This Morning’s Headlines:
- Wade keeps Chicago exit classy
- Toronto’s DeRozan writes to teammates
- Less of Kanter to get on the floor
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Wade keeps Chicago exit classy — It could have gotten ugly. Given the likelihood that Dwyane Wade would not have enjoyed being held hostage by the Chicago Bulls during what assuredly will be an unpleasant rebuild – even if Wade was that rare hostage being paid a $23.8 million ransom directly – the news that he, his representatives and the team worked out a buyout Sunday should be welcomed all around.
Wade gets out of a bad situation with, according to an ESPN report, about $16 million of that 2017-18 salary, with the opportunity to earn more by signing elsewhere in the coming days. The Bulls avoid having a player of the NBA’s highest pedigree languishing on the bench or playing spot duty while they try to amass lottery balls for better draft position in June. And Bulls fans avoid a daily drama that would hover over lingering buyout talks and “unhappy Wade” headlines a couple of times a week until the deal finally happened. Wade – who said he wasn’t sure of his next landing spot, though many consider Cleveland a favorite – spoke with the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson after his severance package was complete and definitely took the high road out of his hometown:
And then there were no Alphas.
Three months after trading Jimmy Butler and waiving Rajon Rondo, the Bulls reached agreement on a buyout with Dwyane Wade on Sunday night, the eve of training camp. A source said Wade gave up roughly $8 million to $9 million of the $23.8 million he stood to make after picking up his player option on June 20, two days before the Butler deal.
The move clears the way for Wade to sign with a contender like the Cavaliers, Thunder or Spurs or possibly return to his beloved Heat. More importantly, it allows the Bulls to start fresh with their full rebuild and eliminate a potential distraction since Wade preferred to play for his fourth championship at this stage of his career.
“I just felt it was time for me, turning 36, that I want to be competing for a championship,” Wade told the Tribune in a phone interview. “I said when I got here, it was always a dream for me to play here. And getting that opportunity was special. And I can’t even say it wasn’t what everyone expected because we went to the playoffs. And trying to restore this franchise to respectability was our goal. The organization decided to go in a different direction, which I respect.”
. . .
Wade averaged 18.3 points in 29.9 minutes in 60 games in his lone season with the Bulls. That included a fractured elbow in March that Wade surprisingly returned from in time for the playoffs. And it also featured him getting fined along with Butler and Rondo — who coined the “Three Alphas” nickname — in January for criticizing his young teammates’ effort.
“Everybody treated me fine,” Wade said. “Obviously, we had that situation when me and Jimmy decided to go out in the media and say the things we wanted to say. The organization reacted the way they needed to react to show what they won’t take.”
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Wade said he had mixed feelings about the Butler trade.
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“[Management] never told me Jimmy’s not going anywhere. They gave me their take on the possibility of trade and left it open, which they should do. Even though I’m a player, I always put myself on the other side. For me, you’re either going to get behind (coach) Fred (Hoiberg) and build a team behind Fred that can help him be a successful coach. Or you’re going to get behind Jimmy.
“Also, I need to say this: A lot of people give Fred a lot of flak. I don’t think they should. He hasn’t had the opportunity he signed up to have, and I hope they get there and give him a team that works with his personality and his coaching style and his assistant coaches’ style. They were nothing but great to me. I appreciate Fred.”
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Toronto’s DeRozan writes to teammates — They’re already among the biggest stars of social media, so it probably was only a matter of time before NBA players began their takeover of traditional media roles as well. Actually, we’re teasing, but Toronto Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan did step into a guest columnist role for the Toronto Star Sunday. He penned a piece reflecting on what will be his ninth training camp with that franchise and shared some thoughts in an “open letter” format to his current teammates. Here’s a snippet:
To my Raptors:
This is the ninth year I’ve reported to training camp as a Raptor, and if there’s one thing I’m really getting used to, it’s this: people underestimate us.
I’m not complaining. It’s okay. I mean, I don’t get why we win 50 games a year, two seasons in a row — go to the conference finals in 2016 — and people still count us out, call us the underdogs, leave us out of the conversation, but I’m okay with it. It means we get to do our own thing, bring our new guys into our fold and teach them about what it means to be a Raptor.
But first things first. Training camp.
I know I’ve said this before, but my mindset when I’m in the gym in the summer is that those workouts are going to pay off in April and May. I expect my teammates to do the same. Like, I know how hard I work, so how hard did you work? Being prepared, showing up for camp in shape and ready to go is one mark of respect. And respect for each other, for our coaches, for our game is part of what it means to be a Raptor.
