LeBron James

LeBron James finally meets with Cavaliers coach David Blatt, GM David Griffin


It tells you just how badly LeBron James wanted to go home — or just how confident he is he can lead any team of decent players to a title — that LeBron chose a return to Cleveland without meeting coach David Blatt or GM David Griffin. Maybe a little of both.

But finally LeBron and Blatt with Griffin sat down and talked on Tuesday, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

LeBron James met with new Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt and new general manager David Griffin in person for the first time Tuesday as he prepared for the upcoming season, sources told ESPN.com.

James had been busy promoting his brand and Nike, traveling to Brazil and China — all the while sticking to a Paleo diet and losing at least 10 pounds.

Blatt is a mystery to most stateside basketball fans. He was born in the United States and played at Princeton, but spent most of his coaching career in Europe where he had great success — he won the EuroLeague title with Maccabi Tel Aviv — and became known as an offensive genius.

With LeBron, Kyrie Irving and likely Kevin Love in the fold, he’s got a lot of talent to work with.

Speaking with Blatt in Las Vegas during Summer league, he said he wants is an offense that is unpredictable in the way the Princeton offense is unpredictable, or the triangle, or what the Spurs are doing now.

“Without question, we have some really good and intelligent players,” Blatt told ProBasketballTalk. “That will allow us to be a lot more read oriented then specific play oriented.”

“I have a big job to figure out the best way for us to play and utilize the many, many possibilities that are now at our disposal…” Blatt said in a different interview in Vegas. “There are a lot of possibilities and factors to be considered in building a team with guys that really want to play and want to play right.”

It’s likely Blatt and LeBron talked some offensive philosophy, and more importantly defensive philosophy. With this roster the Cavaliers are going to score points, it’s how good they become at stopping teams that will decide how good they are and how far they go. Can they protect the paint with Anderson Varejao as center?

More likely, there was also a lot of talk of team building. LeBron wants to win now, he’s in legacy building mode, and with his short contract he has a lot of leverage. What he wants he gets. Starting with Love.

For Blatt and Griffin the leash will be short. LeBron has the power and Gilbert is not exactly the patient, build-a-culture-slowly kind of guy. They need to prove they can do the job called on them fast, or changes will come in.

That probably wasn’t discussed when everyone met Tuesday, but you can bet it was in the air.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?