ProBasketballTalk's top 25 free agents tracker

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Free agency is almost over. LeBron is going to the Heat. Most of the top 25 are set, and the ones that aren’t will be soon.

So here is a little wrap up, with a few loose ends out there. What follows is a list of the top 25 free agents on the market (by our estimation), each with a little note about where they stand right now. Bookmark this post, because we will be updating it with the latest information you need, distilled and neatly compiled in one place. Why? Because we care about you and your time. Plus we like lists. They’re fun.

Last updated 8:30 am Eastern
1. LeBron James (Going to Miami): Miami is going to be a force in the East. You would guess that with the three-man super team of LeBron/Wade/Bosh. But it’s more than that.

The Cavaliers and Heat agreed to a sign-and-trade that sends picks and a massive $15 million trade exception to Cleveland for LeBron. However, LeBron did not sign the max deal — he took less. He took the six years but for less money. We don’t know how much yet. Wade and Bosh did the same. This will allow the Heat to put some talent around them, such as Mike Miller, and maybe long-time Heat mainstay Udonis Haslem.

2. Dwyane Wade (going to stay in Miami): He is staying home — and he is bringing his friends Chris and LeBron with him. Wade confirmed in an ESPN interview that he will sign a deal in Miami. He signed a six-year deal, but not for the maximum amount of money. We don’t know how much the deal is worth, but we know LeBron and Bosh did the same. They left money on the table so the Heat could put players around them.

3. Chris Bosh (going to Miami): He’s going to the Heat, to team up with Wade and LeBron to form the core of a powerhouse team. He was part of a sign-and-trade that sent picks to Toronto as well as giving the Raptors a huge trade exception (near $15 million, most likely). We don’t know what the contract for yet, but we know Bosh (and Wade and LeBron) left millions on the table so the Heat could add talent around them. 

4. Amare Stoudemire (Agreed to terms with New York): The Knicks have their first big signing of the summer — Amare Stoudemire and the Knicks agreed to terms Monday. It is a five year, $100 million deal. He tried hard to recruit LeBron, but that appears to have failed. Still, the Knicks get one of the best power forwards in the game, a guy who may have been the best player in the league after the All-Star Game last year. But they also get a guy who has had serious work on his knees in the past and won’t be getting fed by Steve Nash anymore.

5. Joe Johnson (Agreed to terms with Atlanta): Finally. After flirting one more time with the Knicks, he agreed to Atlanta’s max-deal offer of six years, $119 million. This is a contract the Hawks will regret come 2015 (and he’s not a real max deal player now) but both sides got what they wanted out of this.

6. Carlos Boozer (Agreed to terms with Chicago): He has agreed to a five year, $75 million deal with the Bulls. This is a great signing by Chicago. First, it puts them right in the mix for LeBron James, although he still seems set on Miami. But even if they don’t get LeBron, they have the money to add a top shooter like JJ Redick. A starting five of Rose/Redick/Deng/Boozer/Noah with Taj Gibson first off the bench is near the top of the East.

7. Rudy Gay (Agreed to terms with Memphis): Gay has accepted a five-year, $81.6 million offer from the Memphis Grizzlies. That may be overpaying him, but we said before free agency that someone was going to overpay for him. Might as well be Memphis. Now we’ll see if he wants to live up to the contract, or his focus gets worse because he’s comfortable. 

8. Dirk Nowitizki (Agreed to terms with Dallas): It was just a matter of time. Nowitzki agreed to a four year, $80 million deal with the Mavericks. He got a big deal that extends into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Mavericks got a little payroll flexibility because he took less money (a max deal would have been $96 million). Smiles everyone, smiles, smiles.

9. Paul Pierce (Agreed to terms with Boston): After tweaking the deal for several days, both sides finally agreed on Saturday night to a four-year, $61 million deal, with the fourth year only partially guaranteed (so they can buy him out). This deal would save the Celtics about $12 million next season when you factor in the luxury tax. This deal also means we will see the same old Celtics for one more year.

