LeBron James defends pass to Kyle Korver late in Game 3 from criticism

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LeBron James is the first NBA superstar of the social media age, and with that has come a microscopic level of scrutiny — seemingly often from people who do not know the game.

The latest idiotic bit of criticism of LeBron comes from his decision to pass to Kyle Korver in the corner for a good look three with under one minute to go in the game and the Cavaliers up two. Korver missed, Kevin Durant took the ball the other way and hit what would prove to be the game-winner.

The criticism is that LeBron should have shot rather than passed. Which is stupid on multiple levels. Of course, LeBron was asked about that play after the game and if he would do it differently if he could do it over again.

“If I could have the play over again, I would come off a three screen situation,” LeBron said. “Draymond would switch on me with five fouls. I would get him leaning. I would drive left. I would see K.D. step up. I would see Stephen Curry drop on Kevin. And I would see Kyle Korver in the corner, one of the greatest three-point shooters in this league’s history, and give him an opportunity in the short corner. I would do the same exact thing.”

LeBron has been criticized since before he won his first ring for making plays like this — he chose to make the right basketball play rather than jack up a contested shot, and fans get on him if the shot doesn’t fall. He gets the blame for not playing hero ball, even though we can watch the team smacking the Cavaliers around in the Finals to see why hero ball is not how you win big.

Here are some other thoughts.

• Kyle Korver shot 59 percent on left corner threes this season, he was 50 percent from the left corner in the playoffs (7-of-14). He is fifth on the NBA’s all-time list of most made three-pointers in a career. It’s not like LeBron passed it to Tristan Thompson for a three, this is Kyle Freakin’ Korver.

• LeBron was not driving directly at the rim, so you’re talking a leaner over multiple defenders, including Durant’s length. That is not a high percentage shot, not as good as Korver from the corner.

• No, you don’t know that Draymond Green would have fouled him. Green’s a smart player who had gone five minutes without fouling out, and again the help defender was there. If you’re saying that LeBron should have driven at him, well…

“I had a 101 drives last night (laughter). I didn’t have 101, but you get the gist of it,” James said. “I’m sorry I didn’t go for 102.”

• LeBron had a 39/11/9 night, he was +7 in the game — the Cavaliers were -12 in the 2:23 he was rested. But sure, it’s his fault they lost.

• A lot of the criticism of LeBron online (especially Twitter) seems to come from the self-appointed guardians of the legacies of Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. People emotionally invested in seeing LeBron fail because they falsely believe it makes their guy look better (these people love the “count the ringzzzzz” argument). I’m pretty sure I remember Jordan passing to Steve Kerr and John Paxson in key moments. I’m pretty sure I remember Kobe Bryant passing to Derek Fisher or Robert Horry or Shaq in key moments. Would Kobe have taken that shot? Probably. But his clutch numbers suggest that may not have been the best option.

 

Report: Suns’ Alan Williams suffers torn meniscus, will miss time

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Alan Williams is a guy who worked hard for his spot in the NBA. The UCSB alum started with a 10-day contract, then parlayed that into a Summer League deal where he shined. That evolved into a full season contract with the Suns last year, and they liked what they saw enough to give him a three-year deal this summer (for $17.4 million total).

But now the fan favorite is going to miss at least the start of the season due to a knee injury, reports Chris Haynes and Marc Spears of ESPN.

How much time Williams will miss will depend on the degree of the tear and the course of treatment, but he’s going to be out for training camp and the start of the season.

Williams was already going to be in a fight for minutes on a team fairly deep in the frontcourt with Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, Alex Len, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Bennett, and Jared Dudley. This setback does not help his cause.

Enes Kanter thanks Thunder fans in video, urges team to beat Warriors

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Enes Kanter loved playing in Oklahoma City.

Which made the fact he was traded to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony difficult. Kanter had been through a lot, his political stance against the ruling party in his native Turkey led to his family being forced to publicly disown him (and his father being arrested and questioned multiple times), plus his passport being revoked while he was in Europe as Turkey tried to force him to return (where he would have been instantly arrested). He has said on multiple occasions that the people of Oklahoma City, and the Thunder organization, provided him a home when his native one was yanked away from him.

He said that again in a thank you and goodbye video to the people of Oklahoma City.

Kanter said he had “no hard feelings. I understand it’s a business.”

He also urged the now-stacked Thunder to go out and beat the Warriors.

NBA Twitter flips out over Carmelo Anthony trade to Thunder

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Well, that escalated quickly.

Carmelo Anthony wanted away from the Knicks badly enough that he relented in recently and added Cleveland and Oklahoma City to Houston as places he would waive his no-trade clause for. From there, it took almost no time for Oklahoma City and New York to work out a trade that sent Anthony to the Thunder for Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a second-round pick.

NBA Twitter flipped out on the news. And that started with one of ‘Melo’s new teammates.

Or, is it…

Reports: Knicks reach deal to send Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

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Carmelo Anthony and his camp pushed the Knicks the last 48 hours to get a trade done before training camp opens on Monday, which included Anthony expanding the list of teams he would accept a trade to.

One of those teams was the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that got the deal done, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Shams Charania of Yahoo has also confirmed the reports).

Anthony waived his trade kicker to make the deal work.

The pick is the Bulls’ 2018 second rounder, so it should be a high second.

This trade moves the Thunder into the second tier conversation in the West, battling Houston and San Antonio in a deep conference. Everyone is still chasing Golden State, which should be improved this season.

The Thunder get another star to pair with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, another shot creator that will be difficult to account for. The Thunder will have a strong defense — Anthony does not hurt that much, Kanter doesn’t defend either, but he did come off the bench for them — and with this move they get more offense.

The move also ads $12 million to a Thunder tax bill.

The Thunder aren’t thinking about next season, they are all in on this one. When you have a chance, take a big swing.

The Knicks get rid of ‘Melo’s shadow and make this Kristaps Porzingis‘ team. They get a solid bench scorer in Kanter, who is owed $17.8 million this season and has a player option for $18.6 million (which he will probably opt into, considering the tight market next summer). McDermott is in the last year of his rookie deal and has a lot to prove. The pick is nice, but not a first rounder.

This is not a great haul for the Knicks, but it speaks to Anthony’s trade value — he can score, but his style of play and cost had only a few teams interested. New York may have done just as well buying Anthony out after last season.