NBA basketball player James of the Miami Heat gestures as he attends a promotional event in Beijing

LeBron James: “I’m still getting better”


LeBron James was making his first tour of the Philippines recently, a Nike sponsored tour to boost his brand in on of the world’s real basketball hotbeds.

The tour was filled with the usual appearances and a few games. And he didn’t really say anything you wouldn’t expect, but one thing he said could be scary for the rest of the NBA.

“I’m still getting better,” LeBron said. “I don’t want to be the same player I was this past season, I want to come into this season a new, improved, better LeBron James. We’ll see what happens, man. But I will come back a better player.”

LeBron does work on his game in the offseason — he didn’t used to be able to hit threes, now he does at a 40.6 percent clip last season. He developed a post game. And there are always things that can be added to the mix.

Frankly, he is going to have to be a little better next season for Miami to complete a three-peat — the Pacers will be better with experience and depth (and Danny Granger), the Bulls get Derrick Rose back, the Nets added talent for a one or two year run, and the Knicks defense could be better as well. Miami needs a healthier Dwyane Wade, more out of Chris Bosh, more out of the role players and mostly more out of LeBron James to overcome that.

Pelicans signing center Jerome Jordan

Marc Gasol, Jerome Jordan
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Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:

Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.