Winderman: Stoudemire vs. Bosh moves from free agency to Madison Square Garden


We’re not sure if Friday’s Heat-Knicks game will match Wednesday’s Celtics-Knicks for drama.

But the matchup already has presented Miami and New York with a win-win situation.

The Knicks have their singular star in Amare Stoudemire.

The Heat have their complete complement in Chris Bosh.

Although this will be the first time the power forwards cross paths this season, they essentially were interchangeable parts during the free-agency process.

In fact, at last season’s trading deadline, the Heat made a huge push for Stoudemire, going as far as to propose a three-team deal that would have landed Carlos Boozer as a temporary replacement part for Stoudemire in Phoenix.

Then, this past July, Bosh and Stoudemire essentially were mix-and-match pieces for the Knicks, who made pitches to each during the opening days of free agency.

The Knicks ultimately landed Stoudemire because they were willing to go all-in earlier than Pat Riley. Riley, by contrast, knew that LeBron James wanted Bosh, and that meant waiting for Bosh, even as Stoudemire slipped off the table.

In the end, each team got what it needed.

For years, Stoudemire bristled about being denied the opportunity to be the focus in Phoenix. If it wasn’t Steve Nash being lauded for his passing, it was Shawn Marion being praised for his finishing. What Stoudemire craved was his name at the top of the marquee. He has that in New York. He is Patrick Ewing, albeit far more beloved at this moment.

Bosh, by contrast, was that exact type of singular focus in Toronto for seven seasons, the be-all, do-all presence required to handle the heavy lifting. It became an obligation more onerous than Canadian taxes. In Miami, he is a willing assistant, as much the frontrunner for Third Wheel of the Year as Stoudemire is for MVP.

And Stoudemire very much has the look of a Most Valuable Player. The red lights on the scorers’ table and around the backboard might have denied him three points at the end of Wednesday’s game against the Celtics, but the shot itself only further endeared him to those looking for a hoops hero at 33rd and 8th.

No less than LeBron has Amare at the top of his MVP ballot. There is no jealousy there, even as James stands in line for a three-peat for that very hardware.

And there is no jealousy from Bosh, who essentially stands as the Heat’s equivalent of Danilo Gallinari, functional third option.

“I was just looking at the situation for me,” Bosh said of his free-agent deliberations. “Of course you’re aware of what other players are doing and what they’re thinking, because it’s always on the TV, it was always on the TV every day at that point.

“But with us playing the same positions, I knew it was either him somewhere or me somewhere. And I just wanted to be in the best situation possible. And I’m a lucky guy. I’m here now.”

Friday, though, Bosh will be there, at the Garden, competing head-to-head with Stoudemire, just as he did during those opening days of July.

But while the positions are the same, the roles couldn’t be more different, one currently the NBA’s leading man, the king of the city, the other a supporting actor enjoying the role, and roll, of his career.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.