Udonis Haslem

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Rumor: Miami, Los Angeles among Dwyane Wade’s potential landing spots

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Dwyane Wade is going to be an unrestricted free agent after he agrees to a buyout by the Chicago Bulls. Talks may not have started between the two sides, but it’s only a questions of when and for how much.

Speculation has already turned to where Wade will go as a free agent.

LeBron James and some around the Cavaliers are confident he will join them to chase a ring. Udonis Haslem is among those pushing for Wade to return to Miami to finish his Hall of Fame career. Now, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald throws another city into the mix — Los Angeles.

Though ESPN reported that LeBron James’ camp expects Dwyane Wade to end up with Cleveland if he reaches a buyout with the Bulls, a Wade associate has been telling people that Miami and Los Angeles are also appealing destinations for Wade…

But the person who mentioned Miami and L.A. to me was the same person who first alerted me to my scoop a few years ago that Wade’s negotiations with the Heat were not going well – the first time that information ever surfaced (and a year later, the sides divorced).

Take the Los Angeles idea with a grain of salt, but it’s possible. Also, note that Jackson says Los Angeles, not Lakers or Clippers. Players do love Los Angeles and the big stage it can provide for their brand.

With the Clippers, Wade would move to a good but not great team that will be battling for a playoff spot at the bottom of the conference. That doesn’t seem like a place he would choose.

The Lakers would appear to be a set up for LeBron coming to Los Angeles in a year, something rumored around the league. Wade would fit there and be a championship veteran to help guide the young guns on that team. That said, the Lakers are not going to be a very good team this year — improved, probably very entertaining, showing promise with their young and talented core, but this is still a team with lots of questions, particularly on the defensive end that will learn some lessons the hard way. In a deep West they are not playoff bound. Does Wade want a year of that?

The smart money is still on Miami or Cleveland.

Whenever the buyout happens, Wade will have options. Los Angeles is just another one.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.

Russell Westbrook wins union’s Players Voice MVP

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The players union released its long-anticipated long-overdue awards, and there are some doozies. First of all, I still can’t figure out what Chris Bosh – who was announced as the “host” of the Twitter-released awards – has to do with this. But let’s get to the actual winners.

Here are the major awards, with the traditional award/Players Voice equivalent:

No surprise Westbrook won both MVPs. He deserved them. Still, James Harden could’ve hoped for a split result like in 2015, when Stephen Curry won actual MVP and Harden won the players’ version.

There’s obviously slight differences in the other categories. I think Green had the best defensive season and deservedly won Defensive Player of the Year, but I also think Leonard is the NBA’s best defender and therefore deserved this honor. I would’ve picked Andre Iguodala for Best off the Bench (and Sixth Man of the Year, for what it’s worth), though that’s a minor quibble. But how on earth did Joel Embiid not win Best Rookie? He was the best rookie in years, let alone this season. I picked Brogdon for Rookie of the Year based on his overall contributions in far more playing time, but there should have been no question about the best rookie.

The union also released several awards without a corresponding NBA honor:

  • Comeback Player of the Year: Joel Embiid
  • Hardest to Guard: Russell Westbrook
  • Clutch Performer: Isaiah Thomas
  • Global Impact: LeBron James
  • Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team: LeBron James
  • Most Influential Veteran: Vince Carter
  • Best Dressed: Russell Westbrook
  • Best Social Media Follow: Joel Embiid
  • Coach You’d Most Like to Play For: Gregg Popovich
  • Best Home Court Advantage: Warriors

LeBron winning Player You Secretly Wish Was On Your Team has to be an implicit slap in the face to Kyrie Irving. I’m glad to see Thomas and Carter deservedly recognized.

Lastly, the union awarded a Teammate of the Year on each team:

Dirk Nowitzki won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year – which is voted on by current players after a panel of former players selects nominees – then didn’t even win for his own team here? That’s just weird.

Report: Nick Collison signing one-year deal with Thunder

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Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tony Parker (Spurs), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Udonis Haslem (Heat) and Nick Collison (SuperSonics/Thunder) are the only active players to have played more than 10 seasons all with the same team.

