Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Oct. 22): Miami Heat in no rush to trade Goran Dragic Staff

Silver speaks to reporters | Heat hanging on to Dragic | Can the Grizz still grit and grind? | Kerr not a fan of anonymous quotes

No. 1: Silver speaks to reporters — Just weeks ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for either NBA players or owners to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, all signs point toward players and owners agreeing to a new deal that, according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, will look very much like the current labor deal. Speaking to reporters yesterday in New York City following the Board of Governors meeting, Silver addressed the labor negotiations, as well as several other topics, as our Steve Aschburner reports …

“What’s different is from Day 1, we both tried to establish a tonality, a process in which there would be transparency and in which there would be respect from both sides,” Silver said. “Michele’s word is we both agreed to be ‘adults’ in this process.

“There hasn’t been agreement on everything. I think there’s been a healthy back and forth, but I think it’s begun from a basis of trust. I credit Michele Roberts enormously with coming in with that perspective, with being very professional about how she and her colleagues and the players went about this negotiation.”

Today’s NBA players probably are the most business-savvy the league ever has known, owing to the NBPA’s training and information opportunities as well as lucrative, outside earning potential of contemporary players.

Then there’s one person in the room for some of the talks – the current owner of the Charlotte franchise and one of the most respected former NBA superstars ever – who captures the players’ attention.

Silver also touched on other topics in his Q&A time with reporters Friday:

• Competitive balance remains a priority for Silver and the NBA overall, because as much as an individual team want to do everything it can to win a championship, the league feels it prospers most with the greatest spread of talent. In other words, a commissioner can be happy for free agent Kevin Durant exercising his free-agent right to sign with Golden State while doing what he can to avoid a league dominated by a few “super teams.” So with the start of the 2016-17 season days away, how is the NBA doing? “We’re far from the perfect system,” Silver said. “The players are divided a little bit as well because on one hand, they want that ability to be a free agent and to go wherever it is that they choose to play. On the other hand, they recognize that we’re going to have a better league if talent is distributed in a more equal fashion.”

• The WNBA format of reseeding playoff teams after each round, while an interesting model for future NBA postseasons, isn’t anything that will be part of the league’s format in the short term.

• The NBA already has a rule regarding team personnel during the playing of the national anthem. That, combined with how some players and teams have made unity gestures in the preseason (linking arms, for example), makes Silver believe there won’t incidents of kneeling or other individual protests as seen in the NFL. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem,” he said. “I think that is the appropriate thing to do.” Silver said the league and the union encourage players and teams to vent social concerns by tackling the problems directly, as they have been doing.

• Silver expressed the NBA’s condolences for longtime Detroit sportswriter and Pistons beat man Drew Sharp, who was found dead at home Friday at age 56. The commissioner also wished well USA Today NBA writer Jeff Zillgitt, recovering from his latest round of cancer surgery.

• Though not discussed in Silver’s news conference, the NBA announced that the Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J., will determine the outcome of all relay situations except for player altercations and flagrant fouls. Sourcing more rulings to the Replay Center last season (72 percent of all replays) led to a reduction in average review time from 42.0 seconds in 2014-15 to 31.9 seconds, the league’s research revealed.


No. 2: Heat hanging on to Dragic — The Miami Heat have had a few surprises this summer, including losing franchise face Dwyane Wade to Chicago in free agency, and have Chris Bosh ruled out with medical issues. But according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, that doesn’t mean the Heat are ready to trade away whatever else they have and look to immediately rebuild. For now, at least, Stein says look for the Heat to hang on to point guard Goran Dragic…

Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking ‎on the part of clubs who’d love to pilfer a front-line floor leader, but I’ve heard this warning more than once this month: Don’t be surprised if the Heat decide to make Dragic available if they get off to a slow start with a roster that suddenly no longer features Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

It should be noted that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is an immense Dragic fan who A) went to the 30-year-old’s native Slovenia in the summer to personally check up on him during EuroBasket qualifying, and B) has eagerly awaited the opportunity to let Dragic run the team at his preferred high-tempo pace after he so willingly deferred to Wade last season.

Yet we can also never forget that Heat czar Pat Riley, once he reaches a point when he feels drastic measures need to be taken, is never afraid to take them.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Spoelstra assured Dragic this week that a recent report suggesting Miami was actively discussing a deal to send him to Sacramento for Rudy Gay and Darren Collison was inaccurate.‎ Yet one suspects this one is bound to keep coming up, partly because whispers persist that Gay would love to land in Miami … but also because it’s no secret Sacramento is on the hunt for a first-rate quarterback.

Sources say that the Heat naturally would have been prepared to surrender Dragic during the summer as part of a grander package to try to pry Russell Westbrook away from Oklahoma City, back when teams — with fingers glued together — were hopeful that the Thunder might be willing to trade Westbrook right after Kevin Durant defected to Golden State.

