LeBron James: “You don’t let me have 40. I go and get 40.”

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OAKLAND — LeBron James has always been a master of controlling the narrative. When you’re the most powerful person in the sport of basketball, any little public action will immediately change the conversation. That’s exactly what he did on Friday.

Thursday night, James missed a stepback jumper at the end of regulation of Game 1 of the Finals, which would have given the Cavs a road victory over the Warriors, and it’s still eating away at him. At the beginning of Cavs practice on Tuesday, he took an unusual step: before his media availability, he walked out onto the Oracle Arena floor and worked up a legitimate sweat, practicing the exact shot he missed to force an overtime. The missed shot and missed opportunity were clearly still eating away at him a day later.

“It’s not a great feeling, for sure,” James said. “I didn’t get much sleep last night.  You just play  your mind just plays with you so much throughout the course of the night.  Different plays, different scenarios, different points of the game where you could have made a play here, could have made a play there to help your team win. So the mind never lets you at ease.  So it’s always a tough 24 or 48 or whatever case, how many hours it is.  But at some point you get to the film room, which I’ve already started, and you start to prepare yourself mentally on what needs to be done going into Game 2.”

James couldn’t have done much more than he did in Game 1. He scored 44 points, a Finals career high. But that’s exactly what the Warriors wanted — if he scores that much and his teammates can’t get going, this banged-up Cavs roster is much more solvable than it is when he’s in distributor mode.

“You definitely take the 44 with not as many assists,” Golden State forward Harrison Barnes said on Friday. “As opposed to him getting 25 and 10 assists, and then J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Dellavedova, those guys having big games. So we’re forcing him to be a scorer. You kind of let him do that and try to limit everybody else.”

James took exception to the notion that any team was letting him score as a primary defensive option.

“First of all, you don’t let me have 40,” he said defiantly. “I go get 40.  It’s not like they’re just getting out of the way.  So those guys aren’t saying we’re okay with letting him have 40.  You don’t let me have 40; I’m making those shots.”

There are different kinds of LeBron James 40-point games, something the Warriors understand well. Sometimes he’s such a force of nature that the defense is helpless to contain him. Other times, he gets his points but has to take difficult shots. That’s what the Warriors forced him to do, and that’s why they were able to overcome the will of the greatest player in the world.

“There were some times when he played the defense perfectly,” Barnes said. “Got into the paint, the help was there, we contested a shot, and he makes a difficult shot. You have to live with those. And then there are other times when, OK, you got beat under a screen and he was too wide open and you let him get into his rhythm. You have to know the difference between, ‘he made a tough shot’ and ‘we could have made that shot tougher for him.'”

That’s how the Warriors are going to continue to play James, and he’s going to have to make them pay, especially with the news that Kyrie Irving is out for several months with a knee fracture. That’s why he was working on the exact shot he missed at the end on Thursday.

“When you take a shot and you miss you have so many different thoughts in your mind saying okay, I should have done this or I should have done that,” James said. “When you take a shot and you make it, there is really nothing else to think about.  But for me I got to a spot where I’m comfortable making the shot. Stepback going left, that’s a shot that I’m very capable of making obviously in rhythm, which I was.  It just didn’t go down for me.”

For the Cavs to not get swept, it will have to.

Michele Roberts says fans should not have expected “supermax” to keep players around

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When it came into existence in the latest CBA, it was nicknamed the “Kevin Durant rule.”

Officially called the “designated veteran extension, the idea was to give teams leverage to keep their best home-grown players. To qualify, a player had to be in his 8th-10th NBA season (the end of the first extension of his rookie contract), still with the team that drafted him (or he was traded during his rookie contract), plus the player needs to have made been named MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, or have made the All-NBA team in the most recent season or two previous ones. If a player meets the criteria, they could get a “supermax” extension that gave them 35 percent of the salary cap to stay, plus a fifth year, rather than the 30 percent of the cap and four years that other teams can offer.

Except guys are not sticking around for that extra cash.

Anthony Davis is the latest in a line of guys who forced their way out (Paul George) or were traded (DeMarcus Cousins) rather than use that extension.

Players’ union Executive Director Michelle Roberts told Tim Bontemps of ESPN the supermax is working as intended, the problem is people thought it would be a panacea that would keep players in the same city for most of their careers.

“I mean, the players that are eligible, frankly, are players that are going to get paid, and they’re going to have any number of alternatives,” Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, told ESPN. “It hasn’t hurt them. It was something that they were able to secure and they were interested in getting it, and it was going to be a tremendous advantage in terms of just the amount of money.

“But I still don’t see a downside. The only downside is to the extent that people absolutely believed that it was a slam dunk way to keep their guys. And it just isn’t. And if they doubted it, they can now take a look at Anthony [Davis] and see, ‘Oh, wow, there is no way.'”

