During the NBA Finals, the beautifully redone town square in the middle of downtown Cleveland was still blocked off from pedestrians. The streets around the Quicken Loan Arnea were torn up and soon will get a fresh layer of asphalt and a new paint job. Everywhere you look, downtown Cleveland is getting cleaned up and spruced up.
It’s amazing how local politicians can find money for these things when their more powerful and influential friends are coming to town — the Republican National Convention is coming to Cleveland this July.
One other change, the iconic, football field-sized LeBron James Cleveland banner near the arena, a huge Nike ad on the Sherwood Williams building, is coming down during the convention, reports newsnet5.com (hat tip Eye on Basketball).
Officials said a red, white, and blue proclamation was made for the spot on the Sherwin Williams headquarters where LeBron now stands, arms up, over the city. Early Monday it was unclear whether the Cavs sign would stay since Cleveland won the NBA championship with James chosen as MVP.
Hopeful speculation was out that it might stay if enough RNC-goers want their picture with the king. But later in the day, Sherwin Williams confirmed that LeBron is coming down for the RNC. But it said the banner is going to stay up for the time being so that fans could see it with the words “Champions” added.
To be clear, this is one thing you can’t blame on Donald Trump — this was not a decision that the RNC was involved in making.
There was an online petition to leave it up, but it had about as much influence as most online petitions.
LeBron’s banner will be back up before the Cavaliers tip-off defense of their title next fall.
This is about more than the Timberwolves drafting and keeping Kris Dunn with the No. 5 pick on Thursday night. I like Dunn’s game, but he’s a rookie and not ready to run the point on a playoff team. Maybe he can be the point guard of the future in Minnesota — he certainly defends like a Thibodeau guy — but like all rookies there is a steep learning curve coming.
That doesn’t mean the Timberwolves are keeping Ricky Rubio around. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
There’s a lot of Rubio backlash out there because he didn’t live up to the hype of the 16-year-old version of himself, but he’s still a quality starting point guard in the NBA. He’s still a gifted passer. He is one of the best defensive ones in the league. He lacks a jump shot of any note, but he was healthy last season and averaged 10.1 points, 8.7 assists, 2.1 steals just 2.5 turnovers a game (not bad considering how much the ball was in his hands).
Here’s the thing: The Timberwolves may want to consider moving Rubio, but they should be in no rush. Wait until they get a quality offer back. What’s the worst thing that happens, you play them together? Here’s Thibodeau on that, via the Associated Press’ Jon Krawczynski.
“They have good size, they have good toughness,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a different look. I think you’re seeing more and more of that now where you have two point guards on the floor. They’re both capable of playing off each other.”
We’ll see. There is zero reason for Minnesota to make a quick decision here. Maybe seeing Dunn play an actual NBA game or two first would be a wise idea. The Timberwolves have options and if they want to test the market for Rubio they can do it on their terms, dealing from a position of strength.
Today the honeymoon started in Philadelphia.
No. 1 pick Ben Simmons was making the media tour in Philadelphia on Friday. He’s been well coached by his agent and media team, saying all the right things about his ability to help all over the court, feeling blessed to be the No. 1 pick, wanting to win, and the rest of standard cliches.
It was the right and smart pick by the Sixers, and they made other smart picks farther down the board with French wing Timothe Luwawu and Turkish guard Furkan Korkmaz. Bryan Colangelo may have inherited all these picks, but to make “the process” work you need to nail those picks. It seems like the Sixers have.
There weren’t as many trades or surprises on draft night as we — or team executives — expected, but there were a few.
Jaylen Brown goes third to the Celtics and they do not trade the pick. Thon Maker goes ridiculously high to the Bucks at No. 10. Then there were the big trades of the last couple days — Serge Ibaka to Orlando with Victor Oladipo heading to Oklahoma City, and of course Derrick Rose is now a Knick.
Who won, and who lost? Well the Sixers win, and bigs who decided to test themselves in college rather than hide and remain a mystery lost. But there’s more than that, and Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it all down in this latest podcast.
As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.
It was the big trade of the night: Serge Ibaka went to the Eastern Conference and the Orlando Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Illyasova, and the rights to No. 11 pick Domantas Sabonis out of Gonzaga.
I like this trade in the short term for Orlando: Frank Vogel has pieces to work with along the front line in Ibaka, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic. This could push them into the playoffs in the East (especially if you are a bigger fan of Elfrid Payton than I am).
But this move makes the Oklahoma City Thunder — a team that came within one game of the NBA Finals — better because Oladipo is a massive upgrade over Andre Roberson or Dion Waiters. And there is zero chance this happened without at least the tacit approval of Kevin Durant.
I discuss it all in this latest PBT Extra.