I had boatloads of schoolwork to finish (one more week!), so I didn’t get to watch any of the NCAA tournament games before the last one of the night, which hasn’t been a great contest.
Turns out I missed a pretty crazy day. The last game of Andrew Wiggins’ college career, a #1 seed going down, and, unfortunately, Virginia advancing. Any team that Maryland can beat shouldn’t be winning games in March while the Terps sit at home. There’s no logical reason for me to feel that way, but I do. Maybe the way to beat UVA is to play like you’re allergic to passing, and just try and plow right into the teeth of the Packline. It worked for Dez Wells.
Enough NCAA talk. I promise it’ll be over soon. Let’s get to the latest from around the NBA.
ANDRE MILLER RETURNS TO DENVER
Miller counters that if Shaw really wanted to play other guys, the message could’ve been delivered before the 76ers game. “Me having the amount of years in the league, there was no communication that I was going to sit out a game or be benched or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “For everybody on the team to get in the game and the team is losing and I’m over there sitting down and didn’t get a chance to contribute, that’s what I was upset about. That’s what I took personal.”
The Nuggets initially suspended Miller for two games for conduct detrimental to the team after he berated Shaw. After that, Miller stayed away from the team, admitting he was exiled by choice. Denver would need a point guard after Nate Robinson was sidelined for the remainder of the season because of a knee injury and Ty Lawson missed time because of a fractured rib. But Miller wasn’t receptive when the Nuggets discussed reconciliation.
“They were like, ‘If you come back and apologize, it’ll be all good.’ I wasn’t willing to make that decision. Because of my morals, what I felt was the right thing to do for me,” Miller said. “I was ready to go. You can tell when a team is thinking about possibly going in a different direction. Wasn’t any communication there, and I could just feel the vibe where I was at in the organization, and it was time to move on.
“We both made mistakes. That’s just a part of the business when you’re coming in, first-time coach and a veteran and me not approaching him and establishing a communication either way. It’s whatever. I’m glad to be where I’m at now.”
HEAT FRUSTRATED WITH POOR PLAY
All the talk about the regular season not mattering in Miami has faded a bit lately, with the Heat dropping seven of 11 and the Pacers holding a three-game lead in the East. They’re not going to fall behind Toronto or Brooklyn, but a rematch with the Pacers in the East finals, this time with four games in Indianapolis, could be bad news for LeBron and company.
James is hurt, tired and frustrated as he waits on this team to get its act back together. And after seeing the two-time defending champion Heat lose for the seventh time in their past 11 games at a time when they’re supposed to be gearing up for another postseason run, enough was enough.
“It’s too many excuses; everything is an excuse,” James bristled as he rushed through his postgame session with reporters before fleeing the locker-room scene as other Miami players were still showering. “We do something wrong, it’s an excuse. We don’t get a stop, it’s an excuse. We turn the ball over, it’s an excuse. What we’re doing right now ain’t good enough.” For the second time this week, and 12th time this season, the Heat (47-21) found themselves staggering back to their feet after being decked by a team with a losing record. After scoring 43 points and tweaking his back during Monday’s four-point win in Cleveland, James figured he could take a rare night off and rest for just the third time this season.
The Heat then lost the next night for the second time this season to Boston, another lottery-bound team in the midst of a rebuilding process. After that setback, Dwyane Wade said the “jury’s still out” on this Miami team; Chris Bosh told reporters “it’s not troubling, it’s upsetting” how the Heat were playing — and that they were running out of time to get things turned around before the playoffs.
LOOKING FOR HEAT TICKETS? LOOK NO FURTHER.
EMBIID UNDECIDED ON NBA FUTURE
While fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins will leave after the season, Kansas teammate Joel Embiid told ESPN that he will talk to the Jayhawks coaching staff and also his mentor, fellow Cameroon native and NBA player Luc Mbah a Moute, before making a final decision concerning his NBA future.
Embiid said he’s not yet thinking about the decision just moments after watching the Jayhawks get knocked out of the NCAA tournament with a loss to Stanford in the round of 32.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Embiid said.
Embiid sat out the end of the regular season and missed the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments with a nagging back injury. He said he could have played on Sunday against the Cardinal, but that the doctors and Kansas staff wanted him to rest until the Sweet 16.
NETS WANT TO KEEP SHAUN LIVINGSTON
Livingston has been a perfect fit for the Nets, and it seems like after verging on bust territory even before his career-altering knee injury, the former #4 overall pick has finally found a home. If he stays with Brooklyn next season, it’ll be the first time he’ll have played consecutive full seasons with the same team since 07-08 with the Clippers. Of course, there’s work that needs to be done before that can happen.
The Nets have two avenues to keep Livingston: sign him for 20 percent more than he’s making this year, which would be about $1.6 million, or sign him to the mini mid-level exception (because they are far over the luxury tax), which would allow them to give Livingston a three-year deal for a total of about $10.3 million.
But if the Nets do that, it would all but end their chances of signing Euro-stash Bojan Bogdanovic this summer, as his contract with Turkish power Fenerbahce Ulker expires this summer. The only way to bring Bogdanovic over here, realistically, would be to pay him that same mini mid-level exception.
The Nets are high on Bogdanovic, and have been for some time, but it’s hard to deny how big of an impact Livingston has had at both ends of the floor this season. Just listen to this description of the players King wants to fit the Nets’ newfound identity of a four-perimeter-player, one-big-man lineup.
“We start that way, but then we get bigger, too, because Kirilenko comes in,” King said. “I think it’s the way we play defensively, switching a lot on the perimeter, so you have guys that are very versatile. Probably versatile guys that can play defense, that are unselfish offensively, where the ball is moving in a free-flowing offense.”
The description fits Livingston perfectly.
Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent last summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.