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Barkley on feud with LeBron: “I have never said anything personal about a guy”

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Charles Barkley seems to have finally settled the back-and-forth battle going on between him and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. On Thursday night, the TNT broadcaster sat on the Inside the NBA set and spoke his mind about the feud.

In general terms, Barkley came out by trying to explain that he felt he had never gone personal with his repeated attacks on LeBron, much less any other player.

Via TNT:

Number one, I have no problem with what LeBron said. Everything’s not true, but most of that is true. I’ve done some stupid things in my life. That being said, I’ve been doing this job for 15, 16 years. I have never said anything personal about the guy and I am never going to. Ever. All my criticism of any player or comments on any team is strictly about basketball.

What I said was, if I’m the best player in the world — which he is — he has Kyrie Irving who’s an All-Star; he has Kevin Love who’s an All-Star; he has Tristan Thompson who’s a terrific player; I take my chances against anybody. I don’t need any help if I got those guys. That would be my personal opinion. I stick by that.

Him saying they’re top heavy? I’m pretty sure Carmelo would take those three guys. I’m pretty sure Russell Westbrook would take those three guys. But, like I say, I’m never going to get personal. It’s been fun to me, listening and watching.

I play golf the last two days and people left me a bunch of messages on my jackass phone. I have two phones, I have a private cell and I have my jackass phone for the rest of the people. My jackass phone has been blowing up. Thank God I don’t keep it with me, but like I say, LeBron is one of the 10 greatest players I’ve ever seen. He’s an amazing man. What him and his guys have done business-wise is amazing. But my comments were what I said, I stick by them, but I’m never going to say something personal about another NBA player.

Do I take exception to it? Ernie, I’ve done some stupid things in my life. I have to live with that. In our position, when you say stuff, people gonna come back at you. Like I said, every day, my friends, I have great friends. Number one, I flunked Spanish in high school, and I lost Jeopardy to Martha Stewart. He left off a couple things I had done wrong in my life. But like I said, I did some stupid things in my life. That does not make my argument less valid. Like I say, I’m pretty sure Carmelo Anthony is a hell of a player and would love to have Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson. Same thing with Russell Westbrook. But my argument with LeBron was strictly basketball related.

That’s not to say Chuck hasn’t said some boneheaded things. He’s said some ridiculous stuff about basketball, obviously, but overstepped his reach talking Ferguson and race relations in recent years.

It also might be a stretch to say he’s never gone personal toward any NBA player. He called the Golden State Warriors “girly” in their approach to basketball, some kind of odd attempt at applying normative gender roles to the act of 3-point shooting. He said LeBron should have called the movie “Trainwreck” — in which he starred with Amy Schumer and Bill Hader — “Trainwreck 2” after the Cavaliers lost in the NBA Finals in 2015. He called LeBron a punk after The Decision. His beef with Michael Jordan is long-standing.

I can’t remember if Barkley, to my knowledge, has ever baldly attacked current or former NBA player during his time as an analyst, and although the list above is all basketball-related I’d be hard-pressed to call them “impersonal”.

Anyway, it appears that Barkley has taken a shot at the gentleman’s way out while still remaining attached to his opinion.

Let’s hope the dust has settled once and for all. It probably hasn’t.

Shaq, meanwhile, had a moment of tension with Barkley after all was said and done:

Damian Lillard talks about his “no pressure” pitch to Carmelo Anthony, selling Portland

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Self-made, over-achieving players in the NBA tend not to be the recruiters. They worked hard and made it to where they are more on their own, and their world-view follows that path. Think Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Damian Lillard was one of those guys, but he has done a little recruiting of late — he reached out to Carmelo Anthony last week. Lillard told Chris Mannix of NBC Radio (who is filling in for Dan Patrick for the day on his national radio show) that it wasn’t really the John Calipari hard-sell.

“It wasn’t really a pitch, I just reached out to him and let him know the interest just wasn’t from our front office, if there was a possibility there was definitely interest from the players as well, and I didn’t want that to be confused,” Lillard said on the radio show. “I didn’t put no pressure on him or ask him a bunch of questions, I just said what it was from our end.”

