Heat's James celebrates a basket with teammate Wade during Game 1 of the NBA Finals basketball series in Miami

Free agents already eyeing Miami as destination

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Warm weather. No state income tax. The chance to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The chance to win a ring. All of the tantalizing distractions a single man could ask for.

There are a lot of reasons NBA players like Miami. And right now, the upcoming crop of free agents seems to like them a lot.

A lot of key free agents that could help the Heat are saying they are interested, reports Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

Still more than a week from the Dec. 9 post-lockout start of the NBA free-agency period, the Heat already have words of interest from Samuel Dalembert, expressions of interest from Shane Battier, and an open dialogue with Caron Butler, three of the more intriguing free-agent prospects in the Heat’s spending range….

The Heat’s focus at the start of free agency figures to be at center, thus the intrigue with Dalembert.

Guys are going to have to take a little less to play for the Heat, who likely will only have the $5 million mid-level exception to offer players. That likely will be less money than another team offers Dalembert. Battier would be a financial fit but he really plays the same wing spot as LeBron, something also true of Butler.

Three other names are guys who could be let go via the amnesty clause — Brandon Roy, Brendan Haywood and Baron Davis. The Heat would like another point guard to go with Mario Chalmers and either Davis or Roy would be an upgrade and likely come for a reduced salary the Heat could afford. If Dallas can re-sign Tyson Chandler they may waive Haywood, who certainly would be a solid upgrade at the five spot in Miami and likely play for what they can offer.

Pat Riley is going to have options.

All of which is to say, the Heat should be better this year. And if they get a real inside defensive presence like Daembert, they become a lot better.

Dwyane Wade with dagger dunk to seal Bulls win vs. Suns (VIDEO)

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The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.

The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.

The Bulls won 128-121. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27.

DeMarre Carroll shoves Isaiah Thomas to ground on break, tempers flare

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Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll picked up a deserved flagrant for this foul.

With a couple of minutes left to go in the second quarter, Isaiah Thomas made the steal when DeMar DeRozan lost the ball on a drive, and Thomas was off to the races. Trying to prevent a lay-up, Carroll decided to foul Thomas far from the basket, but did so with a forearm shove that sent Thomas sprawling on the ground.

Thomas got up and had words, as did Jae Crowder.

Carroll got a flagrant and a technical, Thomas and Crowder each picked up technicals for jumping in.

Seth Curry puts up career high 31 against Timberwolves (VIDEO)

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When Stephen Curry wore a headband through the All-Star Game last weekend, West coach Steve Kerr jokingly called him “Seth” all night.

Dallas’ Seth Curry came out of the week-long break playing like an All-Star. He dropped 31 on the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night, a career high for him. He hit 13-of-17 from the field, including three from beyond the arc, but did a lot of his damage in the midrange.

It wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves got a comfortable 97-84 win behind 27 points from Andrew Wiggins and 26 from Karl-Anthony Towns. Nerlens Noel was not yet with his new team in time to play for the Mavs in this game.

Spurs kick off rust from layoff to beat Clippers 105-97 in Chris Paul’s return

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard dunks during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points despite foul trouble and the San Antonio Spurs shook off the rust from a nine-day layoff to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-97 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Pau Gasol added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in his return from a 15-game absence because of a fractured finger. LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 12 rebounds.

Blake Griffin scored 29 points for the Clippers, who have dropped consecutive games to the league’s two winningest teams since the All-Star break ended. They lost by 10 points at Golden State a night earlier. The Spurs have the league’s second-best record at 44-13.

Chris Paul added 17 points in his return after missing five weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.