Miami Heat News: Heat Waive Forward Khem Birch

Shocking.
The Miami Heat have decided to waive power forward Khem Birch instead of shooting guard Andre Dawkins to trim its roster size to the league allowable maximum of 15 players.
The Miami Heat waived C/PF Khem Birch out of UNLV.
— Jorge Sedano (@SedanoESPN) October 25, 2014
Looks like Duke SG Andre Dawkins could stick with Heat — Jorge Sedano (@SedanoESPN) October 25, 2014

The move is very surprising because of the Heat’s lack of rebounding prowess and inside presence, especially with Miami’s newfound backup shooting guard in Mario Chalmers.
Birch averaged 16.9 minutes in six games and was able to pull down 5.5 rebounds and block 1.17 shots per game. His rebounding average was second best on the team, while he led the Heat in blocked shots. In my opinion, Birch was exactly the type of player the Heat needed: a nitty, gritty blue-collared type of player that could help the team without having to touch the basketball.
Apparently the Heat organization didn’t see that, as they fou…

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Klay Thompson Contract: News Updates and Rumors on Negotiations with Warriors

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson has been a huge part of the team’s offense, but it appears contract talks have stalled between the two sides.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo reported the latest on the contract situation for Thompson:

Klay Thompson’s camp is frustrated that the Golden State Warriors haven’t offered a maximum contract in their ongoing extension talks with Friday’s deadline nearing, sources told Yahoo Sports.

Thompson is seeking a maximum deal paying upward of $15 million per season, a source said. The Warriors have improved their offer to get in the vicinity but have not offered a full maximum contract, sources said. 

Entering his fourth year with the Warriors, Thompson posted career highs last season with 18.4 points and 2.2 assists along with 3.1 rebounds. If the two sides don’t come to an agreement by Oct. 31, he will become a restricted free agent, per Spears.

In response to questions about a potential contract, Thompson told reporters on Friday (per Spears), “As far as contract stuff, I try not to worry about it, because then it will affect your game. I’ll just go out there and do what I do, and I know it will take care of itself.”

The other half of the “Splash Brothers” along with Stephen Curry, Thompson has lived up to his words in the preseason. Prior to the start of the regular season, the guard put up 35 points against the Denver Nuggets by way of four three-pointers.

Ethan Strauss of ESPN.com noted the great preseason numbers for Thompson:

All of this talk for Thompson of course comes after an eventful offseason for the young player. In the midst of Kevin Love trade talks, Thompson’s name was thrown around before eventually staying in Golden State.

It’s clear that the Warriors value having Thompson in the backcourt, but how much exactly? Thompson wants a max contract, but if Golden State doesn’t offer the deal prior to Halloween, they might see a bright young star slip away.

Given his value to the team and his potential after another great season, Thompson has a bright career ahead of him. Whether that’s with the Warriors remains to be seen.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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Lakers News: Steve Nash’s Season-Ending Injury Creates Big Role for Jeremy Lin

Entering the last year of his current contract, Jeremy Lin has been given a massive opportunity to woo any potential suitors, albeit due to some unfortunate circumstances.

According to a league source cited by Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, incumbent starting point guard and future Hall of Famer Steve Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season as a result of nerve damage in his back.

It’s a shame to see Nash, one of the most enjoyable players on the planet during the last decade, likely end his marvelous career on such a sour note, but as Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix noted, this makes it Lin’s time to step up:

Whether he indeed enters the starting lineup or comes off the bench in favor of the more defensively minded Ronnie Price (as he has the last two preseason games), Lin is going to receive north of 30 minutes per game.

Despite dealing with an ankle injury throughout preseason, Lin has already earned praise from a pair of Los Angeles Lakers legends.

Magic Johnson recently applauded the fifth-year point guard’s ability to create offense off the dribble:

Kobe Bryant, via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram, echoed that sentiment: “Jeremy makes a huge difference…creating shots for others. We’ve got somebody else who can penetrate, make plays for others and put pressure on the defense. It’s a really big difference.”

Going back to the days of “Linsanity,” the 26-year-old’s best attribute has always been his ability to collapse a defense. However, he has improved as a shooter. Last year with the Rockets, he set career highs in three-point percentage (35.8), three-pointers made per 36 minutes (1.4) and true-shooting percentage (57.2).

Especially while Nick Young is sidelined, the Lake Show need a consistent second option on offense behind Bryant. Lin, who has played well as both a scorer and distributor in the preseason, is now the clear candidate to fill that role.

Of course, while Lin is important to the Lakers’ success, the reverse is also true. If Lin wants to take that next step as an individual player, there’s really no better way to do it than spending an entire season in the same backcourt as Bryant.

Lin has already talked about learning from the 16-time All-Star, via Sports Out West’s Bob Garcia and Lakers Nation’s Serena Winters:

While news of Nash’s season-ending injury is disheartening, positives will emerge from it. A larger role for Lin is chief among those.