Collison isn’t leaving the club.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Collison has played just 13 years in the NBA [update: after spending his first year sidelined by injury]. It’s unclear whether Charania just got a number mixed up or whether Collison plans to play two more seasons.

Presumably, Collison will make the minimum, because, unless the Thunder are willing to hard-cap themselves, that’s the most they can offer and it’s because that’s the most Collison is worth. He’ll earn $2,328,652, though Oklahoma City will pay and be taxed at just $1,471,382. (The league covers the rest for veterans on one-year minimum deals.)

The 36-year-old Collison looked done last year, playing just 128 minutes in 20 games. At least he appears to be well-liked and a helpful veteran in the locker room.

At worst, injuries will press Collison into playing time that could have gone to someone who still possesses NBA athleticism. At best, he’ll sell Paul George on why he likes Oklahoma City so much.

Pat Riley says Heat growth will be up to the players

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MIAMI (AP) — Pat Riley has a trip to his California home awaiting, followed by a vacation with his wife.

He can now relax a little.

The 2017-18 Miami Heat are going to look a lot like the 2016-17 Miami Heat, and the team president is just fine with that arrangement. Riley said Monday he thinks bringing back now-former free agents Dion Waiters and James Johnson and signing them to four-year deals, combined with the surprise addition of Kelly Olynyk, gives Miami a real shot at picking up where it left off last season.

The way he sees it, now it’s up to those signees to deliver on promises.

“I think in training camp, they have to look at it with great foresight for the future – but also they have to back up their words somewhat with their play,” Riley said Monday. “So it’ll be very interesting this year when we go to training camp to see where their heads are, and I’m convinced they’ll come ready. They think they’re a good team and they’ll get it together. I’m excited about it.”

Even in a summer where Miami swung and missed at landing Gordon Hayward, Riley thinks the Heat got better in the last few days. Miami went through one of the most unique seasons in NBA history last year – it lost franchise cornerstone Dwyane Wade in the summer, started 11-30 to fall super-close to the NBA basement, then went 30-11 in the second half and still missed the playoffs.

It was a painful ending.

Riley wants that pain to permeate for a while.

“As good as we were in the second half of the year, we didn’t finish the job and get that one shot at the first round,” Riley said.

There are more details for Miami to handle before the offseason business truly slows to a trickle. The Heat are still talking with forward Luke Babbitt about a return, plus have been in discussions with captain Udonis Haslem – who has been approached by other clubs, including Cleveland, to gauge his interest in lending his veteran expertise elsewhere.

“We hopefully will get Udonis back,” Riley said.

Anything Miami does now would almost certainly have to be a minimum deal. Riley said the Heat spent every dollar available under its salary cap, lauding Heat senior vice president of basketball operations and general manager Andy Elisburg – considered one of the NBA’s top cap gurus – for his expertise there in not only helping Miami land Olynyk but keep Waiters, Johnson and Wayne Ellington.

“His number-crunching … he’s the star of this whole thing,” Riley said, adding that the Heat intend to hang onto their $4.3 million exception – for now.

Miami had Plan A and Plan B going into free agency. Plan A was to land Hayward and figure everything else out on the fly. Plan B was, if Hayward decided to play elsewhere (and he did, picking Boston), to go all-in on retaining Heat free agents.

At 35,000 feet, Plan C presented itself.

Riley was flying back to Miami from meetings in California when he and the Heat brass learned Olynyk was going to be a free agent. That deal came together quickly, and Riley is already convinced the former Celtics backup forward was the right move to pair with center Hassan Whiteside.

“He’s a perfect fit with Hassan,” Riley said. “He can play with him and we can play him with other guys.”

Whiteside and Waiters have both said they expect the Heat to be in the Eastern Conference mix next season, and Riley doesn’t disagree. Cleveland – even with its front-office dysfunction being a big story this offseason – still has LeBron James and therefore still has the talent to be considered the best in the East. Boston will be there again. Washington, Toronto and Milwaukee also think they’ll vie for top-four spots.

Miami figures to be there as well.

“There are other teams in the conference but we feel good,” Riley said. “If you go into the season healthy, in shape and feeling good, and there’s a commitment to one another, the sky’s the limit. You have to go for it.”

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