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Report: Cavaliers facing ‘adversarial situation’ between LeBron James and Dan Gilbert

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In some ways, the Cavaliers still haven’t gotten over July 8, 2010.

In infamous moments for both, LeBron James left Cleveland with The Decision, and the Cavs owner responded with his letter. Gilbert held a grudge for years, and LeBron didn’t seem to get over it, either.

Yet, they partnered again in 2014.

LeBron wanted to play in his native Northeast Ohio, bring a championship to Cleveland and add to and market his legacy with a homecoming. To Gilbert, LeBron was – by far – the best ticket to winning, revenue and relevance. The owner reportedly pledged to spend unconditionally for LeBron. They didn’t have to like each other, but they could help each other.

And it worked.

The Cavaliers won the 2016 title, in the middle of three straight NBA Finals appearances. Their payroll has soared over the rest of the league, Gilbert spending big on LeBron’s supporting cast. For the last three years, both LeBron and Gilbert got practically everything they wanted out of this arrangement.

But the cracks are beginning to show.

The third-place Cavs (30-21) are closer to ninth in the East than second. Their defense is atrocious, and the roster looks worn down. They want LeBron – who can opt out this summer – to commit long-term, but he won’t. In turn, Cleveland is reportedly extremely reluctant to trade the Nets pick. LeBron is reportedly frustrated by Paul George and Eric Bledsoe getting traded elsewhere.

These issues snowball, and it seems the Cavaliers are facing a boulder of a problem now.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

But the Cleveland Cavaliers are out of time. It’s preposterous to say that in February for a team with a history of turning things around and doing it when they have to. However, they are in a preposterous situation.

They aren’t just looking at losing this season, but they are looking at losing LeBron James. If tomorrow were the beginning of free agency, there’s a good chance that would be the case.’

This is all a whirlwind around LeBron James vs. the Cavs’ front office, which is to say it’s about James vs. owner Dan Gilbert.

And the adversarial situation grows. And the team plays worse. And the pressure tightens. And the clock runs.

And the Cavs are culpable for allowing the trust and the relationship with management to crack. The Cavs know crisis better than anyone — they’ve been immersed in it on and off for four years.

But this is a different situation. Everyone can feel it.

Time is running out on their chances to change the roster. Even if it’s just to change the air in the locker room, time is running out.

Will Burge:

As we’ve seen, it’s never too late for LeBron and Gilbert to find common ground. Winning cures all ills, and another championship run would erase a lot of damage.

But how likely is that if Cleveland is already bracing for a post-LeBron rebuild – especially in a world where the Warriors exist? They leave so little margin for error, especially considering only a title might satisfy LeBron.

There are definitely agendas behind these reports – from the more grounded (Windhorst’s) to the more sensational (Burge’s). But the underlying picture is emerging: Unless something changes soon – less likely considering the egos and stubbornness involved – the Cavs are headed toward a breaking point.

Report: Philadelphia ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as next coach

Mike D'Antoni 76ers
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Philadelphia 76ers ownership (led by Josh Harris) reportedly has been very hands-on in picking the team’s new coach — even if that means a new direction for the roster. That hands-on style reportedly why ownership likes Elton Brand as GM and may balk at bringing in a big-name president of basketball operations — that person would want total control of basketball decisions. Right now, ownership is pulling a lot of those levers.

And ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach in Philadelphia, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sources have been saying since last week that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.

The problem is that Brand is supposed to have a huge input on the hire. The ownership is only supposed to approve or deny Brand’s suggestion. Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing. In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.

With Billy Donovan taking over in Chicago, the list of top candidates for the Philadelphia job seems down to two: Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni. Lue would be the conventional choice, a guy who would try to make it work with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Lue the idea would be making better use of the roster and style the 76ers have already built.

D’Antoni would be a radical change of direction — he is coming from a team that just started 6’7″ Robert Covington at center. The current 76ers roster would need changes to fit with D’Antoni’s freewheeling ways, and even then the coach would need to adapt what he wants to do. (No contract is untradeable, but moving the four-years, $147.2 million left on Harris’ deal, or the three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract, would require Philly to throw in a lot of sweeteners.)

D’Antoni would mean another change of direction in Philly, but that seems to be what ownership wants.

Bam Adebayo on injury: “I’m good,” expects to play in Game 5 Friday

Bam Adebayo injury
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In the final minutes of Miami’s Game 4 win, while Tyler Hero was knocking down shots and Jimmy Butler was getting to the line, Miami‘s Bam Adebayo was dealing with an injury, walking around holding his wrist, his arm dragging. He had gotten tangled up with Daniel Theis under the basket and clearly injured something.

The questions raised post game were about what happened, how serious it was, and could Adebayo be out for Game 5 on Friday? There was nothing official from the team but it looks like he will play, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4, and his play is critical to Miami’s game plan against Boston. His ability to protect the rim at one end, then come out high to set screens and pull Theis out of the paint on the other end, is at the heart of what the Heat want to do in this series. If he is even slowed in Game 5 it is an advantage for Boston.

This time of year, and with the Heat one game away from the NBA Finals, no chance he sits if he can at all play.

LeBron James: Neighbor’s walls, not Breonna Taylor, got justice

Lakers star LeBron James
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Louisville police officers were not charged with killing Breonna Taylor. However, former officer Brett Hankison was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly firing firing recklessly into nearby apartments during the incident.

That outcome left NBA players unsatisfied.

LeBron James:

The emotions LeBron – and many others – are feeling are completely understandable. This was a tragedy. Faced with an obvious injustice, it’s easy to demand the harshest-imaginable punishment. That didn’t come.

But it is not too late to address the injustices – which were always far larger than the officers at the scene returning fire – at play in Taylor’s death.

Tyler Herro carries Heat over Celtics in Game 4, within one game of NBA Finals

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If the Boston Celtics targeted Tyler Herro in the 2019 NBA Draft, they have more reason than ever to lament their near miss.

Herro scored 37 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 112-109 win over the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday. The 21-year-old rookie put Miami up 3-1 and himself in the record book.

The only other player so young to score so much in a playoff game? Magic Johnson, who had 42 points in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals at age 20.

The Heat will look to reach the NBA Finals in Game 5 Friday. Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 have won 95% of the time.

Miami’s big concern: Bam Adebayo, who hurt his wrist late in the game. Adebayo (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals) played through the injury but appeared to be feeling it.

He and the Heat just kept grinding through everything, though.

Miami won despite shooting only 10-for-37 on 3-pointers (27%). Forget about make-or-miss league. The Heat willed themselves to victory with aggravating defense, hustle, rebounding… and, yes, big-time shot-making by Herro, who made 9-of-11 2-pointers and 5-of-10 3-pointers

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers – some forced by Miami, some self-inflicted. The Heat’s zone defense continues to make Boston uncomfortable, though Marcus Smart (10 points and 11 assists) found some success penetrating and kicking against it. Jaylen Brown (21 points and nine rebounds) knocked down some of those created looks.

After a scoreless first half, Jayson Tatum scored 28 points in the second half. Stephen Curry scored 33 second-half points after a scoreless first half in Game 6 against the Rockets last year. That’s the only time someone followed a scoreless first half with so many second-half points in the Basketball-Reference postseason database, which dates back to 1997.

But those successes weren’t sustained. Tatum (six), Smart (four) and Brown (four) all had too many turnovers.

This series is even by points scored. But Boston has been just a little too erratic, which is why Miami has the key 3-1 lead.