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Miami Heat News: Heat Cut Tyler Johnson, Shawn Jones, and Larry Drew II

The Miami Heat roster now stands at 16 players.
Early Thursday morning the Heat got closer to their final opening night roster — which must be trimmed to a maximum of 15 players — by releasing Tyler Johnson, Shawn Jones, and Larry Drew II. The release of Larry Drew II was expected as the Heat’s intentions were to sign and release him in order to assign him to their D-League affiliate team the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
On the other hand, forward Shawn Jones didn’t seem like he was particularly ready for the NBA level. In 16.5 minutes of play through four games, Jones only averaged 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds and evidently did not impress the Heat organization. Jones is very nitty gritty, however, he will need to be developed further before he’s ready for a NBA team.
The most surprising cut out of the three has to be shooting guard Tyler Johnson. Although a bit out of control at times, Johnson’s athleticism and raw talent were clearly there as he would have been the perfect player to deve…

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Lakers News: Latest Updates on Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and More

The 2014 NBA preseason is quickly coming to a close, and it looks like the Los Angeles Lakers will still be working out quite a few kinks well into the regular season, which begins for the Purple and Gold on Oct. 28 against the Houston Rockets.

Head coach Byron Scott has preached defense all summer long, but the Lakers have put in some shambolic performances on that end of the court during exhibition play. 

Scott hasn’t had much of a chance to put together his optimal lineups due to a litany of injuries and some strategic handling of his aging stars, not to mention an excess of players looking to latch onto this historic organization.

With all eyes set on the regular season, the Lakers’ health and roster shape are the focus of this latest news roundup.

 

Kobe Bryant Sits Out Final Exhibition Games

According to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Jovan Buha, Scott has elected to sit Bryant for the Lakers’ remaining preseason games.

“I just think he needs some rest,” Scott said on Wednesday, via Buha. “I think he’s shown me enough. I think we’re all pretty happy with where he is.

Sure enough, Bryant was on the bench for the Lakers’ 94-86 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. In six preseason games, Bryant has averaged 19.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per contest.

The Lakers have just one more preseason game left in 2014, an Oct. 24 matchup against the Sacramento Kings.

Fans were treated to some vintage play from Bryant in the Lakers’ 114-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. The Black Mamba poured in 27 points and shot 50 percent from the field. His fadeaway jumper looked sublime and was his go-to move in one-on-one situations.

Bryant’s health is essential to the Lakers’ chances of success this season. His scoring abilities are hardly in doubt, but putting in the hard work on defense every night will take a lot out of him.

Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy noted that general managers around the league still consider Bryant one of the toughest players around:

That doesn’t necessarily mean they still fear his defensive prowess, but it does speak to his importance to the Lakers from both a performance and perception standpoint.

The team will almost certainly be counting on their talismanic guard to work for more than 26 minutes a night, making any early rest that much more important. Scott is wise not to take any further chances with his superstar. Bryant doesn’t have anything left to prove in the preseason.

 

Xavier Henry Seeks Treatment for Knee Injury

One player whom Scott would really like to have back in a defensive stance is small forward Xavier Henry. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to suit up for the Lakers as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in December 2013.

In an effort to return to the hardwood as soon as possible, Henry is seeking out some advanced treatment. ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes has the story:

In the coming days, the 23-year-old will travel to New York City to see Dr. Keith Pyne for a second opinion. Then Henry will travel to Dusseldorf, Germany, to receive Regenokine treatment from Dr. Jens Hartmann.

Kobe Bryant has had similar Regonkine treatments several times in his career. The noninvasive procedure involves blood being removed from his knee and spun in a centrifuge before doctors create a serum that is then injected back in the knee to fight off proteins and molecules that cause inflammation.

Henry’s absence from play might have been lost in the shuffle considering how many other Lakers have dealt with injuries this offseason. ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi noted the Lakers had seven players out for their Oct. 21 contest against the Utah Jazz:

Henry’s wingspan, hustle and athleticism make him a valuable asset on defense. It’s certainly disconcerting that an entire offseason of rehab hasn’t resulted in a healthy Henry. Guard Nick Young is recovering from a torn thumb ligament, which means the Lakers could be relying heavily on Wesley Johnson out on the wing to start the season.

Henry played in just 43 games last season because of this knee injury. It’s a long absence from competitive basketball, which could severely limit his effectiveness when he does return to the lineup.

 

Lakers Waive Two Players

If the regular season weren’t right around the corner, one would think the Lakers couldn’t afford to trim players from the roster with so many sitting courtside in street clothes and spending more time on the trainer’s table than on the hardwood.

Alas, cuts have to be made as teams excise the expendables in preparation for the games that count. On Tuesday general manager Mitch Kupchak waived two fringe players, point guard Keith Appling and center Jeremy Tyler, according to a report from NBA.com.

Neither player had much of a chance at securing a spot on the regular-season roster. 

The Lakers already have a deep reserve of frontcourt players, especially at center. Jordan Hill looks set to start at that position, with Robert Sacre and Ed Davis rotating in at the 5-spot. In fact, Scott recently stated that Davis will be playing center and center only to start the season, per Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. This left no need for Tyler on the roster.

