Posts Tagged ‘Steve Aschburner’

Morning Shootaround — Sept. 27

Miami moves on from Bosh | Wall, Beal downplay rift | Spurs missing their ‘In-Tim-idator’ | Losing Middleton stymies Bucks

No. 1: Miami moves on from BoshPat Riley, Miami Heat president, went so far as to mention Magic Johnson‘s stunning HIV diagnosis. That’s how seriously and emotionally Riley and his organization were reacting to what they consider to be the end of Chris Bosh‘s NBA career in south Florida. The latest chapter in Bosh’s ongoing health concerns, stemming from blood clots that have snuffed the second halves of his past two seasons, came Monday as Riley confirmed the Heat no longer are open to bringing the All-Star power forward back. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel had the details:

President Pat Riley said Monday that the team views Chris Bosh’s career with the team as over, that the team no longer is working toward his return.

“We are not,” Riley said in his office at AmericanAirlines Arena. “I think Chris is still open-minded. But we are not working toward his return.

“We feel that, based on the last exam, that his Heat career is probably over.”

Asked if he felt Bosh’s NBA career was over, as well, Riley said, “that’s up to him.”

Bosh has been sidelined for the second half of each of the past two seasons due blood clots, recently failing the Heat’s preseason physical.

“It’s pretty definitive from us, in our standpoint, that this is probably going to be a time where we really have to step back,” Riley said

“His health, playing and economics — it’s been health, health, health,” Riley said before the start of the team’s media day at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Whatever the cap ramifications are, they are there, but we never ever thought about that.”

Of going forward, Riley said, “This one is cloudy, the environment, because of the C.B. situation, and we have to deal with that.”

The Heat would receive salary-cap relief going forward on Feb. 9 if Bosh is ruled medically unable to play by an NBA specialist.

Bosh said over the weekend he planned to continue his comeback attempt, posting on Twitter, “Setbacks may happen, but my intentions remain the same. Thank you all for the warm wishes and support.”

He then on Monday released the latest chapter of the video series chronicling his comeback attempt on the Uninterrupted digital-media platform.

“I put in all the work, so let’s see where I’m at,” Bosh said in the piece, which apparently was completed before his failed Heat physical. “I’m still hoping to have my moment.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the situation with Bosh has been emotionally grueling.

“I love C.B. dearly,” he said. “It was tough to watch C.B. and his family go through this the last couple of years. Your heart just goes out to him.”



Blogtable: Which two teams are most intriguing in the East?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Intriguing East teams? | Intriguing West teams? | Taking slow approach with rookie

> As the start of Eastern Conference training camps near, which two teams are you most intrigued by? And what depth chart battle/storyline/offseason move(s) by those teams will you be watching most?

Steve Aschburner, Two? Thought you said there wouldn’t be math on this. Well, I’m curious about a pair of East also-rans, New York and Milwaukee. The Knicks have undeniable buzz now, and I’m curious to see (in order of intrigue) how “back” Derrick Rose really is in his new surroundings as he eyes next summer’s free agency, how high of a priority Kristaps Porzingis‘ development remains on New York’s to-do list and to what degree Joakim Noah can put the paddles to that team’s collective heart. The Bucks, meanwhile, need significant bounce-back because they messed up the ramp-up of their rebuilding (you aren’t supposed to go from 15 victories to 41 to 33, especially when healthier and sporting an alleged big free-agent “get” in Greg Monroe). Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s nine-figure contract extension signed this week is the latest step toward a season that’s showtime now rather than any more dress rehearsals.

Scott Howard-Cooper, The Celtics and the Magic, for different reasons. (Among the many possible answers.) Boston has a chance to push into the top three and be in good position if the Cavaliers falter. Brad Stevens is a leading preseason candidate for Coach of the Year. Orlando won’t play at the same level, but several offseason moves (especially up front, and hiring Frank Vogel as coach) definitely qualifies as intriguing. The Magic sorting through options and now without Victor Oladipo should be a good watch wherever they are in the standings. The depth-chart battle among Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka will get the most scrutiny.

