Finally, we have reached that time in August when we can definitively speculate on what teams will be playing like next May and June. Because we all nailed that Mavericks championship two years ago and got that Heat vs. Bulls Eastern Conference Finals we expected last year.
On paper it does seem to be a two-team race out West. The Thunder just went to the finals and their young core — Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden — returns wearing gold medals. They are young and should be improved. But the Lakers could be even better now that they have a monster lineup after adding Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
That roster has a lot of people are now leaning Lakers in the West, but former Spur and ESPN commentator Bruce Bowen isn’t one. He was on Sports Radio 560 WQAM and Project Spurs gives us the transcription.
“There’s a team out West called the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those young boys, it seems like each and every year they get better… I don’t think you can rule them out with their starters, their bench. You look at Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka down low, I think they will be aggressive and challenge Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Then you look at James Harden coming off the bench, who’s going to matchup with him? It’s not even a question with Steve Nash and Russell Westbrook. So now it leaves Kobe and Kevin Durant…. I’m not sold on this new Lakers team because it takes time to gel.”
Bowen isn’t wrong, it does take time for a team to come together, especially since Howard could be out at least for most of training camp and maybe the start of the season. The Lakers have overhauled their roster and overhauled their coaching staff and will run some Princeton sets. It’s all new. There are a lot of things to bring together for Mike Brown and staff. A lot of things for the players to figure out.
Really, we’re not going to be able to judge the Lakers vs. Thunder until what we see the Lakers are playing like in March. Remember, it took the Heat more than a season to win with their superstars and the idea it could take a couple years for the Lakers is very possible (even if they get by the Thunder there will be the Heat to contend with).
But we should speculate about it now.
Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?
That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.
Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:
Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.
Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.
Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.
LeBron James denied wanting to fight Kyrie Irving, but wanting to meet with his for-now Cavaliers co-star? That might be another story. Likewise, Irving – in light of his trade request – might not be eager to meet with LeBron.
Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland, as transcribed by Jackson Flickinger of King James Gospel:
“From very reliable sources. Plural. Kyrie and LeBron were in the same room over the weekend in Florida…Apparently these guys were in the same room and here’s the deal. I don’t know if there’s a thawing out process. All I do know is LeBron didn’t punch Kyrie the way Stephen A thought he would. I can report that. As for what they talked about or discussed…it was very cool. They didn’t get into any heated discussions.”
Did LeBron and Irving actually meet? Both were spotted in Miami, but maybe someone is just connecting dots that don’t belong connected.
Whether or not LeBron and Irving met, they might need to soon. Cleveland will have a tough time getting its desired return for Irving before the season, and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert discussed the possibility of Irving returning. LeBron isn’t getting traded.
No matter the disconnect between the two, LeBron and Irving might have to figure out how to work together a while longer. It’d be nice if that process has already begun.
About a month ago, the Bulls said they hadn’t discussed a buyout with Dwyane Wade.
Have the two sides progressed since?
Nick Friedell of ESPN:
Dwyane Wade isn’t long for the organization’s future and is expected to reach a buyout agreement at some point in the next few months.
Expected by whom?
People with direct knowledge of momentum toward a buyout?
Or everyone who can see that a 35-year-old earning $23.8 million fits poorly on a rebuilding team?
For the Bulls to now drop their biggest name and a large expiring contract that could prove useful in trades should require Wade surrendering a large portion of his salary. He doesn’t sound like someone inclined to do that yet.
A few months is a long time. As long as Wade gets bought out by March 1, he could join another team’s playoff roster. It’d surprise nobody if he gets bought out after the February trade deadline, which we already knew. I don’t see strong indication of something more imminent.
LeBron James has done a terrible job shooting down rumors about him leaving the Cavaliers
Except this one from Chris Sheridan, who cited a source saying LeBron would “100 percent” leave Cleveland next summer due to a rift with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Sheridan’s source saying LeBron is leaving doesn’t make that true. But other anonymous sources denying it doesn’t make the denials true, either.