Dane Carbaugh

Dane Carbaugh is a writer for NBC Sports.

LeBron James, Tyronn Lue have shouting match in loss to Blazers (VIDEO)


Things can get heated on an NBA sideline, especially when things aren’t going well. Then again, with the Cleveland Cavaliers it seems like there’s always simmering underneath the surface.

On Thursday night as the Cavs took on the Portland Trail Blazers, things boiled over between LeBron James and head coach Tyronn Lue. During an exchange in the first quarter, the two started shouting at each other from opposite ends of the bench.

What it was about we’re not sure, although Cleveland had blown several rotations on Blazers weakside baseline cutters, so perhaps that was the culprit.

Via Twitter:

LeBron did get off what I think is the candidate for dunk of the year over Jusuf Nurkic, although Portland walked away with the win, 113-105.

Cleveland has had more drama than a scripted reality show this season, and no doubt reporters are going to ask Lue and LeBron about this interaction in the coming days.

Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley cheap shot Ricky Rubio, get ejected (VIDEO)


Basketball has some dumb unwritten rules. One of them, apparently, is that you can’t step over a player’s legs to get the ball if they’ve recently airballed a dunk.

Who knew?

Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio violated that rule on Thursday night when Phoenix Suns big man Marquese Chriss whiffed on a dunk attempt in the third quarter. The ball went out of bounds after Chriss’ miss, and in order to get the offense going Rubio hopped over the end of his legs to inbound the ball.

That set off Suns veteran Jared Dudley, who went straight to the body of Rubio as he was running down the court seconds later. Rubio got up to confront Dudley, then was pushed to the ground by Chriss as he rushed up the court.

Chriss appeared shaken up on the play, and that seems to be what initially sent Dudley off the rails. Then again, if it was just about disrespect from stepping over a player — ie. Allen Iverson did to Tyronn Lue — the way to avoid that is to not airball a dunk in the first place.

Via Twitter:

Dudley was hit with a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected. Chriss was hit with a technical foul and ejected. For the Jazz, both Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles picked up techs.

Look for more information tomorrow about what kind of fines will be assessed to both Dudley and Chriss. They will presumably be large given the nature of the altercation. Meanwhile, Ingles and Mitchell will probably also see fines for rushing into the scrum.

Utah beat the Suns, 116-88.

LeBron James put the dunk of the year down on Jusuf Nurkic (VIDEO)


LeBron James is in Year 15 of his illustrious NBA career. At age 33, The King has played more than 43,000 minutes and yet he still hauls the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs on his back each and every season.

Still, Thursday’s dunk against the Portland Trail Blazers was something else. Something unbelievable.

As James handled the ball midway through the first quarter, Portland struggled to rotate on a double high screen pick-and-roll from the Cavaliers. LeBron rounded the left corner, saw an open lane, and took off running.

Jusuf Nurkic, much to his chagrin, didn’t have much of a chance even as he rotated over to help on James. That left us with an incredible dunk from LeBron from far out on the floor.

Via Twitter:

Oof. Good on Nurkic for rotating over and doing his job. The Blazers have been excellent on defense this year thanks in part to his effort.

But man, that is just crazy. LeBron still getting up like that is incredible.

Blazers fans start Go Fund Me for LeBron James billboard

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As the season has unfolded for the Cleveland Cavaliers, many have taken to speculating where LeBron James might end up this summer. Several fanbases have put up billboards to entice The King, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and most embarrassingly, Cleveland itself. It’s too much, to be honest.

But this? This I like.

There are destinations for LeBron, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, that seem more realistic than the Portland Trail Blazers. But a few fans have taken it upon themselves — likely after pouring themselves a glass Antikythera Pinot Noir — to dream big, and try to attract James to the Willamette Valley.

In a mostly tongue-in-cheek effort, some Blazers fans have started a Go Fund Me page to try to get a billboard put up with a message for LeBron.

Ira LaFontaine, Keith Kunis, Nick Nanpei, and Spencer Groshong are four Portland fans who also run a popular local culture brand called Trillblazin. Their gear and voice is known well enough around the region that they might actually succeed in getting their billboard put up. As of publication, the Go Fund Me page was trending on that platform.

