Chemistry proves difficult for Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

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The lack of chemistry with the Heat is evident on the court.

Not just on the end-of-game isolations, but the fact that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James really play next to each other not with each other most of the time. There is not the kind of interaction you see between elite players on other teams (Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen). You don’t feel or see a real bond between them.

The Heat are still figuring out. And it’s hard.

It wasn’t supposed to be. This was expected by many to be a fit that came together quickly, and even if it did take time it would have been figured out by now, 63 games into the season.

Wade is honest about the challenges in a fantastic article about the chemistry between the two stars by our own Ira Winderman here at NBC.

“You know what?” (Wade) says in his typical soft-spoken manner. “I thought it would be easier.”

Winderman brings some interesting insights into the relationship between James and Wade.

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did not enter this partnership as best friends. Friends? Yes, but more typical of the bond built during promotional appearances, league get-togethers and the occasional two- or three-week tours with a national team. “Friendly” stands closer to the truth…

For James, NBA life, and life in general, is bigger than that. LeBron almost always has his people on the road with him; Wade mostly settles in with the company of teammates, often second- and third-tier talents. He is much more of the everyman in the equation.

Go read the entire article. It will help you understand where the Heat are right now.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.