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Frank Isola: LeBron James upset about timing of Kevin Love-Carmelo Anthony report, not its accuracy

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At 7:16 p.m. yesterday, two things happened:

After Cleveland’s win, LeBron emphatically pushed back on the report:

It’s trash, and the guy who wrote it is trash too for writing that, especially during the game like that. It’s always about outside noise, and that’s just outside noise for us. We’ve got to focus on what needs to be done in order for us to continue to compete for a championship. We’ve got who we’ve got. Our GM will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now, we’re in a good place.

And so did Cavs coach Tyronn Lue:

Kevin should be happy that teams want him. But he’s not going anywhere.

How did Isola respond?

Isola on SiriusXM NBA Radio:

I spoke to people who spoke with LeBron afterwards, as actually he was walking to the bus. And his big thing was, he thought it was like — what would be the word that I’m looking for? — like out of line that the story came out when it did, just right before tip-off, as if somehow that was purposely planned by me as a way to kind of sabotage the Cleveland Cavaliers. Which isn’t the case. I don’t have anything to do with, A, when the story is released or, I don’t think anybody is thinking, “Yeah, this will affect the Cleveland Cavaliers.” And here’s the bottom line: If they had lost last night, to blame it on some story that came out about LeBron would be as absurd as me trying to take credit for them winning last night.

The question was “a story in the New York Post.” I work for the New York Daily News. So, now I’m going to give LeBron a little bit of an out, thinking that maybe he’s thinking of my buddy there, Marc Berman of the New York Post, and not me. Either way, he was obviously pretty upset last night.

I’ll tell you what: He didn’t exactly stand there and deny that, that’s what the story is.

The one thing people have to remember, when you write stories like this, you know what the reaction isn’t going to be. The reaction isn’t going to be from Tyronn Lue, “Actually, we are looking to move Kevin Love. And right now, we actually are talking to LeBron.” And LeBron is not going to say after the game, “Of course. Where have you have guys been. Of course I’m trying to tell management. Carmelo is my buddy. Absolutely, I want them.”

Everyone is going to deny, deny, deny. And guess what? They should do that. The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t owe me anything. So, they’re not going to protect me in any way. They should be protecting Kevin Love — and they’re obviously going to protect LeBron James at all costs. I knew what the reaction was going to be from them.

When these kind of stories come out — it’s like, there’s no way you write something unless you know that it’s true. So, when you have to go on and defend something — what am I supposed to say, like what he said? You want me to sit here and start name-calling him? It’s like, what’s the point?

The idea that LeBron may not have some influence in the organization, are people being serious about that?

He said what he said, but he still was given bad information. A, he was given the wrong newspaper, number one. And then, he said, when he said “trash,” he meant “trash” for coming out when it did. It’s almost like he said, “Well, if you had written the story like on an off day, maybe I’d be OK with it. But don’t write it — don’t have the story come out right before we play a game.”

I’ll give Isola the benefit of the doubt the New York Post complaints are just part of his schtick. He often pokes at the rival newspaper, especially Berman.

Isola also has little control over when his stories get published. Occam’s Razor says Isola submitted the report as quickly as he could complete it, and the Daily News published it as quickly as it could edit it. Anything else would’ve given other outlets a chance to steal the scoop.

And, yes, LeBron complained about the timing of the report. But he also said he didn’t learn of it until after the game, and Love obviously wasn’t distracted. He played great against Washington.

However, LeBron went much further than complaining about the timing.

No matter what he told the Cavs about Love and Anthony before last night, I can’t see how LeBron pushes for that trade now. I believe he’s smart enough and cares enough about his image to understand the ramifications.

Imagine, after what LeBron said last night, the Cavaliers trade Love for Anthony. How would LeBron sell that to the general public? He’d be widely seen as a snake. He’d get nowhere by explaining only by the timing of Isola’s report bothered him.

I don’t know whether LeBron pushed Cleveland to trade Love for Anthony before Isola’s report was published. But I don’t see LeBron pushing for it now.

Stephen Curry Curry to play Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic

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HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is set to test his golf game against the pros.

The Web.com Tour said Wednesday that Curry, coming off his second NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, will play in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae on Aug. 3-6.

It’ll be the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event for Curry, who has competed in various celebrity events and pro-ams. The top 25 on Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list will earn PGA Tour cards.

