Hawks GM: LeBron James probably leaked Warriors rumor

AP Photo/Charles Odum

LeBron James would reportedly meet with the Warriors if they clear max space next summer. But LeBron also called that rumor “nonsense.”

Hawks general manager and former Golden State assistant general manager Travis Schlenk, via CBS Atlanta:

I would be really, really surprised if LeBron went to Golden State.

The one thing I will say about Mr. James: He is the master at using the media to get whatever story he wants out there. He’s perfected the art of the social-media game. I think that those things were probably leaked by them, by Mr. James and his camp.

I don’t see a universe where that happens.

It would be interesting to see. It would be interesting to see what he’d be like with the rest of those guys, with his playmaking ability and obviously with the shooting that Golden State has.

I have no problem with Schlenk openly sharing his assessment of the situation. In fact, I agree with it. I believe these leaks serve LeBron’s greater purpose of trying to win in Cleveland by reminding the Cavaliers not to take him for granted and spend what’s necessary to improve his supporting cast.

But I wonder whether the NBA and National Basketball Players Association will be as forgiving of Schlenk’s openness.

While Knicks president, Phil Jackson was widely panned for criticizing LeBron. Using the word “posse” was a flashpoint, but even Jackson admitted he wasn’t supposed to talk about another team’s player. Though the union spoke out only once Jackson said Carmelo Anthony would be better off elsewhere, the response seemed like a culmination.

This isn’t tampering. It’s closer to anti-tampering, Schlenk implicitly dissuading LeBron from coming to Atlanta (not that LeBron needed any more reasons). But the line for acceptable remarks by an executive about an opposing player is a moving target.

If he really wanted to convey the opinion that LeBron was behind the Warriors report,* Schlenk could have hidden as an anonymous source. Plenty of reporters would have granted him anonymity to discuss LeBron’s media manipulation.

*I doubt Schlenk did. He was asked about it and answered.

Instead, Schlenk put his name behind his comments. Which is why I’m not bothered by this at all.