All too often in life, we are the last ones to come to the realizations that everyone else around us figured out a long time ago. Like that girl we were dating was essentially Linda Blair from the Exorcist. Or we really shouldn’t have let our frustrations lead us to saying something stupid in public.
Meet Dan Gilbert. Billionaire owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
You remember him, the guy who handled LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers for Miami with all the grace and tact of a Desperate Housewife of New Jersey. He promised his rebuilding Cavaliers would win a title before LeBron and the Heat.
“Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Gilbert said Tuesday.
No. You don’t say.
“If you’re going to predict something that doesn’t happen and you’re going to do it publicly, you’d for sure take it back,” Gilbert said. “When that happened when they won, it was the end of the end of the end of that whole thing. Now there’s nothing more to talk about. In a way it was like a little bit of a relief. If they didn’t win it, it would’ve been still another thing of who’s going to win it (first).”
Gilbert is lucky because out of the disaster he landed Kyrie Irving — a young superstar point guard the Cavaliers can build around. Did you learn anything from this, Dan.?
“The key thing, whoever you are and wherever you are, you can not wait,” Gilbert said. “The big lesson was if a player is not willing to extend, no matter who they are, no matter where they are playing, no matter what kind of season you had, you can not risk going into a summer and having them leave in unrestricted free agency and get nothing back for it.
“It’s not the player’s fault. That’s on ownership. Had we done that, the whole thing would have been crafted as I’m sure the player or whoever would have said, `Of course I would have stayed. You guys screwed up and ruined the whole franchise.’ You’re in a no-win situation.”
That’s one lesson. Another one could be that you need to not let the player have the run of the franchise and make sure you have a GM in place that understands how to build a team around said player not just desperately slap parts up and hope they stick. That could be something to remember going forward. Just a suggestion.
Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.
Report: Dennis Smith Jr. planned to have J. Cole dunk in dunk-contest routine
The dunk-contest scoring system – five judges ranking dunks on a scale of 6-10 – is plenty flawed. There should have been a larger difference between the Smith and Victor Oladipo dunks the Dallas point guard mentioned. But Oladipo didn’t advance, either. Personally, I thought the right two players – eventual-winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. – advanced.
Maybe Smith was more upset about the missed opportunity – dunks (plural!) involving rapper J. Cole.
If Dennis had made it to the finals, Cole was going to throw him the alley-oop. But then the plan was, he was going to throw him the oop, Dennis would dunk it, and then Cole would catch the ball, and then he’d dunk it too. That was going to be the ill, craziest dunk-contest use of a prop or a person ever. But we never got to saw it, because they were holding out until the final round. They didn’t want to bring it out in the first round.
This certainly would have been unprecedented and cool. But unless Smith had something amazing planned for the alley-oop, the best element would have been Cole dunking. That would have upstaged Smith, who’s presumably the one being judged.
For what it’s worth, Cole can dunk. We’ve seen it in the celebrity game:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returns this season
The Spurs (35-24) are third in the West despite Leonard playing just nine games. Popovich has done a great job (maybe Coach of the Year-worthy). LaMarcus Aldridge is having a bounce-back season in a leading role. Pau Gasol leads a supporting cast of players good in their roles.
But San Antonio’s ceiling is so much lower without Leonard.
He’s an elite defender who shuts down opposing scorers on the perimeter and can comfortably switch inside. He can isolate offensively to score efficiently, and he spaces the floor off the ball with strong 3-point shooting. Those are all skills that translate to the playoffs.
Without him, the Spurs rely too heavily on older, slower defenders. That’s ripe to be exploited in the postseason.
Teams might even jockey to match up with San Antonio – the most vulnerable-appearing Western Conference team in line to get home-court advantage in the first round.
Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Leonard returning. Popovich could just be trying to shut down speculation. He clearly doesn’t like discussing this issue.
But the Spurs are the most cautious team on injuries. If Leonard risks further injury, they’ll keep him sidelined.
This injury has already caused tension. This won’t help.