rebounder and still worth every penny for a max contract. But if Stoudemire keeps up the way he’s been playing? You have to consider the question if Stoudemire is the better option. But hey, Bosh looks good in dress clothes.

Are Bulls and Dwyane Wade moving toward a buyout?

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About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.

Have the two sides progressed since?

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.

Expected by whom?

People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?

Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?

For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.

A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.

LeBron James’ camp already shooting down leaving-Cavaliers rumor

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LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers

Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.

New Orleans Saints fire Pelicans’ team physician

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The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.

Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.

But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.

Mike Triplett of ESPN:

The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion

Suri is a Pelicans team physician.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.

Rumor: LeBron James ‘100 percent’ leaving Cavaliers next summer

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Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.

But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.

So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.

But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.

Sheridan:

Of course, the denials came quickly.

There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.

It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.

But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.

Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.

Neither possibility should be discounted.