NEWS OF THE MORNING
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 Bosh — Pat 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.”
No. 2: Wall, Beal downplay rift — We can choose to trust John Wall that, despite Wall’s own remarks to the contrary over the summer, he and Washington Wizards teammate Bradley Beal really do get along. But Wall is wrong – maybe just more irritated by the attention this whole matter has received – when he says, “Everybody wants us to dislike each other.” There might be 29 NBA teams rooting for some discord in the Wizards backcourt, but a whole bunch of Washington and NBA fans would prefer that link arms and sing “I Got You, Babe.” Given their talent, their potential and their team’s overdue rise in the Eastern Conference, speculation of internal chafing fueled by Wall’s comment is wholly unproductive. Here’s Candace Buckner of the Washington Post on the elephant in the media-day room, along with Wall’s own social-media attempt at damage control:
… Either you see Wall and Beal addressing their aggressive yet harmless disagreements, or rather, a pair of young stars whose on-court relationship continues to cast a cloud over the 2016-17 season.
Last month, Wall and Beal addressed their competing ideals and how they must align for the future. By Monday, neither Wall nor Beal used their separate time on the dais — they were the only players who were brought into the press conference room during media day — to portray a perfect marriage. Instead, the pair simply tried to downplay the perception of an irreparable rift.
Though Wall had previously said the two “dislike” each other on the court, on Monday, he flipped his usage of the word.
“Whenever you have your two best players and they both want the game-winning shot and they want those types of plays, you’re going to have disagreements on the court. But other than that, we’re fine,” Wall said. “We talk. We’ve talked about it. We’re both two grown men. Everybody wants us to dislike each other. No, we don’t dislike each other. It’s just at times any team that has two great players [or] players who want to be great, we’re going to have disagreements from time to time.”
Beal said he never took Wall’s comments as “a shot” fired at him. When a reporter asked Beal about similarities between his relationship with Wall and his four brothers, he jumped on the analogy.
“Sometimes you don’t always get along with your bigger brother or your little brother but you love them at the end of the day. They’re family. That’s how John and I are,” Beal said. …
Teammates took up affirming Wall and Beal’s bond. Markieff Morris said the two sit next to each other on the team plane, “so there’s some kind of relationship there,” and echoed several others who described the disagreements as overblown.
“It’s foolishness,” Morris said. “You let the media play with that and move on.”
Veteran Marcin Gortat was even more direct.
“Well I heard this one comment that we have moments when we dislike each other on the court and stuff like that. That’s true. I mean, it is true. But at the same time, there’s nothing crazy that we have to panic,” Gortat said. “Obviously media, they have nothing to do. You guys don’t have nothing to do in the offseason so you’re making a big story than it really is. You know, me and John and Brad, we say this to each other all the time, and we work with that. We function around each other all the time, so it’s not like we’re hating each other, but we’ve got those moments.”
No. 3: Spurs missing their ‘In-Tim-idator’— It’s easy enough now for Tim Duncan‘s former teammates to wax nostalgic about their shared seasons and the bonds they formed with San Antonio’s legendary big man. But it wasn’t so easy when they were new to the Spurs, before any of those bonds had a chance to form and harden. Even his best known sidekicks, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, were made to feel uncomfortable when they got to San Antonio and had to prove themselves, and learn to navigate around, the big fella. The newly retired Duncan, naturally, was a bigger topic in absentia than he had been at Spurs media day the past couple seasons, per the San Antonio Express-News:
When Tony Parker arrived in San Antonio in 2001, Tim Duncan was already a three-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection.
The 7-footer cut a formidable figure – his perpetual stoicism only added to his hardened persona.
Just 19 years old when he made his NBA debut, it’s understandable why Parker would find Duncan’s aura so utterly intimidating.
“Oh, yeah, of course, of course,” Parker said Monday.” You know the story. He didn’t talk to me for a year. I was worried – is he going to like me – and all that kind of stuff. It’s hard to explain the way I felt, but, for sure (I was intimidated).”
Parker admits he doesn’t know when Duncan actually began to like him.
For that matter, he’s still not sure.
“I hope so,” Parker said, grinning slightly.
Manu Ginobili arrived one year later, in 2002. His relationship with Duncan followed a similar trajectory.
