Free Agency 2010: The LeBron-Johnson possibility

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Ric Bucher of ESPN has a report today including information from a source discussing LeBron James and the 2010 Free Agency Summer of Doom. The source contends that Hawks guard Joe Johnson may be the King’s preferred partner in crime if he heads beyond the sunny gates of Cleveland.

Bucher outlines how Johnson would absorb less of the spotlight than Dwyane Wade, and he’s a better proven closer than Chris Bosh (despite Bosh’s critical three looooong two against the Hawks the other night). A true dynamite two-guard would seem to be a great compliment for LeBron with the ability to spread the floor.

Whenever we discuss rumors of this type, it’s important to outline a few things, even though we do it every time. One, this is just speculation. The reason it’s relevant is it outlines possibilities and contributing factors from a respected source.

 But at the end of the day, the throngs of folks that say “No one has any idea what he’ll do” regarding James are most likely correct. There are just too many factors to predict. Two, it is supremely far from a sure thing that the Cavs won’t be able to re-ink the Savior. If they walk away with a ring this year, that’s going to be near-impossible to walk away from.

And this possibility makes a lot of sense, but has some issues as well. Johnson is a high-usage player looking at his thirties. The King gets the ball first, second, and third. Johnson can act as a catch and shoot or cutting finisher, but he’s at his best when he’s breaking ankles and nailing floaters over three defenders. T

hose same abilities that make him special not only may make the idea of giving the ball up to LeBron 80% of the possessions unfavorable, but are the same skills that will face decline with age.

I spoke with Johnson at All-Star Weekend and asked him if remaining in the south was a favorable idea like it was when he departed Phoenix for Atlanta. He rebuffed that, saying he was older now and locale wouldn’t make an impact on his decision. So clearly New York is going to be on the board (the most likely destination of a LeBron-Johnson team-up). But making all the pieces fit will be a puzzle for GM’s with a lot on the line.

Once again, Klay Thompson makes it sound like he’s staying put as free agent

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Klay Thompson will be a free agent next summer, and that leads to a lot of teams drooling — the Lakers reportedly love his potential fit with LeBron James/Brandon Ingram/Lonzo Ball — and lots of fans thinking “he’ll want a bigger role on his own team” (or, a role on whatever team said fan roots for).

Good luck finding any executives around the NBA who think he’s leaving the Warriors. In part because Thompson has said he wants to stay countless times and even adding might take a discount. At Warriors media day Monday the topic came up again and Thompson was clear, once again.

Thompson is staying, the only question is the price tag. There have been rumors about Thompson signing an extension with the Warriors, but while he may want to give the team a discount that would be a RIDICULOUS discount: His max extension will be $102 million over five years, if he becomes a free agent and re-signs he can get as much as $188 million over five years. You think he’s leaving $86 million on the table?

Of course, a reporter brought up the extension idea at Thompson’s press conference, and he played it off saying that’s up to his agent (it starts around the one minute mark of the video below).

Just because there is no extension does not mean Thompson is going to leave via free agency. There is far more of a sense around the league Kevin Durant will be the first of their big players out the door, but even that may not be likely if they win it all again this year.

 

Clippers use ridiculously steep arc to fit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s last name on jersey (photo)

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In NBA history, there have been eight players with at least a 15-character last name (including spaces):

They’re no match for Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has an 18-character last name.

The Clippers had to go to extreme angles to get Gilgeous-Alexander’s name onto the back of his jersey. We already saw this humorous setup when Gilgeous-Alexander held up a jersey in his post-draft press conference (see above), but the jersey looks even more absurd on his back.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

It doesn’t help that Gilgeous-Alexander is so lanky. As he bulks up, maybe this won’t stand out quite so much.

Evan Fournier takes shot at LeBron’s hairline with Tweet of media day photo

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Just because LeBron James is in the Western Conference doesn’t mean you want to give him fuel for motivation when he does see your team.

Orlando’s Evan Fournier decided to have a little fun at the expense of LeBron’s hairline when Tweeting out his media day photos.

LeBron may have a whole show based in a barber shop, but he did have a little more forehead going today.

Still, Evan, is that really where you wanted to go?

Dwight Howard could miss start of Wizards camp with bad back

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Howard joked Monday about the sore back that’s expected to keep him out for the start of training camp with the Washington Wizards.

Coach Scott Brooks downplayed the significance of the injury, too. Still, it’s not ideal that the team needs to put off incorporating its one offseason addition to the starting lineup.

“I’ve been having to do a lot of traveling with shoe companies and stuff like that in China. So just from training, traveling – and airplanes weren’t made for tall people. … It kind of sucks to fly 15 hours curled up in the fetal position,” said Howard, a 6-foot-11 center entering his 15th NBA season.

“So just a minor setback. It shouldn’t take that long for me to get back on the court,” he added. “I’ve been feeling great all summer. Just something that we’ll have to deal with, and it shouldn’t keep me out too long.”

The Wizards traded away starting center Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers and added Howard, who’ll turn 33 in December, on a two-year, $11 million contract with a player option. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds last season for a Charlotte Hornets team that missed the playoffs and now is with his fourth team in four years.

That means adjusting yet again – to new teammates, to a new coach, to a new system.

In Washington, everything revolves around the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Last season, when Wall appeared in only 41 of 82 games, the Wizards went 43-39 and were eighth in the Eastern Conference, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Raptors.

Howard, an eight-time All-Star, said that he has not had a chance to get on a court with Wall and Beal to start getting a feel for one another.

“But one thing that I have done is I’ve watched a lot of film to really learn the tendencies of my teammates. Where they like the ball. Where they like to get screened at. Just things that will really help them get to their sweet spots,” Howard said. “A lot of times, the best way to really understand your teammate is by watching film.”

Brooks, Beal and others said all the right things at Monday’s media day about Howard.

“He’s going to make my job a lot easier. He’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier on both ends of the floor, because you still have to respect his ability at the rim. He averaged 16 and 13 last year. Those are great numbers, you know? In our system, those can increase, easily,” said Beal, who led Washington in scoring by averaging 22.6 points and was an All-Star for the first time.

“Watching him, if you don’t hit him, it’s over. He’s going to dunk on you. And I love it. Because I think that’s going to get me hyped – just being able to have a big who’ll just flush it on you every time and somebody who will block some shots if you get beat on defense,” Beal said. “He’s a threat on both ends of the floor.”

Now it’s just a matter of getting Howard out on that floor with the rest of the Wizards.

“We’re just going to be careful. Not sure if he will practice tomorrow” when camp opens, Brooks said at the club’s media day.

Brooks listed Howard’s status as “day-to-day,” saying he wasn’t “overly concerned.”

“But we’re not going to rush him to get back,” the coach said.