Could Heat use amnesty on Joel Anthony or Mike Miller?

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The Miami Heat payroll for next season is set at about $87.3 million, a number that could move a little but not much (the Heat are not expected to use their taxpayer’s mid-level exception). The Heat likely will have the second or third highest payroll in the league.

Under the old luxury tax rules, the Heat would have owned about $16 million in tax money for a salary that high. However, under the new escalating tax rules that kick in for next season, that tax is going to jump to more like $33 million.

Which means Miami may look to trim costs a little by using their amnesty clause, suggests the Miami Herald.

The report mentions Mike Miller, who is owed $6.2 million, but because of the tax reductions taking him off the payroll would save closer to $17 million, reports the Herald (that is cap savings, Miller still gets paid by the Heat so his salary still is an expense). Miller played in 59 games for Miami and averaged just 4.2 points a game in the regular season, but he plays a role they need filled — he was on the court in all seven NBA Finals games for at least 15 minutes each and had some key moments in the Heat’s Game 6 win (he played almost 30 minutes that night). In theory just-drafted James Ennis could fill the Miller role of three-point shooting (and Ennis would bring better defense) but the rookie isn’t there yet.

The other, more logical move mentioned by the Herald is to amnesty Joel Anthony. He is only set to make $3.8 million but the cut would save $10 million in taxes. Anthony’s shot-blocking, defense first role was largely taken over by Chris Andersen by the end of the season, and the Heat brought the Birdman back. While Miami could use depth along the front line, what they need is real size to match up better with Indiana. Anthony would be less of a hit.

For the past few years we have been waiting for the Heat to amnesty a player, but the Heat have sat on their hands. We’ll see if this year is any different.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.