Curry will maintain his amateur status, competing on an unrestricted sponsor exemption in the event that benefits the Warriors Community Foundation.

Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice played in the event in 2011 and 2012. He missed the cut in 2011 with rounds of 83 and 76 and withdrew in 2012 after playing 27 holes in 23 over.

Also Wednesday, Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand announced that Curry would be its new global brand ambassador. The point guard will be featured in ads for the Q50 sports sedan beginning this summer.

Report: Clippers never committed to offer Chris Paul five-year max contract

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The Clippers projected to be able to offer Chris Paul a five-year, $201 million contract that would have culminated with a $46 million salary in his final season.

Did they offer that much before sending him to the Rockets?

Just as one side is trying to pin all the Clippers’ problems on Doc Rivers and Austin Rivers, the Clippers surely want to spin Paul’s exit to another way – that they shrewdly chose when to part ways rather than that they lost the best player in franchise history due to nepotism.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If Paul really wanted that five-year max, he could have pushed harder for it by bringing counter offers to the Clippers in July rather than engineering his way to Houston before free agency even began.

Would the Clippers have eventually relented and offered the five-year max? We can never know for certain.

But it’s pretty clear why the Clippers would want this version out there. Accurate or not, it makes them seem far more on top of things and is less likely to taint them with free agents they covet in 2018.

How Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza complicate Rockets’ pursuit of third star

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After pairing Chris Paul and James Harden, the Rockets are reportedly chasing a third starPaul George, Carmelo Anthony or someone else.

But Houston parted with significant assets to land Paul from the Clippers. And the Rockets will have a tricky time dealing two remaining players, Ryan Anderson and Trevor Ariza.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Unloading Ryan Anderson to sign Paul outright would have helped Houston keep one of their outgoing guards, but the market for the three years and $60 million left on Anderson’s deal was frigid. Not even the Kings wanted him for free. At least two teams would have demanded two Houston first-round picks in exchange for absorbing Anderson, according to several league sources.

The salary filler probably can’t be Trevor Ariza, by the way. Ariza and Paul are close after years together in New Orleans, and playing with Ariza factored at least a little into Paul’s decision, per league sources. The Clippers had tried to trade for him in prior seasons, sources say. Ariza is also still good at a coveted position, and his Bird Rights will be valuable to a capped-out Rockets team next summer.

Anderson would be dangerous as a stretch four in pick-and-pops with Paul and Harden. Even if he’s overpaid, might be better to keep him than surrender more assets to dump him.

Likewise, Ariza is a nice two-way player and can play small-ball four. There’s a use for him on this team.

But beyond them, Houston is left with Eric Gordon and Clint Capela as movable players. Gordon, with a higher salary and less obvious fit with Paul and Harden, would almost certainly be a key cog in a trade for another star. Capela is younger and more valuable, though the Rockets would probably want to keep him as a defensive anchor.

That might not be possible while trading for a third star, though. Houston can’t even guarantee sending out another first-round pick in a trade after sending a protected first-rounder to the Clippers. (The Rockets could agree to convey a first-rounder two years after sending one to L.A., which would is highly likely to convey next year.) Including Capela in a trade might be the only way to assemble a suitable package.

Even then, Houston would be hard-pressed to surpass an offer from the Lakers or Celtics for George. Plus, if Indiana is rebuilding around Myles Turner, Capela is an awkward fit. That trade might require a third team – causing further complications.

Hoping Anthony gets bought out by the Knicks then signs for the mid-level exception is much simpler – though that route returns the lesser third star.

But Daryl Morey just brought Chris Paul to Houston before free agency even began. Now is not the time to underestimate the Rockets general manager.

Report: Knicks won’t consider Isiah Thomas to run front office

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A couple years ago, Knicks owner James Dolan said there was no scenario Isiah Thomas would return to the Knicks.

But Dolan also said a few months ago he’d keep Phil Jackson for the duration of Jackson’s five-year contract.

With Dolan effectively firing Jackson today, could Thomas become the Knicks’ next president?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Post also learned Liberty president Isiah Thomas would not be considered for Jackson’s successor.

It’s sad that this needs to be reported. It’s even sadder that, even if this the Knicks’ plans right now, there are no assurances Dolan holds steady.

Dumping Jackson is a reason to celebrate. But as long as Dolan owns the team, it must be a reserved celebration.

At least the Knicks’ next step won’t include Thomas. Probably.