Let’s round up all of the links coming out of the Eastern Conference on Thursday night:
- In Canada for tomorrow night’s matchup with the Raptors, the Knicks, at this point in training camp, seem thrilled Toronto gave up on Andrea Bargnani this offseason, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post, who tabs head coach Mike Woodson as one of Bargnani’s biggest fans in the early going.
- Woodson also said on Thursday that rookie and No. 24 pick Tim Hardaway Jr. has “put himself in a nice position” to get minutes in the Knicks rotation, writes Al Iannazzone of the Long Island Newsday.
- Despite going undrafted in June, it sounds like Matthew Dellavedova is on track to make the Cavaliers‘ final roster as the third point guard, writes Bob Finnan of the Cleveland News-Herald. The Cavs signed the Saint Mary’s product to a two-year deal with a small guarantee about a month ago.
- Despite a shaky preseason debut on Tuesday, No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett says he is simply trying to find his groove after offseason shoulder surgery, writes Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who adds that the highly-touted rookie is currently concentrated on improving his conditioning.
- Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report breaks down the five candidates in Miami with a chance to crack Erik Spoelstra’s nine-man, championship rotation: Michael Beasley, Rashard Lewis, Roger Mason Jr., James Jones and Joel Anthony. Skolnick also mentions Greg Oden, who may be a factor for the Heat in 2014.
- Greek import Giannis Antetokounmpo, who the Bucks took in June at No. 15, has flashed big-time talent two preseason games into his NBA career, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, who says some scouts adamantly labeled the “Greek Freak” a bust without giving him a sufficient look (Twitter links here).
Rashard Lewis' agent, Colin Bryant, confirmed today what Lewis himself told Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld two weeks ago, telling Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com (Twitter link) that the Heat forward will pick up his 2013/14 player option to remain in Miami.
Lewis' option for next season will only pay him the minimum salary for a veteran with 10+ years of experience ($1,399,507). Still, he'd probably have trouble finding more than the minimum with another club, so giving up the chance to compete for another title in Miami never really made much sense for the 33-year-old.
In his first season with the Heat, Lewis appeared in 55 games (14.4 MPG), averaging 5.2 PPG and 2.2 RPG while shooting 38.9% on three-pointers.
Heat reserve forward Rashard Lewis has a minimum-salary player option for next season, and he plans to exercise it, as HoopsWorld's Bill Ingram tweets. Lewis signed a two-year deal with the Heat last summer after the Pelicans bought him out of his previous contract for nearly $13.5MM.
"I'm with the Miami Heat. I don't plan on opting out at all," Lewis said.
The 33-year-old is set to make $1,399,507 in what would be his 16th NBA season in 2013/14, the minimum for a player with 10 or more years of experience. He saw scant playing time for the Heat during the regular season, averaging 5.2 points in 14.4 minutes per game, the lowest numbers in both categories since his rookie season. In the playoffs, he's been relegated to garbage time, logging just 40 total minutes.
He'd be hard-pressed to make much more than the minimum on the open market, though money may not be much of an object for a player whose career earnings totaled nearly $139MM coming into this season, according to Basketball-Reference. That's largely the product of a six-year, $113MM deal he signed with the Magic back in 2007. This was to have been the final season of that deal, and he forfeited about $9.3MM when New Orleans waived him following his trade from the Wizards. If the Pelicans had kept him, he'd have made a staggering $22,699,551 this year.
With Lewis likely around again next season, the Heat figure to have more tax trouble. Miami has more than $86MM in salary on the books for 2013/14.
The defending champion Miami Heat closed out 2012 with a dramatic overtime win over the Orlando Magic. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the team from Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
- Winderman is not worried about LeBron James leaving Miami in 2014 as a free agent, if the Heat win another championship in the next two seasons.
- In a different column, Winderman writes that Rashard Lewis is not frustrated with his lack of playing time, with the veteran stating that he understands his role with the team.
