LeBron James

Cavs/Heat first half notes: LeBron gets booed, can still ball

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Some notes from the first half of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, where the Heat are blowing out the Cavs 59-40 at the half:

• Oh, he got booed. When LeBron came out for pregame warmups he was greeted by very loud boos, followed by a chant of “a—hole.”

• One fan was ejected for running up, pointing and screaming in LeBron’s face as they came out of the tunnel for warmups, according to the Akron Becon Journal.

• For contrast Zydrunas Ilgauskas got a very loud ovation during pregame introductions.

• Interestingly, Cleveland wearing white home uniforms, Cavs in wine colored road jerseys.

• Everyone in the building said the game had the energy of a big postseason game. Well, at least at the start.

• LeBron did the powder toss, the chorus of boos bot even louder.

• There didn’t seem to be a lot of creative signs shown on the TNT broadcast, but my favorite seen in a tweet was “Akron Hates You Too!”

• As expected every time he touched the ball LeBron was booed. The Cavaliers hung with the Heat for a little while, starting with a real burst of adrenalin. That wore off, by the way.

• The Heat started the game in that very stagnant offense again, allowing Cavs to overload on LeBron and other ballhandlers. The Cavs then seem just happy to settle. Eventually they started to attack and do better against the Cavs defense, but could they do that against a better team?

• In the first quarter the “de-lon-te” chants start. Some other profane chants were mixed in. There was some creative stuff on the Internet but little if any seems to have made is way into the arena.

• James has 10 first quarter points on 4 of 8 shooting, and played the entire quarter. Two of those points came on a very impressive up and under.

• Heat shot 54 percent, (59 percent eFG) in the first quarter, 52.4 percent and 5 of 11 from three for the half. They also got to the line more,

• Things just got worse for the Cavaliers as the game went on and the limitations of what is left on their roster were exposed. The Cavs shot 28.9 percent for the half.

• LeBron James spent a lot of the breaks in play joking around with his former teammates on the Cavaliers bench — while the fans in Cleveland hate LeBron, the players apparently do not. By the way, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sits right behind the Cavaliers bench, so this really has to grate on him.

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

Derek Fisher
Associated Press
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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)
Associated Press
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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.