Dwyane Wade

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra, Rotation

The Heat list reserve forward Andre Iguodala as probable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Iguodala missed the second half of Game 2 on Thursday with tightness in his back. He’s averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 19.1 MPG during the postseason.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Goran Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has sparkled in the playoffs after the club tried to trade him last offseason, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Team president Pat Riley wanted to ship Dragic to Dallas in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade but the Mavericks weren’t interested.
  • Dwyane Wade believes Erik Spoelstra doesn’t receive enough accolades for his coaching accomplishments, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it.”
  • Spoelstra has identified his top six players and is rolling with them, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. While Spoelstra used 10 players on Thursday, six of them played at least 32 minutes. That’s not unusual in the postseason, Winderman declares in his latest mailbag.
  • A fiery halftime locker room got the Heat refocused during halftime of Game 2, Winderman writes in a separate story.

Knicks Notes: Wright, Thibodeau, Rose, Perry

Although the Knicks reportedly have strong interest in Jay Wright, it doesn’t appear as if the Villanova head coach reciprocates that interest, as we outlined earlier this week.

A report on Monday suggested Wright has no plans to leave his post at Villanova, and Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears a similar sentiment from an NCAA source, who says Wright would have to be “overwhelmed by the opportunity” to even consider leaving his current job.

While Wright may not be a realistic target for the Knicks as they seek a permanent head coach this spring, veteran NBA coach Tom Thibodeau – who is expected to receive consideration – sounds much more open to being courted. A Thibodeau “confidant” tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach would be very interested in the Knicks’ position.

“He really wants the Knick job,” the source told Berman. “He can taste it and he may even be in the lead.”

Considering the Knicks haven’t even yet announced Leon Rose as their new president of basketball operations, it may be premature to declare a frontrunner for the team’s head coaching job, but Thibodeau’s ties with Rose at CAA should help make him a contender.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a separate New York Post article, Berman says that Dwyane Wade‘s three-day retirement celebration with the Heat this weekend is one reason Rose’s hiring by the Knicks has been delayed. As Berman explains, Rose helped plan the event for Wade, a longtime CAA client.
  • Once Rose is officially installed as the Knicks’ new president of basketball operations, he’ll have a handful of pressing items on his to-do list, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Besides the head coaching search, Rose will have to plan for the draft and free agency, hire basketball operations staffers, and – perhaps most importantly – set boundaries with team owner James Dolan.
  • In a story about Knicks branding consultant Steve Stoute making an appearance at All-Star weekend, Berman of The New York Post notes that interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry remains “in the dark” about his future – or lack thereof – with the organization.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

And-Ones: WNBA, Wade, Two-Way Candidates

The WNBA and its players union have reached a landmark labor deal, announcing the tentative eight-year agreement today, as Doug Feinberg of The Associated Press outlines.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will increase the average and maximum salaries for players while enhancing standards and benefits related to travel and maternity leave. The deal, which has been approved by players and still must be ratified by owners, includes a 50-50 revenue sharing split beginning in 2021.

“I call it historic,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “The CBA guarantees substantial (financial) increases. The way we are paying these players is different than the past. … The top couple players are tripling (in pay) where they were. Other players are making $200-300K. The average will be over $130K. Everyone gets an increase here.”

The WNBA is also introducing a mid-season competition called the Commissioner’s Cup, per Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW. The event could be a mini-preview of what’s to come in the NBA, where commissioner Adam Silver has pushed the idea of an in-season tournament.

“We will designate Cup games the first half of the season leading into the Olympic break this year,” Engelbert said. “And then [for] the two teams with the best records, we will have a final in August as our first game back to re-launch the season. In 2020, the cash prizes will be more moderate, but in 2021, we’re going to step them up as we seek sponsors.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Heat Notes: Culture, Wade, Butler, Jones

Michael Lee of The Athletic takes a look at the infamous Heat culture that has Miami off to a red-hot 21-8 start this season, surprising many. The Heat are the No. 3 seed in the East. Their mix of savvy veterans like Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic and fast-developing youth has been stellar. The roster is decorated with diverse players sporting the ability to switch across multiple positions and handle the rock.

17-year Heat lifer Udonis Haslem credits Miami’s front office, captained by team president Pat Riley, with putting together their impressive depth. “They do a great job of digging down and getting these diamonds in the rough,” Haslem raved. “You know it’s not always draft picks. It’s not always free agency. Sometimes, it’s getting your hands dirty, getting in the mud and going to the G League, picking up a guy that’s been waived from another team, doing your homework, getting an undrafted [player].” 

