LeBron James opting out of the final two years of his contract gave an initial glimmer of hope to teams around the league looking to try to lure the league’s best player into a new situation — one potentially primed to win not only now, but for years to come.
Miami has always been the favorite to retain LeBron’s services, but his choosing to become an unrestricted free agent — if only momentarily, and without providing any additional context — at least opened the door to the possibility that his leaving was a real option.
The news that Dwyane Wade joined him in opting out on Saturday put a damper on those hopes, and a seemingly minor tidbit included in one report might serve to squash them altogether.
From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
In recent days, teams that have hoped to schedule pitch meetings with James once the free-agency period begins next week have been unable to do so, sources told ESPN.com.
That’s because he isn’t leaving Miami, and never intended to in the first place.
James opting out was expected from day one. Any superstar in their prime would have done the same, in order to secure a longer deal for more guaranteed dollars in total. That’s what Wade will end up with, and Chris Bosh will more than likely eventually follow suit.
Free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1, and that’s the earliest that teams can contact free agents to begin the negotiation process. They could tentatively set up meetings with a player’s representation before then, however, but LeBron has held off until now, probably because he doesn’t want to waste anybody’s time.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.