LeBron James, Heat joking about cramps at this point, but happy for extra day off

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SAN ANTONIO — Having spent a couple of days seemingly only getting asked about leg cramps and how to recover from them, LeBron James and the Miami Heat were pretty much just joking around about it Friday.

Such when LeBron was asked how he could test out his body and recovery before Game 2.

“The conditions are nowhere near extreme as they was, unless I decide to run from here to the hotel, that’s the only way I would be able to test my body out,” he said with a laugh.

“We anticipate we will play in a very cool gym,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We will have to deal with that now. I don’t know if guys will be wearing tights under their shorts and long-sleeved shirts, I don’t know.”

LeBron cramping up and missing almost all of the final seven minutes of Game 1 — and the Heat falling apart in that time, losing to the Spurs 110-95 — has been the story line for a couple days. LeBron did go through some practice with the Heat on Saturday

“The soreness is starting to get out,” LeBron said. “I’m feeling better than I did yesterday and with another day, I should feel much better tomorrow…

“(My plans are) A lot of treatment, icing, stretching, obviously I’m going to get some cardio in today, get the heart rate going. A lot of fluids, kind of get my body above the curve.”

How Hard was Spoelstra going to push him in practice?

“Whatever he’s willing to do. It’s not going to be a Bahamas-like training camp practice today…” Spoelstra said, referencing the Heat’s training camp this season in the Bahamas. “Yesterday was all about rest and hydration and building his body back up. Thankfully we had that extra day.”

What the Heat were really focusing on is taking the steps to even this series — the last 12 times they have lost a playoff game they have bounced back with a win. They have yet to lose a playoff series in the “big three era” after losing Game 1 of a series.

“We need to do what we do better and harder,” Spoelstra said trying to talk around adjustments. “They make it tough with their passing and, you know, getting into the paint with their rolls and spreading you out with three-point shooters. So we need to do that better, there is no question about it.”

Chris Bosh put it this way.

“Coach didn’t want to get too much into it, but mainly on defense and on offense the way they flattened us out, things we could have done better, make simpler passes, simple cuts that would have opened up the floor a little bit for us, and we could have gotten into our game,” Bosh said. “Especially those last three and a half minutes, we could have done a much better job. We look at those and try to capitalize and fix those mistakes for Game 2.”

They had an extra day to think about all of that. And rest.

PBT Podcast: Talking “Top 50 players in five years”, players 26-50

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Starting this week, NBCSports.com’s NBA team is rolling out it’s “50 best players in five years” project, trying to project what the NBA will look like in five years, the summer of 2024. Who will be the game’s best players? The All-Stars, the guys on the cover of 2K24, the guys with signature shoe deals?

In this podcast, Rob Dauster from NBCSports.com’s college basketball page joins me to talk about players 26-50 on our list, which includes up-and-coming high school players such as James Wiseman and Emoni Bates. The back half of the list also includes a lot of current stars who will fade in five years — Klay Thompson, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and more — but the question is how much do those stars fall off? It’s a fun discussion about the NBA’s best and how they will fit into an evolving league.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Kawhi Leonard to give away 1 million backpacks to kids in Southern California

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Kawhi Leonard is back in his home area of Southern California, and now that he’s a member of the Los Angeles Clippers he’s decided to get into the swing of charitable giving.

Leonard recently decided to team up with the Clippers organization to give out one million backpacks to children in need as a way to relieve some of the pressure from low-income families as students head back to school in the fall.

The Clippers and the NBA star worked with Baby2Baby, an organization that provides for low-income children from ages 0 to 12 for basic necessities. This week, Leonard started giving away backpacks to the Moreno Valley Unified, Los Angeles Unified, Inglewood Unified school districts. Leonard went to school in the Moreno Valley system as a kid.

Via the OC Register and Twitter:

“Going to the NBA, this is what I wanted to do; I wanted to give back to my community,” said Leonard, who started his day in Moreno Valley, where he brought backpacks to Cloverdale Elementary, his old school. “That’s why I’m so happy to be back home.”

“With the Clippers, just want you to know we got you guys’ back, as long as you work hard and have a goal set,” said Leonard, who Tuesday was working to fulfill one of his own.

“That’s a goal of mine for this year, being great on and off the court,” he said. “And I felt like this was a great way to start.”

This is an extremely cool and directly effective way to give back to the community. Helping disadvantaged kids in need directly has a ripple effect on their lives, and anything players like Leonard can do to help is a huge win for the children in these districts.

Clippers reportedly add Tyronn Lue to coaching staff

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Tyronn Lue will be coaching in Los Angeles this upcoming season, but it won’t be for the Lakers.

News broke on Tuesday that Lue had accepted a job on Doc Rivers’ staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. Lue is yet another big-name addition to a squad that already added players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this offseason.

Lue was a championship-winning coach with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and he has an innate understanding about how to deal with star players in the NBA.

Via Twitter:

It’s also important to understand what kind of culture Rivers, Steve Ballmer, and the rest of the Clippers front office is trying to build in Los Angeles. In addition to their proposed new stadium in Inglewood, the Clippers are trying to take over L.A. one big-name at a time. That includes everyone from players to coaches, even ones who won championships as the head honcho.

There’s no doubt that Los Angeles is striving for the Finals this season, and adding a guy like Lue to the bench is yet another reiteration of that fact.

Rumor: Stephen A. Smith is coming to ESPN’s NBA broadcasts

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National NBA broadcasts are about to get a little bit different this upcoming season.

We already got word that Michelle Beadle would not be on NBA Countdown on ESPN for the 2019-20 NBA calendar year. In her place will be Rachel Nichols, a favorite of most thanks to her work on The Jump, and Maria Taylor. And apparently ESPN’s studio show is about to get an analyst boost as well.

According to the big lead, Stephen A. Smith will be added to the analyst panel for ESPN studio show, likely on Wednesday nights. The bombastic First Take host will give his NBA takes either to the delight or dismay of fans nationwide.

Via The Big Lead:

Stephen A. Smith is in ESPN’s plans for NBA studio coverage this upcoming season, The Big Lead has learned from multiple people with knowledge of the situation. An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on the news.

Our sources indicate that Wednesday night is the most likely time for him to be involved, but cautioned that plans are not yet set in stone.

People lost their collective minds on Twitter this summer when it was announced that ESPN had given another huge contract to Stephen A. to continue to do… whatever Stephen A. does. Namely, yell and act incredulous in a way so insincere it’s hard to believe anyone is entertained by it, much less could take it at face value.

No doubt Smith will fill the role, aesthetically, that Charles Barkley does for TNT. He’ll talk in big, wild soundbites that get Twitter all riled up, thereby allowing some VP at the network to pitch his superiors about “leverage” and “engagement” from Smith’s appearances.

Good luck to everyone watching the NBA on national TV this year. Maybe locate where the mute button is on your remote now so you know where it is come autumn.