Kurt Helin

Associated Press

LeBron James says he doesn’t care about look of Miami trip

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James didn’t want to discuss his cryptic tweet, his quick trip to hang out with Dwyane Wade in Florida or much of anything.

It’s good to be the king.

Following an unusual two-day break in their schedule, James and the Cavaliers returned to practice on Thursday to prepare for a stretch of three games in four nights. James met with reporters afterward, but the four-time league MVP wasn’t in the mood to elaborate on his actions or whereabouts over the past few days.

On Tuesday, James posted a message on Twitter to his 28.5 million followers that seemed to be directed at one person.

“It’s ok to know you’ve made a mistake,” James wrote. “Cause we all do at times. Just be ready to live with whatever that comes with it and be with those who will protect you at all cost!”

The posting created speculation about its intended target, stirring up even more drama around the Cavaliers, but James refused to elaborate on his intentions.

James bluntly answered “No” when he was asked if he wanted to explain the tweet, which had some wondering if he was conspicuously calling out one of his teammates – something he has done on social media in the past.

“Nope,” James said when asked if that was the case.

Of more concern to Clevelanders was James’ visit to Miami, where he hung out with good friend and former teammate Wade, a potential playoff opponent this year. James went on the trip with his wife, Savannah, who has kept a business in Miami. And although James sold his mansion there last summer, he spent part of his offseason training in South Florida.

So why did he go there this time?

“Cause I want to,” he said. “I would love to go to L.A., but I’ll take 2 1/2 (hours of flight time to Miami) over 4 1/2 (flight to Los Angeles). “I’ve got a house in L.A. but it makes more sense for me to go south than go west. But I go because I want to.”

The sight of he and Wade working out together is the last thing Cavs fans want to see, especially since James continues to sign one-year contracts with Cleveland and because he has left his home state before.

James was asked if he understands why some people might be upset he would meet with Wade.

“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t care.”

James recently sat out Sunday’s game at Washington and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue intends to sit him – and Cleveland’s other starters – during some upcoming games so they’re rested for the postseason and another run at an NBA title. The Cavs host the Wizards on Friday, Boston on Saturday and Memphis on Monday.

James said he and Lue have not yet discussed plans for time off.

“I’m going to go with what coach believes is the best for the team, believe is best for me,” James said.

Lue, who took over when the Cavs fired David Blatt earlier this season, said he wants to have his rotation finalized with six or seven games left in the regular season.

“My whole thing is going into the playoffs you want to be on a good roll and playing good going into the playoffs, so, that’s my thought, that’s my philosophy,” he said. “We’ll still get guys rest when we have the chance to.”

James concluded his nine-minute interview session by asking reporters if it was OK for him to leave.

He then said, “love you guys” before walking away.

Not long after, James went back on Twitter to post another mysterious message: “Can’t replace being around great friends that reciprocate the same energy back to you in all facets of life.”

If he’s talking about Wade, he probably won’t admit it.

Pelicans’ center Alexis Ajinca out indefinitely with fractured sternum

Associated Press
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As if the Pelicans’ don’t have enough guys out for the season with injuries — Quincy Pondexter (left knee), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Bryce Dejean-Jones (wrist) — there may be one more. Or at least, he is out for a while.

Pelicans’ center Alexis Ajinca suffered a fractured sternum against the Rockets and is out indefinitely, the team has announced. There is no timetable for his return.

A 7’2″ center out of France, Ajinca had started a few games recently and was the first big off the bench Wednesday night behind Kendrick Perkins because Omer Asik is out injured as well.

Ajinca had his chance this season to prove he could fit in Alvin Gentry’s system next to Anthony Davis, but it hasn’t worked out — he is averaging  4.4 points and 4 rebounds a game. 

Gentry has said the Pelicans are out of the playoff picture in the West, even if they are not mathematically eliminated yet. This is a team that is going to see a healthy roster overhaul this summer (and the buzz around the league is to expect some front office changes as well).

Jared Dudley whistled for phantom foul on Zach LaVine (VIDEO)

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Referees are human, they make mistakes. It’s part of the game.

But some of those mistakes are uglier than others.

This foul called on the Wizards’ Jared Dudley at the end of the first quarter against the Timberwolves Wednesday night was in the ugly category. Jason Phillips saw contact where there was none. He reviewed the call but the only thing he is allowed to review is if the shot was made before time expired — it was — not whether the call should have been made in the first place. It shouldn’t have.

It didn’t end up mattering, the Wizards won on the road 104-98 anyway. But this is about as blatant a missed call as you’re going to see.

Report: Pacers, Chase Budinger agree to buyout. He may be headed to Phoenix.

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Most of the buyouts that were going to happen in the NBA already did — if the deal wasn’t complete by Monday midnight the waived player couldn’t join the playoff roster of another team.

But there is still a buyout happening — Chase Budinger will be bought out in Indy to make room for Ty Lawson, and Budinger is likely headed to Phoenix, according to reports. The two sides have agreed to a buyout, but it has not yet been executed because the Pacers are waiting for C.J. Miles (strained calf) to get healthy and provide depth before they let Budinger loose.

Sean Deveney of the Sporting News broke the story.

With the Pacers set to bring in guard Ty Lawson, who was waived by the Rockets two days ago, sources indicated to Sporting News that swingman Chase Budinger will be bought out before the start of the weekend, likely after Friday’s game….

Budinger went to the Pacers in a trade before the season, and played in 48 games, averaging 4.5 points. But when Paul George moved back from power forward to small forward, Budinger’s playing opportunity dried up. Indiana was unable to move him at the trading deadline, and because of injuries, could not complete a buyout.

Candace Buckner of the Indy Star confirms the story and has more details.

Maybe Budinger can get a little run in the Valley of the Sun and try to prove he deserves another NBA contract.

PBT Podcast: NBA Draft talk with Rob Dauster of CollegeBasketballTalk

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LSU’s Ben Simmons is going No. 1, but is a guy who doesn’t have a jumper a franchise-transforming player?

Is Duke’s Brandon Ingram better?

Who should be drafted third? Kurt Helin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk asks Rob Dauster of NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk talk about the top of the 2016 NBA draft, sleepers worth watching in the second round, the rise of the upper classman, plus some Big West basketball and even a little beer talk.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.