With it being Friday and the 2017-18 NBA season starting sooner than expected on October 17, it’s time to take a look back at some of the best Miami Heat moments from last year.2016-17 was the time to be alive, for Miami Heat fans. Forget about Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal teaming up for the franchise’s first championship in 2006. And the Big Three giving the organization another two titles in 2012 and 2013. This new era of Miami Heat Basketball is what it’s all about. Headlined by Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, of course. At 31, the Slovenian point guard is playing the best ball of his life, having averaged 20.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game in 33.7 minutes last season. And the 9-year veteran has made it a point to expand his game. Though he may still rely on his trusty Euro-step, he shot 40.3 percent from downtown this past year. Nevermind the work he has put in to develop his playmaking. Then you have arguably one of the league’s top big men today. Finishing the season averaging 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per contest, the 28-year-old was a threat on both ends of the floor. Whiteside also showed growth off of the court too, curbing a temper many called cheap nba jerseys childish, that often came with a loss of focus. But the great thing about this current squad is how much of their success relies on competing as a unit. Meaning guys like Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder and Dion Waiters are just as responsible for the team’s triumphs. So-called NBA stars or not. And 37-year-old, 14-year players a la Udonis Haslem are still valued to the highest degree, despite only seeing time in 16 matchups last year. So in honor of #FlashbackFriday, let’s take a look back at four of the best moments from 2016-17.
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Waiters Island is keeping its residency in Miami for at least another four years. Free agent guard Dion Waiters has agreed to a four-year deal to re-sign with the Miami Heat for $52 million, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Wednesday.Waiters chose the Heat, where he enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2016-17, after reportedly considering the New wholesale nba jerseys York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. The sharpshooting Waiters, still only 25, averaged 15.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds last season while shooting 39.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Waiters’ re-signing helps stabilize the Heat’s backcourt for the short-term after losing out in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes to the Boston Celtics, and gives the team a talented, young returning core that includes Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and 2017 lottery pick Bam Adebayo.
CLEVELAND — The word is out around the NBA. The Cavaliers want a veteran starter, a blue chipper on a rookie contract, and a first-round pick for Kyrie Irving. The Cavs are working diligently to make Irving happy (he wants to be traded) and get what they want for him in return. They’ve been in contact consistently with Irving’s camp as they field calls and offers from interested suitors, trying to cultivate an offer that makes sense. Among the scenarios under consideration, LeBron James worked out with a number of stars in Las Vegas this past week, among them Eric Bledsoe, the Phoenix Suns guard who’s been linked to numerous rumors as a possible target in a trade for Irving. Bledsoe is 27, never been an All-Star, and has endured three knee surgeries. But he is coming off the best of his seven seasons, averaging 21.1 points and 6.3 assists for the Suns and is a better defender than Irving (who has superior ball skills). It’s easy to brush off James’ workouts with Bledsoe — Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul were also there and James and Bledsoe share an agent — but Bledsoe would fit one of the Cavs’ requirements. The Suns also own Miami’s first-round pick, which is partially protected in 2018. That’d be the second box checked. Cleveland also wants Josh Jackson, a 6-8 rookie drafted fourth overall by the Suns in June. Phoenix reportedly doesn’t want to trade Jackson, and a source said the Suns told Devin Booker he would not be traded — which would seem to put a serious hamper in this potential trade. “If that deal (Bledsoe, Miami first rounder and Jackson) for Irving was there, it’d be done by now,” a league source with knowledge of the Cavs’ thinking told cleveland.com. The deal would be agreed to, perhaps, but not officially done. As a rookie, Jackson cannot be traded for 30 days after signing his contract — which he put his name to on July 3. That means the Suns couldn’t deal Jackson to anyone until later this week. The Cavs-Suns potential trade is just one being bandied about on talk shows and the Internet, as the basketball world dines on the delicious, offseason rumor meal of Irving wanting out and Cleveland trying to make it happen. The general manager attempting to make the trade on the Cavs’ side is new, 34-year-old Koby Altman. If it were his predecessor, David Griffin, orchestrating the trade, history tells us what the Cavs would ultimately end up with would be something almost no one saw coming. Perhaps that same history can be used as a guide to envision what kind of haul Altman ultimately pulls for Irving. “In terms of David Griffin, the biggest testament to him is he’s got us all ready for this,” Altman said Wednesday. “He was a tremendous leader for us and that’s what he did. That’s the best testament to him is he has all of us ready for this challenge.” Griffin, who departed from the Cavs June 19, left behind Altman, Mike Gansey (now the assistant GM), and Brock Aller (now senior director of basketball operations) as three men who worked in Griffin’s front office and are now running the show here. Trades can be complicated things in the NBA. What looks to us like one trade can often count as multiple transactions within the same deal as GMs like Griffin deftly navigated the league’s collective bargaining agreement to get the best returns. Taking the above caveat into consideration, Griffin