10. David Lee (agreed to terms with Golden State): Golden State has pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Knicks that will send Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to the Knicks for Lee. This could be a great landing spot for Lee — depending on who the owner is after the team is sold this summer. And who that owner brings in as GM. And who the GM brings in as coach.

11. John Salmons (Agreed to terms with Bucks): He has verbally agreed to a five-year, $39 million deal to stay in Milwaukee. He can’t sign it to July 8, like all free agents, and with Joe Johnson now a Hawk a couple teams may call and try to offer him more. He said he is not taking those calls.

12. Ray Allen (Agrees to terms with Boston): It’s official, the Celtics are going to ride the old timers for a little longer. Ray Allen has agreed to a two-year deal with Boston to reunite with Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers for one more run at a title. It is two years, at $10 million a year, with a player option the second year. Watch Doc Rivers rest all his key guys a lot in the regular season — and be willing to lose a few games to do so — in order to save them for one more playoff run. 

13. Udonis Haslem (not signed): How bad does he want to return to the Heat? Miami has been talking contract with him, but what they have left to offer is like $4 million a year or less. The Dallas Mavericks have talked to him about a deal for the full mid-level exception — three years at $5.8 million per year. What would you do? Could he leave like six million on the table?

14. JJ Redick (Offer from Chicago): The Chicago Bulls have made a three year, $20 million offer to Redick, which would be a fantastic pickup for Chicago. The question now is will Orlando match. That is a fair price for Redick, but will Orlando pay that for him to back up Vince Carter?

15. Brendan Haywood (Agreed to terms with Dallas): The Dallas Mavericks have made it a priority to bring him back — and they did. Six year deal worth $55 million dollars. He’s a solid big man who can score, rebound and defend, which makes him a great pairing with Dirk Nowitzki.

16. Luis Scola (restricted, not signed): About to get an offer from the Charlotte Bobcats. The New Jersey Nets are talking to him and may make an offer. The Rockets can match any offer, but they also are very willing to use him as part of any sign-and-trade.

17. Tyrus Thomas (Signed offer with Charlotte): The Bobcats and Thomas have agreed to a five-year, $40 million deal to keep him a Bobcat. Larry Brown has always been high on Thomas, now we’ll see if he can get Thomas to live up to his tremendous potential.

18. Shaquille O’Neal (not signed): Miami to join the big three has come up as a rumor, and Miami is confident they can get him. Not because they can offer more money, they can only offer about $4 million a year less than what Atlanta is rumored to have offered (two years at the mid-level exception of $5.8). But Miami knows Shaq likes to be in the spotlight, in the middle of the circus. Miami will be the circus next year.

19. Brad Miller (not signed): Boston has shown some aggressive interest in him and have started negotiations for him to take over the Sheed role. Things we can’t wait to see: KG’s reaction to Miller’s defensive rotations. Houston has had a sit-down with him as
well. He also has drawn int
erest from the Nuggets and Cavaliers.

20. Matt Barnes (not signed): He has been contacted by Miami, Cleveland, Washington and Dallas in recent days. Detroit has reached out to him, likely as a replacement if they trade Tayshaun Prince. Barnes says he wants to stay in Orlando, and they say they want to keep him. But they want to get him for the bi-annual exception of $1.92 million, and others may offer more.

21. Luke Ridnour (not signed): He has had serious talks with Minnesota, although they are overloaded at the point in everyone’s eyes except David Kahn (he loves him some point guards, can’t have enough). Minnesota is trying to trade Ramon Sessions to make room for Ridnour. Which strikes me as a lot of work just to get a backup for Brandon Jennings.

22. Mike Miller (Going to Miami): He has struck a deal with the Miami Heat to be the designated stretch-the-floor shooter for LeBron, Wade and Bosh. He likely will make about $5 million a year or so, but the financial details are still being finalized. Not a bad spot to land.

