LeBron James unveils latest signature shoe from Nike: The LEBRON 12

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Nike Basketball hosted media from around the globe at its World Headquarters earlier this week to launch the latest signature shoe for LeBron James, the LEBRON 12.

In what was a complete redesign from the previous iteration, the shoe feature an all-new upper and an innovative cushioning system designed to make the footwear for the game’s best player a little bit lighter, and a lot more responsive than ever before.

There are five separate hexagonally-shaped Nike Zoom Air bags in the sole of the shoe instead of just one, which is the breakthrough element of the sneaker that will most affect its on-court performance. Taryn Hensley, Director of Cushioning Innovation, explained what makes it so special.

“Zoom Air is one of Nike’s key cushioning systems,” she said. “Instead of using the traditional foam, it uses a unique combination of pressurized air and fibers. There are thousands of fibers in each airbag. The fibers are under high tension and this gives them their unique performance characteristics. The fibers give excellent cushioning upon impact, which is followed by a quick snap-back when the foot comes off the ground.”

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Information from the Nike Sports Research Lab (NSRL) provided the inspiration for creating the multi-faceted cushioning design, which is based on a mapping of the foot, and is individually tuned for peak performance.

“When you look at a pressure map of a foot, you see the different parts of the foot experience different pressure during impact,” Hensley said. “We wanted a design tuned to reality, so each air bag is designed and engineered differently to tune the overall performance of explosive precision. We used different sizes, heights and placement to create the ideal tuning.”

The difference is one you can feel immediately when first trying on the shoe, and is even more prominent in the Zoom Hypercross Trainer that we wear-tested along with the LEBRON 12. In both of them, you feel the responsiveness right away, and notice instantly how the air bags pass you off from one to the next based on where the pressure is being applied.

Trevor Edwards, President of Nike Brand, explained that the collaboration with an athlete of LeBron’s caliber is what pushes the company to continue to innovate, and take its products to new heights.

“Let me be very clear,” he said. “LeBron pushes us as hard as he pushes himself. And that’s a good thing. Because like all the greats, he’s always adding new facets to his game. And we have to make sure, as a company and as a brand, that we keep pace with him. So I’m proud to say, that’s exactly what we’ve done with the LeBron 12. It’s a shoe defined by extreme precision, as well as explosive performance. And it has everything that LeBron needs in a basketball shoe — and nothing more. In a word, it’s the best.”

What matters most, of course, is the opinion of James himself. And he seemed extremely pleased with the final result.

“We continue to push the envelope, continue to add new innovative technology to the shoe,” LeBron said. “There are so many things that this shoe has that are personal to me, and then also being able to match up with the NSRL. Bringing it to the lab, then bringing [things] to the shoe that make it more durable, more comfortable for me. Last longer. Maybe [allow me to] be more explosive, maybe jump higher if that’s possible — if that’s possible!”

‘We don’t know,” he said with a smile.”We will see. We will see.”

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There were seven initial colorways of the LEBRON 12 revealed at the event, each one inspired by a different part of LeBron’s game. You can get a good look at them all in the video clip above, and listed below are the stories behind each, along with confirmed release dates.

NSRL (Turquoise) – James wasn’t made in a lab, but he is made better by Nike’s research, testing and analysis. The LEBRON 12 lead colorway reflects the process of turning data into design to create superior performance footwear. Launch: Oct. 1 in China; Oct. 11 globally.

Heart of a Lion (Red and white) – James has demonstrated the courageous heart of a lion while being tested both physically and mentally over his 11-year professional career. Launch: Oct. 30.

Dunk Force (Grey and green) – Inspired by the power of James’s statement tomahawk dunk and equated to the speed and force of a helicopter rotor blade. Launch: Nov. 11.

Instinct (Purple and orange) – James’s keen 20/20 eyesight combined with his uncommon speed and agility translates to pinpoint, instinctual decisions, much like the way a hummingbird sees and navigates. Launch: Nov. 22.

Six Meridians (Orange and volt yellow) – A key component of James’s training recovery and preparation is massage therapy. The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology releases energy to different points of the body, or meridians, when massaging pressure points in the feet and hands. Launch: Nov. 29.

Trillion Dollar Man (Silver, dark teal, dark orange) – Are we looking at the athlete of the future today in LeBron James? Inspired by James’s legendary work ethic and physical gifts combined with Nike’s finest performance technology. Launch: Dec. 1.

Data (Black with orange swoosh)  – James is arguably the most dominant player in the game today, with the statistics to support that claim. Launch: Dec. 20.

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Check out the gallery below for additional photos from the LEBRON 12 launch. The shoe will be available in both adult and young athlete sizes globally on Nike.com and at select retail locations, at a suggested retail price of $200.

