Author: Brett Pollakoff

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

Report: Mavericks ‘biggest threat’ to lure LaMarcus Aldridge from Blazers in free agency


There have been signs pointing to the fact that if nothing else, LaMarcus Aldridge will seriously consider leaving the Portland Trail Blazers as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

A credible report surfaced which said Aldridge was more likely to leave than people realize; a teammate put Aldridge’s chances of staying at no better than 50-50; Aldridge isolated himself from teammates during the playoffs by flying back home from a game in Memphis all by himself.

As Aldridge prepares to weigh his options, it was originally believed the Spurs would be the most likely of teams able to convince him to make the jump — but that may no longer be the case.

From Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

Aldridge did not respond to messages seeking comment, nor did Blazers GM Neil Olshey. But sources from both sides of their relationship confirmed two significant points: First, Aldridge isn’t feeling the same way he did last summer when he publicly stated his intention of signing an extension with the Blazers this summer; second, there isn’t a clear-cut better situation for him than what he has in Portland.

Of his potential suitors, league sources indicate that the Mavericks are the biggest threat to pull Aldridge away from the Blazers, but it’s the general idea of returning to Texas, not a specific destination, that appeals to him. Both the Mavericks and Spurs, of course, could have the requisite cap space, reputation of success and location.

Both also may not be perfect fits. Several sources have indicated that the Spurs, for whatever reason, are either off his list or not very high on it. And the question concerning Dallas is: Does an aging Dirk Nowitzki truly give him a better chance of competing for a title? Dallas, sources say, is clearly interested, but where he sits on its priority list is not clear.

If the motivation is to return to Texas, then the reality is that either the Mavericks or the Spurs provide an opportunity for success, along with a fresh start. San Antonio is on the verge of an identity change, with the futures of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili in question for next season, and that of Gregg Popovich similarly up in the air when looking a few years ahead.

Dallas, meanwhile, is aggressive on the free agent front in advance of every season, and ownership there has consistently done what’s necessary to piece together a more-than-competitive roster. Additionally, Rick Carlisle is one of the game’s top head coaches, and assistant coach Caleb Kanales has a relationship with Aldridge from his time in Portland as a member of the coaching staff for several seasons.

Plenty can happen between now and July 1, and the Blazers can still offer millions more on a max deal than Aldridge can earn by playing anywhere else. But signs continue to point to the reality that he is going to consider it.

LeBron James has ‘some other motivation’ he won’t talk about that’s fueling him in NBA Finals

LeBron James

LeBron James has been incredible through the first two games of these NBA Finals, even for him.

After going for 44 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Game 1, James followed that up with 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in the Game 2 victory, while playing an incredible 50:20 of a possible 53 minutes.

There are many motivating factors for him to lead his team to a title which seem to be obvious. James is trying to cement his legacy as one of the greatest to ever play this game, and rings are certainly relevant in any of those arguments.

There’s the whole Cleveland angle, the fact that James returned home specifically to bring the city its first major professional sports championship of the modern era.

And evidently, there’s something else.


After saying that he didn’t “need any extra motivation,” James hinted at secret factors that are driving him after the Cleveland Cavaliers tied the best-of-seven series against the Golden State Warriors at one game apiece with a 95-93 overtime victory Sunday night.

“My motivation is to make sure my guys are ready and prepared every night we step on the floor,” James said. “And I have some other motivation that I won’t talk about right now, but I have so many different things to worry about than being an underdog or guys counting us out.” …

So what could it be?

“I hope we win so I can tell y’all,” the two-time Finals MVP said when pressed by reporters.

Stephen Curry won the MVP award this year, even though James is widely-regarded as the game’s best player, so maybe that’s it. James wouldn’t want to discuss something like that at this stage while going up against Curry, for fear of slighting him in some way that could potentially become a distraction.

James reportedly left Miami while being on less than great terms with Pat Riley, so maybe he was challenged by something Riley said.

But my guess is that it’s something far less silly that’s driving him, which must be more meaningful and personal than either of those options.

Perhaps we’ll find out, if LeBron and the Cavaliers can find a way to win the series.

Kobe Bryant to provide analysis on China’s live stream of NBA Finals

Los Angeles Lakers NBA star Kobe Bryant poses with young players for pictures during a corporate event in Shanghai

Dwyane Wade is joining ABC’s broadcast to provide analysis for select games of the NBA Finals.

Kobe Bryant is doing something similar, but on a more global scale.

The official release:

“Sina and NBA China announced today that five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers will join Sina for its livestream of Game 3 of the NBA Finals.  Bryant, the 2009 and 2010 NBA Finals MVP will share his insights and analysis during Sina’s pregame and postgame shows for Game 3.”

“A 17-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, Bryant will join Sina host Huang Shuo remotely from Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 9, prior to Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. ET (8:30 a.m. June 10, China time).”

“All NBA Finals games are live streamed on across China by Sina, offering unprecedented coverage of The Finals to millions of fans in the region.”

Kobe has been treated as a god anytime he’s visited China in the past. His presence on the live stream will only entice more people to watch, and remember — the expansion of the league’s popularity in China has been among its bigger priorities.

Report: Nuggets interview Blazers assistant for head coaching position

Portland Trail Blazers v San Antonio Spurs
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Portland Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool interviewed for the Denver Nuggets’ head coaching job, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Interim coach Melvin Hunt remains a strong candidate for the Denver job, along with Michael Malone and Mike D’Antoni, league sources said.

While Vanterpool isn’t considered a frontrunner to replace Brian Shaw, Denver general manager Tim Connelly’s discussion with Vanterpool in recent days is reflective of the respect Vanterpool’s earned in three seasons an NBA assistant coach. …

Vanterpool has developed a strong reputation for his work with All-Star guard Damian Lillard and 2013 first-round pick C.J. McCollum. Vanterpool has grown into a significant part of Portland coach Terry Stotts’ tactical preparation in their three successful seasons together.

Denver wants to have a head coach in place in advance of the rapidly-approaching June 25 NBA Draft, which is the reason for the recent intensification of the team’s search.

Mike D’Antoni and Mike Malone have been candidates considered for the position, though Melvin Hunt, who did a fantastic job as interim coach (when he was allowed to) last season, remains a frontrunner for the position.

League says referees missed four calls in overtime during Game 2 of NBA Finals

LeBron James, J.R. Smith, Ben Taylor

The Cavaliers won Game 2 of the NBA Finals in overtime, and did so despite the fact that referees missed two calls in the extra session that cost Cleveland to lose two possessions.

Draymond Green was essentially caught cheating after the fact on two separate jump ball plays that were labeled as incorrect no-calls on the league’s Last Two Minute report — the first came on overtime’s opening tip against Tristan Thompson, while the second came with 45.4 seconds remaining on a jump ball against LeBron James.

LeBron ended up catching the ball after the toss from the official, which isn’t allowed so the Warriors gained possession. But you could see him flip out while trying to explain that Green had grabbed him, or had held him by the shoulder.

The league says officials missed two other calls, both of which came on a single possession where Andre Iguodala was defending James.

Iguodala hacked James across the arm with 1:37 to play, but not before James traveled by moving his pivot foot. The violations were ignored at the time, and both were ruled as incorrect no-calls after the league completed its review process.