Multiple parties deny report of new Heat television deal

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June 21, 3:23 pm: There have been multiple denials that there are any talks going on between the Heat and Fox Sports.

One source reached out to PBT saying there have been no discussions as suggested in the Forbes article (seen below). Later came this official statement from Fox Sports.

“There’s no truth to that report whatsoever,” said Chris Bellitti, Vice President of Communications for the Fox Sports Network. “We are in the middle of a long-term deal with the Heat that has several years remaining.”

If the Heat still have LeBron James, and maybe a ring or two, when the deal is up it certainly will drive up the price of a deal. But that is then.

June 20, 11:39 pm: Miami has been a key reason for a spike in NBA television ratings the past couple years — love them or hate them, you tune in to watch them.

Now they are about to reap the benefits of that, according to Forbes.

The Miami Heat are involved in discussions for a blockbuster cable television deal that experts say are being enhanced by the long-term contract the team has with reigning league MVP LeBron James and its run towards a second NBA title.

Sources familiar with the negotiations, but who do not have permission to speak about them publicly, peg the value of the long-term deal between $80 million to $100 a year with Fox Sports Florida. Although the Heat’s new deal will only be about half the amount Los Angeles Lakers are going to get from Time Warner Cable, it will still generate at least over four times the revenue the team currently rakes in.

The Heat actually draw a higher percentage of local viewers than the Lakers, but the Lakers television market is more than triple the size of Miami (which is just the 14th largest NBA market). However, the basic idea is the same — the team is a draw and both teams have some competition in the local cable markets.

Under the terms of the new NBA revenue sharing deal (put together with the new CBA) Heat owner Micky Arison is going go be coughing up some of that money for smaller markets. They must revenue share part of local television deal with smaller markets.

But they still pull in more money. And that is why big contracts like the one LeBron and everyone else makes can pay for themselves.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.