Getting to know LeBron James inner circle

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nba_james1_250.jpgVirtually every player in the NBA seems to have a posse, his boys, his friends. They are the guys hanging around the player at clubs, the guys who do his driving and run his errands and are supposed to take care of life’s little annoyances. Sometimes, they even get real responsibility.

But no inner circle has influence like LeBron James circle.

Maverick Carter is his defacto manager and head of marketing. Then there is Randy Mims and Rich Paul. Along with LeBron they are the Four Horseman. Long time friends and confidants that LeBron James trusts like few others.

And those guys will have LeBron’s ear as he decides whether to stay in Cleveland or to move on. A great piece in Sunday’s New York Post by Marc Berman shines a light on the guys that usually are happy to be in LeBron’s shadow.

They are his Akron childhood buddies, and they make up a most untraditional business inner circle, though Paul, 30, has branched off with O.J. Mayo.

Critics wonder if Team LeBron is too unconventional — if they are savvy enough to be the major players whose voices will resonate in James’ ear about the merits of New York, Newark, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Cleveland in the coming weeks.

James is a wannabe billionaire athlete whose chief business decision-maker, Carter, is a 28-year-old childhood friend from Akron who spent two years at two different colleges before dropping out.

Buzz Bissinger, who wrote “Shooting Stars” with LeBron about his high school years, notes that LeBron needs the security and trust these friends give him. He had no father to speak of growing up and a mother who almost gave him away at age 10. Finding security matters to LeBron. These guys provide that.

Which is different than saying he gets only the best advice from them. There are doubts his current marketing and agent teams have done for him what his first agent — Aaron Goodwin — was able to do. The agent that was dumped in favor of friends. What kind of advice LeBron gets from them on his big free agent moves is impossible to predict.

There are other guys in the key mix too, although how much influence William Wesley and Jay-Z really have is hard to decipher. LeBron’s team is quiet in a way that Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have not.

What LeBron needs to do is find a quiet place and listen to himself. Figure out what he really wants. Tune out everybody else’s advice. Which is a whole lot easier said than done.

D’Angelo Russell says weather played ‘major part’ in picking Warriors over Timberwolves

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D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.

Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?

Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”

“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

I don’t blame him one bit.

Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.

This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.

There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.

But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out for Nets-Pacers

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Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.

He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.

Nets public relations:

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.

Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.

But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.

I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:

  • Nov. 24 at Knicks
  • Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
  • Nov. 27 at Celtics

That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.

Ray Allen says he would’ve returned to Celtics if they signed Kevin Durant in 2016

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Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.

But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.

Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:

“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.

“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “

This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.

But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.

Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.

European coach berates his players: ‘You’re good guys. F— you’ (video)

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Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.

He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):

A partial transcript the best I could muster:

YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!

F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…

Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.