James Harden finally reported to Houston on Tuesday and is in the process of getting cleared to practice, but the former MVP still wants the Rockets to trade him.
Initial reports were that Harden wanted to reunite with Kevin Durant and be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. He has since informed the Rockets that he would be open to playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the list has now grown to four teams.
According to Charania, Harden also has the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks among his preferred trade destinations. The 76ers and Nets remain at the top of the list, but Harden has now told Houston he would be open to playing for the aforementioned four Eastern Conference contenders.
Harden is said to have had minimal contact with Houston’s front office in recent weeks, but he plans to remain professional and has spoken with assistant coach John Lucas.
Harden is under contract with the Rockets for two more seasons, so it is no surprise that they remain committed to smoothing things over with him unless another team blows them away with an offer. Charania reports that Houston has no interest in any offer from the Nets that does not include either Durant or Kyrie Irving. The same is true of the 76ers with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. While new Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has a close relationship with Harden, it does not sound like he wants to part with Simmons.
New Rockets coach Stephen Silas appears to be running out of patience with Harden. Silas told reporters he expected Harden to practice with Houston on Sunday, but that never happened. Harden spent the previous several days partying and attending a rapper’s birthday part in Atlanta.
Harden has yet to address the situation publicly, but some comments his mother made on social media recently seemed to confirm her son wants out of Houston. The growing list of preferred destinations is further evidence that Harden wants a change of scenery.
Photo: All-Pro Reels/Flickr via cc by-sa 2.0
The Miami Heat were able to lock up Goran Dragic for another two seasons, and that is very good news for all parties.
Dragic is getting a two-year contract with Miami for $37.4 million. The Heat went all-out to convey the message that they wanted Dragic to stay with the team. They put up posters and billboards all over Dragic’s home in Slovenia to show how much they wanted him.
Another person who wanted Dragic back badly was Butler. Dragic told the AP’s Tim Reynolds that Butler (half-seriously) threatened him with physical violence if he didn’t re-sign.
“Jimmy’s a tough guy. … I didn’t want him chasing my a–,” Dragic joked.
Crisis averted, because Dragic is back. And we wouldn’t put it past Butler to do everything possible to ensure Dragic returned.
The Heat have a lot to build upon from last season. The team only finished fifth in the East in the regular season, but they made a run to the NBA Finals. Dragic and Bam Adebayo got injured during the Finals, which changed things and even led to a controversial comment from Pat Riley.
With Dragic back, Miami can now continue to improve and see if they can break through for a championship.
The Miami Heat would need a historic comeback to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, and there are very few people who believe they have a chance of pulling it off. Erik Spoelstra insists the team is paying zero attention to the naysayers.
While meeting with reporters on Thursday, Spoelstra offered a great quote about the Heat’s mindset heading into Game 5 and facing elimination.
“We think it’s a really competitive series. We have a purpose for why we’re here — we’re competing for a title,” Spoelstra said. “It’s the first team to four wins. There’s a lot of different narratives out there. We don’t give a S-H-*-T what anybody else thinks.”
What else can he say? The Heat need to somehow rattle off three straight wins against a team that looks far superior to them. They weren’t expected to make the Finals to begin with, so they have been overcoming long odds for several weeks now. The only logical approach is to treat the Finals like a one-game series every time they touch the floor.
It’s worth noting that Spoelstra had a very similar quote about the Heat being down 2-0 in the series, and the team responded with a win in Game 3. He’s hoping for similar results on Friday night.
Following Jimmy Butler’s 40 point, 11 rebound, 13 assist masterpiece in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat looked poised to truly threaten the Los Angeles Lakers. But in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, Tyler Herro and the rest of the Heat learned there is no standing in the way of the King’s destiny.
By winning Game 4, the Lakers established a stronghold in the series, taking a 3-1 lead — an advantage LeBron James has never squandered before in his extensive playoff history. While the Heat, like seemingly every other basketball team in the world, don’t have an answer for the league’s most potent duo of James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ shooting and rebounding have been vital to their success.
The Miami Heat looked overmatched in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. As if that weren’t bad enough, many of the team’s top players suffered injuries during the 116-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Point guard Goran Dragic left in the second quarter with a foot injury and did not return.
He underwent X-rays on his foot. Initial reports say he suffered a torn plantar fascia, putting his status in question for the rest of the series.
Heat forward Bam Adebayo suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter and did not return. He got hurt on a collision with Dwight Howard.
Adebayo was termed to have a shoulder strain, though X-rays were negative.
Jimmy Butler rolled his ankle in the second quarter, though he still played a team-high 33 minutes.
Adebayo played 21 minutes and Dragic played just 15 minutes.
Dragic, Butler and Adebayo are the Heat’s three leading scorers and have led the team in minutes per game during the postseason. With the three of them hobbled, the Heat’s chances of coming back in the series are even more unlikely.
Duncan Robinson has played a huge role for the Miami Heat on their road to the NBA Finals, and it seems like even he never could have seen that coming.
Robinson, whose journey to the NBA is one of the best storylines of the postseason, played college basketball at Michigan after transferring there from Division III Williams in 2014. When he was a senior with the Wolverines during the 2017-18 season, the sharpshooter thought it would be wise to start thinking about life after basketball.
