Kurt Helin

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat

Dragic more settled now, as Heat prepare to open camp

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MIAMI (AP) — Goran Dragic is still house-hunting in Miami. Other than that, everything is exactly the way the Miami Heat point guard wants.

That’s a far cry from how things were last season.

When Dragic came to the Heat in a trade with Phoenix last February, just about everything in his life seemed unsettled. He was about to enter free agency. His wife was going through a pregnancy that was sometimes difficult. He had to learn a new team, a new system, a new city – without knowing if he was going to be in Miami more than a couple months.

Those days are over. He got the five-year deal he wanted from the Heat. He and his wife’s second child, Viktoria, arrived safe and sound in their native Slovenia earlier this summer. An array of aches and pains that dogged him down the stretch last season is no longer an issue. So when the Heat head to Boca Raton, Florida on Monday for a team dinner that precedes the start of training camp there Tuesday, Dragic will be able to play with a clear mind.

“It was a lot of pressure on me,” Dragic said. “But I just wanted to play basketball and right now I’m in a happy place. I’m done with all those things. I only have to focus on the team, on basketball and my family. I think that’s what’s most important and I’m very happy right now.”

His family will remain in Slovenia for a couple more months, meaning the daily Skype calls will be how they stay in touch. Before year’s end, everyone will be together in Miami, presumably in a new home and with Dragic running the point for a team that’s expected to return to contention in the Eastern Conference.

Miami’s probable starting five this season – Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside – were all with the Heat last season, yet never played a second together. Dragic arrived on the same day that Bosh was ruled out for the season with a blood clot on his left lung, so in some ways there is an element of newness to this team.

“Chris makes a huge difference,” Dragic said. “With him it’s a totally different team.”

Dragic said he can’t envision someone better-suited to work with him in pick-and-roll situations than Bosh. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has also raved about those prospects – after all, it’s what Miami had in mind when it made the deal to bring Dragic aboard – and Bosh said he’s spent plenty of time studying film of his point guard’s tendencies.

“I’ve played with players that are similar, that have similar games,” Bosh said. “With his talent level, I think we’ll just be able to read and react off each other, through conversation of course and time on the court. I think it’s going to be pretty good when we get to collaborating and talking about things and I think it’ll show on the court.”

Everything isn’t perfect, yet. There’s still that house to find, still some team-building to go through, and Dragic expects camp to have some trial-and-error regarding what works and what won’t for the Heat.

Compared to a few months ago, it’s all good.

“These are nice problems to have,” Dragic said.

Parsons had “minor hybrid” microfracture knee surgery

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Chandler Parsons tried to go in the playoffs, he went out there in Game 1 against Houston, but he couldn’t do it. He didn’t play the rest of the series because of his knee injury, which ultimately required surgery.

There were rumors that would be microfracture surgery — and it turns out it was. Sort of. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the story.

The procedure that Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons had on his right knee on May 1 was a “minor hybrid” microfracture operation, according to sources….

The Mavs and Parsons have been vague about the details of the operation, which was announced simply as an “arthroscopic surgery to address a cartilage injury in his right knee.”

Sources told ESPN.com that the operation, which was performed by team physician T.O. Souryal, included a bone marrow transplant from Parsons’ right hip to help regenerate the cartilage damage from late last season that caused him to miss all but one game of the playoffs.

Here’s what matters for Dallas: Parsons has not yet been cleared for full basketball activities. If this surgery has the timeline usually seen with microfracture, he likely would miss the start of the season. However, Parsons has repeatedly said he hopes to be ready when the season tips off.

The concern for Dallas has to be that if Parsons and Wesley Johnson — just coming off Achilles surgery — are not right to start the season, the team could get off to a slow start. In a deep and crowded Western Conference, that makes it much harder to get into the playoffs.

Houston GM Morey: Rockets can follow Warriors path

Houston Rockets Draft Picks Press Conference
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Last season not a lot of people picked the Golden State Warriors to win it all, largely because there were questions about a first-time head coach taking over. The potential was there — this had been a 51-win team with an elite defense the season before. If they stayed healthy, and Kerr could channel Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson (two pretty good coaches he played for), they could be dangerous. But nobody was sure.