Shaun Powell, Bulls and Knicks. And not exactly a coincidence. The defections of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah this summer will have a measurable impact on each team; we just don’t know whether it’s positive or negative and to what degree. Both teams will give off some hints during camp about their identity and what we might expect at least for the first month or two. The Bulls need to address their power forward spot with either Nikola Mirotic or Bobby Portis, while the Rose-Courtney Lee dynamic will bear watching.

John Schuhmann, Indiana and Philadelphia. The Pacers could see a boost in their offense with the additions of Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson, along with the development of Myles Turner. But their defense is likely going to take a big step backward with the departures of George Hill, Ian Mahinmi and Frank Vogel. Can Nate McMillan find the right balance, and how much longer will Monta Ellis be around? And of course, it will be fascinating to see just how good the Sixers’ trio of rookies — Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons — is and how Brett Brown is going to work out the frontcourt minutes while he still has all those guys plus Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor.

Sekou Smith, The Chicago Bulls and their three-alpha attack should provide for a fascinating chemistry experiment for Fred Hoiberg and his coaching staff. We all know what Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler bring as individuals. How they mesh together and whether or not they can make the Bulls a top-four contender in the conference playoff chase remain the outstanding questions regarding this trio. The Boston Celtics swung for the fences in free agency and came away with a seemingly perfect fit in Al Horford, a veteran center/power forward who should stabilize things in the frontcourt immediately. He helped make Atlanta one of the top teams in the conference the past two seasons. I’m curious to see if Horford can do the same for the Celtics now.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comThe Heat have enough talent to contend for homecourt advantage in the East — if they can resolve their many issues, including the absence of Dwyane Wade’s leadership, the medical uncertainty of Chris Bosh’s future, the chemistry between Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, and the potential of Goran Dragic to become a go-to star, which at age 30 he must fulfill this year. This looks like an entirely different franchise because Wade is no longer there to accept the responsibility of making things right. It was his team and he took it personally when the team struggled. How do they replace that level of authority? The other fascinating team is Indiana, which will be playing in a hurry after surrounding Paul George with Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young. How quickly can 20-year-old Myles Turner emerge as their No. 2 star while creating mismatches at center? Another intriguing addition is backup center Al Jefferson, whose low-post game could enable Indiana’s second unit to change and control the pace.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: Atlanta, for one. I know bringing in Dwight Howard to replace Al Horford was made with an eye on the box office, but what kind of result will it have on the win column? I also wonder if enough attention is being paid to the change at the point, with Dennis Schroder replacing Jeff Teague and being asked to take on a starting role. Another Eastern Conference team I think may be interesting is Orlando. I’ve always admired Frank Vogel‘s ability to get a team to play a cohesive style of play. The Magic are still staffed with a lot of youth, but I wonder if Ibaka playing a more central role will get him back to being the dominant player he was a few years back?

Blogtable: Which two teams are most intriguing in the West?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Intriguing East teams? | Intriguing West teams? | Taking slow approach with rookie

> As the start of Western Conference training camps near, which two teams are you most intrigued by? And what depth chart battle/storyline/offseason move(s) by those teams will you be watching most?

Steve Aschburner, Golden State and Oklahoma City, largely for the same reason. It’s impossible not to go full gawker on Golden State to see how Kevin Durant fits in, as well as how the Warriors’ other scorers and staff adapt to areas of redundancy while plugging holes opened primarily by departing bigs Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezili. Curious to see how they go 83-0 too. For OKC, it’s all about addition by subtraction (not just Durant but Serge Ibaka), Russell Westbrook unleashed as an early MVP favorite for all he’ll be asked or freed to do, the ongoing, entertaining saga of Steven Adams‘ NBA journey, Victor Oladipo‘s ascending star and Billy Donovan forced to work in his second pro season without one of the league’s top 3 players.

