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Josh Richardson: East is ‘open’

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Richardson said the departure of LeBron James has given Eastern Conference teams a “clean slate.”

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Whether playing for the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James has led his team to the NBA Finals for the last eight years. But now the game’s greatest player is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. Many pundits have asserted that the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers will be the favorites in the East.

Josh Richardson doesn’t necessarily agree.

While watching the Heat play in the Vegas Summer League, Richardson called the East “open” and said he thinks the Heat are “contenders.” He also said, “I feel like everybody feels they kind of have a clean slate to go ahead and attack this year with more of an open chance.”

Kelly Olynyk, who was also watching Miami play in summer league, was a bit more measured. He said that there are still a lot of great teams in the East.

Short of a big, splashy trade, it’s difficult to see Miami surpass the Celtics or the Sixers. The Heat lost to the Sixers in five games, and Boston then defeated Philadelphia in five. The Celtics will also have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, their two veteran stars, back next season.

But of course, Josh Richardson shouldn’t go into the season thinking his team has no chance. He’s the best two-way player on the team and needs to project confidence. Richardson said exactly what he should say as the emerging leader of the team.