When I crossed paths with James before Sunday night’s tipoff, in my weekend cameo with ESPN Radio, he acknowledged that hauling the Lakers to the playoffs will be a daunting assignment. But he also insisted that he’s starting to feel better physically at the most important time after missing a career-worst 17 consecutive games with a groin strain he sustained on Christmas. “It’s going to be tough, but we shouldn’t want it any other way,” James said. “I look forward to the challenge — and I’m getting healthy, too.”
July 27, 2021 | 3:09 pm EDT Update
Bobby Marks: Toronto had until 5PM ET. on Tuesday to make a decision on the $10,851,246 contract for 2021/22. The guaranteed date has now been pushed back to August 3. The guaranteed dates of Baynes, Boucher, Watson, Bembry and now Hood are after FA begins.
Nets general manager Sean Marks has every intention of extending all of the Big Three this summer, with free agency officially tipping off Monday at 6 p.m. The question now is, are those three stars – Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving – all on the same page about staying in Brooklyn for the long haul? And with all three of them max players and money not the big factor, what goes into the decision? “(You) like being in that environment, first of all. You enjoy playing the game, that’s the most important thing. I think we all three enjoy playing with each other,” Durant said when asked by the Post after Team USA practice on Tuesday morning. “But that’s a personal thing, and guys are different. I’m sure when the time is right I’m sure we’ll all make the right decision for ourselves.”
The Big Three can all become free agents after the 2021-22 season. But they can also ink long-term extensions this summer that would keep them in Brooklyn through the 2025-26 campaign. Durant – who’ll lead Team USA vs. Iran at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday – was asked by the Post what he specifically would look for in making his call. “Just being in a great environment and being around teammates that enjoy the game,” said Durant. “Keep growing individually. That’s the most important thing; how we’re growing individually. Definitely how we come together as a team. I enjoy seeing my teammates get better; I enjoy getting better and have an environment that encourages that every single day.”
Andrew Lopez: Don’t be surprised if the Pelicans make another move regarding pick No. 17. According to sources, Pelicans could look to move back in the draft or could look to move the pick with an eye towards getting more immediate veteran help.
Tom Moore: #NBA source: #Sixers are more likely to trade the No. 28 pick in Thursday night’s draft than they were a few weeks ago. They apparently have been getting some solid offers for their late first-round selection. #NBADraft
So while Cunningham may share traits with Magic and Bird, the view of him as a can’t-miss prospect is much easier to process because of current-day players like Jokic—and, in particular, Luka Doncic. In broad strokes, Cunningham and Doncic may well be geminis of a very specific playmaking archetype. It’s rare to see perimeter players leverage their size, strength, and stride to create space in the way that both players seem innately aware and capable of. “As prospects, I do think Cade has a pretty similar baseline in terms of the vision and the way he sees the court, the way he processes how everyone is moving,” Zaucha said.
One watches Cunningham expecting a beeline to the right decision; one watches Doncic expecting the seas to magically part, showing another way. But the stylistic difference may not have much effect on substance. “I wonder if there really is a gap in their creativity—the way they manipulate defenders, especially—or if it’s some sort of aesthetic bias at play,” Zaucha said. “Because Luka loves to make those creative decisions, and then sell it with a behind-the-back pass or some wild delivery that the defense doesn’t expect. Whereas I think Cade—from a decision-making perspective, I think Cade solves problems in creative ways, he just doesn’t always make them look creative.”