Scott Howard-Cooper, The Warriors and the Timberwolves. Golden State is obvious — fans love the addition of Kevin Durant, enemies will make it the reason to hate the defending West champions even more, but no one can deny it will be amazing to watch the adjustment play out. Win or lose, the Dubs are changing and what happens next is captivating. While I wouldn’t make Minnesota a preseason pick for the playoffs, tracking the next step on the very promising future is mandatory viewing. So is the depth chart at point guard, with veteran Ricky Rubio and rookie Kris Dunn.

Shaun Powell, Wolves and Warriors. So much is expected of both teams, to different levels of course, and training camp will unlock some mysteries. How will Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, a pair of MVPs, develop harmony? And Durant and Klay Thompson, for that matter? All three are terrific shooters and you wonder if they’ll be too unselfish initially. Meanwhile in Minnesota, camp comes down to one position and two names: Point guard, Ricky Rubio and Kris Dunn.

John Schuhmann, Houston and Minnesota. Putting James Harden‘s pick-and-roll playmaking in Mike D’Antoni‘s offense seems ideal, and having Ryan Anderson at the four only makes the Rockets more difficult to defend. But I’m curious to see if they can be an average defensive team or better. They still have some good defenders on the perimeter, but took a big step backward on that end of the floor last season, lost Dwight Howard, and will obviously need better defensive effort from Harden. I just want to know if Donatas Motiejunas is going to get a contract (or sign his qualifying offer), because D’Antoni could make good use of his skills. In Minnesota, I think Tom Thibodeau will take the Wolves from 27th in defensive efficiency to at least average on that end of the floor. And that, along with the development of their young talent, should have them in the playoff picture all season. They shouldn’t be shopping Ricky Rubio just yet, because he’s proven to be a key for them on both offense and defense. Zach LaVine should only be considered a two (he was a much improved shooter playing alongside Rubio), so there’s room for both Rubio and Kris Dunn at the point.

Sekou Smith, This isn’t fair to the rest of the teams in the Western Conference. With Kevin Durant joining that All-Star cast the Golden State Warriors already had in place, the Warriors are easily the most intriguing team in basketball. They’ll have to redefine their chemistry, of course, and work through whatever issues that will arise from adding a player on KD’s caliber. But it should be loads of fun watching it all go down. A surprise team last season, the Portland Trail Blazers return this season with some fresh faces and plenty of momentum (generated by their impressive playoff showing). We know Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the real deal. That underrated supporting cast that showed up in the playoffs last season is the question mark. I want to see how Evan Turner fits in that mix and see how the competition for rotation spots works out among all of that young talent.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comHow quickly will Kevin Durant adapt to the move-the-ball style of the Warriors? Will their new bench serve as an extension to that style, or will we see the personality of the Warriors becoming more traditional this season? The 82 games are going to serve as a kind of extended preseason for the Warriors, in the sense that nothing can be proved until the playoffs. As fascinating as it will be to watch the Spurs and Thunder move on without their franchise stars, I’ll be focused more on the Clippers. Is this the year it all comes together for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan? They have the talent and depth — their bench looks like a strength now — but do their leaders have the necessary resolve? Have their troubles of the last couple of years strengthened them to outfight the Warriors and other contenders?

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: The Utah Jazz, and I choose them not only because they drafted me in the franchise mode of NBA 2K17. I really love the addition of Joe Johnson to provide a steadying veteran influence, as well as George Hill. (And if I learned anything else from 2K, it’s that Michael B. Jordan is no Michael Jordan.) For a second squad, I’m really interested to see what the Grizzlies do this season under new coach David Fizdale. They’re finally healthy, and the addition of Chandler Parsons should give them some scoring help which it feels like they’ve needed forever.

Blogtable: Which rookie would you take slow approach with?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Intriguing East teams? | Intriguing West teams? | Taking slow approach with rookie

> Lakers coach Luke Walton says he plans to bring rookie Brandon Ingram along slowly and not start him immediately. Is there another rookie you’d take a similar approach with and why?

