Winderman: Cold dissection of every Miami Heat word may lead to fewer of them

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The media work room at AmericanAirlines Arena is the last thing you would expect in South Florida. It is a frosty experience.

How cold? A certain transplanted journalist brought in to cover the team this season has been known to wear a ski cap while filing his articulate-yet-arctic postgame viewpoints.

Yet the chill doesn’t stop there.

Already this season, after a series of profanity laced Twitter posts regarding LeBron James, Esquire essayist Scott Raab has had his media credential revoked.

He showed up for Wednesday night’s game against the Suns as a spectator in a seat that would make any journalist envious of Esquire’s apparent expense budget, not far from where Heat President Pat Riley sits.

And yet when it comes to picking at the carcass, the sense is the chill only figures to increase.

For their part, the Heat’s Big Three largely have been gracious with their interview access. James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh each make podium appearances after games, staying until the last question is asked, including several bordering on banal. Wade also speaks after morning shootarounds, as does Bosh. James offers his pregame thoughts about 90 minutes before each tipoff.

Just about every question is answered. Such pregame access has becoming increasingly rare in a league heretofore known for its expansive pregame access.

And yet, you may want to get your fill now, because patience may be running thin.

Take Wednesday’s ESPN postgame walkoff interview with Bosh, the type of innocuous hit-and-run that tends to offer more sweat than substance.

Asked about particularly intense work leading into Wednesday’s game, after the Heat has lost three of their previous five, Bosh responded of coach Erik Spoelstra, “He knows he has to meet us halfway. He wants to work; we want to chill.”

The instant Twitter feedback? Bosh doesn’t want to play for Spoelstra.

The nearly as instant Twitter feedback? Pat Riley won’t be sitting close to Esquire essayists in the stands much longer.

The reaction was similar to the fallout from James quotes a week ago, when he first addressed Spoelstra playing him 44 minutes against the Celtics and Utah coach Jerry Sloan having the ability to get his team to close out last week’s comeback victory against the Heat.

It is not what the Big Three are saying; it is what is being interpreted.

There were a couple of other such moments Wednesday. First, James offered about Bosh, “It was great to see him finally crack the 30 point barrier that D-Wade and I have already accomplished this season.”

There was a brief post-interview debate in the media room about how that would play out, if it would be taken as an it’s-about-time comment.

Later, James offered, “D-Wade is, for the most part, going to always be our leading scorer.  He’s going to be the guy that’s going to get the most shots.”

Because the words came after a win, there was no follow up about James perhaps wanting some of those shots, envious, if you will.

Yes, the Heat certainly will make things interesting this season. They already have with their rollercoaster start.

But it is the wordplay that thus far has been the most fascinating.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Report: Chris Paul trade to Miami hung up on picks moving with him

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Chris Paul is making a stopover in Oklahoma City. The Clippers sent him there to make the Paul George trade work, but the competitive 34-year-old point guard doesn’t want to be part of a long rebuilding project. He wants to be traded again before the season starts.

His preference? Miami, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. There CP3 would team up with Jimmy Butler. Miami is open to the idea, but what has hung the entire thing up is the discussion of picks, Windhorst said on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Monday night (hat tip NESN).

“When you talk about him potentially going to the Miami Heat, which is his preference, one thing I’ve been told in the talks; the fact that the Thunder hold the two of the Heat’s first-round picks in the future — unprotected 2021, protected 2023 — makes this a difficult conversation because the Heat want those picks back,” Windhorst said. “The Thunder have expressed an interest in giving one of those picks back but they would want another pick farther off into the future. So I do think that these teams have a lot to talk about.”

Oklahoma City is rebuilding and the mountain of picks they have compiled through trading George and Russell Westbrook — 16 potential first rounders through 2026, including their own, enough to make Danny Ainge think they have too many picks — is at the heart of that plan. While the Thunder can afford to give one or two up, they don’t want to.

Miami is saying that to take on Paul’s remaining three-years, $124 million, they want a sweetener. Which is what every team would ask for.

Which brings us to another problem for the Thunder: There is not much of a market for Paul. Miami is the only name really mentioned in negotiations. There is speculation about other potential landing spots, and no doubt some feeler calls have come into Sam Presti in OKC, but the Heat seem to be the only team going down the road of serious talks.

