Pat Riley anointed Justise Winslow as the Heat’s starting small forward for next season, but he hasn’t addressed the larger question of power forward, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Riley expressed his confidence in Winslow during a news conference Saturday, saying the rookie will be penciled in as the starting three for 2016/17. But if Chris Bosh isn’t medically cleared to play, that leaves Josh McRoberts, Luke Babbitt and Udonis Haslem as candidates to start alongside Winslow and Hassan Whiteside on the front line. Riley said even though Winslow is only 20, he’s ready to be an NBA starter. “I remember when James Worthy came to the Lakers and Jamaal Wilkes was incumbent,” Riley said, “and then there came that time, there came that time when it was just a matter of time when James Worthy was going to take his position.”
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- Dwight Howard hopes his return home to Atlanta will revitalize his career, according to Steve Hummer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 30-year-old center, who signed a three-year deal worth $70.5MM with the Hawks, has even changed his number to 8 to signify “a new beginning.” Howard insists that his back, which required surgery in 2012, is no longer a problem. “My back hasn’t been an issue,” he said, “and I don’t think I’ll ever have an issue out of my back for the rest of my career.”
- Kent Bazemore‘s comments at the press conference after he re-signed with the Hawks showed how much he wanted to stay in Atlanta, relays K.L. Chouinard of NBA.com. Bazemore, who landed a four-year, $70MM contract in free agency, said it was important to remain with the team he joined two seasons ago. “This is one of the high points of my life,” he said, “and I couldn’t choose a better place to be. I said I wasn’t going to get emotional, but I just love it here, you know. People have just embraced me and it just feels like home, man.”
- It’s hard to understand why the Wizards re-signed Marcus Thornton so early in free agency, writes Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic. Thornton, who received a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, projects as a fifth guard, Standig contends, adding that it’s unusual for teams to fill roster spots with those type of players before Summer League begins.