LeBron James on why Kevin Love gets criticized: ‘When you have a big three, they’ve got to find someone’


BOSTON – LeBron James was riffing on Kevin Love when he went down a path he immediately realized was incorrect.

“He’s been highly criticized this year for I don’t know why,” LeBron said. “I know why. I know why. I know.”

Suddenly, it felt as if the room full of reporters all asked the follow-up question at once: “Why?”

“When you have a big three, they’ve got to find someone,” LeBron said. “When I was in Miami, Chris Bosh was that guy at one point. So, I know why. I’ve seen it before.

“They’ve got find somebody. And Kevin was the guy they tried to find and tried to tear him down. One thing about him, he’s always stayed positive. I’ve always believed in him. I don’t really get too involved in what everybody say. I know what type of player he is, what type of competitor he is.

“I know he relishes this opportunity to be a part of this franchise and to be a part of the postseason. So, with everything said the first eight months of the season, he’s definitely used that as motivation, I believe. I think he’s a big-time player. He’s a very cerebral basketball player. In order for us to be the team that we want to be long-term, Kevin is going to be Kevin.”

This is the most understanding of Love I’ve heard LeBron.

At times, it seemed LeBron made things more difficult for Loveeven antagonizing him a bit. Maybe LeBron had reason to be perturbed with Love, but it all didn’t seem necessary.

Now, it appears LeBron and Love have crossed a bridge. Whether the progress started on or off the court, it’s snowballing in both realms.

Bosh warned Love that playing with LeBron would be “extremely frustrating” – but Bosh also said it wouldn’t get easier. Maybe Bosh was only half right.

LeBron James: Cavaliers’ lack of playoff experience ‘scares me a little bit’


When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2010 to join the Miami Heat in free agency, he formed a super-team alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that enjoyed a measure of immediate success in making it to the NBA Finals in their very first season together.

But they didn’t win the title — a more experienced and veteran-laden Dallas Mavericks team earned that honor by beating the Heat in six games.

James bolted Miami to return to Cleveland, and is now in a situation similar to the one he faced four seasons ago. These Cavaliers have been very good, especially in the second half of the season, but remain untested. And that lack of playoff experience has James admittedly concerned about their championship chances.

From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:

“I think from top to bottom, we’re just very balanced team and we have experience with youth and I think that’s a great combination in the postseason,” James said this week as part of a wide-ranging sit-down interview with ESPN. “One thing that scares me a little bit is just us coming together for the first time, our experience.

“We have guys that have played experienced basketball, but then we have guys that we have to rely on a lot that haven’t played experienced basketball and that’s Kevin Love, that’s Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson that’ve never played a postseason game. So, that kind of scares me a little bit. But at the same time it scares me, [there is a feeling] of excitement as well, and not much of failure.

“I don’t fear failure in my teammates, but I fear just them never been a part of it. You can talk about the postseason. You can watch games of the postseason. You can clip it. You can watch film. But until you actually get out there, that’s the only way you can really understand what it’s about it.”

The good news for Cleveland is that LeBron is more experienced than the entirety of his team’s first-round opponent all by himself.

James has appeared in 158 playoff games; the entire Celtics roster combined has 139 postseason appearances.

Cleveland’s lack of experience won’t be a factor in the first round, as Boston will be hard-pressed to win more than a single game simply due to the overall talent deficit in place. The Cavaliers will, however, be heavily-tested in the second round, in what is projected to be a matchup against a very good Bulls team which features players who possess all kinds of postseason experience.

Dwyane Wade says he won’t opt out of current deal to become a free agent this summer


The Heat missed the playoffs for just the second time in Dwyane Wade’s 12 years with the franchise, but that had more to do with the loss of LeBron James and a season-ending medical condition suffered by Chris Bosh than it did his personal performance.

Wade was healthy for much of the season, and his 21.5 points per game average was his best in three years.

While he has the ability to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, he confirmed to reporters at the team’s exit interview session that he won’t be taking it, and will be back in Miami next season.

Wade is due more than $16 million, which is an amount he’s not likely to secure on a per-year basis, even though his next contract will be worth more than that in total. But the more compelling reason for him to wait, of course, is the fact that the salary cap is set to spike after next season, so Wade can get more on a max contract at that point when his current deal expires.

It’s also clear that Wade is happy with the Heat organization; the medical staff there was able to keep him healthy for the most part over the course of the season, and his relationship with Erik Spoelstra has been strong since the coach was installed in 2008.

Miami should improve next season, but there are other free agent decisions yet to be made. Goran Dragic will have plenty of suitors after opting out of the final year of his deal this summer, and Luol Deng will be in the same situation. But assuming Bosh makes it back healthy, he and Wade will be at least two All-Star caliber players who will be the focal point of next year’s Heat roster.

Heat’s Goran Dragic on free agency: “I hope to stay here”


In the next couple of days, the Heat’s playoff fate will be decided. It could be as soon as Sunday — they could be eliminated if the Nets and Celtics win. Next up on the agenda for them will be the free agency of Goran Dragic, who can opt out and test the market in July. A lot can change, but he says he wants to stick around in Miami:

Re-signing Dragic is likely going to take a max deal, but the Heat almost have no other choice. They gave up a lot to get him (two future first-rounders) after he forced a trade there at the deadline.

A max deal for Dragic would be fine in the long term, especially when the new TV deal kicks in in 2016, but when combined with Chris Bosh’s max deal and the new contract that Hassan Whiteside will be eligible for in 2016, they’re going to have a lot of money tied up in three players, and that’s before you factor in that summer’s free agency, when they could potentially position themselves as dark-horse suitors for Kevin Durant.

Dwyane Wade tweaks knee Thursday, leaves game not to return, could miss time


Dwyane Wade has been carrying the Heat into the playoffs in recent weeks — he’s averaging 21.9 points a game over his last 10 and shooting 38.9 percent from three.

But the knee issues which caused him so much trouble the past couple seasons are still there, which is why this was scary Thursday night.

Wade did not return to the game after this. Officially, the Heat are calling it a bruised knee. The team is not practicing on Friday, so it is likely Saturday before we get a sense of just how serious this was. But it’s not good — Wade hinted he would miss some time in this Instagram after the game.

Miami is already without Chris Bosh (lungs) and Josh McRoberts, to lose Wade too would be devastating. Hopefully, it is not that serious.

The Heat are currently tied with Boston for the final playoff spot in the East, half a game back of Brooklyn. One of those three teams will be on the outside looking in when the playoffs start in a couple weeks.