HEAT 6 PM UPDATE
Former Heat guard Roger Mason Jr. on Wednesday essentially retracted his comment, a day earlier, that LeBron James told him he would boycott the start of next season if Donald Sterling is still owner of the Los Angeles Clippers at that time.
“LBJ never said anything about boycotting,” Mason tweeted. “He’s a friend and I would never want to imply something he didn’t say… My bad if I was not clear.”
Nevertheless, Showtime on Wednesday night went ahead and aired Mason’s comments claiming James told him he would boycott.
James did not completely rule out a boycott but indicated that’s not the way he’s thinking at the moment.
“As players, we see what [commissioner] Adam Silver is doing and he’s moving forward,” James said. “If he continues to move aggressively, which we believe Adam Silver will do, on the situation, then as players, we have nothing to worry about.”
Asked if it would be good enough if the league continues attempts to remove Sterling but can’t complete it by the start of next season, James said: “We don’t know. Right now, it’s good enough for us. We don’t know what’s going to happen. The legal system can be a pain.”
Asked under what parameters a boycott could happen, James said there would be “more in depth longer conversations that would need to be discussed” to get to that point.
James, who said he’s not using his phone during the playoffs, said neither he nor an associate called Mason to ask him to retract his statement.
“Roger’s a great guy,” James said. “I don’t have a problem with him at all.”
James said “the fact we have to continue to talk about [Sterling], which is a strong issue, sucks… I’m not sure Donald Sterling has ever put on a basketball uniform in his life.”
James Jones, a member of the player association’s executive council, said he does not support boycotting the start of the next season, if Sterling is still in place, because “we’ve taken steps to remove Donald. We’re moving forward. We’re a long way off from a final resolution.”
Udonis Haslem said the boycott discussion has never come up among Heat players.
### The Heat denied an unsubstantiated radaraonline.com story that Nets forward Paul Pierce punched James in the jaw in a tunnel following Game 4 on Monday night in Brooklyn.
The NBA did not investigate the matter because it is convinced the story is not true.
Pierce, oddly enough, declined to comment Tuesday when asked about it.
### James said he didn’t know that Pierce asked to guard him before Game 4 and that it wouldn’t give him any extra motivation. “I don’t believe there’s a one on one matchup that can guard me anyway,” he said.
### In the wake of former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy receiving a five-year, $35 million contract to become coach and president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons, Spoelstra said he now understands why he hasn’t received any text messages from Van Gundy in the past week.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for a coach to have that type of control,” said Spoelstra, who worked as an assistant on Van Gundy’s Heat staff and remains a close friend. “It has to be an exciting opportunity for him to want to leave Florida. I knew something was up. We text all the time. All of a sudden, hadn’t heard from him in a week. I said, ‘Something must be going on.’”
Haslem, who played for Van Gundy, said: “I’m looking for that franchise to be a lot better. Stan is a great leader, a great coach, has very high basketball IQ, will bring in the right guys. I’m expecting Detroit to be right up there with some of the top teams in the East in the next couple years.”
### Chris Bosh, asked if James can score 49 more often: “Yeah, but we don’t need him to. At home, I don’t think he needs to do that.”
### Regarding the wild swings in the Indiana Pacers’ play during this postseason, Bosh said: “I learn from other peoples’ mistakes. That’s what I take from it. It’s a very unique situation.”
Haslem said: “We can’t focus on the Indiana we see against other teams, because when they play against us, it’s a whole different ballclub.”
Quick 1 p.m. update: Twice in the last week, UM coach Al Golden has given encouraging updates on the status of injured quarterback Ryan Williams.
Speaking to Hurricanes fans in Orlando last Friday, Golden indicated he was hopeful Williams could return at some point in September, though UM won't know for sure until later in the summer.
Golden also said the progress of Williams' recovery is in the top one percent for people with a torn ACL.
And in the past day, Golden --- speaking at the ACC meetings --- told ESPN.com that Williams' recovery is "phenomenal. We know he'll be back. it's just a question of how early because his recovery right now is phenomenal."
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
With Jose Fernandez expected to undergo “Tommy John” elbow surgery in the coming days, what can be expected when he returns?
The good news is that a bunch of prominent pitchers have been very good after returning, including Tommy John (146 wins after the operation), A.J. Burnett, John Smoltz, Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg (who sat out from Aug. 22, 2010, until his big league return on Sept. 6, 2011, then went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 2012).
But two recent studies give cause for some concern. In March, Yankees physician Christopher Ahmad released a study that analyzed every pitcher who had the surgery between 1974 (when John became the first) and 2011.
Of the 160 pitchers who had the procedure once before 2011, 18 percent failed to pitch again in the big leagues and 52 percent returned to the disabled list at some point due to a condition with their pitching arm, including 23 percent who went on the DL for elbow-specific conditions. (Last month, former Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson underwent the procedure for the second time.)
