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Morning shootaround — Sept. 9


VIDEO: Day 4 of the FIBA EuroBasket tournament

NEWS OF THE MORNING

LeBron summons teammates to workout in Miami | Riley: Heat have ‘elements’ of a contender | NBA revamps playoff structure | Report: Wizards sign Smith, Murray to deals

No. 1: LeBron summons Cavs to pre-camp workout in Miami — Superstar players in the NBA set the tone for their teams and can set the direction of the squad from the start of training camp until whenever the season ends. LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers is definitely an NBA superstar and isn’t about to let his teammates be unprepared to defend their Eastern Conference championship and make another Finals run. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that James is summoning his teammates (and coaches) to Miami for workouts in advance of the start of training camp in a few weeks:

LeBron James has summoned his teammates to participate in pre-training camp workouts in Miami this week ahead of the start of Cavaliers camp on Sept. 29, league sources informed Northeast Ohio Media Group.

A few players and coaches have already assembled in Miami while the majority of the team’s roster is expected to arrive towards the middle of the week, one source revealed.

James’ pre-camp is tentatively scheduled to conclude early next week, I’m told.

Those close to James say he’s still not quite over the loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. He did everything in his power to end a 51-year professional championship drought the city of Cleveland has endured. Due to a depleted roster caused by injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers fell short in six games.

As the captain of the Eastern Conference champions, James is doing his part to ensure his team will be ready for the difficult journey ahead. The Cavaliers are among the favorites to win the NBA title. However, the uncertainty of how Irving, Love and Anderson Varejao will bounce back from season-ending injuries will be an early question mark.

James understands it’s championship or bust, thus the reason he’s organizing this gathering.

“I think it’s great what LeBron is doing,” Joe Harris, the Cavaliers’ second-year guard told NEOMG. “LeBron is the leader of our team. He’s setting the tone and wants to make sure we’re getting work in and going into camp with the same attitude and mentality. He’s focused and wants to make sure we’re all on the same page. He’s on a mission.”

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No. 2: Riley: Heat have ‘all the elements’ of championship team  In terms of roster continuity, the Miami Heat had a pretty solid offseason. They retained Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Goran Dragic while adding veterans like Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green to a decent core. Although the Heat missed the playoffs last season, team president Pat Riley told Dan LeBatard that he sees a bright future for the team. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald transcribed parts of Riley’s ESPN Radio interview with LeBatard:

“I think this team has all of the elements of a championship team,” he said. “Whether or not you can ever win a championship will depend on a number of factors. I can list them and you can list them. It’s going to come down to this, health,… performance and this guy and that guy. It’s going to come down to can you make shots?…

“I think this team has the opportunity and the possibilities of being a contender. That’s where you start with a team like this. We have an opportunity to create a new first. That’s how I feel about this team…. I’m excited about this season.”

But he also said, “you’re asking the wrong guy” about whether this team can win a championship. “You know what I’m going to say. I was a coach, and I had five guys off the street, I would say we could win a championship. That’s either my naivety or competitive will.”

Was he ever real concerned he would lose Dwyane Wade?

“Yeah, I had some concern because we have lost players before,” Riley told Le Batard and Jon Weiner. “…. There was a time I said anything is possible because of what had happened with LeBron. The landscape of the NBA now and player mentalities sometimes get into the way of the priorities that you have to face as a player and as also an organization. It really is more than ever a big — big, capital letters — business now.

Would Riley have thought would still be with the Heat 20 years later?

“I was 20 years in Los Angeles, which covered being a player, then being out a job, then being a broadcaster, then [coach]…. In New York I was there for four years.

“Being here for 20 years. I feel blessed. I really do. I feel blessed to be in one city with great people I’ve been with for a long time, a great owner in Micky, his wife Madeleine. We’ve become more than just boss and employee. We’ve become very good friends.”

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No. 3: NBA revamps playoff seeding structure — In the past, winning one of the NBA’s divisions equaled home-court advantage in the first round. Then, the rules changed and winning a division didn’t always guarantee that home-court advantage. Now, things are changing once again and that division title becomes more or less a tie-breaker for seeding in the playoffs. Our Scott Howard-Cooper details the new rule the NBA passed yesterday regarding playoff seeding that will take effect in 2015-16:

The NBA announced new rules for playoff seeding that includes ranking the top eight teams in each conference strictly in order of best record, essentially making winning a division title little more than a ceremonial distinction.

