Houston Rockets v Portland Trailblazers - Game Six

Damian Lillard’s desired free agent targets: Mo Williams, Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza


LeBron James indicated a fondness for Shabazz Napier, and the Heat traded up to draft him.

No NBA player wields the power of LeBron. Seriously, I wonder whether Pat Riley needed any scouting beyond LeBron’s tweet to get Napier. When the King asks implies, especially when he’s headed into free agency, you listen.

Damian Lillard doesn’t have the same pull, but he’s definitely emerging as one of the NBA’s most marketable stars. If he wants to coerce the Trail Blazers into making a move, they should listen.

I’m not sure whether the guard is doing that here or just being a 23-year-old with an opinion.

Either way, Lillard is making his preferences known.

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

Sunday night when CSNNW.com asked All-Star point guard Damian Lillard if there are any free agents of his preference, first and foremost, he went with his dynamic backup.

“Yeah…Mo Williams,” Lillard responded in a text.”

When pressed for other players he’d like the team to bring in or at least look at, Lillard sent a response text that included four names.

“Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza,” read Lillard’s text in that order.

Carter is “open” to the idea of coming to Portland and helping boost the bench up, we’re told by someone close to the veteran guard.

The Trail Blazers will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and bi-annual exception ($2,077,000) to spend on free agents. Everyone Lillard mentioned is likely to receive offers in the MLE range.

They’re also all quality shooters who would accentuate Portland’s offensive firepower. Either Lillard is taking responsibility for elevating the Trail Blazers’ defense himself, or he’s still not thinking enough about that end.

Williams gave Portland’s bench some life last season following a year of historic ineptness. It’d make sense to bring him back, but Portland would be wise to pay the declining 31-year-old based on what he’ll do during his next contract, not what he did last year.

If the Trail Blazers pay Williams more than $3,325,608 next season, they’ll have to use the mid-level exception to re-sign him. Otherwise, they can use the non-bird exception and save the MLE for someone else. As Lillard points out, there are plenty of quality options available.

LeBron James says he rides a motorcycle

LeBron James
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LeBron James appeared in a GQ video, and as one of the hosts discussed his leather jacket, LeBron noted he should’ve ridden his motorcycle to the set. It seemed the Cavaliers star might have been joking, but a few seconds later, he explicitly said he owned a different, three-wheel motorcycle.

Asked what the team thinks of his riding, LeBron said:

Oh, man. They’re like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What you think I’m doing? I’m getting a breath of fresh air. You know? I’ve got one life with this, man. So, that’s what I’m doing.”

It’s impossible to think of an NBA player riding a motorcycle without Jay Williams coming to mind.

Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2002, crashed his motorcycle after his rookie season and suffered career-ending injuries. The tragedy caused him to attempt suicide.

Thankfully, Williams – a college basketball analyst – appears to be doing better now. But that incident has left increased scrutiny on NBA players riding motorcycles.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement states (emphasis mine):

Accordingly, the Player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the Team, engage in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to: (i) sky-diving, hang gliding, snow skiing, rock or mountain climbing (as distinguished from hiking), rappelling, and bungee jumping; (ii) any fighting, boxing, or wrestling; (iii) driving or riding on a motorcycle or moped; (iv) riding in or on any motorized vehicle in any kind of race or racing contest; (v) operating an aircraft of any kind; (vi) engaging in any other activity excluded or prohibited by or under any insurance policy which the Team procures against the injury, illness or disability to or of the Player, or death of the Player, for which the Player has received written notice from the Team prior to the execution of this Contract; or (vii) participating in any game or exhibition of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or other team sport or competition. If the Player violates this Paragraph 12, he shall be subject to discipline imposed by the Team and/or the Commissioner of the NBA.

It’s hard to see the Cavaliers restricting LeBron on anything like this. They practically let him write his own contract – two-year max with a player option and trade kicker – annually so he can keep collecting as the salary cap rises. If he requested a clause allowing him to ride a motorcycle, would they really say no?

On the other hand, I doubt they want their franchise player taking any undue risks. It’s worth noting, though, that Williams wasn’t wearing a helmet and didn’t have a license. Maybe the Cavaliers could accept LeBron riding in a safer manner.

But if they didn’t consent and LeBron is riding a motorcycle, what would the consequences be? They’re not voiding his contract. It’d be up to the team and Adam Silver to determine punishment, and I don’t recall any precedent for that type of violation.

76ers owner: Brett Brown deserves an ‘A’

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Only one person in NBA history has coached as many games as Brett Brown and had a worst winning percentage.

The 76ers coach, who sports a 37-127 record, is trumped by just Brian Winters. Winters went 36-148 with the expansion Grizzlies and during interim stint guiding the Warriors.

Brown is entering the third season of his four-year contract, and Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has been mum about an extension.

76ers owner Josh Harris is taking a similar approach, but he also says a lot of nice things about Brown.

Harris, via John Finger of CSN Philly:

“It’s probably not appropriate for me to talk about specifics about what the negotiations are with him,” Harris said during a media conference on Thursday at the team’s training camp at Stockton College.

“I give Brett an A for the job he’s done,” Harris said. “He’s been an incredible player development person, which is what we need at this point in time. He’s a great person to be around. He’s enthusiastic and he’s a born coach and a leader of men. I’m very impressed with Brett and I hope and expect Brett to be around the team for a very long time.”

Brown has done a fantastic job keeping this team engaged through losing and developing its young players. It’s not his fault Philadelphia stinks. Tanking is an organizational decision.

But the 76ers aren’t tanking forever, and soon, they’ll require a different type of coaching.

Is Brown up for it? No idea. He hasn’t had any chance to prove it.

After all he’s done, though, he probably deserves a chance to find out.