Report: The Lakers want to chase LeBron and Melo next summer. Is that news?

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So let me get this right: A team with massive amounts of cap space next summer that wants to rebuild free agency is going to go after the two biggest names potentially on the board?

Shocking. Who could have predicted that?

So apparently the Lakers are going to try and go after LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony next summer, so reports Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst at ESPN.

The Los Angeles Lakers, whose plan to re-sign center Dwight Howard did not pan out this offseason, are poised to rebuild fast by focusing on the two biggest free agents of 2014 –LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, front-office sources have told ESPN.

Opinions are split on whether the Lakers can actually land James or Anthony, with one source calling it “realistic” and another saying it was “far-fetched at this point.” Nonetheless, the Lakers have made it clear they are positioning themselves for a run at one and perhaps even two of the superstars who could become free agents in 2014 by refusing to commit to any contract past this next season, multiple sources have said.

Put me in the far-fetched category. And if there is any category between that and “impossible” I’ll move into that one. I mean nothing is impossible, but this dream is standing right next to Mr. Impossible with his arm around him.

First, I don’t think LeBron leaves Miami. He will opt out next year to get the security of a five-year deal, but I don’t think he bolts. His image and his international brand are at all-time highs right now, and whether they win a title next year or not if he leaves he’ll take another blow to that image. Yes, if the Heat are going to contend three years from now that roster needs changes, but I think LeBron trusts Pat Riley to do that in a way he never trusted Cleveland’s management. Why leave when you just have to recruit players to come to South Beach to play with the best player on the planet and compete for titles?

If he does leave he’s only going somewhere where he can win instantly. Is LeBron going to go into a West with a young Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to team with Carmelo Anthony and an aging Kobe Bryant, two players who want and needs the ball in their hands to be effective.

Finally, I don’t think Anthony leaves his hometown Knicks. He wants to win there. Yes, like LeBron he will opt out to get the five years, but he’s not bolting.

Even the ESPN article reporting this pretty much calls this a pipe dream.

“It’s all wishful thinking at this point,” a league source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN. “Teams are doing more wishing than LeBron is wanting right now.

“It’s not about where LeBron wants to go [to win]. He already has two rings. If LeBron moved to Reno, teams would come to him.”

But trust me, we’re going to write about this a lot in the next year. LeBron and ‘Melo are going to refuse to discuss it and the Internet abhors a vacuum. Speculation will fill that void.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.