Author: Kurt Helin

San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 7

Mike Miller points to him being amnestied as start of LeBron James leaving Miami


LeBron James sold his summer as him going home, that he wanted to return to Cleveland. Certainly that was a big part of his decision.

However, also he had come to question the Miami Heat’s ownership’s commitment to fielding the best team. LeBron said if Miami had won the 2014 title it would have been much harder for him to leave, but he felt part of the reason they didn’t was they didn’t put the best possible product on the court.

That started with them amnestying Mike Miller the previous summer, a move that save the Heat $17 million in salary and luxury tax, but hurt their wing depth and removed one of LeBron’s best friends on the team.

Speaking to Chris Haynes of Miller said his exit was the first crack in the wall for LeBron in Miami.

“LeBron thought it was an unnecessary change,” Miller revealed to Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I’m not saying I would have been a difference-maker. San Antonio was unbelievable last year and there are a lot of things that go into a season, but it was difficult for LeBron.

“It was difficult for all of us. It was difficult for me. I had to uproot my family and move again. It was tough. I think he was disappointed because he understands legacies and he understands what he wants to do in life. That’s what makes him special.”

There was some logic to what Miami did, Miller hadn’t played more than 59 games in the past four seasons, at times it seemed like his body was held together by duct tape. When he played he fit great, but that’s $17 million in savings we’re talking about. So the Heat pulled the trigger.

But it frustrated LeBron because it was a move about money not winning. Then Miller played 82 games for the Grizzlies. LeBron saw Dwyane Wade’s minutes decline and the need for wing shooting remain, and his busy was playing in the land of great barbecue, not with him. LeBron expressed frustration with an owner he saw as not willing to spend to win.

From there the dominoes started falling. LeBron made his decision, and after he did he called Miller and recruited him. It worked, like it did with Kevin Love and everyone else not named Ray Allen (at least so far, he could still chose to join mid-season or whenever).

But Miller seems to have been the first big domino in that sequence.

Quote of the Day: Nick Young thinks he can win MVP. Or sixth man. Or….


The NBA is just more fun with Nick Young in it. Like when he said his there’s no tattoos on his right arm because that’s just for buckets. Or he makes the rookies call him special names.

Swaggy P was not the center of attention at Lakers’ media day (that Kobe Bryant guy is back and a lot of people wanted to talk to him) but Young was vintage Young, as you can see from the quote above. The Defensive Player of the Year comment actually had me laughing.

If as expected Lakers’ coach Byron Scott goes with the veterans to start (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Carlos Boozer) the Lakers will be a lot more fun to watch when the bench unit of Young, Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle are on the floor. They won’t be able to stop anybody, but they’ll be entertaining. Which is about the most Lakers’ fans can hope for out of their team this year.

And if you’re going to see Young out and about in LA and shout out to him, well…

Brian Shaw wants Ty Lawson to watch Peyton Manning practice, lead team

Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets

Ty Lawson is a leader for the Denver Nuggets.

As a water bug of a point guard he is a great fit for their up-tempo offense (the Nuggets were top five in the league in pace last season). He is quick, he can be fearsome in transition, he can knock down the three. He fits what the Nuggets do and he has the temperament to be a leader. It’s just a process.

This season coach Brian Shaw is asking even more of Lawson and more of a Nuggets team that should be healthy and a playoff threat in the West. He needs Lawson to lead that.

Sort of like Peyton Manning does down the street in Denver with the Broncos. As a learning experience, Shaw wants to take Lawson to watch Manning practice, something the coach said at media day, reported by Matt Moore at Eye on Basketball.

“One thing I wanted to do with him,” Shaw said, “and still may do before we get too heavy into is I want to take him to a Broncos practice so he can see Peyton Manning and how he directs traffic, and how everybody falls in line behind him. But they only do that because they know the work ethic that he has and the time he puts in, and they respect that.”

Lawson is good with that and a step ahead of the coach.

