New Jersey Nets v Miami Heat

Report: Cavaliers hire team of attorneys to build LeBron tampering case against Heat

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So Dan Gilbert is over LeBron leaving? Riiiiiight.

The Cleveland Cavaliers owner has spent several hundred thousand dollars to pay a team of attorneys to build a tampering case against the Heat that he can then present to the NBA, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

The NBA won’t launch an investigation into a tampering case without a formal request from a team, but sources say Gilbert’s plan is to give commissioner David Stern a detailed case that includes meetings, phone calls and contingency plans that date as far back as 2008. Gilbert will implore Stern to use his powers as commissioner to get access to phone records and testimony of key people surrounding Heat president Pat Riley, James and others potentially involved.

Gilbert officially declined comment on the report.

The release of this story the day before James returns to Cleveland by Wojnarowski — who has been hard on LeBron James, to put it mildly — makes the cynic in us come to the fore. There may well be some truth here, but take this with a few grains of salt is what we are saying. The timing of this certainly should play well in Cleveland… but certainly that is just a coincidence.

Tampering would be very hard to prove. No Heat player or representative — that includes Dwyane Wade — could talk to LeBron James or his representatives about the specifics of him and Chris Bosh coming to Miami prior to July 1. However, that is very different than the three of them saying, “we should all play together” at the Olympics.

The report is that the attorneys are targeting “an alleged Riley-James meeting in Miami in November 2009, and a meeting of James’ inner circle with Wade in Chicago in June 2010, sources said.” So, an alleged meeting well before the Heat knew exactly how much cap space they would have available, and Wade meeting with James’ team — who met with a whole lot of people — are what we are focusing on here? There may be some smoke, but proving a fire is a very different thing.

If tampering were proven, the penalties could be severe, including losses of draft picks and suspensions for front office personnel.

There is a river of back-channel communications in the NBA. A Mississippi of such talk. To pull out parts of these things and prove tampering is a tall order.

But if you’re Gilbert, it’s something that plays well with the home fan base on the eve of James’ return.

PBT Podcast: Derek Fisher fired, plus your trade questions from Twitter

Derek Fisher
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Derek Fisher is out as coach of the New York Knicks.

In this latest podcast, NBC Sports’ Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman discuss the odd timing of that move — we expect another shoe to drop as to why. It’s not that Fisher was a great coach, but replacing him with Kurt Rambis mid-season is not an upgrade. And Luke Walton isn’t available until this summer.

After struggling to figure out what the Knicks are thinking, Helin and Feldman answer questions off Twitter from readers/listeners on the coming trade deadline including discussions of Blake Griffin, Jeff Teague, the Pistons, the Jazz, the Knicks, and more.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Warriors’ center Festus Ezeli to have knee surgery, out indefinitely

Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli, left, of Nigeria, looks to pass the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, in Denver. Golden State won 118-105. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Festus Ezeli has been a rock-solid backup for the Warriors this season, playing almost 18 minutes a night behind Andrew Bogut giving the team 7.5 points and 5.9 rebounds a contest. Golden State’s defense is 3.6 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court, and he’s part of the team’s long-term plans.

But he’s going to be out for a while now following knee surgery, the team announced and as reported by Monte Poole at CSNBayArea.com.

http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/festus-ezeli-undergo-knee-surgery

The surgery is exploratory, which is why the Warriors say there is no timeline for recovery yet.

The surgery is on his left knee; it was his right one that had reconstructive surgery and forced him to miss all of two seasons ago.

This is a blow to the Warriors’ depth, but little has slowed their march this season. More Mo Speights is not ideal, but the Warriors can just go small more often and run teams out of the building that way.

Ezeli is a restricted free agent this summer and the Warriors would like to keep him on the roster and expand his role, particularly if they do not retain Andrew Bogut. The severity of this knee injury could impact Ezeli’s ability to earn a big contract this summer, but hopefully for him, it’s not that serious.

Russell Westbrook stands behind Kevin Durant, mimics him during interview (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Choose your spin.

This is why Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder. Russell Westbrook doesn’t respect him.

or

This is why Kevin Durant is re-signing with the Thunder. He and Russell Westbrook have so much fun together.

Report: Magic open to talking Tobias Harris trade, looking to add experience

Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) grabs the uniform of Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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Tobias Harris signed a four-year, $64 million contract with the Magic just last summer.

Now, just 50 games later…

Marc Stein of ESPN:

I’m skeptical this is significant. Teams discuss trades for many players for a variety of reasons. That doesn’t mean the player is likely to be dealt.

Orlando in particular has a roster of players who cause significant debate about their value. It’s helpful to know what other teams think of Harris, and soliciting trade offers is a good method to learn his worth.

It’s more intriguing the Magic are looking to add experience. They should probably go the opposite route, but they’ve tried (and failed) for years to accelerate their rebuild. At 22-28 – four games and three teams from playoff position – now is not the time to seek shortcuts. Spend the rest of the season developing young players – and probably securing a higher draft pick in the process.

One of Harris’ best traits is his youth. He’s just 23. See what other teams would offer for him, sure. But, in all likelihood, it’s better to let him grow into the veteran Orlando needs rather than trading him for one when the rest of the team isn’t ready to win, anyway.

My guess is that’s what Orlando will do. Remember, always consider who has incentive to leak this information anonymously and what they’d be positioned to know.