Steve Aschburner, Kris Dunn, Minnesota. Why? To tamp down some of the raging expectations (Dunn is the rookies’ Rookie of the Year pick), to provide more classroom and simulator work at point guard before tossing him the keys for behind-the-wheel training, and to make sure this team gets the most out of Ricky Rubio before rushing or forcing a transition. Rubio is a unique offensive talent — OK, he’s a preternatural playmaker with shooting issues — and an underrated defender. He’s still young (26 on Oct. 21). And if he’s not going to hang onto his job — he is not new coach Tom Thibodeau‘s preferred type of point guard — he at least needs some time to demonstrate his trade value. As a four-year guy out of Providence, Dunn might not need much time, but I’d give him some regardless.

Scott Howard-Cooper, First of all, Walton saying he plans to bring Ingram along slowly doesn’t mean anything. “Slowly” could mean bringing the rookie off the bench for the first two weeks before making the move. Or the first two games. Ingram has a lot of developing to do, but could also hold his own as a rookie. And, sources say, the Lakers need talent. He will get an opportunity. Another rookie is a better candidate for a similar approach: Dragan Bender in Phoenix, at 18 years old and after a limited role in Europe last season. I don’t like the topic as a whole, though. This isn’t baseball, where teams will limit the innings of a pitcher selected in the first round and maybe even keep the prospect in the minors just to make sure he is not being rushed. Bender or Ingram are not going to throw out their arms. How much they play will be determined by how well they play, along with team needs. I guess in that sense, Joel Embiid is the ultimate example of an NBA rookie who should be brought along slowly.

Shaun Powell, I think the Sixers would be wise to do the same with Joel Embiid. Sure, he hasn’t played a meaningful game in two years, which is why there could be a tendency to press the gas pedal, especially by Embiid. But there’s nothing to gain by shoveling him 30 minutes a night. Ease him in, get him comfortable and confident, and allow his body and performance to dictate future playing time.

John Schuhmann, Obviously, Joel Embiid’s work load shouldn’t be too heavy early on. The guy hasn’t played real basketball in more than two years. The Nets, we know, are in no rush and will take it easy with Caris LeVert as he recovers from foot surgery. And it will be interesting to see how Brad Stevens uses Jaylen Brown, given how many solid guards and wings the Celtics have otherwise.

Sekou Smith, Ask Byron Scott how that easing the rookie into things theory works. And no, there isn’t another rookie that needs this same specific plan Walton and the Lakers have in mind for Ingram. In most cases, being cautious with a talent like Ingram would make sense. But the Lakers and Los Angeles don’t constitute most cases. There is a pressure that comes with the market that suggests it will be tough to ease Ingram into the mix. Every rookie is going to adjust to his situation and the NBA game differently. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to develop a young star. The Lakers don’t have to turn things over to Ingram now, not with other players like D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson already in line for increased roles with Kobe Bryant no longer a part of the process.

Ian Thomsen, The same long-term patience should be applied to every rookie in this class except Ben Simmons. The 76ers have no quarterback, and so they need to develop their new identity through the playmaking of Simmons this season. All of the other players in this draft should be brought along more slowly because none of them is ready to take on a major role — including Ingram, whose young Lakers will be struggling now that Kobe Bryant won’t be there to shield them from the pressure and criticism.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: Considering how well it worked with D’Angelo Russell, I am against the whole “bringing guys along slowly” idea. You’ve just made a significant financial investment in a player, and the clock is ticking on when your contractual control is going to run out. If they can’t play right away, unless you’re a team like the Warriors or Spurs, why waste a pick? So that being said, I wish the Lakers would just throw Ingram out there and let him play from the start. Then again, I suppose if he’s good enough, he can force that to happen.

Blogtable: What will you remember most about this NBA summer?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Gameplan for the Heat? | Future for Lakers’ Russell? |
Lasting memories of NBA summer?

