As the latest rumors and rumblings continue to suggest that Nerlens Noel, long considered the odds-on favorite to be drafted first overall, could slip on draft day, Michael Lee of the Washington Post reports that the Kentucky big man has a meeting lined up on Saturday. Noel is unable to work out for teams while he recovers from his ACL injury, but he'll meet with the Wizards, who have the third overall pick, says Lee. Here are a few more notes out of the Eastern Conference:
According to an anonymous source familiar with the situation, USA Today Sports' Jeff Zillgitt reports the NBA is reviewing Dwyane Wade's elbow to Lance Stephenson's face last night in game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
With 4:05 left in game 2, Wade turned the ball over to the Pacers. As he was sprinting back on defense, Wade jumped to avoid Stephenson and hit him in the head with his elbow. Stephenson remained in the game.
Zillgitt believes the hit by Wade appears "too nebulus to warrant a suspension," but the office of NBA vice president Stu Jackson is reviewing the specific play in question. Some other notes from the Eastern Conference Final entrants:
Considering the rumblings that Pistons GM Joe Dumars had his sights set on either Nate McMillan or Maurice Cheeks as the team's next head coach, along with the notion that Dumars had apparently hoped to make a hire before the start of last week's NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago, ESPN's Chris Broussard wonders if the hold up with regards to a coaching decision gives any indication that Phil Jackson - recently tabbed as an adviser for the head coaching search - could soon be running Detroit's front office (Insiders only). According to popular thought around the league, Brian Shaw would be Jackson's first choice, and while some insist that Dumars is still in charge as the general manager, Broussard suggests that their next coaching hire will be a strong indicator of how much control the Pistons legend still has of the franchise. Here are more notes out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
After not landing an NBA job until January of this season, Chris Andersen has become a crucial piece of a Heat team that has posted a 42-4 record since adding him to the roster. If it's up to him, his stay in Miami will extend beyond this season, as agent Mark Bryant told Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida (Sulia link).
"We’re certainly hopeful," Bryant said of the possibility of Andersen re-signing with the Heat. "But he’s going to finish this task first (of trying to win a title with Miami). But, absolutely, he has embraced (being with the Heat)."
Andersen is in his first year with the Heat, which means, somewhat ironically, that the Birdman only has Non-Bird rights. Because he's on a minimum-salary contract with Miami, the team's ability to offer him a raise next year is limited. The Heat could elect to use all or some of its mid-level exception, which will have a starting salary of $3.183MM, on Andersen, but the club figures to explore outside options as well with that exception.
Given the Heat's recent success, there will likely be several veteran players interested in that mid-level exception in free agency this summer. Earlier this week, we heard that Samuel Dalembert, whose Bucks are currently facing the Heat in the playoffs, has interest in signing with Miami for next season.
Samuel Dalembert didn't play in the Bucks' first playoff game against the Heat yesterday, and has only appeared in one game all month. If he does see action during Milwaukee's first round series though, he may be auditioning for his next team. The free-agent-to-be told Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida that "the Heat will definitely be an option" when he searches for a new contract this summer.
"I love that option," Dalembert said of Miami's proximity to Haiti, where he was born. "That’s an option to move back and forth… I have a lot of family (in South Florida) and we have a lot of concentrated Haitian population here."
The Heat have had interest in Dalembert in the past, having explored signing him for their $3MM mini mid-level exception prior to the 2011/12 season. The big man had reservations about signing for that amount, and eventually landed a two-year, $13MM+ deal with the Bucks, while the Heat used their MLE on Shane Battier.
Whether or not Miami will pursue Dalembert again this summer remains to be seen, and could depend on whether the team decides to re-sign Chris Andersen, as Tomasson notes. As for Dalembert, he'll be looking for a chance to compete for a championship, and the Heat are a good bet to start next season as title favorites once again.
"It’s up to them and seeing what’s going to be out there," Dalembert said. "But at this point you want to be with a contending team. You don’t want to go backwards, so you want to chase that promised land."
Heat president Pat Riley held court with the media today for the first time since July, and offered insight on how the 66-win Heat were built, as well as a few hints about his plan to keep the defending champs together. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com all provide detail. We'll round it up here:
A pair of Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchups have been locked in, and one is particularly intriguing, as the No. 2 Knicks will take on the No. 7 Celtics. The winner of that series will avoid playing the Heat in round two, but could eventually be the biggest threat to Miami in the East. Here are a few of today's notes out of the Eastern Conference:
Although the Mavericks/Lakers game tonight will have a serious impact on the race for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, it's not the only noteworthy game on the schedule. The Knicks and Heat have comfortably clinched playoff spots, but New York is still vying for the second seed in the East, while the Heat are looking for a split of the season series with the Knicks. As we wait for those teams to tip off in Miami, let's round up a few odds and ends from around the NBA:
The race for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference continues to become less dramatic by the day, as the Bucks won again on Monday night. Milwaukee now has a seven-game cushion on the ninth-place Sixers, who are at home against the Celtics tonight. If there's any drama in the East, it relates to seeding -- the Bucks and Celtics are two of five playoff teams currently separated by just three games in the Eastern standings.
Here are a few Tuesday morning items out of the East:
9:49am: The Heat have officially signed Andersen for the rest of the season, the team announced today (Twitter link).
9:32am: Chris Andersen's second 10-day contract with the Heat is set to expire at midnight tonight, but the Birdman won't be out looking for work tomorrow. According to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post (via Twitter), Andersen's agent says his client will be signed for the remainder of the season by the Heat.
Andersen, 34, will be the 15th man on the Heat's roster, meaning the team won't have any open spots remaining. If Miami wants to add another body, the team could always release a player on a guaranteed contract and absorb the extra cap hit. It's also possible that the club opens up a roster spot before the trade deadline by moving a player or two.
After seeing limited minutes during his first 10 days in Miami, Andersen has been worked into the team's rotation during his second contract, averaging 4.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG in four February contests. His rest-of-season contract will be worth a pro-rated portion of the minimum salary, though it's not clear whether or not it will include a team option for next year.