Update: Dwyane Wade opts out of contract with Heat, Chris Bosh remains undecided

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UPDATE 6:21 p.m.: Bosh apparently has not opted out just yet, and remains undecided.

4:46 p.m.: LeBron James got what he wanted. Pat Riley has gotten what he wanted. The Miami Heat are going to have cap space to maneuver this summer.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have both confirmed to the Miami Heat that they are opting out of their contracts, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports. (Other reports say Bosh has yet to opt out, according to his agent, which is the same one as Wade and Udonis Haslem. Hard to see Bosh not opting out at this point, hard to see him being the one to blow up the Heat.)

While in theory they all have the right to leave Miami (free agency opens July 1), this move really makes it more likely that all three members of Miami’s “big three” — the ones that have led them to four straight NBA Finals and two titles in that span — will return together. Teams that have called trying to set up meetings after July 1 with LeBron have been rebuffed. It was expected that all three of Miami’s stars  would opt out and take pay cuts per year on new, longer deals. Haslem also opted out of the last year of his deal, as did Chris Andersen.

However, LeBron may seek an actual max deal or close to it, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

While Bosh, Wade and Haslem could ultimately take less money with the early termination outs in their deals, James, the NBA’s four-time MVP, is seeking a full maximum contract extension – or something close to it – to stay with Miami, sources told Yahoo Sports.  James is eligible to sign a five-year, $130 million extension with the Heat.

We will see if that pans out to be true, the idea of them all taking $15 million a year on five-year, $75 million deals has been floated. LeBron is certainly by far the best player on the Heat and the key to all their success, but he’s also the one most able to take a salary cut because his off the court income dwarfs his actual salary. If he goes for a max it will put a lot of pressure on Wade and Bosh to take much less.

Whatever happens it is very likely that Riley will have room under the salary cap to add players. While Wade’s knee issues are causing a deterioration in his game, Riley has said from the start that he wants Wade to be a member of the Heat for lift — he wants to bring him back.

Had all three Heat stars had opted in, each owed about $20 million next season, combined with Norris Cole’s contract, the Heat would have been at the salary cap and Riley would have had no room to maneuver. With something like the proposal above where each takes $15 million Riley would be roughly $15 million under the cap to go chase name free agents.

Kyle Lowry’s name has come up. The Heat could go after big men such as Pau Gasol or Marcin Gortat, both of whom would fit their system well. Depends on how much cash the Riley has to play with and the costs for those players. Carmelo Anthony does not plan to meet with Miami at this time.

However it shakes out, it is unlikely that Miami’s big three is breaking up any time soon.

Watch Rockets C Nene lead the break, eurostep past Enes Kanter (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets center Nene is from Brazil, but on Sunday against the Oklahoma City Thunder the South American native went full euro.

On a fastbreak possession, Nene took on Thunder big man Enes Kanter near the rim and absolutely shook him with a nasty eurostep.

The play was so good that it forced Oklahoma City to call a timeout as James Harden and the rest of the Rockets bench met Nene on the court to celebrate.

Kobe Bryant says he didn’t even have NBA League Pass until a month ago (VIDEO)

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What has retired all-time NBA great Kobe Bryant been doing with his time? A little of this, a little of that. Apparently that doesn’t include watching non-national NBA games.

Speaking with ESPN’s Jemele Hill and Michael Smith on SC6, Bryant revealed that he went to go watch a little NBA while he was getting a workout in at his house and realized he didn’t have the NBA package hooked up on his cable.

Via Twitter:

I don’t know if I totally buy this. On one hand, Kobe is a busy guy and he did spend two decades living and breathing the NBA night in and night out. I would expect that after all that time he might want some kind of relief.

Then again, to think that Kobe doesn’t have multiple assistants that would have handled that sort of thing already is sort of silly. The only benefit here is Kobe trying to sell that he’s just relaxing and not paying attention to the league too much, which is hilarious.

Kobe, we all know who you are by now. You’re watching the league, man. You’re Kobe. We get it. You didn’t suddenly turn into The Dude.

