Should homecourt be a priority for the Heat next season?

20 Comments

Typically, after you win the NBA title, you reach a new level of confidence. You know you can get there, you know you can win it. You have an extra gear and an awareness of that gear most teams don’t have. So homecourt advantage may not mean as much. The Heat won the title last year without homecourt advantage in the Finals, but will that be enough this year?

Ira Winderman, writing for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, fielded a question on that:

Q: Watching the Heat try to win their way to another championship will be fun. Once again, home court could prove vital: What if Game 7 against the Celtics was in Boston? — Roland, Portland.

A: Uh, then the Heat would have won in Boston? But I appreciate your overall point. Homecourt throughout the playoffs could be a particularly intriguing issue this coming season, based on the potential threat of the Lakers. But I wonder if it truly can be a pre-determined organizational decision, to play for the league’s top overall regular-season record? I think it’s something that just happens. That said, I can’t see the Heat wearing out players just for that goal, considering they didn’t have home court against the Thunder in the NBA Finals. Finishing at the top of the league could come down to the Heat’s supposed improved depth. Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and, to a degree, even a healthier Mike Miller could go a long way toward determining the Heat’s role in the overall race for No. 1.

via Miami Heat, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh commentary from Ira Winderman – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

I’m not sure you can so easily say they would have won in Boston in Game 6. Part of the reason the Celtics seemed to buckle emotionally was the fact that with a chance to close out Miami at home in Game 6, LeBron James instead stole the lease and then burned the floorboards down. If the Celtics had had another crack at it, at home, in a Game 7? Might have been a different story. Maybe not. But it’s worth considering.

But his bigger point stands. The Heat need to focus on being healthy and making the right decisions for the club to where they can play as they need to in May and June. They can beat any team in the league, even the Lakers, if they bring the whole house. But they have to be healthy enough to.

With Dwyane Wade’s injury history, LeBron coming off the wear and tear of the Olympics, and the age of the supporting cast, it’s hard to see them taking the overall top seed. But even if they have to go on the road to get a few, there’s no reason to change the opinion that they are the favorites.

At least in the East.

Would Dwyane Wade take a big payday in China? Would Jahlil Okafor?

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dwayne Wade is making a tough decision: Does he want to go through the physical grind to get his body ready for one more season of NBA basketball in Miami? Or, is it time to retire?

For some of the greats — most recently Kobe Bryant talked openly about this — they still love the game and the camaraderie, but they get to a point they no longer have the same passion for putting in the increasing work on their bodies to get it in NBA-level condition to perform at the level they expect. Wade is struggling with that debate right now.

Or, he could just go to China.

From Sportando:

Dwyane Wade is still a free agent after his season with Cavaliers and Heat. Wade has not decided yet whether to play one more season or retire. But D-Wade is wanted in China. Xinjiang Flying Tigers are ready to offer him a monster deal, as reported by Zhang Duo.

It’s hard to imagine Wade jumping on that, but not impossible. The salary is not going to be the motivator — he has made just shy of $180 million in salary alone in his career, and much more with endorsements — but rather the move would be about building his brand and his new lifetime shoe deal with Li-Ning, a China-based shoe manufacturer. Business-wise, it could be good for Wade to spend a season in China.

Of course, family and other considerations have to be at the forefront of his mind, which is why this still feels unlikely. Just never say never.

One guy who could go there and rehab his reputation is free-agent Jahlil Okafor. Also from Sportando:

Okafor is practicing in Miami but the Heat are unlikely to sign him but in China there are several teams interested in signing the former Duke center, as reported by Zhang Duo.

Okafor has worked out for NBA teams but has no offers (or, at least none he’s taken) and it’s increasingly unlikely he would get a fully guaranteed contract for this season. He, understandably, is clearly still working toward that goal.

In China, Okafor could put up big numbers, show he is healthy and moving well, get a good payday, and be back in the USA in time to get picked up by a team for a playoff run (the Chinese season ends in February or March, depending on how deep a team goes in the playoffs). It’s a big cultural adjustment and not for everyone, but Okafor has to be considering all his options at this point.

Jazz ending sponsorship deal with Papa John’s

Getty Images
2 Comments

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz are ending their sponsorship agreement with Papa John’s Pizza after the company’s founder and spokesman used a racial slur.

A person with knowledge of the team’s decision confirmed the move Friday and said it was because of the controversy. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the organization will not make a formal announcement.

A number of professional and college teams have cut ties to the company over Papa John’s founder John Schnatter’s comment during a company conference call in May. Among them are the Orlando Magic, Seattle Seahawks, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, University of Louisville,  and numerous others.

Schnatter apologized and stepped down as chairman but remains on the company’s board. He’s since said his decision to step down was a “mistake.”

The company says it’s also investigating allegations reported in Forbes that Schnatter oversaw a work culture where women were subject to sexist behavior.

 

Report: Nemanja Bjelica agrees to three-year contract with Kings

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nemanja Bjelica wanted some stability. That got pulled out from under him when  Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves rescinded his qualifying offer. He quickly agreed to a one-year, $4.4 million offer, with Philadelphia, but then came to regret it because he wanted more security than that single season. Bjelica was considering Europe.

Then the Sacramento Kings stepped in. Friday night, the two sides reached a deal.

The Kings have signed both players who backed out of verbal agreements with teams this summer, Bjelica with the Sixers and Yogi Ferrell with the Mavericks.

Bjelica is a floor-spacing big man who should fit in well with the Kings’ frontcourt rotation that includes Marvin Bagley III, Harry Giles, Willie Caulie-Stein, and others. Bjelica provides shooting — he hit 41.5 percent from three last season (where he took nearly half his shots). Bjelica has a solid all-around game that a lot of teams could have used. Including Minnesota and Philly.

Suns acquire Richaun Holmes from 76ers, Darrrell Arthur from Nets

Getty Images
3 Comments

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns have acquired power forward Richaun Holmes from Philadelphia and forward Darrell Arthur from Brooklyn.

The Suns sent cash considerations to the 76ers on Friday for Holmes, and got Arthur from the Nets for forward Jared Dudley and a protected 2021 second-round pick.

Philadelphia made the Holmes deal to help clear salary cap space to sign 2017 second-round pick Jonah Bolden to a $7 million, four-year contract. Holmes averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in four seasons with the 76ers.

The Suns are expected to buy out Arthur’s $7.4 million contract to clear enough salary cap space for Holmes.

Arthur has played nine NBA seasons, the last five with Denver before being dealt to the Nets on July 13. He has appeared in 503 games with Denver and the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.

Dudley, an 11-year NBA veteran, spent the last two seasons with the Suns in his second stint with the team.