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Would Rockets break up team to chase LeBron James?

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The Houston Rockets are rumored to be on LeBron Jamesshort list of places he’s willing to play next season.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is aggressive, wants badly to bring a title to Houston, has an owner willing to spend to chase that goal, and most people around the league expect he’ll take a swing at landing LeBron this summer in free agency.

But will they really? It would take a radical shakeup of the current roster to make it happen and, according to the impeccably sourced Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated on the Open Court Podcast, the Rockets may not be up for that.

“I asked a couple people in Houston about it, and there was sort of a look of, ‘Why would we break this up right now?’

“Because they know everything they would have to give up. They know how many moves they would have to make. And would they be able to preserve the same level of shooting, the same level of defense? And this is people inside the organization. How much would they have to sacrifice of what they built as far as the way they play? Would they’d have to play significantly differently?”

The Rockets won a league-best 65 games, have the future MVP in James Harden, a top-10 NBA defense, and are one of two teams most likely to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy come June (despite their recent Game 2 loss). They are title contenders now, they should ask, “do we need to do this?” Bringing in the force of nature that is LeBron means three guys who are best with the ball in their hands and need to learn how to share it. Plus, off the court, LeBron brings his own culture and style to the team. He’s one of the all-time greats and still performing at his peak, but it’s fair to ask if this really works for Houston.

How and when their season ends could have a big say in how hard they push to get LeBron.

Just the logistics of signing him are complicated.

Signing LeBron outright as a free agent would require a lot — remember, the Rockets have to re-sign Chris Paul this summer, too. That’s two max contracts next to Harden’s new deal. To make this work, the Rockets would need to trade Ryan Anderson (and no team is taking on his $42 million over two years without multiple sweeteners of first round picks and young players), P.J. Tucker and Nene, all without taking any salary back, plus let Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Tarik Black just walk as free agents. Even that might not be enough, there would need to be other deals to clear cap space or both LeBron and Paul need to agree to discounts. Good luck with that.

At that point, the roster is gutted, and does LeBron want to come to a team devoid of quality role players? That dance would seem far too familiar for him.

The way it would work best is to get LeBron to follow the path CP3 did a summer ago — tell the Cavaliers he’s gone, but he wants to opt into the final year of his contract and be traded to the Rockets. That way the Cavaliers will get something back — probably Anderson’s deal, but they likely demand Eric Gordon, other players, and multiple picks (or something akin to that deal). Plus the Rockets may not have the money after that to bring back Mbah a Moute or others. For the Cavaliers, they at least get something back rather than having LeBron walk out the door for nothing. To make this option work the Rockets need to convince LeBron to take a discount (something he said he would not do), then work out a deal the Cavaliers will accept, and then be good with losing all the depth that comes with this.

If LeBron wants to go to the Rockets, Morey and Houston will figure out how to make it work.

But it’s understandable if some within the organization don’t think it’s a good idea.

Zach LaVine reacts to Chicago hiring Billy Donovan: ‘Wow, that’ll be good’

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Zach LaVine learned about the Chicago Bulls hiring Billy Donovan as their head coach while playing Call of Duty.

Which means there is a recording of his real-time reaction to the news.

“Damn, we just got Billy Donovan as our next head coach… wow, that’ll be good.”

LaVine also Tweeted about the hire.

He wasn’t the only Bulls’ player excited about the hire.

Bradley Beal, a former Donovan player at Florida, loved the hire.

Donovan takes over a Chicago team that seems on the cusp of something. How big a something remains up for debate. The roster has young talent: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter, and the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Donovan is an upgrade over Boylen, both in terms of player relations and tactics, making the Bulls better.

Even with Donovan, what is the ceiling for these Bulls? Next season they are not going to be better than the Celtics, Bucks, Heat, or Nets, and likely not the 76ers or Raptors either (unless Toronto tears down the roster). That’s six. And a lot of people would put the Indiana Pacers on a level above the Bulls as well. Bottom line: Even with a coaching upgrade and player improvement, the Bulls are likely scrambling for a bottom playoff spot in the East.

The Bulls are looking beyond next year. Expect Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to spend the next season deciding who fits and who doesn’t, and shake up the roster accordingly. By then the Bulls may be in a better place to be a threat in the East.

Whatever happens, the Bulls got better with this hire, and their biggest star likes it.