But as he enters Year 2 of a five-year, $86 million deal that looks like a relative steal after what the league’s unprecedented salary-cap spike just did for Mike Conley, The Dragon starts the 2016-17 campaign as the closest thing to an on-court face of the franchise you’ll find on South Beach.


No. 3: Can the Grizz still grit and grind? — The last few seasons, the Memphis Grizzlies have embraced a self-described style of play known as “Grit and Grind,” where they aren’t afraid to play tough and get dirty. But as the NBA moves to a more uptempo style of play, the Grizzlies, under new coach David Fizdale, are recognizing the some changes may be in order. As Rob Mahoney writes for Sports Illustrated, the Grizz are in the midst of a real culture change…

These days, the motivational speaking circuit features regular stops in NBA training camps. Many teams bring in outside voices for inspiration: an Olympic medalist, a renowned survivalist, a retired general. The Memphis Grizzlies invited a dog.

Navy SEAL teams deployed to particularly dangerous areas will often go accompanied by an expertly trained dog and its handler—in some cases without any established relationship with either. The SEALs have trained together. They’ve scrambled for their lives together. They’ve broken bread together and shared in the horrors of war together. Then they are asked to trust their lives, immediately and completely, to a German Shepherd. That bond can sometimes be all that stands between the SEALs and the concealed explosives their companion has been raised to detect.

“That’s the message I wanted to get across to these guys with all the new faces and me being new,” Fizdale said. “We don’t have a lot of time to feel each other out. I’m their sniffin’ dog. So I need them to understand: trust me when I’m leading you down this path that I’m gonna look out for you.”

Within weeks of making the comparison, Fizdale would ask a once-elite defensive team to abandon its style, shift a plodding offense to a more modern approach, and move former All-Star Zach Randolph to the bench. The latter is a fascinating development, both in that Fizdale had the juice to make the move before his team had played a single meaningful game and with the way he sold Randolph on the change. “He’s embracing that role,” Fizdale said. “I told him, ‘Most likely, no one’s going to pay you to be a starter from here on out, so let’s audition you for what you’re going to be for the rest of your career.’ And it really clicked with him.”

Fizdale is right about Randolph’s NBA future. He’s also a touch more blunt than one might expect—a factor that shouldn’t be lost given the politics of this kind of decision. Randolph has thus far approached the move with a respectful nod. Anything for the good of the team. Credit Randolph for that much, though talk of sacrifice before there are real stakes has only the merit of a campaign promise. There should be no doubt that Randolph wants to do right by his team. He also, by his own admission, feels that he’s still a starting-quality player. If those views come into conflict—say, with an early losing streak or a poor start by his replacement JaMychal Green—the internal conversation around Fizdale’s decision could become more complicated.


No. 4: Kerr not a fan of anonymous quotes — The Golden State Warriors may have had the lotto this summer, signing free agent Kevin Durant, but it doesn’t completely erase the memory of last season, when they lost the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite holding a 3-1 lead. And in a recent story in ESPN the Magazine, an unnamed “team official” says the Warriors played like a “bunch of cowards.” Yesterday, Golden State coach Steve Kerr and shooting guard Klay Thompson expressed their frustrations with the article, as Monte Poole writes…

Steve Kerr, in his news conference prior to the Warriors-Trail Blazers game Friday night, said he, too, was not happy to see such a quote attributed to an unnamed team official in an ESPN The Magazine story portraying All-Star forward Draymond Green as someone whose firebrand ways grate on coaches and teammates.

“I talked to Draymond about it; I haven’t talked to the team about it,” Kerr said. “It upset me, too.

“I don’t know who said that. I’d guarantee it wasn’t any of our coaching staff. I would be shocked if it was anybody in basketball management. We don’t do that. Nobody ever said that to me, not even to the press. But nobody ever said that to me, like, ‘those guys played like cowards.’ So I have no idea where that came from.”

Thompson on Friday morning made it clear that he was less bothered by the content of the story than by the idea that someone within the organization, in describing the Warriors’ performance in losing Game 5 of the NBA Finals – with Green grounded by suspension – would refer to the team with such an unflattering term.

Though not as animated as Thompson was, Kerr clearly is concerned with the long-term ramifications of such a comment.

“It’s upsetting because you want to keep things in-house,” he said. “If somebody wants to say something, then they should put their name on it. If you don’t feel like you can put your name on it, you shouldn’t say it.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Houston’s Patrick Beverly will miss three weeks following knee surgery … The Pistons hope to get extensions finalized with Reggie Bullock and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope … Steve Blake has signed a deal in Australia … The Cavaliers are supportive of the Cleveland Indians and their trip to the World Series … Draymond Green just wants to get his satellite TV connected, please …