Kevin Love

Sixers’ Tyrese Maxey Wins 2023/24 Sportsmanship Award

After being named the league’s Most Improved Player last month, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has added another 2023/24 award to his trophy case, having been voted the Sportsmanship Award winner for this season as well, the NBA announced in a press release (Twitter links).

The Sportsmanship Award has been presented annually since ’95/96 and “honors a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court.”

According to the NBA, each team nominated one of its players. The 30-player list was then trimmed down to six — one player from each division — by a panel of league executives. Finally, current players voted on the six finalists.

As the full voting results show, Maxey received the most first-place votes and most total points, making him the winner. Heat big man Kevin Love was the runner-up, followed by (in order) Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, and Spurs point guard Tre Jones.

The 21st overall pick of the 2020 draft, Maxey will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. After his excellent performances this season, there’s no doubt that the 23-year-old will return to the 76ers.

Heat Notes: Wright, Offseason Decisions, Butler, Draft

The Heat’s season ended in an appropriate way Wednesday night — with another new starting lineup. Injuries have forced coach Erik Spoelstra to juggle his rotations since training camp, and he unveiled his 37th starting unit in Game 5 at Boston, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Rookie Jaime Jaquez was unavailable because of a hip injury he suffered in Game 4 and Spoelstra didn’t want to start Duncan Robinson, who has been limited by a back condition since late in the regular season, so veteran guard Delon Wright made the first playoff start of his career. Wright provided eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes, but he had to leave the game briefly to get stitches in his lower lip and chin after being hit by an elbow.

In addition to Jaquez, Miami was without Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson, who all missed the entire series due to injuries. However, Spoelstra refused to use that as an excuse, Chiang tweets.

“We’re not going to put this on the fact that we had some injuries,” Spoelstra said. “Let’s not take anything away from Boston. They’ve been the best team in basketball all season long.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • The early playoff exit leaves the franchise with a long offseason and a lot of financial decisions ahead, Chiang adds. Part of the future will be determined by player options held by Caleb Martin ($7.1MM), Kevin Love ($4MM), Richardson ($3.1MM) and Thomas Bryant ($2.8MM). Orlando Robinson has a non-guaranteed $2.1MM contract for next season, while Wright, Haywood Highsmith and Patty Mills are all headed for unrestricted free agency.
  • Miami faces a difficult decision on Jimmy Butler, who will become extension-eligible this summer, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes in his offseason preview for the Heat. Butler will make $48.8MM next season and holds a $52.4MM player option for 2025/26. Beginning July 7, he can sign a one-year extension worth $58.6MM, which would retain his ’25/26 salary, or a two-year, $112.9MM extension that would void the player option. Marks points out that Butler will turn 35 during the offseason and hasn’t topped 65 games in any of the last four years.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines the Heat’s options in this year’s draft. Players who could still be on the board when Miami picks at No. 15 include Purdue center Zach Edey, Duke power forward/center Kyle Filipowski, Providence guard Devin Carter, Colorado forward Tristan Da Silva, Duke point guard Jared McCain, Baylor center Yves Missi, Kansas small forward Kevin McCullar Jr., Baylor swingman Ja’Kobe Walter, USC point guard Isaiah Collier and Illinois shooting guard Terrence Shannon Jr.

Kevin Love Says He’s Not Ready To Retire

A recent TNT report (video link) indicated that Kevin Love might be considering retirement, but the Heat big man clarified today that he’s not ready to end his career, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

Chris Haynes relayed the story of a team meeting after the Game 3 loss to the Celtics in which Bam Adebayo “challenged his teammates to bring it.” One of the players who spoke up was Love, who according to Haynes, told the locker room, “Listen guys, I don’t know how much more basketball I have left in me. So we cannot go out like this.” Haynes added that Love’s comments “resonated” with everyone on the team and helped them put the series in perspective.

Speaking to reporters after this morning’s shootaround, Love explained that the meeting actually happened several weeks ago and he didn’t mean to imply that his retirement is imminent.

