LeBron James’ admits recruiting failure in previous stint with Cavaliers


Let’s rank LeBron James’ teammates during his first stint with the Cavaliers by their top win-share season, noting how Cleveland acquired each:


  1. Mo Williams (trade)
  2. Carlos Boozer (draft)
  3. Zydrunas Ilgauskas (draft)
  4. Drew Gooden(trade)
  5. Anderson Varejao (trade)
  6. Delonte West (trade)
  7. Anthony Parker (free agency)
  8. Wally Szczerbiak (trade)
  9. J.J. Hickson (draft)
  10. Donyell Marshall (free agency)

Just two of the top 10 and none of the top six were acquired as free agents. Parker, though he usually started, and Marshall were signed to be backups.

Not until No. 13 on that list – Larry Hughes, who followed Daniel Gibson (draft) and Jeff McInnis (trade) – do you reach a real high-priced free agent. Hughes signed a five-year, $60 million contract in 2005, but he never posted even an average PER season during it.

By the way, No. 16 would have been the biggest name on the list – Shaquille O’Neal – and he was acquired via trade.

The Cavaliers lured only  one marquee free agent during LeBron’s first stint, and he was a bust.

Obviously, getting help this time hasn’t been an issue. Kevin Love green-lit a trade to Cleveland, and Mike Miller and Shawn Marion also signed with the Cavaliers. James Jones followed LeBron from Miami to Cleveland – and Jones isn’t even from there!

Why didn’t LeBron try this hard to get help the first time?

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I recruited [before] I left here, but I just didn’t win nothing so nobody wanted to play with me,” James said, pointing out that previously, the lone marquee free agent to come to Cleveland based on his influence was Larry Hughes in 2005. “I recruited. I recruited Michael Redd, I recruited Joe Johnson, I recruited Chris Bosh. I recruited a lot of guys. I just didn’t win, and they didn’t want to come to Cleveland. So, I guess me winning two championships, it helped out a lot.”

The rings obviously help, but so does LeBron’s maturation, which might go hand-in-hand. He’s a more appealing teammate than ever.

Cleveland’s market can be overcome. LeBron helped make Miami a more appealing market, and he can do the same in Ohio, even if Cleveland never reaches Miami levels.

The NBA promotes parity through the draft, rewarding teams for losing. But free agency is the opposite. The better teams have a much easier time luring players – as LeBron and the Cavaliers are discovering.

Quincy Acy starting for Knicks as power forward? Looks like it’s happening.


The Knicks have Amare Stoudemire, but he is still on a minutes restriction and really hasn’t been the most impressive Knick player this preseason.

The Knicks have Andrea Bargnani, but he has a strained hamstring. Plus, he’s Andrea Bargnani.

That opened the door for Quincy Acy and he — and his enormous beard — pushed through it, being one of the most energetic and defensive-minded Knicks in the preseason. Acy has started the past three Knicks preseason games and appears to have earned himself the starting spot when the season tips off in less than two weeks, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

“No I didn’t plan on coming here to start,’’ Acy told The Post with a chuckle. “I planned on coming here and playing hard to earn minutes. I guess I impressed enough with my defense to earn a spot. I don’t know what coach got going if I’m starting or coming off the bench or not playing, but I’ll be happy.’’

“I think that separates myself — just high energy,’’ Acy said. “Not a lot of guys in the league do the things I do. I take pride in it and take pride in my defense and take some pride in being a great overall teammate.’’

To quote a line I got from David Thorpe: Energy is a skill.

That has been the key — this feels a lot like how Kenneth Faried ended up a starter and key piece for Team USA at the World Cup. Injuries and defections opened the door for Faried, but his energy and rebounding turned out to be just what that team needed for glue and some inspiration.

Acy is bringing that to the Knicks this preseason — he goes all out every second he’s on the court. It’s not exactly something the Knicks have been known for in recent years. The Knicks traded for Acy this summer in a deal that was really more about dumping Wayne Ellington’s contract. Acy was seen as a slightly more efficient scorer than Jeremy Tyler plus a guy who busts it every time on the court.