23. Steve Blake (signed with Lakers): Blake — a near perfect fit for the triangle offense — has agreed to a four year, $16 million deal with the Lakers. The two-time defending NBA champions just got better. And they got their coach back. Maybe it doesn’t matter where LeBron goes. 

24. Ronnie Brewer (not signed): Utah is looking at bringing him in, as are the Chicago Bulls. He will not be returning to Memphis after they signed Tony Allen.

25. Anthony Morrow (Offer from New Jersey): New Jersey has offered a three-year, $12 million contract to Morrow. Rumor is the Warriors will not match. Which is just idiocy. Morrow would be a good fit with the young and improving Jersey team.

Three Things to Know: Boston plays up to level of its competition, earns win over Toronto

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Boston plays up to the level of its competition, which is enough to earn big win over Toronto. Speaking on behalf of basketball fans everywhere, after watching the last two meetings between these teams, I would like to order seven more of these games for late May. Please. This is a playoff matchup that has to happen.

Now, about last night…

“What is wrong with the Boston Celtics” has been a favorite parlor game around the NBA this season, and while the “too talented” theory and others exist, Wednesday night’s performance and win at home against the Toronto Raptors shed light on maybe the real issue:

These Celtics play to the level of their competition. That gets them in trouble against lesser teams, but when the big guns come to town Boston shows up.

One week ago, the Celtics dismantled a strong Indiana team by 27 points. Boston then turned around and lost to Miami, Orlando, and Brooklyn (the Heat and Nets are .500 teams, the Magic are trying to find their way into the playoffs).

Boston came out Wednesday night like none of those losses happened and played one of its best games of the season to beat Toronto, the team with the best record in the NBA. It was a huge effort led by Kyrie Irving, who had 27 points and a career-high 18 assists, and he outplayed Kawhi Leonard down the stretch of the game (the Kyrie vs. Kawhi duel is what the game became at the end). Irving hit all the big shots.

The Celtics have won 2-of-3 against the Raptors and now are 6-3 overall against Toronto, Milwaukee, Indiana, and Philadelphia this season. When the Celtics need to raise their game up, they can, they just don’t do it nightly. After the game, to a man, the Celtics said they need to play like this in their upcoming games (struggling Memphis, then at Atlanta, Miami, and Cleveland).

“We have to play all those teams that aren’t the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philly 76ers, we have to play those teams like they are,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “That only helps us, keeps us in a rhythm, a great rhythm and it holds us accountable for doing the right things.”

Irving took the blame for some of that, admitting he had to call LeBron to apologize and talk leadership.

“It just comes with our maturity as a team,” Irving said. “I did a poor job of setting an example for these young guys of what it’s like to get something out of your teammates. You go and say something publicly and it ends up being received in so many different ways. You never know how fragile or what guys are going through if you say things like that. You’re expecting results but at the same time I should have kept it in-house. Going forward, I want … to get the best out of them but I won’t do it publicly like that.”

Was this win a turning point for Boston? It felt like it, not just in the fact that the had to fight back from behind twice in the game and showed real grit and will, but those postgame comments are a positive. Boston may be learning its lessons and growing into a contender.

Only time will tell. With some soft games on the schedule coming up, we may quickly see if Boston is learning its lessons.

2) Stephen Curry explodes for 23 points in third, Warriors storm back then hold off Pelicans for the win. For the second night in a row, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors put on a basketball fireworks show.

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans were playing maybe their best game of the season and were up 16 on Golden State at Oracle Arena, then Curry went on the kind of run they will show in his Hall of Fame career retrospective video — 23 points on 7 threes in the third.

Curry finished with 41 points on 22 shots, hitting 9-of-17 from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant had 30 points, maybe scariest of all for coaches who have to game plan against the Warriors Draymond Green shot 4-of-7 from three on his way to 17 points (sagging off Green at the arc has been a thing this season, and for a while now).

