LeBron changing agents, leaving CAA to be repped by friend

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Once again, LeBron James is leaning on his childhood friends and moving away from long-time industry professionals to represent him. That hasn’t always led to the best decisions in the past but it is his pattern over the years.

LeBron is letting go of Leon Rose and the power of CAA (Creative Artists Agency) — and with that moving away from power broker William Wesley — to be represented by a new agency formed childhood friend Rich Paul. Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal broke the story.

It was CAA that helped bring LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade together in Miami (the agency represented all of them).

Paul has become an agent, basically starting Rose’s apprentice at CAA but he has learned a lot during the last four years and is leaving the agency to form his own. There is no bad blood, this is just LeBron going where he is more comfortable, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. And there are not going to be dramatic changes for LeBron, really.

Paul’s first name is one of the initials in LRMR, the marketing firm LeBron formed with Maverick Carter and other friends several years back. (LeBron sold his marketing rights to Fenway Sports Group last year, a deal that in part gave him a piece of English soccer powerhouse Liverpool Football Club.)

LeBron has a lot of people who come at him off the court trying to get a piece of him and his pattern is to lean on the people he has known the longest, people he believes he can trust. Paul is one of them. Paul also is the agent for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Tristan Thompson, Eric Bledsoe and Jonny Flynn and some are expected to follow him to the new agency. Paul is a legitimate agent, not some fly by night guy.

This is not the first agent switch for James, who started in the league with Aaron Goodwin but moved to Rose two years into his NBA career.

What does it mean? In the short term not much, but it could be important down the line. Maybe. But probably not.

LeBron and the Heat aren’t breaking up the band for a couple years, if ever. So long as they are winning rings the core will stay together. About the only thing to watch — Paul will not collect any money on LeBron’s current contract, but if he opts out in 2014 Paul would collect on any new deal.

This might not mean much as and hammering out max contracts for LeBron is not the hard part of being an agent. And so long as the big three of the Heat agree to stay together (and maybe take a little less money to do so) contract negotiations with Miami are not going to be overly complex. It’s not like Paul has to go out and hustle up offers for LeBron. There are no financial negotiations.

But now LeBron is under different management than Bosh and Wade, both of whom are still with CAA. Read into that whatever you want.

LeBron is locked in for two more years in Miami, then his deal has a couple years of player options on it. Both Wade and Bosh have similar deals. Like I said, they are not looking to breakup the band, so those options may be meaningless. We’ll see.

It all could mean nothing, but it’s something to watch.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: I’ve never seen injury like Kawhi Leonard’s

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Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.

He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.

The San Antonio coach has seen everything.

Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.

Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”

“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”

The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.

Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.

Tim Hardaway Jr. calls fallen ref safe rather than defend shot (video)

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The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.

They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!

Luc Mbah a Moute sets modern record at +57 in Rockets’ win over Nuggets

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Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.

He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.

That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.

In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.

Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.

Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:

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