Miami Heat

Southeast Notes: Wade, Clifford, Porzingis, Oladipo

Dwyane Wade has been trying to preserve his body for the long run the past few years, at 33 years old he was still able to corral a one-year, $20MM deal from the Heat this past summer. Still, the 13th-year veteran has no aspirations of matching Kobe Bryant‘s 20 seasons in the NBA, as he tells Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports.

“That ain’t a goal for me. That’s a long time. I’m sure Kobe didn’t think he’d play 20 years. It’s amazing. And he’s been through a lot. He’s been through a lot of injuries but he’s still out there. And he’s still, you know, Kobe Bryant,” Wade said. “It’s amazing to see a guy who has played 20 years in the league. Makes me feel old, for sure, just watching him. I don’t know how many people come in with the goal, ‘I’m going to play 20 years.’ I think you take it step by step. For years I said, ‘I want to make it to 10.’ I made it to 10 and I was like, ‘I’m solid.’ Then, you keep going from there. But 20? No way.”

Bryant isn’t nearly as effective as he once was, and Lee’s piece examines what Wade, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are doing to ward off similar declines in their own games. See more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford, fresh off agreeing to a three-year extension, thanked owner Michael Jordan and vice chairman Curtis Polk, as well as GM Rich Cho, whose relationship with the coach has reportedly been less than ideal“I like who I’m working for and wanted this to happen,” Clifford said today, according to the Hornets Twitter account.
  • Kristaps Porzingis said he sensed the Magic would have drafted him with the No. 5 overall pick if the Knicks had passed on him at No. 4, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Porzingis worked out for the Magic shortly before the draft, Berman adds.
  • New Magic head coach Scott Skiles has decided to bench former No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo in favor of Channing Frye, who was reportedly available on the trade market for little in return before the season, as Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel relays. Skiles stressed that the move isn’t punishment or necessarily permanent and said Oladipo handled the news well, Robbins notes. Oladipo is eligible for a rookie scale extension after the season.

And-Ones: Stokes, Ingram, Huestis

Duke swingman Brandon Ingram has struggled early in his freshman campaign, and despite the lofty expectations that preceded his arrival on campus, it will take the young player some time to reach his potential, writes Josh Newman of “In a couple of years, if he can do what he did in high school, which remains to be seen, preseason picks and ratings are not worth the paper they are printed on,” an NBA scout told Newman. “He is on the biggest stage in college ball, so if he performs at the highest level consistently, he will move up the draft charts. Right now, he is just learning the college game. He has to adjust to playing with big, strong boys before he looks at the men’s league. Remember, NBA stands for ‘No Babies Allowed.’” Ingram is currently the No. 3 ranked prospect by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, while ESPN’s Chad Ford slots him fourth overall.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Heat have assigned power forward Jarnell Stokes to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This is the first trek to the D-League of the season for Stokes, and the 21-year-old also becomes the first player assigned to Sioux Falls this season.
  • The Thunder assigned Josh Huestis to their D-League affiliate, the team announced (via Twitter). This will be Huestis’ third trip to the D-League of the season.
  • Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard has missed the last seven games after suffering a dislocated shoulder during a contest against the Spurs on November 11th, but the 23-year-old is close to returning to action, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian relays. “It’s hard to put a timeline on it,” Leonard said. “But I’m hoping in the next few games that I’ll have a chance to get back.

Eastern Notes: Monroe, Irving, Stoudemire

Greg Monroe believes his departure from the Pistons played a role in Andre Drummond‘s ascension as the NBA’s leading per-game rebounder, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press details. The Pistons replaced Monroe, who averaged 10.2 rebounds alongside Drummond, with trade acquisition Ersan Ilyasova, who’s averaging only 3.6.

“When you have someone you’re playing with that averages 10 rebounds, too, you’re going to get a few less rebounds,” Monroe said. “There’s a lot more rebounds available, so he’s gonna get more. It’s not surprising to me at all. He’s always had that motor. He’s always had that hunger to rebound.”

