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What are some Miami Heat trade options?

March 25th marks the deadline for NBA general managers to secure trade deals with other teams.

 

Trading players gives each squad leader a chance to bolster their roster and potentially upgrade their teams’ position in the NBA.

 

Miami Heat’s performance this season has dwindled. Considering last season, they slayed the courts during the Covid bubble NBAs and even made it to the finals. It’s reasonable to infer that this season the squad isn’t living up to its full potential. 

 

From players like Dragic and Butler sitting out because of injuries. Not to mention, Covid-19s impact on the NBA has caused a real struggle for the team. Can Miami Heat turn this season around and make it to the playoffs?

 

Well, if the trade rumors are true, there are a few candidates that could reignite the team’s execution on the court: Zach LaVine, Rudy Gay, and Bradley Beal. 

 

Many will be patiently and eagerly waiting to see the trades Miami Heat follow through with this season. From devoted fans of Miami Heat, to punters who fancy their chance on the team to succeed this season, potential trades are more than likely music to their ears.

 

So, here is a profile of the three potentials that could enable Miami to maintain its reputation as an elite NBA team and reach the final this season.

 

Potential Trade Deals

 

Player: Zach LaVine

Team: Chicago Bulls

Trade: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, and Andre Iguodala

 

Zach LaVine is 25, in his prime, and heavily considered one of the best offensive players out there right now. 

 

It’s thought he could do wonders for Miami Heat, but a significant trade deal would need to go down to get this star on the side. 

So, what’s in it for the Chicago Bulls, you ask? To make a trade, it’s likely Miami Heat will need to let go of four players: Herro, Robinson, Nunn, and Iguodala.

 

Should the trade go ahead, Zach would bring incredible offensive firepower that would boost the existing roster. And, while he may not be the best defender, Miami has more than enough defensive-orientated players to support Zach’s stance on the court. 

 

Alongside Miami Heat’s top players Bam Adebayo and Jim Butler, Zach would help form an unstoppable trio. Giving the team a greater chance of making it to the finals.

 

After all, the star player has a current average of 28.1 PPG while taking a shot of 43.0% from a 3PT range. Even when he’s under pressure on the court, his confidence, athleticism, and capability win time after time, enabling LaVine to shoot hoops regardless of the conditions.

 

For a player that’s likely to lift the team’s performance this season and secure Miami heat as a top team in the seasons to come, acquiring Zach LaVine is a must for the squad.

 

Player: Rudy Gay 

Team: San Antonio Spurs 

Trade: KZ Okpala, Olynyk, plus a 2022 second-round pick

 

Other trade rumors circulating suggest 34-year-old forward Rudy Gay from San Antonio Spurs could be snapped up by Miami Heat.

 

At a mighty 6 feet and 8 inches, Rudy could become a staple defensive player on Miami’s squad. 

 

From the 22 minutes Gay has played on the court each game this season, he has earned a 98.7 defensive rating, which topples Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler’s current rating.

 

Rudy has tremendous defensive skills, which would undoubtedly elevate the team’s current position. Plus, despite his experience and skills, he is, for Miami Heat at least, considered inexpensive to buy.

 

But whether Gay joining the team would be enough to fix the squad in time for the playoffs is questionable. Instead, it may be wise for Miami Heat to on-board a few additional players alongside him.

 

Player: Bradley Beal

Team: Washington Wizards 

Trade: G Tyler Herro, G Goran Dragic, F/C Kelly Olynyk, 2022 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2026 first-round pick

 

Anyone familiar with the Miami Heat understands Pat Riley is keen on creating a “Big 3”. Just as he once did with Bosh, LeBron, and Wade.

 

While there are talks about putting Zach LaVine alongside Jimmy and Bam, another alternative is Bradley Beal.

 

As an excellent all-round offensive team player, Beal could become the go-to scorer the Heat relies on. Beal will also have the advantage of a range of advanced players who can defend and enable Bradley to shoot.

 

The trade would come at a high cost, causing the MIA to lose Robinson and Herro. But Bradley Beal is arguably a better player than both and could be the last piece of the “Big 3” to help the team excel and make it to the finals. 

 

Rumors reveal Bradley is open to the idea, too, because he’s experiencing frustrations in his current team. 

 

Miami Heat: Trade Deadline Nearing

 

Miami Heat are usually top-tier NBA contenders worthy of championship status. But, this year, it’s unlikely they’ll make the cut unless the president of the club takes serious advantage of the opportunity to recruit before the end of March and shuffle the team around with some fresh talent such as the players profiled above. 

 

While Zach LaVine seems like a no-brainer, Rudy Gay could be a strong accomplice too.  

 

Thursday Trends: 3 Plays in the NBA Bubble

So some things never change.

Like Dion Waiters’ belief being stronger than your doubt.

But in these Bubble-licious times, much is different than we anticipated. We should be used to odd circumstances by now — after all, who knew we would have a reality TV star overriding the science-based recommendations of one of the most decorated infectious disease specialists on the planet? Or that pizza delivery drivers would become essential workers? Or that the Miami Marlins would be in first place in baseball’s National League East on August 6 after playing just six games?

Here are three NBA trends not everyone saw coming, and how seriously you should take them:

 

“Cash Considerations” Cashing In

Yes, cash considerations. That’s what the Phoenix Suns got for forward TJ Warren and a second-round pick on NBA Draft night. Warren, best known previously for getting the finger and getting called “trash” and “soft” and “not on my f—- level” by the Heat’s Jimmy Butler. Warren has been above everyone level’s in Orlando, averaging 39.7 points in three games, all Indiana Pacers wins.

Will it continue?: Well, not to this degree, since a run like this would rank with anything Michael Jordan ever did -to anyone other than LaBradford Smith. But, while few noticed, Warren was shooting 61 percent in February and 51 percent in March, while averaging 19.9 points per game. So he’s good.

The Betting Edge: Do you trust Indiana in the playoffs? That depends on Domantas Sabonis and Vic Oladipo more than Warren. If the Pacers keep winning, they’ll likely finish 4th or 5th in the East, especially since they have two regular Bubble games left with the Heat. Then they’ll likely face the Heat. And, the Butler-Warren intrigue aside, the Pacers aren’t beating the Heat unless they can throw more at Bam Adebayo than just Myles Turner up front, and can exploit the Heat’s point of attack defensive issues with Oladipo. Will Sabonis (foot) come back? Will Oladipo (knee) round into form? If not, the Pacers are still a first round exit.

