Move over Kobe Bryant, it’s time for the LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan comparisons to start ramping up.
And at the front of it all — Charles Barkley. He is on the opening episode of NBA TV’s Open Court” (which first airs next Tuesday) and he says LeBron could be better than Jordan. From the Associated Press.
Jordan is considered by many to be the best player in NBA history. Barkley says he would never compare anyone to the Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion. But Barkley also says that James is “just bigger, stronger, faster.”
Let’s be clear — LeBron has not lived up to the Jordan standard yet. I don’t believe Barkley thinks it, I don’t believe even LeBron thinks it. But also to be fair, if you are just talking physical gifts, Barkley is right. It’s the mental side that has separated Jordan and LeBron’s career paths.
LeBron’s season last year was about as close to a Jordanesque season as we have seen. LeBron became only the second player (with Jordan) to win a regular season MVP, NBA title, finals MVP and gold medal in the same year. LeBron averaged 21.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. LeBron’s PER of 30.7 was around the number when Jordan was at his peak in Chicago.
Last year LeBron showed a mental maturity that allowed him to really start to reach his potential. And at 27 he is just entering the prime of his career.
But to be talked about with Jordan, or even the other all-time greats, LeBron needs to keep this level of play and winning up over the next five years. He’s not Jordan yet. He really never will be.
But let the discussion begin.
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.
The Pelicans have been crushed by injuries the last few years.
Why? That’s an incredibly complex question.
But the New Orleans Saints – who share an owner (Tom Benson), a front-office leader (Mickey Loomis) and other staff with the Pelicans – have found culprits for their own injury woes.
Mike Triplett of ESPN:
The Saints have fired team orthopedists Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, per source, after it was discovered that CB Delvin Breaux has a fractured fibula and will require surgery expected to sidelined him for 4-6 weeks. Breaux was originally diagnosed with a contusion
Suri is a Pelicans team physician.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Fairly or not, Suri – after the Saints deemed him unacceptable – will be in the crosshairs if he keeps his job with the the Pelicans and their injury woes continue.
Chris Sheridan was ahead of the crowd in 2014, reporting LeBron James would likely leave the Heat for the Cavaliers – which obviously happened.
But Sheridan called it a “90 percent chance,” a small – but large enough – hedge. He also said LeBron would announce the decision on LeBron’s personal website. Of course, LeBron revealed his choice in a Sports Illustrated essay.
So, maybe Sheridan knows what he’s talking about. Maybe he doesn’t.
But the longtime NBA writer just fanned the flames of the already hot LeBron-leaving-Cleveland rumors.
Of course, the denials came quickly.
There have already been plenty of warning signs about LeBron’s relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, which didn’t restart in a great place.
It’s entirely believable LeBron would leave Cleveland, in large part due to Gilbert.
But it’s also fun to speculate about that salacious storyline.
Maybe Sheridan or his source got carried away for that very reason. Or maybe they know something.
Neither possibility should be discounted.