“I was very intimidated the first year,” Ginobili said. “It takes a little bit to earn his trust. Towards the mid-season of my first season here is when I started to realize he had my back. Once he has your back then it’s over and you feel so supported and you can go against anybody.”
Duncan, Ginobili and Parker won four titles together, and the Spurs’ almost familial bonds with one another became – and remain – the envy of the league.
No. 4: Losing Middleton stymies Bucks — Khris Middleton has been the Milwaukee Bucks’ most efficient player and most reliable outside shooter since he arrived in 2013. So the news last week that Middleton would be lost for the next six months, and possibly longer, after severely tearing his left hamstring in a pickup game at the team’s facility was crushing. Stripping out Middleton’s 18.2 points per game from Milwaukee’s offense and the space his perimeter shooting opens for teammates was bad enough. But for a team eager to demonstrate that last season’s backslide from 41 victories to 33 was an anomaly, losing the 25-year-old swingman on the brink of training camp dealt a blow to the Bucks players’ confidence. Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times was on hand Monday to survey the wreckage:
“It tore completely off the bone,’’ Middleton said.
Middleton is expected to have surgery Wednesday in New York. It will be performed by Dr. David Altchek, the same surgeon who performed successful knee surgery on Bucks forward Jabari Parker on Jan. 5, 2015.
Bucks general manager John Hammond said Middleton will be sidelined approximately six months; Middleton wasn’t so sure about that.
“I’m going to listen to my doctors; I don’t want to rush back,’’ Middleton said.
Having surgery for a torn hamstring is rare. Several NBA officials said they didn’t know of any other NBA player who needed surgery for such an injury. In their estimation, Middleton is unlikely to play at all this season — and not return to action in March as the Bucks are speculating.
Middleton’s injury cast a pall over media day. The Bucks brass and Middleton’s teammates, while attempting to remain positive, readily acknowledged Middleton’s injury was a devastating blow for a team that hopes to make the playoffs after winning a mere 33 games last season.
“It sucks,’’ Parker said.
So, where do the Bucks go from here?
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said Rashad Vaughn, who was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2015, would get the first crack at replacing Middleton in the starting lineup.
Kidd also added that Malcolm Brogdon, the team’s second-round draft pick in June, will also get some strong minutes. “It’s a great opportunity for Malcolm and for Vaughn,’’ Kidd said.
The Bucks also recently signed veteran free-agent Jason Terry, an outstanding long-range shooter who played well off the bench last season for the Houston Rockets.
Neither the 39-year-old Terry, Vaughn nor Brogdon appear capable of making the major impact the Bucks will need to be a playoff-caliber team. Furthermore, Hammond said there weren’t any quality free-agent wing players who could provide immediate relief.
Hammond said there is a possibility of acquiring a proven shooting guard via a trade. According to some league officials, the Bucks may look to deal veteran center Greg Monroe, and/or veteran guard Michael Carter-Williams, both of whom have long been rumored to be on the trading block. Another player who could be used as trade bait is [John] Henson, who is a top-flight rim protector.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Carmelo Anthony sounded exuberant about new teammates Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee, but at the same time knows much of the responsibility for the New York Knicks’ season rests on him. … Mo Williams had a change of heart about making this season his last, so Cleveland GM David Griffin began sifting through some veteran free-agent point guards to back up Kyrie Irving. … Free-agent acquisition Pau Gasol talked about stepping into Tim Duncan‘s role with the Spurs, and his comments were as respectful and deferential as you would expect from the gentlemanly Spaniard. … Don’t look now, but Detroit big man Andre Drummond is training in a virtual-reality world in which none of his free throws is a brick. … Ricky Rubio, the longest-tenured Timberwolves player, made it clear he doesn’t want to be traded. Though that might happen anyway. … Saying “Everbody knows I want to be here” isn’t the most tactical way of negotiating a contract extension, though it likely will get both center Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz to the deal both sides want. … Rudy Gay‘s achy Achilles tendon is pain-free now and the Sacramento Kings forward will be contract-free in about seven months. … There is no Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook in Orlando, which explains Serge Ibaka‘s enhanced role in his new team‘s offense and in the Magic’s locker room.