Dan Feldman

LeBron James Jr. impresses in new highlight video

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Ball-handling, passing, shooting, defense, driving — LeBron James‘ son, LeBron James Jr., shows it all in a new highlight video.

He looked good at 10 years old. He looks good at 12 years old.

No wonder he reportedly already has scholarship offers from Duke and Kentucky.

Andre Iguodala on Warriors resting top players against Spurs: ‘Do what master say,’ later adds it’s a joke

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he’d rest Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala against the Spurs on Saturday. (Kawhi Leonard is already out.)

What does Iguodala think about that?

Anthony Slater of The Mercury News:

Iguodala:

Do what master say.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Iguodala should know the slavery-related connotation of the word “master” and how that can make the term so explosive. He should also know the danger of telling inside jokes in front of a camera relaying the interview to the world.

But Iguodala slipping on that creates only a minor stir compared to a black player knowingly calling his white coach “master.” For a while Friday night, this seemed like it’d be a much bigger deal. With Iguodala throwing cold water on the brewing controversy, this should pass fairly quickly.

Suns coach Earl Watson benching Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler ‘unless management changes it’

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Neither Brandon Knight nor Tyson Chandler appear to fit with the Suns, but by the trade deadline, both players were afterthoughts. Knight (three years and $43,893,750) and Chandler (two years and $26,585,000) just have too much money remaining on their contracts to be desirable targets.

It appears they’re also undesirable on the court for Phoenix.

Knight and Chandler have received DNP-CDs in every game since the trade deadline. Tyler Ulis and Derrick Jones Jr. have moved into the rotation and other young players have gotten enhanced roles.

Suns coach Earl Watson, via Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic:

“I’m not changing it unless management changes it,” Watson said. “I have a boss and my boss has a boss, so whatever comes from up top is what’s going to happen. And right now, that’s not even part of our equation.”

“It’s a great thing for younger players; it’s a dangerous thing for coaches,” he said. “This is not college. Coaches don’t have seven-to-10 year contracts. … But for us, coming into this situation, we owe it to these players for them to be great for their career. And as a former player, I’ve had my chance, so I have to give these young guys their opportunity. I have to give them whatever it takes, even if at some times there’s risk for us moving forward as a staff. We owe it to these players. I always believe that if you do the right thing, then somehow opportunity opens up, whether it’s continue to coach somewhere else, but you owe it to these younger players every day to develop and build confidence.”

Is Watson implying management ordered him to stop playing Knight and Chandler? It now sure seems Phoenix played those two only to showcase them for a trade then benched them once the deadline passed.

This general direction is healthy for the franchise. The Suns can’t win anything of significance this season, so player development and tanking — synergetic goals — should take priority.

I’m not so sure about the execution, though. Knight is 25, and point guards tend to develop late. Even if he’s not destined to play point guard in the NBA, he’s relatively inexperienced as an off guard. I wouldn’t close the door on his development — especially when Leandro Barbosa is still getting minutes.

And what does this mean for Watson? Benching veterans for raw youngsters will hurt his record, but it also allows him to argue he wasn’t trying to win and therefore shouldn’t be judged on his (lousy) record — especially helpful, because Watson’s teams have mostly lost even when trying to win. I’m not convinced this is as bad for him as he insinuates.

Rob Pelinka pledges ‘to make the Lakers the greatest sports franchise in the world’

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — During his two-decade career representing Kobe Bryant and other prominent NBA players, Rob Pelinka developed an enormous respect for the Los Angeles Lakers, both as a team and a global phenomenon.

Pelinka is getting the chance to restore that tarnished brand as the Lakers’ new general manager, and he is approaching his new job with evangelical zeal.

“It didn’t feel like a decision,” Pelinka said Friday. “It felt like a true calling.”

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson introduced Pelinka at a news conference, hiring Bryant’s longtime agent as his top deputy in the team’s new leadership regime. Both men spoke glowingly of a 16-time NBA champion franchise currently mired in the worst four-year stretch in team history.

Pelinka is recognized as a sharp negotiator on the other side of the NBA’s bargaining tables. In moving to the Lakers’ front office, he described his goals in terms far beyond dollars and cents.

“To put the Lakers back on the proper place of being the gold-standard franchise in all of sports for others to look at and try to emulate,” Pelinka said. “Because that’s what Dr. (Jerry) Buss did with this team, and what our calling is here. … We’re going to deliver on Jeanie’s challenge to us to make the Lakers the greatest sports franchise in the world. That will happen.”

Jeanie Buss fired her brother, Jim, and general manager Mitch Kupchak last month to clear the way for Johnson and Pelinka.

While the Hall of Fame point guard will be the Lakers’ frontman and big-picture leader, Pelinka will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day work of contract negotiations, talent scouting and salary cap management. Together, they’ll attempt to rebuild the Lakers, who are wrapping up what’s certain to be their fourth straight non-playoff season, a franchise record for futility.

“When I thought about who I really wanted to start this journey with, and who could I pick that would complement my style and the way I am, and also who is strong where I’m weak, there was no other than Rob,” Johnson said. “We have the same personality. We have just a passionate love for this franchise. I wanted somebody who understood the Lakers and what it means to represent the Lakers, and Rob knows that better than anybody out here.”

Johnson’s word choice was bold at a news conference attended by none other than Bryant, who wrapped up his 20-year career last spring with five championship rings. Johnson also won five NBA titles in the 1980s with the Showtime Lakers.

Pelinka described Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, as his “best friends,” recounting group camping trips and mutual concern for each other’s children.

He also echoed the strong support for rookie coach Luke Walton voiced by Johnson and Jeanie Buss, calling Walton “a championship coach.” The Lakers have made it abundantly clear they’re thrilled with Walton’s work despite the current team’s 20-45 record.

While he offered few specifics about his plans for the Lakers, Pelinka spoke with enormous optimism about the importance of the Lakers’ reputation and location. He plans to highlight the abundant opportunities in endorsements, business deals and Hollywood exposure as factors in attracting free agents.

Yet Pelinka is also thinking much bigger. During an anecdote about a friend who saw a child in a Kobe jersey at a Syrian refugee camp, Pelinka spoke of the purple and gold as a worldwide force for good.

“This brand resonates around the world,” Pelinka said. “This brand, this Lakers brand, can give hope in the corners of the globe. If we’re doing our job here, and we’re the Lakers, we can bring joy and hope to everyone across the world.”

Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha pulled from starting lineup after arriving late

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ATLANTA (AP) — Hawks small forward Thabo Sefolosha has lost his starting job for one game after being trapped by Atlanta’s Friday traffic and showing up late for a practice.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer says “Friday Atlanta traffic” was the reason Sefolosha was late for the walkthrough before Friday night’s game against Toronto. Tim Hardaway Jr., who already has earned increased minutes as a high-scoring top backup, replaced Sefolosha in the lineup.

Budenholzer says the lineup change is for one game only.

Sefolosha has averaged 7.6 points and 4.3 rebounds in 52 games, including 35 starts. He entered the game midway through the first quarter.