> As we close in on the end of the NBA summer, what two things will you most remember about it and why?

Steve Aschburner, My first takeaway from NBA summer ’16 will be the Kevin Durant move to Golden State as the most notable free-agent signing. As we noted when bellying up previously to the blogtable, Dwyane Wade leaving Miami was more shocking just because of his tenure as “Mr. Heat,” but I don’t expect it to affect what we see on the floor all that much. Not so with Durant-to-the-Warriors. My second takeaway is more conditional: If the owners and the players can’t avoid a lockout next July, then the flood of TV money this summer forever will be cited. But if Adam Silver, Michele Roberts and the rest of them settle on a new CBA to keep the golden goose squawking, we’ll only remember a few outlier contracts when reporting on their ripple effects in the coming seasons.

Shaun Powell, Durant joining the Warriors. That’s your summer snapshot. The rich got richer and the NBA, for better or worse, has another superteam to admire or detest. A close second was the astronomical rise in player salaries for the middle class. Bismack Biyombo and Allen Crabbe, barely blips on the radar this time last year, are pulling nearly $20 million a year. Madness.

John Schuhmann, Kevin Durant’s decision to join the Warriors defined the summer from an NBA perspective, but Manu Ginobili’s final game in an Argentina uniform will be my lasting memory. There were a ton of Argentina fans in Rio, everybody (including the American team) showed him the proper respect as he checked out of the game, and the emotions that came out of the Golden Generation as they played for the final time together were powerful. As an Argentine American and also as a basketball fan, it meant a lot to be in the building for Ginobili’s FIBA farewell.

Sekou Smith, The Summer of ’16 will forever be known as Kevin Durant’s time, no matter how things work out for KD and the Golden State Warriors. Durant’s departure from Oklahoma City sent shockwaves around the league and the basketball and really the entire sports world. The side dish for me is Dwyane Wade’s tenure in Miami coming to an end, and specifically the strange way it ended. The explosion of salaries for journeymen and role players was equally shocking, but I doubt it’ll be on my mind years from now. Player movement, though, and particularly superstar player movement, resonates for years.

Ian Thomsen, We’ll be talking for a long time about Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State and the huge escalation in salaries that threatens to disrupt locker room relationships as well as team budgets in years to come. This was a sea-change offseason.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogWith apologies to Robert Frost, two roads diverged in the woods, one led to Oakland and the other looped back to Oklahoma City. The dual stories of the summer are clearly those of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Durant’s path has taken him from one of the best teams in the Western Conference directly to their rival, the best team in the West. Meanwhile, Westbrook doubled down and stuck around in Oklahoma City. To me, the break-up of the formerly dynamic duo has been the NBA story of the summer, and will have long-lasting implications for the entire league.

Blogtable: Outlook for D’Angelo Russell in 2016-17?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Gameplan for the Heat? | Future for Lakers’ Russell? |
Lasting memories of NBA summer?

> D’Angelo Russell recently said his rookie season was “bad.” Do you expect a better 2016-17 out of him? And what is one thing you want to see him improve on?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comI’m just going to say “basketball” and leave it right here. For a guy whose rookie season got defined by shenanigans, even his clever, face-saving sneaker commercial had nothing to do with him helping his team get better. Why do I think he’d be better served by playing in Oklahoma City, Minnesota or Sacramento, as far as limited distractions? Russell can be a better shooter, more efficient passer and lock-down defender, but not until his name appears in John Schuhmann’s numbers-crunchings way more often than on TMZ Sports.


Shaun Powell, Based on everything I’ve heard, the kid has grown up, from a basketball standpoint. He really wants to be a star. He put in the work over the summer. He knows he let some people down. That’s a good start and refreshing attitude. Leadership is the one area where he needs the most improvement and he has recognized that. Sometimes we forget that these guys are still teenagers on the maturity clock. He and coach Luke Walton are forging a solid relationship and the results of that will be apparent on the court.

