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Eastern Conference

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra Wants Dwyane Wade to be Maestro

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Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wants legendary franchise player Dwyane Wade to play the role of a maestro as he embarks on the final season of his playing career.

Wade finished his first preseason game with 10 points and 4 assists.

“I don’t need to even overstate Dwyane Wade, but there’s a reason why we all wanted him back and why I was making a big push to get him back,” Spoelstra said after Sunday’s game, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Is there are a lot of really interesting, versatile pieces that we have on this team, and we have a lot of speed, we have a lot of youth, we have a lot of versatility.”

“You need a maestro to be able to bring it all together and that’s what you see. It’s so much more coherent when he’s out there and he’s using his brain and his mind to help the whole team. That’s the genius of a Hall of Fame player.”

Wade knows what he can do for this Heat team moving forward.

“I’m a playmaker,” said Wade. “That’s just in my nature. It’s: Put pressure on the defense. Score the basketball. Play-make first and then score from there.

“It doesn’t change for me. I’m always trying to put pressure on the basket and get to the middle of the paint, make the defense make a decision — either me or the big with help defense — so I can spray to other guys.

“So when I get in the game, right away I just want to be able to draw two, so I can make plays for others and then give myself the opportunity to strike also.”

Eastern Conference

Wizards Preparing Run at Masai Ujiri

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Masai Ujiri

The Washington Wizards are preparing to make a significant offer to Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri in a an effort to lure him away from the 2019 NBA Champions.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Wizards are looking to offer Ujiri a deal that could approach $10 million annually and also give him the opportunity for ownership equity.

Ujiri, who has two years left on his contract, constructed the NBA Champion Raptors team that just defeated the Golden State Warriors, and his unique vision and team building is credited as helping the Raptors reach the NBA’s ultimate prize.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is expected to reach out to Toronto ownership soon to request formal permission to meet with Ujiri, 48, and make him the astronomical offer which includes running the Wizards’ basketball operations and could also include taking on a larger leadership role in the Monumental Sports and Entertainment company that oversees the Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals franchise.

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Eastern Conference

Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard Becomes First Player to Win Finals MVP in Both Conferences

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The Toronto Raptors took home their first NBA Championship on Thursday night when they beat the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena to win the NBA Finals 4-2.

With the win, Raptors star Kawhi Leonard was awarded the Bill Russell trophy, given to the Finals MVP, marking his second trophy and making him the first player in NBA history to win the award in both conferences.

“This is what I play basketball for,” Leonard said, according to ESPN. “This is what I work out for.”

“I think he’s the best two-way basketball player in the NBA,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said of Leonard. “He just goes. You know, I’ve seen some stuff from him this year that you just say, ‘Wow.’ You do. You say, ‘Wow.’ You appreciate the work that he’s put in. He works extremely hard at his game and works extremely hard on his body. And he loves this basketball thing. Loves it.”

Leonard averaged 28.5 points per game on 43 percent shooting in the NBA Finals, playing stellar defense as well.

Leonard took home NBA Finals honors back in 2014 when he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs team that knocked off the Miami Hear super-team led by LeBron James, who he played tough defense on throughout.

“Without a doubt, the best thing about this thing is that somehow I wound up on the sideline getting to watch this guy play up close,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse, who won an NBA title in his first season as a head coach in the league. “It’s really cool.”

Leonard scored 732 points in the 2019 postseason, which ranks as third-most in NBA history behind Michael Jordan (who scored 759 in 1992) and LeBron James (who scored 748 in 2018).

“I just kept working hard, working hard, and had my mind set on this goal right here,” Leonard said. “I came to a team, a new coast — that mindset was the same as mine, trying to get that Larry [O’Brien championship] trophy there. And this is what I play basketball for; this is what I work out for all summer [and] during the season. And I’m happy that my hard work paid off.”

The Raptors now have to convince Leonard, who is set to enter free agency, to stay with the team for the long-term.

“I’m ’bout to enjoy this with my teammates and coaches, and I’ll think about that later,” Leonard said.

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Eastern Conference

Pau Gasol Wants to Return to Bucks

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Pau Gasol would like to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gasol, 38, spent the 2019-2020 season with the Bucks, playing in only 3 games prior to suffering a season-ending injury prior to the start of the playoffs.

“I would be positive and I would like to continue with the Bucks of course” according to Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels. “That’s why I left San Antonio and I did to join this team, which I think has real potential to win the championship. It was close this season, we fell to Toronto in the playoffs. I don’t know if my presence would have helped to beat Toronto or not.”

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