“I said we have to take advantage of this opportunity and this situation because whether you’re [Nikola Jovic], and you have who knows how many left, or you’re myself, who also doesn’t know how many he has left, we got to take advantage of this,” Love said. “It could be one more year. It could be two years, three years, four years, five years. But the truth is you just don’t really know. You could miss the playoffs. You could get beat in the first round, second round, third round. Like no matter what it is, that was more like what I was saying, is we need to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Love, 35, is in his 16th NBA season and his first full year with Miami. He has a $4MM player option for next season and although he didn’t indicate whether he intends to exercise it, he made it clear that he plans to be in the league somewhere.

Chiang notes that Love’s minutes have been limited during the first-round series because of matchup problems with Boston. He was a useful backup during the regular season, appearing in 55 games and averaging 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 16.8 minutes per night.

After coming to Miami in February 2023 following a buyout with Cleveland, Love became part of the Heat’s rotation and had a consistent role during their run to the NBA Finals. He explained that his speech was intended to create the same mindset that led to last year’s playoff success.

“I think my message to the guys was like, ‘Take advantage of the time we have together,’” Love said. “Even last year, too, I felt like we did that and that run is something that will stick out in my mind forever. I think it will for all Heat fans and players who were a part of it.”

Heat Notes: Butler, Rozier, Love, Martin, Wright

The Heat are trying not to focus on being shorthanded as they look for a way to upset the top-seeded Celtics, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. An already difficult task is being made even harder by the absence of starters Jimmy Butler, who sprained his MCL during a play-in game, and Terry Rozier, who has been sidelined with neck issues. In addition, Duncan Robinson has been limited by a lingering back injury he suffered late in the season.

“We have our guys, we have enough to get the job done,” coach Erik Spoelstra insisted after a 20-point loss in Game 3. “We understand the challenge and that’s what our competitors love about this series. We know we have to play hard and we also have to play well.”

Butler and Rozier have already been ruled out for tonight’s Game 4. Spoelstra told reporters on Sunday that Rozier is considered “day to day,” but no timetable has been set for his return. Butler was projected to miss “several weeks” after getting hurt on April 17, but he sounded optimistic in an interview with TNT’s Chris Haynes during Saturday’s game.

“I don’t know about a timeline, but we’ve been working,” Butler said. “I want to hoop. I want to get out here. I want some of this.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Spoelstra appears to be pivoting away from Kevin Love, who is facing a bad matchup against Boston, Chiang adds. The veteran big man, who was limited to one four-minute stretch in Game 3, is minus-24 in his 23 minutes of action in the series. “I was looking for a spark once we were down 20,” Spoelstra said in explaining the decision to bench Love. “This is not an indictment on anybody. Things move fast in a playoff series.”
  • Caleb Martin plans to “just be assertive and not be passive” tonight after he followed a 21-point Game 2 with five points on four shots in Game 3, Chiang states in a separate story. Martin, who starred against Boston in last year’s conference finals, said he needs to look to score more often. “I think there were sometimes I passed up shots,” he said. “I felt like I was trying to get the ball moving a little bit more, being a little bit less aggressive in letting it go. So that’s on me. I can’t be as passive. I got to let the ball go.”
  • Delon Wright, who missed Game 3 for the birth of a baby girl, has returned to the team and will be on the active roster tonight, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Heat Notes: D. Robinson, Love, Rozier, Jovic, Adebayo

Duncan Robinson has been dealing with a back issue for several weeks, but he’s been cleared for the Heat’s play-in game tonight at Philadelphia, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The team’s medical staff made the decision after watching Robinson in warm-ups, and coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed it in a pregame session with reporters.

“He’s ready to go,” Spoelstra said. “It definitely won’t be what he was doing earlier in the season, that’s for sure. But it’s pretty simple right now – the rotation is the rotation. It’s all hands on deck.”

Kevin Love will also be available after missing the second half of Sunday’s game with an arm contusion. Love, who had also been dealing with an ankle injury, explained that the decision on Sunday was just a precaution.