“I’ve met Peyton before,” Lawson said, “but I definitely just want to see how he runs his team. To see whether he’s yelling and screaming the whole time, or if he’s just talking. What his tone is when he’s talking to players. I want to see what his mindset is during practice.”

Manning yells now and again, but his leadership is rooted more in the combination of detailed preparation and then an ability to read a defense and put the team in a position to succeed. Players trust him to make the right call, the right read, and to choose the right option. Manning has proven he can do that.

Leading veterans is easier and the Nuggets get Danilo Gallinari back from injury and acquired Arron Afflalo in a trade — you can plug those two in and instantly get guys who will buy into the team concept. They will follow a leader they can trust. Lawson will not have to yell as much, he just needs to prove he can be that guy that makes the right read.

Rajon Rondo says he didn’t hurt hand at trampoline park, hopes to stay with Celtics

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo sat behind a table, with GM Danny Ainge to his right, at the Boston Celtics media day on Monday — and that’s all Rondo can do for most of training camp (and maybe the start of the season) after breaking his left hand last Thursday. Rondo tried to talk about how he wants to remain a Celtic long term.

But some wanted to talk about that broken hand… reports had surfaced that Rondo had been at a trampoline park with his kids not long before he reported the broken hand. With Rondo’s explanation being he broke his hand in the shower, there were doubts and rumors.

Rondo tried to shoot those down rumors down Monday, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of

He went to a trampoline park on Tuesday and admitted that he did do some jumping and learned a few trips. His daughter’s birthday was on Wednesday and they saw Lion King and he later played softball. On Thursday, he returned to another trampoline park to let his kids burn off some steam for about 45 minutes, adding that he didn’t do any jumping that day.

“That night, [I] went home and that’s when the incident happened,” he said. “It didn’t happen at the trampoline place.”

Rondo was backed up by the trampoline park co-owner, reports The owner said Rondo didn’t jump on Thursday and left uninjured.

Rondo and Ainge tried to quickly dispel the broken hand talk and move on to discussing Rondo’s future in Boston. Few players have popped up in more trade rumors than Rondo the past few years, and Ainge has left his options open (particularly after drafting Marcus Smart last June), but Rondo said he wants to stay in Boston, reports the Boston Globe.

“The fans, the people here, make me want to stay,” said Rondo. “The organization has been great. I can’t say enough about Danny and [majority owner] Wyc [Grousbeck]. When I walk down the street, the fans embrace me from Day 1. Even when we won a championship, people don’t just appreciate us winning. It’s more of a thank you. It’s a love for the game. These people here know the game and they care for it. They know when you’re not playing as hard as you can. The love I get is kind of overwhelming in Boston. Why wouldn’t I want to stay here?”

Well, because the Celtics are rebuilding and he might be able to win more quickly elsewhere.

But we all know it comes down to money. In a marketplace where Eric Bledsoe gets five-years, $70 million, isn’t Rondo a max guy?

“I think a four-time All-Star by the time he’s 27 years old would qualify for max based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace,” Ainge said. “If I were Rajon and I were Rajon’s agent [Bill Duffy], I would definitely say that. But since I’m negotiating against him, I’ll withhold.”

You don’t say that as a GM unless you plan to offer that kind of money.

Ricky Rubio with half-court alley-oop to Andrew Wiggins (VIDEO)

Timberwolves New Players

Sure, they were playing about as much defense as a Summer League game during the Timberwolves “Dunks After Dark” event in Mankato, Minnesota, Monday night. Still, the Ricky Rubio to Andrew Wiggins half-court alley-oop was fun to see — and something everyone hopes to see more of.

“Dunks After Dark” was kind of a college midnight madness style event designed to get the fans excited and put on a little show before training camp opens for the Timberwolves. Well, at least the stars went out and put on a show.

Minnesota should be an entertaining squad to watch this season. Not very good, but entertaining.

(Hat Tip