 

Raptors Rise 

They’re taking this Lockdown in the Bubble seriously, eh? First in defense through three games with a ridiculous 96.1 rating. Small sample size? Sure. But there’s no reason it can’t continue. The Raptors are quick, long, switchy and deep, and they did a number on the Heat’s offense Monday, frustrating sniper Duncan Robinson off the floor. This has been the NBA’s best team since February 15.

Will it continue?: Why wouldn’t it? Toronto is fully healthy for the first time all season, and has developed a game independent of Kawhi Leonard. Nick Nurse has already proven to be an elite coach. Plus, Kyle Lowry is good for a final minute flop that seals the deal.

The Betting Edge: Keep picking the Raptors until other bettors catch on. News seems to travel slow to the States for some reason (we are dismantling the federal post office here, after all), and even with a few NBA analysts catching on, it’s not like anyone really listens to Kendrick Perkins.

 

Lakers Clankers 

They’re first in the West for sure, having clinched that already, even with LeBron James somehow characterizing that as some sort of unexpected achievement. Anthony Davis is taking the leap after the leap after the leap, establishing himself as a top-5 player until his bad luck forces him to fracture an orbital bone, and LeBron — while disconnected at times so far — should pick up his play when it matters. But here’s the thing: beyond them, this team just isn’t that good offensively, and it’s mostly reflected in their shooting. Even with Rajon Rondo absent for now (which is for the best), the Lakers are making just 25 percent of their three point shots in the Bubble regular season games, and it’s hard to see how that gets much better. That’s the reason they were dead last in offensive rating in the Bubble through four games, at 96.6, which is what TJ Warren now scores for Indiana in a quarter.

Will it last?: Well, this is almost impossible to predict, since you’re counting on the likes of the aforementioned erratic Waiters, TMZ Kyle Kuzma and the always amusing JR Smith. (And what happened to Danny Green?). The question is how much it matters if the Lakers defend as they can, even without Avery Bradley, and Davis and James play to their potential together.

The Betting Edge: It’s difficult to trade 2’s for 3’s all game. If the Lakers draw Portland in the first round, they’re unlikely to lose, but the Blazers might be worth a play on the points a couple of times, with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum likely to do damage.

 

Jimmy Butler finally found a home in Miami

Every hero’s journey has his or her own origin story, a path they follow to their ultimate goal. That path is almost always filled with lessons learned, hardships endured, and battles won against villains/doubters that got in their way. The odds are stacked against them, but they persevere even if the odds are 14 million to 1.

The Miami Heat is ready for such a challenge, even if the formidable Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers stand in their way. They don’t just believe they can make it to the NBA Finals this fall, they know they can. That determination starts with their leader: Jimmy Butler.

Butler was pushed to his physical limits in Chicago, misunderstood in Minnesota and heartbroken in Philadelphia before arriving in Miami. He has never felt happier or more fulfilled than during this past year with the Heat, but he knows…He knows that he must reach another level to shock the world.

In order to do so, the hero Miami needs will have to reckon with his memories and his own limitations to break through. To understand Butler’s future, the key lies in his past.

DON’T EVER GIVE UP

Still, he loathes reliving the past — so much so that he has removed the rearview mirror on his car (yes, really) as a symbolic reminder to never look back.

Jimmy Butler can be intense. He will get in your face and dare you to play and practice until you pass out, demanding the same amount of selflessness and effort on the court and obsession off of it that he has, challenging preconceptions, and that is not for everyone. It takes a certain culture to embrace that.

We all like to think that we can and will get up from whatever blows life throws at us, but let’s face it. Like Rocky once said, “nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.”

Put yourself in Butler’s shoes:  You spend your childhood without a father after dad walks out on you. But you hold no grudges, and you keep going. You grow up in Tomball, Texas, a small town of 10,000+ people close to Houston but far from the spotlight. Its more famous resident for years was former Enron executive Sherron Watkins, but you dream big.

Then you are in middle school, just 13 years old, and you are coming home thinking about that girl you like or that math assignment due the next day. You open the door and your mom Londa tells you “I don’t like the look of you, you gotta go.”

A lot of things must have been going through his head. How can your own mother’s last words to you be so cutting, so searing? At that point, it’s easy to break if you feel all alone. Bur he held no grudges, and he kept going thanks to a support system that propped him up when he felt down.

Butler wasn’t homeless for long. He attended Tomball High School while staying with the Leslies and becoming friends with Jordan, who was two years younger and would eventually make it to the NFL.

Butler would play basketball with Jordan and be Tomball’s MVP after averaging 19 points during his senior year, but there were no state championships or All-American honors on his trophy case. Most disappointingly, there were no recruits or major scholarship offers. His recruiting profile was a faceless ghost, a two-star nobody. But he held no grudges, and he kept going.

FROM ZERO TO HERO

Butler wasn’t ready to give up on his basketball dreams, so he enrolled at a small school 200 miles away called Tyler Junior College. Nobody had ever made it to the NBA out of Tyler before, and nobody has since. He wasn’t even a Top 100 prospect, but the young Texan was relentless and Marquette University’s coach Buzz Williams took notice enough to offer him an athletic scholarship.

Butler arrived at Marquette and contributed as a sixth man to a team that went 25-10 and lost to Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Jimmy scored seven points in 30 minutes off the bench, but there was a moment that could have changed everything.

Marquette was up 78-76 with 1:17 to go when Butler took a shot from behind the arc. He was 0-for-3 in three pointers for the season, but he believed in himself. He could make it, he would ice the game and send Marquette to the Sweet 16. However, he missed it, and Missouri came back to win 83-79.

The kid who nobody gave two cents for a year earlier was now a key cog in a contender, and he was ready for more. By the time the 2010-11 campaign came around, Butler was leading the team in minutes with 34.6 per game as he was joined by future Heat teammate Jae Crowder.

Number 33 was cold-blooded, and eager for more. The 2011 NBA Draft awaited him.

THEY WERE SO WRONG

Butler has always had a chip on his shoulder, but more than anything he needed someone to believe in him. Enter Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

The small forward out of Marquette was considered a “jack of all trades, master of none” by many.

