LeBron James

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thinks LeBron can break his MVP record


In the Greatest Of All Time discussion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gets short shrift. Maybe it’s because he was 7-feet tall and because of his fundamentals made it look too easy, but the man has six championship rings, a couple finals MVPs, 18 All-Star Games and he scored more points than any player ever  in the NBA. He should be in the conversation.

And he has six MVPs, a record for most by one player.

But Kareem thinks LeBron James — who officially was given his fourth MVP on Sunday — could break that record. That’s what Abdul-Jabbar told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.

“As long as LeBron stays healthy and keeps playing the game at a high level, he, of course, could break my record,’’ Abdul-Jabbar wrote in an email to FOX Sports Florida minutes after James had been awarded his latest trophy. “The challenges he faces are getting injured or losing interest.’’

Considering LeBron is 28 years old, he very well could win two or three more. He’s good enough, he’s in the prime of his career and already has four.

Certainly injuries could be a setback. So could voter fatigue — he’s won two in a row and if Kevin Durant or a healthy Derrick Rose or a handful of other guys has a monster season that approaches LeBron they could get the votes they need.

Still, LeBron’s on a historic pace. In 15 years we very well could be talking about him the way we talk about Kareem and the other elites the game has seen.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.