Photo: Nov 8, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) walks on the court after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat are now the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference, and the good news may not end there for them.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Heat guard Victor Oladipo was moving around well during a “vigorous” recent practice session, hitting jumpers and running without any visible limp. The report adds that it would not be a surprise if Oladipo returned at some point in February, which was the original expectation of the Heat.
While the Heat may have been anticipating Oladipo’s return, this news likely comes as an unexpected development to rival teams and especially to fans, many of whom might have forgotten that Oladipo was even on the Heat.
The two-time All-Star Oladipo continues to recover from right quadriceps tendon surgery last May, his second such procedure in a two-and-a-half year span. He re-signed with the Heat on a one-year deal this past offseason and has largely gone off the radar as he rehabs. One of the last updates we heard about Oladipo came back in September (though it was a fairly positive one).
The 30-17 Heat look formidable right now and have six players averaging double-digit points per game this season. Oladipo almost certainly cannot be expected to recapture his prior All-Star form. But his return would give Miami even more depth (and could make this potential trade candidate more expendable as well).
Photo: Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James seemed to lack situational awareness during Sunday’s game.
The Los Angeles Lakers played the Miami Heat, and James got loose on back to-back possessions in the second quarter for a dunk as well an and-one basket. After the and-one, James made a point of flexing his muscles and pounding his chest.
What that video does not show you though was the score at the time. The Lakers were trailing the Heat 68-48, even after both of James’ baskets. In other words, James was flexing while down 20. Check out another angle.
Bam Adebayo, who was on the receiving end of the two James baskets, eventually got him back in the fourth quarter. Adebayo swatted a James layup attempt into the first row, as James pleaded in vain for a foul.
To the Lakers’ credit, they did mount a late comeback and “only” lost by a 113-107 final score. But it still goes down as an L and drops the Lakers back under .500 on the season. On the bright side though, at least James was able to have his moment in front of the cameras.
The Heat’s radio play-by-play guy, Jason Jackson, responded to Johnson’s post with a barb about all of the technical and flagrant fouls that the Suns have racked up themselves this season.
I can help you here Eddie. #HEATCulture isn’t one thing & it isn’t everything. The ejection was frustration. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. You’re not proud OF ALL of your 14 techs and 2 flagrant fouls, and they don’t define you either. #HEATCulture is a way not a moment. https://t.co/0vwrnMy5rN
It seems pretty odd that the Suns announcer Johnson would diss the Heat when the two teams were not even playing each other on Wednesday. But he might still be salty from the the last Heat-Suns game on Jan. 8. Miami won that game, which was played in Phoenix, by a 123-100 final, despite not having Butler and Bam Adebayo against a full-strength Phoenix team.
After that game, Johnson went after a Miami fan who was bragging about the win on Twitter and talking about “Heat culture.”
“I would call it LBJ, Shaq, D Wade, Riley and Spoelstra Culture,” Johnson wrote at the time. “Too bad the late arriving fans to game who stay in [the] bar at halftime and then rip teams when they win about Heat culture on Twitter are not on board yet about the meaning of a culture!”
There is not much history otherwise between the Suns and the Heat. That makes this the biggest beef between the two sides not involving a mascot.
The Miami Heat are one of the best teams in the East this season at 28-16, but even they may be ready to cause a bit of chaos on the trade market.
Matt Moore of The Action Network reported on Wednesday that there is a belief around the league that the Heat could be open to trading sweet-shooting swingman Duncan Robinson.
Robinson just signed a new five-year, $90 million contract with Miami this past offseason. He has also been a staple in the Heat lineup over the last few seasons, emerging as one of the league’s top three-point threats and striking fear into the hearts of opponents during Miami’s 2020 Finals run especially.
But Robinson has regressed to 34.8 percent shooting from deep this season. Even worse is that teammate Max Strus, himself shooting 41.4 percent from deep, has taken Robinson’s spot in the starting lineup lately.
“Year 7. Ended with Miami,” he said. “I don’t make excuses as an athlete, but it wasn’t a satisfying year for me because I felt like if it was a normal situation, it wouldn’t end up like that. But at the end of the day, I felt like Miami was built to be an NBA bubble team, you know?”
The Bucks lost to the Heat in five games during the bubble in what was a massive disappointment for Milwaukee. Miami then went on to win the East. The two teams met again during last year’s playoffs with the Bucks sweeping the Heat in the first round and eventually winning it all. This season, Miami is 28-16 while Milwaukee is not too far behind at 27-19.
Antetokounmpo can blame the bubble all he wants, but the Bucks were not championship material in 2020. They had a number of holes on their roster, which they were able to plug during the offseason. Milwaukee added players like Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and PJ Tucker, all of whom ended up being massive contributors to their eventual 2021 title. They got their revenge on the Heat in the process, but Miami was hobbled by their extremely short offseason at the time.
