Dan Feldman

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 19:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy after defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 19, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

51Q: How long will the Cavaliers’ championship honeymoon last?


We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season.

Tristan Thompson missed the first practice because he hadn’t come to contract terms. LeBron James, who shares an agent with Thompson, publicly lobbied the Cavs to pay Thompson. Once play began, LeBron stepped over a fallen Kevin Love without helping him up. A report emerged that Love frustrated LeBron the prior season by arriving out of shape. LeBron called out the Cavs for looking less hungry than the Warriors. J.R. Smith was accused of choking a high schooler who mocked his trade from the Knicks. LeBron called a players-only meeting following a loss to the Raptors. Cleveland nearly fired coach David Blatt around Christmas. Love fell to the floor and had to wait a long time before any of his teammates noticed to help him up. After a 34-point home loss to Golden State, Love said the Cavaliers needed to look themselves in a mirror – starting with LeBron. The Cavs fired Blatt, a historic change amid so much winning. A report emerged that no Cleveland veterans liked Blatt. Replacement coach Tyronn Lue said Love and Kyrie Irving must focus less on their brands and more on winning. Trade rumors swirled around Love. Irving was rumored to be unhappy in Cleveland. LeBron and Irving publicly bemoaned the Cavs’ lack of an enforcer. LeBron repeatedly sent cryptic tweets. LeBron’s associates reportedly insisted he could again leave the Cavaliers in free agency. Irving’s teammates reportedly grew tired of his lack of passing. LeBron said he’d take a pay cut to play with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. LeBron openly showed his disgust with his teammates’ defense. Irving got caught up in a public saga of “who did what to whom when?” with his former girlfriend and a famous rapper. A rumor spread about the circumstances in which LeBron would leave the Cavs.

And that was in a season Cleveland won a championship.

In parts silly, significant and self-imposed, the controversy surrounding the Cavaliers ceased only when they advanced deep in the playoffs. Perhaps, that brief pause in drama helped the Cavs regain focus despite falling behind 3-1 to the Warriors in the Finals. In theory, Cleveland’s historic comeback should only lengthen this era of calm. Winning quiets most outside noise.

But luring LeBron back home brought massive amounts of attention, an environment LeBron seems to actively – and passive-aggressively – invite. If there’s a team that won’t get a championship pass, it’s this one.

Already, storms are brewing. Smith remains unsigned. Mo Williams is reportedly contemplating retirement without speaking to management about it. Cavaliers coaches are grumbling about their contract situations.

There’s plenty of time to solve those issues. If Smith re-signs before training camp, the exact date will be trivial. The Cavs should already be contemplating another backup point guard to insure rookie Kay Felder, whether Williams retires or not. Though the assistant-coach contracts are already causing angst, it won’t spread to players if handled soon.

But what’s next? It seems something always waits around the corner for this team – and if nothing emerges, LeBron will create something.

The championship will help. There can be no more questions about whether Love is too meek, Irving too self-centered, LeBron too domineering to win a title in Cleveland. The formula might never work again, but you can’t call it unworkable. It just worked.

LeBron, Irving and Love not being in contract years helps. So does Cleveland having a coach the players seem to like.

Especially with Kevin Durant turning the Warriors into villains, the Cavs have become a darling team.

Will they ride this wave through the upcoming season? Or will they find new troubles?

Everything looks stable now, a few contract questions aside. But that’s what the offseason is for. Assuming the Cavaliers handle Smith, Williams and their assistant coaches, will all be well?

This team has just spent so little time just contently going about its business – for internal and external reasons – it’s hard to feel confident the championship afterglow will last long.

Jerry Reinsdorf wanted Michael Jordan at Hall of Fame induction, settled for Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: Former player Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls smiles as he is introduced to  the crowd during a 20th anniversary recognition ceremony of the Bulls 1st NBA Championship in 1991 during half-time of a game bewteen the Bulls and the Utah Jazz at the United Center on March 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When Michael Jordan retired in 1999, he reportedly resented Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf for not giving him an ownership stake and front-office control. Jordan also disliked Reinsdorf pressuring him to sit out games after a a 1985 injury.

Consider that when reading about Reinsdorf being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, when Phil Jackson and Scottie Pippen introduced him.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune on Reinsdorf:

He asked Michael Jordan to be there but the Hornets’ owner had a previous commitment. The Bulls Hall of Famer wrote a letter to Hall officials endorsing Reinsdorf’s candidacy.

“It’s very cordial, a good relationship,” Reinsdorf said of his longtime star. “It never has been a strained relationship.”

Never? I wonder how Jordan would describe that.

Jordan has expressed positive thoughts about Reinsdorf, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he put those in a letter. But Jordan is also known to hold a grudge.

Michelle Obama tells Stephen Curry to trash talk President Barack Obama when golfing: ‘Talk about his ears’ (video)

Barack Obama, Stephen Curry
AP Photo/Steven Senne

Stephen Curry and Barack Obama are frequent golf partners, Curry said the president even talks trash during their rounds together.

Appearing with First Lady Michelle Obama on Ellen, Curry:

During his speeches, he has that slow cadence that kind of draws you in. He brings that same kind of vibe to his trash talk. So, I’ll hit a shot. It’ll bounce. And he’ll look like, “Yeah, that’s not a good shot. I’m going to need you to do better next time.” So, it gets in under your skin, too, because, “I know. I hit out of bounds.”

Michelle Obama:

You should trash-talk back, Steph.

Talk about his ears.

As you’re putting, you want to say, “The shadow from your ears is really messing up my putt.”

I doubt Curry has the nerve to say that, but considering he does things like this, I can’t rule it out.

Karl-Anthony Towns recreates iconic Kevin Garnett Slam cover (photo)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 2: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves blocks a shot by Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers as Kevin Garnett #21 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mason Plumlee #24 of the Portland Trail Blazers look on during the fourth quarter of the home opening game on November 2, 2015 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Trail Blazers defeated the Timberwolves 106-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
1 Comment

Karl-Anthony Towns is on track to become the Timberwolves’ best players since prime Kevin Garnett (an reasonably high bar set by Kevin Love).

First, Towns is following Garnett’s sweet 1999 Slam cover:

Now, we need Towns and Andrew Wiggins to create this (and hope it goes better than this).

Suns hire Mehmet Okur to develop skills of big men

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 13:  Mehmet Okur #13 of the New Jersey Nets puts up a shot during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 13, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Nets defeated the Suns 110-103.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Suns have a promising stock of big men: rookies Dragan Bender (No. 4 pick) and Marquese Chriss (No. 8 pick) and Alex Len, who was the No. 5 pick three years ago.

That trio just gained an excellent tutor.

Suns release:

The Phoenix Suns announced on Tuesday the team has added Mehmet Okur as player development coach and Jason Hervey as advance scout.

Okur, a 2007 NBA All-Star, will specialize in the skills development of the Suns’ post players.

Okur played with Suns coach Earl Watson in Utah, where Okur had been working as a Jazz ambassador following his retirement.

Well-liked, Okur set himself up for post-playing opportunities. His offensive proficiency – including outside shooting and ball-handling impressive for his 6-foot-11 frame – could help him succeed in this role.