At this point in the funhouse of mirrors that are the rumors of LeBron James’ next move, reality has been hard to tell from dead ends and distorted reflections. Everything, every reaction looked like it could be the way out.
But this afternoon, one tangible piece of evidence came though — the Heat are working very hard, and are very close apparently, to trading Michael Beasley.
That is evidence LeBron is headed to South Beach. More than the reports from multiple sources. More than the booked cabanas at the W Hotel in South Beach for a LeBron James party. More than anything.
Miami needs to move Beasley if it wants to give LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all max deal money. And Miami wants to give them max money. The fact they are busting this hard to get it done is a sign.
Ideally, the Heat would like to give Bosh a sign-and-trade max deal — six years and $127 million. Same thing they can give Wade because they have his Bird-rights. LeBron would have to get by on a regular max deal, somehow.
But they have to move Beasley to make it happen. Apparently Charlotte wants Beasley — they are in a good position to take a risk on potential, to hope that concerns about his next contract get him to play to his strengths and not coast through games.
Miami had tried to move Beasley for weeks, but the desperation at this time is telling.
The big three can come to Miami even if Beasley is still there, they just have to each do it for $1 million less a year and only five-year deals. But the Heat want their guys happy — all max guys.
It doesn’t mean LeBron to Miami is a sure thing. Nothing is a sure thing in this wildest of free agent periods.
But this is a sign, a real sign. And it points straight to Miami.
Dwane Casey reportedly holds a grudge toward Raptors president Masai Ujiri for firing him.
Casey got revenge last night, coaching the Pistons to a win at Toronto. Casey called two quality plays in the final seconds, the latter producing Reggie Bullock‘s game-winner.
Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:
A Toronto reporter asked Blake Griffin if it gives Pistons players a degree of confidence in their coach when he gives them those tools to win games.
“We know that. This isn’t like we just discovered this for the first time today,” he said. “We’ve put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans – or certainly their GM, maybe – it was a surprise. But not to us.”
The win had to be gratifying for Casey. Having his star player take up his greater cause must even more satisfying.
NBA scoring is exploding. Defenses are getting less leeway for physicality. Offenses are more efficient than ever. Pace is at its highest mark in decades.
Except for the Jazz last night.
Utah scored just 68 points in a 50-point loss to the Mavericks. And even that undersells the Jazz’s offensive woes. They played reasonably fast, getting 101 possessions. Their offensive rating – 67.3 – shows just how inept they truly were.
In all, Utah shot 42% on 2-pointers, 17% on 3-pointers and 63% on free throws and committed 22 turnovers.
The Jazz set several milestones for offensive futility:
- Fewest points in a game (68) in nearly two years (68 by Hawks vs. Jazz on Nov. 25, 2016)
- Lowest Basketball-Reference estimated offensive rating in a game (68.8) in more than three years (68.2 by Grizzlies vs. Warriors on Nov. 2, 2015)
- Fewest points in a second half (22) in nearly five years (19 by Rockets vs. Thunder on Jan. 16, 2014)
Comparing across eras can be difficult, but here’s one measure: The Jazz scored 68 points in a season teams are averaging 110.4 points per game.
That output relative to average – -42.4 – is one of the lowest of all-time:
Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are feuding, the possibility of Durant leaving the Warriors in free agency next summer hanging over everything.
Now comes Durant’s brother, Tony – intentionally or not – throwing gasoline on the fire. Again.
Tony posted and deleted these comments on Instagram, via Bleacher Report:
Read too much into vague social-media content at your own peril.
But, man, that sure looks like Tony advising Green just to enjoy Durant masking Green’s problems until Durant leaves the Warriors and leaves Green exposed.
Andrew Wiggins keeps besting Nikola Mirotic.
Wiggins won Rookie of the Year over Mirotic in 2015.
In the Timberwolves’ win over the Pelicans last night, Wiggins had the dagger dunk on Mirotic – and made sure Mirotic felt it. Ouch.