LeBron James officially announces return to Cavs lineup after eight-game absence (VIDEO)


LeBron James has missed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ last eight games, but he’s officially slated to make his return tonight against the Phoenix Suns. James made the announcement in a video for Bleacher Report, which you can watch below:

James took time off to recover from back and knee injuries, the first time in his career he’s missed more than five games in a season, let alone in a row. The team is 19-19, losing their last four games, so James comes back to a team in a state of flux. But it will be good to have him back regardless.

LeBron James calls injury ‘the most difficult thing I’ve been through’


LeBron James missed three, two, three, four, seven, one, six, three, four, six and five games in his first 11 NBA seasons.

He has already missed nine games (and possibly counting) this season.

LeBron has never gone through anything like this physically. Making matters worse, the Cavaliers are 1-8 without him (and 18-11 with him) and have lost five straight.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Northeast Ohio Media Group:

“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve been through,” he said.

James also said “I hated the fact that we were playing some decent ball when I went out and we just dropped a lot of games when I went out.

Other things LeBron has called the most difficult thing he’s been through: winning a championship, leading these Cavaliers, saying no to his mother about money.

I’m sure this injury seems difficult to LeBron in the moment. But soon enough, he’ll return to the court, and this time won’t even rate among the most difficult when he looks back on his career.

Carmelo Anthony believes he can trump Knicks’ 5-35 record in selling free agents


If the NBA salary cap lands where projected and the Knicks get the No. 4 pick in the draft and renounce all their free agents, they’d have $25,434,111 in cap room.

That’s plenty to land a max player and another solid piece.

*The NBA’s worst team has a 35.7 percent chance of receiving the No. 4 pick in the lottery, making the fourth selection more likely than No. 1 (25.0 percent chance), No. 2 (21.5) or No. 3 (17.8).

At different times, the Knicks have been linked to many of the top 2015 free agents.

They’ll pursue Marc Gasol – and Pau Gasol even said they have a chancebut they know that’s a longshot. Rajon Rondo has been a long-rumored target, but he’ll likely stay in Dallas. Goran Dragic said he’d consider the Knicks. Reggie Jackson could be a target. Tobias Harris might be interested, and he’d reportedly get a Nike bonus if he plays for New York.

If you really want to get crazy, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and even LeBron James could opt out and explore free agency this summer. Love’s loyalty to the Cavaliers is unclear (to be fair he hasn’t had an opportunity yet to prove it), and Phil Jackson pursued the forward in a trade last offseason. Why not try again this summer? Wade was once a New York target, and so was LeBron as recently as last year.

The Knicks play in a market where they can get their foot in the door with the biggest free agents.

But they’re also 5-35, a record that certainly won’t entice anyone credible.

Will New York overcome its on-court struggles in the marketplace? Carmelo Anthony says he’s up for the challenge.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The problem is Melo is a key reason the Knicks are 5-35.

He’s struggling on the court, at least relative to his usual standards, as he delays knee surgery. Free agents should wonder how much long-term physical damage a 30-year-old Melo is doing now.

There are also the old concerns about Melo’s ability to help his team win given his lack of defense and passing. I think those issues are overblown, especially in recent seasons as Melo has expanded his game and increase his energy level. But, yes, free agents should consider all that, too.

There’s also Melo’s huge contract, which could inhibit the Knicks’ ability to further upgrade the roster. This team is not only one star away from title contention.

And Melo is probably the best thing the Knicks have going other than a draft pick that has yet to arrive.

Tim Hardaway Jr. has regressed. Iman Shumpert is gone. Derek Fisher looks in over his head. Phil Jackson is no immediate savior.

It’s not impossible for bad teams to land expensive free agents. LeBron James went to the Cavaliers last summer. Al Jefferson (Charlotte), Josh Smith (Detroit) and Tyreke Evans (New Orleans) joined bad teams the year before.

The Knicks’ record hurts, but it doesn’t disqualify them. It’ll be interesting to see how Melo factors, though.

I’m convinced a lot of free agents like the idea of playing with Melo, but when push comes to shove, we’ll see whether any actually do it this summer – especially when so much else is going wrong with the Knicks around Melo.

LeBron James attends game, thoroughly enjoys Ohio State title win


LeBron James — the man who sold his return to Cleveland as part of his love of all things Ohio — may be playing Tuesday night in Phoenix (and the Cavs could use him), but Monday night he was in Dallas.

Why? He was watching his Ohio State Buckeyes win the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship. After the game he was down on field talking to quarterback Cardale Jones and celebrating with the players.

Looks like he was having a good time — as all of Buckeye fans were.

source: Getty Images

For the record, LeBron practiced with the Cavaliers on Monday. He got permission from the team to travel to Phoenix for Tuesday’s game separate from the team so he could attend the game.

Later LeBron tweeted this.

Kobe Bryant goes through practice, seems likely to play vs. Heat Tuesday

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Kobe Bryant had missed three of the Lakers’ last four games and six of the last 11 after he sat out Sunday night and the Lakers’ loss to the Trail Blazers. While Byron Scott said he was not concerned about Kobe’s health, that his star just needed some rest, there were a lot of questions about if that was really the case.

Tuesday, Kobe answered them, going through 90 minutes of the Lakers’ practice.

While he is officially questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Miami, it feels like Kobe will play if you read Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Daily News.

“He looked more focused,” Lakers forward Nick Young said of Bryant.

But will that prove enough for Bryant to return when the Lakers (12-26) host the Miami Heat (16-21) at Staples Center? Lakers coach Byron Scott said he will “pencil” Bryant in, but will not make a final decision until he sees the how 36-year-old feels following both morning shootaround and shortly before tipoff.

Scott sounded like a guy who was going to be cautious going forward with Kobe, saying he was the reason Kobe got worn down with heavy minutes in the first 27 games of the season.

“I thought his workload was too much,” Scott said. “He had a (minutes) number, my number was higher but his number was right, you know, when I look back at it. We cut those numbers down and I think his efficiency has been so much better, in terms of how he’s been able to play…

“I didn’t take into serious consideration him missing almost a whole year and now getting back and playing,” he said before his Lakers faced Portland. “I should have figured out that would take a little time. But watching his workouts and watching what great shape he was in I think I got a little too confident, expecting that he could handle those type of minutes. And like I said, I was wrong….

“You may think it’s not a lot — if it’s a minute or two or three minutes, it doesn’t make much of a difference — but in the long run it does.”

If Kobe plays against Miami expect to see him Thursday against LeBron James (probably, if he’s back) and Cleveland. Scott did say Kobe will sit out at least one game of back-to-backs for the rest of this season.