Tyronn Lue wants to be back coaching Cavaliers next year, whatever roster looks like

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The Cleveland Cavaliers’ roster is going to look very different next season. One way or another. Either LeBron James leaves and then Kevin Love and every veteran they can move gets traded, starting a rebuilding process around whoever the Cavs land with the No. 8 pick; or, LeBron stays, the No. 8 pick gets traded for a veteran who can help the team win now, maybe Love is moved for another better fit, but the roster around LeBron will look much different and be closer to something that could challenge Golden State.

Either way, Tyronn Lue wants to coach it.

Yeah, I do,” Lue said after Game 4 on if he planed do come back, despite dealing with anxiety issues that kept him away from the team for nine games last season. “I had some tough problems going on throughout the course of the season, and like you said, I probably could have folded myself, but I wasn’t going to do that. I knew that even if I wasn’t feeling a hundred percent, I had to get back for the playoffs. That’s my time. That’s my moment. I didn’t want to put our coaches in that situation. I didn’t want to put our players in that situation, and I had to fight through it. That’s what champions do. I gave everything I had.”

Lue likely does return and a key reason is money Lue has three years and is owed in the neighborhood of $25 million on his current deal. Lue also has the backing of owner Dan Gilbert.

Finally, Lue has the resume that should bring him back: a 128-77 regular season record, a 41-20 playoff record, and one championship.

Lue takes heat for some fans for his coaching acumen, but he can be a good planner of strategy — coming up with the Kevin Love corner action that flummoxed the Raptors for example. Lue is not as strong in-game, and he can be loyal to players when he should be more cold-blooded in the postseason (J.R. Smith in the Finals, for example), but he has the respect of players and that’s what matters most. Guys follow him.

The Cavaliers’ players will follow Lue next season. Whoever they are.

Lue, for his part, believes he can get better.

“Just about myself, I can always get better,” Lue said after Game 4. “But I know that I’m a tough guy. I pride myself on that. I’m hard on myself a lot of times, but I’ve got to realize I’ve only been coaching for two and a half years. It feels like 10 or 15. I can get better, and I’m going to get better. I just learned that you’ve got to stay the course in this profession. Anything can happen.”

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.

Watch Russell Westbrook drain two buzzer-beaters against Blazers

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The Portland Trail Blazers had to know it was not their night when Russell Westbrook knocked down a buzzer-beating step-back 3-pointer just before the half.

Westbrook wasn’t done, he had one more buzzer-beater in him at the end of the third.

Westbrook wasn’t the only guy in the building draining half-courters — for the second-straight game a Laker fan knocked down a half-court shot, this time to win $25,000.

It was a good night all around for the Lakers and their fans at home against the shorthanded Trail Blazers. They got 31 points from LeBron James, plus 27 points and 12 boards from Anthony Davis. Austin Reaves added in 22, and the Lakers took control in the third and cruised in for a needed win.