“Arm’s not an issue, ankle’s not an issue,” he said. “I’m ready to go. So turn the page on the regular season and now we’ve got some work to do. … We were up 21 at half, so it just made sense for me to focus on this. But I feel good and I think that extra day helped.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Terry Rozier didn’t travel with the team to Philadelphia after missing the last four games of the regular season with neck spasms, Winderman adds. Team officials aren’t certain when Rozier might be able to return. “He’s been making a lot of progress,” Spoelstra said. “He’s not ready to play in an NBA playoff-level game right now. But I’m encouraged, we’re encouraged. I feel for him. He’s such a competitor. I know how badly he wants to be out here for these kind of moments that I’m talking about. But we’ll continue to treat him and see how he feels.”
  • Nikola Jovic only logged 13 total postseason minutes during Miami’s run to the Finals last season, but he’ll have a much larger role this time around, Winderman states in a separate story. The second-year power forward has claimed a spot in the starting lineup, bringing more versatility to the Heat’s frontcourt. “This is his opportunity,” Bam Adebayo said. “He’s being aggressive. He’s figuring out how to space the floor, how to cut, really read the game. It’s one of those things, you get enough minutes, that game starts to slow down for you. And I feel like it’s slowed down for him a lot. He’s making it hard not to play him. He sets the tone every night. He makes plays. He makes the right play. He gives those extra efforts that we need.”
  • Adebayo’s selection to the U.S. Olympic team gives him the chance to become the first player to win multiple gold medals as a member of the Heat, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo captured gold in Tokyo in 2021.

Heat Notes: Herro, Starting Five, Defense, Love, Bryant, More

While Thursday’s loss to the Sixers was a disappointing one, the Heat had a good day on Friday, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, as Tyler Herro returned following a 20-game absence and scored 17 points in a convincing, much-needed victory over Houston.

“It’s just great to have him back,” Erik Spoelstra said of Herro. “His head coach didn’t forget what he brings to the table. That skill level, the creativity, the speed, the quickness, all that stuff is what we need.”

Herro came off the bench for the first time this season in his return to the court, as the Heat stuck with a starting lineup of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Terry Rozier, Duncan Robinson, and Nikola Jovic. No five-man unit has started more games (13) or played more minutes together (170) for Miami this season than that one.

However, the results for that group have been mixed, as Chiang observes, with a -4.9 overall net rating, so Spoelstra won’t necessarily feel the need to stick with it now that the team is healthier. Herro had started 103 consecutive regular season games prior to Friday — it could just be a matter of time before he returns to the starting lineup.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat had another strong night defensively on Friday, according to Chiang, who wrote earlier this week about the way the team has been performing on that end of the court during the second half. Since January 30, the Heat rank second in the NBA (and first in the East) in defensive rating and have now moved up to No. 4 for the season. “It’s been a goal all season to get to top five and stay top five,” Caleb Martin said. “So it’s good that it’s starting to come around at the right time. I think that we always understand when it really comes down to it, that’s our ticket to winning the game, whether that’s in the playoffs or getting in a position to where we don’t have to worry about the play-in.”
  • Kevin Love, who has been back in the Heat’s rotation for the past three contests after missing 16 games due to a heel injury, went out of his way this week to praise his replacement, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “You got to tip your hat to TB (Thomas Bryant). He’s been playing awesome,” Love said. Bryant has been a DNP-CD in the three games Love has played, but earned praise from Spoelstra as well for the minutes he gave the club during Love’s absence: “It takes a professional like Thomas to have an understanding of that, this is what depth is all about. And obviously we’ve used all of our depth. But the depth becomes more complex when you have more guys available. He really gave us such tremendous minutes the last six weeks when Kevin was out.”
  • Haywood Highsmith didn’t open the season as a regular rotation player for Miami, but has become a trusted contributor and played nearly 27 minutes on Friday even with Herro back and the roster relatively healthy. “He’s so inspiring right now,” Spoelstra said this week, per Winderman. “He just continues to grind, continues to work, continues to get better. And he just does all the little things for our team, to help you win. You need players like this to win in this league.” Highsmith will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension by June 30.
  • While the Sioux Falls Skyforce were eliminated from the G League playoffs on Friday, the Heat’s NBAGL affiliate earned a pair of end-of-season awards earlier in the day. Two-way player Alondes Williams, who was the runner-up for the G League’s MVP award, was named the NBAGL Most Improved Player (Twitter link), while Skyforce general manager Eric Amsler was the league’s Executive of the Year (Twitter link).

