Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

LeBron James says being away from family ‘sucks,’ but favorite Christmas games have been in Los Angeles

4 Comments

LeBron James openly dislikes travelling for Christmas.

His Cavaliers visit the Warriors today for the second straight Christmas, and he has also played road Christmas games against the Heat, Lakers (thrice), Mavericks and Magic.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

LeBron James said his favorite holiday games are the ones he’s played in Los Angeles.

“I’ve had a lot of games that kind of stood out … playing in the Staples Center is always a treat,” James said Sunday, before the Cavs practiced in preparation for their Christmas Day game against the Golden State Warriors. “I’ve never had an opportunity to play in the Garden, but playing in the Staples Center, I’ve been there quite a few times. So, it’s kind of always fun to be in L.A. and play in front of that crowd and have that atmosphere.

“I’ve only had probably four games at home out of the 12 … but being in the Staples Center has always been pretty good.”

He said his children open their presents Christmas morning, whether he’s home or not, and this year he’ll be watching via FaceTime. His daughter Zhuri is 3, and James said this is the first Christmas where she’ll really understand what’s going on as the wrapping paper flies off the boxes under the tree.

“It sucks being here (San Francisco), obviously,” James said. “But I’ll be there for years to come in the future, hopefully.”

LeBron probably can’t escape playing on Christmas. The NBA wants to market its biggest stars, and his teams inevitably also deserve the spotlight.

But his ticket to spending at least part of Christmas Day home with his family might be signing with the Lakers.

Including their game against the Timberwolves tonight, the Lakers have played the last 19 Christmases – 16 at home. The league wants to highlight the Los Angeles market. LeBron, of course, just bought a new house in Los Angeles. He also has a home near Cleveland, but he obviously can’t keep the Cavaliers there on Christmas as often.

Signing with the Lakers would also come with the added benefit of playing at his favored arena for Christmas.

However, LeBron’s affinity for Christmas in Los Angeles might be based solely on his 3-0 record there, including a triple-double and this memorable dunk:

Besides, it’s hard to see LeBron picking a team based on its arena. After all, he has repeatedly raved about Madison Square Garden without ever signing with the Knicks.

LeBron cares about his family, and that will affect his free agency. But he has also shown his family won’t dictate his professional future.

So, include this as another reason LeBron might sign with the Lakers. The rumors are tantalizing.

Just don’t read too much into it.

Another LeBron James mural vandalized in Los Angeles

Via Twitter
Leave a comment

Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).

However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.

So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.

This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.

I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.

There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.

If you can’t embrace LeBron joining the team, I’m not sure how you could call yourself a Lakers fan. But to take that another step and deface a mural is another level of idiocy.

AP Source: Thunder trading Dakari Johnson to Orlando

Getty Images
Leave a comment

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.

A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.

Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.

Center Alex Len reportedly reaches contract deal with Atlanta

Getty Images
2 Comments

Five years ago, the Phoenix Suns had just drafted Alex Len at No. 5 overall and thought he would be the big man in the middle the team would build around. It didn’t work out that way, he never averaged double figures in either scoring or rebounding for a season. While Len has said he thought he was not used correctly, and there has been plenty of change and inconsistency in Phoenix, he never grabbed hold of the top job, either.

When the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton No. 1 last June, there was no chance they were bringing back Len next season. The unrestricted free agent is headed to Atlanta instead, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent center Alex Len has agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Len received interest from several teams in recent days before finalizing an agreement with the Hawks on Saturday.

Len is not going to space the floor, 73 percent of his shots came at the rim last season, but he’s become an efficient finisher there. He is good as a roll man, will work off the ball, and can post guys up on offense. He’s also strong on the offensive glass and gets points via putbacks. His game is not that of a modern NBA center, but he’s become efficient at what he does.

Len is going to have to earn his minutes in the ATL, rebuilding team or not there is some quality along the front line. John Collins, who made the All-Rookie team last season and was one of the standouts of Summer League, will start up front, possibly at the four with Dewayne Dedmon at the five. The just-drafted Omari Spellman showed potential at Summer League and could be the backup four, which means Len gets the backup center minutes.

Len is getting his new chance on a team that can give him some run, we’ll see if a change of scenery is what he needed.

Gordon Hayward posts new workout video, he is moving pretty well

Getty Images
3 Comments

Player workout videos on Instagram are a lot like how your life (or, your parent’s life) appears on Facebook — everyone looks their best, is always having fun and doing something interesting, and the daily grime of life has been scrubbed away.

That said, Boston’s Gordon Hayward looks good — he seems to be moving very well — in this latest workout video he posted.

It’s a good sign to see Hayward moving like that in July, months before that reconstructed ankle needs to be put to the test on the NBA hardwood.

With Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, the Celtics start the season as the favorites in the East — but Toronto is a sudden, serious challenger if Kawhi Leonard is all the way back and healthy. Philadelphia is talented and in that mix as well if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take strides forward with their game.

The top of the East is going to be very interesting next season.