- Winderman adds that center Joel Anthony has been happy with his new involvement in the Heat's offense.
At 10-3, the defending champion Miami Heat own the best record in the Eastern Conference. Here are the latest notes and rumors surrounding the team on Sunday afternoon:
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wonders whether the Heat will pick up the $4MM option on guard Mario Chalmers' contract for next season.
- Winderman also notes that Mike Miller is likely to be waived at some point using the amnesty clause.
- Winderman writes that the Heat's decision to use Ray Allen as a sixth man is paying off for the team.
- Signed for the veteran's minimum, it was unknown what kind of contribution Rashard Lewis would make to the Heat, but Winderman says that he has been a valuable part of Miami's rotation thus far.
- Jeff Zillgett of USA Today notes that Udonis Haslem is the first undrafted player ever to lead his team in rebounding this season.
Between the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and the implementation of the new CBA, this offseason was one to rememeber. While we are barely a week into the new season, it is only natural for glowing reports to emerge of players who have shined with their new teams. They are premature for sure, but so many players changed teams that keeping tabs on them is always useful:
- Now coming off the bench for the Heat, Rashard Lewis is healthy for the first time in two years, writes Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports. Lewis was hampered by knee injuries the past few seasons, but has looked great so far in Miami, showing more lift in his jumpshot and even throwing down a few dunks last night against the Nets.
- Within the same piece, Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld looks at Jeremy Lin and Carl Landry. While James Harden has deservedly gotten the Rockets headlines, Lin has quietly lived up to the hype during his brief time so far in Houston. Meanwhile, Landry, a former Rocket, is proving once again that he is one of the NBA's most underrated players, this time averaging 17 points as a member of the Warriors.
- The man traded for Harden, the Thunder's Kevin Martin, is shooting a ridiculous 62 percent from three point range and averaging over 19 PPG so far in Oklahoma City, writes Chris Sheridan. While Harden is clearly the best piece moved in the deal, it isn't hard to imagine Martin's skills and those draft picks making it look respectable for Sam Presti and the Thunder.
- Averging only 14 PPG, Joe Johnson is still getting acclimated to his new role on the Nets, writes Roderick Boone of Newsday. The mixture in Brooklyn will probably take longer than most to jell, considering that not only is nearly the whole team new, but most of the high profile players have never played on anything close to an elite team before.
- Kosta Koufos hasn't been a member of the Jazz since 2010, but Bill Oram's story about the former Utah draft pick's rise into the Nuggets starting lineup sure makes it feel like it was yesterday. After beating out JaVale McGee for the center spot, Koufos is averaging 6.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in Denver.
- Shipped to Orlando after being drafted by Philly, Maurice Harkless played more than 22 minutes in his Magic debut on Wednesday, writes Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Harkless didn't participate in preseason while he was recovering from a sports hernia, and still isn't 100 percent, but it sounds like the rookie is on his way.
Slowed by knee problems over the past two seasons, Rashard Lewis recently underwent treatment that has him feeling much better heading into the 2012/13 season. As he tells Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida, Lewis is optimistic enough about his health that he's hoping to play in the NBA for another five years.
"This will be my 15th season," Lewis said. "My whole goal is to play another five years and try to get to 20 years… The way I feel now, I most definitely think I can do it."
As Tomasson explains, Lewis underwent a process called OssaTron treatment over the summer, something that was suggested by the Heat. The team believed that the non-surgical procedure, which involves shockwave therapy, could help the 33-year-old regain the form he showed in Seattle and Orlando.
"They just numb the knees basically like ultrasound," Lewis said. "It breaks down a lot of the scar tissue and it kind of rebuilds it. It took me off the court for a couple of months… (The Heat believed) it was something that could really help me and get me back on the court playing at a high rate, and I told them anything that would help me be even a little bit better than I was the past season, the past couple of years, I’m willing to try."
While the inactivity this summer has left Lewis a little rusty heading into training camp, he feels as if the treatment has been a success. and thinks it could help him lengthen his career.
