Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

LeBron James, Erik Spoelstra now BFFs. Sort of.


It has taken nearly 10 months, but LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra finally get each other.

That timetable is understandable, I’ve been married for nine years and my wife still doesn’t get me half the time. Building a relationship takes time, and Spoelstra and James had to do it under the brightest of spotlights.

Both Spoelstra and James confirmed things are better lately with Bill Reiter of Fox Sports Florida.

“I think the last few weeks it’s been a lot more comfortable,” Spoelstra said when I asked him about their relationship. “We’ve been communicating a lot more….”

“It’s definitely a process, and I think me and Coach Spo are learning each other as we speak,” LeBron said. “It’s not always going to be a bed of roses. We know that. There’s going to be times when Spo don’t like me and I don’t like Spo. That’s just how it is. But we’ve got to have each other’s back no matter what’s going on.”

This is a good thing. Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan were not buddies, but they had enough of a relationship to be on the same page (largely) about the team and its direction. Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan, same sort of thing. Miami needs that.

You’d say that the improved relationship has shown on the court, but the Heat’s last six games were not against playoff teams. That’s a honeymoon, not a relationship test.

The real stress tests start a week from Sunday. Especially if the Heat don’t get out of the East. But for now the relationship seems like it has a good foundation.

Gordon Hayward goes behind Jordan Clarkson’s back with dribble

Gordon Hayward, Nick Young
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Utah’s Gordon Hayward abused the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson on this play.

First, Hayward reads and steals Clarkson’s poor feed into the post intended for Kobe Bryant, then going up the sideline he takes his dribble behind Clarkson’s back to keep going. It all ends in a Rudy Gobert dunk.

Three quick takeaways here:

1) Gordon Hayward is a lot better than many fans realize. He can lead this team.

2) It’s still all about the development with Clarkson, and that’s going to mean some hard lessons.

3) Hayward may have the best hair in the NBA, even if it’s going a bit Macklemore.

(Hat tip reddit)

Could Tristan Thompson’s holdout last months? Windhorst says yes.

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

VIZZINI: “So, it is down to you. And it is down to me.”
MAN IN BLACK nods and comes nearer…
MAN IN BLACK: “Perhaps an arrangement can be reached.”
VIZZINI: “There will be no arrangement…”
MAN IN BLACK: “But if there can be no arrangement, then we are at an impasse.”

That farcical scene from The Princess Bride pretty much sums up where we are with the Tristan Thompson holdout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, minus the Iocane powder. (Although that scene was a battle of wits in the movie and this process seems to lack much wit.) The Cavaliers have put a five-year, $80 million offer on the table. Thompson wants a max deal (or at least a more than has been offered), but he also doesn’t want to play for the qualifying offer and didn’t sign it. LeBron James just wants the two sides just to get it done.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN thinks LeBron could be very disappointed.

Windhorst was on the Zach Lowe podcast at Grantland (which you should be listening to anyway) and had this to say about the Thompson holdout:

“I actually believe it will probably go months. This will go well into the regular season.”

Windhorst compared it to a similar situation back in 2007 with Anderson Varejao, which eventually only broke because the then Charlotte Bobcats signed Varejao to an offer sheet. Thompson is a restricted free agent, meaning the Cavaliers can match any offer, but only Portland and Philadelphia have the cap space right now to offer him a max contract. Neither team has shown any interest in doing so.

And so we wait. And we may be waiting a while.