Saturday, June 28, 2014

Report: Dwyane Wade has opted out of his contract

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James opted out of his contract earlier in the week.

In order for him to return to the Heat, one of the key factors would be whether or not Dwyane Wade and/or Chris Bosh would opt out of their contracts to ultimately give the Heat more financial flexibility.

And D-Wade has opted out.

Playing in only 54 regular-season games, Wade averaged 19.0 points — his lowest average since his rookie season — as well as 4.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. In the NBA Finals, however, Wade shot only 43.8 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from the line while averaging 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

The Heat were already the odds-on favorite to re-sign James and this move only makes it more likely that James will return.

[Update: Bosh has also opted out, per ESPN's Chris Boussard.  Or he hasn't as's David Aldridge says "Bosh has not yet decided whether to opt out."]

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Report: LeBron James to exercise early termination option

Get ready for The Decision II — not another TV "special" but another free agency period for LeBron James.

With LeBron about to become a free agent on July 1st, it does not mean that he won't return to the Heat along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for a chance to get back to the NBA Finals for a fifth consecutive season. So, Pat Riley is probably somewhere saying "get a grip" and then nervously laughing.

That said, it does open up his options and obviously every team in the association will be lining up in pursuit of the game's best player.

James averaged 27.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season. Based on data from Basketball Reference, only three players have seasons with 27/6/6/1: James (eight of them), Michael Jordan (three) and Larry Bird (three).

While Kevin Durant won the league MVP this season (and rightfully so), James is one of only five NBA players to have won the award four times. The others are Jordan, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Will James keep his talents in South Beach? Go back home to Cleveland? Or end up somewhere else?

Updated 2014 NBA Mock Draft (Baillargeon)

With the 2014 NBA Draft only a couple of days away, our contributors will be updating their 2014 NBA mock drafts and here's Kyle Baillargeon's latest version:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jabari Parker, SF, Duke

Owner Dan Gilbert was adamant last year that the Cavaliers wouldn't enter the lottery again, and would make the playoffs. But here they are, once more, thanks to an incompetent front office with no ability to evaluate talent. Virtually everyone agrees that Parker is the most NBA-ready talent in the draft, and the Cavs will be too afraid to be patient with the high-upside Wiggins and Embiid.

2. Milwaukee Bucks - Andrew Wiggins, SG, Kansas

Embiid would make some sense, but his injuries will prove very scary, and the Bucks have the virtually untradeable Larry Sanders at center. Wiggins may technically be the same position as the "Greek Freak" Giannis Antetokounmpo, but specific positions aren't as important in today's NBA. Wiggins has tremendous upside, and will be the centerpiece of the "Fear the Deer" renaissance.

3. Philadelphia 76ers - Dante Exum, PG, Australia

The Sixers seem to be desperate for Wiggins, but since he's gone, Exum is the pick here. The most likely scenario would then be for the Sixers to try and move Michael Carter-Williams for another pick. It's kind of nuts to think that the team would consider trading the rookie of the year, but reports indicate they would have had Exum rated higher than MCW if they were in the same draft.

4. Orlando Magic - Joel Embiid, C, Kansas

I don't expect to see Embiid drop too far because of his injuries. History has not been kind to big men with navicular bone fractures, but the talent is too tantalizing to pass up for some. The constant advancement in modern medicine and injury treatment also plays in Embiid's favor. With a second lottery pick, the Magic can afford to swing for the fences here.

5. Utah Jazz - Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State

This would be an upset on draft day, but Harris is a great scorer and defender. He would contribute in a meaningful way from day one, and the Jazz don't really need another power forward, which is the top position at this stage of the draft. Any team that wants to jump up and grab a power forward that they really like would be smart to get on the phone with Utah and try to make a deal. The Jazz would definitely listen.

6. Boston Celtics - Aaron Gordon, SF, Arizona

Boston fans hope this pick (along with others) goes to Minnesota for Kevin Love, but if the Celtics make the pick for themselves, it now looks like Aaron Gordon is a near-lock. Danny Ainge has reportedly had his eye on Gordon for a long time. Plenty of players have been brought in for workouts of late, including my initial pick here, Noah Vonleh. But all signs point to Gordon.

