Update: Dwyane Wade opts out of contract with Heat, Chris Bosh remains undecided

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UPDATE 6:21 p.m.: Bosh apparently has not opted out just yet, and remains undecided.

4:46 p.m.: LeBron James got what he wanted. Pat Riley has gotten what he wanted. The Miami Heat are going to have cap space to maneuver this summer.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have both confirmed to the Miami Heat that they are opting out of their contracts, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports. (Other reports say Bosh has yet to opt out, according to his agent, which is the same one as Wade and Udonis Haslem. Hard to see Bosh not opting out at this point, hard to see him being the one to blow up the Heat.)

While in theory they all have the right to leave Miami (free agency opens July 1), this move really makes it more likely that all three members of Miami’s “big three” — the ones that have led them to four straight NBA Finals and two titles in that span — will return together. Teams that have called trying to set up meetings after July 1 with LeBron have been rebuffed. It was expected that all three of Miami’s stars  would opt out and take pay cuts per year on new, longer deals. Haslem also opted out of the last year of his deal, as did Chris Andersen.

However, LeBron may seek an actual max deal or close to it, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

While Bosh, Wade and Haslem could ultimately take less money with the early termination outs in their deals, James, the NBA’s four-time MVP, is seeking a full maximum contract extension – or something close to it – to stay with Miami, sources told Yahoo Sports.  James is eligible to sign a five-year, $130 million extension with the Heat.

We will see if that pans out to be true, the idea of them all taking $15 million a year on five-year, $75 million deals has been floated. LeBron is certainly by far the best player on the Heat and the key to all their success, but he’s also the one most able to take a salary cut because his off the court income dwarfs his actual salary. If he goes for a max it will put a lot of pressure on Wade and Bosh to take much less.

Whatever happens it is very likely that Riley will have room under the salary cap to add players. While Wade’s knee issues are causing a deterioration in his game, Riley has said from the start that he wants Wade to be a member of the Heat for lift — he wants to bring him back.

Had all three Heat stars had opted in, each owed about $20 million next season, combined with Norris Cole’s contract, the Heat would have been at the salary cap and Riley would have had no room to maneuver. With something like the proposal above where each takes $15 million Riley would be roughly $15 million under the cap to go chase name free agents.

Kyle Lowry’s name has come up. The Heat could go after big men such as Pau Gasol or Marcin Gortat, both of whom would fit their system well. Depends on how much cash the Riley has to play with and the costs for those players. Carmelo Anthony does not plan to meet with Miami at this time.

However it shakes out, it is unlikely that Miami’s big three is breaking up any time soon.

Watch James Harden score 55, including 10 threes, to beat Cleveland

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CLEVELAND (AP) — James Harden scored 55 points – 20 in the fourth quarter – and Russell Westbrook added 23 points as the Houston Rockets withstood an unexpected scare from Cleveland and held on for a 116-110 win Wednesday night over the free-falling Cavaliers, who have lost eight straight and 14 of 15.

Harden matched Kyrie Irving‘s arena record for points in a game, and his fourth with 50 or more this season bailed out the Rockets, who allowed the Cavs to score 24 straight points in the second half.

Cleveland was still up 108-107 when Harden, who came in leading the NBA in scoring at 38 points per game, dropped a floater in the lane. After a turnover by Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson, P.J. Tucker hit a 3-pointer from the corner and Clint Capela had a dunk following another Cleveland miscue.

The inexperienced Cavs crumbled in the final minute, making three turnovers.

Capela added 13 rebounds for Houston, which figured to have an easy time with the Cavs, who are struggling under first-year coach John Beilein.

Cleveland, though, came to play and was led by rookie Kevin Porter Jr.‘s season-high 24 points. Collin Sexton added 18 and Kevin Love had 17 points and 11 boards.

Harden connected on a pair of 3-pointers during a 16-2 run in the third quarter when the Rockets, who were sleepwalking through long stretches of the first half, appeared to take control.

But Houston relaxed, and Cleveland went on a jaw-dropping 24-0 run – all without Love, who was on the bench with a head laceration – over a 4:43 stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to a take a 99-88 lead on Porter’s bucket.

 

Grizzlies’ Ja Morant absolutely destroyed Aron Baynes with dunk (VIDEO)

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We may have a new Dunk of the Year.

Memphis rookie Ja Morant is an athletic freak, one confident enough in his skills to go right at a big switched onto him. Say Phoenix’s Aron Baynes. On a critical fourth-quarter possession.

RIP Aron Baynes.

Memphis won the game 115-108.

Victor Oladipo not near return to Pacers rotation

Associated Press
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“But he’s still a ways away.”

Those are not the words Pacers fans want to hear about Victor Oladipo. Their team is playing well — 15-9 with a top-10 defense — but they are not a real postseason threat without their best player, who is recovering from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon. Before the season, Pacers president Kevin Pritchard said he was “hopeful” Oladipo would be back in December or January.

It looks like it’s going to be the back end of that timeline. At best. From J. Michael of the Indy Star, speaking to coach Nate McMillan.

Oladipo will have to be eased back in when he does return, he’s not going too hit the ground running at 40 minutes a night.

The Pacers look like a lock playoff team in the East even without Oladipo, they can afford to bring him along slowly. The hope would be to have the All-Star up to speed and integrated into the offense when the playoffs do start. If that happens, the Pacers become that team that the elite squads want to avoid early.

Lakers outscore Magic 26-9 in the first quarter. It got uglier after that.

Associated Press
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As has gotten a lot of publicity this season, the Lakers have one of the best defenses in the NBA, sixth in the league in defensive rating coming into Wednesday night. Their combination of length and activity has thrown teams off their games.

Less well publicized, the Orlando Magic have been bad on offense this season, fifth-worst in the NBA.

What happens when the immovable object met a very soft force on Wednesday night, well…

Orlando shot 4-of-21 in the first quarter, missing all six of their threes, plus turned the ball over four times just to make things a little worse. It’s not that the Lakers were exactly tearing it up, as a team they shot just 35.7 percent in the first quarter (Orlando is a good defensive squad), but Anthony Davis saved their bacon with seven points plus three assists (all for threes, so 16 points generated by him in the first).

The Lakers stretched that out to a 24-point lead in the second quarter before a combination of Orlando stepping up their play and the Lakers taking their foot off the gas a little led to an 18-3 Orlando run that cut the lead to 13 at the half. LeBron James had 16 points to lead the Lakers.

By the middle of the third, Orlando had made a game of it.