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Rumor: Is Kyrie Irving happy playing in Cleveland?

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The Cavaliers have dropped four of five, their defense has struggled since Tyronn Lue took over, and their offense still more often than not feels like stars playing next to each other rather than truly with each other. There has been some overreaction to all of this, we are still talking about the best team in the East, but we do know that LeBron James has been frustrated with all of it.

Is Kyrie Irving, too?

Here is what Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN’s First Take Monday (via Josh Hill at Fansided and Bleacher Report):

“Dating back to last year, I’ve been told that Kyrie Irving ain’t too happy being in Cleveland. The situation is not ideal for him. I don’t know the particulars, I haven’t spoken to him personally. It’s something that I’ve been hearing for months; that under ideal circumstances he would prefer to be someplace other than Cleveland.”

Expect the denials to come in 3…2….1….

Stephen A. Smith loves to/gets paid to stir the pot. That is what is going on here. The question is how much truth is in his statement (if any)?

Before LeBron arrived, there was a lot of buzz around the league that Irving wanted out of Cleveland, but that seemed to subside as the Cavs started winning and moved into the league’s spotlight. The chemistry between LeBron, Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the team has been a work in progress, and there has seemed to be tension this season as that chemistry has not improved as much as hoped. The Cavaliers are still elite, still the top team in the East and they likely make the Finals. But they are a clear step behind Golden State and likely San Antonio. They are not the team that those two squads are.

Part of it is Irving is not being the glue this franchise needs.

Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer described the frustration LeBron has had recently this way.

Kyrie Irving has to commit to sacrificing his scoring numbers to make his teammates better on a routine basis…. Irving is averaging 4.3 assists on the season and 3.6 assists in his last six games. Those numbers are unacceptable for a player who dominates the ball as much as he does. He’s too creative, too elusive and has too many weapons not to dish out seven or more on the regular….

Behind the scenes, James has been growing livid about being the sole proprietor of making sure guys are involved, and in a rhythm. He’s used to carrying such a workload, but on this team, he shouldn’t have to. From top to bottom, this is the deepest team James has been a member of. He needs help.

What LeBron had in Miami with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and the others was a veteran team where the stars were willing to make significant sacrifices to their personal numbers for the sake of wins (Bosh in particular). There was an organizational structure in place that demanded this, starting from Pat Riley on down.

LeBron has tried to bring that attitude to Cleveland, but has not been able to truly impart that wisdom yet. David Blatt wasn’t able to do it. Kyrie Irving is a score first point guard and that’s not changing. The Cavaliers are a contender because of their raw talent, but one playing with some bad habits that will bite them in the playoffs — if not by Toronto Eastern Conference Finals then by whoever comes out of the West.

Irving is in the first year of a five-year contract extension, and while a lot of teams would gladly trade to take on that deal there is no way the Cavaliers are moving him. Irving, LeBron, and Love are going to need to figure all this out on their own, with a little help from Lue.

Because Cleveland has title-or-bust goals this season. You know it’s all about bringing one to the ‘Land.

Rumor: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul stated intent to join Mavericks until Howard backed out

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.

Somewhat by choice.

Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.

Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.

Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.

This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?

Serge Ibaka says he nearly goaltended Kawhi Leonard’s iconic shot: ‘I would’ve retired’

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Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”

In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.

The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.

Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.

Chris Paul refutes report that Michele Roberts is no longer leading union

Michele Roberts, Chris Paul and Luol Deng
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Michele Roberts got a new four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association in 2018.

Yet, Peter Vecsey tweeted:

The NBPA responded with a statement on behalf of Chris Paul:

NBPA President Chris Paul’s response to the false information tweeted earlier this evening regarding NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts:

“Michele Roberts has been and continues to be our fearless leader. The Twitter post that is circulating suggesting Michele is no longer the NBPA Executive Director is untrue. A Search Firm has been hired to advise on union hiring and succession planning, which has not yet begun. In the meantime, the Executive Committee is proud to report that Michele remains the NBPA Executive Director, is very much “in power,” and continues to enjoy the support of our members!”

Roberts led the union through Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2016. She appears active in running the union now.

Controversially, Roberts rejected cap smoothing when the new national TV deals sent revenue soaring. That adversely affected many union members, though benefited others.

Roberts and Paul have also sometimes prioritized stars, to the dismay of the rank-and-file.

But the overall health of the union appears strong, and Roberts and Paul remain in charge.

‘Off the Dribble’ names All-Sneakerhead team (video)

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On the latest episode of “Off the Dribble,” Jacque Slade named his All-Sneakerhead team. Spoiler alert: The NBA’s shoe king – Rockets forward P.J. Tucker – made it.

Watch to see who else earned a spot.