In a draft that saw busts like Jan Vesely and Jimmer Fredette as Top 10 selections, destiny would see point guard Norris Cole picked 28th by the Bulls and traded to the Miami Heat. Butler was chosen two spots later, and he was eager to join Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago for their quest to dethrone Miami’s own LeBron James, Wade and Bosh from the NBA throne.

Those Bulls would lose in five games to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals while Butler played only 42 games and averaged barely 2.6 points in 8.6 minutes per game during the lockout shortened season. Most importantly, Derrick Rose tore his ACL during the first round of those playoffs, and everything changed forever for Butler.

Thibodeau trusted him more after that and gave Butler the chance to play in every single game for the first and only time in his career during the 2012-13 regular season, starting 20 of them. One of those starts was against the Heat, and Butler’s 17 points and four assists in 43 minutes helped snap Miami’s historic 27-game winning streak with a 101-97 win by the home team in Chicago.

As Butler evolved, so did his reputation as a clutch player both defensively and, most importantly for his development, offensively.

The problem was, Thibodeau was running him into the ground. Butler averaged career-highs in both 2014 and 2015 with 38.7 minutes per game on his way to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player and an Eastern Conference All-Star for the first time before signing a five-year, $95 million extension with the Bulls.

2016 saw him get the nod and recognition he craved, getting the nod from Coach K to go to Rio and win the gold medal with Team USA, averaging 5.6 points and 14 minutes a game while playing in every single one of them. His best outing came in the Group Stage against Venezuela, contributing 17 points and a +26 plus/minus in a 113-69 rout.

Butler also fell in love with soccer while in Brazil, where fuchibol is a religion, and forged a friendship with Brazilian superstar Neymar a year later when both of them were in Paris for fashion week.

Back in America, Butler was thriving as Chicago’s go-to scorer in the playoffs, where he averaged over 22 points in 2015 and 2017 along with a blistering 42.9 minutes on the court. However, the Bulls were regressing as Butler was progressing, so the Bulls traded Jimmy to Minnesota on June 22, 2017 for young players such as Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

The Bulls were rebuilding, but Butler had visions of a championship with the Timberwolves alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. In theory, those three should have at least put a scare into the Golden State Warriors, but Butler never meshed with them and requested a trade barely over a season after arriving.

THE LONG ROAD TO MIAMI

The “feud” between Butler and Towns was all sorts of ugly, and the press was having a field day concocting theories about Towns’ girlfriend cheating on him with Butler. There was a trend, and that trend was the perception of Butler as a destabilizer.

Minnesota was losing and looking like the NBA version of “Melrose Place”, but in reality all the personal stuff was secondary to what Butler saw as a lack of toughness and will to overcome in Towns and Wiggins.

It all erupted during a practice session that saw Butler play for the backups and decimate the Timberwolves’ starters, calling Towns “soft”. There was no coming back from calling out the franchise’s #1 draft pick, so the team took sides and chose Towns while trading Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler was rubbing people the wrong way as a basketball nomad, a troublemaker and disruptor. He even was being labeled as a dreaded “locker room cancer” by the national talking heads.

In reality, Butler didn’t really want to go to Philly. He already had his sights set in South Florida even if the insiders thought otherwise.

Once in Philadelphia, he took that team to another level and found a kindred spirit in Joel Embiid. In fact, he played just as well as Kawhi Leonard during the Sixers-Raptors series that Toronto won in seven games thanks to Kawhi’s miracle shot.

In fact, he could have been the Game 7 hero after tying the game with a layup in the final seconds, but it was just another heartbreak for Jimmy.

Bur he held no grudges, and he kept going, reiterating his desire to play in Miami once again after that season was over. The problem was that Miami had no cap space, or so everybody thought.

Pat Riley pulled off his magic in a sign-and-trade that shipped a malcontent Hassan Whiteside to Portland and guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia.

So now he is ready to finish what he started and being homeless no more. Butler found his basketball home in Miami, and his family with the Heat. His philosophy has rubbed off on his teammates, there is no softness in the red and white.

With allies like that, Butler believes nothing is impossible. Not after garnering his third career All-Star nod and leading the Heat to a 41-24 record this year. More than anything, he finally feels right at home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus and Sports: Becoming Numb

I was going to write about Inter Miami, I really was. Maybe it would have been an upbeat preview about the “MLS Is Back” schedule reveal (Breakfast with Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire at 9 a.m. on July 14, can you dig it?) or a more serious, ominous look at the league and its protocols as we are only 2 weeks away from the start of the first tournament in the United States after the pandemic.

But then I thought “AFTER the pandemic? We are barely during the pandemic, much less past it” and I discovered I’m sort of…detached? Nah, that’s not the word. I still follow the American sports landscape and want sports to be back. Shocked? That’s not it either, nothing that has happened the past three months has surprised me even a little, and that’s saying something. Numb? Yes, that’s it. I’m numb to the developments in the sports world nowadays, and I’m pretty sure other fans, writers and even players feel similarly.

I’m numb because I saw the news about 16 NBA players (the equivalent of an entire team’s roster, plus one) testing positive for COVID-19 and my reaction isn’t “Oh my, what if they backtrack and the season is cancelled?” It’s more like “I’m fine with whatever happens, I’m just waiting to see everyone freak out when a true superstar tests positive and [insert team here] has to play an entire series without him.”

I’m numb because “43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels”, and those kids weren’t earning millions of dollars, even as some of their coaches were and certainly their athletic departments are.

LOOKING FOR A SOLUTION

New Zealand is past the pandemic with tens of thousands gathering with joy to watch a rugby match most of them probably don’t remember the final score of. Europe is crowning champions as its cases are mostly going down (hello, Sweden, we see you) and fans celebrate the end of droughts in Liverpool and Naples as the ball keeps rolling with no apparent setbacks week after week.

Liverpool fans celebrate outside Anfield.

Even South America has soccer, but that’s because they don’t really give a shit in Brazil and they are bent on living like there is literally no tomorrow and they had the most new daily cases in the world on Thursday, June 25. Seems healthy.

Meanwhile, the United States of America is looking at itself in the mirror and wonders how it all went so wrong, so quickly after three months of sacrifices that were supposed to pave the way for sports to come back swiftly and smoothly.