This is not the first time the Heat have faced questions over the legitimacy of their Finals run, and they have offered a response to their doubters. Perhaps a rubber match against Milwaukee in this year’s playoffs would be the best way to settle the rivalry once and for all.
Photo: Oct 23, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) warms up before the game against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Heat already reunited with Mario Chalmers, but their next potential reunion could be an even more impactful one.
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported on Saturday that former Heat guard Goran Dragic “would love nothing more” than to return to the team. Winderman added that Dragic was in attendance for Miami’s home game against the Washington Wizards earlier in the week.
The 35-year-old Dragic was a core player for Miami for many years, having played the previous seven NBA seasons with them. That included an All-Star selection in 2018, a trip to the Finals with the Heat in 2020, and becoming a beloved fan favorite along the way. However, the Heat traded Dragic to the Toronto Raptors this past summer as part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade.
Dragic has made just five appearances for the rebuilding Raptors this year, and his current status is clouded in a bit of mystery. He took a sudden and indefinite leave of absence from the team in November. Details remain scarce about why he left and when he might be back.
The veteran guard also posted a video of himself working out at the Heat team facility on Friday. Former teammate Jimmy Butler was among those to “like” and comment on the video. Dragic has since deleted the post though.
Winderman notes that the Heat cannot directly reacquire Dragic from the Raptors this season due to CBA rules. That means that a third team would have to get involved (e.g. Dragic is traded elsewhere, gets bought out by his new team, and then re-signs with the Heat). But Dragic never really seemed keen on Toronto in the first place, so it makes sense that he would ideally like to return to Miami.
Photo: Feb 15, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) warms up before a game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Fan favorite Mario Chalmers is officially back with the Miami Heat, and he is wasting no time in reminding us why he was so beloved in the first place.
The veteran guard, who played for the Heat for eight seasons and won two NBA championships with them, returned to the team on a 10-day contract this week. His first day back was on Friday, and he had a funny boneheaded moment while conducting a Zoom interview with reporters.
Before Chalmers started speaking, a Heat employee said, “Can we get some hands raised, please?” This was to direct reporters to use the “raise hand” feature on Zoom to ask their questions. Chalmers, however, thought it was meant for him and physically put up his own two hands.
Chalmers is 35 years old and last played in the league in 2018, so it makes sense that the Heat would not just throw him in there right away. That said however, Chalmers still found a way to entertain us on Friday, which he already did plenty of during his first stint in Miami.
Photo: Jan 21, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Miami Heat forward guard Mario Chalmers (15) warms up before the first half of the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
NBA teams have had to wade deep into the talent pool to find replacement players with COVID-19 cases increasing across the league. Even some players who haven’t played in the league in years have received calls. Does Chris Bosh want to be next?
Bosh, who announced his retirement nearly three years ago, got Miami Heat fans excited with a tweet he sent on Thursday. The 37-year-old saw the news that the Heat have signed Mario Chalmers to a 10-day contract, and he jokingly suggested that they should get the old band back together.
Hey @mchalmers15 tell them we can bring back the ol pick and roll! Let’s get the band back together!
Chalmers hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015-16 season, though he has continued to play overseas and in the G League. Bosh was forced to retire early due to a blood-clotting issue. His last game was on Feb. 9, 2016.
Bosh and Chalmers won two titles together in Miami.
We can’t rule out anything with some of the names we have seen pop up over the past few weeks. That said, Bosh seems far more likely to go into coaching than he does to suit up for a team.
The NBA has completed its tampering investigations regarding the deals involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, and the result was nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat will both have to forfeit their next available second-round draft pick, the NBA announced on Wednesday.
The NBA announces slap-on-the-wrist penalties for Chicago and Miami in the sign-and-trades it had been investigating since August involving Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry. Both teams only lose one second-round pick each. pic.twitter.com/b4a70zrHNO
That punishment is light considering the NBA could have fined the franchises up to $10 million each and handed out suspensions to team executives. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league told teams in a memo that the Bulls and Heat “fully cooperated with the investigations” and that their cooperation was taken into account.
The Heat acquired Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors. The deal was completed on Aug. 6 but Lowry announced an hour into free agency on Aug. 2 that he would be signing with Miami.
Sign-and-trade deals can be complex to pull off. So when the deals were reported so quickly, red flags apparently were raised for the league.
The NBA reviewed electronic messages from agents and team executives during their investigation. The Pelicans and Raptors were also investigated due to their involvement, but no punishment was announced for either team.
Photo: Mar 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball warms up before their game against the Denver Nuggets at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports