Opening night of the NBA season, the Miami Heat are going to raise another banner and get their second set of championship rings.
Then they will have to take on the Chicago Bulls, now with Derrick Rose. The Bulls and Heat have started to develop a nice rivalry and this coming season promises to build on that (if everyone can just stay healthy).
Adding a little fuel to that fire is Bulls two guard Jimmy Butler, who went on ESPN Radio in Chicago and said the Bulls players don’t want to watch the Heat ring ceremony and have to shut down a Heat three-peat (as transcribed at ESPNChicago.com).
“I don’t think anybody wants to watch (the ring ceremony) on our team so we won’t pay too much attention to it,” Butler said Tuesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN Chicago 1000. “They deserved it. They won a championship, definitely, but they got to deal with the Chicago Bulls for 48 minutes coming out right after that, they get their rings….
“I think so,” Butler said when asked about the dislike between the teams. “But it’s not just us, it’s the city. That rivalry, it’s crazy. They’re the back-to-back champions and when you think three-peat, you think Chicago so we can’t let that happen.”
The Bulls — along with the Pacers, plus maybe the Nets and Knicks — can make it a lot harder for the Heat to even get out of the East. Miami basically has stood pat with their roster and are going to have to improve just to get out of their own conference. And that’s not even talking about who comes out of a deep West.
That said the Heat are the team to beat still — they are the back-to-back champs, won 66 games last season and had a 27-game win streak. For all the cracks we saw in their armor during the playoffs, they are still the guys standing on top of the mountain. The Bulls are one team that could knock them off that perch.
The report that Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder before choosing the Warriors?
Royce Young of ESPN:
I misspoke in saying that Durant specifically told Westbrook he was coming back.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Center Anderson Varejao will miss the Olympics for host Brazil because of a herniated disc in his lower back.
The Golden State Warriors announced the injury Wednesday and say that Varejao should be ready for the start of training camp but will not be healthy enough to play in the Olympics. Varejao recently experienced back pain while training with the Brazilian National Team and returned to California to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins earlier this week.
Varejao averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 22 games after signing with the Warriors on Feb. 22. He re-signed with the team earlier this month.
PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix Suns coach Earl Watson completed his staff Wednesday, naming Jay Triano associate head coach and Tyrone Corbin and Nate Bjorkgren assistant coaches.
Triano spent the last four seasons as assistant coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, including Watson’s final season as a player in 2013-14. The first Canadian-born head coach in NBA history when he directed Toronto, he also is the coach of Canada’s national team.
Corbin was Sacramento’s interim head coach for 28 games in 2014-15. He played the Suns in 1987-89.
Bjorkgren remains with the Suns after spending last season as assistant coach/player development coordinator. He also was head coach of the Suns’ NBA Summer League team the past two years.
The Suns also named Marlon Garnett assistant coach/player development coordinator, and Scott Duncan and Jason Fraser player development coaches.
The Los Angeles Clippers still have Paul Pierce under contract. Not many minutes for him, but he has a roster spot.
Pierce probably wants come back but is thinking it all over, according to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times.
Pierce has been debating this with himself for a while now.
Pierce saw a dramatic drop off in production and how much he was used last season by Rivers. Pierce averaged a career-low 6.1 points per game on an also career low 48.9 true shooting percentage. His PER of 8.2 was also a career low. You get the idea. By the end of the season Pierce was mostly an afterthought for Doc Rivers (although he did start one game after Blake Griffin was out and the Clippers’ playoff dreams were toast).
Pierce would be more mentor than a key player on the court, but he would be on probably the third best team in the West, a team that capable of making a deep playoff run. Does he want to do that for one more season? You know Doc would welcome him.