The Heat drafted Michael Beasley No. 2 overall in 2008 after Beasley dominated the college ranks at Kansas State for a season, and traded him to the Timberwolves two years later to create cap room to sign LeBron James and Chris Bosh. His heavily detailed issues with marijuana culminated in an August arrest and the Suns cutting him one year into a three-year, $18 million contract.
Now, the Heat will give him a shot. Beasley follows Greg Oden to Heat camp, where the two-time reigning champions have pivoted from signing old ring-chasers like Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen to signing reclamation projects in hopes of finding the recipe for three straight championships.
One of Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson will likely shift to the bench this season for the Golden State Warriors after the Dubs brought in Andre Iguodala this offseason, and the second-year forward, who started every game in which he appeared last season, said he'd be fine if he became the sixth man. From the Contra Costa Times:
"I can imagine much worse problems," Barnes said. "I feel confident about this team and where we can go. Regardless if I'm starting or coming off the bench, I think we have a chance to make a serious playoff push."
Iguodala is an All-Star, Team USA alumnus and wing defensive stopper, and it's hard to imagine him coming off the bench. Barnes was effective for stretches in the playoffs as a small-ball power forward when David Lee went down, but with the amount the Warriors continue to pay Lee, it's hard to imagine him riding the pine at tipoff.
Thompson can play either shooting guard or small forward, but he's better as a two-guard and Iggy is better as a three. It's hard imagining the 6'8 Barnes playing shooting guard, so this may be the course of action head coach Mark Jackson ends up taking.
Luol Deng's extension talks with the Bulls have fizzled, and those around the Bulls, including SB Nation's Blog a Bull, think that means this will be Deng's last season with the team that drafted him back in 2004 with the No. 7 pick.
Many writers are also predicting that the team will amnesty Carlos Boozer at the end of this year, paving the way for Jimmy Butler to take over Deng's role and the Bulls to seek someone else to fill in at power forward next to Joakim Noah. Here's your friendly Bulls Blogger's reaction:
That isn't to say the Bulls need to extend Deng or not amnesty Boozer either. "Losing them for nothing" is a poor strategy in general, but it's not the Bulls worst play in this case. You want to hold on to them now because they can still contribute to a win-now season. But going forward, the contracts they'd receive (or in Boozer's case, still get regardless) wouldn't be for their prime years, but for a diminishing future version. As [Y! Sports Kelly] Dwyer points out, some team will likely give Deng a contract that's market-rate yet still a mistake, which is one the Bulls can't realistically (Reinsdorfian-realism, I'm considering) make. That's not a question as to whether Butler can be as good as prime Luol Deng, it's his relation to years 28-31(and more appropriately, seasons 10-13) for Deng.
The Bulls need to bank everything on this season. There's no way, with the restructured CBA, that they can keep the core together past this year. Derrick Rose is back, they've signed Mike Dunleavy, and the Heat (read: Dwyane Wade) are another year older, more fatigued and more banged up. Butler has shown tons of promise, but trading Deng and handing him the reins midseason, instead of trying to win a ring with both and watching Deng walk, doesn't make much sense for championship-minded owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
The Indiana Pacers were arguably the best defense in the league last year -- leading the NBA in defensive rating -- but it was better than the numbers indicate, according to Ian Levy of SB Nation's Indy Cornrows. The whole post is really worth a read, if only for the revelation that most teams have a negative correlation to turnovers and offensive efficiency.
However, the team that led the league in offensive rating off turnovers last year was the Pacers, meaning their No. 1 defense was not only the best at stopping other teams from scoring, it was the best at helping its offense score.
To explain why defensive turnovers were so much more important for the Pacers offense than most teams, we don't need to look much further than their offensive splits. According to mySynergySports, the Pacers averaged 1.12 points per possession in transition last season which means their offense scored 0.87 points per possession in all other scenarios. That's an enormous chasm and it speaks mostly to their half court struggles - the Pacers were just 17th in efficiency on transition possessions. In the half court they ranked 4th in efficiency on post-ups, but 29th on isolations, 23rd on spot-ups, and 24th and 23rd on possessions finished by the ball-handler and screener in the pick-and-roll. The one other thing I'll point out is that not all transition possessions came off turnovers, as the Pacers' were also one of the best in the league at pushing the ball after defensive rebounds.
The Pacers signed C.J. Watson in the offseason, who should be a massive improvement over D.J. Augustin as a backup point guard, so, if all things remain equal, the gap between the Pacers and the rest of the league may only widen.