Ahmad’s study showed that “of the 105 pitchers who completed at least one entire season before and after surgery, many performance statistics showed a decline following surgery, most notable in ERA, opposing batting average and percentage of fastballs thrown.” And pitchers lost nearly half-a-mile off their fastball.
Another recent study, by researchers at Detroit Henry Ford, studied pitchers’ stats for three years before the surgery and three years after and found average ERA rose from 4.15 to 4.74 in the three years after, as did hits and walks, while wins decreased (45 to 42 percent).
### Even if Fernandez declines slightly, he would still be very good. The Marlins won 64 percent of Fernandez’s starts since he debuted last April, compared with 36 percent by everyone else. Opponent’s batting average against him (.183) is MLB’s lowest since the start of last season.
### FYI: The Marlins designated Henry Rodriguez for assignment early Wednesday morning, a day after he walked four while retiring only two batters.... Rookie Anthony DeSclafani, promoted from Double A, will take Fernandez's turn in the rotation this week.
### The Dolphins tried to sign UM’s Stephen Morris after the draft, but Jacksonville made a better offer and Morris liked the idea of working with Jaguars offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, his former coordinator at UM.
UM, once dubbed Quarterback U, has now gone 11 years since having a quarterback drafted (Ken Dorsey, seventh round, 2003) and 22 years since it had a quarterback selected before the last round (Craig Erickson, fourth round, in 1992).
### Some Dolphins players believe the team over-reacted by fining Don Jones and barring him from team activities until he undergoes sensitivity training, after he made remarks critical of Michael Sam on Twitter.
The NFLPA indicated Tuesday there has been no decision regarding whether Jones, though the union, will appeal the discipline through a grievance. “The Dolphins want to protect their organization; I want to protect my client,” Jones’ agent, Chris Martin, said, declining to elaborate.
### The Dolphins’ undrafted free agent addition with the highest pre-draft grade? LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, rated a second- or third rounder by NFL.com’s Nolan Nawrocki before he reportedly had a positive drug test at the NFL Combine.
“He didn’t play up to his potential, but he’s big, strong and can move really well, and it’s tough to find those guys,” an NFC scout said. Another Dolphins post-draft addition, Utah State center Tyler Larsen, was viewed as a potential fourth-rounder by some.
### Please see the last post for Dolphins transactions from Tuesday, and LeBron James' boycott option.
### One of the challenges for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in these playoffs is deciding how to distribute minutes among Shane Battier, James Jones and Rashard Lewis. Who’s most worthy? Consider:
This postseason, Battier is shooting the best of the three (6-13, 46.2 percent), narrowly ahead of Jones (12 for 27, 44.4 percent), with Lewis struggling at 27.3 percent (6 for 22).
Defensively, even though Battier is considered the best of the group, synergysports.com – which breaks down every possession – rates Battier’s defense as “poor” in these playoffs; he’s allowing the player he’s guarding to shoot 53.6 percent. Jones and Lewis are rated “below average” defensively this postseason; every other Heat rotation player except those three is rated good or very good.
Here’s the big disparity: With Jones on the floor, Miami has outscored its opponent in every game he played and by a remarkable 58 points in 88 playoff minutes. Miami is plus 34 in Lewis’ 88 minutes and minus five in Battier’s 81 minutes.
And here’s why LeBron James was justified in calling for more minutes for James: When those two play together in postseason, Miami is plus 53 in 83 minutes (the best two-man pairing on the team) and shoots 57 percent. Conversely, Miami is plus 21 when James plays with Dwyane Wade, plus 17 with James and Lewis and minus three with James and Battier.
Spoelstra admitted Tuesday that plus/minus has influenced his decision to play Jones. “He has an effect on our game, where it’s a positive effect generally,” Spoelstra said. “J.J. gives us an element that we need. In this series, spacing is important.”
Spoelstra has stuck with Lewis through his shooting slump because “Rashard gives you that length in a perimeter series and he’s a threat” on three-pointers. “Offensively, our game is based on flow and rhythm. That flow and rhythm happens very naturally when Rashard is in there.”
In this series, “we need both” Lewis and Jones, Spoelstra said.
There could be fewer minutes for Battier, Jones and/or Lewis in a potential conference finals against Indiana, when Udonis Haslem figures to return to the rotation.
### ESPN announced Tuesday there will be a sequel to its 2009 documentary on the University of Miami football program, ESPN’s fifth-highest rated documentary ever.
But ESPN said it will not offer any details or a timetable for production, and producer Billy Corben and director Alfred Spellman also are respecting ESPN’s wishes not to comment.
UM refused to participate or grant access to employees in the first movie and hasn't been informed about the sequel.
Some high-ranking UM people didn’t believe the original film helped the program, because they want the public to associate UM with high education and winning with class, not swagger and colorful antics and boasting.