We’ve already covered the fact that the Heat and the Pacer don’t like each other, based on playoff series the past two seasons along with a whole host of intense regular season battles.
It’s a little bit more personal between Dwyane Wade and Lance Stephenson, with the two having gone at it verbally more than once, and with Stephenson being ejected for taunting Wade back on March 26.
Wade had continual knee issues during Miami’s run to the title last season, so much so that the team was extra cautious with him this year, to the point where he appeared in just 54 games during the regular season, while being held out to rest for the majority of the others.
Stephenson mentioned Wade’s history of injury when speaking to reporters on Saturday.
Looking ahead to his matchup with Wade, beginning in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday (3:30 p.m., ABC), Stephenson revealed that making Wade’s problematic right knee “flare up” is part of his strategy.
“D. Wade — I think his knee is messed up, so I’ve got to be extra aggressive and make him run and have him running around and make his knee flare up or something,” he said after the Pacers practiced this afternoon. “I’ll do anything as much as possible.”
You’d like to hope Stephenson was joking here, maybe by complementing his opponent and implying that unless Wade were slowed by injury once again, he’d be tough to stop.
But given the rivalry that exists between these two teams, and with a trip to the Finals at stake, it’s unclear if that was the case.
Report: Donatas Motiejunas not reporting to Rockets over $6 million
Donatas Motiejunas — with his agent B.J. Armstrong — has backed himself into a bit of a corner.
The restricted free agent signed a four-year, $37 million offer sheet with the Nets, but it had a lot of favorable terms (the final two years are not fully guaranteed, for example) so as one would expect the Rockets matched it. However, under NBA rules the Rockets only had to match the base of the contract — $31 million worth — not the incentives. Which is what the Rockets did.
Restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas won’t report to the Houston Rockets because of a difference of nearly $6 million from the offer sheet he signed with the Brooklyn Nets, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.
Last week, Motiejunas signed a four-year, $37 million offer sheet with the Nets. The Rockets on Monday opted to match that offer. However, based on the CBA, the Rockets only had to match the principle terms of the offer sheet, which came to $31 million. The $6 million difference was to be paid to Motiejunas via incentive clauses if he played for the Nets.
Motiejunas may not like it, but the Rockets have almost all the power here. As of Thursday, the Rockets can pull the offer (even if they don’t, it will expire eventually on March 1), and at that point Motiejunas is a restricted free agent again. Right where he was before. The Nets can’t re-sign him to an offer now for another year. Other teams with the cap space aren’t interested (for example, Philadelphia has the room, but the last thing they need is another big man in the rotation). The Rockets would like him to play — as a big who can shoot the three he should fit well in the Mike D’Antoni system — but they are not going fail him on the physical and let him go for nothing (they can’t trade him until after the season, even if Motiejunas relents and signs the deal with the Rockets)
Motiejunas’ only play? Sit out. But at age 26, why is he wasting part of his short career window to make money playing basketball?
LeBron James: No statement by not staying at Trump-branded hotel
NEW YORK (AP) —LeBron James said he wasn’t trying to make a statement by not staying at a Donald Trump-branded hotel with the Cleveland Cavaliers, calling it a personal preference.
“It would be the same if I went to a restaurant and decided to eat chicken and not steak,” James said.
James and some other players didn’t stay with the team at the Trump SoHo in lower Manhattan before the Cavs’ game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. James said it was the first time in his career he hasn’t stayed with his team, though he said he rode the bus to the morning shootaround as usual with the squad.
James endorsed Hillary Clinton and campaigned with her in Ohio. Several of his teammates, including Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert and others have expressed their disappointment about Trump’s win.
“At the end of the day I hope he’s one of the best presidents ever, for all of our sake,” James said. “For my family, for all us.”
A team spokesman didn’t say how many players opted not to stay in the team hotel and wasn’t sure how James met up with the bus.
Coach Tyronn Lue, who stayed with the team, was asked if it was odd to have the players split up on the road.
“It’s not normal, but considering the circumstances that’s what we have,” Lue said. “But that’s not my main objective. My main thing is to try to get this team to stay on track and play the right way and try to get back on track by playing Cleveland Cavalier basketball.”
James wouldn’t talk about Knicks President Phil Jackson, who angered the All-Star forward last month by referring to his friends and business partners in an ESPN interview as a “posse.”
Boston’s Marcus Smart gets flopping warning from NBA
It happened on the game’s final play — you were probably focused elsewhere, wondering how Al Horford could miss the game-winning layup. But watch Smart as he gets in position for the rebound on that shot.