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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.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

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The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat value.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.

LeBron James still striving to surpass Michael Jordan

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LeBron James has discussed chasing Michael Jordan’s “ghost,” motivating himself by trying surpass Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history.

Just 27 points behind Jordan for the all-time playoff scoring lead – a record he could break in Cavaliers-Celtics Game 5 tonight – LeBron is again discussing that pursuit.

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“It’s just a personal goal of mine,” James said Thursday before Cavs shootaround in preparation of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. “It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It’s just my personal goal to keep me motivated — that’s all.”

“You guys are going to have the conversations about who is greatest of all time and things of that nature,” James said. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who is the greatest but it’s never talked about in the NFL about who is the greatest quarterback. It’s just like: [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady. All great quarterbacks, you know — and it should be the same for us.

Jordan or LeBron? Save your hot takes. LeBron just burnt them all.

The greatest quarterback of all time is never debated? Claiming that is now the hottest take in the entire realm of the Jordan-LeBron debate.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kyrie Irving feeling ‘good’ after ankle injury

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BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.

Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.

Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.

Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.

Danny Ainge: Lonzo Ball declined to work out for Celtics, who hold No. 1 pick

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LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.

You thought he was bluffing?

Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:

We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.

It’s not ideal.

Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.

Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.

Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.

It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.

Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.