LeBron, Wade love Madison Square Garden (just not enough to sign with the Knicks, apparently)

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Madison Square Garden remains one of the iconic buildings in the NBA. It’s New York — Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Visitors get pumped up to play there — which for a long time meant guys like Kobe Bryant were going to drop a big number on the hapless Knicks.

The Knicks are respectable again, which makes it even more fun to play at the Garden. Tonight it is the Miami Heat’s turn again — and count LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as those who are pumped, as reported at ESPN’s Heat Index.

“It’s everything,” James said. “It’s everything that comes with it. It’s the history. It’s the crowd. It’s the atmosphere. It’s the Mecca of basketball. As kids, you always want to be able to play in the Garden. In my eight years and D. Wade’s eight years, it’s been great.”

It’s the best building in the best city in the world… but that wasn’t enough for James to sign there. Sorry, little tangent, done beating that dead horse for now. Thanks for indulging.

The Heat have been off for three days, so they were asked if there was any rust to shake off.

“No rust. We needed the rest and we’re going to miss some shots. We’re going to be a little bit tired early. That’s a part of basketball. But there’s not going to be rust going into the Garden. Our energy and our adrenaline will be going and we’re not going to come out and hit every shot. We’re going to miss some but we’re going to hit some as well, so –”

James interrupted Wade.

“Plus, we’ve got two guys playing on our team that really enjoy playing in that building,” James deadpanned. “I don’t know where they are right now, but we’ve got two guys on this team who thrive on playing in the Garden so I don’t think we’ll be rusty.”

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.