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Our NBA MVP predictions for 2018


Last season saw Russell Westbrook and James Harden put up such ridiculous numbers that it turned a deep pool of quality MVP candidates into a two-man race (which Westbrook won). Then this summer they both got help — Harden is now paired with Chris Paul, Westbrook with Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Adding that kind of talent will cut into their numbers (even if it’s best for the team).

All this throws the 2018 MVP race wide open. Here are our staff picks.

Kurt Helin: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Things just set up for LeBron to win this award for the fifth time. In recent years it seems we’ve become complacent to his greatness — the man averaged 26-8-8 last season, played great defense, and we shrugged. This season, with Kyrie Irving gone and Isaiah Thomas out until January, the spotlight on LeBron will be brighter. Combine that with Westbrook and Harden getting superstars to go next to them, Kevin Durant being on a flat-out loaded team that wins a lot (same with Stephen Curry), and LeBron seems the favorite. (Either LeBron or that two-way player down in San Antonio seem the frontrunners, and I like Giannis Antetokounmpo as a dark horse, but the Bucks need to win more). I think this just sets up for LeBron to pick up award No. 5, the only question is how bad he wants it.

Dan Feldman: Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)

Leonard is the safe choice, an elite player who’s not playing with another. The Spurs are always an excellent regular-season team, and Leonard dominates both ends of the floor. Kevin Durant (Stephen Curry), Curry (Durant), Russell Westbrook (Paul George and Carmelo Anthony) and James Harden (Chris Paul) all must share the spotlight. LeBron James lost his highest-usage co-star and gained motivation to show out this regular season, but 82 games is a long time to sustain peak performance. I’ll go with the 26-year-old over the 32-year-old who has played in the last seven Finals.

Dane Carbaugh: LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)

The Eastern Conference didn’t do itself any favors this offseason with many stars heading West. LeBron James has always beaten up on his conference opponents, but this season will be different. There’s less Kyrie Irving to go around, and Kevin Love is playing the 5. James is slated to go back to the role he played on offense for the Miami Heat, one in which he excels as a wing creator and point forward.

That’s not a huge departure from how he has played with the Cavaliers in the past, but we are talking about small tolerances here. The margin between LeBron, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, and James Harden is so razor thin that something like a simple change in style could make all the difference.

The main challengers in the East still have to go through Cleveland, and there are some serious doubts for each of those teams. Are the Celtics deep enough? Can the Raptors be less Raptors-y? If LeBron can dominate his conference opponents yet again, I think the MVP goes to him one more time.

Cavaliers reportedly talking trade sending Kyle Korver to Sixers

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Philadelphia struck out going big game hunting this off-season — LeBron James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard all ended up elsewhere. The Sixers decided to trade for Wilson Chandler (absorbing him into their cap space) and re-signed J.J. Redick, but they have continued to look for the right trade.

That could involve adding Kyle Korver.

From Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

According to a league source, the team has had discussions about trading Jerryd Bayless to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyle Korver.

That move would enable the Sixers to bring back a fan favorite who’s one of the league’s top three-point shooters.  He would be an upgrade from former Sixer Marco Belinelli, who signed as a free agent  with the San Antonio Spurs earlier this month.

This trade is still in the talking phase.

That this was leaked means an agent of one of the teams involved wants to see the deal done and hopes leaking it puts enough pressure on one or both sides to get it done.

For the Sixers it makes sense on the court, they get out of a contract in Bayless they have tried to trade for a year, and they bring in a sharpshooter who can fit within their system and add bench scoring.

For the Cavaliers, they have to be getting a pick or picks of some kind back in this trade (probably a second round or multiple second-round picks, of which the Sixers have several besides their own in the next couple of drafts).

Something to watch as we head into the weekend, to see if this deal can get done.

Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn’t believe in the NBA 2K cover curse


Milwaukee Bucks superstar at Giannis Antetokounmpo will bless this year’s cover of NBA 2K19. It’s a big deal for the Greek Freak, who has come a long way since be a heralded prospect after being drafted in 2013.

Antetokounmpo is also apparently aware of the noted curse from the 2K franchise. That is, that former players who have been on the cover in years past have notoriously ended up in different jerseys shortly after getting selected for the honor.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, and Kevin Durant all left their respective teams shortly after being featured on the cover.

Antetokounmpo signed a contract extension in 2016 that runs through the 2020-2021 season. Unless something goes horribly wrong, there’s no reason to think that he will be gone anytime soon.

But is the cover curse real? People certainly seem to think the Madden one is.

Lakers fan paints another LeBron James mural in Los Angeles (PHOTO)


There was already one LeBron James mural in Los Angeles. Several people decided to attack it with paint, ruining a nice gesture by a local artist in Venice and proving how annoying (presumed) Kobe Bryant fans can be.

Now, there is another mural in LA and this time it paid a little more attention to former Lakers legends. Hopefully this time around the subject matter will help stave off would-be vandals.

Via Twitter:

This LeBron piece was done by another Venice muralist, Gustavo Zermeño Jr., who posted photos of his work. In it, LeBron is seen looking up at Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

No doubt that should satisfy some Lakers purists around the area, at least enough to keep them from throwing white paint all over it and ruining and impressive piece of artwork that took the artist a long time to create.

Lakers fan should just be happy that LeBron is in their state.

Clippers sign free agent Luc Mbah a Moute for second stint

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LOS ANGELES — Luc Mbah a Moute is back with the Los Angeles Clippers, signing a free-agent deal.

The 31-year-old forward averaged 7.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.18 steals in 61 games for Houston last season.

Mbah a Moute played two seasons for the Clippers from 2015-17, averaging 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 155 games, including 137 starts.

He was selected 37th overall by Milwaukee in 2008 after three seasons at UCLA. Besides the Clippers and Rockets, Mbah a Moute has played 10 seasons with Milwaukee, Sacramento, Minnesota and Philadelphia.

Terms of the deal announced Thursday were not announced.