Michael Beasley

Michael Beasley, Roger Mason Jr. make Heat’s 15-man roster

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The Heat waived Eric Griffin and Justin Hamilton on Saturday, bringing the team’s roster to the league maximum of 15 players in advance of opening night against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.

That means that veterans Michael Beasley and Roger Mason Jr. remain with the team for now, which was somewhat expected. But it’s worth noting that this doesn’t guarantee either player a long-term position on the roster, or one that would even last much beyond the first of the year.

Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report explains:

It has been clear for weeks that both would make it at least that far, with Mason Jr. providing some versatility and shooting touch from the perimeter, and Beasley showing a bit more discipline than during his first Heat stint.

But Miami doesn’t need to guarantee either until Jan. 10, making this an extended trial. Heat officials have made it clear that they prize their versatility, whether it means calling up a developing talent from the Sioux Falls Skyforce or signing a veteran who gets bought out elsewhere. Unless Pat Riley manages to trade Joel Anthony — a near-impossible task considering Anthony’s $3.9 million player option for the 2014-15 season — Mason, Jr. and Beasley would be the easiest to purge to create space.

That Joel Anthony ship has sailed, as he’s no longer even a serviceable NBA big — he’s essentially capable of providing six fouls per night, and not much else. No contract is untradeable, of course, but it would be difficult to see a team incentivized to take on Anthony unless they were involved in a multi-player deal that would require his contract to make the salaries match.

Since that’s very unlikely with the way the Heat are constructed this season, it means that Beasley and Mason will need to prove their respective worth before that January deadline to guarantee their deals for the remainder of the season.

Roster flexibility is of the utmost importance to teams contending for a title. Remember, Miami didn’t add Chris Andersen to the mix until late January of last season, and he was a key contributor for them at various times throughout the postseason. So unless Beasley and Mason are model citizens (we’re only talking about one of the two here, obviously) who consistently contribute in the early part of the season, it’s fairly likely that one will be asked to leave before that Jan. 10 date is upon us.

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Associated Press
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.