We are Rachel and the Coronavirus is Ross asking: “OVER you? When were you UNDER me?” while we beat ourselves up wondering what went wrong and the President compares a deadly virus to the sniffles.

I’m numb because baseball is about to be back for a lightning round of games that promise to be exciting. Why am I not excited? I should be, with every game being three times as important and the potential of a repeat of that frantic 2011 finish of the regular season that gave every baseball fan a collective heart attack.

My heart rate is nowhere near skyrocketing, though. Some experts don’t even think the season will be able to finish.

I should be pumped to witness the start of the Tua era in Miami, but then I see that the Hall of Fame game between the Cowboys and the Steelers was cancelled and I’m bracing for what August and September might bring.

I’m even numb to the added crowd noise and the “virtual fans” we see at European soccer games. It’s background noise.

Maybe you read this and thought I spent 700 words being dramatic, and that’s ok. Maybe you will feel numb or jaded until 2021, and that’s ok too. Maybe this is just temporary, and everything feels a little alien after 100+ days of uncertainty and I will be all pumped up again in a couple of weeks when sports feel “real” again.

I will be waiting for that moment to come.

News

Which team (Heat, Lightning, Rays) in Florida will win state’s next title?

It probably doesn’t need saying, but it’s been quite a seven months or so for sports teams in Florida. From September through March, we saw Florida teams in the Stanley Cup Finals, NBA Finals, World Series and the Super Bowl. If you count the MLS Is Back Tournament Final, which saw Orlando City SC lose out to Portland, that’s five major sports finals for Florida teams. Not bad. Not bad at all. 

But Florida sports fans already knew all of the above. The more pertinent question is what comes next? Can Florida teams capitalize on the best period of success since the Bucs, Marlins and Lightning won championships between 2002-2004? We just don’t know. But we are going to guess by power ranking every NBA, MLS, NHL and MLB teams by the probability of winning a championship in 2021, starting with the least likely. 

  1. Orlando Magic 

It’s a testament to Florida sports teams’ strength right now that the team at the bottom of these rankings isn’t awful. Orlando has been blighted by injuries this season, and that looks like it might cost the team a third consecutive tilt at the Playoffs. There have been positives, notably Nikola Vucevic emergence as a truly elite NBA player. 

  1. Miami Marlins

Clinching a first postseason berth since 2003 might have convinced Marlins fans that better days lay ahead, but the rebuilding might have to continue in 2021. A problem beyond the team’s own limitations is the strength of the NL East, with both the Mets and Braves tipped to have big seasons.  

  1. Inter Miami CF

Florida’s newest sports club is finding its feet in the MLS. The team has big ambitions, and the acquisition of Phil Neville as head coach looks to be a clever move. Gonzalo Higuain, too, could provide the X-factor and goals. But this is a long term project, and we would be shocked to see Inter Miami in the latter stages of the MLS Cup. 

  1. Miami Heat

It’s not impossible that Miami wins the NBA Championship this year. In fact, the basketball odds at MansionBet put the Heat at 28/1 – about ninth-favorite overall. So, you shouldn’t rule it out. But the team really needs to start winning consistently. We are approaching the half-way point of the season, and Miami sits outside the playoff spots. 

  1. Tampa Bay Rays

Sportsbooks and pundits are quite cool on the Rays’ chances this season. Both MLB and CBS have the Rays at 10th in their power rankings, behind the AL East’s Yankees and Blue Jays. It’s a tough call, but Kevin Cash and the Rays could make those journalists eat their words – again. 

  1. Florida Panthers

It might seem strange to rank the Panthers ahead of the Rays and Miami Heat, but NHL is a little less top-heavy than NBA and MLB, so we rate the Panthers’ chances just a little higher. A lot would have to go right, of course, but this is an organization on an upward trajectory. 

  1. Orlando City SC

You have to like Orlando City’s chances this season. Coach Oscar Pareja has made the team hard to beat, and the run to the final of the MLS Is Back Tournament will act as good experience for the players. Like Inter Miami, they have a potential superstar in Alexander Pato. You get the feeling the Brazilian will either shine or flop, with no in-between. If it’s the former, then Orlando could land the MLS Cup.

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning 

Tampa Bay tops the power rankings and bookmakers’ odds to retain the Stanley Cup in 2021. What more is there to say? The champions are the best team in NHL, and the most likely Floria team to bring home a championship in 2021. 

 

Evaluating James Harden’s Start with Brooklyn

If James Harden keeps staying on top of his game, the Nets may have a shot at an NBA Finals victory in 2021

It wouldn’t be dramatic to say that January 14th, 2021 marked a historic day in professional basketball. On this day superstar shooting guard James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, ending his almost 10-year prolific career with the Houston Rockets.

Fans of the Texas-based Rockets were stunned with the unexpected move, but the Nets knew they had gained one of the league’s brightest players in a momentous deal that would highly benefit the organization. Since then, Harden has proved his place as a valuable member in Brooklyn with a show-stopping debut performance that made history. He became the first ever player to have a 30-point triple-double in a first game. You could say he was welcomed nicely in Brooklyn.

The Nets are profiting from the enthusiasm and athleticism Harden brings to the court, as the team is currently enjoying a top spot in the Eastern Conference rankings right behind the Philadelphia 76’ers. In fact, the 6 foot 5 powerhouse has allowed Brooklyn to appear as the number one favorite in NBA betting odds for an Eastern Conference Futures Win later this season.

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But just what makes the veteran basketball player so good at his game? Well, he’s skilled in practically every area that Brooklyn needs. He’s dynamite on the court, impossible to catch up with and hard to throw off. Harden makes scoring three pointers look like a walk in the park as his opponents watch on with misery. It’s clear that he also has elite basketball knowledge and isn’t afraid to get creative with his gameplay. Even with big competitors like Miami, the Nets have been able to rise above the heat with the help of Harden’s offensive game.

Unlike other players who perform within their comfort zone, the shooting guard enjoys a good challenge and can adapt easily in the face of change. He’s also extremely inspiring and leads the team effortlessly. In a recent nail biter game against the Phoenix Suns, Harden encouraged the Nets to take back the lead, ending the competition victorious and recording one of the most historic comebacks the organization has ever seen.

