Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five

UPDATE: It’s official, Heat sign veteran Juwan Howard

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UPDATE 2:36 pm: Well, that didn’t take long.

The Miami Heat have announced the rumors that they were close to signing veteran Juwan Howard were not just rumors — they have inked him for the rest of the season, the team announced.

As noted below, Howard is not going to be asked by the Heat to do much other than practice hard to push guys and be a veteran presence in the locker room. Chris Andersen and Joel Anthony get the key big guy minutes off the bench now. In the finals last season Howard played only in the final minutes of the blowout Game 5 Heat win, it will be much the same this year. Howard has not been on an NBA roster this season but reportedly has worked out and stayed in shape. Either way, he’s going to get a paycheck and some level of playoff bonus check, which doesn’t suck for him. — Kurt Helin

12: 30 pm: The Heat have an open roster spot, and a team preparing to battle deep into the postseason could always use one more serviceable, veteran big man at the end of its bench.

It appears that 40-year-old Juwan Howard is the leading candidate to fill that role.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

The Miami Heat are strongly considering signing 40-year-old forward Juwan Howard, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.

After playing the past two years with the Heat, Howard has remained unsigned this season. He has stayed in shape and has been working out throughout the season.

The Heat created a roster spot at the trade deadline, sending Dexter Pittman to the Memphis Grizzlies for a trade exception.

While a lack of size and rebounding issues have been weaknesses for this Heat team at times this season, bringing Howard back won’t be a way to fill either of those voids on the court.

Howard’s value is seen more in the locker room, and he knows the team well after being on the roster the past two seasons. His veteran presence will be more important than what he can provide by being in the actual lineup, if he ends up providing much of anything there at all.

During last year’s run to a title, Howard played just three minutes in five Finals games, and did so only in the Game 5 clincher, likely just to get his name into the box score.

Report: LeBron James might not play for Team USA in 2016 Olympics because Kobe Bryant won’t

Kobe Bryant (L) and team mate Lebron James of the U.S. sit on the bench during the game against France during their men's Group A basketball match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Basketball arena July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar
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LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.

How much?

Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.

James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.

I don’t buy this.

Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.

Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?

I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.

I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?

LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.

The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.

I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.

Did the Clippers reenact Paul Pierce being stabbed during pregame introductions? (video)

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The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.

Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.