Heat realize Lakers, Magic and Celtics have a jump

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Two weeks until the season tips off, and teams are not looking the same in camp.

The Miami Heat are still learning the offense, the defense and how to play with each other. All without Dwyane Wade, who is still out with a sore hamstring for at least another week. Eddie House and Carlos Arroyo also are out with minor inuries.

The talent is there, but cohesion takes time and time together, something the Heat are not getting enough of.

The other three top contenders — the Lakers, Celtics and Magic — all have it. They all bring back the cores of teams that have been the teams in the finals the last two years. Kobe begging off of training camp is less of an issue, he can step right back in. Wade will find that more challenging.

Miami gets that, as Brian Windhorst reported at ESPN.

“Boston, Orlando and the Lakers are going to be ahead of us,” LeBron James said Monday, something he’s said as a bit of deflection of expectation since the first day of camp — but now it comes with more sincerity.  “We’re a little behind those teams.”

“We need to learn each other, learn our system and to build some continuity,” [coach Erik] Spoelstra said. “The most important thing for us right now is that we play 5-on-5.”

What does that mean long term? Nothing probably. While the foundation of cohesion and team unity can be laid in training camp, the building itself goes up during the long grind of the season. Effort and time spent together in pressure situations build it.

Miami will have that by the time the playoffs start. But they have Boston and Orlando in the first week. The league took notice — and the Heat did as well — when Orlando blew New Orleans out of the water by 54 points over the weekend. They have their focus turned on early, we will see if Miami can match that — in just two weeks.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.