NBA Announces Finalists For Sportsmanship, Teammate Of The Year Awards

The NBA announced the 2023/24 finalists for a pair of awards on Tuesday, naming the six players who are eligible to win the Sportsmanship Award for this season, as well as the 12 players who are in the running for Teammate of the Year honors.

The Sportsmanship Award honors the player who “best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court,” per the NBA. Each of the league’s 30 teams nominated one of its players for the award, then a panel of league executives narrows that group to six finalists (one from each division) and current players voted for the winner.

The trophy for the Sportsmanship Award is named after Joe Dumars, the Hall-of-Fame guard who won the inaugural award back in ’95/96. This season’s finalists are as follows (via Twitter):

None of this year’s finalists for the Sportsmanship Award have earned the honor in the past, so the 2023/24 winner will be a first-timer. Mike Conley won the award last year for a record fourth time.

Meanwhile, the NBA also announced its finalists for the Teammate of the Year award for 2023/24. According to the league, the player selected for the honor is “deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.”

The voting process is similar to the Sportsmanship Award — a panel of league executives selects 12 finalists (six from each conference) for the award, then current players vote on the winner.

Like Conley with the Sportsmanship Award, last season’s Teammate of the Year – Jrue Holiday – has the record for most times winning the award (three), but isn’t among the finalists for 2023/24. Of this season’s 12 finalists, the only one to take home the award in the past is Conley, who claimed it in 2019.

The Teammate of the Year finalists finalists are as follows (via Twitter):

Heat Notes: Play-In, Rotation, Jaquez, Butler, Martin

The Heat are facing a “make-or-break” week if they want to avoid the play-in tournament, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. As Chiang writes, the Heat have gone just 17-24 this season against teams with winning records, and they face four such opponents this week: New York, Philadelphia, Houston and Indiana.

It will be the best to simulate how the playoffs are going to be,” guard Terry Rozier said. “This is a great four-game stretch, but we got to take it one game at a time. The Knicks we play next, we got to worry about that one and get that one at home and protect home court.”

How Miami fares this week will have a direct impact on competitive playoff races in both conferences, Chiang observes. The No. 7 Heat are currently sandwiched between the No. 6 Pacers and No. 8 Sixers in the East’s standings. If the Heat win those two games, they’ll also clinch the head-to-head tiebreakers over both clubs, but Indiana would hold the tiebreaker if it beats Miami on Sunday (if Philadelphia defeats Miami, the tiebreaker would likely be determined by conference record, Chiang notes).

Here are a few more notes out of Miami:

  • With Duncan Robinson and Kevin Love back from injuries, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the Heat’s rotation will likely be fluid as the postseason nears, Chiang adds in another story for The Miami Herald. “Here’s what the rotation is: whatever it takes,” Spoelstra said. “That’s where we are. We made this bed, where we are right now. Because of all the moving parts, everybody right now, it’s easy. You just be ready for your minutes, contribute in a positive way and help impact winning. That’s all it’s about right now. Everybody has signed up for that, everybody is bought into that.”
  • The “biggest challenge” of Jaime Jaquez‘s rookie campaign has been the NBA’s 82-game schedule, he told Chiang. While he’s having a very strong season overall, Jaquez’s production has dipped over the past few months, in part because he has been double-teamed at times when he catches the ball in the mid-post, according to Chiang. “I take it as a sign of respect,” said Jaquez, who was taken by the Heat with the 18th overall pick in last year’s draft following a four-year college career at UCLA. “Guys got to worry about me now. That’s what you want as a player. Now my next step is how do I adjust to the new coverages that I see and how I can make the right play.”
  • The Heat will need a more aggressive version of Jimmy Butler in order to have a shot at another deep playoff run, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Over his past four games, Buter is averaging just 8.3 shot attempts and 14.3 points per game, far below his season averages of 13.4 and 21.0, respectively. Still, each of those four games was lopsided, and Butler missed a game last week with an illness, Winderman notes.
  • In a mailbag column, Winderman wonders if Caleb Martin will be given the team’s most challenging defensive assignments in the postseason. Winderman also takes stock of which players might be pushed out of the rotation as the team gets healthier, with Patty Mills and Delon Wright likely to be on the outside looking in.