Expect the process to be tweaked in the next round of negotiations. The league is always looking for a way to give small and medium market teams a leg up in keeping stars.

Of course, put the right team around those stars (ala Milwaukee) and it’s not much of a problem.

NBA cancels 2019 Global Camp, showcase for international prospects

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Right as the NBA Finals are tipping off here in North America, there was going to be a collection of potential NBA players — plus scouts and members of team front offices — gathering in Monaco for a showcase of their own. The NBA 2019 Global Showcase is a chance for draft-eligible international prospects to impress teams and see if they can find their way into the second round, or higher. Think of it as an NBA Combine for international prospects.

Except the event has been canceled. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has been all over the story.

“We have canceled the NBA Global Camp 2019 due to logistical issues and other contributing factors that jeopardized our ability to successfully conduct the camp,” NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said in a statement to ESPN. “The camp will return in the future.”…

Sources say that confusion over which venues actually were booked by the organizers are among the key reasons for the last-minute cancellation. AS Monaco Basket, a professional team that competes in the French first division, said it was not consulted about the availability of its arena, which was slated to host the Global Camp.

AS Monaco is favorited to still be playing in the French league playoffs at that time, and if so their building would not be available for the camp.

There are 59 international players currently eligible for the draft, many of them would have been working out and showcasing their skills at this event.

For years, Adidas hosted the EuroCamp in Italy at this time, and it served as sort of a combine for these international prospects. However, the event evolved and last year the NBA took it over to make it more like what the American players go through. The NBA hosted the event in Italy last year, but was moving it to Monaco this year.

Next year, the event will back on… somewhere in Europe.

Watch Klay Thompson scoff upon learning he missed All-NBA, super-max eligibility (video)

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James Harden, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and Kemba Walker were All-NBA guards this season.

Not included: Klay Thompson.

That’s a costly missed opportunity for Thompson, who also finished behind Bradley Beal in voting. Thompson’s max contract in free agency this summer projects to be worth $190 million over five years. If he made All-NBA, it would have been a projected $221 million over five years.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Thompson:

That’s cool and all, but when you go to five straight Finals – I respect those guys. But, holy, when you go to five straight, it takes more than just a couple All-NBA guys.

But whatever. I’d rather win a championship than be third-team All-NBA. So, it’s all good.

Do I think there’s that many guards better than me in the league? No.

To me, the All-NBA teams should honor the players who had the best regular season that year. It’s not about who the best players are. It’s not about who advanced furthest in prior years. It’s about who performed the best during that regular season. (Obviously, better players are more likely perform better.)

That wasn’t Thompson, and I didn’t think he was particularly close.

Maybe Thompson conserved energy for the playoffs. That would have been the right approach. The Warriors are good enough to bank on reaching the postseason, and the organization should emphasize this time of year.

But a side effect is being less deserving of regular-season awards.

That’s why super-max contracts probably shouldn’t be tied to All-NBA. A player’s value to his team stems so much from the playoffs, and these awards are voted upon immediately after the regular season.

For the most part, it will work out fine. But Thompson is the exact type of player to get slighted. I wouldn’t blame him for resenting the system.

He’s focused on a different question – who are the best guards, especially in the playoffs? – than most All-NBA voters were answering. Incidentally, Thompson’s question is much more similar to one teams ask themselves when determining players’ salaries. Unfortunately for Thompson, the All-NBA voters’ considerations will matter much more in how much he gets paid.

Warriors: Kevin Durant likely to miss start of NBA Finals

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The Warriors have a historically long nine-day layoff before the NBA Finals.

It probably won’t be long enough for Kevin Durant.

Warriors release:

Warriors forward Kevin Durant (strained right calf) and center DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quadriceps muscle) were evaluated by the team’s medical staff earlier today.

Durant, who has not yet been cleared to begin on-court activities, continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation. At this point, it is unlikely that he will play at the beginning of the 2019 NBA Finals, but it’s hopeful that he could return at some point during the series.

Cousins also continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation and practiced with the team today for the first time since suffering the injury on April 16. It’s anticipated that he will play at some point during the 2019 NBA Finals, but the exact date is to be determined and depends on his progress.

The status for both players will be updated next Wednesday.

The Warriors are better with Durant. They’re also really darned good without him.

Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala still make Golden State extremely talented. Those players fit well together.

The competition will get harder against the Bucks or Raptors, but the Warriors can still prevail without Durant.

Of course, as soon as he’s healthy, Golden State will welcome him back with open arms. Whatever complications he brings, his ability justifies dealing with them

DeMarcus Cousins is trickier. He’s been out longer and not the same level of player. He could help in small doses, but it’s harder to find a place for him in the rotation, even if he’s healthy enough to play.