Let’s just hope Kobe’s League Pass works right off the bat. We all know how much of a hassle it can be.

Damian Lillard dismisses playoff expectations as pressure, says it insults regular people

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The Portland Trail Blazers have had a disappointing season thus far. The team is just 34-38 before their game with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday, and they’re battling it out for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with the Denver Nuggets.

This comes as after expectations rose greatly following the 2015-16 campaign which saw the Blazers finish 44-38, good enough for the No. 5 spot in the West.

Portland has looked better after trading Mason Plumlee to Denver in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic, but it might be too little too late. Meanwhile, team leader Damian Lillard isn’t bowing to the idea that last season’s good fortune raised the bar so much that it put undue pressure on his team.

Speaking with Sporting News, Lillard said he thinks the idea is really more about pressure vs. challenges.

Via SN:

Pressure, nah. Fam, this is just playing ball. Pressure is the homeless man, who doesn’t know where his next meal is coming from. Pressure is the single mom, who is trying to scuffle and pay her rent. We get paid a lot of money to play a game. Don’t get me wrong — there are challenges. But to call it pressure is almost an insult to regular people.

Look at the Wizards, they were kind of on the same wave as us. Didn’t even make the playoffs while we did. Now this year they’re the second-best team in the East. The adversity made them better. It can make us better, too. What I come from and my background made me who I am. As comfortable as I am with the good times, I’m also comfortable in adversity. Yeah, I might feel some type of way when somebody comes for me or says my name. But when it’s all said and done, it ain’t gonna rock me.

This is interesting to hear an NBA player say out loud. One, because I’m not sure I entirely believe it. You can have pressure without it having to be something that threatens your overall wellbeing.

Then again, maybe we’re arguing linguistics here. There’s definitely a different emotion from, say, trying to make sure you make rent and aren’t evicted to the street vs. trying to make the NBA playoffs. If one emotion is being defined as pressure, it makes sense to call the other a challenge.

It’s also interesting to hear an NBA player speak in those kinds of terms. There are a few guys around the league who seem to be relatively grounded and give out quotes like this from time-to-time. The absurdity of the NBA — playing games, making millions, and having folks worship you — would easily bend reality for most of us.

In any case, the challenge of making the playoffs for Portland is not going to be an easy one to overcome. Going into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the Trail Blazers are a game behind Denver for the final spot.

Portland will face Denver on Tuesday, March 28 in perhaps their most important game of the season.

Kobe Bryant’s “Musecage” is like if Sesame Street had an NBA film room (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant’s video “Musecage” aired on ESPN on Sunday, and it’s one of the craziest things I’ve watched on an NBA broadcast. That includes watching Kobe’s own alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

Someone on Twitter called it a “drug-fueled Muppet nightmare” but that’s selling short how remarkable the video was. In it, Kobe delivered a message about finding motivation as a young basketball player alongside a talking “Lil’ Mamba” puppet.

But here’s where it gets good: this video was made true to Kobe’s own person. Despite the happy, glockenspiel-laden background music with puppet accompaniment, Kobe’s message in “Musecage” was to use the dark part of your psyche as motivation to conquer your enemies.

I’m dead serious.


It doesn’t get any more Kobe than that.

The first video ends with Kobe’s advice to Lil’ Mamba, who goes off to become strong by using the dark musings as his fuel. Meanwhile, the second video talks about — and I’m not kidding — tactics James Harden and Russell Westbrook use to defeat their opponents in the pick-and-roll.

It’s like if Sesame Street was also a film room session.

Needless to say, all 10 minutes of Musecage are incredible. I don’t mean that in any sarcastic way, either. Bryant has been working on his Canvas series for a while, and his message shines true to the person we’ve known for the last two decades.

Use your happy feelings to push yourself? No! Use self-doubt as a motivator to Jawface your way through to six championship rings.

He debuted the original episode on Christmas Day, and it too had a kid-friendly feel.

I literally cannot wait for the next edition in this series.