On Sunday, college basketball writer and podcaster Mark Titus, a former walk-on at Ohio State, shared a screenshot of some awesome messages he received from Robinson three years ago. Titus was working for The Ringer at the time, and Robinson was interested in sports media as a career. He reached out to Titus to pick his brain as part of a class assignment.
It’s a good thing Robinson stuck with playing.
Robinson went undrafted in 2018 and then signed a Summer League contract with the Heat. He has since worked his way up to the NBA roster and proven his worth. In a November game this season, Robinson set Heat records with seven three-pointers made in a quarter and eight in a half. He also tied a Heat record with 10 three-pointers in a game on Dec. 10, scoring a career high 34 points. Even in a season that was shortened by the coronavirus, Robinson shattered the Heat’s single-season record for three-pointers made with 270 this year.
Robinson has scored 20 or more points in multiple games during the postseason. He may not be commanding as much of the spotlight as one of his teammates, but the Heat are certainly glad he didn’t give up and try to find a job in sports media. Robinson will have plenty of time for that after he’s done raining three-pointers.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows his team has its hands full with the Miami Heat.
Ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals, Stevens had high praise for the Heat, comparing them to the peak Golden State Warriors in terms of their off-ball movement.
That obviously indicates serious concern, and understandably so. Miami dispatched the Milwaukee Bucks, the East’s top seed, in only five games.
The Heat will be the lower seed in the series. They’re definitely not feeling like underdogs, though. This is a supremely confident group, and the Celtics are going to have their hands full.
The Miami Heat are two wins away from pulling off an upset over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Losing the series would be tough for the Bucks to swallow, but the long-term impact of an early playoff exit could be even greater.
As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports phrased it, the Heat’s impressive showing thus far against Milwaukee could wind up being an excellent recruiting pitch. Miami has kept Giannis from exploding the same way the Toronto Raptors did in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. That’s one of the main reasons Goodwill was told by a source in the Orlando bubble that the Heat and Raptors are considered by many to be the frontrunners to sign Antetokounmpo if he becomes a free agent after next season.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has been outsmarted by his counterpart Erik Spoelstra in the first two games of the series. That, of course, is the same Erik Spoelstra who won championships with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He now appears to be getting the most out of Jimmy Butler, and that track record has to impress Antetokounmpo.
Giannis has said all of the right things about wanting to stay in Milwaukee, and the Bucks will be able to offer him an astronomical amount of money this offseason. However, it is no secret that Giannis wants to win, and many have speculated that he will be more likely to leave Milwaukee if the Bucks come up short this season.
A lot can change in the span of a few games, and the Bucks certainly aren’t dead and buried yet. Antetokounmpo may have to make an uncomfortable adjustment for Milwaukee to turn things around. If the Bucks do end up losing the series, the possibility of Giannis leaving Milwaukee will become an even more popular discussion.
The referees in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat butchered the ending with a pair of foul calls.
The Heat won the game 116-114 after Jimmy Butler made two free throws with no time left to take a 2-0 series lead.
Miami was up 114-111 when Goran Dragic was called for a questionable foul on Khris Middleton with 4.3 seconds left. Dragic barely touched Middleton, but the foul call nevertheless resulted in three free throws for the Bucks forward.
Middleton made all three to tie the game.
Then Miami gave the ball to Butler for the final possession. He attempted a shot at the buzzer that missed, but the refs called a foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The foul sent Butler to the line with 0.0 seconds left. He made both his free throws to give his team a 116-114 win.
In both cases, barely any contact was made, and a foul probably should not have been called. The foul called on Antetokounmpo can be seen as a makeup call for the foul on Dragic that gave Milwaukee an opportunity to tie the game.
The Heat are up 2-0 in the series with Game 3 coming on Friday in Orlando, Fla.
After dismantling inferior opponents in the first round, the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat are primed to deliver one of the most entertaining second-round series this postseason. The Bucks finished atop the Eastern Conference for the second straight season, leading many to believe they are poised for their first Finals appearance since NBA-legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1974 MVP season.
Out of all their intraconference adversaries, the Heat present one of the most formidable challenges for Milwaukee. While regular-season results hold less merit in playoff matchups, it’s worth noting that Miami was the only team from the East to post a winning record against the Bucks this season. Although the sample size from the regular season was limited to three matchups, those games provided both teams with a blueprint for winning their playoff duel.
Ranking third and sixth respectively in total three-pointers made this year, the Bucks and Heat rely on the long ball for a substantial portion of their offense. The winner of the three-point line will be a significant determining factor in the series’s outcome, but how each team generates its looks from deep will be even more crucial.
The Heat and Bucks have both done outstanding jobs surrounding their superstar players with the right role players to maximize their strengths. Each team has adopted their star player’s playing style, resulting in two teams with opposed basketball ideologies.
For Milwaukee, that means an up-tempo brand of basketball that allows Giannis Antetounkmpo to fly through defenses in transition on his way to the rim. Miami and Jimmy Butler prefer a more methodical pace as they slowly dissect the weaknesses in their opposition. Controlling the pace will be crucial in a battle that pins the fastest team in the NBA in Milwaukee, against the third-slowest, Miami.