Heat Temp Check: LeBron on Pistons

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
8:09
PM ET
Wallace By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com
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LeBron JamesIssac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesLeBron James likes what the Pistons did to improve during the offseason.
LeBron James' take
The Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets weren't the only teams that underwent major offseason upgrades in an effort to prevent the Miami Heat from winning a third consecutive title.

James was intrigued by an offseason makeover that saw the Detroit Pistons bring back championship guard Chauncey Billups as well as acquire former Atlanta Hawks star Josh Smith and high-scoring ex-Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings. Detroit also hired Maurice Cheeks as head coach.

The Heat get their first peek at the new-look Pistons in Detroit for Thursday's preseason game. With the Pistons expected to be in the mix for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, they could end up as a possible first-round postseason opponent for James and the Heat.

“I think only time will tell, but they definitely improved their roster bringing in Jennings and Josh, and Big Shot [Billups] as well,” James said after Wednesday's practice. “[On] paper, they look like they can be pretty good this year.”

James is familiar with the adjustment process teams like the Pistons face as they try to blend established veteran newcomers with a talented young frontcourt tandem of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.

James said the first priority is buying into a team-first, winning mentality.

“No individual can do it by himself,” James said. “But they have a lot of talent. If they buy into what Mo Cheeks is trying to preach to them, then they're really going to be pretty good.”

Progress report
Michael Beasley said Wednesday he's available for game action and is no longer bothered by a bruised calf that was part of the reason he sat out of Sunday's scrimmage and Monday's preseason opener.

Apparently, the only thing now standing between Beasley and a shot at playing time in the next two preseason games is a nod from coach Erik Spoelstra.

“I practiced today -- full practice -- and it didn't give me one problem,” Beasley told ESPN.com. “I'm ready, physically.”

Beasley said he has not been told whether he's in the plans to play either Thursday against Detroit or Friday's neutral-site game in Kansas City against the Charlotte Bobcats. Beasley, a former Kansas State star, was a crowd favorite when he played a 2008 preseason game in Kansas City after the Heat drafted him with the second overall pick.

He was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010 but signed a one-year contract last month to rejoin the Heat on a make-good deal. Beasley said he's still searching for a comfort level in camp and believes he's “just thinking too much out there” instead of simply making instinctive plays in practice.

“Finding a niche that hasn't been used yet -- that's been the tough part,” Beasley said. “Everything else has been the same, defensively, from when I was here the last time. I just have to let the game come to me. I'm excited, more than anything, for the home opener [Oct. 29 vs. Chicago ]. I'm just using these next 20 days to tune my machine up. And when my number is called, I'm going to be ready.”

Health watch
Greg Oden (knee rehab) and Chris "Birdman" Andersen (foot) were not seen in the gym during the final moments of practice that were open to the media. Udonis Haslem (offseason right knee surgery) said he's been cleared by doctors to play but is being cautious in the preseason. Mario Chalmers (hip) was limited in Wednesday's practice. Spoelstra said he'll wait until Thursday to decide who plays in Detroit.

Did you know?
Roger Mason Jr., an 11-year veteran, said Wednesday that it was a recruiting call from Ray Allen that convinced him to spurn other offers and sign a nonguaranteed deal with the Heat despite very few roster spots being available. Mason also played for the Heat's summer league team that was coached by Spoelstra 10 years ago.

Quote of the day
“Being with an organization that takes it very seriously is cool, because I've been some places where you have crappy videos. That's not a way to get the game started.”

- Chris Bosh, on the extravagant filming of the Heat's pregame introduction video.

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OTHER LEADERS
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BlocksD. Granger 1.0