Vanessa Bryant sues sheriff over Kobe Bryant helicopter-crash photos

Kobe Bryant crash site
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LOS ANGELES — Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball star Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County sheriff claiming deputies shared unauthorized photos of the crash that killed her husband, their 13-year-old daughter and seven others.

After the Jan. 26 crash, reports surfaced that graphic photos of the victims were being shared. Vanessa Bryant was “shocked and devastated” by the reports, the lawsuit states.

The suit seeks damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The victims died when the helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, northwest of Los Angeles, during cloudy weather. They were traveling to a youth basketball tournament at Bryant’s sports facility in Thousand Oaks. The National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded what caused the crash on the outskirts of Los Angeles County but said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the Sikorsky S-76. helicopter.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously told news media that eight deputies took or shared graphic photos of the scene and he ordered the images deleted. The sheriff said the department has a policy against taking and sharing crime scene photos, but it does not apply to accident scenes.

“That was my No. 1 priority, was to make sure those photos no longer exist,” Villanueva previously told NBC News. “We identified the deputies involved, they came to the station on their own and had admitted they had taken them and they had deleted them. And we’re content that those involved did that.”

Vanessa Bryant’s lawsuit alleges the sheriff’s actions constituted a “cover-up” of the misconduct. The suit claims the photos could still exist.

“Mrs. Bryant feels ill at the thought of strangers gawking at images of her deceased husband and child and she lives in fear that she or her children will one day confront horrific images of their loved ones online,” the lawsuit states.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet signed a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for first responders to take unauthorized photos of deceased people at the scene of an accident or crime. The legislation was prompted by the crash photos.

A statement from the sheriff’s department Tuesday incorrectly said such actions are now criminal. The bill has not yet been signed into law.

“Shortly following this tragic crash, Sheriff Villanueva sponsored legislation which now makes it a crime for public safety personnel to take and share non-official pictures of this nature,” the statement said. “Due to the pending litigation, we are unable to offer further comment.”

Vanessa Bryant’s attorney, Gary C. Robb, declined to comment.

The Los Angeles Times first reported the allegations that the graphic photos had been taken and disseminated in February.

Bryant previously filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, in May. The suit was filed Thursday.

Separately, Vanessa Bryant has also filed a lawsuit alleging the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

The brother of the pilot has said in a court filing that Bryant knew the risks of helicopter flying and his survivors aren’t entitled to damages from the pilot’s estate, while the helicopter company, Island Express, says it is not responsible for damages, calling the crash, among other things, “an act of God” and “an unavoidable accident” that was beyond its control.

Chicago Bulls hire Billy Donovan as coach

Billy Donovan coaches Thunder-Bulls
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Billy Donovan left the Thunder despite them offering a new contract. Maybe it wasn’t as much money as he desired to coach a team that could be entering rebuilding. But active head coaches rarely turn down an NBA job unless they know they’ll land on their feet.

Donovan will land on his feet – with the Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first broke the story, the Bulls confirmed it soon after.

“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls. The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level,” Chicago head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster. Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”

This is a major credibility upgrade for Chicago, which fired Jim Boylen. Donovan is a solid NBA head coach who adapts to his players rather than putting them through extreme measures.

Considering they just hired Arturas Karnisovas as president, the Bulls might have the patience for a rebuild. Donovan will be tasked with overseeing the development of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr. and the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. Donovan’s time as a college coach at Florida shows he can help players progress.

But Chicago also frequently faces pressure, especially internally, to win sooner than later. Donovan inherits veterans like LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky. Donovan showed at Oklahoma City he could manage a team with immediate expectations.

Is this group’s long-term future inspiring? No. Is this group’s present inspiring? No.

But Donovan provides a little boost in both areas.

Celtics: Romeo Langford out rest of playoffs after wrist surgery

Celtics guard Romeo Langford
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The Celtics don’t have quite enough dependable players to fill a playoff rotation. So, beyond its core, Boston has juggled deep-bench minutes throughout the postseason.

One of those options – Romeo Langford – will no longer be available.

Celtics release:

Celtics guard Romeo Langford this morning underwent successful surgery to repair the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist. He will miss the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season.

A rookie, Langford also suffered a right-hand injury last season at Indiana. A pattern? Probably not. But it’s another interruption in the 20-year-old’s development.

For Boston’s playoff hopes, this is a minor setback – one made even smaller by Gordon Hayward returning (and staying). Though more of a forward, Hayward clears the way for Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to handle more guard minutes, a few of which could have gone to Langford.