That is nice, but Anthony reportedly has focused in on Houston, and might settle for Cleveland (if there was a deal to be had). Would ‘Melo waive his no-trade clause to head to Portland?

“I didn’t get a sense that he wouldn’t,” Lillard said in a tepid response. “What we have here is a good situation for him and that’s just kind of where it went. I let him know what I thought he could do for our team and what our team could do with his presence. And that was it. We didn’t go over no details or talk about a no trade clause or nothing like that. He’s gonna make his own decision to do that or not, I just want to make sure we had some kind of a conversation.”

It’s a start. It’s likely not enough. Anthony wants to go somewhere and chase a ring, and despite what C.J. McCollum thinks, Portland with ‘Melo isn’t a contender. Even with Anthony, I would have them sixth in the West, maybe fifth at best (Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, and probably Minnesota are better still). And this is assuming Portland can find a team to take on Myers Leonard’s contract to make a deal work.

What Lillard wanted to get across was that Portland is a great place to be an NBA player.

“I think people talk about what it would be like in Portland or to play in Portland, but actually having lived here, I live here year-round, so I know it’s a great place to live,” Lillard said. “Some of the best food in the United States. You talk about loving the game of basketball, our team and the soccer team are all the city has, so we get a lot of support and our fans really back our team and are really passionate about our team. That type of environment, and that type of love and support around the city, what NBA player wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Jimmer Fredette re-signing in China

AP Photo/George Bridges
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Jimmer Fredette played well in China last year, and buzz even emerged about him re-joining the NBA after the Chinese season ended in March. Never happened.

Even in the offseason, when every NBA team had open roster spots, nobody stateside has signed Fredette.

So, he’s returning to the Shanghai Sharks.

Fredette:

Fredette retains a cult following in America, but not the talent of an NBA player. He can score plenty in a lesser league, but his game doesn’t fit with better players on the floor.

Perhaps, he could’ve gotten a training-camp invite, maybe even with a small guarantee. But would’ve faced an uphill battle sticking into the regular season. Better for him to lock into a bigger salary in China now.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder ‘officially circling each other’

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Carmelo Anthony prefers to be traded to the Rockets. He might soon be traded to the Rockets.

Are the Thunder trying to interject themselves before it’s too late?

Bill Simmons of The Ringer:

Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver was an assistant coach at Syracuse when Anthony played there. Weaver is also well-connected in the Washington area (D.C./Maryland/Virginia). I’m not sure how much that means to Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore – in many ways, a different world from the DMV (which includes only parts of Maryland and Virginia closer to D.C.). Still, Weaver and Anthony at least share their Syracuse connection.

The problem: An Oklahoma City trade for Anthony would almost have to include Steven Adams (way more valuable than Anthony) and/or Enes Kanter (way less valuable than Anthony). There’s no easy way to bridge either gap, especially considering how much the Thunder need Adams’ interior presence.

Here’s my best stab at a workable framework for a trade, via ESPN’s trade machine:

screenshot-www.espn.com-2017-07-24-12-26-16

The Clippers would get a more-skilled backup center while just shuffling bad contracts (at least that’s how it seems they view Wesley Johnson‘s deal). The Thunder would still need to send the Knicks more assets (Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant and/or draft picks). The Knicks would get a veteran point guard in Austin Rivers while Frank Ntilikina develops and, more importantly, additional young assets. It’s just a matter of determining whether there’s an overlap in the picks Oklahoma City would trade and New York would receive. That window might be tight – or not exist.

Adding Paul George and Anthony to a team led by Russell Westbrook would be exciting. I’m just not sure it’s realistic.

Rumor: Knicks likely to trade Carmelo Anthony to Rockets this week

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After numerous starts and stops and starts and stops, maybe the Knicks will actually trade Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets soon?

Tarek Fattal of the Los Angeles Daily News:

So, they found a third team to take Ryan Anderson or a fourth team to take Meyers Leonard?

If true, that’d please at least Anthony.

There’s room for a trade to work. New York is clearly ready to move on from Anthony, and Houston wants him to join James Harden and Chris Paul. The Rockets can add sweeteners to convince another team – or maybe even the Knicks – to take a bad contract in the trade.

But this has dragged on so long, I need more evidence the deal is actually close before I believe it.