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Draymond Green trolls LeBron James with parade shirt

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Draymond Green appeared to poke fun last year at the Warriors’ quick 4-1 NBA Finals win over the Cavaliers with his shirt at Golden State’s championship parade.

At this year’s parade – watch it here – following the Warriors’ sweep of Cleveland, Green appears to be aiming his shirt more directly at LeBron James.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

This one has layers:

Obviously, the rings commemorate Green’s three titles.

LeBron posted the Arthur fist in November, around the time Kyrie Irving‘s Celtics were on a winning streak. Green mined that source of jokes already, wearing Arthur shoes for the Warriors-Cavs Christmas matchup.

Perhaps most biting, LeBron broke his right hand by punching a whiteboard in the locker room following Cleveland’s devastating Game 1 loss in the Finals.

Raptors playoff problems run much deeper than LeBron James

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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LeBron James, according to former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin, corrected a Toronto player on how to run a Raptors play during the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

That’s domination.

It’s the type of domination that can send opposing franchises spinning. Toronto fired Dwane Casey and replaced him with assistant coach Nick Nurse, and many people believe LeBron is responsible for the change.

LeBron’s Cavs swept the Raptors the last two years in the second round. The year prior, Cleveland beat Toronto in the conference finals in the most lopsided six-game series in NBA history.

But if Nurse is going to guide the Raptors to the postseason heights they desire, his challenge is far wider than beating LeBron.

Toronto played nine playoff series in the last five years under Casey. In all nine – even the four wins – the Raptors underachieved based on regular-season performance.

For example, Toronto outscored opponents by 7.9 points per 100 possessions last regular season. The Raptors’ first-round opponent, the Wizards, outscored regular-season opponents by 0.6 points per 100 possessions. So, I give that series an expected net rating of Toronto +7.3. In reality, the Raptors outscored Washington by just 2.1 points per 100 possessions – a difference of -5.2.

In the other example from last year, the Cavaliers outscored regular-season opponents by just 1.0 point per 100 possessions. With Toronto’s +7.9 regular-season net rating, that’d give the Raptors an expected net rating in the series of +6.9. But Cleveland actually outscored Toronto by 15.1 points per 100 possessions – a difference of -22.0.

Here’s how the Raptors fared in every series under Casey:

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Add all the differences, and it comes to -92.3. That is by far the lowest mark for a team that made the playoffs each season in a five-year span since the NBA adopted a 16-team postseason in 1984:

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The Raptors offense has stalled in the playoffs. Kyle Lowry‘s and DeMar DeRozan‘s isolations became too predictable and easy to shut down.

Nurse has played a role in trying to fix those problems, and maybe an extra year and the top job will help him get Toronto over the hump.

The Raptors’ regular-season success is commendable, but it’s no longer enough for them. That’s evident in Casey’s firing and Nurse’s ascension. The focus is already on the playoffs.

Nurse can’t just wait around for LeBron to leave Cleveland. The Raptors’ postseason problems are much more significant than one opponent, even LeBron.

Report: LeBron James says he doesn’t like Houston as city

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
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Dwyane Wade said LeBron James‘ upcoming free-agency decision would be primarily about “lifestyle.”

If so, that doesn’t bode well for the Rockets.

Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal on ESPNLA:

I heard this from his own lips when we were in Houston this season. He does not like Houston as a city. So, that would require him moving to a place that he’s not crazy about.

The Rockets were already trending out of the LeBron chase. This won’t alter that perception.

But as much as LeBron cares about lifestyle and where his family lives, he’s also still in “championship mode.” Nobody is closer than Houston to toppling the Warriors. Would LeBron put the Rockets over the top? Or would he, James Harden and Chris Paul step on each other’s toes by needing the ball too much? These are questions worth exploring.

Will the Rockets present an overall package that lures LeBron? It’s getting increasingly difficult to see, and the way this is playing out, Houston fans could resent LeBron if he signs elsewhere. That’s not necessarily fair to him, but that’s how it works.

Just ask Chandler Parsons.

Report: Raptors promoting assistant Nick Nurse to head coach

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Raptors assistant coach Nick Nurse had been favored to ascended to the team’s head coach for a while.

Now, he’s actually getting the job.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Nurse succeeds Dwane Casey, who raised expectations even higher than he could meet and got hired. They won’t fall much, if at all, for Nurse.

The Raptors have an expensive payroll led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They’ve succeeded plenty in the regular season – only to disappoint repeatedly in the playoffs. Nurse will be judged on his ability to guide Toronto deeper into the postseason before its core passes its prime.

Nurse helped revamp the Raptors’ offense, diversifying it with the goal of more playoff success. The results were mixed in the first year, but maybe over a larger sample – with Nurse now in charge – there will be even more improvement.

It’s a little odd for Toronto to fire Casey and replace him with a member of his own staff. But the Pacers recently did that with Frank Vogel and Nate McMillan, and that turned out well.

There’s value in continuity. The Raptors wanted some – just not too much.

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

AP Photo/Steven Senne
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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.