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald unpacks an extensive recent Dwyane Wade conversation with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes on their new Showtime video podcast All The Smoke. Wade touched on the Heat’s recent drama with oft-suspended wing Dion Waiters. “It’s unfortunate what’s going on with him,” Wade told Barnes and Jackson. “The kid loves to hoop. What we’re seeing right now is now that the game was taken away from him, he doesn’t know how to deal with it.” Wade also discussed a desire to return to the Heat one day in an organizational capacity. “I would love to migrate back to the organization as I figure out what my life is going to be about and continue to give back to that city as they gave to me for so many years,” he said during the podcast.
  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel observes that 30 year-old Jimmy Butler‘s “odometer” as an All-NBA talent puts the current Heat in conflict with their supposed 2021 free agency plan. The team only has $60MM committed to their books during a summer when talents like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Bradley Beal, Victor OladipoJrue Holiday, and, yes, LeBron James could all become available.
  • The return of Goran Dragic to the Heat’s bench unit could serve as a boon for developing small forward Derrick Jones, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. “Goran gets downhill, makes my guy guard him and he just puts the ball in the air and lets me do the rest,” Jones observed. The athletic fourth-year swingman has been one of the team’s best wing defenders in limited minutes, and has now developed an outside shooting game, averaging 34.6% from deep this season. When guard Justise Winslow returns to the lineup from his back injury, Jackson opines that coach Erik Spoelstra should expand his rotation to 10 players to accommodate the improving Jones.

And-Ones: Wade, China, Stoudemire, Contracts

Six months after retiring as a player, Dwyane Wade is employed in a new capacity. According to an official press release (via NBA.com), Wade has reached a multiyear, multi-platform agreement with WarnerMedia, and will become a basketball commentator for TNT this season.

In addition to appearing on the network’s NBA broadcasts, Wade will make studio appearances during Turner Sports’ and CBS Sports’ NCAA tournament coverage later in the season.

“I’m thrilled and grateful to be joining the WarnerMedia family with many exciting opportunities ahead,” Wade said in a statement. “I have great respect for TNT’s team of analysts and their longstanding commitment to quality sports coverage. After sixteen seasons in the NBA, I look forward to connecting with my fans in this new role and bringing my own perspective to the game I love.”

Here’s more from around the NBA and the rest of the basketball world:

  • Chinese state television didn’t air the NBA’s opening-night games on Tuesday, while Chinese streaming partner Tencent only showed the Lakers/Clippers game, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst. CCTV typically shows the league’s opening-night doubleheader, but Tuesday’s decision is a signal that the ongoing NBA/China controversy is far from settled. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week that the league has “no choice but to engage” China, as Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal details.
  • Speaking of China, former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire has signed the Fujian Sturgeons of the Chinese Basketball Assocation, according to reports from Roi Cohen of Sport5 and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter links).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks provides some financial details on the rookie scale extensions signed on Monday, outlining (via Twitter) exactly how much bonus money is included in five of those deals. Marks also identifies four players who will receive increased partial guarantees as a result of remaining under contract with their respective teams through Wednesday (Twitter link). Those players are Christian Wood (Pistons), Jordan McRae (Wizards), Kendrick Nunn (Heat), and Trey Burke (Sixers).
  • In a conversation with Max Resetar of SLAM, good friends Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, and D’Angelo Russell joked about eventually teaming up. “When we’re all on the same team—I ain’t gonna tell you which team because I don’t know—we’re gonna do this again,” Russell said of the joint interview. While we probably shouldn’t assume the trio is destined to form a Big Three down the road, it’s worth noting that both Towns and Booker tried to recruit Russell to their respective teams when he was a free agent this summer.