John Schuhmann, There are a lot of reasons to believe he’ll be better. The summer after your rookie year should be your most productive summer, because you got a taste of the league and know where you have to improve. There will be no deferring to the Kobe Farewell Tour this season and Luke Walton should be a more encouraging coach. Obviously, pick-and-roll decision-making is going to be critical for him, but he also needs to take a big step forward defensively.

Sekou Smith, Seeing is believing with D’Angelo Russell. He can talk all he wants about what happened during his rookie season, good and bad, but his maturity will be measured by the growth I see in his game and in his understanding of what it takes to be a leader of a team. He showed plenty of flashes on the court. But the leadership component is more important than anything else right now. The Lakers are sure to face some struggles this season and they’ll be searching for an identity as a group under coach Luke Walton. Russell has to step up, he has to lead as the point guard and figure out a way to repair his credibility in the locker room. While I hate heaping that responsibility on a player so young, the Lakers have no choice but to put him on that hot seat this season. The baby steps days are over.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comHe’ll definitely be better. But can Russell be an elite star? That is the bottom line for a franchise that has been defined by A-list talent for decades. The one thing Russell must establish is a starring presence – even though he is not exceptional athletically and he has no dominating teammates. He must create a new era. No other young star will be held to such a high standard. It is asking a lot of someone with so much still to learn.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogStarted from the bottom now we’re here? I think the type of season Russell turns in should tell us a lot about him, and whether he can learn from a bumpy rookie road. Russell had some great showings at the Las Vegas Summer League, but that’s Summer League. I do think he’ll get a boost from the change in coaching staff, and hopefully have more of a chance to play and display what he can do on the court. I also wonder if the presence of Brandon Ingram will serve to take just enough of the spotlight off Russell to allow him to shine.

Blogtable: Gameplan for the Miami Heat?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Gameplan for the Heat? | Future for Lakers’ Russell? | Lasting memories of NBA summer?

> Say you are Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. What is your plan for training camp now that Dwyane Wade is long gone and Chris Bosh’s status is, at best, up in the air?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comMake sure I try out every one of those 18 water slides at the Atlantis Bahamas resort where the Heat will hold training camp? OK, besides that, my plan would focus on sorting through the multiple options in the backcourt, helping Justise Winslow develop a more reliable and rangier jump shot and watching a now-paid Hassan Whiteside very closely for any signs of slippage or distraction. I also might want to turn whatever Plan B is into Plan A, as far as Chris Bosh is concerned. Two consecutive seasons got sideways due to his blood-clots health scares, and Miami needs that resolved one way or the other. It’s a much bigger on-court cloud than Dwyane Wade‘s departure, where the roster at least offers alternatives. Not so much with Bosh.


Shaun Powell, The first thing is to let go of yesterday. LeBron James and Wade aren’t walking through that door and maybe not Bosh either. Embrace change and begin to emphasize a new philosophy with a new core. The emphasis should be on developing Hassan Whiteside into a star, pump some air in Goran Dragic‘s confidence and stress defense. It’s a new era in Miami and there’s no sense ignoring it.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comPlay fast. Dwyane Wade is a Hall of Famer, but the pace he played at didn’t allow Goran Dragic to be his best with the Heat. Dragic wants to run and he’ll be able to do it more often playing more minutes alongside younger guys like Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson (and Josh Richardson when he returns from his knee injury). Hopefully, Hassan Whiteside can stay engaged (and more disciplined) for longer stretches than he was last season and can, along with Winslow, keep the Heat in the top 10 defensively. More stops will create more chances to run. The Heat have ranked in the bottom eight in pace each of the last four seasons and it’s time for that to change.

