LeBron James
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LeBron James says watching son play broke gameday routine

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Has LeBron James prioritized playing with his son over winning?

That question has swirled around the league, especially with LeBron signing with the Lakers – a move his friend Dwyane Wade described as a lifestyle decision. Even LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, didn’t emphasize winning when comparing LeBron’s move to Los Angeles with him going to the Heat and back to the Cavaliers.

Yesterday, LeBron watched Bronny play in Springfield, Mass., then drove to Boston to play the Celtics. The Lakers lost by 32, and LeBron acknowledged the 180-mile roundtrip disrupted his game-day routine.

LeBron, via ESPN:

I’ll break every routine in my life for my family. Listen, if the guys is with me, they’re going to make sure I get back safe. But my routine was broke today. But I can care less about it if I’m seeing my family, my wife and my daughter and my kids. So, it’s a unique opportunity to see my son live play that close to where I’m at. So, I can care less about this. This right here is all secondary when it comes to my family. So, nothing else matters.

Does LeBron still want to win? Of course.

But it’s also impossible to summon the same hunger he had when chasing his first championship and then trying to win for Cleveland and cement his legacy. Priorities change. At age 35, LeBron has a different perspective on work-life balance than he did when he was younger.

LeBron will undoubtedly face criticism for saying this. It’s easy to tell someone else – especially someone on a team people cheer for – to put his job ahead of his family. It’s much harder to put your own job in front of your own family.

This is why it was absurd for LeBron to question his Lakers teammates last year on whether basketball was the biggest thing in their life. It’s not the biggest thing in his life!

Listen to former NBA champions reminisce about a title run. They often crow about how devoted they were to the team, putting all other distractions – even family – aside. It’s admirable until you consider how disturbing it is.

There will always be players hungrier than others for a championship. That’s their advantage in basketball (at least until they burn out), though not necessarily life.

It doesn’t sound like that’s LeBron right now.

Will he shift more attention toward the Lakers in the playoffs? Probably. It’s easier not to give full focus for a regular-season game, especially with the Lakers four games up in the Western Conference.

But LeBron’s family isn’t disappearing come April, May and June. He’s going to care about his wife and children rather than be totally consumed with his job. And he’s not going to apologize for that.

Rockets to add Spurs buyout DeMarre Carroll, free agent Jeff Green

Spurs forward DeMarre Caroll
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that DeMarre Carroll and the San Antonio Spurs have agreed to a buyout. Carroll will then sign with the Houston Rockets:

ESPN’s Tim McMahon added in a subsequent report that the Rockets will bring in free agent forward Jeff Green:

Carroll signed a three-year, $20.65 million contract as part of a sign and trade from the Brooklyn Nets to the Spurs this past summer. That agreement was part of a three-team trade that saw San Antonio send forward Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards. The 10-year veteran is owed $7 million for this season, $6.65 million for 2020-21 and $1.35 million guaranteed for 2021-22. San Antonio will incur a cap hit for each of the three seasons as part of the buyout process with Carroll. How much of a cap hit will depend on how much money Carroll gave up as part of the buyout agreement.

Carroll was added via sign and trade after Marcus Morris spurned the Spurs in free agency. Morris had originally agreed to sign with San Antonio, but backed out after the New York Knicks offered him $15 million as a free agent. The Spurs moved on to Carroll as a backup plan, but he was never able to crack the rotation. He’s played only 135 minutes over 15 games with San Antonio.

Green was with the Utah Jazz earlier this season, before being waived to create a roster spot for Rayjon Tucker. The 11-year veteran Green averaged 7.7 points per game in 30 appearances with Utah. The Rockets will be the ninth different franchise Green has played for.

In Houston, Carroll and Green will join Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball crew as big man depth. Carroll and Green will likely back up P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington up front. Their experience at both forward spots will give the Rockets additional depth for their playoff run. Carroll and Green are also likely be to asked to play some center, as Houston has downsized dramatically at that position, including trading Clint Capela at the trade deadline.

NBA players’ union votes to support formation of G-League union

Kyrie Irving
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Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.

The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The G-League players are expected to support this. Sources have told NBC Sports that team and league officials will not oppose the players unionizing, they believe there will be benefits, too.

The primary issue will be pay. Most players in the G-League earn a $35,000 salary, unless they’re an elite high school prospect, or on a two-way contract (which means they are tied to an NBA team and can be called up for 45 days a season). Some players make more through an Exhibit 10 contract with a team — meaning they go to training camp with a team, then get a bonus ($50,000 or so) if they sign with that team’s G-League team.

Other issues would include freedom of player movement, work benefits, and giving the players a voice in other matters like discipline issues.

The NBA continues to push toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets do not. As the G-League grows, it’s understandable the players want a larger voice in how things are run.

In other news out of the players’ union meeting, Kyrie Irving was voted in as vice president, replacing Paul Gasol. Via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Chris Paul remains the union president.

Check out Dr. Dre’s Kobe Bryant tribute

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CHICAGO — In a weekend filled with spectacular tributes to Kobe Bryant, this one stood out.

Legendary rapper, songwriter, record producer, and businessman Dr. Dre — a guy who grew up in Los Angeles — released a tribute that stood out (and was highlighted on TNT). Dre did this with Gibson Hazard and Jackson Bannon.

Kobe’s public memorial service takes place Feb. 24 at Staples Center.

Giannis Antetokounmpo on team’s All-Star plan: Attack James Harden

Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden
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CHICAGO – James Harden has griped about Giannis Antetokounmpo winning Most Valuable Player last year.

After his team lost to Harden’s in the All-Star game Sunday, Antetokounmpo got in a dig at Harden.

“Offensively, we were just trying to find whoever James Harden was guarding,” Antetokounmpo said of his team’s strategy late. “That’s who we thought we’d have the opportunity to score on.”

Harden is not a good defender. But this is playing right into his hands. He’s at his best in isolation, especially in the post. He faces far more difficulty when run through actions off the ball or trying to keep up in transition.

Down the stretch, Harden defended more effectively than usual. Not great, but above his usual standard. Good enough for LeBron James‘ team to win.

At least, as Giannis previously noted, the MVP trophy is at his house.