Michael Beasley

Miami did the right thing getting rid of Michael Beasley. For both sides.

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The renaissance of Michael Beasley is in full swing in Minnesota.

In the last three games he has put up 33, 28, and 25 points, on 56 percent shooting, and he is 6 of 9 from three. Plus he’s got that hair. He has been the focal point of the Timberwolves offense and he had the game winner against the Clippers Wednesday. On the season he is averaging 7 more points a game on the highest shooting percentages of his career. His rebounds are off slightly, but we’ll blame playing along side Kevin Love for that.

Meanwhile, Chris Bosh has had some well-publicized struggles fitting in with the Heat (at least until last night when Miami went to him early and often). The soft tag has been tossed about and at times he has looked like a third wheel.

So… no. Do not go there. Some of you have. Stop it now. The Heat should not have kept Beasley over Bosh.

The Heat getting rid of Beasley was the right thing to do for a lot of reasons. Chris Bosh is a much, much better fit in Miami. Beasley needed a fresh start, to be a big fish in a small pond where he was more of a focal point. There are more reasons. Let’s go over them.

As Zach Lowe points out a Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward, this whole Beasley/Bosh premise is faulty — Beasley was traded to make room for Mike Miller, not get in Chris Bosh. The Heat already had the big three when they moved Beasley, who will make just under $5 million this season, which cleared room for Mike Miller and his $5 million a year. And the Heat need Miller and his long ball more than they need Beasley.

Secondly, Beasley is doing his damage at the small forward spot in Minnesota. I don’t care how good he’s playing, he’s not better than the small forward Miami already has. If you played Beasley at the four (Bosh’s spot) he suddenly looks undersized, he’s having to play inside and rebound against bigger bodies rather than live on the wings like he does with the Wolves. His production would be very different because what is asked of him is different. And less to his liking.

In Minnesota, Beasley is a small big fish in a small pond — he gets the ball and gets to do what he wants. He’s averaging 17.8 field goal attempts per game. You think he gets to take shots away from LeBron and Wade to do that?

Beasley is having success getting the ball out on the wing, and right now is knocking down a lot of long two pointers, as Kevin Pelton pointed out at ESPN (Insider required). Against the Kings he hit 10 of 15 shots in the 16- to 23-foot range. Against the Knicks he was 7 of 9 from that distance, Wednesday night against the Clippers he was 6 of 10.

Those long twos are not going to keep falling at this rate. Last season Beasley shot 42 percent from that distance, this season it is 55 percent. The league average is under 40 percent. Unless Beasley has taken Dirk Nowitzki’s magic potion, he is not going to keep up this shooting pace from distance.

So Beasley is going to regress — and Bosh isn’t that bad, by the way. He’s giving you 16.4 points and six rebounds a game with an All-Star level PER of 21.4.

Sometimes, trades do work out for everyone. Beasley needed space and a new home where he could be more of the man and find himself. He lost weight, is moving better and is genuinely looking good in that role. That role was no longer available in Miami, which needed a scoring four. They got it. Bosh is good, and his shortcomings are really that he’s not a true center and the Heat need one. Different problem.

But please, do not say the Heat should have kept Beasley. They should not have. Riley made the right call.

Mike Conley does not crush Knicks free agent dreams, says everything on table

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) gestures after making a 3-point basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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When you talk about the most underrated players in the NBA, especially with the casual fan, Mike Conley is at the top of the list. The Grizzlies’ point guard has played at an All-Star level for a few seasons now but hasn’t gotten the recognition, in part because it’s Memphis and in part because the West is stacked with quality point guards.

The New York Knicks desperately need an upgrade at the point.

Which has led to the latest fantasy of seemingly every Knick fan (and talking head in the city) — the free agent Conley coming to New York this summer. When asked about it Friday before the Grizzlies and Knicks squared off, Conley didn’t kill the rumors (which in New York is like throwing gasoline on them). Here are his quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.