They stayed healthy, Kerr hit all the right notes, and Golden State won its first title in 40 years.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey said he believes his team can follow that same model to a title, he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“You go back a year and look at Golden State,” Morey said. “They pretty much brought their same group back, plus a point guard, Shaun Livingston. They weren’t the favorites of a lot of people. They came together quickly. They had a great season. A lot of their improvement was just in everyone being together for another year.

“That plus (the addition of) Ty (Lawson) and good health are the main areas for us.”

Houston was a top 10 defensive team in the NBA last season, and the addition of Ty Lawson gives them a much-needed second playmaker behind the overworked James Harden. This is a team that won 56 games and made it to the conference finals, and then went out and got better. Morey likes the team he has put together.

“This is the first time I feel like, without any changes, we’re good enough to win it,” he said.

If your reaction to the Rockets is “but so many things need to go right for them to contend” well, yes. That’s true. It’s also true of the Warriors (who caught a lot of breaks in terms of health last season), Spurs, Clippers, Cavaliers, Thunder, and anyone else you want to consider a contender. It takes some luck to win a title. That’s especially true in the West, where the margins between the top teams are miniscule.

The Rockets may have a couple more questions than other contenders, but discount them at your own risk.


Nike officially unveils new LeBron 13 signature shoe

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Just in time for him to break them in at training camp, Nike has released the new LeBron 13s.

Nike put on a launch event in Akron Sunday to unveil the latest in LeBron James‘ line of signature shoes (the best-selling signature basketball shoe of any active player). The company touts the sock-like feel of the shoe as well as how it is built to handle LeBron’s explosiveness (and yours too, although to a lesser degree, let’s be real here).  The shoe also pays homage to Akron, according to the official announcement.

The LEBRON 13 design inspiration reflects James’s hometown roots in Akron, Ohio.  Unique elements to each colorway come to life in five locations on each shoe: tongue top, tongue embellishment, heel tab, Swoosh graphic and inside heel. Additional nods to James come through specific details in each colorway, including outsole elements and a LeBron logo on the toe and heel tab.

Here are some up close looks at the shoe in the “Written in the Stars” launch colorway, which drops Oct. 10 (unless you’re in China, then you can land them Oct. 1).

nike-lebron-13-written-in-the-stars-7 nike-lebron-13-written-in-the-stars-4 nike-lebron-13-written-in-the-stars-3 nike-lebron-13-written-in-the-stars-2

Blazers buy out Mike Miller, who is now free agent

Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This was expected; it’s just taken a while to get there.

Mike Miller was not going to be part of the rotation in Cleveland — as banged up as they were in the NBA Finals Miller only got on the court for 28 minutes. He was traded to Portland in a salary dump (approved by LeBron James) but the rebuilding Blazers were not expected to keep the 35-year-old sharpshooter. Sunday, Portland and Miller agreed to a buyout, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Portland Trail Blazers forward Mike Miller has finalized a contract buyout to enter free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Once Miller clears waivers, the Denver Nuggets are among the teams with an interest in signing Miller, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Denver pursued Miller aggressively in free agency a year ago, before Miller signed a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Denver has 14 guaranteed contracts as it begins training camp this week..

Miller was owed $2.3 million this season and recently exercised that option. We do not yet know how much the buyout was for, but I doubt he took a steep discount.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot, this is a team that chased him in 2014, but Miller chose to follow LeBron and go after another ring. Denver is a team transitioning to having Emmanuel Mudiay run the point, and with some interesting pieces (Danilo Gallinari) and some guys they would love to trade (Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler) as they transition the roster. Wouldn’t Denver rather use that last roster spot on a young player that could be with them into the future?

Other, earlier rumblings included Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Dallas. Miller has played seven seasons — 453 games total — in Memphis, so there is a comfort level. Plus that team needs shooting, and he is a career 40.7 percent shooter from three (although that fell to 32.5 percent last season, which makes you wonder where he is on the aging curve).

Miller to OKC makes a little sense because he played for new Thunder coach Billy Donovan in college at Florida. However, the Thunder have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster — that’s the max a team can carry. The Thunder don’t have room for him unless they buy out a player to make room, which is highly unlikely.

This might be a situation where Miller waits until teams start the season and see what they have, and then a team with a need (or that had an injury) comes calling.