Hartman: Saunders expects Heat to win NBA title

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2012 - 10:26 PM

The former Wolves coach says Kevin Durant is a more gifted scorer, but LeBron James is the most versatile.

hide

Former Wolves coach Flip Saunders said Miami Heat small forward LeBron James is the most versatile player in the NBA.

Photo: Jeff Roberson, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Flip Saunders, the former Wolves, Pistons and Wizards coach, is back in the Twin Cities after being an adviser to Celtics coach Doc Rivers through the Eastern Conference finals. He looks for the Heat to win the NBA title, but he doesn't see Miami ending it at home by winning three in a row.

"This would mean the Heat would have to win four in a row [overall]," Saunders said. "I think when you're playing teams that are so equally balanced and have the two best players in the league in [Kevin] Durant and [LeBron] James, basically whichever one of those guys ends up having a huge game, their team has a pretty good chance of winning."

Saunders has a lot of respect for Durant and James.

"[Durant is] the best scorer in the league, the things that he can do. He's an unbelievable clutch scorer down the stretch," Saunders said. "The thing with LeBron is he does everything. He's one of the top two defensive players in the league. He's a phenomenal rebounder. A very good offensive player and he can distribute the ball and make other guys better."

However, Saunders says James doesn't share the offensive mentality of Durant when he gets the ball late in games to simply score. "He's trying to make the right play and a lot of times he gets criticized because that play happens to be a pass sometimes.

"Those two guys are arguably the two best players in the league. I think there's no question that Durant is the best offensive player in the league and I think LeBron James is the most versatile and probably the most dominant player in the game right now."

Great experience

Saunders described it as a great experience spending seven weeks living in a Boston hotel and being involved as an adviser in every respect for the Celtics in the playoffs.

"I was basically in on every team meeting, every players meeting, every coaches meeting, the locker room, so it was pretty all-inclusive. It was a very good situation," Saunders said. "I've known Doc from when Doc was my assistant coach on the Goodwill Games team when we played down in Australia [in 2001], him and myself and [Michigan State coach] Tom Izzo was also an assistant there. All three of us created a good friendship and when I was let go in Washington, Doc said, 'Hey I'd like you to come in as an adviser.' "

Saunders said he also learned a lot of things from being around the Celtics organization that will help him if he lands another head coaching job.

One reason Rivers brought in Saunders was his great relationship with Kevin Garnett. And Saunders said that KG played like he did with the Wolves in 2003-04, when he was named league MVP.

"I remember when we drafted KG [in 1995], we said to him his first year, we played him as a small forward and I told him you're going to be an All-Pro player as a power forward but you're probably going to end your career as a center," Saunders said. "And with Garnett playing center, the Celtics after the All-Star break had the third-best record in the NBA."

Garnett really showed great strength at center in the postseason, averaging 19.2 points -- his highest playoff average since 2007-08 -- and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Saunders is positive Garnett, who is a free agent, will sign for another year with the Celtics, who have some rebuilding to do.

Saunders doesn't have any interest in joining Rivers as an assistant coach next year. He has one year left on his Wizards contract for about $5 million, so that won't happen.

Saunders said if the right offers came along, he'd coach next year, but if not, he would sit out a year like he did when Detroit let him go or maybe accept some offers he has received to do some consulting for college or pro teams.

Who knows? He and Gophers coach Tubby Smith have a great relationship and he could wind up doing the same thing for the Gophers that he did for the Celtics.

Dozier coming back

Through his first 14 games with the Twins, Brian Dozier hit .279 with two home runs, eight RBI and eight runs scored, but then he went into a bit of a hitting slump going 13-for-71 over 19 games and posting a .183 average with eight RBI and three runs scored. Still, Dozier has come around the past few games hitting .389 (7-for-18) with three runs scored over the past four games, including the game-winning run in Sunday's 5-4, 15-inning victory over Milwaukee at Target Field.

"The last couple games he's come back," General Manager Terry Ryan said. "He's taken good at-bats recently and he's made the plays, he made a phenomenal [defensive] play [Saturday]. He's regrouped some, that's probably what you can expect from a young player coming up. There's going to be good weeks and not so good weeks. I think he's rebounded quite well and he's doing pretty good."

Ryan also provided an update on Carl Pavano: "[He] is going through some strengthening programs for his shoulders and his flexibility. I don't anticipate him getting back here until July. He hasn't picked up a ball. He's still going through that weight training program so he won't join us in earnest until we get him right. He'll probably have to go out on some kind of rehab assignment."

Jottings

• Cole De Vries, who went 1-1 in three starts with the Twins before being sent back to Class AAA Rochester, pitched a good game Friday, throwing seven shutout innings after giving up six earned runs in two innings in his first start after returning to the minors.

• Brian Bobek, a highly recruited offensive lineman from Palatine, Ill., is transferring to Minnesota from Ohio State. He will be ineligible this year because he is transferring within the Big Ten. Apparently the 6-2, 278-pound Bobek was unhappy with the way he was used by the Buckeyes in spring football.

• Jason Marquis is scheduled to pitch Monday for the Padres against the Rangers, the veteran righthander's third start since being released by the Twins. Marquis lost his first start with San Diego to the Giants but won his second, pitching 6 1/3 shutout innings against the Mariners in Seattle on June 13. ... Also starting on Monday against the Orioles is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the former Twins pitcher who has turned into one of baseball's best starting pitchers this season with the Mets. After his one-hitter of Tampa Bay last week -- the Mets appealed to have the lone hit overturned to an error, but the appeal was denied -- Dickey is 10-1 with a 2.20 ERA this season, having allowed only 66 hits and 19 walks in 90 innings.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 0 1st Qtr 0:41
San Francisco 7
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 100 4th Qtr 5:00
New Orleans 72
Utah 80 4th Qtr 2:44
Charlotte 99
Atlanta 52 3rd Qtr
Houston 40
San Antonio 25 2nd Qtr
Dallas 21
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 4 3rd Prd 13:19
Buffalo 0
Philadelphia 5 3rd Prd
Toronto 3
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
Washington 2 3rd Prd 15:39
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 0 3rd Prd 13:05
NY Islanders 0
Florida 1 3rd Prd
Pittsburgh 2
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd 15:02
Carolina 2
Chicago 1 3rd Prd 16:49
Columbus 2
Nashville 3 2nd Prd
Minnesota 2
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 74 2nd Half 0:14
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 60 2nd Half 2:45
Dayton 72
Iona 66 2nd Half 2:03
George Mason 74
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 61 2nd Half 1:14
Kansas State 65
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 64 2nd Half 0:18
Pepperdine 61
La Salle 67 2nd Half 0:10
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 73 2nd Half 0:32
UMKC 74
CS-Bakersfield 52 2nd Half 3:00
Idaho State 45
Iowa 34 2nd Half 9:32
Northern Iowa 42
Milwaukee 43 2nd Half 8:45
SIU Edwardsville 37
Long Beach State 34 2nd Half
Texas 42
TX-San Antonio 26 2nd Half
TCU 43
SE Missouri St 16 1st Half 6:52
Arkansas 25
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 4th Qtr 3:16
Air Force 38
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 59 2nd Half 6:04
Utah Valley U 50
Washington 30 2nd Half
UC-Riverside 42
Pacific 21 2nd Half
Long Beach St 18
Old Dominion 36 2nd Half
Miami-Ohio 32
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close