Storyline: LeBron James to Lakers

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“Today is a great day for the Lakers organization and Lakers fans all over the world to welcome LeBron James, a three-time NBA Champion and four-time NBA MVP,” said Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “LeBron is special. He is the best player in the world. He loves to compete and is an awesome leader who is about winning and making sure that his teammates are successful. The Lakers players are excited to have a teammate who has been to nine NBA Finals. It’s a huge step closer to returning the Lakers to the playoffs and to the NBA Finals.”

“This is a historic moment for the Lakers, and we could not feel more grateful and honored,” Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “When LeBron James – a perennial NBA MVP and champion who is playing at the most astonishing levels of his career – chooses to join the Lakers, it serves as the ultimate validation for what we are building here. However, we all know that the work is not yet done. We will continue forward and do all that is necessary to achieve our shared obsession of bringing banner No. 17 to the world’s best fans – Lakers Nation.”

On Sunday morning, James ate breakfast with his wife on the patio at A Votre Sante in Brentwood. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic candidate for governor of California, stopped at their table and asked where he was headed. James kept quiet. Maria Shriver, the former First Lady of California, also swung by and delivered her case for the Lakers. There is little doubt the club’s cache played as much a part in James’s thinking as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. James grew up a Cowboys and a Yankees fan, but he has never suited up for an iconic institution. Even though the Rockets and Sixers are loaded in comparison to the Lakers, they did not capture the imagination in the same way.

On Sunday afternoon, James and his wife went back to Van Nuys Airport. They were flying east again, this time to Europe, for a couple’s trip. His advisors didn’t know if he’d pick a team before he left for Europe or after he landed, or even after he returned. They prepared an old-fashioned press release under the letterhead of Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports Group, but they weren’t sure if or when they’d distribute it. James phoned Paul as he was boarding the private plane. “Call the Lakers,” he said.

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss deserves the assist for getting this done, as she’s the one who made the bold move in Feb. 2017 of firing her own brother, Jim Buss, and longtime general manager, Mitch Kupchak, after years of failed free agency pitches. Magic Johnson came in as an adviser and then president of basketball operations, and Rob Pelinka, the longtime agent of Kobe Bryant, became general manager. The overhaul was complete, with Buss pushing for more synergy between the front office and ownership with the hopes that it would lead to this kind of prize. But according to a person with knowledge of James’ thinking, it was Johnson who closed this monumental deal. The Lakers legend met with James in one of his Los Angeles homes for approximately three hours on Saturday night, when the NBA’s free agency period tipped off.

Dan Gilbert: Virtually anyone with roots in Northeast Ohio paused and felt the memories of the past and the utter joy that the burden of the so-called ‘curse’ was finally a thing of the past. Cleveland, Ohio was the home of a championship team for the first time since 1964. Words do not express the meaning and the feeling this accomplishment brought to the people of Northeast Ohio. None of this would have happened if LeBron James did not agree to come back home and lead the Cavaliers to the promised land. The entire Cavaliers franchise thanks LeBron for that precious moment and for all of the excitement he delivered as he led our team to four straight NBA Finals appearances.

Dan Gilbert: LeBron is a family man, first. We wish his kids, his wife Savannah, his mother Gloria, and LeBron himself nothing but the best in the years and decades ahead. LeBron’s connection to Akron, Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio will most certainly endure as his commitment to the region and his support of many important causes has been impactful to so many kids and families. LeBron, you came home and delivered the ultimate goal. Nothing but appreciation and gratitude for everything you put into every moment you spent in a Cavaliers uniform. We look forward to the retirement of the famous #23 Cavs jersey one day down the line…”

Here are three reasons why LeBron James joined the Lakers, according to two people with knowledge of the negotiations. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the high-profile nature of the deal. 1. James and his family (wife Savannah, sons LeBron Jr. and Bryce and daughter Zhuri) are excited to live in Los Angeles fulltime. He has two homes there and has spent previous offseasons there. 2. James believes the Lakers are in position – with some of the players they have now – to build a team that can contend for a championship soon. Also, James was not adamant that another All-Star, such as Kawhi Leonard or Paul George, had to join the Lakers for him to sign with the Lakers. He understands they can build and create a contender with him there.

