Amico Report: Sam Amico’s NBA news & rumors for Oct. 6
1. It hardly seems like the Miami Heat are desperate to make a move after three straight Finals appearances (and back-to-back titles), but word is they’ve explored what backup point guard Norris Cole may bring in return. Cole is entering his third season, and while inconsistent offensively, is one of the league’s staunchest on-ball defenders.
2. As an aside, the Heat are vying to become the first team to make four straight Finals appearances since the Boston Celtics did it from 1983-87.
3. Nor has any team won three straight titles since Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers (200-02). “The Heat stand a chance, which is kind of a shame, because (coach Erik) Spoelstra has gotten his butt kicked every time,” an opposing general manager told FOX Sports Ohio. “But you gotta have the stars, and he does.”
4. Hard to believe an NBA season is starting without the likes of coaches George Karl and Lionel Hollins on the sidelines. All they did was lead the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively, to two of the best seasons in the history of those franchises. In all, there were 13 coaching changes this past offseason.
5. Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) each made his highly anticipated return in the preseason opener Saturday. Pacers coach Frank Vogel joked beforehand it may be the biggest preseason game of all time. Rose looked at least as good as ever, scoring 13 points in 20 minutes. Granger was a bit rustier, shooting 2-for-10 in 29 minutes.
Off the bench
• No need to read too much into the reported friction between Bulls GM Gar Forman and coach Tom Thibodeau. This is nothing new in the NBA. Phil Jackson and executive Jerry West didn’t care for each other during the Lakers’ three-peat a decade ago. Jackson and GM Jerry Krause got along even worse than that when the Bulls won six titles in the 1990s. Read: It happens all the time, and it almost never affects what takes place on the floor.
• Keep an eye out for Ron Howard, one of the D-League’s all-time greats who is currently in camp with the Pacers. Howard turns 31 years old next month, and GMs around the league are saying he may make a nice practice/locker room addition to a young team. It may not be the Pacers, but it could be some team somewhere.
• Klay Thompson, last year’s starting shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, came off the bench in Saturday’s preseason loss to the Lakers. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said it may not be a long-term thing — but with the addition of swingman Andre Iguodala, either Thompson or small forward Harrison Barnes will have to take on the role of sixth man. Considering Thompson shined (26 points, 11-for-18 shooting), it may be him.
• While all the buzz surrounded Dwight Howard in the Houston-New Orleans preseason opener Saturday, the Pelicans quietly impressed. That’s particularly true of second-year men Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers (21 points apiece), and new point guard Jrue Holiday (although he committed eight turnovers and fouled out in 27 minutes). Also, Anthony Morrow started at shooting guard and led the Pelicans with 26 points.
• Meanwhile, Howard scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds in his Rockets debut — and got ejected late in the third quarter.
• Speaking of the Rockets, their best performance came from no less than Omri Casspi, who basically decayed on the bench with the Cleveland Cavaliers the past two years. Casspi went 9-for-10 shooting, scored 20 points and even played power forward next to Howard. It’s early, but sometimes all a guy needs is to feel wanted.
• Finally, it appears the Oklahoma City Thunder are turning to second-year shooting guard Jeremy Lamb to fill the role as scorer off the bench. Kevin Martin, who replaced James Harden (Rockets), left for the Minnesota Timberwolves, opening the door for Lamb. Second-year forward Perry Jones is also expected to play an increased role in reserve for OKC this season.
Sam Amico’s news and rumors column is posted each Sunday throughout the NBA season. Follow him on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO.