Udonis Haslem, LeBron James

Heat’s Udonis Haslem opts out, becomes an unrestricted free agent

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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.

76ers increase Joel Embiid’s minute limit to 28

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, tries to get around Cleveland Cavaliers' DeAndre Liggins, center, and Kevin Love during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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Take comfort, chairs and staffers.

The 76ers have raised Joel Embiid‘s minute limit from 24 to 28.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.

Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.

The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.

This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.

James Johnson dunks on Rudy Gobert in crunch time (video)

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Opponents shoot just 41.8% at the rim with Rudy Gobert defending it – which is now second to Hassan Whiteside among the 50 players who defend the most shots at the rim per game.

But James Johnson went up with no fear, scoring two of his 24 points in the Heat’s 111-110 win over the Jazz last night.

Nicolas Batum bounces assist through Dwight Powell’s legs (video)

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The Hornets didn’t just beat the Mavericks, 97-87, last night.

Nicolas Batum got Charlotte style points with this pass through Dwight Powell‘s legs, assisting Cody Zeller.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson floors Malcolm Brogdon with crossover (video)

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To be fair, Malcolm Brogdon was already off-balance before Rondae Hollis-Jefferson began his crossover.

To be real, DID YOU SEE BROGDON FALL OVER?