The Warriors got the win 147-140 in a game with the most threes made in any game in NBA history (43).

It wasn’t a defensive masterpiece by anyone, but the game had amazing shot making all night long.

It was the second night in a row the Warriors looked like the Warriors, and why they are back as the No. 1 seed in the West.

All of that overshadowed a 30 point, 18 rebound game from Anthony Davis, who reminded everyone why he should be in the MVP conversation even if the Pelicans are three games below .500.

3) James Harden scores 58 but the Rockets still lose to Brooklyn in OT. We could be seeing variations of that headline a lot in the next month — James Harden continues to play at an MVP level, but it’s hard to underestimate just how much Houston is going to miss Clint Capela this season, both on defense and in the overall scheme of how they play. (Capela is out 4-6 weeks with ligament damage in the thumb of his right hand.)

Harden was spectacular again on Wednesday, scoring 58 points.

But the loss of Capela was glaring, and Danuel House Jr. being back in the G-League — because the sides couldn’t agree on how to convert his two-way contract — was a more painful loss than expected.

Also, the Nets just do not quit .

After a P.J. Tucker three, Brooklyn was down eight with 1:02 left in the game. But them Sixth Man of the Year Spencer Dinwiddie drained a key three. Then one more. Then a third — this one to send the game to OT. That’s where the Nets got the win.

Brooklyn is a .500 team with this win — an amazing season considering the roster, the expectations, and the fact this team lost Caris LeVert (their best scorer) for much of the season due to an ankle injury. They are building something in Brooklyn that in a few years could be very special.

Yesterday was one of highest-scoring days in NBA history

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The Pelicans scored 140 points last night.

And lost.

The Warriors’ 147-140 win over New Orleans was the first time both teams scored 140+ in regulation since 1992. And it didn’t even claim sole possession of yesterday’s highest-scoring game. The Nets beat the Rockets 145-142, though that one went to overtime.

It was a wild night throughout the league.

James Harden scored 58 points. Stephen Curry scored 41 points on nine 3-pointers, seven in the third quarter. Kyrie Irving created 67 points, 27 scored directly and 40 on 18 assists.

The Rockets attempted a record 70 3-pointers. The Warriors and Pelicans made a record 43 combined 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers played at the equivalent of the NBA’s slowest pace, getting just 94 possessions, and still scored 129 points (137.2 offensive rating).

All in all, teams scored 120.7 points per game yesterday. The full results:

  • Warriors 147, Pelicans 140
  • Nets 145, Rockets 142
  • Cavaliers 112, Trail Blazers 129
  • Jazz 129, Clippers 109
  • Pistons 120, Magic 115
  • Celtics 117, Raptors 108
  • Bucks 111, Grizzlies 101
  • Spurs 105, Mavericks 101

That was just the eighth day teams averaged at least 120 points in the last 30 years. But those other days featured only one to three games. There were eight games last night.

Of the more than 3,000 days in NBA history with a slate so large, yesterday’s 120.7 points per team game were the second-most ever.

Here are the most points teams have scored per game in days with at least eight games:

