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

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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.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

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Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

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Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

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It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.

Report: Ime Udoka, Ettore Messina, David Fizdale to interview for Hornets job

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The Charlotte Hornets have a new GM in Mitch Kupchak. Upon taking the helm, Kupchak made short work of firing head coach Steve Clifford.

Now, the Hornets need a new coach and they have quite a few names to choose from.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Hornets will be interviewing current San Antonio Spurs assistants Ime Udoka and Ettore Messina along with former Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale.

Via Twitter:

All three have extensive coaching experience under their belts. Udoka played in the NBA for seven seasons and has been an assistant coach in San Antonio since 2012.

Messina is a four-time Euroleague champion as a coach, and a two-time winner of the Euroleague Coach of the Year award. He’s coached abroad and in the U.S. since 1989, and he’s been with the Spurs since 2014.

Fizdale coached the Grizzlies for two seasons. Before that he was a longtime assistant coach with the Miami Heat under Erik Spoelstra.

Hornets star Kemba Walker said that who the team chose as GM would influence his decision to re-sign after 2018-19. Walker loved Clifford, so who Charlotte picks as coach could carry significant weight with Walker as well.