“Clearly, LeBron is keeping a very close eye on the Lakers. This is my read on the situation: if he opts into his contract, that it pretty much closes the door on him going to the Lakers. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee that he is staying with the Cavs, but I think it’s a really good sign that he will. “If he opts out of the contract, I don’t necessarily think that it means he is leaving the Cavs, but I do think it bodes better for the Lakers if he does that. “There are other teams involved; obviously Houston, Philadelphia etc. But I really think this is a Cleveland or L.A. decision.
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March 28, 2020 | 7:34 pm EDT Update
Ballmer also talked about some of the efforts the Clippers have made to help out arena employees that have been impacted by the stoppage of play. “We’re being diligent about continuing to pay our employees,” he said. “We’re trying to take care of our smaller vendors. We had a t-shirt vendor we had $100,000 committed to for playoff t-shirts. I think it’s important that we pay that money, put it down now, and see what can happen over time since we are in a better position.”
The Atlanta Hawks through the Hawks Foundation and State Farm are providing support and resources to deliver meals for the frontline workers treating COVID-19 patients at Emory Healthcare through an innovative multi-week meal program that will bolster the Atlanta restaurant community, allowing local well-known restaurants to re-employ workers who were recently laid off or furloughed due to the financial effects of the COVID-19 situation.
March 28, 2020 | 5:45 pm EDT Update
J.B. Bickerstaff hasn’t been tested for coronavirus. No one in the Cavaliers organization has. He said all of his players are healthy and asymptomatic. “I don’t feel any effects. My kids are good. My wife is good. I feel like the people who need the test should use the test and they should be the ones getting tested,” Bickerstaff said. “At this point, I’m comfortable with where we are and the steps that we have taken to protect ourselves.”
Storyline: Coronavirus
There are deeper concerns. Health, safety, quality of life. More important things to consider. But there are also 17 games on the Cavs’ schedule. Bickerstaff was hoping to capitalize on that time. He still is. “I would hope to play the final 17 games to be honest with you,” he said. “Where we are and how important that is to us as a team in building and the taste it can leave as we go into what would have been a summer break — guys wanting to go out, work, prepare and get better because they start to see some things heading in the right direction. That momentum I think was going to be and would be important for us.”
Does Bickerstaff, who has been in the NBA since 2004, have any guess on what will happen? “Not at all. I know they will be relentless in their effort to do what’s best by everybody,” Bickerstaff said. “By everybody, it’s not just the teams that are involved, but all of our fans. Sports have always been a release for everybody. You have a tough day at work or whatever, you can come home, watch the Cavs and lose yourself for two and a half hours in that. This point in time, with all the stuff going on, I think it would speak volumes when it gets back. I think it will be a celebration. Make a huge impact on people’s lives.”
Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici predicts that soccer could take a page from the NBA and execute more trades as opposed to buying and selling players. With teams potentially missing out on millions of dollars on TV deals, prize money, ticket and merchandise sales and more, trading may be the most economical option for teams to modify their squads. “There will be lots of trades, a situation that will bring football closer to the NBA,” Paratici told TuttoSport.
March 28, 2020 | 2:41 pm EDT Update
MT: Just a hypothetical here, but what if the standings are frozen and things go right to playoffs. How would that work from a physical standpoint, depending on how much time passes? Figure you’d need some kind of warm-up games? Green: For sure. I don’t think that’d be fair to just have teams dive right into the playoffs. I think we’d need at least five games of the regular season to just get us our flow back. Get our legs back under us, get some kind of rhythm, get our chemistry, get our team back. I don’t know if it’s preseason-type games or scrimmages, but at least five or six games under our belt to get back into team form.
Storyline: Coronavirus
March 28, 2020 | 2:12 pm EDT Update
When the Pistons learned Wood had tested positive for the coronavirus, they were thoroughly briefed by the hospital regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) laws, which protect the privacy of patients. “That’s why we were so mystified when it leaked out,” Casey said of a report in The Athletic. “Christian was upset his name got out there. He didn’t release it. And the worst part was it got out before Christian even had a chance to tell his mom.
Storyline: Coronavirus Positives
“I was very unhappy about that. I told our staff, ‘This is unprofessional. This can’t happen again.’ It was so unfair to our player.” Casey said Pistons owner Tom Gores and vice chairman Arn Tellem were proactive in making arrangements for the teamwide quarantine, setting up daily phone calls with a physician so players could have their questions answered, providing the option for players to have meals delivered to their doors, and making mental health experts available to anyone who was feeling anxious about the virus and its ramifications. They also recorded temperatures twice daily from each player.
Most of them do not have their own courts in their homes, so conditioning is the focus for the moment, Casey said. “If you think about it,” Casey said, “this is the first time in these guys’ lives that no gym is available to them. They don’t have access to any state-of-the-art NBA facilities, no college gyms, no high school gym, no health clubs. It will be a challenge for all of us to get everyone reengaged mentally go back and play.”
March 28, 2020 | 1:16 pm EDT Update