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April 10, 1977

New York Knicks 144, Detroit Pistons 126

New Orleans Jazz 139, Denver Nuggets 125

Milwaukee Bucks 133, San Antonio Spurs 125

Washington Bullets 131, Philadelphia 76ers 121

Phoenix Suns 128, New York Nets 104

Boston Celtics 115, Cleveland Cavaliers 105

Chicago Bulls 120, Buffalo Braves 99

Los Angeles Lakers 113, Seattle SuperSonics 104

Jan. 16, 2019

Golden State Warriors 147, New Orleans Pelicans 140

Brooklyn Nets 145, Houston Rockets 142

Cleveland Cavaliers 112, Portland Trail Blazers 129

Utah Jazz 129, Los Angeles Clippers 109

Detroit Pistons 120, Orlando Magic 115

Boston Celtics 117, Toronto Raptors 108

Milwaukee Bucks 111, Memphis Grizzlies 101

San Antonio Spurs 105, Dallas Mavericks 101

Jan. 29, 1971

Baltimore Bullets 145, Cincinnati Royals 118

Milwaukee Bucks 142, Philadelphia 76ers 118

Phoenix Suns 131, Portland Trail Blazers 122

Los Angeles Lakers 122, Seattle SuperSonics 115

Detroit Pistons 131, San Diego Rockets 104

Atlanta Hawks 119, Cleveland Cavaliers 111

New York Knicks 118, Boston Celtics 111

San Francisco Warriors 106, Buffalo Braves 100

March 12, 1985

Golden State Warriors 145, San Antonio Spurs 122

Houston Rockets 131, Denver Nuggets 129

Phoenix Suns 123, New York Knicks 119

Boston Celtics 126, Atlanta Hawks 115

Kansas City Kings 120, Portland Trail Blazers 114

Los Angeles Lakers 123, Utah Jazz 108

Chicago Bulls 111, Detroit Pistons 110

Indiana Pacers 109, New Jersey Nets 108

March 23, 1979

Los Angeles Lakers 156, San Diego Clippers 119

Indiana Pacers 141, Houston Rockets 134

Denver Nuggets 137, Boston Celtics 113

Detroit Pistons 124, Washington Bullets 114

Phoenix Suns 126, Kansas City Kings 107

Golden State Warriors 116, Milwaukee Bucks 113

Atlanta Hawks 115, San Antonio Spurs 108

Chicago Bulls 116, New Orleans Jazz 99

Philadelphia 76ers 110, New Jersey Nets 98

Dec. 22, 1979

Denver Nuggets 130, Los Angeles Lakers 128

San Antonio Spurs 141, Detroit Pistons 112

Chicago Bulls 126, Cleveland Cavaliers 117

Indiana Pacers 130, Atlanta Hawks 110

Philadelphia 76ers 126, Boston Celtics 113

Washington Bullets 122, Houston Rockets 114

Phoenix Suns 115, Kansas City Kings 111

Golden State Warriors 107, New Jersey Nets 101

April 9, 1978

New Orleans Jazz 153, San Antonio Spurs 132

Detroit Pistons 139, Denver Nuggets 137

Boston Celtics 131, Buffalo Braves 114

Cleveland Cavaliers 120, Kansas City Kings 117

Washington Bullets 123, Philadelphia 76ers 113

Seattle SuperSonics 111, Golden State Warriors 105

Portland Trail Blazers 114, Los Angeles Lakers 99

Atlanta Hawks 99, Chicago Bulls 85

March 16, 1984

Chicago Bulls 156, Portland Trail Blazers 155

Seattle SuperSonics 126, San Antonio Spurs 123

San Diego Clippers 128, Houston Rockets 118

New Jersey Nets 117, Detroit Pistons 108

Denver Nuggets 118, Cleveland Cavaliers 102

Phoenix Suns 110, Washington Bullets 109

Boston Celtics 109, Milwaukee Bucks 99

Atlanta Hawks 105, Philadelphia 76ers 102

Feb. 2, 1983

Indiana Pacers 141, Detroit Pistons 135

Houston Rockets 135, Denver Nuggets 128

Dallas Mavericks 122, Los Angeles Lakers 120

Kansas City Kings 117, Washington Bullets 115

Seattle SuperSonics 117, Milwaukee Bucks 114

Boston Celtics 120, San Diego Clippers 110

New Jersey Nets 118, Cleveland Cavaliers 105

Phoenix Suns 112, Utah Jazz 96

New York Knicks 109, San Antonio Spurs 98

April 6, 1989

Los Angeles Clippers 133, Portland Trail Blazers 123

Denver Nuggets 132, Indiana Pacers 118

Golden State Warriors 132, Boston Celtics 118

Phoenix Suns 126, Seattle SuperSonics 119

San Antonio Spurs 122, Sacramento Kings 116

Detroit Pistons 115, Chicago Bulls 108

