NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Heat’s ‘Big Three’ get together to talk future — Let the worrying about the Miami Heat’s future begin … if it hadn’t already. LeBron James opted out of his contract on Tuesday and his fellow Heat All-Star teammates, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, may do so soon, too. So what happens next for the “Big Three” in Miami? The first thing was a meeting over dinner to presumably discuss what the future may look like in Heat-ville. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com has more:
Much like they did before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got together for a meeting to discuss their futures on Wednesday, sources told ESPN.com.
James opted out of the final two years and $42 million of his contract with the Heat on Tuesday. Wade and Bosh have until midnight on Monday to decide if they will follow suit.
The meeting included a meal at a South Beach eatery, the Miami Herald reported.
Additionally, Miami-based Associated Press reporter Tim Reynolds had the following to add on the meeting via Twitter:
No. 2: Durant backs James’ opt-out decision — Washington, D.C.-area native Kevin Durant was back in his hometown yesterday to unveil his newest sneaker, the Nike KD 7. While the focus of that visit was about the new footwear, Durant did take a few moments to sound off on LeBron James‘ opt-out decision and pledged his support for the Heat star’s move. Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post has more on what KD had to say:
If James needed support, enter Kevin Durant. The NBA’s reigning NBA — in Washington on Wednesday afternoon to unveil his new Nike sneaker — said he didn’t understand the furor.
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Durant said, shortly after his “KD7″ was revealed. “You know, as a player, I think that’s the best way to go about it. You can have all your options. It’s better for you as a player to opt-out, because you can get a market deal, you can get more years. You never know what will happen if you pass up on that. So I didn’t know what the big deal was. I’m sure it was a decision he made — something he was thinking about — for him and his family.”
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Durant told a small group of local reporters. “I don’t think anything that you guys criticize LeBron [about] is fair. He switched teams; he’s not the first guy to do it. He decided to opt out; he’s not the first guy to do it. Sometimes a lot of people criticize him a little bit too much for doing normal things, doing stuff that everybody has done. [Even] Tim Duncan went into free agency before. He got courted by quite a few teams. We’ll see what happens with me, but everybody’s done the same thing. He’s not the first.”
No. 3: Van Gundy knows what Pistons will do about Monroe — There are some big names on the free-agent market we are all well aware of — Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, yada yada yada. But one of the lesser-known but just as impactful names is found in Detroit — big man Greg Monroe. He is a restricted free agent this summer and new coach/team president Stan Van Gundy has made staying in touch with Monroe an offseason focus. As David Mayo of MLive.com reports, Van Gundy has already worked out all the possible Monroe scenarios — and his counter moves:
Van Gundy said the team has discussed sign-and-trade possibilities, but if none of those reaches fruition and Monroe signs an offer sheet with another team, the Pistons are prepared to react to any eventuality.
“We’ve been through basically every million-dollar increment of an offer sheet he can get, and what will we do if he takes the option of signing an offer sheet, and this is what he comes back with, what will we do?” Van Gundy said. “So to me, there’s not going to be any drama in it for us. We’ve already made that decision. We’ve already talked that through with ownership.”
Van Gundy said he has spent “well over half my time” on the Monroe situation since his May 13 hiring, calling it “the most important thing on our plate for the offseason.”
“It’s certainly an indication of how much I value him,” Van Gundy said of his time expenditure.
Van Gundy did say sign-and-trade options have been considered but added that the one thing he won’t do is make a trade “because I feel like I got pushed into it.”
“If we make a trade, we’re going to get something we like, or we will not make a trade,” he said, adding that the Pistons “either want him (Monroe) back or we want good value for him.”
Van Gundy said the Pistons are “pretty comfortable that we’ll come out of this OK, no matter what happens.”
“I think you at least have to have a plan where if this happens, are we ready? What’s next for us? And we are ready,” Van Gundy said. “For me, that situation, we know exactly where we’re headed on that, so there’s not a lot of anxiety, in terms of what’s going to happen.”
No. 4: Bucks’ Antetokounmpo confirms he’s grown two inches — Who doesn’t love the Milwaukee Bucks vibrant, long-limbed, do-it-all young big man Giannis Antetokounmpo? The man known as “The Greek Freak” is gearing up for the NBA Draft like the rest of us and he hopes to see his older brother, Thanasis, taken tonight. But Giannis has been plenty busy this offseason himself and in a one-on-one interview with BasketballInsiders.com’s Alex Kennedy, he reveals how he’s been honing his jump shot and that he’s grown to 6-foot-11 now, too:
BI: I saw a report recently that said you grew two inches since you got drafted last year. Is that true?
Antetokounmpo: Yeah, it’s true. When I came in, I was 6’9. Now, I’m almost 6’11. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or a good thing.
BI: That sounds like a good thing. (laughs)
Antetokounmpo: Yeah, it sounds like a good thing for me. But I still have to adjust, because I’m growing. I have to adjust my game to that.
BI: Do you think you could keep growing? Do you think you could maybe top 7’0?
Antetokounmpo: No! I hope I stop growing! (laughs)
BI: Is your wingspan longer too?
Antetokounmpo: I really don’t know, I never check that.
BI: You have worked with trainer Josh Oppenheimer. What’s your relationship like with him? How has it been working with him? He is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen in my life; he doesn’t miss.
Antetokounmpo: Oh my God, Josh is a really good guy and a really good coach. He always gives me advice, he always talks to me on the phone and he just tries to make me great. He always gives me a challenge and I really like working with him. For the record, I beat Josh once [in a shooting contest] last year.
BI: Is it tough to deal with the pressure though? At this time a year and a half ago, you didn’t have that much pressure on you. Now, you almost have the weight of a franchise on your shoulders.
Antetokounmpo: No, I don’t have pressure. As a player, I will never have pressure. I’m just playing the game just to have fun, and I’m going to continue doing that. I think that’s what driving me. By having fun every day ,that makes me stay more and work harder. When practice finishes every day, I stay more because I’m having fun. I don’t want to leave. That makes me better. I’m still working more and more and more, and I’m just trying to have fun and push the pressure to the side.
SOME RANDOM NEWS: Steve Nash‘s team beat Dirk Nowitzki‘s team at Nash’s annual soccer match for charity … Seems quite likely that Raptors swingman John Salmons could be waived soon … The Rockets’ trade of Omer Asik to New Orleans is setting the table for a big push for Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James in free agency … Tyson Chandler is back in Dallas in a trade that helps get the Mavs in the ‘Melo sweepstakes … Speaking of the Pelicans, their next move should be to find a small forward … Some key questions for the Nuggets as Draft night nears …