LeBron James is gone but the Miami Heat are still going to play the Miami Heat system — go small, pressure the ball, run, space the floor and move the ball.
They have the guys to do it considering they will start Chris Bosh at center, Josh McRoberts at power forward and Luol Deng at the three (with Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers in the backcourt).
How committed to the system are they? How about some Danny Granger at the four. That’s going to happen, reports Ira Winderman at the Sun-Sentinel.
If Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts are your starting power players, and with Pat Riley already talking about Granger getting time in the power rotation, (playing small ball) again appears to be the direction. And it’s not as if there is much of a Plan B, with Chris Andersen at an age where limited minutes are the preferred approach, and with Udonis Haslem having been marginalized in recent seasons.
Bosh was pushed to the side and really made sacrifices in his game to make the LeBron big three work, I expect him to return to much bigger numbers and have a good season. I think all of the Heat starters up front will have good statistical seasons.
But Granger at the four… we’ll see. After seeing him with the Clippers at the end of last season I’m not sure how many minutes he can really give at this point. He’ll be okay when out there, but he just seemed limited.
I think the small ball is going to work for Miami during the regular season, they have good talent on that roster. They are going to win more than 45 games and be in that crowded second tier in the East, likely finishing fourth through sixth in the standings. But I think you can beat that style come the playoffs. It worked for them the last couple years because LeBron James is the ultimate trump card, but Spoelstra can’t play that hand this year and any team with size can be a real problem for them.
Danny Ainge is keeping his options open.
He has a guy in Rajon Rondo that is an All-Star point guard who, with quality players around him, can help lift a team. Problem is the Celtics don’t really have those players right now, Ainge can try to trade for some, but frankly Rondo is his best trade asset.
So, what’s he going to do, trade Rondo or try to keep and re-sign him? He doesn’t know. Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette was there Sunday when Ainge spoke to a mormon church in Worcester and Ainge remained noncommittal when asked about the future of the Celtics and Rondo.
First off, no GM says “I’m trying to trade this guy” because it kills his trade value. Even if everyone knows you’re shopping the guy you don’t say it. Ainge has wisely played this thing down the middle.
Also, coming off surgery last year, even teams that are interested are going to want to see a little more Rondo in action before getting serious about making an offer.
As we move toward the trade deadline there are going to be a lot of Rondo rumors and most will be crap. Ainge isn’t just going to give him away. The risk here is that he very well could lose him and get nothing in return. That said Ainge has played this hand this long, he’s not about to fold it now. He’s going to wait to get something he likes.
Last February the Bucks’ Larry Sanders took an inadvertent James Harden elbow to the face and was out for the season. (Well, until he got a five-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana use, then suddenly he was well enough to play the last five games of the season so he could work off the suspension.)
After that, Sanders is coming back this season wearing goggles, he tweeted out.
Personally I’d rather see him in some old-school Horrace Grant goggles but those are nice, too.
Sanders four-year, $44 million contract extension kicks in this year and goggles or no the Bucks need him to return to his form of two seasons ago. If he does, the Bucks have a nice young front line with him, John Henson and Jabari Parker.
Is there a shot Tony Parker can’t make?
While we’ve had some questionable Parker trick shot videos this summer, this looks legit. And it’s impressive.
That said, I’m pretty sure Popovich doesn’t want him taking one of these in a game. I feel confident about that.
Jeff Taylor just wants to get back on the court, provide a little wing depth for the Hornets.
Getting on the court is not going to be that easy because the Hornets are loaded at the three — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back as the starter at the three, Lance Stephenson is at the two (but can play some three) and Gerald Henderson can back up both positions and Gary Neal is in the mix — but he was getting more than 24 minutes a game at the start of last season.
The other key is Taylor being healthy after rupturing his Achilles last season, He told Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer he is good to go and has showed it working out with teammates at the Hornets’ facilities before camp it opens.
“It’s been a long road,” Taylor said. “With an Achilles injury, you have to be really patient — slowly getting back all your strength, back to what you were….”
“It’s not an injury anymore. It’s healed,” he said. “It’s not weighing on my mind.”
If Taylor is going to get the run he wants two things have to happen. First is he has to find his stroke from three again — he shot 34.4 percent as a rookie but that fell off to 26.9 percent last season. Taylor has a sweet release.
He’s also going to have to continue to show defensive improvement. Coach Steve Clifford guided the Hornets (then Bobcats) to the playoffs last season on the strength of a sixth ranked defense (and enough points from Al Jefferson to stay ahead). Taylor struggled defensively as a rookie but was improved last season before the injury. Now he needs to take another step forward on that end because, as mentioned above, Clifford has other good options. Bottom line, you can’t be a “3 and D” player in the league without the D.
At least Taylor is back, healthy and ready to prove he belongs on the court.