The Brooklyn Nets compete at their home stadium, the Barclay’s Center in New York City

The talented athlete has a load of accolades to his name and is arguably one of NBA’s most productive players of the moment. Now that Brooklyn has retained the superstar under a whopping $40 million contract, fans can look forward to more instances of domination in the season’s future. In such a short amount of time, he’s already done more than we could’ve imagined.

Can Kendrick Nunn re-emerge in Miami Heat rotation?

Kendrick Nunn has been on the outside looking in this year when it comes to his role on the Miami Heat. Nunn has only played in seven games this year after starting 67 games for the Heat last season.

 

However, a strong performance Monday night against the Detroit Pistons showed a glimpse of what he could provide for Miami moving forward. Nunn put up 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals while shooting 8-of-15 from the field in a strong 34 minutes of game action.

 

Many were quick to banish him from the rotation in favor of Miami’s second year two-way contract player Gabe Vincent, but Nunn has proven he can play as well as he did last year. What could be Nunn’s role with the Heat after his latest strong performance?

 

The best role for Nunn may be as the ninth or tenth player coming off of the bench. The trends from Erik Spoelstra has shown that Goran Dragic, Precious Achiuwa, and Andre Iguodala will be the first few players off of the bench.

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Maurice Harkless was another name who played well Monday night who could find himself in the rotation moving forward. Harkless had a relatively light stat-line, but his impact on the court defensively can not be overlooked with eight deflections and solid play.

 

This leaves Nunn as the ninth or tenth man coming off the bench. This spot may ultimately be the best spot for him at this point. If he can have a hot scoring night on different occasions, it will provide a nice bench boost scoring wise for Miami as they rank mid-pack at 15th in the league.

 

Nunn has made many mistakes in his previous games this year, but a set rotation the rest of the season would do wonders for every player on the team. They rank dead last in the league when it comes to turnovers per game, which is contributed to the lack of consistent rotations through 12 games.

 

If he can average 10-20 minutes per game in a set rotation, I believe he could have a positive impact for the Heat. Nunn played relatively well last year and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. There are reasons why he could be out of the rotation, but there are positives such as his ability to score and chemistry with other teammates.

 

It wouldn’t be a big loss for Miami if this didn’t turn out well for Nunn. They can easily take him out if he is inefficient and possibly package him in a deal at the deadline. There are many different things they can do with him and Erik Spoelstra has those options.

 

Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley still remain out due to health and safety protocols and who knows how much longer they may be out. Nunn should have a significant amount of minutes during that stretch of time and he could string off some consistent performances.

 

While many fans think his inconsistency is a detriment to the team, it may be best to not give up on Kendrick Nunn quite yet.

 

Grading the Miami Heat’s 2020 offseason

After an unexpected run to the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat are re-tooling for another run. Although they haven’t acquired Giannis Antetokounmpo or another NBA superstar, they’ve made enough big moves to keep them in the title picture.

 

The Heat will still be popular in the Florida sports betting circles as one of the favourites to emerge from the East. 

 

Keep a close eye on Miami as they aren’t done yet though we look and analyze at all the signings they’ve done these past few weeks: 

The Heat’s best deals

“Miami Heat” by HumongoNationphotogallery is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

 

Miami may not have lured a certain superstar yet, but their best moves came in the form of securing two key players to their championship run plus getting the best fit during the draft.  

 

Signing Bam Adebayo to max rookie contract extension (A)

 

Although Miami tried to get Adebayo to wait, namely to structure his contract to allow for signing another max player like Antetokounmpo, they knew they had to secure their franchise cornerstone. 

 

Adebayo signed to the tune of $195 million over five years for an AAV of $39 million. The Kentucky product broke out last season posting 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 33 minutes. 

 

Most importantly, Adebayo is the centerpiece of this team. He anchors the team’s defense and is continually evolving as an offensive playmaker. 

 

At just 23, Adebayo can grow into a multiple time all-star and one of the best big men of his generation. This contract proves Miami is all-in on Adebayo even if it comes at the expense of other superstars.

 

Signing Goran Dragic to two-year extension (A)

 

Next to Adebayo, Dragic was the next crucial piece Miami needed to lock up and they not only did that but did so at a discounted price. 

 

The former All-Star signed a two-year deal for just $37.4 million with the second year being a team option.

 

Dragic was arguably the best Sixth Man last season posting averages of 16.2 points and 5.1 assists in 59 games. In the bubble, Dragic averaged 19.1 points a game and will continue to be one of the team’s main scoring options.

 

Drafting Precious Achiuwa with the no. 20 pick (B+)

“God’s gift Achiuwa about to make a pass at Madison Square Garden” by Marianne O’Leary is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

 

Few front offices can match the drafting prowess of the Heat as they scored another homerun in taking Memphis’s Precious Achiuwa.

 

The 6’9” forward is a defensive specialist and will slot in as a back-up PF. While his offensive game leaves plenty to be desired, coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff are used to molding specimens like Achiuwa.

 

While point guard was a bigger need for the Heat, Achiuwa has significant upside and could form one of the most defensively threatening frontcourts with Butler and Adebayo.

 

Secondary deals for the Heat

The biggest splash Miami made was in re-signing Adebayo. But they didn’t lay low in free agency and made some solid under-the-radar signings.

 

Signing Avery Bradley to a two-year contract (B+)

 

Miami bolstered their guard corps by adding Bradley, a two-time All-Defensive team standout. Bradley didn’t participate in the NBA bubble but was on a roll offensively averaging 10.9 points while shooting over 45% from deep in his final 17 games with the Lakers.

 

Bradley will be epitome of “3-and-D” and will slot in nicely as an alternative option to either Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro.

 

Signing Maurice Harkless to a one-year contract (B)

 

Losing both Derrick Jones Jr. and Jae Crowder stings, but the Heat mitigated the losses by acquiring veteran Moe Harkless via their biannual exception. This means the Heat get the services of the eight-year pro at a discounted rate of just $3.6 million.

 

Harkless provides the Heat the ability to play both forward positions with some shooting on offense. He will fit in nicely behind Butler, Leonard, and Achiuwa.

 

Signing Meyers Leonard to a multi-year contract (B-)

 

Miami wasted little time in bringing back Leonard, inking him to a two-year deal north with a rough AAV of $9 million, which includes a no-movement clause and a team option for the second year akin to Dragic’s.

