Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford

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The Heat are doing just fine at 16-6, sitting at second place in the East behind a Pacers team playing as if the playoffs were going on right now.

While Indiana is at full strength and crushing the competition to this point in the season — Heat included — Miami is resting Dwyane Wade occasionally to preserve his knees for the postseason, and is still bringing along Greg Oden slowly to the point where he isn’t expected to crack the rotation until after the All-Star break.

Still, it makes some sense that given the Pacers’ early dominance and the uncertainty surrounding Oden (and to some extent, Wade) for the regular season, Miami may look around for some available talent to bolster the roster. And Boston might not be a bad place to start.

From Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:

Miami is looking to deal for a young wing player who can score and take some of the load off Dwyane Wade. A few GMs have identified Boston’s Jordan Crawford as a player the Heat will go after in the coming days/weeks.

That would be reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Jordan Crawford, who helped lead Boston to the only 3-0 record in the East last week while turning in averages of 23.3 points (fourth in the conference) on 61 percent shooting, to go along with 3.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per contest.

If the Heat did trade for Crawford, it would likely be no more than a rental for this season. Crawford will be a restricted free agent next year if a qualifying offer of $3.2 million is made, but a strong season in Miami would drive up his value beyond what the Heat would commit in long-term salary.

The Celtics, meanwhile, are in an interesting spot. Much like the Suns, they were believed to be setting up for a complete rebuild that would involve finishing the season with a record poor enough to end up as a lottery team vying for one of the top picks in a very deep 2014 draft. Instead, Boston finds itself atop the dreadful Atlantic division which means the four seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, despite the sub-.500 record.

Boston isn’t exactly planning on trying to win now like the Suns, because they don’t have players like Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic on the roster, along with more first round draft picks than they know what to do with in the coming seasons. So Crawford may indeed be in play, despite the Celtics’ playoff chances and their better-than-expected start.

Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful:

Double number retirement fitting for Kobe Bryant

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Kobe Bryant’s career truly occurred in two acts.

He was Shaquille O’Neal’s super sidekick for three championships. Then, Kobe led the Lakers to another two titles himself after Shaq departed.

He was an athletic, high-flying slam-dunk-contest champion. Then, he became known for his cerebral play and footwork.

He faced trial for rape in Colorado (the case was ultimately dismissed, and he settled civilly), blame for Shaq getting traded and criticism for being too selfish when the Lakers struggled in the aftermath of Shaq’s departure. Then, Kobe – still beloved by his fans – again became a socially acceptable marketing force.

His 2007 trade request serves as the more accurate intermission point, but his 2006 jersey change from No. 8 to No. 24 works well enough. He had a Hall of Fame career in No. 8 then a borderline Hall of Fame career in No. 24. Think Tracy Mcgrady’s career followed by Bernard King’s – but it was just Kobe followed by Kobe and with far more postseason success.

Here are the win-share leaders with a single franchise during Kobe’s career:

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So much about Kobe is excessive – his accolades, his shot selection, his reputation as clutch. He had an all-time great career, but the myth outpaces reality.

Yet, Kobe becoming the first player with two numbers retired by the same team – which the Lakers will do at halftime tonight – feels incredibly appropriate. In his 20-year career with the Lakers, Kobe had time to succeed then succeed again in an extravagant way only he could manage.

He was dedicated and disciplined, flashy and fastidious, No. 8 and No. 24

Warriors will watch Kobe Bryant’s numbers get retired, Lakers might not

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The Lakers will retire Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 and No. 24 at halftime of their game against Warriors tonight.

The road team won’t miss it. The home team might.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“I want our guys to see it,” Kerr said Saturday. “It’ll be a pretty cool moment.

“Just to experience of one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired and we happen to be there? I’m not going to keep them in the locker room watching tape from the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton, via Harrison Faigen of Lakers Nation:

“I hadn’t thought much about [watching the ceremony],” Walton said Sunday. “We’re still deciding how we’ll approach halftime.

“Our first priority is still the job that we have. I’m sure there’s going to be some halftime adjustments we need to make against the Warriors. We’re toying with a couple different ideas to let guys at least see part of it.”

Kerr seems like a pretty cool guy, someone who understands what truly matters. This will be a historic moment, and that can take priority over watching video for one night in a long season.

But he also has the luxury of coaching an all-time great team. Even with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Zaza Pachulia and Shaun Livingston injured, the Warriors are favored.

Walton has a young team that needs every break it can get. But he too should embrace the significance of the ceremony. His franchise is.

After reportedly initially being scheduled for pregame, the ceremony will occur at halftime. The NBA implemented a hard 15-minute limit on halftimes this season. Any team not ready will be assessed a delay-of-game penalty. So, lengthy speeches tonight could hinder the current team on the court. And that’s well worth the cost of doing business.

In the same regard, current Lakers watching Kobe’s ceremony would gain pride in being a Laker. There’s real value in that, probably more than in going over adjustments for a December game during a season very likely to end outside the playoffs regardless.