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LeBron on 76ers billboards: ‘It’s dope’

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A Philadelphia-area company paid for billboards in Cleveland that urge LeBron James to join the 76ers

Tom Withers of the Associated Press:

That is not the response I expected.

The billboards are flattering. It’s always nice to be wanted, and LeBron will be highly coveted this summer.

But this response will only fuel LeBron-to-Philadelphia rumors.

I believe many of the rumors about LeBron joining other teams come from his camp and are designed to pressure to the Cavaliers, specifically owner Dan Gilbert. For a while, that meant trading and spending to upgrade the roster (which the Cavs did). Now, it could be about securing the best-possible contract terms. Or it could just be about the vague notion of power.

Still, LeBron being so directly enthusiastic about another fan base’s push for him? That’s a different level.

As for the 76ers, they could make a decent case. Joel Embiid is just 23, and Ben Simmons is only 21. They, along with a solid supporting cast, could keep LeBron’s championship-contention window open the rest of his career. It doesn’t hurt that Simmons shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron.

But that Klutch connection alone isn’t enough to get LeBron to Philadelphia. Embiid’s health is a make-or-break concern. And Markelle Fultz is a huge unknown.

I still believe LeBron’s first choice is returning to the Cavaliers. But that’s contingent them doing all they can for him. Today’s response might just nudge them in that direction.

Jakob Poeltl gets pushed by Blake Griffin then dunks on Andre Drummond (video)

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Blake Griffin pushed Jakob Poeltl after a whistle late in the Raptors’ win over the Pistons last night. Fred VanVleet stood up for his Toronto teammate by getting in the face of Griffin, who – very much in character – denied the push. VanVleet received a technical foul.

The ball shed light on the truth, as Griffin missed the technical free throw. But Poeltl got his own revenge by dunking on Andrew Drummond on the next possession.

Cavaliers ban fan who shouted racial taunts at Patty Mills at least one year

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The Cavaliers were trying to identify the fan who shouted at Spurs guard Patty Mills, a black Australian who wears his hair in dreadlocks, “Hey, Jamaican dog. They want their bobsledder back. Hey Mills, Jamaica just called. They want their bobsledder back.”

Apparently, the Cavs found him.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

That punishment seems about fair.

Mavericks snap 35-game losing streak by bottom-nine teams against rest of NBA

AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talks about tanking a lot for someone in his position, to the point he got fined $600,000 by the NBA.

But he can point to Dallas’ 109-103 win over the Pacers last night as proof his team isn’t completely devoted to losing.

There’s a clear line in the NBA standings between competitive and uncompetitive teams. Those beneath the line:

  • Suns (18-44)
  • Hawks (18-43)
  • Kings (18-42)
  • Magic (18-42)
  • Grizzlies (18-41)
  • Mavericks (19-42)
  • Nets (20-41)
  • Bulls (20-40)
  • Knicks (24-38)

The worst team above the line is the 26-34 Lakers, who don’t have their own 2018 draft picks and have enough talent to put up decent fights. Brooklyn also already traded both its own 2018 draft picks, but the Nets’ roster is so lacking, they resemble tankers.

Those bottom nine teams had lost 35 straight games against the rest of the league before the Mavericks’ victory. The last win had come more than two weeks earlier, when the Hawks beat the Pistons.

Expect much more losing from the bottom group. The incentive is high leading up to what appears to be a top-heavy draft. The lottery standings are so tight, each win could be detrimental. This is the final year before the NBA evens lottery odds in an attempt to dissuade teams from chasing the absolute basement.

The Kings lost to the Timberwolves later last night, which could start another streak. The Bulls (at Hornets), Nets (at Cavaliers) and Kings (at Trail Blazers) are all on the road tonight.

Cavaliers investigating racial taunts of Spurs’ Patty Mills

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — The Cleveland Cavaliers are investigating whether they can identify the fan who racially taunted San Antonio guard Patty Mills.

Mills is black and from Australia with an Aboriginal heritage. He was at the foul line in the fourth quarter Sunday when a male spectator can be heard on the ABC broadcast yelling, “Hey, Jamaican dog, they want their bobsledder back. Hey, Mills, Jamaica just called, they want their bobsledder back!”

Mills posted a message on Twitter following the game thanking a fan who tweeted a clip of the taunts:

A Cavaliers spokesman said Monday the team is reviewing the matter.

Mills was not asked about being harassed following the Spurs’ 110-94 win.