Kurt Helin

Pat Riley: ‘What happened with Dwyane (Wade), floored me. … I have great regret’

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Dwyane Wade — the most important player in Miami Heat history, the guy at the heart of bringing the franchise three titles — is a member of the Chicago Bulls. That came after a summer where Wade felt he was lowballed and not respected by the Heat for his years of service, which opened the door to him seriously considering a new basketball home.

Pat Riley regrets it.

Riley spoke with reporters Saturday, here is Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel’s quotes from Riley about Wade.

“What happened with Dwyane, floored me. I’m not trying to fall on the sword for anybody. I have great regret that I didn’t immerse myself in the middle of it.

“I’m gonna miss what I might have had planned for him and his future and how I saw the end going for him….

“Dwyane left and the buck really stops here.

“It’s not going to be the same without him.”

Wade had made financial sacrifices for years and years to help build the Heat into what they became, both with LeBron James and after, and Wade wanted to be made whole. Or at least he wanted to feel respected. Instead, the Heat’s reported first offer was for $10 million — which in the current market was an insult to a guy who averaged 19 points a game last season — and while that was eventually doubled, no guaranteed third year was added. Riley likely thought the long-standing relationship would be enough to keep the shooting guard. Wade made a little more money by leaving, but the bigger issue was feeling respected and wanted — Chicago bent over backwards to bring Wade to his hometown. Miami didn’t.

That lack of effort by the Heat does fall on Riley’s doorstep.

The question is just how sad is he that Wade left? The Heat retained Hassan Whiteside and have good young players such as Justise Winslow. If Chris Bosh plays — and that remains a big if that nobody knows the answer to — the Heat will be pretty good this season, and better poised for the future than Chicago. My guess is Riley was ultimately okay with either outcome with Wade, stay or go.

That doesn’t make the emotional loss of a franchise icon in Miami any easier.

Pelicans’ coach Gentry says Tyreke Evans will not be ready to start season

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Tyreke Evans‘ right knee issues — he’s had three “procedures” in nine months — limited him to 25 games last season, and in those games there were plenty of struggles as he tried to adjust to coach Alvin Gentry’s uptempo style of play. Meaning he was just like almost every other Pelican.

He’s loathed by the fanbase but also is one of the most talented players on the roster — when healthy. Which won’t be at the start of next season, Gentry told Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post podcast.

“He won’t be ready for the start of the season. He’s in a rehab situation. I think for us we just gotta move forward with our season. And then, if he comes back and he’s able to help us that’s just icing on the cake.”

The challenge when he does come back will be fit. Evans worked best as a point guard with the ball in his hands, and when he played he averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game last season. However, he’s not as efficient when paired with Anthony Davis as Jrue Holiday, who will start at the point. Could the Pelicans play Evans, Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield together and make it work? The Pelicans put up good offensive numbers with Evans at the three last season.

Evans is in a contract season, he will want to prove his knee issues are behind him and he can contribute. It’s going to be up to Gentry to try and fit all the pieces together.

Hall of Famer, Warriors legend Nate Thurmond passes away

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Nate Thurmond — a Hall of Famer, one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players ever list, and a member of the Warriors organization for more than four decades on and off the court — has passed away.

The Warriors made the announcement Saturday. Thurmond had been battling leukemia according to the team.

“Nate was one of the greatest centers to ever play the game and I was privileged to call him a teammate and dear friend,”Rick Barry, former Warriors player and Hall of Famer said in a statement. “He battled his illness until the very end, like a true Warrior. His legacy is one of passion, fierce competitiveness, a love of basketball and selfless devotion to others. My heartfelt prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.”

“This is an extremely difficult day for me,” said Jerry West, Hall of Famer and Warriors Executive Board Member, via statement. “We have lost an incredible person and someone whom I admired as much as any player I ever went to battle against on any level. Nate Thurmond was, without a doubt, one of the fiercest competitors that I played against during my entire career. He played with unbelievable intensity and was simply a man among boys on most nights, especially on the defensive end. On the other hand, off the court, Nate was about as caring and loving as they come, extremely kind and gentle. He was the total package as an athlete and as a man and someone we should all aspire to emulate. I’ll miss him dearly.”

Thurmond had epic battles with Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and other greats from a golden age of big men in the NBA. Thurmond averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds a game over the course of his career — he peaked at 20.5 points and 22 rebounds a game during the 1967-68 campaign — that included seven All-Star games, five-times All-Defensive Teams, and even becoming one of five players ever to post a quadruple-double in a game.

“We’ve lost one of the most iconic figures in the history of not only our organization, but the NBA in general, with the passing of Nate Thurmond,”Joe Lacob, Warriors owner, said in a statement released by the team. “Nate represented this franchise with class, dignity and humility as both a player and community relations ambassador for over 40 years. Without a doubt, he is one of the most beloved figures to ever wear a Warriors uniform and both a Hall of Fame player and Hall of Fame person, hence his #42 jersey hanging from the rafters at Oracle Arena. On behalf of the entire Warriors organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family, including his wife, Marci. We’ll miss his presence in his customary seats at our games next season, but his legacy will live forever.”

 

Report: Kevin Garnett wants to play one more season, not sure if he can

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The second Kevin Garnett steps on an NBA court next season, he will pass Kevin Willis and Robert Parish for the longest career in NBA history, having played 22 seasons.

The question is, will he?

The mind is willing but the flesh is weak, according to a new report from Steve Aschburner of NBA.com on KG’s plans — which largely remain a mystery.

As he has done for most of his career, Garnett, who turned 40 in May, has gone off the official grid and even has the Timberwolves’ honchos guessing. Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota’s new coach and president of basketball operations, has spoken to the 7-foot power forward since being hired after the season but has not gotten a definitive answer. The same goes for owner Glen Taylor, who said Wednesday in Las Vegas he had dinner with Garnett about a month ago.

“I just asked him, ‘Kevin, what are you going to do?’ His answer was, ‘I’d really like to play next year ‘cuz I’d like to go out knowing we got into the playoffs,’ ” Taylor said. “Then he said, ‘I don’t know if I can.’

“I asked him, ‘What does that mean?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Garnett is battling knee issues, something to be expected after a long career running up and down a hardwood floor. Garnett played in just 38 games and averaged less than 15 minutes a night in those games. However, his real value is off the court with the Timberwolves young core such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. KG has a legendary work ethic and can be a role model and mentor.

At this point, the Timberwolves will let Garnett decide at his own pace.

Garnett is set to make $8 million next season.

Watch Ben Simmons 15 point, 10 rebound, 6 assist night in final Summer League game

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Ben Simmons ended Summer League on a high note.

Throughout his time in Utah and Las Vegas he showed tremendous promise and passing skills, but also the need for a lot of development. In his last game Sunday night, he had his best game in Vegas with 15 points (on 5-of-15 shooting), 10 rebounds, and six assists. The Sixers beat the Heat in this final game.

It’s going to be interesting to watch Simmons adjust to better defenders and the NBA game. He’s got to learn to become a more efficient scorer to keep those passing lanes open. He’s also just 19 and is going to have a long, impressive career.