Injury Notes: Heat, C. Johnson, J. Brown, Warriors

While Tyler Herro (foot) remains sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Washington and Caleb Martin (ankle) will also be unavailable, the Heat are getting a little healthier overall.

As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes, Kevin Love was available on Friday after missing 14 games due to a heel injury, but he wasn’t needed in a 60-point blowout of Portland, so head coach Erik Spoelstra opted to give him another day off.

Love will be active on Sunday and Duncan Robinson appears to be on track to return from a five-game absence due to a back ailment. According to the team (Twitter link), Robinson has been listed as probable to play vs. the Wizards.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets wing Cameron Johnson, who has missed three straight games due to a sprained left big toe, was upgraded to questionable for the club’s game vs. the Lakers on Sunday, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. It looks like there’s a good chance Johnson will be available for at least one end of Brooklyn’s back-to-back set on Sunday and Monday against L.A. and Indiana, respectively.
  • Celtics star Jaylen Brown said after Saturday’s win in New Orleans that his left hand has been bothering him as of late and that he plans to get it “looked at” when the team returns home after playing in Charlotte on Monday (Twitter link via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe). Brown hasn’t missed any time as a result of the injury, but this would be the time to give him a game off if it’s needed, since Boston has already clinched the top seed in the East.
  • The Warriors, in the thick of a race for a play-in spot, were missing Jonathan Kuminga (knee) and Klay Thompson (knee) on Friday in Charlotte (Twitter links via Kendra Andrews of ESPN). Both players are considered day-to-day and have been listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest in San Antonio.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Bey, Ball, Clifford, Heat

The Hawks’ surprise comeback victory against the Celtics on Monday served as testament, in part, to the growth of Atlanta’s developing young backups, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Hawks ultimately bested a top-seeded Boston team 120-118 after trailing by as many as 30 points. That marks the biggest rally in the league across the past 26 years. Williams notes that backups Vit Krejci and Bruno Fernando served as key pieces in the victory. The duo played big roles in part as a result of injuries to Bey, Jalen Johnson, Onyeka Okongwu and All-Star Trae Young.

“I mean, it’s a next-man mentality,” Krejci said. “We got a couple guys out. But we still believe that with the roster we have, right now, we can compete with anybody.”

The Hawks followed Monday’s victory up with a 120-106 win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday and a 123-122 overtime victory over the Celtics tonight. Atlanta now finds itself in the midst of a four-game win streak. At 34-39, the team sits just one game behind the 35-38 Bulls for the East’s ninth seed.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks small forward Saddiq Bey‘s surgery on his torn left ACL on Thursday was a success, Atlanta has announced (Twitter link). The Hawks reveal that Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York conducted the procedure, and that Bey will stay in New York for an estimated 10 days.
  • Star Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball was ruled out for the season earlier today due to his lingering right ankle ailment, which is especially bittersweet given his impressive play prior to that injury, writes Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer. His 23.9 PPG and 1.8 SPG this year represented career highs, as did his 8.3 made field goals and 4.1 converted free throws. “I want to say the last nine games he played, he was top-five in scoring, top-five in assists and I think top two or three in crunch time scoring and crunch time assists,” head coach Steve Clifford said. “I think it was easy to get excited about and it’s also something he can build on… Look, injuries are a part of this league and, again, all I know is he’s been incredibly diligent. So, it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the way it’s worked out.” The injury-prone Ball, whose maximum rookie-scale salary extension kicks in next season, has only played more than 51 games in a season once, during his lone All-Star year in 2021/22.
  • Several key Heat contributors could be back on the floor for the team soon, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Starting shooting guard Tyler Herro put in a shooting workout after practice on Thursday as he continues to gradually recuperate from his right foot medial tendinitis. “We don’t have a timeline [for a comeback], but yeah it’s definitely encouraging that he’s able to get on the wood and start to get ready,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Herro, who has missed 16 straight games since February 23. Reserve floor-spacing center Kevin Love has seen his status for Friday’s matchup with the lottery-bound Trail Blazers improved to probable as he continues to work his way back from a bruised right heel. Star swingman Jimmy Butler is also considered probable to return after sitting out the team’s Tuesday loss to the Heat with an illness.