Heat out-star Thunder as Eddie House does a dance

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In a game that was pretty fantastic from start to finish, the Miami Heat closed out the Thunder with a combination of star power and savvy play. Dwyane Wade was brilliant with 30 points and 9 rebounds (but also 9 turnovers), and LeBron James made the play that encapsulates his career. With the clock winding down, James passed up a fairly good look to dish to Eddie House, a 39.2% 3-point shooter. Bang. Game. Set. Match. And look, he did a dance, too.

The decision to pass on the game winning shot is the kind of thing that would get James criticized had House missed the shot. But the play was right. Pass up a good look for a better one, trust your teammates, and win the game. James finished with 23 points and 13 assists, (4 turnovers, 4 steals, 3 blocks), the kind of all-around game that showcases his strengths, but didn’t take the dagger. And that’s pretty much his career.

For the Thunder, you have to look at their sloppy performance down the stretch. Their success was built into a catch-and-shoot three for Durant, which is rare. Too often they turn to ISO-sets for Durant, which rarely work out well, as was the case on their final halfcourt possession, a missed baseline contested jumper for Durant. The Thunder gave great effort and used their transition game to press the Heat, but in situations where they needed to deliver, they couldn’t execute. Even their final possession, Russell Westbrook trying to delay the clock start on the inbound by letting it roll with the Thunder out of timeouts, resulted in a turnover.

The Thunder’s problems were pretty evident, illustrated by the strength of the Heat, which is perimeter penetration. There was no one to rotate inside and the Thunder defenders were too often too late. The result was a cavalcade of free throws, as James, Wade, and Bosh combined for 27 free throw attempts.

The Thunder have a formula now for how their final possessions should look, with Kevin Durant using off-ball movement to create clean looks, not trying to simply shoot over a defender. The Heat now have their formula. A strong performance from Chris Bosh outside, wing scoring on slash-and-drive from Wade, and LeBron facilitating.

Strong, strong game and good things to take away for both teams.

Report: Warriors re-signing JaVale McGee to one-year contract

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The Warriors helped rehabilitate JaVale McGee‘s career to the point he wanted more – more money, a starting spot.

But old reputations die hard, and it’s a tough market for free-agent centers.

So, McGee is returning to Golden State.

ESPN:

The Golden State Warriors are re-signing center JaVale McGee to a one-year contract, source told ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

McGee could receive between the minimum ($2,116,955) and Non-Bird Exception ($2,540,346). He’ll cost Golden State between $5,968,023 and $10,511,120.* Here’s guessing he gets the minimum.

*Factoring in the NBA’s reimbursement for one-year minimum contracts and the luxury tax, also assuming the Warriors keep the same roster when the tax is assessed at the end of the regular season

Golden State played to McGee’s strengths by simplifying the game for him. He chased lobs, blocks and rebounds and was asked to do little else. He still made the occasional gaffe, and questions about his basketball intelligence remain, but McGee progressed in his never-ending battle to stifle the laughter.

Not every team could protect McGee like that, so he’s more valuable to the Warriors than others. He’ll take another crack at free agency next summer, but at 30, he might not find eager suitors then, either.

In Golden State, he’ll again join a center rotation that includes Zaza Pachulia and David West and maybe Damian Jones and Jordan Bell. With stars at every other position, the Warriors have taken an equalitarian approach at center.

McGee gives the Warriors 15 players clearly on standard contracts, the regular-season limit. Chris Boucher is on a two-way contract, and Antonius Cleveland might be, too. Even if he’s on a standard contract, Cleveland is unlikely to stick past the preseason. It seems we know the roster Golden State will take into the regular season.

Then again, McGee surprisingly made the regular-season roster on an unguaranteed deal last year. Maybe he’ll have to fend off challengers this year.

Warriors lock up Cleveland

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The Warriors smoked the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

Now, the Warriors are taking control of Cleveland.

Antonius Cleveland.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

Golden State agreed to terms on a training camp invite with Antonius Cleveland, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned.

Cleveland went undrafted out of Southeast Missouri State, where the 6-foot-6 guard was either a late bloomer or just a 23-year-old who outgrew his competition. He’s likely ticked for the Warriors’ minor-league affiliate, either as an affiliate player waived in the preseason or maybe even on a two-way contract.

Did the Warriors sign Cleveland for the jokes? Probably not. He’s a viable developmental prospect.

But they also signed JaVale McGee in Nick Young the last couple years. I can’t completely rule it out.

Report: Lakers signing Thomas Bryant to two-year contract with team option

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The Lakers have negotiated just a few contracts this summer – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tyler Ennis and now Thomas Bryant.

The deals all have something in common: no guarantees beyond 2018, when the Lakers are expected to pursue free agents like Paul George and LeBron James.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers still had the room exception, so they could’ve offered more than the minimum. They might have had to get Bryant to bypass the required tender, a one-year contract – surely guaranteed at the minimum – teams must extend to maintain draft rights to a second-round pick.

Bryant entered the draft a year too late. After looking like first rounder last year, he returned to Indiana and saw his stock slip. He’d have reason to bargain for more compensation.

Brook Lopez is clearly the Lakers’ top center, but there are minutes available behind him. Bryant will join Ivica Zubac in the effort to prove they play hard enough and have enough skill to overcome their lack of athleticism.

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s reported reaction to Knicks’ $71 million offer: ‘Man, that’s crazy’

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Knicks acting (now long-term) front-office leader Steve Mills signing Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $71 million offer sheet shocked some within the Knicks.

It also apparently shocked someone who wasn’t (yet) with New York – Hardaway himself.

Pablo Torre on ESPN:

I was talking to somebody who would know about the Tim Hardaway Jr. scenario. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s first words after signing that contract: “Man, that’s crazy.”

In the likely event Hardaway doesn’t live up to this massive contract, he’ll get blamed – and the scorn will be hotter in New York.* That’s not fair, as Hardaway was just taking the money offered to him. He wasn’t getting anywhere near that much anywhere else. But it is reality.

*It’s a lesson Kyrie Irving, who could land anywhere, could stand to remember as he reportedly hopes for the Knicks to trade for him.

As hilarious as Hardaway’s response was, it doesn’t top Tyler Johnson for my favorite reaction to a loaded offer sheet.