LeBron James isn't talking to anyone, but we're all still guessing

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Thumbnail image for lebron_james_arty.jpgWe don’t know. Nobody in the media knows.

That won’t stop us from speculating. We’ll use a shred of information to concoct entire theories. We’ll guess. (Complain about that if you want, but those guesses get a lot of viewers — you like it so we keep doing it). But we don’t know what LeBron James is going to do. In a world and news cycle that thrives on information, we have no good stuff.

Because LeBron James is on lockdown. He has tightened his inner circle way down — even one-time confidant William Wesley is on the outside now — and nobody has info. Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer explains (via twitter).

At this point, LeBron has tightly closed ranks, only seriously talking about decision with a couple people. Which is why so little info.

Also, can confirm several reports of a rift between Wesley & James camp. Wes was indeed pushing Chicago, I’m told.

But let me say, LeBron & Maverick Carter relaxed & pleasant to stalking media (me). They’re having way more fun than us. Based on several people who have talked to LeBron in last 72 hours, he is giving impression he’s undecided after last week’s meetings.

William Wesley was the ultimate insider, and now he is outside. He was the guy pushing the “trade for Chris Paul now and LeBron will play with him” idea last month. He pushed Chicago. But Wesley benefits if LeBron leaves Cleveland. In Cleveland, Maverick Carter and LeBron’s close friends have a lot of power — power they would not have (or have as much of) in Chicago or Miami or New Jersey or New York. Wesley would still have his power, he could even fill the power void where LeBron’s friends lost out.

But the ultimate insider is outside looking in, too, apparently. And you wonder why the media has so little info.

You could try to read into all this — maybe Cleveland still has the upper hand if it is his close friends who still can whisper in LeBron’s ear. But that is just more speculation. And we’ve all had about enough of that. It’s time for information. And a decision.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.