Twists and turns as police investigate LeBron James pendant case

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LeBron_stares.jpgUPDATE 7/17 10:34 am: So maybe our innocent heroine is not so innocent.

Vaneisha Robinson, the woman who said she bought the pendant at a garage sale four years ago, is now a suspect in the case for receiving stolen property. Her story always had one big question mark: Someone really sold a $10,000 pendant at a garage sale for $5? Let’s assume for a second that someone did steal this, they would have some idea it was valuable, right? They wouldn’t just pawn it off for $5.

This does not excuse the awkward handling of the situation by Carter and his mother. But it sounds like nobody is really innocent in this case.

7/16 9:25 am: Maverick Carter is LeBron James right hand man. He helped convince LeBron that “The Decision” was a good marketing idea. He’s LeBron’s close friend, the CEO of LeBron’s marketing company, LRMR.

He’s in the middle of a police investigation for harassing a woman over the sale of a pendant. He’s on quite the roll of good decisions.

Four years ago, Vaneisha Robinson bought a pendant for $5 at a garage sale in the Cleveland area. The pendant shaped like a LeBron James jersey and encrusted with jewels saying “King 23” on it, according to WEWS news out of Cleveland. Because she paid $5 she assumed it was costume jewelry.

Until she had it appraised recently and found out the diamonds and other jewels were real, and it was worth about $10,000. So she put it up for sale on eBay, and WEWS did a cute little story on it.

Wednesday, Robinson got a call from Katherine L. Powers, Maverick Carter’s mother.

“[Powers] said that LeBron James was at her house and they wanted me to come over there. They were going to make me an offer that I couldn’t refuse,” Robinson said.

It turned out the one-of-a-kind pendant belongs to Carter, who claims it was stolen. Robinson said she and her mother went to the Wadsworth house Carter shares with his mother, believing James was going to buy the pendant and give it back to Carter.

“When I got there, LeBron James was not there. It was about eight or nine other people there,” Robinson said. “They pretty much accused me, they threatened me and they used their authority to they (sic) best ability to get the pendant in their possession…

“They blocked (Robinson’s mother’s) truck in the driveway. They told us that we weren’t going anywhere until they got that pendant. I was scared for my life,” she said

Police were called out, and when they got there everyone was gone and Powers had the pendant.

Robinson is now taking the whole thing to court and the police are investigating.

Have fun with the circus, Miami.

76ers coach Brett Brown says he doesn’t expect rookie Zhaire Smith to play in NBA this season

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Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons.

Zhaire Smith?

A few recent 76ers first-round picks missed their entire first professional season due to injury. Smith, the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft could join them.

Smith has missed the entire season so far with a broken foot then allergic reaction. He just returned to practicing with the 76ers, but maybe not in time to play for them this season.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

If the 76ers clinch their playoff seed before the regular season ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith plays for them. But meaningful minutes seem unlikely.

Philadelphia is trying to win now, and a rookie who entered the NBA relatively raw then missed so much time is unlikely to help.

That said, backup wings James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons aren’t exactly reliable options. If everything breaks right for Smith – essentially the opposite of his season to date – maybe, just maybe, he plays for the 76ers this season.

Warriors vs. Bucks or Raptors betting favorite to be NBA Finals matchup

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Who will we see in the NBA Finals come June?

The West looks cut and dried — if the Warriors are healthy, it’s hard to imagine any other team in that conference giving them too much trouble.

The East? That’s wide open. A good case can be made for Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee finding their way in. (For a more detailed breakdown, listen to the latest PBT Podcast where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and myself break down the East in more detail.)

The bookmakers over at BetOnline put together these odds on potential Finals matchups, and after the first four options the odds get pretty long.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Indiana Pacers vs Golden State Warriors 28/1
Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors 33/1
Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Charlotte Hornets vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1

A few quick thoughts on that list:

• Interesting that the Sixers and Celtics are just a little behind the Bucks and Raptors in the minds of the bookmakers.

• I don’t know that I’d have Houston in front of Oklahoma City as the second-best option in the West. Not this season. The Thunder have the defense and star power to do playoff damage.

• If you’re thinking about putting money on Washington or Orlando to make the Finals — against anyone — just donate that money to charity instead. That way it will do some good.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

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Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.