essentially made four roster-changing, crucial deals in his three seasons as GM — each of which ended in the Finals. One was trading Andrew Wiggins (now a rumored target of the Cavs for Irving) to Minnesota for Kevin Love — that one was the exception to Griffin’s rule of multiplicity and general secrecy. The other three fit. In January of 2015, with the Cavs scuffling, Anderson Varejao out for the season and coach David Blatt flailing, Griffin knew he needed to deal. The Cavs’ interest in Timofey Mozgov in Denver was well known, but before Griffin could acquire him he first pulled off a three-team blockbuster cheap jerseys in which Dion Waiters was shipped to Oklahoma City and J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert came to Cleveland from the Knicks. Smith was the surprise in the deal because of his off-court issues, but in the meantime Griffin needed the first-round pick the Cavs received from Oklahoma City for Waiters to package in a deal with Denver for Mozgov. The following season, with the Cavs wanting to spread the floor when they went to their bench, Griffin with little prior fanfare traded with Orlando for Channing Frye. Cleveland could’ve had Frye straight up, but also wanted to move salary so it roped Portland into the deal, convincing the Blazers to take Anderson Varejao’s contract in return for a first-round pick. The Blazers sent a second rounder to the Magic. Last season, of course, with Smith out for three months because of a broken thumb and free-agent signee Mike Dunleavy not panning out, Griffin’s front office stunned the league by acquiring one of the greatest 3-point shooters in league history — Kyle Korver — in exchange for Dunleavy, the expiring contract of Mo Williams, a first-round pick, and cash. It is from that kind of depth which Altman may be operating as he attempts to move Irving. He may try to attach the expiring contract of Frye ($7.4 million) as well as Shumpert’s contract (two years, $21.3 million) to Irving-related moves. He could seek to use what he receives from one team for Irving to acquire a whole new set of assets from a third team. That’s what Griffin would’ve done. And it’s Griffin from whom Altman learned his craft.
During the years treading water in Newark, the Nets talked about Barclays Center as their Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”“They” were the top free agents, including Kevin Durant. “You” was/is a billionaire Russian owner who recently taught Stephen Colbert how to throw axes against a dungeon wall. “We’re not just part of the conversation, we are the conversation,” CEO Brett Yormark told me just before the arena opened in 2013. Only that’s not what happened. Today, the Nets aren’t part of many conversations. The arena is still very cool. The practice facility boasts a spectacular view of the NYC skyline. But the franchise is still treading water, hoping for much better days. No top free agents are seriously considering the Nets, the worst team in the NBA last season. As the landscape of the league changed — with access for fans reaching all over the world — the change in market from Newark to Brooklyn meant diddly without a built-in base. Which leads us to their very unique current plan, spearheaded by GM Sean Marks. Armed with a glut of cap space in his first two summers, Marks went about building a roster using two strategies: overbidding for restricted free agents hoping the other team doesn’t match (that hasn’t worked in three tries), and trading for players on undesirable contracts cheap jerseys (done three times just this offseason). The latest example of the latter is Allen Crabbe, who was introduced to the media Thursday by the Nets. To Portland, he was a salary dump making too much money (still guaranteed $56 million over the next three years) for very little production (10.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last season). To Brooklyn, he’s a starting forward who fits their mold (young with shooting range). “He’ll fit in with guys we currently have on the roster. It’ll open the floor up. Hopefully, it’ll be a fun brand of basketball to watch,” Marks said Thursday. Just don’t get too excited, apparently. “I’m not really, to be honest, focused on the playoffs,” Marks said. “We’re obviously making steps in a direction that hopefully everybody can see. We are going younger. We’ve got a youth movement here.” At this stage, it’s hard to judge Marks and his ambitious plan. In one season at the helm, he put together a team that won 20 games without control of its own draft pick. Anybody could do that as long as the owner is on board. People who’ve worked with Mikhail Prokhorov wonder if he’ll lose patience with the losing, and then revert to what he’s always done when the going gets tough: fire the coach. But as of right now, the Russian ownership hasn’t set any mandates and Prokhorov has stepped away from the spotlight, except for a TV appearance with Colbert and continued rumors that he’ll sell controlling interest of the Nets. Marks, unlike Billy King before him, is enjoying an interference-free rebuild. His misses on the job include letting go of Yogi Ferrell in the middle of last season, just before the guard blossomed into an intriguing prospect with the Mavericks. He also balked last summer at signing Dion Waiters, who then emerged as a top scorer with the Heat. Marks has three players on the roster — Crabbe, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll — who own contracts that have far exceeded their basketball production. Much of the GM’s success will be determined by D’Angelo Russell, the young and talented guard he acquired for Brook Lopez. Russell has a reputation of being an entitled diva, but there are good reasons the 21-year-old was drafted second overall two years ago. Regardless, Marks deserves credit for this: he hired an excellent coach in Kenny Atkinson and has tried to surround him with players who fit a system predicated on pace, spacing and 3-point shooting. The Nets are like the D-League Warriors. And to get to this point on the roster, Marks has taken an unconventional route that he wants us to understand is far from his Field of Dreams. “Are we happy? Sure,” he said. “But I think we know we have a long, long way to go.”