“There’s a been a couple other cities that have used billboards to attract LeBron, but we didn’t feel they were serious contenders,” LaFontaine told NBC Sports. “Portland gives him a win-now, wine-loving look and that’s hard to ignore.”

LeBron has said recently that he has a love of Oregon pinot noir. Meanwhile, The King and Damian Lillard were publicly sharing a high level of mutual respect before the Blazers and the Cavaliers squared off on Thursday night.

The joke is meant as a rib against other cities that have done the same, but has already raised $265 of the $2,000 it needs in just a few hours. While LeBron isn’t likely to choose the Blazers, it’s yet another testament to the power of NBA Twitter that something like this actually might come to fruition, all in the name of facetiousness.

“There’s a lot to be said about being the third option,” said LaFontaine. “By being the third option it’ll help [LeBron] keep his legs young.”

It certainly would be a story if Portland, a team that never attracts big free agents, somehow nabbed the biggest free agent of them all. They’d need to shed a bunch of salary and dismantle the roster that currently holds the third seed in the Western Conference, but it’s doable.

They’ll need to get that billboard up first, though.

Stating the obvious, Isaiah Thomas says: “I’m no sixth man”


Isaiah Thomas was a legitimate MVP candidate last season for the Boston Celtics. He’s gone from the 60th overall pick seven years ago to a starting point guard in the NBA. When healthy, Thomas is a real weapon. He’s not a bench player.

But as NBA players like to do — and as Thomas takes slights against him very seriously — it appears there’s some question surrounding whether or not the Los Angeles Lakers guard is a starter. At least, Thomas seems to think so. This likely comes from the fact that since being traded to the Lakers, Thomas has played in 14 games but started in just one.

LA is trying to develop their young talent, which shifted after the mega-deal that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers. Thomas is due a new contract this summer, and he doesn’t appear to be part of the future in LA.

So, coach Luke Walton is bringing him off the bench. That, and his play has remained erratic. Thomas has evened out a little bit, but he’s still shooting just 39.5 percent from the field over the last 10 games. Not exactly MVP-caliber stuff.

Given Thomas’ history and his status with the Lakers, there’s some obvious friction. Thomas doesn’t want to be labeled a bench player, not when he’s trying to get some team to back up the Brinks truck for a big, new deal.

In an interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick, Thomas stated something that most of us already know but he felt needed to be said again: he’s not a sixth man.

Via USA Today:

“I’m not no sixth man,” he declared in an interview with USA TODAY Sports this week. “And I won’t be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be. I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done (when) given that opportunity.

“But I got traded into a situation I can’t control. There’s nothing bad against (Lakers coach) Luke Walton. There’s nothing bad against the Los Angeles Lakers. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity they’ve given me, and then (we’ll) end the season off strong.”

For his part, Walton full acknowledged the strategy the Lakers are taking with Thomas.

“Could he start?” Walton said of Thomas. “One hundred percent. Does he deserve to start? Yeah, with what he’s done in his career. Absolutely. (But) we’re in a unique situation here. We have a young team. … I kind of just challenged (Thomas), that even though he fully wants to start, I said, ‘Look, you’ve been out a long time, (and) to me there’s only, however much, two months left in the season at the time – find the joy. Go find the (joy).


I do wonder, with all that’s gone on with IT, what team will be willing to take him on at a salary he feels he deserves while also giving him the role he wants? Thomas seemed happy in Boston, but that took some time to work out. We remember his stints with Phoenix and Sacramento, and the interpersonal aspect of free agency might come in to play just as much as the dollar-by-dollar negotiation.

Thomas isn’t a sixth man-type of player, although his hip injury has severely limited him both in ability and his rhythm when it comes to playing in the NBA. His defense is enough of a liability that for now, unless he’s playing at a high level offensively he’s not worth signing to a big contract or playing considerable minutes. Thomas’ box plus-minus has dipped significantly year-over-year, and his DBPM with LA is -4.3.

IT is right in that he isn’t a sixth man guy. He’s not good enough when he’s playing badly to warrant that kind of accolade, and when he’s playing well he’s one of the best scoring guards in the league.