7. Los Angeles Lakers - Julius Randle, PF, Kentucky

The Lakers may think that the smart move would be to move this pick for veteran help, but that would be a bad idea. Kobe Bryant won't be playing forever, and the future needs to be taken into consideration. Randle reminds some of Zach Randolph, and while he can be great in the future, he would still be able to help now.

8. Sacramento Kings - Marcus Smart, PG, Oklahoma State

Smart is an immediate upgrade over Isaiah Thomas, and would be a leader from day one. Smart would have been one of the top three picks of the draft last year, so getting him here would be a steal for Sacramento.

9. Charlotte Hornets - Nik Stauskas, SG, Michigan

The Hornets are another team that could use an upgrade in the shooting department, and Stauskas is widely considered the best shooter in the draft. Charlotte finally has a good thing going, and this pick is more of a luxury than anything. Stauskas would add to this up-and-coming team, whom we might not see in this high of a draft position again for a while.

10. Philadelphia 76ers - Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana

The jury is still out on if Vonleh will be very good in the NBA. Casual observers saw Vonleh at Indiana this past year and don't understand why he would be picked so high. But supporters agree Vonleh was never featured in Indiana's offense and still managed to average nearly a double-double last year. At 18 years of age, Vonleh already has an NBA body and could still grow. He could be Derrick Favors, or he could be LaMarcus Aldridge. Either way, the Sixers would probably be thrilled to walk out of the draft with Exum and Vonleh on their squad.

[Editor's note: As a Sixers fan, I'd be "thrilled" indeed.]

11. Denver Nuggets - Jusuf Nurkic, C, Bosnia

Nurkic is a big, physical player who can take over in the middle for Denver. The Nuggets could also use some help at the shooting guard position, but it's debatable on whether anyone remaining at that position has as much upside as Nurkic.

12. Orlando Magic - Elfrid Payton, PG, Louisiana-Lafayette

Payton has been impressing everyone in the lead up to the draft, and the Magic could use his leadership and skills. Payton would be one half of a potentially dynamic backcourt with Victor Oladipo, and the possibility of trading Arron Afflalo for yet another pick is strong. Last time, we had Payton at 20, and now it looks like even 12 seems a little low. But if he's still here, he's the pick.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves - Doug McDermott, SF, Creighton

If the Wolves do in fact trade Kevin Love, then they will likely have already picked somewhere in this draft and taken a power forward. In either case, though, McDermott brings great shooting to a team that could use it. McDermott would probably start for Minnesota, and could be a good scorer from the start.

14. Phoenix Suns - James Young, SG/SF, Kentucky

Gerald Green had a decent enough season last year but he's not part of the Suns' future. James Young could use a little more seasoning, but with time he should take over the small forward position in Phoenix. Still only 18 years old, there is a lot of upside with Young.

15. Atlanta Hawks - Zach LaVine, G, UCLA

LaVine may not have been the best player in the Pac 12 last year, but he may very well have been the best prospect. He's still getting bigger and has even drawn comparisons to Russell Westbrook for his style of play and athleticism. He won't be a star out of the gate, but in a few years, we may look back on this as one of the steals of the draft.

-> Continue to picks 16-30

More Mocks:
-> 2014 NBA Mock Draft from Kevin Hanson
-> 2014 NBA Mock Draft from Brendan Donahue
-> our NBA Mock Draft Database

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Spurs PF Tim Duncan exercises option for 2014-15 season

It's not a huge surprise, but it's now official.

The retirement party will be postponed by at least one year.

Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, Spurs power forward Tim Duncan has exercised his player option on the 2014-15 season and will return to the Spurs for a chance to defend their title.

One of the greatest players — and perhaps the most unassuming superstar — in NBA history, Duncan has 24,904 points (19th all-time), 13,940 rebounds (11th all-time) and 2,791 blocked shots (seventh all-time).

The other two members of the Big 3, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, are both entering the final years of their contracts as well.

At the moment, other key Spurs free agents include Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner.

Last season, Duncan averaged 15.1 points and 9.7 rebounds during the regular season and 16.3 points and 9.2 boards in the postseason.

Based on early odds from, only the Heat (9/2) have lower odds to win the NBA title next year than the Spurs (11/2).

(Of course, those odds could change dramatically if LeBron James opts out and enters free agency and his wife created a little bit of drama with this Instragram post.)