And-Ones: Maker, Wade, CBA, Thompson, Robinson

Makur Maker, ranked No. 10 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony in the 2020 high school class, is exploring his eligibility for next June’s draft, according to Givony. The NBA Players Association is assisting Makur and believes he’ll be declared eligible due to the fact he’ll turn 19 in November, Givony adds. He’s also in his fifth year of high school at Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, as the 6’11’ Maker was two credits short of receiving a high school diploma from his previous school. He’s the cousin of Pistons big man Thon Maker.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Italy’s Olimpia Milano was interested in signing Dwyane Wade, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Team president Leo Dell’Orco revealed that the franchise considered making a run at the retired NBA star before settling on another former NBA veteran, Luis Scola. “This summer we wanted to sign an important NBA player,” he said. “We were interested in Dwyane Wade but we took some time (and chose Scola).”
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has increased its restrictions on foreign players, Carchia relays in a separate story. Among the changes is a rule that only two foreign players can be on the roster for each game and they can’t be on the court at the same time. The CBA has also imposed a salary cap but it only applies to Chinese players, according to another note from Carchia.
  • Former NBA forward Jason Thompson is returning to the Chinese league and will replace Angel Delgado on the Beijing Royal Fighters, according to a Sportando report. Thompson spent last season with Fenerbahce D Istanbul. In 36 games with Fenerbahce, Thompson averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 16.0 MPG. Thompson played in China during the 2016/17 season after averaging 8.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 588 career NBA games. Delgado had to leave China for personal matters.
  • Another former NBA forward, Thomas Robinson, reached an agreement with the CBA’s Sichuan Blue Whales, Sportando relays.  Robinson spent last season with Beijing, averaging 21.9 PPG and 13.6 RPG. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Wade, Howard, Rondo

Entering his first season with the Lakers and eighth season in the league, Anthony Davis is focused on expanding his game by improving a key part of the modern player’s arsenal: Three-point shooting.

The Lakers ranked 20th in three-point makes last season with 847, shooting 33.3% from deep on the campaign. Only the Suns managed to shoot at a worse clip, finishing at 32.9%.

“This summer I improved the most on my 3-ball. I wanted to be able to stretch the floor,” Davis said, according to Joey Ramirez of NBA.com.  “As a big, the game is definitely going that way now. … I for sure want to get that [percentage] in the high 30s. By me doing that I’ll be able to help the Lakers as much as possible … and hopefully win a championship.”

Davis, who made just three three-pointers in his first three NBA seasons, shot 48-of-145 (33%) from deep last season with New Orleans in 56 games.

Los Angeles struck a major trade to acquire Davis in June, sending away Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, the 2019 No. 4 pick, a 2021 first-round pick, the right to swap picks in 2023 and a first-round pick in 2024 for his services.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

L.A. Notes: George, Leonard, Howard, Wade

The health of the Clippers‘ two new stars will determine how much success they’ll have this season, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The more immediate concern involves Paul George, who is recovering from surgery in June to fix a small labrum tear in his left shoulder.

George will likely miss all of October, according to Buha, and whenever he returns he will need time to rediscover his shooting rhythm and blend his talents with his new teammates. Buha considers the Clippers to be just “fringe contenders” until George is 100% and warns that they may get off to a disappointing start.

The concern with Kawhi Leonard is load management, which is something the Raptors happily agreed to last season to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Leonard played just 60 regular season games last year, and his availability will play a large role in where the Clippers finish in the standings.

There’s more today from Los Angeles:

  • The addition of two elite players should mean a smaller role for Lou Williams, Boha suggests in the same story. He will still provide a spark off the bench, but won’t have the same control over the offense when George and Leonard are both active. Buha also states that Williams’ defensive liabilities could mean Landry Shamet or Patrick Beverley might take some of his late-game minutes.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines whether adding Dwight Howard to their roster is worth the risk for the Lakers. L.A. reached out to Howard after DeMarcus Cousins was lost with an ACL injury, but Rhodes notes that Howard’s track record since 2013 doesn’t inspire confidence. Because of the roster turnover in the past two seasons, Rhodes doubts that the Lakers have the locker room cohesion to handle any problems that Howard may cause.
  • Dwyane Wade isn’t actively planning a comeback, but he tells Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times that he’ll be working out with LeBron James at the Lakers‘ training facility and at Staples Center. James and Wade have been close friends since they entered the league, and their sons are now high school teammates. “You’re definitely going to see me out there,” Wade said. “I’ll be there early to work out with LeBron before the game starts. I just want to stay around it and be as involved as I can.”

Dwyane Wade On Playing Again: “Never Say Never”

After a highly publicized and emotional farewell tour last season, Heat legend Dwyane Wade hung up his sneakers to retire from the NBA. Since the conclusion of last season, the possibility of Wade returning to play has lingered.

Wade, 37, was still productive in his final season, averaging 15.0 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 72 games (two starts) for the Heat. While promoting the new NBA 2K20 video game, which he graces the cover of for the Legend Edition, Wade addressed the possibility of coming out of retirement like Michael Jordan did (Twitter link).

“I don’t know, I think these young players are way too fast and way too athletic for me,” Wade said. “You never say never, but I don’t think so.”

Wade already teased that if he came out of retirement, it’d be to join the Heat and Miami’s big offseason acquisition, Jimmy Butler. For now, however, Wade will remain retired.