At 7:16 p.m. yesterday, two things happened:
- The Cavaliers tipped off against the Wizards.
- The New York Daily News published a report by Frank Isola claiming LeBron James was pushing Cleveland to trade for Carmelo Anthony, even if it meant sending Kevin Love to the Knicks.
After Cleveland’s win, LeBron emphatically pushed back on the report:
It’s trash, and the guy who wrote it is trash too for writing that, especially during the game like that. It’s always about outside noise, and that’s just outside noise for us. We’ve got to focus on what needs to be done in order for us to continue to compete for a championship. We’ve got who we’ve got. Our GM will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now, we’re in a good place.
And so did Cavs coach Tyronn Lue:
Kevin should be happy that teams want him. But he’s not going anywhere.
How did Isola respond?
I spoke to people who spoke with LeBron afterwards, as actually he was walking to the bus. And his big thing was, he thought it was like — what would be the word that I’m looking for? — like out of line that the story came out when it did, just right before tip-off, as if somehow that was purposely planned by me as a way to kind of sabotage the Cleveland Cavaliers. Which isn’t the case. I don’t have anything to do with, A, when the story is released or, I don’t think anybody is thinking, “Yeah, this will affect the Cleveland Cavaliers.” And here’s the bottom line: If they had lost last night, to blame it on some story that came out about LeBron would be as absurd as me trying to take credit for them winning last night.
The question was “a story in the New York Post.” I work for the New York Daily News. So, now I’m going to give LeBron a little bit of an out, thinking that maybe he’s thinking of my buddy there, Marc Berman of the New York Post, and not me. Either way, he was obviously pretty upset last night.
I’ll tell you what: He didn’t exactly stand there and deny that, that’s what the story is.
The one thing people have to remember, when you write stories like this, you know what the reaction isn’t going to be. The reaction isn’t going to be from Tyronn Lue, “Actually, we are looking to move Kevin Love. And right now, we actually are talking to LeBron.” And LeBron is not going to say after the game, “Of course. Where have you have guys been. Of course I’m trying to tell management. Carmelo is my buddy. Absolutely, I want them.”
Everyone is going to deny, deny, deny. And guess what? They should do that. The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t owe me anything. So, they’re not going to protect me in any way. They should be protecting Kevin Love — and they’re obviously going to protect LeBron James at all costs. I knew what the reaction was going to be from them.
When these kind of stories come out — it’s like, there’s no way you write something unless you know that it’s true. So, when you have to go on and defend something — what am I supposed to say, like what he said? You want me to sit here and start name-calling him? It’s like, what’s the point?
The idea that LeBron may not have some influence in the organization, are people being serious about that?
He said what he said, but he still was given bad information. A, he was given the wrong newspaper, number one. And then, he said, when he said “trash,” he meant “trash” for coming out when it did. It’s almost like he said, “Well, if you had written the story like on an off day, maybe I’d be OK with it. But don’t write it — don’t have the story come out right before we play a game.”
I’ll give Isola the benefit of the doubt the New York Post complaints are just part of his schtick. He often pokes at the rival newspaper, especially Berman.
Isola also has little control over when his stories get published. Occam’s Razor says Isola submitted the report as quickly as he could complete it, and the Daily News published it as quickly as it could edit it. Anything else would’ve given other outlets a chance to steal the scoop.
And, yes, LeBron complained about the timing of the report. But he also said he didn’t learn of it until after the game, and Love obviously wasn’t distracted. He played great against Washington.
However, LeBron went much further than complaining about the timing.
No matter what he told the Cavs about Love and Anthony before last night, I can’t see how LeBron pushes for that trade now. I believe he’s smart enough and cares enough about his image to understand the ramifications.
Imagine, after what LeBron said last night, the Cavaliers trade Love for Anthony. How would LeBron sell that to the general public? He’d be widely seen as a snake. He’d get nowhere by explaining only by the timing of Isola’s report bothered him.
I don’t know whether LeBron pushed Cleveland to trade Love for Anthony before Isola’s report was published. But I don’t see LeBron pushing for it now.