Southeast Notes: Katz, Smart, White, Watson

Heat minority share owner Ranaan Katz refuted a report made earlier today by international journalist David Pick in which it was relayed that Katz indicated that LeBron James tried and failed to oust coach Erik Spoelstra when they were together in Miami, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (Twitter links). According to Jackson, Katz maintains that he has no information relating to James attempting to have Spoelstra removed from his position. “That was my opinion. I am very careful with what I say,” Katz told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “I have no knowledge of what happened. The only thing I said to the reporter was, ‘It’s up to you to figure it out yourself.’

Blatt‘s camp reportedly believes that James was the sole catalyst for the Cavs coaching change, and the belief is much more than simply a fringe theory among people around the league, according to TNT’s David Aldridge. Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Heat assistant coach Keith Smart will be taking a second leave of absence from the team for another round of treatment for skin cancer, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald relays. Miami did not set a definitive date for Smart’s return, though his absence is likely to be measured in weeks, not days, Skolnick adds.
  • The Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv recently tried to acquire Wizards 2015 second round draft pick Aaron White, but the buyout attempt was declined by his German club, Telekom Baskets Bonn, J. Michael of writes. White, the No. 49 overall pick last June, went to Europe to develop because he considered it a better option than the D-League, Michael notes.
  • Magic point guard C.J. Watson, who has missed 35 consecutive games with a calf injury, is nearing a return to basketball related activities, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel relays. “It’s like night and day,” Watson said regarding his calf. “So, hopefully, pretty soon I’ll get to start practicing, do some conditioning and running on the court. But right now I’m [doing] just a little spot shooting, just taking it one day at a time and just seeing how I feel the next day.” Orlando inked Watson to a three-year, $15MM deal this past offseason.
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