Miami Heat goes big: re-signs Joel Anthony, inks draftee Dexter Pittman

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Janthony_rondo.jpgIt’s the question a lot of basketball people were asking after Miami pulled off the LeBron/Wade/Bosh coup: Who protects the rim on defense? Who is your real big man?

The answer: Joel Anthony. And Dexter Pittman is in there too.

Miami re-signed Joel Anthony to a five-year, $18 million deal, according to our own Ira Winderman, writing for the Sun Sentinel. Second round draft pick Dexter Pittman — a real big body — also inked his deal with the Heat and will make the roster.

And those are not the only big men the Heat will get, Winderman says: Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Juwan Howard will have deals done in the next few days, and Jamaal Magloire also will very likely get a deal.

Anthony may well be the opening-night starter at center, he’s a defensive specialist and with this roster that is what is called for. Although you can bet everyone from the paragraph above will get their chance to lay claim to the five spot.

Anthony played 16.5 minutes per game last season coming off the bench for the Heat, and spent most of those minutes hunting for blocks. Miami needs him to play like a starter now. He’s undersized for the center spot at 6’9″ but he likes to be physical inside. Miami needs that. Anthony isn’t much of a scorer. Which is fine, Miami doesn’t need that.

The Heat need Anthony to do the defensive and rebounding dirty work because
Chris Bosh is not a real center. He can’t physically bang with the
Jermaine O’Neals and Dwight Howards of the league. Think of him like Pau
Gasol in this sense: You can play Bosh at the five, but he is most
effective and the biggest matchup problem as an oversized, skilled four.

Dexter Pittman is a big body — too big a body. He’s listed at 6’11” and 308 pounds.

David Thorpe, the player development specialist and Executive Director of the Pro Training Center (plus ESPN writer) said that Pittman has the athletic side of the game down but not the body. He has shown that athleticism and some nice skill in Vegas at Summer League. But he is so big he is getting out-quicked by more fit players — and the NBA is quicker than Summer League.

He needs a pro body, not a college body, Thorpe said, maybe needing to drop 50 pounds or more. He also said he is betting Miami’s staff can help get him there by the start of the season.

There is precedence — DeJuan Blair reshaped his body like that last year (with the help of Thorpe) and he went on to have a very good rookie year. Blair was a second round steal that had fans of a number of teams asking, “why didn’t we draft him?” (Well, the fact he had no ACLs also scared teams off).

Pittman can be that guy this year, if he makes the same commitment to getting in shape.

Enjoy 50-best circus shots of last NBA season

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As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.

For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.

Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.

To avoid trash talk, Steven Adams told Kevin Garnett he didn’t speak English

Kevin Garnett
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Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.

Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.

Brilliant.

Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.

Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy “encouraged” by players speaking out, protesting social issues

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 17: Head coach Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons yells to his players during the first half of the NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)  *** Local Caption ***Stan Van Gundy
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Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.

Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.

A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…

“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”

Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.

The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.