Drummond’s average on the boards has jumped from 13.5 last season to 17.6 this year. See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Kyrie Irving is expected to return for the Cavaliers before January, a source tells Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link). Concerns that his absence would linger into the new year existed over the summer.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire calls it a “long shot,” but he won’t rule out playing next season with Hapoel Jerusalem, the Israeli team in which he has an ownership stake, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Stoudemire is on a one-year deal with the Heat“I had a pretty strong 14-year career so far,’’ Stoudemire said. “Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, one season at a time. I don’t know how much time left I have as a player. I’m just cherishing the moment and try to develop the young guys.’’
  • Offseason trade addition Jared Dudley is a smaller version of Nene in many ways, observes J. Michael of Dudley insists that Nene, a free agent at season’s end, remains an integral part of the Wizards in spite of his reduced role, as Michael relays. “Offensively, it starts with Nene,” Dudley said. “He’s the one guy [on the second unit] that can get his own shot and then we move the ball. Me being the four, when I get the ball even when I’m open sometimes it’s getting the ball side to side and getting other guys involved.”

Eastern Notes: Porzingis, Hornets, Raptors

Kristaps Porzingis has already allayed Phil Jackson’s fears that he might be too slight of build to develop into a star player, Johnette Howard of reports. The Knicks’ president of basketball operations was worried during the offseason that Porzingis’ body shape might make him nothing more than an updated version of Shawn Bradley, who never developed into an All-Star caliber player. Porzingis’ swift development has been the talk of New York and he already leads the Knicks in rebounding and blocks, Howard continues. “I’m not scared — I’m not scared of anybody,” Porzingis told Howard. “I’m skinny and I’m light. Strong guys can still push me around. But I will fight back, and be aggressive and never back down from anybody. If I want to succeed at this level, I can’t be scared of anybody.” Porzingis moves far better than the league’s most accomplished European player, Dirk Nowitzki, and is a much better rebounder and shot-blocker than the longtime Mavericks All-Star, Howard adds.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets’ improved 3-point shooting has given its main low-post threat, center Al Jefferson, more room to operate, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Charlotte is doing a better job of spreading the floor with the additions of Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lamb, Jeremy Lin, Spencer Hawes and Frank Kaminsky, as it is shooting nearly 37% on 3-point attempts compared to its league-worst 31.8% shooting from long range last season. That has been a boost to Jefferson, who is averaging nearly 21 points over the last four games, Bonnell adds. “There’s so much shooting on the floor that they’re a lot less likely to say, ‘Not tonight. He’s just not scoring. These other guys are going to have to shoot,'” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told Bonnell. “Now they can’t do that.”
  • It’s a misguided notion that the Raptors’ 9-6 start should be viewed as a mild disappointment, Josh Lewenberg of opines. Toronto has already endured the toughest portion of its schedule, including a five-game, eight-day West Coast swing, Lewenberg points out, and it’s only played four home games. Given those obstacles, the Raptors’ record to this point is commendable, Lewenberg adds.
  • Heat point guard Goran Dragic has been hampered by his lack of chemistry with backcourt partner Dwyane Wade and the team’s methodical pace, Ethan J. Skolnick of Miami Herald uncovered while taking a hard look at the team’s statistical trends. Wade has assisted on only one Dragic basket this season, a sign of their disconnect and of Dragic’s struggles to make his 3-point attempts. The Heat also rank 25th in pace and that hurts a player like Dragic, who prefers a more uptempo style, Skolnick adds.

