Tag: LeBron James

Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade says he won’t opt out of current deal to become a free agent this summer


The Heat missed the playoffs for just the second time in Dwyane Wade’s 12 years with the franchise, but that had more to do with the loss of LeBron James and a season-ending medical condition suffered by Chris Bosh than it did his personal performance.

Wade was healthy for much of the season, and his 21.5 points per game average was his best in three years.

While he has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, he confirmed to reporters at the team’s exit interview session that he won’t be taking it, and will be back in Miami next season.

Wade is due more than $16 million, which is an amount he’s not likely to secure on a per-year basis, even though his next contract will be worth more than that in total. But the more compelling reason for him to wait, of course, is the fact that the salary cap is set to spike after next season, so Wade can get more on a max contract at that point when his current deal expires.

It’s also clear that Wade is happy with the Heat organization; the medical staff there was able to keep him healthy for the most part over the course of the season, and his relationship with Erik Spoelstra has been strong since the coach was installed in 2008.

Miami should improve next season, but there are other free agent decisions yet to be made. Goran Dragic will have plenty of suitors after opting out of the final year of his deal this summer, and Luol Deng will be in the same situation. But assuming Bosh makes it back healthy, he and Wade will be at least two All-Star caliber players who will be the focal point of next year’s Heat roster.

Why the 2015 NBA playoffs feel wide open – but probably shouldn’t

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs

The Golden State Warriors just completed one of the best regular seasons of all-time.

They went 67-15, posting the NBA’s best defense and second-best offense. They won their six fastest-paced games of the year and their six slowest-paced. They have two All-Stars (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), a probable MVP (Curry), a probable Defensive Player of the Year (Draymond Green), someone who might be even better defensively (Andrew Bogut), a possible Sixth Man of the Year (Andre Iguodala) and a possible Coach of the Year (Steve Kerr). They project to get substantially better once they narrow their playoff rotation.

Of the 16 teams to win 65 games in a season, 13 won the title.

So why aren’t the Warriors treated as overwhelming favorites to win the 2015 championship?

I suspect it’s because they didn’t win a playoff series last season.

There’s comfort in familiarity, and this year, there’s little familiarity with the NBA’s top regular-season teams performing well in the postseason. The Warriors haven’t played a series as the higher seed since 1992 or won a series as the higher seed since 1977. The Cavaliers had been miserable for the last four years. Neither the Hawks nor Clippers have ever made the conference finals (though Atlanta reached what was then called the division finals). The Rockets have won only one playoff series since 1997.

That’s why so many people are clinging to the sixth-seeded Spurs, who are the defending champions, have reached the last two NBA Finals and have made 18 straight postseasons.

San Antonio is really the only familiar contender in the field. Last year’s other conference-finalists – the Thunder, Heat and Pacers – missed the playoffs entirely.

Since the NBA went to a 16-team playoff format in 1984, just nine conference-finalists missed the playoffs the following year –a 2010 Suns, 2004 Lakers, 2004 Timberwolves, 2001 Bucks, 1998 Bulls and 1988 Mavericks and whopping three from last season.

Most years, there are more returning conference-finalists as No. 1 seeds than there are returning conference-finalists in the entire 2014 postseason at any seed. Every single year, there had been a returning conference-finalist in a top-two seed.

This year, it’s the sixth-seeded Spurs, and that’s it.

Here’s each postseason in the current format and the seeds held by returning conference-finalists:

