Wade feeling ahead of schedule after knee surgery


Wade feeling ahead of schedule after knee surgery

MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade doesn't typically get off to super-fast starts, and one game is hardly enough to say that his 10th NBA campaign will be any different.

Still, opening night seemed to be a good sign.

Wade scored 29 points against Boston on Tuesday night, giving him the highest-scoring effort in the first game of any of his Miami Heat seasons less than four months after he had surgery to repair a long-troublesome left knee. And with LeBron James missing much of the second half with leg cramps, the Heat needed to Wade to deliver, which he did as the reigning champions opened with a 120-107 win.

``Way ahead of schedule,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP, who sat out the second day of training camp and missed little else. ``It was absolutely the right decision on his part this summer to take care of his knee with that procedure, and then he did his part of making sure he came into camp in the best condition he could.''

Before Tuesday, Wade's previous first-game-of-a-season high was 26 points. And he was thrilled not only to get his championship ring, but to put all the buildup of ring night behind him.

``Now we can focus in on getting better as a team,'' Wade said.

The Heat were off Wednesday, set to resume practice on Thursday before their scheduled flight to New York for a Friday night game against the Knicks. As of Wednesday afternoon, that game was still planned, even though the New York-Brooklyn game on Thursday had been postponed as the city continues dealing with the aftermath of the storm that slammed into the Northeast this week.

Wade scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Heat keep the Celtics - who nearly erased a 19-point deficit - at bay.

What the final quarter of Tuesday's game might be most remembered for, however, was how Celtics guard Rajon Rondo grabbed Wade around the neck on a drive in the final seconds, earning a flagrant foul and raising Miami's collective ire.

Wade called Rondo's move ``a punk play.''

``I'm here to play basketball,'' Wade said. ``It's what we are. We're basketball players. If you want to go do something else, then go do something else. Boxing and all those things, this is not it. We're basketball players here. I was glad I was able to stop myself in that very moment and move on from it. We'll see next time we play.''

James missed the final 9 minutes because of cramps in his left leg. He missed the final portion of the third quarter with the same problem in his right leg.

No problem. Wade took over the marquee role for much of the reigning MVP's absence, doing so, he said, at the insistence of Heat point guard Mario Chalmers.

``Just trying to be aggressive at times,'' Wade said. ``Got a couple opportunities. Mario kept telling me to get to the block, get to the block. They wanted to run the offense through me. It felt good, like old times again. I don't want LeBron leaving too many times. But it felt good to have kind of what I'm used to in the sense of guys coming to me at the end of games.''

Quick Links

Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

USA TODAY Sports Images

Report suggests Barack Obama is trying to recruit Masai Ujiri to Wizards

The Wizards are reportedly preparing to make Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri a massive offer to run Washington's NBA franchise. And they may have some big-time help recruiting him to D.C. 

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, is trying to persuade Ujiri to leave the NBA champions to join the Wizards, according to The Athletic's Ethan Strauss. 

"I hear Barack Obama's a part of that whole Masai recruitment to D.C.," Strauss said on a recent episode of the "Back To Back" podcast. "I've heard Obama wants Masai in D.C. Obama wants to do something with basketball."

Obama and Ujiri are close friends. Obama was in attendance at Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, while Ujiri attended the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2015 when Obama was in office. 

The Wizards' potential offer for Ujiri is reportedly for six years, $60 million, and could possibly include an ownership stake in Monumental Sports & Entertainment and other responsibilities within the company, sources have told NBC Sports Washington. 

And hey, it doesn't hurt to have the former Commander in Chief making your sales pitch.


Quick Links

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

Sekou Doumbouya visits Wizards hoping to sell them on his defense

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosted one of their final prospect workouts in anticipation of the June 20 NBA Draft on Friday, as six players battled in three-on-three drills with every member of Washington's front office and coaching staff in sight. But behind the glass wall of the dining lounge at the Wizards' practice facility at St. Elizabeth's was the player everyone wanted to see.

Sekou Doumbouya, who is projected to land in the lottery on draft night, made a visit to Washington to speak with Wizards personnel. He did not participate in the workout, but through face-to-face interviews gave the Wizards an up-close look at a player who may or may not be on the board when they are on the clock with the ninth overall pick.

Doumbouya is the youngest player in the draft at just 18 years old, with his birthday not until late December. He is originally from Guinea but played professional basketball in France. Given his age and the fact he played in a second-tier league before making the leap to the NBA, Doumbouya holds some mystery as a prospect.

In his meetings with teams, Doumbouya has tried to hammer home one point in particular.

"My defense," he said. "I can play everywhere [because] if you play defense, you can play everywhere in the league."

Defense certainly stands out when it comes to Doumbouya's potential. He is 6-foot-9 with a reported 7-foot-2 wingspan. At his age, he could keep growing. And at that size, he has the mobility to guard multiple positions, force turnovers and maybe even block some shots.

The Wizards need help with just about every area of their defense. They were 27th in defensive rating last season and 29th in points allowed. They couldn't defend the perimeter or the lane, allowing the fourth-highest three-point percentage (37%) and the fifth-most three-point makes (12.1/g), while also allowing more field goals within five feet of the rim than any team (22.1/g) and the third-highest percentage (64.2%) in that range. 

Doumbouya projects as the type of defensive anchor who could help in a variety of ways. He could step out to guard three-point shooters while also clogging lanes to the basket with his length.

The questions for Doumbouya center around how NBA-ready he is at his age and experience, and what his ceiling will ultimately be on the offensive end. Doumbouya, though, believes he can be especially effective in transition.

"Fastbreak," he said when listing his strengths. "I love running [the floor]."

Whether Doumbouya will be available at the ninth pick depends on who you ask. Most mock drafts have him at nine or lower, but his athleticism and versatility could entice a team that picks before the Wizards.

The Hawks, whom Doumbouya met with the day after seeing the Wizards, are a team to watch. They have the eighth, 10th and 17th picks in the first round, so they can afford to take a risk. They could snag Doumbouya at No. 8, then go with a safer pick or two with their other selections.

But there is a very good chance Doumbouya is the best player available when the Wizards get set to make their pick. If he does, defense will be his biggest selling point.