And-Ones: Sixers, Bucks, Stoudemire

One reason why the Sixers are the worst team in the league right now is because almost half the team’s salary (which is close to $60MM) is going to players no longer on the roster, Michael Schwartz of details. Perhaps even more startling, 17 players make more this season than the combined salaries of the Sixers players who have taken the court this season, according to Schwartz. While the present is dreadful, the future seems bright, Schwartz writes, because the Sixers could own up to four first-round draft picks in the 2016 draft and already have five draft picks from the past three drafts under team control.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Bucks have assigned Damien Inglis to the Canton Charge of the D-League, Milwaukee announced in a press release. Inglis is headed to the Cavs affiliate as part of the flexible assignment rule since the Bucks are without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team. Inglis has appeared in five games for the Bucks this season and averaged 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire believes his lack of playing time is part of a bigger plan to preserve his body, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Stoudemire has played in only two games with the Heat despite saying he is healthy, Berman notes. “We’ve got a big picture in mind,” Stoudemire said. “We know we want to be there in the postseason. We want guys to stay healthy. Now, it’s not about wearing somebody down during the regular season. It’s about really just keeping the maintenance program and making sure we’re at 100% strength by the playoffs.” The veteran power forward inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Miami this past summer.
  • David West, who signed with the Spurs for $1.5MM as a backup instead of staying with the Pacers for $12MM, is playing well while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who remains sidelined, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Heat Rumors: Dragic, Whiteside, Bench, Shooting

Goran Dragic, who signed a five-year, $90MM deal over the summer to stay in Miami, is mystified by his early-season shooting problems, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Dragic ranked 23rd from the field among point guards entering Saturday’s games, connecting on just 41.7% of his shots. “I’m missing even easy shots, layups,” he said. Dragic is making just 55.6% of his shots at the rim, compared to 70% a year ago, and his three-point shooting has fallen from 35.5% last season to 27.6% this year. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the staff is being patient with Dragic and isn’t trying to change his shooting method. “We don’t want to break his shot,” Spoelstra said. “He’s proven he can shoot. The way I look at it, the odds are in our favor.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Hassan Whiteside, who will be a free agent next summer, is putting up historic shot-blocking numbers, Jackson writes in the same piece. The Heat center averages more blocks per game than seven other teams and his average of 4.55 would be the highest since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1989/90.
  • The Heat’s bench is a “work in progress” that could change by the trade deadline, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The columnist says there are a lot of question marks among Miami’s reserves, with Josh McRoberts struggling, Gerald Green out of sync on offense and Amar’e Stoudemire only being used when necessary. In addition, Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen hardly ever see the court.
  • The Heat may be in the market for another 3-point shooter, Winderman speculates in a separate column. The team is hoping Green will find his shot or Tyler Johnson can fill that need. In addition, Chris Bosh and McRoberts are two big men with a history of success from behind the arc. But Winderman says a deal for a 3-point specialist is possible, especially if the team is able to take care of its luxury-tax problem.

Eastern Notes: Stoudemire, Pistons, Sixers

Amar’e Stoudemire believes converting to a reserve role, as he is doing for the Heat, is more challenging than being the focal point of the team, Ethan J Skolnick of The Miami Herald writes.

“Being a franchise player, you just keep getting better at basketball,” Stoudemire said. “Basketball is fun for you to play, you always want to play, you’re a gym rat, you enjoy doing it. So that’s easy. When you’re in this position, you have to put on a coaching hat, you have to train even harder to stay in shape when you’re not playing. Because when you’re playing, you get in shape that way.”

The 33-year-old signed a one-year , $1.5MM pact with Miami during the offseason. The veteran has only appeared in two games for the Heat and he has only played a total of 20 minutes in those contests.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons have four point guards on the roster, but only two power forwards and David Mayo of believes there is a good chance that the team makes a trade before the deadline. Mayo also notes that Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake are both on expiring contracts, which could make it easier to move one of them.
  • The Sixers‘ winless season is taking a toll on coach Brett Brown and Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if Brown will be the coach when the team finally starts to compete again. Cooney also adds that he doesn’t believe management could fire Brown because they haven’t seen him coach with a full cast of NBA talent.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Stoudemire, Dudley

Despite beginning their inaugural campaign winless, the Raptors‘ D-League affiliate isn’t going to judge its success based on winning percentage, but rather by how well it develops the franchise’s young talent like Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira, Josh Lewenberg of writes. “It’s hard because so much in professional basketball is gauged on wins and losses, and it’s just not that way here,” said Raptors 905 coach Jesse Mermuys. “That’s not the goal and so really if we start getting guys called up, then we’re having success. And if we start losing players to other teams and for some reason Lucas and Bruno are able to enter a [NBA] game this season for whatever reason and perform at a decent level, then it’s a success. We’re just going to really focus on the players, put the players’ development in the forefront. That’s a hard thing for a coach to do but I’m fully aware of it. I’m committed to it.