Previously, each division champion had been guaranteed no worse than No. 4 in its respective conference, regardless of record. Under the guidelines announced Tuesday following a unanimous vote by the Board of Governors and a 30-0 decision from the Competition Committee, winning a division will only matter in the postseason picture as a secondary tiebreaker that may rarely be required.

A division winner used to be awarded home-court advantage if it met a non-division winner with the same record in the playoffs, although the division winner would not have home-court advantage if it was facing an opponent with a better regular-season mark. Now, the outcome of the regular-season series is the first tiebreaker for seeding and home court. Being a division winner was the second tiebreaker.

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No. 4: Report: Wizards sign Smith, Murray to deals — Veteran point guard Andre Miller was a key cog in Washington’s run to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, but in the offseason he left D.C. to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. That left the Wizards’ backup guard corps a little thin and the team has taken a flyer on Ish Smith and Toure’ Murray, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:

Three weeks remain until the Washington Wizards kick off the 2015-16 campaign with training camp and the club has begun completing its roster of attendees by signing point guard Ish Smith and combo guard Toure’ Murry to non-guaranteed contracts with training camp invites, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Neither player is expected to make the Wizards’ final roster; Washington is already at the 15-man limit and a move to make room for another player is unlikely. If anything, the Wizards prefer entering seasons with a vacant spot for flexibility.

The 6-foot Smith is considered one of the fastest – if not the fastest – player in the NBA but has not found a home in the league. He went undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2010 and has played for eight teams over five seasons. Smith, 27, began last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder before finishing the campaign with the Philadelphia 76ers. He tied a career-high with 23 points against the Wizards on April 1.

The Wizards’ currently have John Wall, Ramon Sessions, and Garrett Temple as point guards for the upcoming season with Tomas Satoransky looming overseas. Sessions, Wall’s backup, and Temple, the emergency third-stringer, are in the final year of their contracts. Satoransky  is expected to join the Wizards for the 2016-17 campaign after his contract with FC Barcelona expires.

Murry, 25, has been on the Wizards’ radar since last year. He signed two 10-day contracts with Washington in March before sustaining a season-ending ankle injury in a loss to the Golden State Warriors. He appeared in four games with the Wizards and signed to play on their summer league team but was limited to just a few minutes in Las Vegas due to a groin injury.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Some great stories about what made Dikembe Mutombo a memorable guy in Atlanta Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jordan Clarkson will not play for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia tournamentThe presenters have been announced for Friday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony … Tristan Thompson‘s agent believes three teams would offer his client a max deal next summer … Grantland’s Zach Lowe ranks every logo in the NBA in a pretty cool read … Former first-round pick Josh Boone has signed to play with a team in Estonia … Get to know NBA TV personality and “Inside Stuff” co-host Kristen Ledlow

17 Comments

  1. WJS says:

    Yes, they b takin their talents to South Beach. I could see it now, coach and GM King running practice. Ok guys, lets practice. Play number one, pick and roll to the King. Second play, post up the King and third play, everyone to the right side of the floor and we’re going to run an isolation for the King. Then we’ll all go to the beach and have a bonfire and I’ll tell you some stories. Oh King Oh King please tell us the story when you took your talents to South Beach. Was that an expansion team? We never saw a team from South Beach. The closest team was Miami Heat. They must of been revivals since they were so close. Please Please over here King. I want to hear the story when you abandoned your Miami Heat teammates after you didn’t win another final. Oh we love the stories! We’ll follow you anywhere King. But before we go we’d love to hear some stories about Larry, Magic, Michael and Kobe… No No those aren’t any good stories just forget about those guys…. King? King of what? Loosing in the finals! Sorry King fans it can’t be denied…

  2. Robert says:

    The LeBron move is not unprecedented. The Cleveland Symphony orchestra also spends the off-season in Miami. Gee, I wonder why the Heat don’t go to Cleveland for pre-training camp workouts.

  3. johnlpoetry says:

    Pat Riley is still taking little kiddie swipes at Lebron. He seems to forget that Lebron left the Cleveland fandom and organization in shambles when he bolted to South Beach. And Thompson’s obnoxious agent needs to quit bluffing the Cavs with these fantasy leaks. Any team that offers a rebounder with zero offensive skills a max contract is either stupid or desperate. As it stands, the Cav’s current offer is beyond generous.

  4. BV23 says:

    So basically the Cavs took their talents to South Beach?

  5. Pfft! says:

    Kobe dominates the ball, offense runs through him, defenses are geared at containing him and making KB a volume shooter.
    5 rings in 7 finals appearances.
    LeBron dominates the ball, offense runs through him, defenses are geared at containing him and making LB a volume shooter.
    2 rings in 6 finals appearances.