There are other challenges to getting this trade done. For example, the Thunder would love to shed salary (they are still $3.7 million into the tax) but the Heat are hard-capped after the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade and cannot absorb any more salary.

The Heat may be the place Paul ultimately lands but finding a deal that works could take some time to bring together.

Brandon Clarke named Summer League MVP, leads Grizzlies to Vegas title

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Brandon Clarke made his mark in Las Vegas.

The No. 21 pick in June out of Gonzaga, he averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in leading the Grizzlies to the championship game, and for that he was named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP.

(That award has been won by Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin and John Wall, but also Josh Shelby and Glen Rice Jr. Most winners of the award had good careers as role players — Randy Foye, Jerryd Bayless, whatever Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart become — but it’s a mistake to think it’s a precursor of NBA dominance.)

Clarke wasn’t done, he had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the championship game, leading the Grizzlies past the Timberwolves 95-92. Memphis is your 2019 NBA Summer League Champions.

Memphis raced out to a 15-point lead early in the title game.

In the end, it was a balanced attack that won Memphis the game. Grayson Allen led the way 17 points, but Clarke, Bruno Caboclo, and Dusty Hannah’s all had 15 points, while Tyler Harvey added a dozen.

Minnesota was led by Kelan Martin with 19 points.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fined $50,000; Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25,000

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The first rule of NBA ownership: Don’t talk about NBA ownership.

Or the business you do as an owner until it becomes official, even if by then everyone else has known for days and already moved on from the topic.

Monday was an expensive day for two of the NBA’s owners of teams in Texas. Mark Cuban was fined $50,000 for leaking information from the league’s Board of Governor’s meeting about the new coach’s challenge  — even though everybody knew what was going to happen — before the meeting officially ended. Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported this story and had maybe the best quote of the summer to go with it.

The NBA office fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $50,000 after he admitted to leaking information from last week’s Board of Governors meeting to a reporter, sources told ESPN…

“I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won’t, get fined for leaking to you,” Cuban told ESPN.

Sources said Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern that information about the vote to allow coaches’ challenges was being reported while the meeting was still in session. Cuban immediately admitted that he had leaked the information, sources said.

Well played, Cuban.

This is a letter of the law fine, but was it a big deal that this got out? The vote was all but assured, a formality, but Cuban gets fined for telling people? Thanks, Vivek.

From the same “is this really a big deal” file we have the fine Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta got on Monday, $25,000 for talking about the Russell Westbrook trade before it was official. Even though everybody was talking about it. From Mark Stein of the New York Times.

Here is the oh-so-damaging quote:

Again, I get Fertitta crossed the official line because the trade had not gone through yet, but does that line really need to exist in these cases? It feels like the silly hat thing at the NBA Draft.

Damaging or even interesting information was not divulged in either case. The fines were not steep because of it, but the NBA’s process of what is and is not allowed around trades and free agency — and the odd Board of Governors meeting — seems behind the times.

 

Report: Clippers, Rockets both still interested in Andre Iguodala, but both at stalemate

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The Memphis Grizzlies don’t want to just waive veteran Andre Iguodala, they want to get something back in return. That is just turning out to be challenging.

The Clippers and Rockets are still interested, but both teams are at a stalemate, something Shams Charania of The Athletic broke down in a new video.

The story in a nutshell:

• The Rockets are interested, but Iguodala’s $17.2 million would take the team deep into the luxury tax (Houston is currently just shy of the tax line). Charania says any deal likely would involve a sign-and-trade, which implies Iman Shumpert, probably with a draft pick attached.

• The only Clippers’ salary that lines up cleanly is Mo Harkless (with some other players), but Los Angeles doesn’t want to give him up.

Memphis can afford to be patient and say they will just bring Iguodala into training camp, that they are willing to start the season with him.

This may take some time to get done and could ultimately involve a third team. Maybe Dallas gets back in the conversation, or other teams look at their roster and decide they want the veteran wing. This also could be something that drags into training camp, there are no easy answers lined up or the deal would be done already.