Dwyane Wade discusses trying to push through knee issue that has him playing at less than 100 percent

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There was a time not that long ago when LeBron James wouldn’t even begin to entertain questions about Dwyane Wade’s ailing knee, or even let his teammate answer any questions about it himself.

Things have apparently changed after Wade’s nonexistent Game 5 performance, where he was clearly limited by the knee as much as he’s been at any time to this point in the postseason.

After the Heat practiced on Friday, both James and Wade spoke openly about the knee issue, and the fact that Wade was clearly not close to 100 percent.

“Very tough, but I can’t sit at home,” Wade said, when asked how difficult it was for him to continue to push through his knee injury. “I have to come in and I have to do what I can every day and every night to help my team win.”

“I understand that he’s not 100% and he’s giving us everything that he has,” James said.

Wade is doing some little things out there, in terms of defending, rebounding, and assisting his teammates. But he’s a liability offensively, given the fact that he has no discernable burst right now, and his jumpshot seems to be lacking in any lift.

Still, Wade and the team feel that his being on the floor for extended minutes brings more positives than it does negatives. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised Wade’s contributions following that crucial Game 5 victory.

“[He’s] a warrior,” Spoelstra said. “I know that I’ll go back and see a lot of the defensive plays that he made. Even if he’s not turning the corner and making plays for necessarily himself, he’s getting things going for us. And we’re able to run our offense through him and get the ball moving. He was good and active on his cuts. I was actually encouraged tonight.”

When Wade was asked if he had to have a conversation with James about his relative health for a particular game, he said it wasn’t necessary, that there’s a bond between the two where it’s understood. But he’s determined to remain out there in any capacity he can in order to help bring his team across the finish line.

“It’s understood,” Wade said. “My other thing is I can tell him I give you everything I got, and that’s all I can do. Me being on the floor, me being out there, obviously everyone looks at scoring ‑‑ and the other two. I would love to score 20 or 30 a night. Everyone looks every game just how many points I put up, and that determines my success. That don’t really determine my success on this team every night. We understand that.

“So I go out there some nights and I do ‑‑ even when I was feeling great, I did what I need to do for my team to win a game. That’s the reason I’m here. Tomorrow is a night if I’m feeling better and I can go for more points, I’ll try to be aggressive. But if it’s a game I have to make plays for other guys to get shots and give up myself, that’s what I do.

“It’s about winning at this time of year,” Wade said. “It’s not about any individual.”

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.