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.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.