The Cavaliers announced last week LeBron James would miss two weeks, a timetable that would have him return for their game against the Lakers on Jan. 15.
That’s the fourth game of a five-game Western Conference road trip. According to the original plan, LeBron would miss games at the Warriors, Kings and Suns and play against the Lakers and Clippers.
Good news for Cleveland: LeBron says he’s still on that track.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Ethan J. Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Cavaliers just let LeBron stay home and rest during that entire trip and brought him back once they returned to Cleveland for a Jan. 19 game against the Bulls. But if he’s travelling with the team, there’s no reason he can’t return in the middle of the trip.
LeBron’s explanation is also encouraging for the Cavs. If he has been slowed by injury all season, that would explain his underwhelming (by his standards) production so far. And if he could play if necessary, that means his injuries aren’t too serious. It’s the best of both worlds.
I also suspect LeBron realizes this and offered the explanation that would restore the most faith in him. Whether that’s the most accurate explanation is another question, though it certainly could be.
The real test will come when he returns, and sounds as if that will still happen next week.
In the wake of Tyler Herro looking like the best offensive player Miami has seen since some guy decided to go back home to Cleveland, the question becomes what players have helped themselves the most in the bubble, and in the playoffs in particular?
Not coincidentally, Miami and Denver have a lot of those players, with the Nuggets Jamal Murray probably topping the list.
Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into that, talk some Boston/Miami series, and also talk about the recent coaching carousel including Billy Donovan to Chicago and the fact no team has hired a Black coach this offseason.
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.
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The Timberwolves, like the other seven teams not invited to the NBA’s restart at Disney World, are holding workouts.
Not in Minnesota: Forward Juancho Hernangomez.
Chris Hine of the StarTribune:
A team spokesperson said Hernangomez is filming Adam Sandler’s latest project in Philadelphia.
Netflix is producing the film, called “Hustle.”
And people thought LeBron James – also a producer of “Hustle,” which is about a basketball scout who finds talent oversees – prioritized Hollywood over hoops.
A Spain native, Hernangomez will be a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves can make him restricted.
But how could anyone want a player who doesn’t respect the sanctity of voluntary workouts occurring several months before next season (besides his 3-point shooting, rebounding and defensive versatility)?
A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible.
But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram:
Hield previously laid the groundwork for an offseason trade request. He seemed unhappy at times in Sacramento this season, losing his starting job and even riding the bench when the Kings needed a 3-pointer.
The 76ers could use more shooting – especially if they hire Mike D’Antoni. Hield would definitely add value. A lineup where Hield and Josh Richardson defend guards and Ben Simmons plays point guard offensively and defends a frontcourt player is intriguing.
Hield is set to earn $24,931,817 next season in the first year of a four-year extension. That’s in the range of Tobias Harris ($34,358,850) and Al Horford ($27,500,000).
However, Horford’s trade value is at rock bottom. Tobias Harris would add only so much value to Sacramento, which already has Harrison Barnes.
Kings fans can hope for Ben Simmons ($28,750,000) or Joel Embiid ($29,542,010). But those stars are FAR more valuable than Hield. Besides, the 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Simmons or Embiid (though it’s unclear who exactly is running the show in Philadelphia).
Regardless of whether the Kings and 76ers could connect on a trade, Hield making these public gestures is an issue in Sacramento. It’s on new Kings general manager Monte McNair to manage this. After years of supporting Daryl Morey with the Rockets, this is a new challenge – being in charge while a player makes waves – for McNair.
Relatedly, McNair must also handle Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s impending restricted free agency. These look like warning shots from Hield as Sacramento determines its priorities at shooting guard.
Philadelphia 76ers ownership (led by Josh Harris) reportedly has been very hands-on in picking the team’s new coach — even if that means a new direction for the roster. That hands-on style reportedly why ownership likes Elton Brand as GM and may balk at bringing in a big-name president of basketball operations — that person would want total control of basketball decisions. Right now, ownership is pulling a lot of those levers.
And ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach in Philadelphia, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Sources have been saying since last week that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.
The problem is that Brand is supposed to have a huge input on the hire. The ownership is only supposed to approve or deny Brand’s suggestion. Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing. In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.
With Billy Donovan taking over in Chicago, the list of top candidates for the Philadelphia job seems down to two: Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni. Lue would be the conventional choice, a guy who would try to make it work with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Lue the idea would be making better use of the roster and style the 76ers have already built.
D’Antoni would be a radical change of direction — he is coming from a team that just started 6’7″ Robert Covington at center. The current 76ers roster would need changes to fit with D’Antoni’s freewheeling ways, and even then the coach would need to adapt what he wants to do. (No contract is untradeable, but moving the four-years, $147.2 million left on Harris’ deal, or the three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract, would require Philly to throw in a lot of sweeteners.)
D’Antoni would mean another change of direction in Philly, but that seems to be what ownership wants.