Heat Rumors

Kyle Lowry To Miss Game 1 Of Eastern Conference Finals

Heat point guard Kyle Lowry has officially been listed as out for Game 1 against the Celtics due to his lingering hamstring injury, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.

The news comes as no surprise since Lowry didn’t practice on Monday. Hobbled by the injury, Lowry has appeared in only five postseason games. He last took the court in Game 4 of the semifinals against Philadelphia, when he scored just six points with seven assists and four turnovers in 30 minutes on May 8.

Caleb Martin (ankle sprain), Max Strus (hamstring strain), P.J. Tucker (calf strain) and Gabe Vincent (hamstring strain) are listed as questionable, Chiang adds in another tweet. Most Heat players who have been listed as questionable throughout the playoffs have ended up being active.

Strus has been one of the breakout performers in the postseason. He averaged 19.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG in Games 5 and 6 against Philadelphia. Tucker averaged 8.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.7 APG in 30.7 MPG during the Sixers series while providing his usual hard-nosed defense.

Celtics/Heat Injury Updates: Smart, Williams, Lowry

The Celtics are listing guard Marcus Smart as questionable for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday due to a right mid-foot sprain he sustained in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals, the team announced today (via Twitter).

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Smart underwent an MRI on his injured foot and the imaging came back clean, which bodes well for the Celtics and the Defensive Player of the Year going forward. The hope, Wojnarowski says, is that Smart will be good to go for Game 1 vs. Miami, but the team will see how he feels on Tuesday before making a final decision.

In other Celtics injury news, Robert Williams will be available for the series vs. Miami with no minutes restrictions after missing the last four games of the Milwaukee series due to a bone bruise in his left knee (Twitter link).

Williams was technically active and available for Game 7 on Sunday, but head coach Ime Udoka said he didn’t want to adjust his rotation, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Heat point guard Kyle Lowry, who continues to battle a left hamstring injury, didn’t practice on Monday and appears unlikely to be available for Game 1, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

For what it’s worth, Jimmy Butler expressed confidence on Monday that Lowry is close to returning, telling reporters his teammate is in good spirits and remains engaged (Twitter link via Jackson).

Warriors To Host 2022 California Classic Summer League

The California Classic Summer League will return for a fourth year in 2022, with the Warriors taking over for the Kings as the event’s host, according to a press release.

The California Classic, a four-team Summer League, was launched by the Kings in 2018, and took place again in 2019 and 2021. In each of those three years, it was played at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, with the Kings, Warriors, Lakers, and Heat taking part.

This time around, the same four teams will participate, but the mini-Summer League will be held at Chase Center in San Francisco. It will take place on the weekend of July 2-3.

Like the Salt Lake City Summer League, which will be played in Utah from July 5-7, the California Classic is something of an opening act for the Las Vegas Summer League. The Vegas Summer League, scheduled for July 7-17, will feature all 30 NBA teams.

The Kings, Warriors, Lakers, and Heat will take advantage of the earlier California event to take a longer look at their rookies, young players, and undrafted free agents.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Starting Lineup, Strus, Butler

Heat guard Kyle Lowry (hamstring) didn’t practice with the team on Sunday, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Lowry was with the team for practice, but he didn’t participate. As Jackson notes, this doesn’t bode well for his status this week, as the Eastern Conference Finals will tip off on Tuesday.

Lowry suffered a hamstring injury in the first round against Atlanta. Last round, the Heat went 4-0 against the Sixers without him and 0-2 with him, but he was playing through the injury in his two games. Lowry ranked fourth on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) and first in assists (7.5 per game) this season.

With Miami playing Boston next round, the team could use Lowry as an offensive option, as the Celtics are viewed as one of the league’s elite defenses. The Heat will likely continue to rely more on Gabe Vincent, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo until Lowry returns.

Here are some other notes from Miami:

  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether playing Lowry off the bench is a viable option. The Heat have started Vincent in place of Lowry and may not want to impact its ongoing chemistry, but Lowry started in all 63 of his regular season games this season. Aside from being a better player, Lowry also holds more playoff experience than Vincent does, making a move to the bench seem unlikely.
  • Max Strus has played a key role in the team advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. Strus finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds in Game 5 against the Sixers last round, then recorded 20 points and 11 rebounds to win the series in Game 6. “It’s one of the biggest moments, not only in my career, but in my life,” Strus said. “This is the moment you want to be in being a basketball player and doing what we do for a living. And I’m super excited and want to start [next series] tomorrow.”
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald explores how most advanced metrics say Jimmy Butler has been the best player in the playoffs. Butler’s traditional stats have also been superb, as he’s averaging a career-high 28.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. He has also shot 52.5% from the floor and 36% from three-point range, leading Miami to an 8-3 postseason record.

