Ex-Cavaliers GM David Griffin says LeBron James doesn’t run the team (VIDEO)

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It’s a running joke on social media that Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is the true general manager of his team, often deciding which players to trade for and which of his teammates to get rid of.

This opinion is prevalent and perhaps has some basis in perceived common sense. LeBron is the most important player in the NBA, and the best player of his generation. Teams would like to keep him happy, and so the idea of consulting James before personnel moves does make some sense.

But according to ex-Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, that is not actually the case. Speaking to The Starters for this week on NBA TV, Griffin said that LeBron does not have that kind of involvement in personnel moves nor in coaching team. Griffin said that it’s quite the opposite, that LeBron would actually rather not be bothered with those things given the load he undertakes in carrying his team each and every season.

Via The Starters, and the video above at 13:00:

It’s not true at all. He doesn’t want to have that role. He doesn’t really want to do those things. He is obsessed with winning basketball games. What he wanted to do was lead the guys in the locker room and be as good as he can possibly be. He spends more time on his body and getting himself mentally and physically right than any player I’ve ever seen.

The reason people perceive that is because he was on one-year deals, because he is the best player of his generation, and the natural assumption is they won’t do anything to upset him. So if they do that, he must want that. The reality is there were several things we did because it was the right thing to do. And certainly I would go to him and ‘Listen, this is why we’re going to do that.’ Just as I did with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.

There was never a time where LeBron said ‘I want X, Y, Z.’

This is interesting for a few reasons. First, it is an obvious defense of LeBron by Griffin. If Griffin says that LeBron isn’t running or coaching team, then the fit of the players the Cavaliers traded for and the work done by the head coach is truly the responsibility of those entities and not their star.

Second, a defense of LeBron by Griffin is in this case is an obvious dig at the Cavaliers themselves. Letting Griffin go was a mistake by Cleveland, and no doubt it came as a disappointment to many. Being able to defend LeBron — who Griffin could conceivably work with in the future — while sneakily blasting the current regime has to be a fun angle.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers are 6-9 in their last 15 games, and are having to publicly answer questions about the potential firing of Tyronn Lue. Whether you believe Griffin or not in this case, it’s always interesting to add more detail to the circus that is the Cavaliers.

PBT Extra: Can Rockets take Game 2 energy, execution on the road?

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Houston found its blueprint to beating Golden State in Game 2: Strong defensive pressure on the ball, quick switches and communication on defense, getting out in transition when possible, and starting sets earlier in the shot clock and attacking downhill with James Harden and Chris Paul.

Now can they do that on the road? Against a more focused and sharper Warriors’ team?

That will be the question in the next two games of the Western Conference Finals, and it’s what I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Cavaliers cruise past Celtics in Game 3, change complexion of Eastern Conference finals

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The Cavaliers were heavy favorites over the Celtics entering the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James has dominated the East for years, and Cleveland appeared to hit its stride in a sweep of the Raptors last round. Boston was shorthanded and inexperienced.

Were the Celtics’ two wins to open the series, as impressive as they were, really enough to override everything else we knew about these teams?

The Cavs walloped Boston in Game 3, 116-86, Saturday. Cleveland now has four of the NBA’s last five 30-point playoff wins – two against the Celtics last year, one over Toronto last round and tonight. (The Cavaliers lost the league’s only other 30-point game between, to the Pacers in the first round.)

Boston still leads the series 2-1, and teams up 2-1 in a best-of-seven series have won it 80% of the time.

But the team up 2-1 is usually the one seen as better entering the series. That isn’t the case here, not with LeBron on the other side. And the leading team usually isn’t so woeful on the road, which will remain a major storyline entering Game 4 Monday in Cleveland.

The Celtics bought themselves margin for error, but they blew a lot of it tonight.

It’d be an oversimplification to say the Cavs just played harder, but they did, and it went along way. They chased loose balls, tightened their defense and moved more off the ball offensively. Cleveland jumped to a 20-4 lead, led by double digits the rest of the way and spent most of the game up by at least 20.

LeBron (27 points, 12 assists, two blocks and two steals) dazzled as a passer and locked in as a defender. He received help from several players:

In a low-resistance effort, Boston didn’t goon up the game at all.

The Cavaliers still have plenty of work ahead to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but tonight, they showed a path to advancing. Climbing out of their early series deficit now looks far less intimidating.

Luka Doncic named EuroLeague MVP at age 19

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Luka Doncic, the likely top two pick in the upcoming NBA draft, has led his Real Madrid team to the EuroLeague finals at age 19.

Now he has been named the youngest player ever win the EuroLeague MVP.

For those unfamiliar, EuroLeague is the equivalent of the Champions League in soccer — the very best club teams from around the continent face off against each other. On this biggest of European stages, Doncic has been a force. He is a gifted passer with great court vision. He can take his man off the dribble. He can hit threes. And he knows how to be a floor general and run a game. Did we mention he’s just 19?

Doncic said before the start of EuroLeague that he hasn’t decided what he is going to do about coming to the NBA or going back to Real Madrid. Don’t buy it. This is like asking a major college basketball star right before the NCAA Tournament if he is coming back to “State U” next year, they don’t want to say “no” right before the tourney so they give a non-committal answer. Same here. He’s not leaving millions on the table, he’ll be in the NBA next season.

And he’ll bee good.

Playoff losses wearing on LeBron James: ‘I lose sleep’

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Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost one game before reaching the NBA Finals. The season before that, two. The season before that also two. In Miami before that, the last couple of years they went to the Finals the Heat lost three and four games before reaching the Finals.

This year, the Cavaliers have lost five games already and find themselves down 0-2 to the Boston Celtics heading into Game 3 Saturday night in Cleveland.

The losses do weigh on LeBron, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“I mean, I lose sleep,” James said after shootaround Saturday morning. “I mean, at the end of the day, when you lose any game in the postseason, [you lose sleep], so it’s never comfort. Playoffs is never comfort. There’s nothing about the playoffs that’s comfortable until you either win it all or you lose and go into the summer.

“So, for me, it’s always [a] day-to-day grind to figure out ways that you can be better.”

Cleveland has a lot to figure out to win the next two games because if they don’t and go down 3-1 in this series, it’s hard to envision how LeBron can drag this roster back to the Finals (what would be his eighth straight trip).

Offensively Cleveland has to get consistent play from guys other than LeBron (and to a lesser extent, Kevin Love) — J.R. Smith has been awful and needs to find a rhythm at home, George Hill needs to make some plays, Kyle Korver needs to get open and knock down some looks, and some help from the bench is needed.

But that’s not even the end of the floor that is the Cavs real problem. Defensively the Cavaliers recognition and communication has been dreadful, and the passing and player movement of the Celtics has carved them up. Cleveland has outscored teams and not defended all that well for a long time now — that’s how they made the Finals a season ago — but it’s not enough now. The offense and LeBron can’t carry them all the way.

We’ll see after Game 3 if LeBron is going to be able to get any sleep Saturday night.