Sekou Smith, If I am Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, the one thing I know I’m not going to do is bring up the names Dwyane Wade or LeBron James. No sense in torturing myself as a coach knowing those guys are playing elsewhere. And I have to plan to go to work in training camp without Chris Bosh. Until he is cleared for full activity, I have to plan accordingly. It’s all about the youth movement now. Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson have to continue to develop. As a staff, we have to make sure Goran Dragic and Udonis Haslem lead the way for us and show everyone else what it is we expect from this team from a culture standpoint. We are starting from the ground up, rebuilding this program, so I know I’ve got perhaps the greatest challenge of my career ahead of me.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.comBosh is on the books for the next three seasons with a salary that eats up roughly one-fourth of Miami’s cap. If Bosh can play in most of the games at his typical All-Star level then they could be competing for the No. 2 seed in the East. But Spoelstra will have no control over that. Whether or not Bosh can contribute, the Heat are going to have to develop a go-to scorer on the perimeter. Every contender needs one, and Spoeltra must find one – which creates a huge opportunity for Goran Dragic.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: Sometimes desperation begets inspiration. Last year during the playoffs against the Toronto Raptors, after Hassan Whiteside went down, the Heat ended up trotting out a lineup featuring Justise Winslow at center, surrounded by a bunch of guards and small forwards. And they were fun to watch! They may not have had enough to beat the Raptors, but it was an interesting lineup with room to grow. So this year I’m guessing they return with Whiteside and then spread the floor with shooters and athletes. Obviously a lot is dependent on the health and return of Chris Bosh, but I’m not writing the Heat off just yet.

Timberwolves still awaiting word on Kevin Garnett’s plans for 2016-17

With training camp less than three weeks away and their first preseason game set for Oct. 8, the Minnesota Timberwolves still are waiting to hear from veteran forward Kevin Garnett on his decision to play in 2016-17 or to retire.

“Kevin hasn’t told me or informed me yet if he’s coming back to play or if he isn’t coming back,” Wolves owner Glen Taylor told Thursday. “I can only assume I’ll be hearing from him in the next three weeks.”

Garnett, whose contact not just with media but also Wolves management is limited in the offseason, is under contract for $8 million to play this season. From that standpoint, no news is good news — or at least status quo. If Garnett does play, it would be his 22nd NBA season.

Garnett — the only player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 5,000 assists, 1,500 steals and 1,500 blocks — played in only 38 games last season due to chronic knee pain, averaging 3.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 14.6 minutes. His career numbers: 17.8 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 3.7 apg and 34.5 mpg.

Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves’ new coach and president of basketball operations, told Wednesday at the coaches meetings in Chicago that discussions on Garnett’s status still are between Taylor and the player.

Refs mourn friend, colleague Nolan Fine

Nolan Fine brought a relaxed approach to his job as an NBA referee, his close friend and colleague Joe Forte said Tuesday, and it served him well in his 16 seasons officiating in the league.

So did his sense of humor. Forte recalled a game in Sacramento about 25 years ago, back in the low-tech days, when referees filled out their game reports and technical foul reports on paper and mailed them to NBA HQ. So when a courtside fan loudly wondered why Fine wasn’t T-ing up several obstinate players, the ref fired back “I can’t afford all the stamps.”

Fine, 60, died Saturday in Virginia Beach, Va., news that hit Forte hard. The men had been friends for three decades, dating back to their time together working college basketball games in the Metro Conference. When their performance in the 1987 NCAA tournament earned them, along with Joe Sylvester, the assignment of the Indiana-Syracuse championship game, Fine at 31 became the youngest referee ever to work that event.

“He stayed relaxed but his mind was really into the game,” Forte said by phone Tuesday. “He knew team fouls, personal fouls, time on the clock… He was a real journeyman referee whom you liked on the court and off the court. It was always a real pleasure to see his name on the assignment sheet next to mine.”

Of Fine’s passing, Bob Delaney, NBA vice president of referee operations, said: “Nolan Fine was a great NBA Official and an even better person. Nolan will be remembered for his passion and commitment to our profession. Every NBA referee, past and present, offers condolences to his family.”

