LeBron says Wade is “getting that Kobe deal” in next contract. Should he?

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If the Miami Heat’s big three of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all decided not to opt out and came back to the Heat under their current contracts, they would make a combined $61.3 million next season. Next year’s salary cap is currently projected to be $62.9 million.

However, all three of them can and may well opt out and seek longer, potentially richer deals (LeBron and Bosh almost certainly will, Wade seems likely unless he only wants to play a couple more years). Those potentially larger salaries could really hamstring management’s ability to put a good enough team around those three to win a title.

All of which came up in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s extension with the Lakers. Kobe will make $48.5 million over the next two seasons, which is a paycut from the $30 million a year he makes but also will leave him the highest paid player in the league. That money going to Kobe cuts into the cap space the Lakers would have had available to put players around him. A lot of people expected Kobe to take a Tim Duncan sized contract (he went from $21 million down to $9.6 million) and there was some frustration in Los Angeles.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tried to ask Wade about if he would take a paycut.

LeBron James answered for him.

“D-Wade is getting that Kobe deal,” James said from the next locker

Wade, knowing the gravity of this issue, smiled and shook his head. Then he gave a more diplomatic answer.

“When I get into that position, it’s something I’ll think about,” Wade said. “You have to sit down at the time and see what is best for you and for your team.”

That’s vague, but what else do you expect Wade to say?

At this point the discussion is largely theoretical. How this all plays out will depend on a lot of things, including how the Heat do in the playoffs this season. All three took a little bit less money in 2010 to come together, would they be willing to take more of a cut to stay together? Would Wade be willing to make a larger sacrifice? Or does Bosh decide he wants to be the star somewhere else and bolt? How much luxury tax is Miami’s ownership willing to pay?

All of these conversations will happen with agents on some level before July 1, when all of them can be free agents. Both management and the players have some hard questions to answer before then.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

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Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Kevin Durant brings fan to tears with autographed shoes (video)

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Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.

Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.