At this point in the funhouse of mirrors that are the rumors of LeBron James’ next move, reality has been hard to tell from dead ends and distorted reflections. Everything, every reaction looked like it could be the way out.
But this afternoon, one tangible piece of evidence came though — the Heat are working very hard, and are very close apparently, to trading Michael Beasley.
That is evidence LeBron is headed to South Beach. More than the reports from multiple sources. More than the booked cabanas at the W Hotel in South Beach for a LeBron James party. More than anything.
Miami needs to move Beasley if it wants to give LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all max deal money. And Miami wants to give them max money. The fact they are busting this hard to get it done is a sign.
Ideally, the Heat would like to give Bosh a sign-and-trade max deal — six years and $127 million. Same thing they can give Wade because they have his Bird-rights. LeBron would have to get by on a regular max deal, somehow.
But they have to move Beasley to make it happen. Apparently Charlotte wants Beasley — they are in a good position to take a risk on potential, to hope that concerns about his next contract get him to play to his strengths and not coast through games.
Miami had tried to move Beasley for weeks, but the desperation at this time is telling.
The big three can come to Miami even if Beasley is still there, they just have to each do it for $1 million less a year and only five-year deals. But the Heat want their guys happy — all max guys.
It doesn’t mean LeBron to Miami is a sure thing. Nothing is a sure thing in this wildest of free agent periods.
But this is a sign, a real sign. And it points straight to Miami.
Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.
And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.
The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.
Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.
The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.
Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.
Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.
Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.
Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.
Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.
No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.
If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.
New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins is a fiery personality on the court, often arguing foul calls at length despite no official in NBA history reversing a call directly after player complaint.
Crafty veterans — your LeBron Jameses and your Chris Pauls — slowly and pointedly chatter with officials as a means to influence their subconscious leaning on calls (and to protect them against earning techs when they do decide to straight up yell at refs).
Cousins hasn’t used that kind of angling to success in his career, instead going hard at referees with some consistency. Cousins has tried to change that approach this season, but instead has found that his prior actions have earned him a reputation the Pelicans forward believes doesn’t befit his actions in 2017-18.
Speaking to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Cousins said that despite letting more calls go and changing his candor, NBA refs are not responding proportionately.
Via The Undefeated:
I am going out of my way. I am going over and beyond,” Cousins said. “I am coming in saying, ‘We can’t do this, this and this …’ Even calls I know I should be arguing, I’m letting go. And they’re still like … it’s a one-sided thing. Everything is changing from one end. But with them, it’s like, ‘We are not letting go of the past. You are who you are. You’re getting a tech.’
“So, when it comes to me getting a tech for saying, ‘Good call, referee …,’ vets and coaches tell me to butter them up. Switch it up a little bit. Do a little reverse psychology. Tell them it’s a good call. And you still getting a tech for it? They’re not trying to make it work. They’re stuck in their ways, and it is so obvious.”
Cousins added that he believes foes are taking advantage of his troubles.
“Now it’s to the point where teams are saying, ‘Yeah, just go over there and beat the s— out of him.’ I don’t get calls, and I’m not protected like other players are,” he said.
It’s interesting to see that Cousins has at least tried to change things up, and indeed acknowledges that he should be trying to work with the officials rather than antagonize them.
Still, we’re not sure what the tone of his “good call” comments are toward the refs. Are they sarcastic? Or are they contrite? You can see how one might earn Cousins a tech from an official — who seem to be particularly sensitive this season — and the other might endear you to them.
James Harden, Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets are on a 13-game winning streak. They have a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. But it’s not all rosy in Space City.
Harden suffered a bruised right knee against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and almost had to sit out the Rockets’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters after the win over the Bucks, Harden said that he was in some pain but a doctor told him he would be able to play and that he would not make the condition worse.
“I wasn’t feeling well at all, but the doc came in and just told me that there’s going to be pain for a bit, but you can play through it,” Harden said. “It can’t get worse, but it’s going to be pretty painful until obviously you give it some time. Once he said that, I was like, ‘Let’s go.'”
“I wasn’t moving like I usually move, but we won,” said Harden.
If Harden wasn’t feeling well, it sure didn’t show. He had 31 points, although on 8-of-21 shooting against Milwaukee. Chris Paul chipped in with 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
It doesn’t sound like Harden will be missing a game any time soon, which is par for the course for him. He’s played in a minimum of 89 percent of his team’s regular season games since entering the league in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Rockets are blasting their way into 2018. They play the Warriors next on January 4.