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.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the South Los Angeles Get Out The Vote Rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Leimert Park Village Plaza on June 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The presidential hopeful is attending a series of campaign stops on the eve of the California presidential primary election, where polls indicate a close divide between Clinton supporters and those of Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”

You can watch the video of his speech below:

Kevin Durant denies report he told Russell Westbrook he was returning to Oklahoma City

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.

“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.

“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”

So that settles that.

Report: Spurs agree to two-year deal with free agent forward David Lee

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 01:  David Lee #42 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.   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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Lee will have a player option in the second year of his deal, which will be worth the veteran’s minimum.

Lee, 33, considered more lucrative deals elsewhere, but committed to the Spurs’ opportunity to win a championship and play a backup role to LaMarcus Aldridge andPau Gasol.

General manager “R.C [Buford] and coach [Gregg] Popovich put a lot of time and energy to give David a visual of how much they wanted him and would use him,” Bartelstein told The Vertical. “A lot of people talk about taking less money, and not many people do it, so the Spurs get a lot of credit for selling David on joining their organization.”

After winning a championship with the Warriors in 2015, Lee was dealt to Boston last offseason, where he fell out of the rotation quickly. He was bought out midseason and signed with the Mavericks. He was solid in Dallas, but at his age and with almost no defensive ability, he didn’t draw much interest on the market. In San Antonio, he likely won’t have a big role, but he’s a solid veteran scorer in the frontcourt off the bench in limited minutes.

Bulls sign guard Spencer Dinwiddie

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 13: Spencer Dinwiddie #8 of the Detroit Pistons in action against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on April 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Pistons defeated Cleveland 112-110 in overtime.  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 David Maxwell/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.

The Bulls announced the move Thursday.