Kyle and I are all-stars. Yeah, we’re the faces of the team. But we can’t do it alone. Serge and Jonas are back. I’m looking forward to playing with C.J. We’ve got a lot of young guys who are looking for their chances to do something awesome and that’s cool. Their time will come. But it won’t come alone. We’re in this together. Being a good teammate is another part of what being a Raptor is about.
The fans here in Toronto and across the country have made the Raptors Canada’s team. I mean, there’s not one seat available for our scrimmage in Victoria? That’s crazy. And it’s the same everywhere: Ottawa. Calgary. Vancouver. Halifax. And hey, when you’re in Jurassic Park, we know you’re out there for us. Fans here are looking out for us, not overlooking us. So being a Raptor also means knowing you’re not just representing a city, but a whole country.
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Less of Kanter to get on floor — Enes Kanter, newly transferred from Oklahoma City to the New York Knicks in the weekend’s Carmelo Anthony trade, played a grand total of 45 minutes in the Thunder’s first-round elimination by Houston. Kanter’s oft-criticized defense and the burden it represented against the Rockets was a big reason. So the big man has gotten in better shape by shedding some serious poundage – which never seemed to hurt his foot speed offensively, where he’s a force, but apparently will boost his defense. Or so Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:
New Knicks center Enes Kanter spent a lot of time in New York this summer, working out, losing weight and appearing on a couple of occasions with Russell Westbrook at Carmelo Anthony’s pickup games at his Manhattan gym.
According to Kanter’s manager, Hilmi Cinar, Kanter has used New York as his training base the past few offseasons. Though Anthony landed in Oklahoma City on Sunday night, the two never will become teammates.
Kanter, the 6-foot-11 Turkish big man, now is a Knick — the centerpiece of Saturday’s Anthony blockbuster — who will be introduced at Monday’s opening day of training camp.
“He’s not upset at all, but none of us expected this,” Cinar told The Post. “He enjoys New York, the food, the vibrancy, his friends come in and meet with here. It’s good culture.”
In a heartfelt thank you to OKC’s fans on social media, Kanter said Oklahoma “will always be in my heart” and “please beat the Warriors for me.”
Kanter, 25, is known to put up points inside in a hurry but struggles defensively to the point he didn’t see the floor much in the playoffs for OKC.
That snub spurred Kanter this summer. According to Cinar, Kanter has lost 33 pounds this offseason, dropping to 240, to improve movement on defense — an admitted weakness.
“He’ll be more athletic this year,’’ Cinar said.
According to sources, the Knicks like his toughness, physicality and ability to get to the free-throw line and score inside. He’s also European, giving the Knicks five on their roster. He’s got some feistiness — the only Thunder player to trash-talk Kevin Durant upon his first return to OKC.
Whether Kanter will start ahead of young center Willy Hernangomez is unclear. Kanter came off the bench, spelling center Steven Adams, in Oklahoma City.
“Kanter can definitely score — both in the low post and he has a decent mid-range face-up game,” an NBA scout told The Post. “He rebounds pretty well, too, particularly on the offensive glass. But he’s a poor defender. He isn’t a rim protector because he’s not a great athlete and has slow lateral movement. He doesn’t strike me as a guy who really wants to defend either. He wants to score and do the easy stuff.”
The Knicks management team of Steve Mills/Scott Perry has put an emphasis on defense. The weight loss could be a difference-maker for Kanter, and the risk isn’t large without a long-term contract. He can opt out after this season for a long-term deal, though his 2018-19 wage of $18.4 million is hefty.
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Shed a tear – but only one – that the NBA’s crazy, headline-grabbing offseason is officially over. Now it’s nine months of the really good stuff:
Media Day!! So excited the season is back!! Media guys see y'all soon, let have some great dialogue today. It's been awhile 😊 #Season15
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 25, 2017
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Toronto GM Masai Ujiri talks about the inevitability of the Raptors landing a superstar free agent “maybe 20 years from now, 10 years from now, five years from now.” Sooner, of course, would be better than later. … Michael Jordan weighed in, via a statement issued by his Charlotte Hornets team, on the topic of “free speech” that drew some headlines in NFL and NBA coverage this weekend. … Lest some folks forget in these crazy 3-ball times, there actually still is a position in the NBA designated as “center” and there are a number of talented players who perform there. HoopsHype.com was able to round up 30 of them.