 

Although Leonard fell out of the rotation, he’s the quintessential backup 5 and spells Adebayo from the rigorous season. There were other free agent bigs the Heat could’ve gone for, but the team loves Leonard and that fosters better continuity in the group. 

 

Bringing back Udonis Haslem (Off the board)

 

While Haslem will be taking up that roster spot instead of a hungrier two-way guy, there is no Heat culture without Haslem. Expect to see the 40-year-old as a coach soon. But for now, Haslem rides for one more year.

Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA

NBA Foundation Board of Directors Announced

On October 9th, 2020, representatives from all areas of the sport were announced in the NBA Foundation Board of Directors. The board is made up of players, executives, and the NBA Board of Governors. Similarly, 

 

NBA Popularity and Betting at Sloto Cash Casino

 

Depending on who you read, there are many theories as to the future of the NBA. Some say that the sport is more popular than ever, while others suggest it is losing viewers. 

 

However, many people choose to bet on NBA results through sites like Sloto Cash Casino which suggests that the NBA is still one of the favorite sports in the U.S. It seems that betting on sport is always popular regardless of whether people choose to watch the games or not.And, free wagering options such no deposit games have made it easier for the new sports enthusiasts.

 

Origins of the Foundation

 

Back in August 2020, the NBA Board of Directors announced that they are contributing $300 million of initial funding to create the NBA Foundation. It is anticipated that the Foundation will help to create a better economic situation for black communities. The NBA’s mission is to help black men and women who are at high-school or college, train, and develop the skills needed for career advancement.

 

The Foundation will also set up a leaguewide charitable foundation to be funded by all 30 NBA team owners who will contribute a total of $30 million every year. They hope that this money will be instrumental in enhancing youth unemployment, internships, and other career development programs.

 

Who Will be on the Board?

 

Eight representatives have been chosen including players, executives, National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), and league office for the inaugural members of the board.

 

  • Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings Forward


  • Gayle Benson, New Orleans Pelicans Governor


  • Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers Forward


  • Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets Chairman


  • Tony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks Principal Owner


  • Michele Roberts, NBPA Executive Director


  • Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner


  • Larry Tanenbaum, NBA Board of Governors Chairman and Toronto Raptors Governor

 

As you may have noticed from that list, one name, in particular, stands out – Charlotte Hornets Chairman and former Bulls star Michael Jordan. Having such a high-profile former player on the board will no doubt help to raise the awareness of what they are trying to achieve.

 

Jordan has been the majority owner of the Hornets since 2010 after also landing a minority steak in the Bobcats. He is also trying to leave a legacy outside of the sport with the opening of a second medical clinic in October 2020.

 

NBA Principles

 

The NBA has always sought to highlight the issues surrounding racism and inequality, the Foundation is seen as one more step they can take to finally address those issues. However, not everyone believes they should be using the sport to be political. Even President Trump has become involved. In an article in Variety, he is stated as saying the NBA is in “big trouble” after kneeling during the national anthem. They were protesting against police brutality and racial inequality.

 

Some believe that it is the political stance taken by a few of the players and coaches that has led to the drop in viewers. The NBA just like any other sport has been struggling with the COVID lockdown and trying to keep the game moving in recent months. 

 

NBA Finals Game 5: One Year, One Goal, One Winner

Not many people expected the Miami Heat to be in this position right now. Well, except the Miami Heat.

How could a five seed with no perceived superstar take the crown of the East?

And there’s not one answer for that question.

For starters, it begins with the confidence from your locker room. Just a bunch of dogs that have continually been doubted and are here to prove people wrong.

That’s led by the leader of this team, Jimmy Butler. He hasn’t lacked an ounce of confidence throughout this playoff run, so what makes you think he’ll stop now. Even being down 3-1 doesn’t seem to faze him, because when you have confidence in both yourself and your locker room, that’s all you really need to win.

Another reason they’ve gotten to this point is because they have a bunch of guys who accepted their role on this team. That goes to the guys who were promoted and demoted in this rotation. Meyers Leonard and Kendrick Nunn going from starter to the borderline of the rotation, while Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic had to adjust to their new role quick. Not only is that not an easy thing to do, it’s not an easy thing for players to buy into.

Winning isn’t always about on-court stats and numbers. It’s also about decisions that are made off of the court, that’ll lead to guys putting up those numbers.

Erik Spoelstra made it clear that was necessary heading in, making sure this team was on the same page for the much needed adjustments that lied ahead. That’s because of the trust factor with this team.

When many believed Bam’s offensive aggression needed to improve or that Jimmy’s unselfishness may be a bad trait, Coach Spo knew his personnel, and denied it all.

The final and most important answer to that question is hungriness.

This team is hungry and will not be satisfied until they hold up that Larry O’Brien trophy. No matter if that time comes in a week, in a year, or in a few years, this team won’t let up on the ultimate goal.

As Gary Payton said in his latest piece for The Players’ Tribune, “Y’all are still here- and y-all belong here.”

One year. One goal. One winner.

 

Brady Hawk can be found at @BradyHawk305

Goran Dragic out for NBA Finals Game 2 as expected

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic has been ruled out for game 2 of the NBA Finals, joining Heat big man Bam Adebayo on the list of players sidelined. Dragic suffered a plantar tear in his left foot in the first half of game 1. 

 

 

 

Both Dragic and Adebayo were listed as doubtful. Adebayo is expected to be able to return some time during the series. There is less optimism surrounding Goran. 

 

 

 

Dragic has been Miami’s leading scoring during its run to the NBA Finals. Rookie guard Kendrick Nunn will have to fill the void in Goran’s absence. Nunn scored 18 points in game one, which could help return some of his confidence after struggling during the postseason. Expect Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro to also pick up some of the scoring load.

 

Game two will tip-off at 9 p.m. tonight.

 

Royal Shepherd (@RoyalAShepherd) has written for several major newspapers, including the Tallahassee Democrat and the Augusta Chronicle, and now contributes to Five Reasons Sports.

The NBA Finals are a Bluegrass Series

The 2020 Eastern Conference Championship belongs to the Miami Heat. Yes, the fifth seed Miami Heat are playing for an NBA championship against the Lebron-led Los Angeles Lakers. 

There are a plethora of narratives this Finals matchup holds, however, it’s hard to look past the fact that there are six former Kentucky Wildcats between both organizations: Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, and Pat Riley for the Heat and Anthony Davis, Rajon Rondo, and Frank Vogel for the Lakers.