But Acy has earned his way into the starting lineup (with Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Samuel Dalembert). Personally I think Bargnani is better coming off the bench (insert your own joke here about coming off the bench in Italy next season if you want). It will be a matchup thing, at times Bargnani and Stoudemire will be a better fit.

Energy always fits, however. That’s what Acy can bring — and the Knicks fans will appreciate it.

Wesley Matthews thinks Wesley Matthews is the best two-way guard in NBA


It’s been a bit of a bar stool debate among NBA fans since Klay Thompson’s agent brought it up:

Who is the best two-way guard in the NBA?

Obviously Thompson’s agent said it was Thompson. Lance Stephenson is in the conversation, as is the often overlooked Joe Johnson (not worth his contract but still very good). Arron Afflalo gets overlooked and is better than many fans realize. DeMar DeRozan, Eric Bledsoe and Bradley Beal are fast rising. Kobe Bryant’s backers say it’s still him (Kobe’s fans will say it’s Kobe when he’s 70 and in a wheelchair). I’d still take James Harden over a lot of guys because of his offense but his defense is clearly an issue.

Portland’s Wesley Mathews says its Wesley Mathews, as he told the Columbian.

“Do I think I’m All-Defense? Absolutely. I think I’m the best two-way two-guard in the NBA. But I feel like we need to be a good defensive team within the scheme of the game. We’re not out there gambling, trying to reach and get steals. That would put us in a bind if I don’t get it,” Matthews said.

I’d put him in the often-overlooked category and near the top of that mythical list — he averaged 17.4 points a game with a very good .588 true shooting percentage and he shot almost 40 percent from three. He’s a smart and strong defender. He gets overlooked because of the star power that Damian Lillard brings, but Mathews is one of the games better two guards right now.

You’ll see Matthews real value next summer when he is a free agent — he is going to get paid. A number of teams will try to poach him.

Nuggets still getting trade calls about Timofey Mozgov, still not moving him


Timofey Mozgov is a solid NBA center. He’s strong on the pick-and-roll, averaged 9.4 points a game last season with a good .584 true shooting percentage, plus he’s solid on the glass grabbing 16.1 percent of the available rebounds when he is on the court (that worked out to 6.4 a game last year). He’s a slightly above average NBA big. He’s just 28 and in his fifth NBA season.

And he’s making just $4.6 million this season with a team option for just under $5 million for next season, a bargain for that kind of production from a big.

Which has led to his team the Denver Nuggets getting — and rejecting — a lot of trade calls for Mozgov, reports Christopher Dempsey at the Denver Post.

During the past calendar year, Mozgov arguably has been the Nuggets’ most-coveted trade asset. Teams called last winter and throughout the summer. That’s not likely to change, because with a $4.6 million salary, Mozgov is one of the best bangs for the buck in the NBA…

“He’s been my favorite,” Shaw said. “Just because as a coach, he’s kind of like a coach’s dream. He does everything that you ask him to do. It’s nice to see when it pays off.”

Denver is not likely to move Mozgov.

They really are not going to move him until JaVale McGee is all the way back and proves he can take on the load of a starting center — and that apparently will not come until after the season starts. At least.

Even if/when McGee returns to form and we move closer to the trade deadline the Nuggets might listen to offers, particularly if they see a need they can fill.

Even then, you’re going to really have to blow the Nuggets away to get a deal.

They have a quality center at a good price, why are they going to trade him, exactly?

Derrick Rose crosses over Ty Lawson in transition (VIDEO)


These are the types of plays we remember from Derrick Rose.

As the one-time MVP continues to work his way back into game shape after missing all but 10 games of the last two seasons due to injury, the speed and agility he uses to attack opponents seems to be reappearing more frequently — as Ty Lawson can attest.