Report: Heat question potential trade target Dwight Howard’s character and fit

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The Heat are one of two teams still linked to Dwight Howard, and they’re one of two teams Howard is reportedly interested in joining if the Rockets deal him. (The Hawks are the other on both counts.)

Where does Miami stand?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Miami has questions about Howard’s character and fit, sources say, and the Heat have been sniffing around cheaper 3-and-D wings — including Randy Foye in Denver.

A Howard-to-Miami deal is complicated for several reasons:

1. The Rockets are just below their hard cap, so they can’t add salary. The Heat are in line to become the first team to pay the repeater-rate luxury tax, so they’re probably extremely averse to adding salary.

2. Howard makes $22,359,364, and a potential centerpiece in return from Miami – Hassan Whiteside – makes $981,348. That’s a significant difference to make up, because league rules require salaries in a trade to match within a certain percentage.

3. Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Houston wouldn’t get his full Bird Rights. The Rockets couldn’t realistically exceed the cap to re-sign him or offer him a fifth year at all. They could offer just a few more million dollars over four years than other teams. All teams would be in that position with Whiteside, so why trade for him when it’d be nearly as easy just to sign him in the offseason?

4. Howard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. This one is a bit easier to solve, as I’d be surprised if the Heat would deal for him without an assurance he’d re-sign at an agreed-upon price.

5. Chris Bosh‘s blood-clotting issues could alter Miami’s win-now approach, though it’s unclear how much the Heat know yet about Bosh’s condition.

And if that weren’t all enough, apparently Miami isn’t sold on Howard’s character and fit.

That could just be a negotiating ploy with the Rockets and even Howard on his next contract, though Howard has given reason to question his maturity. It’s just another reason to doubt this deal happens, though there are also reasons to believe it could happen – including Whiteside facing those same questions.

A smaller deal for someone like Foye could make more sense for the Heat. However, if they valued the combo guard’s ability to run point with Tyler Johnson injured, they just traded for point guard Brian Roberts. Plus, tax concerns still apply.

It makes sense for Miami to think big with Howard and think small with players like Foye. But in the end, the most prudent move might be shedding more salary by dealing Josh McRoberts and/or Udonis Haslem.

Karl-Anthony Towns shoots down trade rumors, and was that a dig at Jimmy Butler?

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Karl-Anthony Towns was back on the court for the first time in a month Friday night, dropping 27 on the Pacers and looking every bit one of the best big men in the game (even as he shook off a little rust).

Towns’ name was in the news while he was out, with reports about how the Knicks dream was to trade for him and Warriors were monitoring his situation. There has been zero Towns trade talk around the league — he is in the first year of a five-year contract extension and wants to give the new Timberwolves’ new management a chance to build around him — but that hasn’t squashed the speculation.

So Towns tried to do that after Friday night’s game — and takes a little dig at Jimmy Butler in the process. Via Chris Hine of the Star Tribune.

“I think you’ve been around me long enough to know I don’t go for all the s***,” Towns said. “I just do my job, go home and I know what the real story is. There’s a reason those stories are made because people need to sell papers, sell links and clicks, whatever the case may be. I’m here to be a Minnesota Timberwolf. Very fortunate I have a head coach like [Ryan Saunders], a President and friend like [Gersson Rosas]. I’m not worried about all that nonsense.

“Whatever we have to deal with in house, we’ll deal with in house, but this ain’t the circus like it used to be. This is something that’s going to be done as a family. If we have a problem or anything, we’ll deal with it internally. We won’t have any external forces here adding anything.”

The circus/family comments are clearly a little dig at Jimmy Butler.

The circus was at the start of the 2018-19 season, when Butler wanted out of Minnesota and went full diva to create a massive distraction and force then coach/GM Tom Thibodeau’s hand. Butler was traded to the Sixers, and then last summer left Philadelphia for Miami (where he has played at an All-NBA level). Butler may not have loved how he perceived Towns (and, more so, Andrew Wiggins) commitment to the game, but Towns was no fan of how Butler handled his business. Towns doesn’t like things dealt with that publicly.

Towns was playing at an All-NBA level himself this season before his injury, including shooting 41.5 percent on 8.5 threes a game — KAT has been an offensive force. Rosas, however, has a lot of work to do to build a quality team around Towns. Towns committed to Minnesota with this new contract and, while he may be frustrated with the losing this season, he’s not going Anthony Davis.

A couple of years from now… who knows? That’s a couple of lifetimes away in the NBA. Until then, teams will monitor Towns’ situation and mood, he will shoot down trade rumors, and the cycle will go on.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.