Fine, born in Norfolk, Va., played varsity golf in high school and at Tulane University so well that Forte wondered why he didn’t try to qualify for the pro tour. Fine’s entry into basketball came from attending Virginia Squires games in the old American Basketball Association and becoming friendly with longtime NBA/ABA ref Joe Gushue. It was Gushue who helped Fine gets his start as a college referee.

Fine and Forte, 11 years older, moved to the NBA in 1988. After Fine exited the league a decade ago due to a back disability and Forte retired, Fine assisted his friend in supervising referees in the Big South Conference.

Two years ago, after an official ejected an especially abusive fan from an Old Dominion game, a Norfolk TV station sought out Fine as a local authority. He said such incidents are rare but acceptable, and he mentioned the 2001 game in Miami when an NBA ref tossed out singer Jimmy Buffett over a profanity-laced rant from his courtside seat. That referee was Forte.

Forte noted, among the things basketball fans might not have known about Fine, was that he was an art collector, as well as a fan of the “Rat Pack” and Jerry Lewis. His obituary can be found here.

Key ingredients to injury comebacks: Staying patient, positive

Out of sight, out of mind isn’t just how the NBA spends a good chunk of August and September. It’s how the league’s injured players spend much of their time during the season when the toil and drudgery of their rehab, therapy and drills takes place largely out of the public eye.

Alex Kennedy of explored some of the mental and physical challenges faced by players whose seasons gets interrupted and livelihoods get threatened by significant injuries. It’s not a happy process for anyone involved, but the key for the players, staff and medical personnel involved appears to be staying patient and positive.

Easier said than done, as Kennedy notes:

Entering the 2016-17 NBA campaign, a number of notable players are returning to the court after suffering a significant injury last season. This includes big-name stars such as Anthony Davis (left knee), Blake Griffin (left quad), Chris Paul (right hand), John Wall (both knees) and Marc Gasol (right foot).

When a player goes through an intense rehab regimen, it can drastically change their body. This forces them to make adjustments once they’re healthy enough to play again. Dan Barto, who has trained over 100 NBA players as the Head Skills Trainer at the famed IMG Academy in Florida, has seen this happen many times as a player makes a comeback.

“Any time an athlete misses an extended period of time, they typically come back and work extremely hard, but they’re working with a new body and an old mind,” Barto explained to Basketball Insiders. “When they get back on the court, these ultra-athletic guys have a bunch of very strong muscles from the rehab they’ve done, so their old movement patterns and old reactionary on-court moves put pressure on different areas that their body isn’t used to.”

Synching everything up again is essential, the trainer said:

Barto has a strict order he follows as he eases a player back from an injury.

“What we do when a player is cleared – and I’ve even done this for players who are overweight and trying to get back into shape – is we do a lot of shooting first,” Barto said. “Then, we do jogging. Then, we add some ball-handling and moves. Then, we add jumping and, finally, some contact. If a doctor says you’re going to be out eight months due to an ACL injury, I’ve always said, ‘You need to take nine or 10 months before returning.’ “

Controlling the player’s expectations – never mind the front office’s or those of his fans – is another must on the to-do list:

[There’s] the mental side of recovering from a serious injury. Not every player can be like Adrian Peterson or Paul George, putting their serious injury behind them and having an amazing bounce-back season right away. Some players struggle with the fear of re-injury. Others are hesitant to duplicate their pre-injury style of play (consciously or not). Mental hurdles are extremely common for a player who is trying to return to form

In fact, when talking to current and former NBA players, the majority said that recovering mentally was the toughest part of their comeback.

“Physically it’s hard, but through rehab you regain the strength and stability that was lost; however, the biggest obstacles are mental,” NBA champion Chauncey Billups told Basketball Insiders. “You have to rebuild your confidence. You not only have to prove to the team and the fans that you’re back but, more importantly, you have to prove it to yourself. Being injured has a way of chipping away at one’s confidence. When you cross that bridge [and regain your confidence], you’re back.”

It’s a worthwhile read, particularly at a time of year when a lot of NBA fans feel as sidelined as an injured star.