Appling, a point guard, suffered a shoulder injury in the Lakers’ second preseason game and hardly played, per Pincus. The Lakers already have floor generals in Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash and rookie Jordan Clarkson.

Should Nash struggle with injuries this season, Appling could be one of the first names Kupchak looks up in his Rolodex due to his (admittedly brief) time spent with the team this fall.

These cuts leave the likes of Ronnie Price, Roscoe Smith, Jabari Brown and Wayne Ellington to fight for the final spots on the roster.

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Durant rolls into news conference on scooter

The Oklahoma City star is recovering from foot surgery.

      
 

 

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Miami Heat News: Heat Sign Larry Drew II

The Miami Heat front office have decided to add point guard Larry Drew II, son of Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Larry Drew, Sr. Drew appeared in 11 games with the Heat during the Orlando and Vegas Summer Leagues where he averaged 4.4 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals while shooting 50 percent from the three-point line.
Drew also spent considerable time in the D-League last season as he helped guide the Sioux Falls Skyforce to the playoffs. He appeared in 41 regular season games, including 36 starts, and averaged 11.4 points and 7.0 assists while shooting 47.4 percent from the field.
Since NBA teams are allowed to designate four players released from their training camp for direct assignment to their D-League affiliates, it is expected that Drew will be waived and added to the Heat’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Drew is not expected to be in uniform for the Heat’s final two preseason matchups beginning with the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.

The po…

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Lakers News: Rounding Up Latest Buzz Surrounding Point Guard Position

The Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to rebound from the worst season in franchise history, and as we saw last season, the team’s health will play a crucial role in that endeavor once again.

Things didn’t exactly begin in flawless fashion for the team in 2014, as Nick Young suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. Here’s a look at the cast he’s currently wearing on his shooting hand, courtesy of the LakersScene Instagram account:

While that injury is a bit unsettling for Lakers faithful, there’s more recent injury news that could potentially shake up the team’s starting lineup.

Veteran Steve Nash was once expected to start at the point guard position for the Lakers this season after an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign in which he only saw action in 15 games (10 starts). Well, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, the guard is still dealing with the same ailment:

Those injuries began to affect Nash’s status in the preseason. Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported the guard asked to be held out of Sunday’s contest against the Golden State Warriors.

With Nash already missing time on the floor, we’re already seeing shades of last season, and that’s not exactly comforting.

Luckily, the Lakers made a very smart decision to bring in Jeremy Lin over the offseason.

Since Lin arrived in Los Angeles, he’s taken on the role of Kobe Bryant‘s understudy and has been attempting to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the all-time great. During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Lin spoke of what he’s learned:

He cares about all the little things. It’s like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn’t ever think about it. Little stuff. I’m, like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s one way to look at it.’ He’s challenging me to expand my perspective. I think that’s really important, and that’s something that I love doing. It’s a blessing that he’s here in the same locker room.

It’s apparent that Lin is improving under Bryant’s tutelage. Through two preseason games, he’s scored 15 points, accumulated 14 assists, seven boards and just two turnovers. He’s handling the ball better than he ever has, and he’s shown the ability to facilitate effectively.

Perhaps those performances is all head coach Byron Scott needed to see, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported a potential switch on the depth chart:

That may be a brilliant decision. While Nash (when healthy) is a great option due to his lengthy experience, ability to see the floor and skill at creating shots for his teammates, a role on the bench could be very beneficial in regards to maintaining his health throughout the season.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News spoke with the guard and tweeted what he had to say about a possible change in his role:

It certainly appears as though the writing is on the wall. Nash’s health continues to deteriorate, Lin has shown reasonable improvement over the offseason, and Scott is considering a switch at the position.

Bryant could wind up benefiting greatly from mentoring Lin, as it looks like he may be starting in the backcourt with his pupil this season.

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Why an MVP Season from Dirk Nowitzki Could Be Bad News for the Reloaded Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks are reloaded and ready to compete for Western Conference supremacy, adding Chandler Parsons and bringing back Tyson Chandler in the offseason.

What can we expect from Rick Carlisle’s team this year?

Richie Whitt of NBC5 Dallas joins Adam Lefkoe to play a game of over/under in the video above.

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Miami Heat News: Heat Cut Reggie Williams and Chris Johnson

The first casualties are in, and they’re not all that surprising. The Miami Heat cut veteran Reggie Williams and center Chris Johnson on Monday.
The cuts mean the Heat are down to 18 players with just five preseason games left. The team needs to trim its roster to a maximum of 15 players by October 27, just two days before its season opener versus the Washington Wizards.
Williams was expected to compete with Shannon Brown for the backup shooting guard spot behind Dwyane Wade, but he never established himself during training camp or the preseason. In the three games he was on the Heat’s roster, he didn’t receive a single minute of playing time. Considering the Heat’s lack of depth at the swingman positions, it was shocking that the veteran guard couldn’t even receive playing time in coach Erik Spoelstra’s lineups.
The five-year vet was signed by Miami on August 12. He’s a career 37 percent shooter from beyond the arc and had spent stints with three different teams prior to signing wi…

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