Kawhi Leonard lies on the floor with an ankle injury similar to the one suffered by Dion Waiters last season. Both injuries dealt serious blows to both the team and the players. The NBA has a little-known rule about protecting the landing area for players who are in the air.
“We see this quite often in the NBA where that defender, they just go a little too far and you're not allowed to take the landing area away from the jump shooter," Joe Borgia, the NBA's senior vice president of replay and referee operations, said Sunday while discussing the foul that was called on Pachulia on his "Making the Call" video segment on NBA.com.”
Leonard’s injury shows the absence of Tim Duncan leaves the Spurs with little margin of error to compete for a championship. They might be in the free-agent market for players to augment Leonard, such as Dion Waiters. Gregg Popovich, Leonard, and Aldridge are strong draws.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade left South Beach for their own reasons. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant both rejected offers by the Heat. Chris Bosh didn’t give Miami a hometown discount. The reality is that keeping both Waiters and James Johnson might not be as easy as it seems.
The team’s free agents this summer are:
Adding the future promise of Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder, puts the Heat only an elite player away from contending for a championship. First Miami needs to watch over its own nest, before other teams snatch away players who Miami developed into desirable, world-class conditioned athletes.
As the playoffs whittle down the nominees, the Heat will face stiff competition from other cities seeking to find their own missing pieces. Add San Antonio to the mix. The Utah Jazz, Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks, among others, all need complimentary players to become competitive. There might be surprises in store on what teams will offer free agents.