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.

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.