Can the Bobcats afford to improve?

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Just a reminder, from Hoopsworld:

Chicago Bulls: Receives 2013 first-round pick (top-12 protected in 2013, top-10 in 2014, top-8 in 2015, unprotected in 2016) from the Charlotte Bobcats via the Tyrus Thomas trade on 2/18/10.

via Draft Pick Debt | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors.

The rare trade that was bad at the outset, worse a year later, worse two years later and continues to be worse.

Now, let’s be clear, there is no threat of the Bobcats improving to 13-plus this year. That thing could be top-three protected and Charlotte should feel safe. But top ten in 2014 could be a trick. If the Cats were to get an impact player in 2013 (in an admittedly weak draft from where we’re at right now), manage any good trade or player addition, with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist giving them anything, there’s not a lot of reasons to think the Cats are absolutely out. But losing that draft pick would set them back. They honestly need to be terrible until 2015. Not going to be a problem, I hear you joking. But even terrible teams go on bursts where they improve to mid-lottery for a year and then regress.

That trade continues to severely hurt the outlook of the team. They’ve got a lotto-protected-through 2014 pick from the Blazers, so that’s not going to cover them. They need to find a way to take on salary to get a draft pick, in all honesty. But that’s going to be problematic for the team and ownership. The Cats are in a bind for talent and improvement, and fan support. And worst of all, they have to pace their improvement so they don’t get buried in the long-term.

Physical therapist: LeBron James should have missed six months

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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The Lakers initially called LeBron James day-to-day with the groin injury he suffered on Christmas.

He missed more than five weeks.

Maybe he should have sat even longer.

Karen Joubert, via Complex Sports:

Maybe LeBron returned too soon. This injury allowed that, even if it put him at risk of reaggravation if not fully recovered.

Maybe LeBron just healed especially quickly. Even among world-class athletes, he is an elite athlete.

Maybe Joubert is exaggerating. People tend to do that with LeBron’s body.

There’s plenty of room for interpretation, but it sure looked like LeBron was still hobbled.

What does this mean for LeBron and the Lakers going forward?

The pessimistic spin: LeBron did lasting damage to his body by returning so soon. This (failed) attempt to get the Lakers into the playoffs this season will undermine him in the future.

The optimistic spin: LeBron has still been excellent these last few weeks. If he gets fully healthy during his longest offseason in 14 years, he should be even better next season.

Kyrie Irving on whether returning to Cleveland means something to him: ‘Not at all’

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Kyrie Irving spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers. He developed into a star with them. He won a title with them, even hitting the championship-winning shot.

With Irving’s Celtics playing in Cleveland tomorrow, Irving reflected on his time there.

Jared Weiss of The Athletic:

Irving is so clearly over the Cavs.

He was probably over the Cavs even while playing for them.

Lakers fan barely moves net while making halfcourt shot (video)

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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The Lakers have had a rough season.

Last night went pretty well, though – especially for one fan.

The Lakers beat the Kings, and this fan swished a halfcourt shot to win $45,000.

CJ Fogler:

The Lakers need more outside shooting. Maybe they could turn to some of their fans.

Giannis Antetokounmpo drives past/through all the Cavaliers for dunk (video)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is undeniable.

Watch this video. He’s the only Bucks player in sight on the court. All five Cavaliers appear. Antetokounmpo dunks anyway.

He dribbles past Jordan Clarkson then through David Nwaba and Tristan Thompson. Nik Stauskas and Brandon Knight are shading close enough to narrow his potential path. None of it matters.

Antetokounmpo scores inside unlike anyone anyone we’ve ever seen.