LeBron on ‘Melo’s free agency: “You got to do whatever makes you happy”

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To me this feels like the “Bart’s Inner Child” Simpsons episode where everyone in town starts emulating Bart.

In the role of self-help guru Brad Goodman we have LeBron James, who himself went through an over-hyped free agency period a few years back. You may remember that. It was a PR disaster but LeBron bounced back from it because he won on the court (this is America where winners write the history).

In the role of people seeking advice we have Carmelo Anthony (he’s not really seeking LeBron’s advice but reporters asked LeBron about it). In the Simpsons’ episode Goodman encouraged the entire town of Springfield to “do what they feel” and “be like the boy” Bart Simpson. That worked out about as well as you’d expect.

So what was LeBron’s advice for ‘Melo, who hits the market this summer? Do what you feel. Basically. That’s what he said, as Newsday reported.

“You got to do whatever makes you happy,” James said before Thursday night’s Knicks-Heat game at the Garden. “When you’re happy, the game of basketball is going to be fun for you. Strive to be great every day and live with whatever else happens. So we’ll see.”

So should ‘Melo consider leaving some money on the table?

“I recommend it to me,” James said. “It doesn’t work for everybody. The way I live my life don’t work for everybody. All I care about is winning. I came to Miami to win. Money didn’t make me happy. Winning made me happy, and it still does. That’s what matters to me.”

LeBron still makes a lot of money, for the record. His salary from the Heat is dwarfed by endorsement deals (which grew after he won titles).

The problem for the Knicks, or anyone picking up Anthony, is really this: At his max salary his next contract would start at $22.5 million and go up from there (only Kobe Bryant would make more). While ‘Melo can score you plenty of points, if the team wants to win with him as a key piece they will need a high quality ball handling guard who can get other guys easy buckets and create shots (essentially forcing Anthony to just be part of the offense, not all of it), plus you need some quality defenders around him. You can’t all get that from the free agent market with how much of the cap space Anthony would take up.

It’s not that you can’t win with ‘Melo, it’s that you can’t with him making that much money.

But LeBron is right, ‘Melo needs to do whatever makes him happy. Do what you feel.

PBT Extra: Bobby Portis punch adds to challenges for Bulls this season

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Nikola Mirotic will be out 4-6 weeks due to his concussion and fractured jaw.

Bobby Portis has been suspended for the first eight games of the season for causing those injuries to Mirotic with a punch at practice.

What does this mean for a Bulls locker room that was already going to have to deal with the weight of losing a lot of games.  I get into all these questions in this latest PBT Extra.

It’s going to be a long season in Chicago.

Gordon Hayward’s agent says return this season unlikely

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Wednesday night in Boston Gordon Hayward underwent surgery to repair his dislocated ankle and fractured tibia suffered just five minutes into the season-opening game, a gruesome injury that put a pall over the rest of the night.

There had been hope from some Celtics fans that Hayward could return this season, likely for the playoffs, but now that the surgery is complete Hayward’s agent told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN not to expect him back until next season.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who saw the injury. Hayward is in the first year of a four-year deal with the Celtics, they were always going to choose a cautious path rather than rush him back. Under Danny Ainge Boston has always taken the long view, even with all their moves this summer — specifically bringing in Hayward and Kyrie Irving — the target was to be the team set up for next as LeBron James and the Cavaliers faded. That plan does not change now.

Earlier in the day, Hayward had sent a video message out to Celtics fans thanking them for their support in the past 24 hours.

Without Hayward, the Celtics now will focus more on smaller lineups, rookie Jayson Tatum will get more run, as will Marcus Smart in his contract year. Jaylen Brown will be thrust into a more significant role. Also, Kyrie Irving will be asked to do more as the team’s second-best playmaker is now out for the season.

The Celtics will take a step back this season without Hayward, who was going to be crucial for them on both ends of the floor. That’s evidenced by their 0-2 start, falling to the Cavaliers and Bucks on the first couple nights of the season. Boston should still be a team well above .500 and in the playoffs, but they will not be quite the same this season.

Trail Blazers beat Suns by 48, biggest season-opening rout in NBA history

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Any controversy over C.J. McCollum‘s suspension for the season-opener should be put to rest. The Trail Blazers fared fine without him.

More than fine.

Portland beat the Suns, 124-76, Wednesday. The 48-point margin is the largest ever in a season opener, even as the Trail Blazers let a 58-point fourth-quarter lead dwindle.

Here are the most lopsided season-openers in NBA history (openers for both teams appearing twice):

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The 48-point defeat is also the Suns’ worst lost in franchise history, topping a 44-point loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1988. It could be a long year in Phoenix.

Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova scrap (video)

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Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova thrive on aggravating opponents, so when matched up, of course they aggravated each other.

Deduct points from Smart for pulling the hold-me-back charade behind a referee. Plus, Dellavedova’s Bucks beat Smart’s Celtics, 108-100.