Teams are interested in Roger Mason for who he's been, but is that who he'll be next season?

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rmason.jpgWhen the San Antonio Spurs picked up Roger Mason Jr. two years ago in free agency, it was an absolute steal.

Mason seemed like an ideal fit alongside the Spurs’ big three; as a knock-down shooter who could fill in at either guard spot and handle the ball a bit, Roger fit the Spurs’ needs of skill specialization and positional versatility brilliantly. He thrived in his first year with the Spurs, and was worth every penny of his $3.5 million salary in averaging 11.8 points per game and 42.1% shooting from three.

However, on the second year of his deal, Mason’s production fell off a cliff.

Surgery on his shooting hand had a fair bit to do with that, but it remains to be seen whether Roger can really bounce back. His three-point shooting percentage plummeted to 33.3%, he was buried in the rotation behind the healthy Tony Parker and an emerging George Hill, which made him very much an afterthought in San Antonio’s ’09-’10 season.

Roger only vaguely resembled the clutch shooter the Spurs had relied on just a year prior, causing San Antonio to lose their interest in playing him, much less re-signing him.

Other teams, however, apparently have enough faith in Mason’s ability to rebound (not literally) to give him a call, even if San Antonio doesn’t seem too interested. According to Marcus J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers are all interested in Mason, and Jason Quick of the Oregonian reported that the Blazers, too, have expressed interest.

The Blazers are the odd team of the bunch, but the others make a bit of sense. As Chicago, Miami, New York, and L.A. look to surround their higher profile talent with low-salary players, guys like Mason are immensely valuable. All of those teams will need perimeter shooting to complement their newly-signed stars, and Roger’s ability to at least pretend to be a point guard will definitely come in handy. Minimum salary guys are typically energy players or specialists, and Mason could be a relatively cheap way to bridge the gap between the team’s elite players and the bargain bin finds.

Lucky? Klay Thompson reminds Doc Rivers which team lost to Rockets

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There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.

The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.

Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via

– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”

Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.

If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.

They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.

All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.

Dwyane Wade serious as mentor, teaching Justise Winslow post moves

Third day of Miami Heat camp 10/1/2015
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Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.

Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.

Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.

“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.

“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”

This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.

It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.