  • 2015: 6, X, X, X (SAS, IND, MIA, OKC)
  • 2014: 1, 1, 2, 7 (IND, SAS, MIA, MEM)
  • 2013: 1, 1, 2, 7 (MIA, OKC, SAS, BOS)
  • 2012: 1, 2, 2, 7 (CHI, MIA, OKC, DAL)
  • 2011: 2, 3, 4, X (LAL, BOS, ORL, PHO)
  • 2010: 1, 1, 2, 4 (CLE, LAL, ORL, DEN)
  • 2009: 1, 2, 3, 8 (LAL, BOS, SAS, DET)
  • 2008: 2, 3, 4, 4 (DET, SAS, CLE, UTA)
  • 2007: 1, 1, 2, 4 (DAL, DET, PHO, MIA)
  • 2006: 1, 1, 2, 2 (DET, SAS, MIA, PHO)
  • 2005: 2, 6, X, X (DET, IND, LAL, MIN)
  • 2004: 2, 3, 3, 5 (NJN, SAS, DET, DAL)
  • 2003: 2, 2, 5, 6 (SAC, NJN, LAL, BOS)
  • 2002: 2, 3, 6, X (SAS, LAL, PHI, MIL)
  • 2001: 2, 4, 7, 8 (LAL, NYK, POR, IND)
  • 2000: 1, 3, 3, 4 (IND, NYK, POR, SAS)
  • 1999: 2, 3, 4, X (IND, UTA, LAL, CHI)
  • 1998: 1, 1, 2, 8 (UTA, CHI, MIA, HOU)
  • 1997: 1, 1, 2, 7 (UTA, CHI, SEA, ORL)
  • 1996: 2, 2, 3, 5 (ORL, SAS, IND, HOU)
  • 1995: 2, 3, 3, 6 (IND, NYK, UTA, HOU)
  • 1994: 1, 2, 3, 3 (SEA, NYK, PHO, CHI)
  • 1993: 2, 3, 4, 6 (CHI, CLE, POR, UTA)
  • 1992: 1, 1, 5, 8 (POR, CHI, DET, LAL)
  • 1991: 1, 1, 3, 4 (CHI, POR, DET, PHO)
  • 1990: 1, 1, 3, 5 (DET, LAL, CHI, PHO)
  • 1989: 1, 1, 8, X (LAL, DET, BOS, DAL)
  • 1988: 1, 1, 2, 7 (BOS, LAL, DET, SEA)
  • 1987: 1, 1, 4, 6 (LAL, BOS, MIL, HOU)
  • 1986: 1, 1, 3, 3 (BOS, LAL, DEN, PHI)
  • 1985: 1, 1, 2, 8 (LAL, BOS, MIL, PHO)

It’s jarring how much 2015 sticks out, and I think this has created a false sense of parity.

But everything we know about the Warriors suggests they have filled the vacuum created when LeBron James left the Heat, Paul George got hurt and Kevin Durant got hurt.

The Warriors might not win the title (the field is always a safe bet). But if you don’t consider them clear favorites – especially if you’re picking the Spurs – consider whether you’re leaning too much on comfort rather than a sober view of the season.

PBT First-Round Playoff Previews: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers


Cleveland Cavaliers: 53-29

Boston Celtics: 40-42


Cleveland Cavaliers: Anderson Varejao is out for the season.

Boston Celtics: none

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possession)

Cleveland Cavaliers: Offense 107.7 (4th in NBA), Defense 104.1 (20th in NBA)

Boston Celtics: Offense 101.7 (20th in NBA), Defense 102.1 (14th in NBA)


1) Will the Cavaliers remain cohesive?

Remember that time Kevin Love visited Boston last summer? You can bet people covering this series do, especially because the Celtics are still reportedly interested in Love if he opts out this summer.

Questions about Love’s fit have fallen by the wayside as the Cavaliers have surged since acquiring Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. But if the Celtics challenge Cleveland, expect the issue to reemerge – maybe even internally.

It’s not enough for the Cavaliers to beat Boston. They have to keep their good feelings going in later rounds, and given the fragility Cleveland showed earlier in the season, that might require a quick series.

If this drags out, that’s just more for the Cavaliers to ponder what’s going wrong – because for this to drag out, something must go wrong. They’re clearly the better team.

2) Which first-time playoff coach learns the nuances most quickly?

David Blatt had a storied overseas career, and Brad Stevens turned Butler into a national power.

But an NBA playoff series – with game-to-game adjustments against the same team four to seven times – is a new experience for both.

Stevens had a head start on the NBA game, coaching the Celtics to the lottery last year. He says he’s watched plenty of playoff basketball and has a sense how to handle it.

Blatt, an NBA rookie, has improved throughout the season – just as you’d expect a rookie to do. Stevens went through it last year, though Blatt’s learning period has been higher-profile (and probably more poorly handled).

My money is on Stevens holding the edge, but…

3) LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love

This isn’t even a question. The Cavaliers have the three best players in this series.

Heck, Tristan Thompson posted more win shares than any Celtic this season.

The talent gap here is wide, and Boston isn’t deep enough to erase the gap. Stars matter.


The Celtics play hard and are well-coached, and it’s a fantastic accomplishment they made the playoffs.

But they just don’t have the talent to win four games unless Cleveland completely collapses. The way the Cavaliers have played lately, I don’t see that happening, and the only real debate was whether Boston would steal a game or not.

Cavaliers in 5