The plan for the Miami Heat this summer was fairly simple going in: get everyone that can to opt out of their current contracts, in order to sign longer-term deals for more guaranteed money in total, which will pay the players less in the immediate future and create the salary cap space necessary to upgrade the roster.
LeBron James has already opted out, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are more than likely to do the same.
While questions are technically in place surrounding whether they’ll all return, Udonis Haslem opting out of his deal appears to be solely for the purpose of executing Pat Riley’s plan.
From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
Udonis Haslem has opted out of his contract. As I’ve been reporting, Haslem — now that he’s opted out — is open to extension with Miami. Wants to be here. Wheels in motion. Haslem, Bosh, Wade all have same representation. So, yes, plans are in concert. Freeing up money for Riley to work.
And to be very clear, Haslem is doing this to benefit the Heat (and get a little security), not to leave the Heat.
Haslem had a player option for next season at $4.6 million — expect him to re-sign for up to four years for double that. He’s no longer a key rotation player for Miami, having appeared in just 46 regular season contests while averaging career lows in points (3.8), rebounds (3.8) and minutes (14.2). But he is seen as a reliable veteran locker room presence, and can come in handy at times.
For those reasons, along with his willingness to help the team financially, expect him to be rewarded with a new deal — but one that pays him less per season, and frees up some cap space for Miami to add some much-needed talent.
That’s just nasty.
Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.
Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.
Dwyane Wade still has some springs.
In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.
Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.
LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.
LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.
If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.
Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).
That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.
This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.
Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.
And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.