Kurt Helin

Chris Bosh

Bosh and McRoberts back on floor as Heat open training camp

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Chris Bosh was the final Miami Heat player to leave the court after practice Tuesday.

It was unintentionally symbolic.

Bosh insisted the first Heat practice of training camp carried no extra significance to him, not after his 2014-15 season was cut short by a blood clot that was potentially life- and career-threatening. But to the franchise, perhaps the biggest takeaway from Day 1 was how Bosh and Josh McRoberts – who were lost to illness and injury a year ago – were finally back on the floor.

“I’ve been blessed to put that situation behind me,” Bosh said. “That’s the best part about all of this. I have no worries. I’m just able to go out there.”

The day wasn’t perfect for Miami. It was supposed to be the first time that this season’s projected starting five of Bosh, Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside were all on the floor together. That never happened last year, since Dragic was acquired on the same day that Bosh was deemed out for the season.

And it still hasn’t happened. Whiteside missed the first practice after straining a calf muscle while conditioning last week, and will be re-evaluated before camp resumes on Tuesday.

“I’m just taking a couple days off, just to take it day-by-day,” Whiteside said.

He didn’t sound worried. After what the Heat went through last season, they also didn’t sound overly concerned.

McRoberts was considered one of the key signees in the summer of 2014 after LeBron James left Miami to go back to Cleveland. He missed most of camp with a toe problem, then appeared in only 17 games before being shut down in early December because of knee surgery. But like Bosh, who missed the final 30 games last season because of the clot, McRoberts was back on the floor Tuesday and moving without any apparent issues.

“The first day of training camp isn’t always the day you’re looking forward to most, just because it’s a tough day and getting back in the swing of things,” McRoberts said. “But just to be out here, I missed it, I missed it a lot. To be out here with everybody and competing again, running up and down, it was a lot of fun.”

That word – fun – isn’t always necessarily tied to the first day of camp, especially Heat camp. The first session went on for more than two hours, was virtually all about defense and the lone stretch of offensive drills toward the very end of practice might be best described as a shot-clanging, sloppy-playing, turnover-fest, which is exactly what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected.

Spoelstra entered last season with a playbook that was 70 percent filled with things to run through McRoberts and Bosh. That playbook was basically thrown out early last season, though now some of those concepts can return.

“They both make the game look a whole lot easier, because of their skillsets,” Spoelstra said. “Anything you’re trying to do, how you envision it when Josh or C.B. is on the floor, it flows a lot better, it goes a little more to design and that shows and speaks to their versatility.”

Spoelstra clearly liked what he saw from the first 2-1/2 hour practice.

“This is what we do,” Spoelstra said. “We’re wired to get out here and work. Coaches and staff, we like practices more than anything.”

Notes: Spoelstra changed the first day’s schedule in part because of lessons learned from former Heat coach Ron Rothstein – who passed along some tips he picked up long ago from former Detroit coach Chuck Daly. The evening on-court practice was scratched, replaced by a team meeting and evening classroom teaching session. … Dwyane Wade’s assessment of the first practice of his 13th season: “No matter how many times you go through training camp, you just want to get that first day out of the way. There’s always a little nervous energy that first day. It’s good, man. This is what you’re born to do … the start of what everyone hopes will be special.”

Tristan Thompson skips Cavs first practice; LeBron not discussing it

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Missing media day was one thing — he didn’t get to record any cool promotional bits, but that’s about it.

Tuesday was another — Tristan Thompson skipped the Cavaliers first practice. He’s still is in a battle with Cleveland over his contract extension, he wants a max deal, and the Cavaliers are offering something closer to $16 million a season (although they might go higher).

Coach David Blatt played it off, as you would expect. Here is what he said, via Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Cavs coach David Blatt said Thompson’s missing practice wasn’t “too, too much (of a concern) right now,” and “obviously we hope to see him as soon as possible.

“But as I know Tristan, he’s maintaining great condition and he will hopefully be with us as soon as possible,” Blatt said. “For a coach it’s every day (wanting Thompson back). I’d rather not think about the bad end of the expectation. I’m just hoping to see him here sooner than later.”

LeBron James said yesterday he was not involved in the negotiations (he and Thompson share an agent), and Tuesday LeBron wouldn’t even open the door to talking about it.

“Play my clips from yesterday, I’ve already addressed it,” James said tersely, following the Cavs’ first practice of the 2015-16 season. “I probably won’t address it too much more. Like I said I’m optimistic both sides will get something done and he’ll get here sooner than later.”

Thompson and the Cavaliers are trying to reach a deal, if they do not he will play for the qualifying offer — “just” $6.8 million — and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Paul seems willing to bet that next summer, in a market where two-thirds of NBA teams will have the money to sign a player to a max contract, that someone will throw more money at Thompson.

We will see soon if he and Thompson and willing to take that risk, or if the two sides reach a compromise.

Paul Pierce doesn’t let teammates wear LeBron shoes

Boston Celtics forward Pierce defends Miami Heat forward James during the fourth quarter of Game 3 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston
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It started back Paul Pierce was in Boston and the Celtics were contenders, he and LeBron James had some epic battles, which developed into a rivalry and spilled over into other games. Even the preseason.

Pierce takes this seriously. Very seriously.

At Wizards media day Monday, Polish big man Marcin Gortat was asked if he learned anything from Pierce (who left the Wizards to take less money from the Clippers this summer). (Hat Tip Complex)

My first thought: Pierce can recognize LeBron’s? Did not expect that.

Lance Stephenson will probably back Pierce up on this around the Clippers. Especially if someone rolls in the new 13s.

Last season DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick wore the Nike Zoom Soldier 8, which is considered LeBron’s secondary shoe (it’s not part of his signature shoe line, but he rolled in previous incarnations at times). I imagine Pierce isn’t going to try to call that one out, and if he does I imagine Jordan’s response will be something I could not publish on this family-friendly site.

Dwyane Wade lip syncs “This is how we do it”

Dwyane Wade
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Time to get Dwyane Wade on Lip Sync Battle.

At NBA media days, it’s a tradition for players to answer questions about themselves (or some other topic), or to take part in silly games that become Jumbotron entertainment in the arena during timeouts. Wade took part in that and killed it with Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”

Seriously, LL Cool J should be calling to get him on any minute now.

Dirk Nowitzki plans to play two more seasons

Dirk Nowitzki
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Dirk Nowitzki is starting his 17th NBA training camp this week — but he doesn’t want it to be his last one.

Nowitzki will play this season on a revamped Mavericks roster, and he has a player option for next season. Will he take it? At the Mavericks media day Monday Nowitzki was asked about his plans for retirement. Via Earl K. Sneed of the Mavs official website.

It will be sad to see one of the all-time great shooters go, but it’s becoming time.

Nowitzki is a future Hall of Famer and for my money the best European player ever, but his game has started to slip. Last season he was missing more open shots. According to NBA.com, Nowitzki hit 47 percent of his open (defender 4-6 feet away) two-point shots last season, down from 52 percent the season before. He shot 42 percent on open jumpers inside 10 feet. He missed more of his isolation jumpers. His numbers in a lot of categories faded as the season dragged on. I could go on and on, but the point is simple:

Nowitzki isn’t the guy who can carry a contending team anymore as the No. 1 option. He’s still good, but he’s growing old and is going to need help. I don’t think this Dallas roster has near enough of it to contend.

I’m going to miss Nowitzki when he goes, but that time is coming. In a couple of seasons.