Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade discusses trying to push through knee issue that has him playing at less than 100 percent


There was a time not that long ago when LeBron James wouldn’t even begin to entertain questions about Dwyane Wade’s ailing knee, or even let his teammate answer any questions about it himself.

Things have apparently changed after Wade’s nonexistent Game 5 performance, where he was clearly limited by the knee as much as he’s been at any time to this point in the postseason.

After the Heat practiced on Friday, both James and Wade spoke openly about the knee issue, and the fact that Wade was clearly not close to 100 percent.

“Very tough, but I can’t sit at home,” Wade said, when asked how difficult it was for him to continue to push through his knee injury. “I have to come in and I have to do what I can every day and every night to help my team win.”

“I understand that he’s not 100% and he’s giving us everything that he has,” James said.

Wade is doing some little things out there, in terms of defending, rebounding, and assisting his teammates. But he’s a liability offensively, given the fact that he has no discernable burst right now, and his jumpshot seems to be lacking in any lift.

Still, Wade and the team feel that his being on the floor for extended minutes brings more positives than it does negatives. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised Wade’s contributions following that crucial Game 5 victory.

“[He’s] a warrior,” Spoelstra said. “I know that I’ll go back and see a lot of the defensive plays that he made. Even if he’s not turning the corner and making plays for necessarily himself, he’s getting things going for us. And we’re able to run our offense through him and get the ball moving. He was good and active on his cuts. I was actually encouraged tonight.”

When Wade was asked if he had to have a conversation with James about his relative health for a particular game, he said it wasn’t necessary, that there’s a bond between the two where it’s understood. But he’s determined to remain out there in any capacity he can in order to help bring his team across the finish line.

“It’s understood,” Wade said. “My other thing is I can tell him I give you everything I got, and that’s all I can do. Me being on the floor, me being out there, obviously everyone looks at scoring ‑‑ and the other two. I would love to score 20 or 30 a night. Everyone looks every game just how many points I put up, and that determines my success. That don’t really determine my success on this team every night. We understand that.

“So I go out there some nights and I do ‑‑ even when I was feeling great, I did what I need to do for my team to win a game. That’s the reason I’m here. Tomorrow is a night if I’m feeling better and I can go for more points, I’ll try to be aggressive. But if it’s a game I have to make plays for other guys to get shots and give up myself, that’s what I do.

“It’s about winning at this time of year,” Wade said. “It’s not about any individual.”

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told NBCSports.com. The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.