Ewing has been asked about it in the past, and he always said he holds Oakley in high standards while not wanting to discuss his personal matters. However, he does want the bug squashed soon. “Whatever is going on with him and Mr. Dolan, like I’ve said before, it’s something that needs to stop,” Ewing told ESPN Radio on The Bart and Hahn Show. “He’s one of the best players that I’ve played with. He’s a part of the Knicks’ history. He and Mr. Dolan need to get in a room somewhere and figure that out.”
Kwatinetz said that he and Ice Cube, the other Big3 co-founder and hip hop mogul, are “probably just a few days away” from finalizing various logistics to ensure the tournament is broadcast globally. That includes resuming talks with potential broadcast partners, calculating the show’s budget and the tournament’s rules and schedule. Kwatinetz said he has fielded interest “far in excess” for the potential 16 players. Former NBA players will mostly represent that field, but Kwatinetz said he wants to “include at least one or two of the best female players.” Part of that hinges on the WNBA schedule. It will hold a virtual draft on April 17 and said it remains on schedule with the beginning of training camp (April 26) and the season opener (May 15). The WNBA might change its itinerary, though, depending on if it is considered safe to resume business.
Storyline: Coronavirus
None of the professional sports leagues have any certainty on when they can resume play. Not with the coronavirus outbreak growing by the day. That has not inhibited the Big3, however, from making plans for its fourth season, a pre-season tournament and even a reality show. The 3-on-3 basketball league partnered with media production company Endemal, which has produced the highly-rated reality show “Big Brother,” to create a quarantined reality show and a three-week pre-season tournament starting the first week of May. Big3 also plans to open its fourth season of its 12-team league on June 20 in Memphis. “We can’t control what happens with the virus. Nobody can control it,” Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz told USA TODAY Sports. “If that has to be pushed back a week or two, that’s possible. But we feel pretty good about being able to be up and running in May.”
March 28, 2020 | 12:43 pm EDT Update
“So that game when we playing against Kobe, I was begging our medical staff to play in that game,” recounts Irving. “Kobe had 42 points that game and he guaranteed that he was gonna give us 40. So I get it at the top of the key, I hear the crowd and the crowd was like; they;re all erupting silently. They’re like: ‘oh!!’ and everybody starts clapping like: ‘oh yeah!’ and it[s at the top of the key. Now what does that remind you of? Back in the city, back in Jersey, when you get in that moment, this is your time. So I get at the top of the key and I make a move, he stutters for a minute and I spin. When I spun, this dude was waiting for that and he punched that shit. He punched it, he punched it bro.”
Irving then broke down what made the Black Mamba’s game and his life special: “Kobe was the essence of seeing somebody there who you couldn’t believe was so smooth and so sharp and sound and fundamental,” said Irving. “My dad used to pause the games and he used to have me sit there and rewatch Kobe’s footwork and I used to sit back time after time in my computer room and watch Youtube highlights of Kobe and just highlights of him for hours.”
“It was windy and all types of (expletive) was going through my head. I look up at the boat and I see ‘Bron jump off the boat like he’s MacGyver,” Anthony said. “He jumped off the boat into the water. He was bringing me back with one arm. He’s swimming with one arm and he’s carrying me with the other arm.” “Yo, Bron, I appreciate that. You saved my life that day. Them little flippers wasn’t working for me.”
March 28, 2020 | 11:00 am EDT Update
This is supposedly his farewell before retiring after 17 seasons in the NBA. The circumstances haven’t allowed it to enter his mind, especially the past two weeks. The league has been suspended since March 11 because the coronavirus outbreak, so Haslem’s finale has been put on hold. “Yeah, I mean, everybody, obviously, it comes to mind,” Haslem said on a conference call Friday. “For me, I’m still maintaining hope that we can salvage some of the basketball season. So I haven’t gotten to that point yet. And in the midst of all this, there is a lot going on. So I’m focused on a lot of different things right now that are keeping me occupied, as far as not really thinking about what’s going to happen as far as my last basketball game.”
Storyline: Udonis Haslem Retirement?
LeBron James has an unusual gift. He has a photographic memory that allows him to remember the location of all ten players on the court in each moment of a 48-minute game. “I’ve always had it,” James told Sports Illustrated. ” A lot of my friends when I was younger playing the game, they were like, ‘Man, how did you remember that play? Or how did you remember that? It was so long ago.’ I never thought about it. I didn’t even know what photographic memory meant when I was younger until I got older. It’s something that I was born with or blessed with.”
“There’s a lot of people in the league with LeBron’s body,” Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers said. “There’s no one in the league with his brain.” James sees things before anyone else. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of every player in the league and their tendencies. He knows where his teammates should be, and how their defenders will likely react. “He knows everybody,” Quinn Cook said. “He could be last guy on the bench on the team, but he knows he’s left-handed, he’s a shooter, don’t go under him, he’s a driver, stuff like that. He pays attention to the game, he watches the game and he studies. He helps us get prepared just with his voice.”
Lakers’ assistant coach Jason Kidd, who was a 10-time All-Star during his 19 seasons in the league, defined “basketball IQ” as having an all-encompassing grasp of the game. “I think it entails understanding time and score, understanding your opponent, understanding your teammates and understanding yourself,” Kidd said. “It’s kind of like a movie, but playing at fast forward. I think he plays the game that way in the sense of anticipating what’s next. And when you have a high basketball IQ, you understand what’s going to happen next before anybody else does.”
March 28, 2020 | 5:09 am EDT Update

