Dwight Howard does not hear your criticism

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Not sure if you ever noticed this, but ESPN tends to overhype things. Deserved or not, if a sporting event is on the network, it gets pumped. Lots of cross promotion.

ESPN was showing the Orlando against San Antonio game Wednesday night, so along those lines on a morning show I usually mute they asked the question who would you want right now: Dwight Howard or Tim Duncan? Talking head Skip Bayless said Tim Duncan, because he shows up in the playoffs. Apparently Skip didn’t watch last year’s playoffs, but whatever.

Howard went out and shut down Duncan, holding him to a career worst 1 for 10 on the night.

Afterward, Howard smacked Bayless back a little bit to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I think everybody has a problem with anything I do on the floor. We got to the Finals last year with the same way I played this year. I’m not going to change who I am, I’m not going to change my personality. I’m not going to change anything about me. I’ve been playing basketball since I was three years old. I never changed one part of myself in this game. I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve been playing basketball, but one thing that has always been consistent is I’m going to have fun out there. Basketball brings me joy. I don’t care what people say about me smiling too much or having too much fun. Hey, I’m doing something I love. I’m going to be thankful and have fun doing it. …

“I don’t know what he could possibly say. Scottie Pippen said things, also Skip (Bayless). I know in order to win you gotta work hard and that’s one thing that I do. I work extremely hard on both ends. I might have nights where I might not shoot the ball as well but I’m still going to work hard, I’m still going to play defense and do all the small things. Numbers don’t lie…

Only people that we have to listen to are our coaches. Those are the guys that get paid to make us better players. Skip, he’s called everybody out. He’s called LeBron “Prince James.” LeBron’s one of the best players in the world, and he doesn’t think LeBron is good. It’s somebody just talking.”

Skip Bayless’ job is not to make sports comments — it’s to draw viewers. (Goal is the same here, we just try to do it differently.) Saying controversial things can help do that. But in the end it’s somebody just talking. Take it all with a grain of salt.

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.

PBT Extra: What does Kyrie Irving trade mean for LeBron James?

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In the end, the entire Kyrie Irving blockbuster trade was about LeBron James. It started because Kyrie Irving wanted out of LeBron’s enormous shadow. Cleveland went with this trade because Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder help them win now, and whatever LeBron decides to do next summer the Brooklyn pick (and maybe Ante Zizic) helps them build for the future.

But what does this trade mean to LeBron James?

Honestly, it doesn’t change much. That’s what I get into in this latest PBT Extra. LeBron is leaving his options open, but maybe this deal could help Cleveland keep him if it makes them more competitive with the Warriors.

Rumor: Young Bulls ‘can’t stand’ Dwyane Wade

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After a loss last January, Dwyane Wade (in conjunction with since-traded Jimmy Butler) lashed out at his Bulls teammates for not caring enough. Those younger players didn’t receive the message gratefully, questioning why Wade didn’t practice more.

The simple answer: Wade is 35, and he and his team are better served if he saves himself for games. But Wade also should have known his schedule left him ill-suited to criticize harder-working teammates.

The whole saga exposed the inherent tension that occurs when an accomplished veteran with declining skills is thrust into a leadership position on a mediocre team.

Consider that backdrop as Wade and Chicago dance around a buyout.

Nick Friedell on ESPN discussing Wade getting bought out:

This is inevitable. It’s coming. It’s a matter of when, not if.

But right now, guys, it’s just kind of a staring contest. Everybody’s looking at each other saying, “OK, how much money are you willing to give up?”

And Gar Forman, the Bulls’ GM, at summer league, said, “Oh, we’re not having conversations.” I don’t think that’s the case. I think Dwyane’s agents and the Bulls are wanting to get this thing done.

But I’d really be surprised if it happened before the season. I still think it’s more likely that it’ll happen probably somewhere in December or January.

But this is a divorce that’s going to happen. It’s just going to take some time.

The young players on the Bulls really can’t stand Dwyane, and it’s the little secret in Chicago. They have had enough.

Wade’s January criticism was reportedly particularly directed at Nikola Mirotic and Michael Carter-Williams, neither of whom are on the roster. (Mirotic, a restricted free agent, will likely return.) Even if Wade’s comments cast a wider net, Jerian Grant, Paul Zipser, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis and Cristiano Felicio are the only young players still on the team from that time. None of those players deserve much influence in how the franchise operates.

Still, no matter what the young players want, it’s clear Wade no longer fits on a rebuilding Chicago. They might get their wish.

Wade is set to earn $23.8 million in the final season of an expiring contract. That salary could prove useful in a bigger trade.

If bought out, Wade would count as dead money against Chicago’s cap at his buyout amount. They Bulls should obviously be amenable if he sacrifices enough, but a small discount doesn’t justify locking into that money rather than having a trade chip available.

If Chicago is deep into the cellar as expected after the trade deadline, a buyout would be completely logical then. Maybe the Bulls even assess the trade market sooner and conclude Wade’s huge expiring contract won’t facilitate a trade.

It’s easy to see a buyout happening eventually. In the meantime, Wade and his younger teammates will just have to get along. I trust Wade’s professionalism to make this situation at least tenable, but Fred Hoiberg might have his hands full building cooperation with all the people involved.