Cavaliers reportedly extend Dean Wade for three years, $18.5 million

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This could be a steal for the Cavaliers — Dean Wade could be the starting three for the Cavaliers by the end of this season and he’s got a genuine upside.

The Cavaliers have extended Wade for three years, $18.5 million, a story where multiple sources were on top of it, including Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Wade’s counting stats aren’t eye-popping — 5.3 points a game and shooting 35.7% from 3 — but he is a quality wing defender who has improved as a floor spacer (sometimes setting picks and popping out). He’s a two-way player who has put in the work and could pass Isaac Okoro on the depth chart this season.

The Cavaliers have four All-Stars who will undoubtedly be starting for them — Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley up front — and the looming question is at the three. Wade has a chance this season to step into that role.

Which makes extending him at a little over $6 million a season a potential steal for the Cavaliers.

 

Warriors GM Myers reiterates he would like to extend Green, Poole, Wiggins

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Andrew Wiggins is entering the final year of his contract and the Warriors want to extend him. Jordan Poole is up for a contract extension and if it isn’t worked out by the start of the season he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. Draymond Green is eligible — and wants — a four years, $138.4 million extension (the max they can give him).

Bob Myers said again this week that he wants to keep all three of those players — all critical parts of the Warriors run to a title last season — but financial reality could intrude upon that dream. Here’s what Myers said Thursday, via Kendra Andrews of ESPN:

“We want all of those guys,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said at a news conference Thursday. “Can we get all of them? I don’t know.

“It depends on what the money ends up being. What the ask is what we can end up doing. We’re not at a point to make those decisions yet. Some of these decisions may be made in the next two weeks, some might be made in the next seven, eight months.”

The Warriors turned heads around the league paying more than $350 million in player salaries and luxury tax last season — and this season they will be in the same ballpark. Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has said even with the cash cow that is the new Chase Center, this is not a team that can spend $400 million. Some expenses are locked in, such as Stephen Curry and his $215.4 max contract extension. Klay Thompson is at the max for a couple of more years.

Poole is part of the future in Golden State — along with Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and maybe Jonathan Wiseman — and they can’t let him go. Wiggins was the Warriors’ second-best player in the postseason last year. That has led to some speculation Green could be the odd man out — something Myers has denied. Green will make $25.8 million this season but is  expected to opt out of the $27.6 million player option he has next season. It leaves the Warriors and Green with a choice.

Something’s got to give, but the Myers and the Warriors seem ready to kick that financial can down the road until next summer, and for this season get the band back together and chase another ring.

Poole would be the first up (there is an Oct. 17 deadline to extend him). Whatever happens, this will be an undercurrent of a story all season long in the Bay Area.

C.J. McCollum inks two-year, $64 million extension with Pelicans

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After helping New Orleans return to the playoffs for the first time since Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers, C.J. McCollum earned a two-year, $64 million extension with the Pelicans. He will remain under contract with the team through the 2025-26 season, and there isn’t a player or team option in the deal. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news Saturday afternoon.

New Orleans traded Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 protected first-round pick (turns into 2025 first-round pick that is top-4 protected), and two future second-round picks for McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., and Tony Snell.

New Orleans now has their core of McCollum, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram under contract for the next three seasons.

The expectations will be high for the Pelicans for the next few years. After starting last season 1-12, first-year head coach Willie Green helped turn the team around, and they finished 36-46 before beating the Spurs and Clippers in the play-in tournament. Their season ended after losing to the Suns 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs.

McCollum averaged 24.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.7 triples per game after the trade to New Orleans.

The return of Zion this season, along with the success of last year’s team, has the team expecting a return to the playoffs. Locking up their star guard in McCollum emphasizes that their rebuild is over. After missing the playoffs during their first three seasons in the post-AD era, they don’t expect to return to the lottery for a long time. The big question surrounding their potential success will be Zion’s health.

Reports: Suns push for Jarred Vanderbilt derailed Bojan Bogdanovic trade

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Utah traded Bojan Bogdanovic not to one of the contenders pushing for him — Phoenix, Miami, even the Lakers — but to rebuilding Detroit. It’s a move that caught the NBA off guard.

News has come out now that part of what hung up the Suns’ effort to land Bogdanovic was their push to make promising young forward Jarred Vanderbilt — who the Jazz got from the Timberwolves in the Rudy Gobert trade — as part of the deal. The well-connected John Gambardoro first had the report.

If the Suns had not pushed for Vanderbilt it doesn’t mean they would have landed Bogdanovic using a Jae Crowder-based package ( with another player, maybe Landry Shamet, and some picks). Reports have also suggested the draft package that was part of the Suns offer was not impressing the Jazz, so Utah moved on to a cost-cutting move rather than one where they took back more salary than they preferred.

The Pistons may decide to trade Bogdanovic again closer to the February deadline and maybe the Suns can get in the mix then. But for now, the Phoenix target is in the Motor City to start the season.