Kurt Helin

Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, Kendrick Perkins

Why the Miami Heat are not likely to move Hassan Whiteside

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It’s not going to be easy for the Miami Heat to keep Hassan Whiteside next summer. He’s an unrestricted free agent, as is Dwyane Wade, and paying both what they will ask becomes a serious challenge. Plus, how much will the Heat pay a guy they need to sit for critical stretches of the fourth quarter?

Normally, this would mean that the Heat would be looking to trade him, or, at least, be considering it. And Whiteside’s name has come up in rumors about DeMarcus Cousins and Dwight Howard deals.

Don’t bet on it. The money doesn’t come close to working out. Ethan Skolnick laid it out beautifully at the Miami Herald (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

Whiteside’s contract is virtually worthless to another team. That doesn’t mean Whiteside is worthless. His skill set is worth plenty, even in a smallball era. But he’s making just $981,348 this season, and he will be a free agent as soon as the season ends. Miami cannot sign him to an extension now and, unless he’s willing to take a mid-level deal (he won’t be), the Heat will need to use cap space to re-sign him because it doesn’t have Bird Rights on him….

But here’s the thing about the Heat not having Bird Rights: Neither would any team that acquires him.

That means there is virtually no advantage to acquiring him now. He’s simply headed back into the free agent pool at the end of the season, when every team will have a chance to pitch him. The only potential edge you get in getting him early is that you can get him acclimated to your system, and try to show him it’s the perfect place for him to spend his future. In other words, exactly the same situation the Heat is in now with him. But that doesn’t seem like very solid ground, not solid enough to deal a real asset for him.

Skolnick says the Heat are “amused” by the trade rumors because they know a deal is highly unlikely.

As for the two big rumors out there, Howard makes $22.3 million and Cousins $15.8 million this season. Again, Whiteside makes less than $1 million. To do those deals means the Heat have to send a lot of salary out, cutting deep into their rosters. (The Kings aren’t going to move Cousins’ anyway, but that’s another discussion.)

And both teams would demand Justise Winslow in the deal as well.

All of which is to say, it’s not that a Whiteside deal is impossible, but it’s not likely. He probably ends the season with the Heat.

Report: Carlos Boozer met with Bucks, could sign deal

Carlos Boozer
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At some point this season, some team was going to reach out and sign Carlos Boozer to a deal. If in the office pool you had the Milwaukee Bucks just before Christmas, you may be the winner. (Also, if your office had a pool on Carlos Boozer’s landing spot, your workplace has a serious gambling problem.)

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reports that Boozer and the Bucks’ brass have been talking.

Boozer had a positive meeting with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and general manager John Hammond in Los Angeles, sources said. Milwaukee suffered consecutive double-digit losses to the Lakers and Clippers this week.

Bucks center Greg Monroe remains sidelined because of a sprained MCL in his right knee, and the team has lacked reserve frontcourt contributions aside from John Henson.

Boozer can still help the Bucks on offense — he averaged 11.8 points a game while shooting 49.9 percent, and pulled down 6.8 rebounds a night last season for the Lakers. His PER of 16.8 is above the league average. He is still a pick-and-pop threat with the physical strength to play inside. However, he is a mess defensively. He will hurt the Bucks on that end of the floor.

If this is a short-term, non-guaranteed deal, I get it; and even if it’s for longer than that if it’s at the league minimum it’s not terrible.

But if the Bucks are leaning on him for more than 15 minutes a night for very long, that’s a bad sign.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr hopes to return in 2-3 weeks

Steve Kerr
Associated Press
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is feeling better as he deals with complications from back surgery, and hopes to be back on the bench in the coming weeks.

Kerr attended practice Monday and Tuesday and was at the team’s shootaround Wednesday ahead of Golden State’s home game against Phoenix.

He says: “What I’ve learned is that I miss it. I’m still hoping in the next two to three weeks to be back on the bench.”

Golden State has given no formal timeline for the coach’s return, reiterating Kerr will tell the team when he is ready.

Kerr has been dealing with headaches following two back surgeries. He took a leave of absence the first week of training camp and watched the Warriors’ record 24-0 start behind the scenes. Golden State (24-1) is coming off its first defeat Saturday at Milwaukee.