For this series, the players making the biggest impact — Davis, Adebayo and Herro — played for head coach John Calipari. Although Kentucky hasn’t won a National Championship since 2012 when they were led by Anthony Davis, its roster is continuously loaded with McDonald All-Americans and 5-star players year after year. Calipari focuses on player development and preparing his players for the league, perhaps at the expense of team success. Calipari wants his players to succeed at the next level and achieve their dreams of making it to the NBA, but most importantly making an impact in the NBA. Of course he wants his team to experience winning basketball, but it’s through sacrifice. It’s evident Calipari has done an amazing job readying his players for the NBA. 

A prime example is Tyler Herro, who has made an immediate impact as a rookie averaging 19.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 4.8 RPG on 52/35/100 splits in the Eastern Conference Finals against the talented Boston Celtics. In Game 4, Herro exploded by scoring a career high 37 points on 14/21 shooting as part of a brilliant all around game. Herro was a late lottery pick, going 13th to the Miami Heat. Those who followed him since he was a junior in high school had as much belief and confidence in him as he did himself. When Herro decommitted from Wisconsin and committed to Kentucky, many thought he would never touch the court at a program so prestigious as Kentucky. But, Calipari recruits with intention and purpose. He wants players who want to be at Kentucky. He wants his players to embrace the grind and fall in love with the process.

Calipari tells every single recruit that it’s not easy at Kentucky: You’re not going to be the guy. You’re a 5 star player that will probably shoot 10 times a game rather than 18. The room for mistakes at Kentucky is small. Calipari is a true believer that practice will improve your craft but without demonstrated performance, your confidence will waver. He values players with the “dog” mentality, and, that is just what Herro had. 

It all started when Herro scored 16 points in the first game at the Big Blue Bahamas Tour. His playmaking and offensive talent was on display, and Calipari mentioned multiple times he hadn’t had a team that could shoot as well as his 2018 team. But, Calipari being the blunt and truthful coach he is, made it clear to Tyler he wouldn’t play if his defense didn’t improve. After Kentucky’s defensive meltdown to Duke, Calipari had to go back to the basics. The most basic defensive drills. They did defensive slides and an array of close out and box out drills. Calipari made it clear to his team — and to Herro — that if they cannot stay in front of the ball, they will never be a good basketball team. Fast Forward to NCAA March Madness. Herro, a former defensive liability, is guarding Wofford’s best player, Fletcher Magee, until then a big time 3-point shooter. Magee scored 8 points and shot 0-12 from the three.

Here’s the thing though: Tyler asked Calipari if he could guard Magee. He wanted the hardest defensive assignment. Tyler wanted to be in the spotlight, but on the defensive end. This speaks volumes to how Calipari’s system develops winning players. Herro learned to expand his game on both ends on the court. It’s safe to say Tyler made strides as a defensive player and earned his coach’s trust. Although Tyler didn’t put up crazy numbers in college, Calipari knew he wouldn’t meet a high level of success in the NBA like he is now without being able to defend. That is why it is not surprising seeing his playmaking and scoring ability on display here in the playoffs. It’s not that he couldn’t, it’s just that in college he was limited, due to the presence of numerous other star level players. 

Bam Adebayo has a similar story. He played a role at Kentucky. He also was a late lottery pick. And, he also has had early success in the league. At Kentucky, he was a high energy, rebounding machine with versatile defensive presence. Many were surprised to see Adebayo’s playmaking surface playing for the Heat. Again, it’s not like he couldn’t bring the ball up the court and be the center of the offense, it’s just not what was needed from him at Kentucky. 

There tends to be a common trend with Kentucky players. They are good teammates who can defend, and are coachable. Calipari builds the foundation for these players, but at the end of the day, it is the players’ drive and commitment to their craft that earns them respect around the league. There should be no surprise if these players thrive in the finals. They were built for moments like this, and they live for moments like this.

 

Jamie Levy (@JamieLevy_) attends the University of Florida. 

Heat-Lakers NBA Finals 2020: How They Match Up

Miami has its work cut out for them in the NBA Finals as they will face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers present unique matchup problems for Miami. L.A. has two first-team All-NBA players in James and Anthony Davis surrounded by a host of savvy veteran players with championship experience. However, styles make fights and Miami may have a puncher’s chance.

 

The Heat played Los Angeles twice during the regular season in which the Lakers came away with wins in both games. The Lakers cruised to a 95-80 in the Staples Center in the early part of the season. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 22 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Bam Adebayo chipped in 11 points and 9 boards and Goran Dragic had 19 with 7 assists. 

 

Miami was outrebounded 48-37 in the game, with Javale McGee, Davis and James combining for 22 of those boards. Ball movement was also lacking for Miami in the game. The Heat finished with only 18 assists compared to the 30 for L.A. It was the ninth game of the season.

 

The second win came down to a Davis shot late that led to a 113-110 thriller in Miami. Again, Butler was Miami’s leading scorer with 23 and Kendrick Nunn added 16 points in 36 minutes. Even with Bam grabbing 12 boards, Miami was still outrebounded by the Lakers, 50-34. Again McGee, Davis, LeBron and Dwight Howard led in those efforts.

 

Both rosters have seen major overhauls since they last met. Both Nunn and Meyers Leonard were starters and now neither player is in the rotation. Miami had yet to trade for Andre Iguodala or Jae Crowder, both who figure to play major roles in this series. And then there is Dion Waiters, who the Heat can’t seem to get rid of no matter what they do.

 

The Lakers are without Avery Bradley, a major contributor and starter during the regular season. Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso have seen their roles increase as a result. However, the main thing is still the main thing for the Lakers. James and Davis have lived up to their reputations as top-5 players in the league in the bubble. They will continue to be the engines for everything L.A. will try to do.

 

The Lakers will be the prohibitive favorite in this series, but that has been the case for the Heat in nearly every series. In each instance, where the opponents figured to have more talent, Miami has been able to win using a variety of methods. Head coach Erik Spoelstra has engineered strategies to neutralize league-MVP Giannis Antentokoumpto and bewilder the ultra-talented Boston Celtics. 

