The Miami Heat have represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals for each of the last four seasons, but that obviously is likely to change now that LeBron James has left to return home to Cleveland in order to once again play for the Cavaliers.
Miami managed to bring back a more than reasonable roster under the circumstances, signing Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts in free agency, in addition to re-signing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on multi-year deals to return to the Heat.
But at least in Bosh’s case, a return was anything but a foregone conclusion.
Chris Bosh said Thursday that he was “close” to leaving the Miami Heat before ultimately deciding to sign a five-year, $118 million contract to stay with the team.
“It was close. I’m not going to lie,” Bosh said on “The Zaslow and Joy Show” on FM 104.3 The Ticket in Miami. “It was close. It was a weird situation because we were waiting so long and I didn’t know what was going on.
“I think you’re always in a situation where it is close even if you don’t leave because teams got very aggressive on me. And I guess as soon as LeBron made up his mind, that’s when everything could fall in line. But I was just waiting, so I didn’t know what was going on.”
Bosh had a max contract offer from the Rockets on the table, one that was so legit that Houston cleared cap space by getting rid of Jeremy Lin in order to sign him, with no guarantees that Bosh would commit to coming to Houston.
But Bosh had maintained that he wanted to remain in Miami with or without LeBron, and once the Heat lost the game’s best player and came at Bosh with a max contract offer to stay in town, that made his decision one that was easier than expected.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.
Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.
The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.
I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.