New York Knicks 112, Milwaukee Bucks 99

Washington Bullets 101, Miami Heat 93

March 30, 1990

Philadelphia 76ers 149, Denver Nuggets 131

Washington Bullets 143, Orlando Magic 115

Seattle SuperSonics 139, Golden State Warriors 108

Phoenix Suns 126, New Jersey Nets 119

Los Angeles Lakers 135, Portland Trail Blazers 106

Atlanta Hawks 122, Los Angeles Clippers 118

Boston Celtics 123, Detroit Pistons 111

Chicago Bulls 107, New York Knicks 106

Cleveland Cavaliers 105, Miami Heat 104

Minnesota Timberwolves 84, Dallas Mavericks 82

Feb. 14, 1990

Orlando Magic 135, Chicago Bulls 129

Indiana Pacers 133, Cleveland Cavaliers 131

Portland Trail Blazers 132, Los Angeles Lakers 128

Milwaukee Bucks 127, Denver Nuggets 117

Philadelphia 76ers 122, New Jersey Nets 112

Phoenix Suns 114, Utah Jazz 103

Boston Celtics 106, San Antonio Spurs 95

Minnesota Timberwolves 95, Charlotte Hornets 86

Jan. 2, 1980

Washington Bullets 139, Seattle SuperSonics 134

Denver Nuggets 135, Detroit Pistons 116

Kansas City Kings 128, Utah Jazz 121

Los Angeles Lakers 127, Indiana Pacers 120

San Antonio Spurs 118, Phoenix Suns 109

Boston Celtics 111, Houston Rockets 103

Golden State Warriors 111, Portland Trail Blazers 92

San Diego Clippers 103, New Jersey Nets 97

Nov. 3, 1979

Milwaukee Bucks 136, Chicago Bulls 134

San Diego Clippers 126, Utah Jazz 109

Philadelphia 76ers 120, Indiana Pacers 114

Golden State Warriors 130, Denver Nuggets 103

Cleveland Cavaliers 123, Kansas City Kings 110

Houston Rockets 114, Detroit Pistons 111

Atlanta Hawks 110, New Jersey Nets 107

Boston Celtics 118, Washington Bullets 97

Feb. 28, 1978

Milwaukee Bucks 136, Washington Bullets 135

New York Knicks 138, San Antonio Spurs 123

Chicago Bulls 126, Phoenix Suns 115

New Orleans Jazz 125, Buffalo Braves 108

Denver Nuggets 122, Indiana Pacers 106

Seattle SuperSonics 114, Kansas City Kings 107

Portland Trail Blazers 113, Philadelphia 76ers 92

Atlanta Hawks 117, Boston Celtics 85

NBA ramping up security, education as sports gambling grows around United States

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You don’t have to look any further than today’s headlines — four professional tennis players in Europe arrested for match-fixing — to understand the NBA’s concern.

With sports betting cleared by the Supreme Court and more and more states in the USA making legal, the concerns about the integrity of the game increase as well. The NBA wants a cut of that sports gambling money — they’ve been asking for one percent, although that is a long process — and say part of that money will go toward not letting gaming become a problem within the sport.

With the NBA in London — where sports betting is legal and big business — for the Knicks vs. Wizards on Thursday, NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum talked about it to ESPN.

The NBA is preparing to double down on policing its players, teams and staff amid the expansion of legalized sports gambling in the United States, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told ESPN…

That will mean extra resources to prevent the kind of in-house infractions that have plagued a number of sports, such as soccer, tennis and cricket…

“A lot of it has to do with education with respect to our players, with respect to our teams,” he said. “We’re spending a lot of time learning from the mistakes that were made and what we’re seeing in sports betting in places around the world.

“We’re trying to educate our fans. We’re educating our players and our teams. We’re taking a little bit of a cautious approach here. … But generally, we think it’s a good thing for sports betting to be regulated, to be legalized, so there is better information being captured.”

