Tom Westerholm: Smart says the shooting splint feels “real comfortable.” “It feels like nothing’s there.”
October 18, 2018 | 8:33 pm EDT Update
Just days before the start of the season, Pat Riley addressed the Jimmy Butler trade rumors with Heat players in a team meeting. According to a team spokesman, Riley acknowledged the trade discussions and apologized for players’ names surfacing in rumors. The message was, “I’m pulling the plug,” after talks continued for too long, but there was no guarantee that a trade will not happen down the road.
“It calms you down, for sure, a little bit,” point guard Goran Dragic said of the meeting. “Of course, everybody is talking, including me. I just want to focus on my job. But deep down, it affects you a little bit. I want to stay here. I like it, really. So when Pat came after practice and sat us down and we had a small meeting, he told us that and you can feel a little bit of relief. But that doesn’t mean, in the near future it can’t happen. So we still need to do our job. We still need to be professionals.”
Given what you just said, does it bother you when you hear people say the Blazers should split Dame and CJ up? Jusuf Nurkic: Look, what do you get when you split up Dame and CJ? You get a lottery team, 20 wins probably in a year. That’s not the goal. For a small-market team, I think that Portland is not appreciating what Dame really is. You’re not going to get anytime some player like Dame here. Everybody knows that. The way he treats the city, the way he treats the people, the way he treats the guys around him. Even a person he just met, any day, he treats every person the same. That’s what’s amazing for me to see.
“It was an amazing experience, man,” Nurkic told CBS Sports. “They gave me the role I always wanted. Coming from Denver, I didn’t know what’s going on, and I came in here and they were just like, ‘Go hoop. Have fun.’ That was probably the best experience for me and the city and the organization. We had that run and made the playoffs and then you come into the year and you have a lot of expectations from myself, from the fans, from the league, whatever.”
What should people expect from your new 3-point range? Jusuf Nurkic: I’m comfortable doing that. But I feel like, the way the league is going, everybody is expecting the big man to play every position, I guess, and to try to be able to guard anywhere on the court because there’s going to be a lot of switching and mismatches. So, I feel the way I was playing the last couple years, I was shooting the long 2s anyway. So, one step back and I’ll shoot the 3s and nothing is going to change.
October 18, 2018 | 8:08 pm EDT Update
Ira Winderman: Heat confirm that Pat Riley addressed his players about Jimmy Butler trade rumors and told them, “I’m pulling the plug.” But he did not tell them anything about standing by his young players. Rather, made them aware of process.