DeShawn Stevenson says LeBron “checked out,” is that news?

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Because somehow a Game 5 of the NBA finals with the series tied 2-2 isn’t enough, there seems to be some manufactured drama going regarding LeBron James. And it isn’t even his fault this time.

First comes this from the Associated Press:

Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson is directing some sharp words toward Miami’s LeBron James on the eve of Game 5 in the NBA finals. Stevenson says the Heat forward “checked out” in the final minutes of Game 4 on Tuesday night, when James was held to eight points – the lowest he managed in 90 career playoff games.

In general, when you see a controversial quote where only two words are used and not a sentence or paragraph, you should question the context. PBT’s reporters on the ground said Stevenson’s comments on the whole were not that incendiary. Follow up quotes from ESPN Dallas bear that out:

“Dwyane Wade had it going and sometimes you get like that when a player has it going,” Stevenson said Wednesday afternoon…

“Our defense was good, but at the same time he wasn’t in attack mode,” said Stevenson, who scored 11 in Game 4. “We all know that LeBron can get to the basket and when he has his shot going, it’s pretty tough to keep him from the free throw line.”

Besides, didn’t LeBron James say over and over he didn’t play well in Game 4? That’s right, he did Tuesday night and again Wednesday at media availability after practice.

“Definitely didn’t play great offensively,” James said after Tuesday’s Game 4, in which he scored 8 points. “I got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game.”

Some are going to try and say Stevenson’s comments fired up LeBron, who will undoubtedly come out much more aggressive in Game 5. Most media see it that way. But LeBron’s play is what should do that — he had Jason Kidd and Jason Terry on him for long stretches of that game and didn’t demand the ball, didn’t attack the mismatch. You can say he “checked out” or “played like Game 5 against Boston last year” or however you wish to define it. Nobody is really denying it, not even LeBron.

Game 5 already has plenty of drama, and how LeBron comes out will be a big part of that game’s story. But these comments have nothing to do with that.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.