Let’s get right down to it, shall we? The Miami Herald asked LeBron James if the pressure was “getting to him” whatever that means. His answer was clear, decisive, forceful. And by that I mean it was none of those things:
“No, I don’t think so,” James said.
“I don’t believe so,” James said.
One more try.
“I know I’m not,” James said.
via Miami Heat’s LeBron James doesn’t think pressure is getting to him – Miami Heat – MiamiHerald.com.
The question of how mentally tough LeBron is had been settled, we thought. After all, let’s make this clear as can be, without James, the Heat are not here. They’re wondering how the Celtics beat them six times out of eight. Or they’re wondering how the Chicago Bulls rendered them irrelevant. It was James’ play that got them to this point. But all that confidence has been washed away amid a sea of missed jumpers and what looks like passive play. (It’s passive play, all right. He’s passing out of double and triple-teams. The horror!)
James has always been held to the most ridiculous standards possible, in part because of his talent, in part because of his attitude, in part because that’s how our society works. But in not giving forthright answers to these questions, it seems more and more like he’s coming apart. His coach told him to take some time away from basketball. He started watching film at 3AM. He said he needed to be more aggressive. He stopped playing inside in the fourth quarter. He said he needed to step up. He didn’t.
What are we going to do to him as a media, as a league fanbase, as a NBA watching public if he fails, not just fails, but fails like this on the biggest stage after being up 2-1? We’ll find out if the Heat can’t win the next two games.
James Harden had a historic season in Houston.
Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.
Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.
That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.
Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.
Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.
The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.
Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.
Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:
I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.
Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.
But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.
Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction
On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.