Welcome To The 2015-2016 NBA Season

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The 2015-2016 NBA Season is FINALLY here!

Last night, the year kicked off with the Detroit Pistons coming up 106-94 over the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls sneaking slightly past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-95, and the reigning champions (Golden State Warriors) outworking the New Orleans Pelicans, 111-95.

There are 14 games on the slate tonight, including the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves, but most importantly: the Miami Heat will take on the Charlotte Hornets at the AmericanAirlines Arena, for their first game of the new season.

2014-2015 was what one could call a total disaster for Miami; from LeBron James announcing his departure in the summer, to Chris Bosh sitting out half the season with blood clots in his lung, it was one crisis after another. There were high-points of course, such as Hassan Whiteside’s blossoming talent, and signing Goran Dragic, but I think it’s safe to say that overall, Heat Nation would like to forget last year for good.

The good news is, Pat Riley and company went to work during this offseason.

Between re-signing both Dragic and Dwyane Wade, drafting Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, and bringing aboard the likes of Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire…things are about to get exciting.

While some may still be skeptical of this Eastern Conference team, saying they look better on paper than can be translated into reality, Heat fans are all in.

Generally speaking, not much can (or should) be taken away from preseason…and yet, seeing the guys back on the court only reminded me of what is to come.

This will be the first time Dragic and Bosh get to play alongside one another.

Dragic and Stoudemire will reunite from their days playing together in Phoenix.

Whiteside has only further developed.

Green is already on the radar for Sixth Man of the Year.

Should I go on?

Catch tonight’s matchup on a free trial of NBA League Pass, at 7:30 PM (ET).

And get ready Heat Nation, this season is ours.

Mr. Nice Tie Turned DJ

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Last week, Chris Bosh launched his very own menswear line, Mr. Nice Tie, and with the NBA season only a little over a month away, he is certainly wasting no time in giving it the promotion it deserves.

Bow tie in hand, Bosh was a guest DJ on the Ellen Show earlier today; needless to say, the two shared some laughs.

Luol Deng is Proud to “have a lot of African” In Him

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After Atlanta Hawks’ general manager Danny Ferry used the phrase “has some African in him” to describe newly signed Miami Heat player Luol Deng, Deng is firing back.

According to sources, Ferry was reading a scouting report and said,

“he’s still a young guy overall. He’s a good guy overall. But he’s not perfect. He’s got some African in him. And I don’t say that in a bad way but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

Since this took place, Ferry has reportedly reached out to Deng’s agent and has been in some way reprimanded by the Hawks’ team manager, Steve Koonin; however many, including the team’s minority owner J. Michael Gearon Jr., are calling for Ferry’s dismissal. 

Yesterday, Deng himself voiced his opinion on the matter, telling the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman,

“I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just ‘a little’. For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.”

In a twist of irony, Deng actually attended Duke University, the same college as Ferry, before beginning his NBA career. And although the forward was indeed born in South Sudan, he has lived in Egypt, London, and the United States, as well as represented Great Britain in the 2012 Summer Olympics. 

Personally, I find it hard to believe that Ferry will be able to continue working for the Hawks organization, especially given owner Bruce Levenson recently revealing his own indiscretions. But despite the inevitable, Ferry has recently released this statement:

“In regards to the insensitive remarks that were used during our due diligence process, I was repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players.   I repeated those comments during a telephone conversation reviewing the draft and free agency process.  Those words do not reflect my views, or words that I would use to describe an individual and I certainly regret it. I apologize to those I offended and to Luol, who I reached out to Monday morning. In terms of the email that Bruce sent, the situation is disturbing and disappointing on many levels and I understand Bruce’s words were offensive. I am committed to learning from this and deeply regret this situation. I fully understand we have work to do in order to help us create a better organization; one that our players and fans will be proud of, on and off the court, and that is where my focus is moving forward.”

 
Unfortunately for Ferry, I doubt he will have much, if any, say on the team moving forward. Even with all the hoopla surrounding Donald Sterling, it still does not seem as though people have learned the repercussions of their actions. Here is to moving toward the 2014-2015 season, and once again focusing on the game itself.

James Jones is off to Cleveland

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Following in Mike Miller’s footsteps, James Jones is the latest former Miami Heat player to join LeBron James in Cleveland.

According to reports, after a bit of recruiting from James himself, Jones has agreed to sign a $1.4 million veteran’s minimum contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have also apparently reached out to Ray Allen but no decision has been made yet, as Allen may actually be ready to retire.

 

Udonis Haslem: Another Piece of the Puzzle

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Shortly after Dwyane Wade reached an agreement with the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem did the same; according to the Sun Sentinel, Haslem has agreed to return to Miami on a $2.7 million space exception.

Haslem, once again like Wade, has taken it upon himself to help his team gain flexibility in terms of future signings and re-signings. He has been with the Heat since 2003.

 

Dwyane Wade: Home Is Where the Heat Are

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Sources are reporting that Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat have finally reached an agreement in terms of his new contract. Wade, who announced the news himself via his Instagram account (pictured below) has signed onto a two-year deal, worth roughly $34 million. However, it is important to note that there is a player-option set for the 2015-2016 season.

Home Is Where The Heart Is… My Home,My City,My House..#HeatLifer

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This is the second time Wade has taken a pay cut (the first being in 2010 when the infamous Big Three were born). In this instance, Wade is helping to give teammate Chris Bosh a full five-year, maximum deal, and new Miami Mafia member, Luol Deng, a two-year deal worth $20 million.

Although some NBA fans spoke of their desire for Wade to branch out to another city (after LeBron James’ announcement that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers), it is no secret that Wade has dedicated his entire career to making the Heat the best team it can be; and personally, I do not see that changing anytime soon. Wade may support James’ decision but that certainly does not mean he plans to head to the Chicago Bulls, down the line.

Birdman: Still Spreading His Wings in Miami

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Shortly after news of Mario Chalmers returning to the Miami Heat surfaced, according to several reports it seems as though teammate Chris Andersen (otherwise known as “Birdman”) is following in his footsteps.

Details beyond Andersen re-signing on a multiyear deal have yet to be released, but the important thing is that it appears as though the gang is back in action.

So far Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Justin Hamilton, Chalmers and Andersen all have Heat contracts, or are expected to shortly.

LeBron James or not, South Beach is still looking pretty good to me.