Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade says he removed himself from Heat’s free-agent recruitment this offseason

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After winning their second straight championship last season, the Miami Heat weren’t exactly in a position to go out and reload in free agency, and in fact, it was actually a case of the opposite.

Miami cut ties with Mike Miller using the amnesty provision built into the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, and by doing so saved itself $17 million.

With guaranteed contracts on the books totaling over $81 million for next season, the only players the Heat may have been interested in would have been those willing to play for a veteran’s minimum salary.

Often times, a team’s star players will be involved heavily in recruiting free agents to their team, especially those that are veterans of the game who may provide an immediate boost off the bench. But given Miami’s salary situation along with the lack of game-changing options out there, Dwyane Wade was able to remove himself from that process this summer.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Among the rumors swirling during free-agency was a clandestine meeting involving Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley with Lamar Odom. Not only didn’t it happen, but Wade said he removed himself from the team’s free-agent recruitment this offseason.

“I left that all to them,” Wade said, aware of the luxury-tax limitations of the Heat’s efforts. “I got away, understanding that we have little that we can do. And Pat Riley is the best at what he does, so he’s fine. We all understand the nature of the beast, what we’re dealing with.”

What the Heat are dealing with, as Wade put it, is trying to win a third straight championship with a little less talent in place than was on the roster the past couple of seasons due to salary constraints.

A completely healthy version of Wade in the postseason would be a pretty substantial upgrade, however, and if Greg Oden can give them anything during a potential matchup against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers, that might be enough of a combined boost to get the Heat back to the Finals — without any recruiting required.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.