Tyronn Lue after LeBron James’ roster criticism: Cavaliers good enough to win a championship

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Last March, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin and coach Tyronn Lue talked with LeBron James about getting carried away with players not on Cleveland’s roster.

Nearly one year later, Griffin and Lue have done it again.

The latest conversations were sparked by LeBron publicly declaring the Cavs’ roster to be substandard.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’re going to handle it internal,” Lue said. “We’re not going to put out everything that was said, but we addressed LeBron. We talked to him and he understands, he understood and now we’re going to move on.”

“For me you always want to try to improve the team whether you’re great or not,” Lue said. “Golden State won 73 games last year and they added Kevin Durant. You always want to get better and when you see teams getting better as a competitor you want to get better. But we have enough on this team to win a championship. We can get better. I know Griff is going to make us better and he’s going to do the best he can.

“For me, LeBron James, the best player in the world, took a team that was worse to the NBA Finals two years ago. We have a good team. We just have to start playing better as a unit. No excuses.”

LeBron put Lue in an impossible position. Lue can either agree with LeBron and offend some of the 13 other players the coach is charged with guiding or disagree with LeBron. And you saw where disagreeing with LeBron got David Blatt.

So, Lue is toeing the line, leaning more toward LeBron’s teammates. Given the circumstances, “we have enough on this team to win a championship” is a strong rebuttal to LeBron. But pointing out LeBron’s ability to lead a lesser roster to the Finals in 2015 is a nod toward appeasing LeBron.

But LeBron doesn’t want to reach just the Finals or even to play with a supporting cast that’s just good enough to win a title. He wants a team that absolutely maximizes his ability to get another ring, and he’s agitating for it.

Griffin (strengthening the roster even further) and Lue (getting LeBron and his teammates pulling together) are left to deal with the fallout. It isn’t easy, but that’s the price of working with LeBron. He demands greatness, because he delivers it. Not everyone can duplicate that, but it doesn’t mean LeBron will suddenly settle for less.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

AP Photo/John Raoux
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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.

Russell Westbrook’s 3-pointer caps incredible Thunder comeback, send Magic game to OT (video)

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The Thunder trailed the Magic by 21 points in the second half and 14 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook capped the incredible comeback with this 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

This becoming the norm for Oklahoma City.

NBA: Timberwolves got away with key late foul in win over Pacers

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Paul George expressed extreme dismay after the Pacers’ loss to the Timberwolves last night — the latest cause for concern in Indiana with its biggest star just one season from free agency.

But perhaps George wouldn’t have sounded so disillusioned if that game featured correct officiating down the stretch.

Minnesota’s Kris Dunn got away with fouling Jeff Teague by disrupting the Pacers guard’s speed/quickness/balance rhythm with 21.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Dunn (MIN) makes contact to Teague’s (IND) arm that affects his SQBR and causes him to lose control of the ball.

Because the Timberwolves were in the penalty, a correct would’ve sent Teague — who’s making 86% of his free throws this season and 84% for his career — to the line. He would’ve had two attempts to build on Indiana’s two-point lead.

Instead, he forced an off-balance shot, which Minnesota rebounded. Ricky Rubio drew a shooting foul on a 3-pointer on the other end, and his three free throws lifted the Timberwolves to a 115-114 win.

The two-minute report featured a few other missed calls: George getting away with pushing off then Wiggins getting away with fouling George on a possession where George missed anyway, Andrew Wiggins getting away with a travel on a possession where Minnesota turned the ball over anyway. But those were effectively wash’s. Dunn’s uncalled foul was the one of consequence — especially if it contributes, even in a small way, to George’s exit from the Pacers.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.