PBT Podcast: Talking Boston playoffs, trades, Rondo with A. Sherrod Blakely

Associated Press
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The Boston Celtics are a good team (14-2 as of this writing). Credit to Brad Stevens, the first thing everyone around the league says about them is they are well coached. They are deep with talent — especially along the front line — and that versatility allows Stevens to put out lineups that are about matchups. They are a lock playoff team in the East.

And they may be pushing up against their ceiling without a true No. 1 option, a true star on the roster to anchor it.

That’s what A. Sherrod Blakely, who covers the Celtics for Comcast Sportsnet New England, and ProBasketballTalk’s Kurt Helin discuss in this latest NBCSports.com PBT podcast.

That includes discussing the DeMarcus Cousins trade rumors (don’t bet on it) and what other trades and moves the Celtics would be willing to make to get that true alpha player. The pair also discusses whether it was a surprise to see what happened to Rajon Rondo, the team most likely to break out of the pack in the East, and more around the Eastern Conference.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: About that Warriors’ let down…

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson
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I completely understand if you were prepping for “The Force Awakens” opening by watching (or re-watching) the Family Guy Star Wars episodes. I think we all are. If that means you missed the slate of a dozen NBA games on Wednesday night, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you need to know about a busy Wednesday around the NBA.

1) About that Warriors’ let down after their first loss… The Warriors lost to the Bucks because they were tired — seventh game of a road trip, the second night of a back-to-back after playing a double-overtime thriller. Wednesday they were rested, and the Phoenix Suns paid the price — 128-103, and it wasn’t that close. Starting at the end of the first half the Warriors went on a 58-19 run and by the end of the third were up 40. Klay Thompson had 27 in the third shooting Stephen Curry-like threes, and he finished with a career-high 43. Draymond Green had 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals. It wasn’t a perfect night for Golden State — Curry actually missed two free throws in a row — but the Suns lack any of the tools to properly combat what the Warriors do. Golden State is going to be rested — just five games the next two weeks, all at home — and they showed again that when focused there is not another team in the Association playing as well right now. I can’t wait until the Christmas Day showdown with Cleveland (who should finally be healthy for this matchup).

2) Don’t look now, but the Thunder have won six in a row. It doesn’t always have to be the Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook show. Sure, they combined for 37 points, but four other OKC players were in double figures scoring also as the Thunder rolled the Trail Blazers 106-90. That’s 10 wins in the last 12 games for OKC. In their last 10 games the Thunder have the NBA’s fourth-best offense and fifth-best defense — those are the signs of a team playing like a contender. In those last 10 OKC is outscoring opponents by an impressive 9.9 points per 100 possessions — the problem is that’s still third behind the Spurs and Warriors. There are still questions in OKC, but they are playing like a team that wants to be in the title contender conversation.

3) The Kristaps Porzingis vs. Karl-Anthony Towns showdown goes to Towns. And Ricky Rubio. And the Knicks. Let’s be honest, we tuned into this game to see the top two rookies in the NBA — Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis — go head-to-head. If we go to the judges’ cards to score that matchup, Towns gets the decision — he had 25 points on 21 shots, plus 10 rebounds (Porzingis had 11 points on 14 shots). But Porzingis did land some blows.

The other winners on the night were the Knicks, who needed a “W” and got one thanks to 29 from Arron Afflalo. Also getting a win was Ricky Rubio, whose line of 9 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, and eight steals was as close to a quadruple-double as anyone has come in a long time.

4) Paul Pierce reaches 26,000 career points, only 15 others have done that. Paul Pierce has become almost a forgotten man with the Clippers, averaging just 4.2 points a game, not playing in crunch time, and just getting a quiet 15-20 minutes a night. But the man has had a long career of scoring and with that keeps racking up milestones — like reaching 26,000 career points when he hit this jumper at the first quarter buzzer. Pierce is 16th on the NBA All-Time scoring list (19th if you count the ABA numbers). He’s a lock Hall of Famer, and we won’t remember him as the guy coming off the Clippers’ bench.

5) Enes Kanter had the worst length-of-the-court shot you may ever see. Words cannot do this justice.