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Anthony Davis: LeBron James wants me to be Lakers’ focal point

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As many star teammates as LeBron James has had, he has always transcended them.

LeBron led Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to the Heat’s titles. LeBron led Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to the Cavaliers’ title.

But could it be different with Anthony Davis on the Lakers?

Davis, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

“I’ve kind of been a focal-point player my whole career, especially in New Orleans. But first off, to have a guy like LeBron, someone of his caliber, go tell management and ownership and the coaches that he wants me to be the focal point is an honor,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I know what comes with that, and that’s a lot of heavy lifting. I want to be able to do that. I think I have the capabilities of doing that. And obviously with the team’s support, it’s going to be a lot easier on me. We have a great team.”

I’ll believe it when I see it.

LeBron said he planned to hand the keys to the Cavaliers to Irving then never did. Irving played second fiddle until getting tired of waiting and requested a trade.

Last summer, LeBron put out word about wanting to play off the ball. The Lakers pitched him on that. But when the season came around, he was his usual ball-dominant self.

Even at age 34, LeBron is at his best with the ball in his hands. He knows it. Everyone knows it. It’s hard to surrender control to a lesser option.

Davis is far better than LeBron’s supporting cast last year. Davis has improved as a distributor, making it more effective to run the offense through him.

But Davis is still more of a finisher than creator. LeBron could do wonders setting him up. Especially if LeBron starts at point guard, everything falls into place for LeBron to have the ball. Then what? Will he really give it up enough for Davis to be considered the focal point?

I believe LeBron thinks that will happen, just as I believe LeBron thought he’d relinquish control to Irving or last year’s other Lakers. But when push comes to shove, two things happen – LeBron wants to win, and LeBron wants to play how he’s comfortable. Both lead to him taking control of the offense.

Maybe it’ll truly be different with Davis. The older LeBron gets, the more it makes sense for him to defer. Yet, there’s a lot of precedent to overcome.

The stakes are high. Davis sounds excited about being the focal point, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he dislikes his role, not could the Lakers face turbulence during a potential championship season, Davis could leave them outright.

Dwyane Wade is retired, happy being a dad, but about a comeback ‘never say never’

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Dwyane Wade has done the farewell tour. He walked away from the NBA at age 37 with a Hall of Fame resume, moved to Los Angeles with his wife (actress Gabrielle Union), he’s making television appearances, and his son Zaire is playing high school ball with LeBron James‘ son at a Los Angeles area prep school.

Life is good for Wade, as he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times, his family is here but he said he’s still going to go back to Miami during the season and show the Heat some love.

So he’s fully retired, no chance at a comeback, right? Wade wouldn’t fully close that door.

“I’m done, but my trainer is going to keep me in shape just in case something happens,” Wade said, smiling. “I’m going to stay in shape because you never know. Never say never.”

Wade said he planned to work out with LeBron James in Los Angeles, maybe at the Lakers’ facility or before Laker games, and you know that will fire up the rumor machine.

“You’re definitely going to see me out there,” Wade said. “I’ll be there early to work out with LeBron before the game starts. I just want to stay around it and be as involved as I can.”

I would be shocked if Wade returned to an NBA court. More than just about anyone, Wade is prepared and ready for life after basketball, and he got to leave on his own terms (something rare for players).

But after hooping your whole life, closing that door completely is hard. Wade left it open just a crack.

Dwyane Wade: ‘I’ve never had to pitch a guy on Miami’

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Dwyane Wade is retired now, and is on a pretty hefty public relations tour. Wade recently wrote a book, a memoir titled “3 Dimensional” to be released this fall. So him being in the spotlight following his jersey swapfest last season makes sense.

In any case, Wade will forever be the king of the Miami Heat, and that franchise’s favorite son. Wade famously played with both Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James and Chris Bosh, winning three NBA titles.

So how did Wade end up playing with so many other greats? For one, South Beach has seemed like an eminently attractive domain for NBA players — not just because of the lifestyle of South Beach but thanks to the lack of income taxes in Florida.

And according to Wade, it was those other things that got big names to Miami, not him. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Wade contends he never pitched other players to come to the Heat.

Via SI:

I’ve never had to pitch a guy on Miami. I didn’t have to pitch Shaq, he came on his own. I didn’t have to pitch LeBron and Chris, it was more so about what we could do together, not necessarily where it was going to be at. If somebody reaches out to me, and asks me what I think, then I give them my spiel. But I’ve never had to pitch a guy on Miami. I think it’s just social media talk. It’s something for someone to write. It’s funny to me.

