Miami isn’t going to be the title contenders they were last season, but they are going to be good. And interesting.
Luol Deng, who had been negotiating with Heat for days but was trying to leverage discussions from Atlanta and Dallas into more, has settled on a deal with Miami, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
After losing LeBron James, the Miami Heat have reached agreement with free-agent forward Luol Deng on a two-year, $20 million contract, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Deng will likely hold a player option on the 2015-16 season, a source said.
Remember that Deng reportedly turned down a three-year, $30 million extension with the Bulls.
You certainly can’t say Miami has had a good offseason, but Pat Riley has bounced back about as well as can be expected.
The Heat will roll out a starting five of Norris Cole/Shabazz Napier, Dwyane Wade (he will re-sign), Deng, Josh McRoberts, and an overpaid but effective Chris Bosh. That’s a playoff team and a tough out in the first round at least in Miami.
Deng is a strong defender who can get you points as the roll man or cutting off the ball. As a third scoring option he can work.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.
After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.
So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?
Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.
The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.
Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.