“I think everything will be on the table when that time comes,” Conley said Friday morning after the Grizzlies’ shootaround at Madison Square Garden. “I haven’t committed to anything…

“They’ve got talent, obviously,” he said. “I think [Kristaps] Porzingis surprised a lot of people. He’s going to be very, very good in this league. He already is pretty good. But he’s going to grow each year, and they already have one of the best small forward in Melo [Carmelo Anthony]. They’ve got a young team, so they’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

The smart money is on Conley staying in Memphis, the only NBA team he has ever played for. Conley was very active last summer in recruiting Marc Gasol to remain in Memphis, and has said it would be very difficult to leave him. Plus the Grizzlies can offer more money — one more guaranteed year plus larger raises.

The Knicks will need to lose some salary before July 1 just to offer Conley a max, which likely starts around $24 million (depends on the final salary cap number). What the Knicks can offer is a larger stage for his brand and the chance to bring that brand out of the shade of Gasol and Zach Randolph.

Conley — who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists per game, is shooting 35 percent from three, is good on the pick-and-roll, plus is one of the best defensive point guards in the game — will have plenty of other suitors as well. He’s one of the best players on the free agent market this summer.

NBA GM: Warriors ‘leaders in the clubhouse’ for Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant, left, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (23) and Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Kevin Durant to the Warriors is having a moment, but even the most recent and most credible report linking the Thunder star to Golden State contained an important caveat:

Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said

Nobody has credibly reported Durant is leaning toward leaving the Thunder. The issue at hand is where Durant would go IF he leaves Oklahoma City.

Except one NBA general manager has gone a step further.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

General managers know a lot of things we don’t, but like anyone, they can also be prone to repeating gossip and hearsay. Does this general manager have inside info, or is he just participating the echo chamber? Impossible to say, but the possibility of the former raises the level of intrigue.

Of course, the Warriors can’t be the leaders in the clubhouse, because they’re not in the clubhouse. Free agency doesn’t begin until July. Nobody has made their final pitch, not even the Thunder.

It’s fun to make bold predictions now, and this general manager has a chance of looking genius. But sometimes the desire for that designation causes people to get ahead of themselves.

Report: Clippers quickly rebuffed interest after Nuggets called about Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) gets tied up near the basket by Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 110-103. (Michael Goulding/The Orange County Register via AP)   MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT
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Here was my gut feel on a report that the Clippers had talked to the Nuggets about trading Blake Griffin to Denver:

1. Nuggets calling Clippers about Griffin

2. Clippers saying they’re not interested

3. Nuggets leaking the fact that Griffin trade talks happened with the Clippers – technically true! – to excite their fan base and potential free agents considering whether or not to take Denver seriously

Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:

https://twitter.com/DanWoikeSports/status/695691007053070336

Woike is the more reliable source of information here. I believe that’s all this was.

The Clippers probably shouldn’t sell low on Griffin now. But if the Nuggets made a truly reasonable offer based on Griffin’s peak value – and I doubt they did – it also wouldn’t hurt to consider it.

LeBron James wants to leave Hack-a-Shaq rules as they are

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives on Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he increasingly believes the league should change its Hack-a-Shaq rules this offseason.

LeBron James – who has the commissioner’s ear on a number of issues – disagreed.

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“I don’t really see a problem with it,” James said at shootaround Friday in preparation for the Celtics. “At the end of the day, it’s a strategy of the game and whatever it takes to win. If that’s a part of the game, and you have a guy that is a bad free-throw shooter and you put him on the line, that’s a part of strategy.”

“That’s no different from a guy that can’t shoot well from the outside and you try to make him shoot bad from outside, or if a guy is turnover-prone and you put pressure on him. It’s all part of strategy. It’s no different,” he said.

There is a difference – a big one.

Hacking someone takes no basketball skill.

I could intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond. I could not keep a bad NBA outside shooter from getting into the paint. I could not force a turnover-prone NBA player into coughing up the ball.

There’s nothing wrong with exploiting an opponent’s weakness, but with the exception of hacking, that takes ability of your own.

Hacking is an outlier strategy, and as a result, it deserves special treatment in the rulebook.