NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Bosh ramps up workouts in hopes of return to court — The offseason departure of Dwyane Wade via free agency has left a vacancy not only in the lineup, but in determining who the figurehead of the team is going forward. Is it newly re-signed center Hassan Whiteside? Perhaps up-and-coming swingmen Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson? Or, perhaps, is it All-Star big man Chris Bosh, who hasn’t suited up for the Heat since Feb. 9 but remains one of the best in the league at his position? In a series of videos posted to social media, Bosh is out to show he’s on his way back from the health scares that sidelined him for the latter half of 2015-16. Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel has more:
In the clearest indication in months of his desire and intention to return to the court this season, Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh on Monday posted videos on his Snapchat that showed him going through drill work on a court in a gym, with his wife posting on social media that her husband will be back on the court this season.
“I know I’ve been gone for a moment, but now I’m back,” Bosh said on one of his videos. “Everybody is always asking me am I hooping? Yes, I’m hooping. Absolutely. I’m a hooper.”
Bosh has missed the second half of the past two seasons due to blood clots. While teammates have been expecting a return, neither Bosh nor the Heat have definitively addressed the possibility.
Bosh’s videos Monday included shooting mid-range jumpers after running in from near the sideline and dribbling drills that finished with stepping into 3-point shots.
Of his ballhandling work, Bosh added a caption on his Snapchat of, “I got it on a string.”
Bosh’s wife, Adrienne, posted on her Instagram that the Monday session was part of an ongoing process and that her husband would be back with the Heat this season.
“I’ve been watching my husband for over a month working day in and day out and happy to see him giving a glimpse of that hard work to the world on his Snapchat,” she posted on Instagram.
Bosh’s work Monday was similar to his court work during last season’s playoffs, when a mutual agreement was reached for Bosh to remain sidelined, with a statement that read, “The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible.”
The outside concern with Bosh has been the ability to play in contact situations due to the need for blood thinners for such repeat incidents of blood clotting.
Many of Bosh’s teammates having been working out at AmericanAirlines Arena, with the Heat to open their training camp on Sept. 27, with their first preseason game a week later.
Neither the Heat nor Bosh’s agent have responded to queries for updates on Bosh’s status for the coming season.
Asked last month when an update about Bosh might be forthcoming, Heat President Pat Riley said, “I think we should just wait ’til August, September. I think we’ll have a lot more information then.”
Bosh remains under contract to the Heat for three seasons, including at a team-high $23.7 million the upcoming season. The only way the Heat could realize long-term salary-cap relief would be for Bosh to go a calendar year without a regular-season appearance since his last game on Feb. 9, which would then open the door for the Heat to petition the NBA for cap relief, with Bosh receiving his full remaining salary.
The Heat could use Bosh’s veteran presence after an offseason that saw the team lose Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson in free agency. The Heat otherwise are expected to feature a rotation of mostly young players beyond veteran point guard Goran Dragic.
No. 2: Report: Pelicans work out Stephenson — The New Orleans Pelicans had a fairly busy offseason, adding Solomon Hill, E’Twaun Moore and Terrence Jones (among others) in free agency while also taking Buddy Hield with the No. 6 overall pick in the Draft. The Pelicans may not be done making moves, though, as they worked out former Indiana Pacers standout Lance Stephenson recently. Brett Dawson of The Advocate has more:
A league source said the Pelicans held a workout Monday for Stephenson, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound 25-year-old who played 43 games for the Los Angeles Clippers and 26 for the Memphis Grizzles last season.
The Pelicans already have 15 players under guaranteed contracts — the most allowed by the NBA in-season — making player additions unlikely. Still, the club is taking at least an exploratory look at other players. New Orleans also showed interest in point guard Ty Lawson before he agreed to a contract with the Kings on Sunday, Yahoo Sports reported.
Stephenson started his career with the Pacers and had a strong year for Indiana in 2013-14, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists on a 56-26 team that reached the Eastern Conference finals.
After that season, Stephenson signed a reported three-year, $27 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets. His numbers fell off in Charlotte, where he averaged 8.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 61 games.
The Hornets traded Stephenson in the summer of 2015 to the Clippers, but he struggled in Los Angeles, averaging 4.7 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 15.8 minutes per game. In February, he was traded to Memphis.
In 26 games with the Grizzlies, Stephenson averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 26.6 minutes per game. He scored a career-high 33 points against the Pelicans in a 121-114 overtime win March 11 in Memphis. The Grizzlies failed to pick up the option on the final year of Stephenson’s contract, leaving him a free agent.
No. 3: Warriors will ‘expect a lot’ from Durant on defense — As any NBA fan knows, offense has not been a problem for the Golden State Warriors the last two seasons. In that same span, the Warriors haven’t exactly slacked off on defense, either, ranking No. 1 (in 2014-15) and No. 5 (last season) in Defensive Efficiency. So how will the offseason addition of Kevin Durant — who should no doubt make that Golden State offense even more potent — affect the Warriors’ defense? Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com caught up with Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams to get his thoughts on that topic:
“Ron can’t wait,” Leah Adams, wife of the veteran assistant, tells CSNBayArea.com, “to integrate Kevin into that defense.”
Understand, now, that Ron and Leah have known Durant since 2008, when he was entering his second NBA season – and first in Oklahoma City, where Adams was an assistant coach. They have history together, as Adams spent two seasons in OKC. So Durant’s decision to join the Warriors is something of a reunion.
Now that Durant is a veteran steeped in the NBA game, the “small” forward represents quite the intriguing lab project for Adams. He’s listed at 6-foot-9, but is closer to 7 feet. His wingspan is 7-5. He’s an eager and capable defender, as the Warriors learned in the Western Conference Finals against Durant’s former team.
“His versatility is outstanding,” Ron Adams says of Durant. “He’s a terrific defender, who played with great defensive consistency in our playoff series. We will expect a lot out of him in that regard.”
Durant’s versatility is perfect for the schemes devised by Adams, who believes the new roster will continue to be suited for switching on defense. The Warriors last season switched on 24 percent of screens, by far the most in the league. Durant’s defensive metrics on switches are vastly superior to those of former Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes.
“He can, if necessary, guard all five positions – and do it effectively,” Adams says of Durant, who spent most of the conference finals smothering Warriors forward Draymond Green.
“He’s a really good rim protector, in a non-traditional way,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr says. “When he played the ‘four’ against us in the playoffs, he was brilliant. He blocked some shots and he scored a bunch of times. So he’ll play a lot of ‘four’ for us, for sure.”
“I personally think he will really blossom here as a playmaker,” Adams says of Durant, who finished behind only LeBron James for assists among small forwards. “He can play the point; he played point a lot for Oklahoma City over the years. He likes involving his teammates.
“I don’t know how you rank him in the pantheon of current players,” Adams adds. “But no matter how you do it, he’s certainly in the top three in the world.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Just Jamal Crawford doing Jamal Crawford-type things with the ball to a hapless defender … Former New York Knicks big man Kevin Seraphin will reportedly soon have a workout with the Indiana Pacers … Jason Thompson has reportedly reached a deal to play in China … The Milwaukee Bucks have re-signed former Marquette star Steve Novak … In a recent interview, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol says he was close to playing in the 2016 Olympics … Kyle Lowry throws some shade at former teammate Bismack Biyombo on his birthday … Boston Celtics defensive stalwart Avery Bradley wants to win Kia Defensive Player of the Year at some point …