With under two minutes remaining in overtime of Miami’s game against the Magic on Monday, the Heat were trailing, and wanted to preserve every precious second on the clock to ensure enough possessions were available for the team to come back and get this victory.
They got it down the stretch, but time ended up not being a factor. That didn’t stop LeBron James from “walking the dog” perhaps earlier than necessary, a move which prevents the clock from starting while the ball rolls up the floor before a player decides to touch it.
Chris Paul is the most famous for this tactic, though now it’s done by players all over the league. But it seemed unnecessary at this point, especially in the cavalier nature (no pun intended) that James chose to use to execute it.
As the ball rolls slowly into the front court, James is not huddled closely beside it in a protective stance, nor does he seem concerned that anyone from the other team would dare try to take it. He walks calmly upright, before picking it up just as the timeline is crossed.
Josh McRoberts briefly pretends as though he is going to contest, but even that minimal effort from the opponent doesn’t phase James in the lightest.
There seems to be value in this tactic when saving time is a necessity, though it doesn’t appear that was the case in this situation. Either way, and as if the opposing team wasn’t fully aware, James made a statement with this play.
He reaffirmed to the Magic that he is the best player in the game today, and that there’s no one on that roster who would dare challenge his abilities — even as he taunts them with such a brash display of being loose with the basketball.
Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.
In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).
Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.
Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury
The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.
After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.
Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).