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LeBron James says he left Cavaliers because they weren’t talented enough, won’t say whether this team is

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CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers got eliminated by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals, Celtics in 2008 second round and Celtics again in 2010 second round. The following summer, LeBron left for the Heat.

“I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn’t succeed getting past a Boston, getting past the San Antonios of the league,” LeBron said.

That was a rather startling admission, though hardly a controversial assessment. Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao and a 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal weren’t that good – certainly not compared to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Of course, with LeBron holding a player option for next season and the Cavs down 3-0 to the Warriors, the question becomes: Are his current teammates enough for him to beat the NBA’s elite?

A reporter asked as delicately as possible: “I’m not trying to get you to say anything negative about anybody. But how do you feel now?”

LeBron answered through his own laughter.

“You actually are trying to get me to say something,” he said.

“Listen, at the end of the day, I’m living in the moment now. I went back for you for your question. We’ve had an opportunity to win two of these games in this three-game series so far, and we haven’t come up with it.

“Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth. Kevin Durant. You’ve got two guys with MVPs on their team. And then you’ve got a guy in Klay who could easily be on a team and carry a team, score 40 in a quarter before. And then you have Draymond, who is arguably one of the best defenders and minds we have in our game. So you have that crew. Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench, a number one pick in Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.

“We have a lot of talent as well. We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games. So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can’t reach for it but you’ve got to dive for it?”

Those are the right questions for now.

Soon enough, he’ll face a different one: Should he again leave Cleveland to play with more talent?

Geeking out on NBA prospects: R.J. Barrett almost dunks from free throw line, Zion Williamson does

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Duke is stacked this coming season. STACKED. They should have three lottery picks in next year’s draft. (Does that mean they are the team to beat in the NCAA? That’s not the way basketball works. But that’s another discussion.)

Duke is in Toronto for a series of preseason exhibition games, and at the end of the workout likely No. 1 pick next June, R.J. Barrett tried to show off by almost dunking from the free throw line.

Then freak of nature Zion Williamson showed him how it’s done.

That’s worth more looks.

Damn Zion is a freak of nature. Can we just put him in the next dunk contest now?

Nancy Lieberman says more women need to follow coaching footsteps in NBA

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Whenever we discuss women assistant coaches in the NBA, the topic is usually Becky Hammon getting job interviews or being moved to the front row of seats in San Antonio. Occasionally it’s a discussion of Nancy Lieberman’s job in Sacramento — or the fact she is now a head coach in Ice Cube’s Big3 — or Jenny Boucek in Dallas.

However, when Lieberman discussed women coaches on the CBS Sports Network, she was asking a bigger question:

Who steps up next?

She has discussed the NBA version of the “Rooney Rule” before. Currently, it’s not anywhere near becoming a reality, whatever you think of the idea.

However, there needs to be real opportunities for women to get a foot in the NBA door, and more of them. Including at the entry level. There are qualified women out there, but it can be tough to crack the “old boy’s network” of the NBA coaching carousel — head coach and assistant. It exists in part because head coaches (and GMs) usually hire people they trust and worked with before, and right now those are men. Give women a chance at those entry-level positions and the dynamic starts to change.

Lieberman has been a groundbreaker her entire career. She and others are doing in the NBA again, but she’s right, the big win is changing the dynamic for the next generation. And the one after that.

In no-brainer move, Nets reportedly guarantee Spencer Dinwiddie’s $1.65 million contract

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Spencer Dinwiddie has worked hard at his game — I remember seeing him struggle some at his first Summer League and someone I trust telling me “watch this guy, he’s got the drive, he will make it” — and he is now a solid rotation NBA point guard that Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson can trust. He averaged 12.6 points per game last season with an above-average PER of 15.9.

He’s also on a steal of a current contract, so it makes sense the Nets are picking that up (it technically didn’t have to be guaranteed until Halloween). Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the report.

https://mobile.twitter.com/wojespn/status/1029496077320257536

Next summer, Dinwiddie is a free agent. While he’s not going to break the bank, he’s a young, solid backup point guard that a lot of teams could use and he’s going to get a nice pay raise.

Carmelo Anthony on his role with Rockets: “Let’s just let it play out”

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From the moment it became clear Carmelo Anthony was going to join the Rockets — which was a long time before he actually signed the contract on Monday — the questions started:

Would he accept a reduced role with the Rockets? Maybe come off the bench? Be Olympic ‘Melo and blend in with the team?

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he spoke with Anthony and said the player is open to coming off the bench, but he’s not sure what ‘Melo’s role will be. When ambushed by TMZ trying to walk to his car, Anthony said basically the same thing.

“Let’s just let it play out, though. I don’t even know what’s going on. I just signed, let it start first.”

Anthony coming off the bench, being the fulcrum of the offense when James Harden and Chris Paul are on the bench makes some sense (CP3 and Harden are better and more efficient shot creators than Anthony at this point). It’s a chance for Anthony to get his touches and help the other two rest. However, the idea of Anthony starting the first and third quarters and getting heavy touches then but sitting more later is not out of the question.

At the end of close games, D’Antoni is more likely to lean on James Ennis — a long, switchable defender who can shoot threes in the Trevor Ariza mold — than Anthony. It will be just a better fit. Will Anthony roll with that? Will it cause problems in the locker room?

Let’s just let it play out.