Poll: Boston Celtics Vs. Miami Heat

The Celtics defeated the Bucks in their second-round series on Sunday, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in the last six seasons. They’ll play the Heat, who’ve made the conference finals in six of their last 12 seasons.

Boston and Miami have recent postseason history. The teams have met twice in the playoffs over the last decade, both times in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Heat winning in 2012 and 2020. Both are regarded as strong defensive teams, and either franchise could easily win the championship this season.

Boston had home court advantage against the Bucks, but will start on the road against Miami. The Celtics made an NBA record 22 three-pointers in Game 7 on Sunday, receiving strong contributions from Grant Williams (27 points), Jayson Tatum (23 points) and Jaylen Brown (18 points).

Miami is coming off a series win against Philadelphia. The team caused issues for Trae Young in round one, then proceeded to hold the Sixers to an average of 96 points in the second round. The Heat have been led by Jimmy Butler on both ends — he’s averaging 28.7 points and 2.1 steals per game in the playoffs.

Both Boston and Miami are dealing with injuries to starting players. Celtics center Robert Williams III (left knee soreness) was active for Game 7, but he didn’t see any action. Heat guard Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, is still battling a hamstring injury.

The Celtics will likely continue deploying their switch-heavy defense, while the Heat may wait to see who Boston starts before finalizing matchups. The team could assign Butler and Tucker to Brown and Tatum, for example, but would have to live with Max Strus defending one of Boston’s big men. The Celtics could assign Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart to Butler.

Which team do you think will win this series? Will the Heat advance to the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three seasons, or will the Celtics return to the Finals and compete for an 18th title? Vote in our poll, then take to the comments section below to share your predictions!

Southeast Notes: Butler, Tucker, Magic, Wizards

Heat star Jimmy Butler led his team to a 4-2 victory over the Sixers in the second round, finishing with 32 points in the final game of the series on Thursday. Butler, who played for the Sixers in 2018/19, acknowledged that leaving Philadelphia to join Miami wound up working out for his career.

“Some things happened, and now I’m where I belong, I guess where I should have been a long time ago,” Butler said after the Game 6 win, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “A place where I’m welcome.”

The Sixers spent their money on Tobias Harris after the 2018/19 campaign, inking him to a five-year, $180MM deal while Butler joined the Heat in a four-team sign-and-trade deal. At the time, Harris formed a big three alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, with the team also adding Al Horford in free agency that summer.

“I’ve got a lot of love for this city (Philadelphia), love for guys like (Embiid), so any time we can beat a tough team, it’s special,” Butler said on Thursday.

There are more notes from the Southeast Division today:

  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman considers whether P.J. Tucker has surpassed Jae Crowder in Crowder’s former role. The Heat signed Tucker last summer to fill the void left by Crowder, who left in 2020 to join the Suns. Miami attempted to replace Crowder with Trevor Ariza and Kelly Olynyk last season, which ultimately didn’t pan out. Tucker has provided versatile defense and shooting this year.
  • Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel explores which Magic players will likely be with the team next season. The Magic have a young core consisting of Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter Jr., but the club will also have Jonathan Isaac returning from a two-season absence. In addition, former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz and former No. 6 pick Mohamed Bamba could also have roles with Orlando.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic conducts five different version of the lottery for the Wizards, speculating on which prospect the team would draft in each scenario. The NBA’s draft lottery will be held on Tuesday. Washington has a 13.9% chance at securing a top-four pick, but as Robbins notes, the team will likely have the No. 10 or No. 11 selection. The Wizards are coming off a disappointing season, finishing with the fourth-worst record in the East at 35-47.

Sixers Notes: Harden, Rivers, Green, Butler, Offseason

It has become clear over the course of the season – and especially in the playoffs – that the current version of James Harden isn’t the same one who earned the MVP award in 2018 with the Rockets, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, who suggests that recurring hamstring issues over the last couple years have slowed down the Sixers guard.

“Since we got him, everybody expected the Houston James Harden,” Sixers star Joel Embiid said on Thursday, after the team lost Game 6 to the Heat and was eliminated from the postseason. “But that’s not who he is anymore. He’s more of a play-maker.”

While it’s true that Harden is still an elite play-maker, he’s being paid like he’s also an elite scorer, with a $44.3MM salary this season and a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23.

There’s a belief in some league circles that Harden isn’t fully healthy and has bounce-back potential, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, according to Bontemps, the soon-to-be 33-year-old is viewed by many executives as more of a $25-30MM per year player than a superstar who should warrant a five-year, $270MM commitment this offseason.

During an ESPN appearance (video link), Amar’e Stoudemire, who saw Harden up close as a member of the Nets’ coaching staff this season, questioned the guard’s conditioning and advised the Sixers against offering a maximum-salary contract.

