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Gary Payton: LeBron James Jr. committed to Los Angeles-area school

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Remember when LeBron James and his wife, Savannah James, were spotted visiting a Los Angeles-area school last September? Though LeBron denied intent wider than just using the facility to work out, that was seen as a sign they were scouting schools for their children in case LeBron signed with the Lakers or Clippers.

With LeBron officially in the offseason, rumors about LeBron James Jr. are only intensifying.

And they’re being spread by… Gary Payton:

Payton, via BSO:

His son just committed to Sierra Canyon, which is in the valley of L.A. That’s where his son is gonna go to school with Scottie Pippen’s son and Kenyon Martin’s son. So, that’s a move that they’re going to make. If everybody looks at it, a son at that age, you don’t want to be away from him for that period of time. During the time that we’re having basketball is school time. I think he needs a father during that time. That said, I don’t think LeBron is that type of parent. I think he wants to be his son around a lot, see his son a lot play.

This sounds as if Payton got the rumor backward. LeBron Jr. would probably attend school in the Los Angeles area only if LeBron played for the Lakers or Clippers. I’d be shocked if LeBron Jr. attends high school in Los Angeles while his dad plays elsewhere.

It also sounds as if Payton is accepting LeBron Jr.’s commitment to Sierra Canyon as fact when it really isn’t.

Chris Palmer of Spectrum SportsNet:

Maybe the school was just protecting the James family’s privacy. But Payton’s statement sounded unfounded even before the denial.

Rumors of a free agent picking houses or schools in a given city have been spread for decades. Not usually by Hall of Famers who declare it with such conviction, though. So, this one has a different type of juice – but probably no more credibility than most similar rumors.

LeBron James forcefully shoots down idea he came to Los Angeles for showbiz

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LeBron James is a smart man, one who knows what his empire is built upon:

Basketball.

And him being better than anyone else in the world at it.

While his post-career life is in Los Angeles — his production company has “The Wall” on NBC, is in the early stages of putting together an NBC comedy about the family life of Ben Simmons, is producing “The Shop” on HBO, is making “Space Jam 2” with LeBron as the star, and more — do not suggest to LeBron that might get in the way of basketball.

“I’m a basketball player. I play ball, that’s what I do,” LeBron said earlier in his press conference. “That’s what I live by and when I do it at the level I do it at everything else takes care of itself.

“As far as my business, those things have been taking care of themselves long before I came out here to be part of the Lakers franchise.”

LeBron is right about that. His production company — led by Maverick Carter — has been working on Space Jam for a couple of years now, and if LeBron had decided to stay in Cleveland or sign in Philadephia or anywhere else that project would still be going forward. They’d still be filming next summer in the off-season, regardless of where he played.

LeBron is very good at compartmentalizing his life. The great ones are. Kobe Bryant had side projects, but it never slowed down the effort he put into the game. Same is going on right now with Stephen Curry and James Harden. Michael Jordan did it before them, and Magic Johnson before him. Those guys have brands that are empires of their own now, but they all know what the foundation of that success is.

And they don’t let anything get in the way of basketball. Not like that.

Enes Kanter: ‘When I think about playoffs, my nipples get hard’

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The Knicks season should be about laying a foundation. They’ll remain patient with their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, returning from injury. They said they won’t trade draft picks.

But they’ve also paid enough lip service to competing this season to, um, excite Enes Kanter.

SNY:

We’ll be sure to check in on the softness of Kanter’s nipples when the Knicks miss the playoffs by dozens of games.

Tom Thibodeau says he expect Jimmy Butler to report to Timberwolves if not traded within week

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Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly ordered team president Tom Thibodeau to trade Jimmy Butler, who is excused from participating in media day and training camp (apparently because of his hand injury).

But Thibodeau isn’t rushing to proclaim Butler will be dealt.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

Kent Youngblood of the StarTribune:

If Butler isn’t traded in the next week, this could get incredibly awkward. Would Butler report? If he does, how would Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each react?

I expect this to be moot. The odds are stacked highly in favor of Minnesota dealing Butler soon.

But, now, there’s a close deadline with even more drama looming on the other side.

LeBron James: Lakers ‘long way’ from Warriors

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The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors.

Los Angeles’ newest star, LeBron James, isn’t there yet.

“We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. “They can pick up right where they left off.

“We’re picking up from scratch. So, we have a long way to go. … Hopefully, someday, we can put ourselves in a position where we can compete for a championship, as Golden State has done for the last few years.”

How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?

“I don’t believe the only thing of success in marking a season is winning a championship,” LeBron said. “There’s only one champion. But that doesn’t mean you’re not successful.”

LeBron has made similar arguments before, and I agree with him. Championships are the most important measure of team success, but they’re not the only measure. There are plenty of ways for teams to satisfactorily grow and compete in a season.

But this sure didn’t sound like the same LeBron who said in June of the Cavaliers’ 2016 title, “It made me even more hungry to continue to try to win championships, and I still want to be in championship mode.” A key storyline in Los Angeles will be whether/when LeBron regains that hunger.