I’m not sure I necessarily believe that specific version of what weight is selling. If you are giving a Spiel, you are making a pitch no matter what you want to call it. Miami has its attractions, but even as we’ve seen this summer, it’s not as though it by itself can grab big names.

Wade was obviously part of that attraction during his time with the Heat, but it seems hard to believe that he has done zero proactive lobbying in his career.

Pat Riley is a mastermind, and highly influential. But it would be weird if Wade wasn’t also helping to spearhead getting major players to Miami as a means to build championship contenders.

Heat land NBA’s vagabond star in Jimmy Butler

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Jimmy Butler is unapologetically Jimmy Butler.

Tough. Determined. Headstrong.

Dwyane Wade, self-proclaimed Heat Lifer, was on furlough in Miami and playing with Butler on the Bulls in 2016. Butler has chafed many of his teammates. Not Wade.

“He’s as advertised,” Wade said as a compliment.

Several years later, endorsements like that led to a surprising union between Butler and the Heat. In Wade’s long-term franchise, Butler might have finally found a team that appreciates everything he brings.

Before that, Butler had to run through tenures with the Bulls, Timberwolves and 76ers. Miami had to undertake an ambitious plan to pursue a max player despite having minimal cap flexibility.

But now Butler and the Heat are now committed to each other. This is a chance for Miami to move out of deadlock and Butler to find a home.

Butler is now on his fourth team in four years. Chicago lost interest in Butler’s hard-charging ways. Butler ran out of patience in Minnesota, where their top young players resisted his message. Butler had tension in Philadelphia, too.

He has also had plenty of success in each of those stops. In the previous three years, he has produced 30.6 win shares (11th in the NBA).

Only three players in NBA history have had more win shares while playing for four teams in four years. And that counts absolutely no production for Butler with the Heat next season, which obviously hasn’t yet begun!

Here are the players with the most win shares while playing for at least four teams in four years:

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One more time because it’s so incredible: This counts nothing yet from Butler next season! He has a good chance of climbing this list and passing Gary Payton, Ed Sadowski and maybe Adrian Dantley.

Getting such an impact player cost the Heat plenty. They lost Josh Richardson and a first-round pick and downgraded from Hassan Whiteside to Myles Leonard in the sign-and-trade with the 76ers. Hard-capped due to acquiring Butler in a sign-and-trade, Miami also waived and stretched Ryan Anderson, locking in a $5,214,583 cap hit each of the next three seasons. And the Heat owe Butler $140,790,600 over the next four seasons. That’s a lot for someone who’ll turn 30 before the season and has heavy mileage.

But Butler is a true star who could break Miami from its capped-out mediocrity. Other offseason additions like No. 13 pick Tyler Herro and No. 32 pick KZ Okpala probably aren’t going to do that. The Heat might even impress enough with Butler to land another star in 2021 free agency.

There’s a limit on how much Butler will help. He probably doesn’t lift Miami into the East’s elite. His contract could age poorly.

But for a stuck team, a willingness to embrace the hard-charging Butler is a clear advancement.

Offseason grade: C+

Heat re-sign Udonis Haslem

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Players to spend their entire careers with the same team, by most seasons:

  • Dirk Nowitzki (21 with Mavericks)
  • Kobe Bryant (20 with Lakers)
  • Tim Duncan (19 with Spurs)
  • John Stockton (19 with Jazz)
  • Reggie Miller (18 with Pacers)
  • Udonis Haslem (16 with Heat)
  • Manu Ginobili (16 with Spurs)
  • John Havlicek (16 with Celtics)
  • David Robinson (14 with Spurs)
  • Joe Dumars (14 with Pistons)
  • Jerry West (14 with Lakers)

That’s 10 Hall of Famers/future Hall of Famers.

And Udonis Haslem.

Haslem isn’t the typical star who sticks with a team for that long. But Haslem – a Miami native who initially signed as an undrafted free agent – has endeared himself to the Heat with toughness and grittiness. He has won three championships in Miami, playing the enduring sidekick to Dwyane Wade. Haslem has proven his value to the Heat’s culture.

That’s why they’ll bring him back for a 17th season.

Heat release:

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have re-signed forward Udonis Haslem.

Haslem said during the season he’d retire with Wade then had a change of heart.

The 39-year-old Haslem has barely played the last few seasons. But he’ll provide veteran mentorship and a steady example.

He’ll get a $2,564,753 salary and continue a job he clearly enjoys. Why rush retirement when that’s available?

The Heat could have used that roster spot on a young player with more upside. But this is a return everyone in Miami will feel good about.