Report: Heat inquired about adding Pacers’ Lance Stephenson

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The Heat finally made some additions to the roster on Monday in free agency, but the signings were somewhat underwhelming to those outside the Miami market.

A target that the Heat weren’t able to acquire but attempted to is likely to be of far more interest.

You may remember Lance Stephenson of the Pacers, who engaged in all kinds of non-basketball nonsense against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, which included blowing in the ear of LeBron James and, at one, point, smacking him in the face during a dead ball situation.

Those antics didn’t exactly endear Stephenson to the Miami fan base or the team’s players, but desperate times call for desperate measures — and apparently, the Heat reached out and made an inquiry to see about adding him to the roster.

From Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:

And they’ve even tried to entice some talents you wouldn’t expect, such as Pacers’ agitator Lance Stephenson.

That report, from ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, may have surprised some, considering that James, Wade, Bosh and the rest of the Heat became weary of what Ray Allen labeled “buffoonery” during the recent Eastern Conference finals. But it shouldn’t, if you know how strongly James feels about simply adding talent that can assist his championship aspirations, even if it comes with some attitude.

Interestingly enough, the players the Heat did add — Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger — each have had dust-ups with the Heat in the past.

Stephenson is in no rush to get a deal done, even though the dollars are dwindling in Indiana and the Pacers may not have even their initial offer of five years and $44 million anymore that Stephenson already rejected. But he will have offers from other teams in that range or beyond once the bigger names begin to come off the market, and for that reason, Miami was never a real option, despite the team’s reported level of interest.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.