In the NBA, the concern isn’t as much the old-school “we’ll pay Player X $10,000 to throw the game” type of operations because the handful of players each game who could actually influence a game that way make so much money the gamblers couldn’t give them enough and make it pencil out (that’s more of a college concern where NCAA players are unpaid).

However, a player with a gambling addiction that gets into deep debt could be another matter.

The NBA will have to go forward with these initiatives, regardless of how much — if any — money they get from states as a cut of gambling revenue. While all the professional leagues want their piece of the pie, the casinos and online betting industry aren’t going to just give that money away. Also, the states are going to want their cut. There are a lot of hands out with this newfound revenue source.

It’s all about the money and it’s something to watch unfold in the next few years.

 

 

 

Kyrie Irving: I apologized to LeBron James

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Celtics star Kyrie Irving slammed his younger teammates for not understanding how to win a championship.

Which ironically made Irving sound a lot like LeBron James talking about Irving early in their time together with the Cavaliers.

Irving sometimes disliked LeBron’s leadership back then. Similarly, Irving’s comments didn’t go over well in Boston, especially with Jaylen Brown.

But apparently Irving realized how he fit both sides of the situation and addressed it, including with LeBron himself.

Jay King of The Athletic:

Irving, via NBC Sports Boston:

I’ll tell you one thing, and obviously this is something that it was a big deal for me because I had to call Bron and tell him, “I apologize for being that young player that wanted to everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything to be at my threshold. I wanted to be the guy that led us to championships. I wanted to be the leader. I wanted to be all that.”

And the responsibility of being the best player in the world and leading a team is something that’s not meant for many people. And Bron was one of those guys that came to Cleveland and tried to really show us what it’s like to win a championship. And it was hard for him. And sometimes getting the most out of the group, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.

And like I said, only few are meant for it or chosen for it. And I felt like the best person to call was him, because he’s been in this situation.

He’s been there with me, where I’ve been the young guy of being the 22-year-old kid and wanting everything. Wanting everything right now. Coming off an All-Star year starting then this heck of a presence comes back, and now I got to adjust my game to this guy. And you take it personal, but at the end of the day, he just wants what’s best. He has a legacy he wants to leave, and he has a window he wants to capture.

So, I think what that brought me back to was, alright, how do I get the best out of this group, of the success they had last year, and then helping them realize what it takes to win a championship.

It takes a real man to go back and call somebody and be like, “Hey, man, I was young. I made some mistakes. I wasn’t really seeing the big picture like you were. I didn’t have the end of the season in mind. I just wanted to get my stats and make All-Star games. In his career, it means like this much [holds fingers close together] at that point.

So, it was just good. It gave me peace of mind, too, to go about what I’ve got to go do.

Kudos to Irving for his self-realization. Few people recognize their hypocrisy.

And kudos to Irving for immediately making amends – both toward his younger teammates and LeBron.

Learning how to win at the highest levels is extremely hard. Irving did it.

Teaching someone else how to win at the highest levels might be even more difficult. Irving isn’t there yet.

To his credit, Irving took a lot of grief while playing with LeBron and worked through it. LeBron’s leadership style isn’t for everyone. LeBron gets away with insensitive criticism of his own teammates and coaches, because he’s such a great player, and it’s generally believed he knows best, anyway.

As excellent as he is, Irving doesn’t have that same cachet as a leader. He can’t just follow the LeBron model.

Irving also might not have young teammates as willing to persevere through the negatives of following a LeBron-like leader and internalize the lessons as Irving was.

That said, even Irving tired of it, as he requested a trade from Cleveland.

I wonder whether Irving regrets that now. If he understood LeBron’s burden with young teammates sooner, would Irving have stayed with the Cavs?

Maybe Irving just wanted the leadership role himself, regardless. He has it now in Boston.

Now, he must find a leadership style that works after identifying one that doesn’t.