“If I were a new coach, I’d like to coach them together for a year first before trading either, but if I had to pick, I’d trade Embiid,” one Western Conference coach told HoopsHype. “I think Simmons is more versatile. I’d just surround him with shooters and open the floor up like Milwaukee for Giannis. There can be more creativity with Simmons on the offensive end. I would try to trade Embiid to Miami and get some of their young, hungry shooters and guards like Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, etc. Ideally, I’d get Bam, but I doubt Miami would trade him.”
The Heat have told inquiring teams that Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo are untouchable, according to sources. If that holds true, Miami would either need to find a way to acquire more first-rounders or persuade the Heat to take on a package built around Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, some combination of Kendrick Nunn and/or Duncan Robinson and a 2025 first-rounder.
Last month you heard your name in trade talks for Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. What did it mean to you when the Heat fell out of those discussions because they were unwilling to part with you? Bam Adebayo: "It boosted my confidence extremely. They have high expectations for me. What that means is I’ve got to go in there and be who they want me to be. I can’t take time off. I can’t lose focus of what my goal is and what their goal is for me. They passed on two All-Stars to keep me. I’m thankful for that but also it’s a business at the end of the day … their business was to keep me. I’m just out there trying to keep the main goal the main goal, which is to win."
You’ve often said you love playing in Miami. How much did you pay attention to those trade rumors? Were you nervous? Bam Adebayo: "I wasn’t nervous. It’s that state of mind where you just don’t know. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Every day when I got a (social-media) notification, I would break out in sweats because I’d be like, ‘Yo, this might be the day. I might be shipped out of here.’ Seriously, it’s a kind of feeling a lot of people don’t know what that feels like. I’ve seen my brother (Josh Richardson) get traded. That feeling sucks the air out of the room. That’s pretty much how it feels. If my phone was ringing, just hearing that, you’re like, `Today might be the day.’ It’s the state of the unknown. It’s pretty scary."
At another point in the discussions this week, the Thunder asked the Heat to include two among Herro, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, according to a source in touch with one of the two teams. The Heat also is opposed to including Adebayo, whom Erik Spoelstra ranked among the best centers in the league in the final months of last season.
The Heat and Thunder have been discussing potential combinations of players, and those specifics remain unknown. But indications are the Heat would prefer not to include Bam Adebayo or Herro. This trade would be highly appealing to the Heat if Miami can merely shed contracts of players not in its longterm plans, but it’s questionable if the Thunder would go for that.
Darren Wolfson: Had a mutual friend of ours in the league say today that he heard the Wolves asked Miami for both Richardson and Bam. But couldn't confirm from another contact. But falls in line with what @Marc Stein has tonight.
Darren Wolfson: "My understanding is, from talking to numerous league officials - league sources, front-office folks, a coach, actually, a couple of coaching sources - that the Timberwolves have all the parameters of the deals that they can make. So it's on the Wolves at some point here to say yes. Now, do they wait a little bit longer just to see if some team adds some player in, like Miami? Miami is not willing to move Josh Richardson. But in the end, do they offer Josh Richardson? I talked about that on a recent podcast, that some league people thought yeah, at the end, Pat Riley would make him available when you have the chance to acquire a star like Jimmy Butler. But so far, as of Oct. 2nd, no sense whatsoever that Miami is making Josh Richardson available. Same goes for Bam Adebayo."
The Heat has been very reluctant this offseason to part with Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo, and it’s unclear if Miami would be willing to include Richardson in a deal for Butler. (Miami’s preference would be not to include Richardson.) Miami also prefers to keep Kelly Olynyk. But Justise Winslow could be put in play because of questions about whether the Heat will keep him if he enters restricted free agency next summer.
And though Pat Riley publicly said there are no untouchables on his roster, the Heat also showed no inclination in trading Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. And Miami’s preference this summer was to keep James Johnson and Justise Winslow.
April 19, 2021 | 11:00 am EDT Update
Just like when both Bryant and James won five NBA titles, Clarkson’s main source of motivation points toward collecting championship hardware. Unlike when Bryant and James both won Finals and regular-season MVP awards, Clarkson’s other source of motivation points toward becoming the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. “If we’re winning games and we’re doing that, I’ll be rewarded for that,” Clarkson told USA TODAY Sports. “I feel like this is that time and that moment where I’ve impacted the game.”
“If the Sixth Man of the Year award comes and I don’t get it, I don’t need the validation because my teammates, coaching staff and a lot of my peers gave me that,” Clarkson said. “They’re telling me, ‘I respect what you do’ and all of that. So, I know that goes a long way as well. But it’s definitely something I want to get accomplished one of these years. Hopefully it’s this year.”
So after a regular-season loss in Portland, Bryant chewed out his younger teammates over their attitude, work habits and decision making. “I remember him just really getting upset,” Clarkson said. “You’ve seen him come out of his skin and grill us a little bit. But from that point on, I felt all of us had a different look at everything with what we wanted to do. That’s probably, in terms of development, a little wake-up call.”
“It was difficult, yes, because I would have loved to have stayed with a healthy Markelle (Fultz), and a healthy Jonathan Isaac and a newly blossoming Mo Bamba and a healthy Cole Anthony, but I felt like there was just something telling me I needed to shake things up. It kind of felt like I had one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake out in Orlando. “I was giving it my all, you know? I was giving it my all, and it was difficult, man. I didn’t know if everybody was pushing in the same direction.”
Organizationally, I asked? “Yeah, organizationally, in terms of the plan,” Gordon continued. “I think (Magic front office executives) John Hammond, Jeff Weltman, those guys are amazing people — amazing people, and very talented managers as well. But I feel like they got kind of cast into the revolving door out there as well in Orlando. So many coaches — five coaches in seven years (Jacque Vaughn, James Borrego, Scott Skiles, Frank Vogel and Steve Clifford). And it was kind of a different organization after the passing of Mr. (Rich) DeVos (in September 2018) as well. It was just a lot. A lot of uncertainty, an insecure kind of feeling. But I have no doubt in my mind that John and Jeff are going to get that organization back to where it needs to be.
“This year, we have high, high aspirations — championship aspirations,” Gordon, who clearly didn’t get the memo about those hopes no longer being on the table, told The Athletic. “We still feel like we have enough, especially with ‘Joker’ man. When you’ve got that guy on the floor, you have a chance to win every single night. So everybody’s got to step up, everybody has to play their best. But if we’re doing that, then I feel like we have a good chance to go as far as we want to.”
“He’s a genius, man,” Gordon said of Jokic, who is on track to become just the second player in league history to average at least 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists per game (Oscar Robertson is the other, and he did it just once). “He’s a basketball genius. That’s really what it comes down to. He’s playing it like it’s chess, seeing it three steps ahead. “I’m starting to learn that you’ve always got to keep your eye on him when he has the ball because he’ll find you. He’ll find you. Even if you don’t think you’re open, you’re open. He’ll pass you open, which is dope. It’s just amazing to play with somebody like that who can actually pass you open and sees the game (like that), and who likes to pass and enjoys passing.”
April 19, 2021 | 10:09 am EDT Update
Law Murray: A source confirms that the LA Clippers will not re-sign Malik Fitts to a second 10-day contract ahead of Tuesday’s game in Portland. Expectation is that Yogi Ferrell will take that spot pending health and safety protocols.