Heat’s reported free agent targets: Steve Blake, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Marvin Williams, Trevor Ariza, Kyle Lowry, DeJuan Blair, Spencer Hawes, Channing Frye

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LeBron James might want a max contract.

Or he, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh might accept less to allow Pat Riley to upgrade the Heat’s supporting cast.

I believe the uncertainty rests in whom Riley could land. I don’t see the big three taking pay cuts to make room for just anyone.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

According to sources, among the players the Heat will pursue are veteran Warriors guard Steve Blake, who can play either guard spot, can knock down 3-pointers and is expected to draw interest from other contenders, like the Thunder.

Another pair of graybeards is also on the Heat list: Shawn Marion of the Mavericks and teammate Vince Carter. Both players have expressed interest in the team, and the feeling is said to be mutual.

The Heat would like to add someone in his prime this summer, including Marvin Williams, Trevor Ariza or Kyle Lowry. But the fact is, there won’t be much available when it comes to players in their 20s, and the Heat can’t go overboard with spending. DeJuan Blair is a possibility at power forward, while Spencer Hawes and Channing Frye are outside possibilities for the frontcourt.

Beyond Lowry – who’s receiving plenty of attention from the Raptors and Rockets – and maaaybe Ariza, those players don’t warrant LeBron, Wade and Bosh relinquishing salary.

Miami needs better support for the big three, and these players could push the Heat over the edge to the championship next season. It’s not as if they were that far off this year, and the won the previous two years.

But most of these players are not exceptional. They’re supporting players, and the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum salaries – what Miami would have available if the big three seek big deals – should be enough to lure them to a championship-caliber team playing in a tax-free state with great weather.

When Marvin Williams is a longshot, that says something about the Heat’s options.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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Did Russell Westbrook get mad at Steven Adams for not taking potential triple-double-clinching shot? (video)

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Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.

That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.

But he still chases them.

Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.

Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.

Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.

It could be both!

Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.