"It’s like night and day from how I felt the past two years," Lewis said. "It brings a smile to my face…. I’m going to show that I got a little more basketball left in me."
It has been a busy day and night for the Lakers on this early-September Friday, which is certainly nothing new considering the influx of material since they landed Dwight Howard. Today they signed their second round pick, finalized their offseason coaching staff overhaul and their GM, Mitch Kupchak, spoke with SI.com's Sam Amick about all things Lakers. In addition to the earlier stories, Brian Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles gives his take on three of the small, but meaningful issues facing the team.
But there are 29 other teams in the NBA, so let us round up some of the odds and ends from around the Association here tonight:
- Chauncey Billups is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from a left Achilles injury, writes Helene Elliot of the L.A. Times. Billups hasn't set a target return date yet, but said, "When my body feels right, that's when I'll be back. That being said, I'm far ahead of schedule. It's not even like I had a summer. I've been on the whole time, doing rehabbing and other work every day. I'm looking forward to getting back to playing and being with the guys and resuming my normal life as a player."
- Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld, via USA Today, writes that with the moves that the Knicks made – getting older and wiser – the team should be better equipped to compete and that the window to win is now. One interested tidbit from Beer – there are only five active NBA players over the age of 38 and the Knicks acquired three of them this offseason in Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas.
- Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News evaluates the chances of the Mavericks ending up with Kevin Martin and/or Josh Smith next summer, both of whom are free agents. After striking out this summer in free agency, the Mavericks should be in position to try again in a year with a similar level of financial flexibility.
- Dei Lynam of CSN Philly is doing a player by player breakdown of the revamped 76ers roster, and today she tackles swingman Thaddeus Young. The small forward position is much less crowded in Philadelphia after the departure of Andre Iguodala, and Young has made it an offseason goal to slide into that position as a starter.
- Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside says that while the D-League has been increasingly effective as an NBA farm system, there is additional room for growth. He uses Andre Drummond as an example of a guy who would never be a D-League candidate, but for his development's sake, should be.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel addresses a few questions about the world champion Heat, including his thoughts on what roles of Rashard Lewis and Udonis Haslem may play on the Miami bench.
- The NBA coaching carousel continues as the Warriors have reportedly hired Bob Beyer as an assistant coach, who spent the last five years in Orlando on Stan Van Gundy's staff, says Matt Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area. Beyer will replace Wes Unseld Jr., who joined Jacque Vaughn's staff in Orlando.
The rich got richer this offseason as the Heat reloaded for another run at the Larry O'Brien trophy heading into the 2012/13 season. With the proverbial monkey off LeBron James' back, the Heat will enter next season as the odds-on favorites to take home another championship with an even stronger supporting cast surrounding King James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has the latest news and headlines from South Beach to catch you up to speed…
- The addition of Rashard Lewis to the mix for merely the veteran minimum doesn't mean the forward will strictly come off the bench for the Heat next season. Adding Lewis to the starting lineup would allow Shane Battier to return to his role of defensive stopper off the bench and allow Bosh to play at center given Lewis' length. Lewis, who is reportedly in good shape, will have to show something during training camp for any chance at securing a spot in the starting lineup.
- Joel Anthony and a first-round pick from the Sixers could be dangled as attractive pieces in a potential sign-and-trade if the Heat aren't satisfied with their current roster. While the team would benefit from acquiring a veteran point guard, the available options wouldn't make the team significantly better at this point. Andray Blatche, recently amnestied by the Wizards, could be a quality addition, but the team wouldn't have to do a sign-and-trade to acquire him.
- Look for Darko Milicic to end up in Miami now that Nazr Mohammed appears set to sign with the Bulls. Milicic could stand to benefit playing amongst a group of All-Stars who will push him to play to the best of his ability. At 27, the former second overall draft pick of the Pistons in 2003 still has a chance to have a respectable career if given the right opportunity.