If you’re a fan of athletes handling their marketing well, you have to be impressed with how LeBron James has handled the questions surrounding his future this summer in the Free Agency Summer of Doom. Even if you’re absolutely convinced one way or the other on him leaving or staying, he’s done a fantastic job of keeping the question open while doing the things he should for his team and the Cavs fans.
He releases a series of shoes in Knicks colors.
He attends the Yankees championship parade.
He releases a film about his time in high school in Ohio.
He constantly, and firmly, refuses to comment on his future and free agency.
To that end, it’s interesting that in the latest from Brian Windhorst, Cavs beat writer extraordinaire, LeBron is quoted answering a rare question about the summer from an unnamed member of the press corps. The reporter asked why James won’t just say he’s happy in Cleveland (which would end the speculation), since he seems so happy with the Cavs, laughing and joking and being all silly and cute. His response? Not cute.
“At the end of the day, it is still a business,” James said. “This isn’t
high school basketball anymore. You have to do what is best for your
family and what is best for yourself. I’ve always said I love being in
Cleveland. But for me as a basketball player, no matter what happens, I
love to play the game. I play it with a joy and I love my teammates.”
The line about it being a business is nothing new, and the quote itself isn’t shocking. But it does paint a definitive picture of where James’ head is at. Those that think there’s no way the King could leave his kingdom need to pay hard attention to the “what is best for yourself” part. It’s up to teams with less to offer than the Cavs to make the case of why he should leave. But if they can make the case, he’ll listen.
From there, it’s money plus championships plus all the other million factors to consider.
The Detroit Pistons’ playoff dreams hinged on them being able to hang around until point guard Reggie Jackson got back from this thumb and knee injuries. They have done just that — the Pistons are 11-10 and would be the eighth seed if the playoffs started today.
And now they get Jackson back. Stan Van Gundy made the announcement Sunday at shootaround, before the team takes on the Orlando Magic.
It will take a few games to get his conditioning back, but this is huge for Detroit. Jackson running the pick-and-roll with Andre Drummond is at the heart of Detroit’s offense – the Pistons were 2.3 points per 100 possessions better with the ball in his hands. Ish Smith played well for the Pistons in his absence — 10.8 points per game, 6.4 assists, and he’s been solid. Move his playmaking to the second unit and suddenly the Pistons become a lot more dangerous.
The scouting report on Jakob Poeltl coming out of Utah said he could run the floor well and he was a good finisher around the rim.
But we didn’t expect this.
During the Raptors win Sunday against the stumbling Hawks, Poeltl filled the lane on the break, got the rock, and nobody was going to stop that finish. Least of all Tim Hardaway Jr., he just ends up in the poster.
Entering free agency last July, Hassan Whiteside said his first choice was to stay in Miami — then Pat Riley gave him 98 million reasons to stick around. While the Heat have been up and down this season, Whiteside has thrived as the franchise player in Miami.
Last July he also met with Dallas, but it turns out that was not his second choice. Here is what Whiteside told Erik Gunderson of the Miami Herald before his team fell to the Blazers on Saturday.
“Portland was my second option,” Whiteside said at the team’s Saturday shootaround in Portland. “I would have came here.”
Interesting. There were reports the Blazers chased Whiteside, but it didn’t seem that serious. Apparently, it was. If The Blazers got Whiteside, would they still have spent $70 million on Evan Turner? Probably not. And suddenly a lot of things look better in Portland.
For Blazers fans, watching their team try to outscore opponents while playing terrible defense this season — in part because of a lack of rim protection behind their undersized guards — it’s easy to imagine how much Whiteside would have changed the picture in the Northwest. But at this point, that’s just fan fiction.
JaVale McGree has become a solid contributor for the Warriors off the bench, giving them a needed shot blocking presence. He’s not getting a ton of run (seven minutes a night), but he’s efficient when he’s out there.
Still, there is his reputation as the guy most likely to end up on Shaqtin’ a Fool. He hasn’t done anything like that for a while… until Saturday night, when after a made free throw he tried to inbound the ball for the Suns for a second.
The Warriors bench was laughing under their shirts and towels.