 

Miami has used hard-nosed defense and efficient offense to overcome what some view as a talent disparity in respect to their opponent. The key to this series will be if Miami can find a way to bother the Lakers dynamic duo. Easier said than done, right? Miami has the advantage in terms of guard play and overall depth. Outside of James and AD, the Lakers roster leaves a lot to be desired. The two average 25 and 26, respectively. Kyle Kuzma is the team’s next highest scorer at 12.

 

Miami’s balanced attack has six players averaging double figures in the postseason, led by Dragic at 21 points per game. Tyler Herro, who scored 14 points total in the two regular season meetings, will add an element that the Heat were lacking before the bubble. If he continues his current level of play, he could lead Miami’s bench against a lackluster Laker second unit. 

 

Other factors include Miami’s ability to throw multiple bodies at James, 3-point shooting, defensive matchups and smallball lineups. 

 

Butler, Crowder and Iguodala are all veteran defenders with experience covering LeBron. Bam may also spend a few possessions on him as well. Having that experience, albeit regular season except for Iguodala, should bode well in terms of making James work for his baskets. Bam seems to be the only reasonable matchup for AD. There is nobody else on the roster with the combination of length, athleticism and speed to deal with him. Having Duncan Robinson guard Danny Green keeps him out of foul trouble and on the floor. Unless……ya know…….the refs call some more of those invisible Duncan fouls they love so much.

 

If LA is going to start two bigs, that could also work in Miami’s favor depending on if Crowder finds his shot. In the past four games, Crowder has been left wide open for three. He will need to convert in this series to maximize the floor spacing. Forcing LA to play smaller is Miami’s best chance to keep this series competitive because they don’t have the bigs to deal with Davis, McGee and Howard.

 

Ultimately, this series will be the most difficult of them all, as it should be. The Lakers will be the ultimate test. If the previous series are any indication, the Heat will be prepared.

The Miami Heat’s 5 free agent decisions

The Miami Heat will have little time to celebrate a successful playoff run this offseason before making some roster decisions about the upcoming season. The Heat are positioning themselves to be major players in the 2021 free agency market, with names like Giannis Antentokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis potentially being available for the taking.

 

Although Miami is set to have enough cap room to sign a max player, there are some tough choices this summer that could impact the Heat’s “whale hunting” in the future. Here are a few of Miami’s impending free agents and where they potentially fit in Miami’s plans moving forward.  

 

  • Goran Dragic

Dragic has been one of the biggest stories of the team’s run in the bubble. He is leading the team in scoring in the playoffs and has displayed some of his best basketball in a Heat jersey this year. Goran is in the last year of his deal, which pays $17 million this season. Considering his production, that number is relatively inexpensive. However, at 34, his best days are probably behind him and he will likely return to the bench next season. Miami will want to reward Goran because of how important he has been to this team’s success but avoid messing with any of its potential spending for 2021. Is the Dragon willing to take a one-year balloon payment or will he take a multi-year deal elsewhere? 

 

Prediction: Dragic will take the one-year balloon payment this summer and negotiates a team-friendly deal with the Heat next offseason. Dragic has now spent half of his career in Miami and this run should help both he and the franchise realize that he should finish here. 

 

  • Meyers Leonard

Leonard has been a joy to have in Miami this season with not only his play, but his professionalism and commitment to the organization and the community. Meyers has been a model citizen this season and would have been welcomed back with open arms under any other circumstances. He will command more than his current $10 million salary this summer from another team. The Heat will not be able to match that. 

 

Prediction: Leonard will give the Heat an opportunity to retain his services. Unfortunately, the team won’t have much to offer him in terms of money, long-term security or playing time. Meyers will be a one-and-done in a Heat jersey, but he will be remembered fondly by fans.

 

  • Jae Crowder

Crowder was the steal of the Winslow trade. His impact on defense became a secondary thought when compared to the revelation that has been his three-point shooting. The Boss Man converted at a nearly 45 percent clip during the regular season for Miami after arriving from Memphis. He is shooting 38 percent on nine attempts in the playoffs. The team got more than what they bargained for in Crowder and will scramble to make room for him on this roster moving forward. The challenge will be convincing Crowder to forgo a multi-year deal and accept a one-year deal to remain in Miami. By all accounts, Crowder enjoys Miami and wants to be here. With his shooting numbers going up, so has his value to other suitors, many of which more willing to spend than Miami. He may have played his way to much more than his current $7 million number. The question for Jae is will he choose culture of currency.

 

Prediction: The likelihood of Crowder duplicating this year’s success next season are slim to none. He has been a sniper for Miami, but there is no evidence to suggest that he can sustain that level of play long term. Miami will do everything within reason to keep him, but ultimately, another team comes in with a deal too good for Jae to pass up.

 

  • Derrick Jones Jr.

DJJ deserves to be paid and he will be paid, but will it be by Miami? If the Heat were able to keep him at his current $1.5 million price tag, the deal would have been done months ago. Jones’ defensive length and athleticism are hot commodities in today’s league where long, versatile wings are all the rage. Miami might have an avenue to success. Unless they are completely outbid in the market, Miami may be able to use the scraps of the potential Leonard and Crowder departures to cobble up a suitable deal for the slam dunk champ. 

 

Prediction: Miami should be able to keep DJJ for a price between $5-7. The only two things that could derail that are unexpected offers from outside teams and Jae Crowder choosing to stay in Miami.

 

  • Kelly Olynyk

This one is pretty straight forward. Olynyk declining his $12 million player option for next year is as about as likely as Pat Riley calling Danny Ainge up to go for beers. Expect to see Kelly in a Heat jersey next season, unless he can be flipped for something better by the trade deadline. While KO has been inconsistent at times, at his best, he is the perfect complement to Bam Adebayo. His ability to shoot from range, above-average playmaking and basketball IQ have become invaluable off of Miami’s bench.

 

Prediction: Olynyk was nearly traded to Dallas last year along with DJJ to help facilitate the Jimmy Butler trade. While Kelly may start the season with Miami, expect the Heat to try and trade his expiring contract before the end of the season.  

 

Honorable Mentions: Solomon Hill, Gabe Vincent, Kyle Alexander, Udonis Haslem

 

Royal Shepherd (@RoyalAShepherd) has written for several major newspapers, including the Tallahassee Democrat and the Augusta Chronicle, and now contributes to Five Reasons Sports.