Harden, who will be eligible for a contract extension if he picks up his player option or a new free agent contract if he turns it down, suggested after Thursday’s loss that he would be open to taking less than his max, and an Eastern Conference scout who spoke to Bontemps said the 76ers would be wise to go that route.

“If there were any logic whatsoever, the answer (to giving him a max deal) would be no,” the scout said.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Asked after Thursday’s loss about his job security, head coach Doc Rivers defended his track record, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).I don’t worry about my job,” Rivers said. “I think I do a terrific job. If you don’t, then you should write it. I worked my butt off to get this team here. When I first got here, no one picked us to be anywhere. Again this year, the same thing.”
  • After leaving Game 6 due to a left knee injury, Sixers swingman Danny Green will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. There’s “significant concern” that Green’s injury is a serious one, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays.
    [UPDATE: Danny Green Diagnosed With Torn Left ACL, LCL]
  • Having eliminated the 76ers from the postseason, former Sixer Jimmy Butler rubbed salt in the wound, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, who notes that the Heat forward said in his postgame interview he wishes he were still playing with Embiid. On his way to the locker room after the game, Butler also referenced the 2019 offseason, when Philadelphia invested heavily in Tobias Harris as Butler departed for Miami. “Tobias Harris over me?!” Butler yelled, as captured by Miami’s WPLG Local 10 Sports (video link).
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype both preview the Sixers’ upcoming offseason, examining some of the biggest questions facing the franchise in the coming weeks and months.

Atlantic Notes: Reddish, Knicks, Williams, Maxey

Forward Cam Reddish has been at the Knicks’ training center over the past week and has started basketball activities, including light shooting, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Reddish, who was acquired by the Knicks from Atlanta in January, saw his season end prematurely in early March when he suffered a separated right shoulder. As a former first-round pick entering his fourth season, Reddish is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

In 15 games (14.3 MPG) with the Knicks, Reddish put up modest totals of 6.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG on .415/.258/.906 shooting.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The realistic goal for the Knicks to upgrade their roster is to put the pieces in place to trade for a top-level player, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. In terms of the draft, if the Knicks don’t move up in the lottery, Hollinger believes they ought to target Australian guard Dyson Daniels. Daniels who played in the G League has a pass-first mentality and the ability to guard multiple positions.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams is listed as questionable for Friday’s Game 6 against the Bucks, Jared Weiss tweets. Williams averaged 23.3 MPG in the first three games of the series but sat out the last two games.
  • Tyrese Maxey was surprised he slipped to No. 21 in the 2020 draft, the spot where the Sixers snapped him up, as he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. He thought he might go as high as No. 11 to the Spurs. He also thought the Magic at No. 15 and the Heat at No. 20 would take him. “Miami, Orlando and San Antonio. Those were the three teams I thought would draft me,” Maxey said. “When I started slipping, I was upset, but I kept reminding myself that my dream of getting drafted was coming true.”

Kyle Lowry Ruled Out For Thursday’s Game 6

Point guard Kyle Lowry has been ruled out for Thursday’s Game 6 between the Heat and Sixers, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Lowry will travel to Philadelphia tomorrow but won’t play in a potential series-clinching contest for Miami. He re-injured his left hamstring in Sunday’s Game 4 and missed Game 5 on Tuesday.

Put it this way, you don’t want to play with it,” Lowry said after Game 4, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “But we’re in a situation in the playoffs where we’re in a hostile environment, we’re in this together no matter what. Just trying to be out there for my guys, no matter what happens, no matter what the situation is.”

Lowry originally injured the hamstring during Game 3 of Miami’s first-round series against Atlanta and wasn’t able to return until Friday’s Game 3 at Philadelphia, a two-week absence. He played 25 minutes in his first game back, but went scoreless while missing all four of his shots from the field. He was on the court for 30 minutes Sunday, posting six points, three rebounds and seven assists on 3-of-10 shooting.

I appreciate him,” Jimmy Butler said. “We all do. The fact that he wants to play, he wants to compete, he knows our best chance of winning is with him on the floor. We understand that, but we also want our guy to be safe, man. We always have more than enough to win. We always say that. We do believe that.”

Although it would be disappointing for both Lowry and the Heat, Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues that Lowry shouldn’t risk further injury by playing again vs. the Sixers. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo have proven capable of handling additional responsibilities in Lowry’s absence, Vardon notes.

For our team, his versatility just really fits,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Oladipo. “His ability to guard multiple positions but also be able to organize a little bit, have that kind of experience and talent when Kyle is out — that could be devastating to some teams. (But) we have a lot of other guys that have been able to step up and Vic is one of them.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.