Here’s more from the East:

  • The Cavaliers have assigned shooting guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be the second jaunt of the season to Canton for Harris.
  • Heat power forward Amar’e Stoudemire has only made two appearances this season and says that keeping himself prepared for this type of role is the most difficult thing that he has had to do in his career, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald tweets. The veteran big man inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Miami this past summer.
  • Jared Dudley is finally healthy and he is beginning to make an impact on the court for the Wizards, but despite the swingman being primarily known as a scorer, he’s finding other ways to contribute to the team, J. Michael of notes. “It’s not so much scoring,” coach Randy Wittman said of Dudley. “Spacing, smart, ball movement, being in the right spot, fighting his tail off at the defensive end. I like those things that he’s done the last couple of games.

Heat Notes: Wade, Stoudemire, Whiteside

Dwyane Wade parlayed 21.5 points per game last season into a one-year, $20MM contract this summer, but even as he faces free agency again in the coming offseason, he’s not worried about his individual accomplishments, notes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Wade is averaging just 10.8 points per contest in his last four games.

“This year, this team is about trying to win. This is not a year where I’m worrying about scoring,” Wade said.

The Heat aren’t doing too much winning so far this year, at 6-4, but they have an opportunity to improve their record at home tonight against the Kings. See more from Miami:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire has only played in one game for the Heat this season, thanks in part to sore knees, but he’s not complaining and not looking for a trade, agent Travis King tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Stoudemire signed a one-year deal for the minimum salary with Miami in the offseason. “He’s fine with it; he’s a team player and is glad to be with the organization,” King said of his client’s lack of playing time. “… He talked to [Erik Spoelstra about the situation]. He has made his money. He doesn’t have to play for another contract. He just wants to win.”
  • Hassan Whiteside has maintained his strong play from the second half of last season into this season, as Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald examines, and he’s meshed well on both ends of the floor, as Matt Lurie of RealGM details. All of it is liable to add up to a maximum-salary deal this summer for last year’s minimum-salary signee, Skolnick writes.
  • Wade and Chris Bosh see plenty of depth on the Heat this year thanks to the infusion of youth that Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson represent, observes Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.

And-Ones: Rockets, Chalmers, Kilpatrick

The Rockets, who are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, held a players-only meeting to clear the air and work on their communication, Calvin Watkins of relays. “What happens in the room, stays in the room,” center Dwight Howard said. “It was good for us to sit down and talk, but it’s a long season and you can’t get caught up in losing a couple of games and getting upset and so frustrated and feel like it’s the end of the world. It is embarrassing. We hate to lose but at the same time we have a long season and we can’t think negative when we lose. We have to try and find the positive in any situation. You keep thinking negative, then negative things will continue to happen to you. You got to stay positive and fight through it. All this stuff will build our character.

Star shooting guard James Harden also agreed that the meeting was a productive one for the team, Watkins adds. “It was a good talk for us,” Harden said. “We hadn’t had an opportunity to communicate like that since the season had been going. It was good for us to communicate and each guy basically said what their role was and every single night they’re going to contribute to that role. After the talk we had a really good practice, guys communicated, we worked hard and now it’s about carrying it over. It’s about doing it on the floor.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mario Chalmers has been lighting up stat sheets since the Grizzlies acquired him from the Heat, and the point guard credits his new teammates having confidence in him for his recent output, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “I just try to bring as much energy to the game as possible,” Chalmers said. “It means a lot when your coach and your teammates have confidence and they want you to shoot.” The veteran guard also sees a number of similarities between how Memphis plays defense and shares the ball on offense with the championship squads he played for in Miami, Winderman adds.
  • The Delaware 87ers, the Sixers‘ D-League affiliate, have re-acquired Sean Kilpatrick as a returning player, the team announced. Kilpatrick, who was in training camp with the Pelicans, was a member of the 87ers at the end of the 2014/15 season.

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