    So…. let’s hear the LeBron defenders. Kobe had Shaq, no wait so did LeBron. Kobe is a ball hog, not 1, not 2, count’em, 5. LeBron, not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 finals failures. But wait, there was injuries you cry? Part of the game. Now shut it. Moving on.

    Hey does anyone remember those finals commercials with the Muppets?

    “You gotta be hungry LeBron!”

    Pfft…

    G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan
    Number 2- Kobe Bryant

    LeBron? Not even in the conversation. Yet. Probably ever. He would have to win 2 more rings just to be at 50% in the finals and Jordan had 6 finals appearances with 6 rings! That’s 100% for you low I.Q. LeBron bandwagon riders. Kobe? 71% The self proclaimed, promise making “chosen one”?

    33%

    Team, health and good fortune. Not stats, not field goal percentage, self proclaimed greatness, media hype, etc.

    We true basketball fans and players know this. The Spurs personify it at the expense of fancy stats for their big 3. We count winning and winning only when it comes to the G.O.A.T. Conversation.

    LeBron is like Wilt when it comes to winning in the finals. Huge numbers, huge losses.

    I can keep going but you all get the point.
    Some of you that is.

    • Lovins says:

      You make a lot of good points about Kobe vs. LeBron, but you’re still overrating Kobe. It is relevant that with 3 of his wins, SHAQ was the clear MVP. So those 3 don’t contribute to his resume as much, same reason Scottie Pippen going 6/6 isn’t as big because MJ was the clear MVP on those teams. And about your pointing out that LeBron “also had Shaq”? That was a 38-year-old Shaq, 1 year from retirement, who contributed 12 points and 6 rebs a game, lol. Lastly – “We count winning and winning only when it comes to the G.O.A.T. Conversation.” Then why are you ranking Kobe ahead of Bill Russell?

    • Thatwasalotdude says:

      K

  6. BIG-GAME-JAMES-23 says:

    The Cavs are on a mission and have a chip on their shoulder. The rest of the NBA better take notice.

    The Cavs have improved their roster by adding mo williams and sasha kaun, and they still have their trade exceptions to use. If the Cavs can stay relatively healthy, they should be back in the finals again this year.
    The same thing happened to the Heat in 2011 in their first year and they came back to win back2back championships.
    I think the Cavs have the ability & the talent to 3 peat with the team they have if they can retain tristan thompson and everybody can mostly stay healthy

  7. dd def says:

    the trail blazers come back early to start working out together every year but they don’t get an article about it. maybe they should’ve taken their practice to south beach lol

    • Harriethehawk says:

      Your team is the reason why the seedings changed. Other teams got jipped last year because of their division standing. And it won’t happen agsin, no more free rides to the playoffs!!!!!

  8. WJS says:

    Ahhhh buddy buddy… Get a hold of yourself. The King can’t win because its a team sport… Not just the legends know this but even the 12th man on the Cav’s roster knows it. The only time King was a part of a win it was because the other guys were allowed to play.

  9. SMP-Baller says:

    That article you recommend was a good read till I started reading obscenity under the Chicago Bulls logo.

  10. Mike says:

    Does it really matter where the practice is.
    LeBron is the MAN.. The GS Warrior got really lucky that Love and Irving went out.
    Or else it would of been 3 for James!!

  11. BUDDY says:

    WJS SHUT UP IDIOT! LIKE YOU KNOW ANY LEGENDS WHAT A LAUGH

  12. WJS says:

    OMG! Give me a break! The King has summoned the Cavs to Miami. To Miami? That will bring lot’s of focus. I live in Florida and Miami is nothing but distraction. Maybe after practice we can all take a stroll on South Beach and check out all the Thongs…Why didn’t King summons them to Cedar Rapids Iowa or someplace like that? If that control freak did that and I’m the owner, Id b takin his talents somewhere else. I’m sure he runs the practice too. Why don’t you let him be the coach and GM too…C’mon NBA quit worshiping this guy. He will never win as it’s all about him!
    I can not wait for the playoffs to start because the regular season is a joke! You spend all summer reporting on King and what he’s doing. Hey King, I’ll let you in on a secret, no one really wants to play on the same team as you… Because wit’s all about you. The legends of the game just laugh when the name King comes up.

  13. Justin says:

    Andre Miller got traded from the wizards during the trade deadline…..

    Ramon Sessions was their back up PG


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