Next big step for LeBron James’ future: Sit down with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade

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Here’s what I find most interesting about LeBron James opting out of his contract on June 24, before the draft and six days before his deadline?

It was unilateral.

It was not a coordinated move with the two other members of Miami’s “big three” — Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Which is what Wade thought it would be. Rather, it was LeBron sending a message not only to Pat Riley and the Heat about upgrading the roster but to Wade and Bosh that they better join him in creating cap space or he can take his talents to Chicago or Los Angeles or wherever. They may ultimately make coordinated moves, but not yet.

The three had not yet sat down to talk but will this week, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The meeting is expected to take place days before the official beginning of free agency, and there’s an expectation that the Heat’s “Big 3” will have a strong idea about whether they’ll continue together in Miami before James, 29, can hit the market on July 1….

Discussions between James and Heat owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley will take place soon too, sources said.

Being around Chris Bosh for multiple interviews in and around the Finals, I get the impression he is very comfortable in Miami, both with his role on the court and his life outside it. He doesn’t want to leave, and if that means he takes a few million dollar haircut he’s good with that.

Will Wade feel that way is the bigger question. He is the guy with the key hand to play.

Four years ago he made a sacrifice to bring these three together, would he make a bigger one to keep them together? He certainly is not a player on the court worth what he is getting paid anymore, but as Pat Riley said in his exit interview he is still a core part of Miami, a talisman of the franchise.

At times in recent months Wade has also sounded like the guy who has put in the time and helped for the franchise for years and wants to be rewarded for that. Think Kobe Bryant style contract.

The question is matters to Wade: Getting rewarded and paid ($41 million over the next two years) or taking a lesser (but longer) deal and continuing to play next to LeBron and compete.

Only Wade can answer that, but in that answer is the key to the future of the Heat.

All three of them will meet with Pat Riley and the Heat by July 1 and my guess is by the time free agency starts we’ll already know if LeBron has Wade and Bosh with him and is going to give Pat Riley a real chance.

Or, if LeBron is taking his talents out of South Beach.

Either way, it’s on Wade.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.