Gordon Hayward opting in?

Around the league, front-office executives say they expect that Hayward will opt-in. “It’s too much money to pass up,” one general manager told Heavy.com. “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021.”
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Another front-office executive, from the Western Conference, told Heavy.com that even before the coronavirus forced the NBA into a suspended season, he expected that free-agent conditions will give Hayward an easy decision. The only X-factor is whether Hayward has an agreement in place with the Celtics to opt-out and sign a longer deal. “There wasn’t going to be a whole lot of free-agent money on the market this summer no matter what,” he said. “That was always going to make it difficult to figure out how to opt-out and get paid. He could do that and re-sign with the Celtics and there may already be a handshake deal for something like that. I don’t know for sure but it would not surprise me.

Storyline: Jamal Crawford Free Agency
One young NBA player sent him a video of his apartment complex’s fitness room. Not an option, Payne told him, strongly discouraging him from using that space due to concerns of infection. To try to compensate, Payne has been on the phone with players’ agents working to get his clients the athletic equipment they need during the layoff. At the top of the list are home-friendly TRX resistance bands and stationary bikes “where they’re able to get some hard cardio in without disturbing the people under them.”
The longtime NBA announcer and analyst joined her ESPN colleague Adrian Wojnarowski on his podcast, The Woj Pod, to share her journey, from symptoms to recovery, as the new coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the United States and the rest of the world. “I cannot begin to express to you the feeling of gratitude that I have for health,” she told Wojnarowski. “And I just want people to know, it’s important to social distance and to continue to function with all good practices of hand washing, wiping down surfaces, whatever your trusted medical professionals are telling you, please, please follow those.”
“You’re aware of the shortage of tests, and you have that moral dilemma as a person,” she said. “[But] obviously our job requirement is such that we are on airplanes where we hear people cough and sneeze. We are in incredibly close proximity. The month prior to that game on March 11 happened to be a particularly hectic one for me travel-wise. “I was not spending very much time in my apartment here in the Philly area. So, I just thought, I started to believe, even though my symptoms did not seem to line up with the typical symptoms, I believed, given the nature of my profession, the number of people I encounter, that I did in fact have exposure to the virus.”
In a podcast with RocketsWire on Friday afternoon, Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown expressed optimism that the NBA will be able to resume its 2019-20 season following its coronavirus-induced shutdown. “First and foremost, we’re going to rely on the health professionals to tell us when it’s safe, and tell us the path on how to move forward for it to be safe for our players, for our coaches, and for the people who are involved in those games,” Brown told RocketsWire.
“We’re going to come through the other side,” Brown said Friday. I can honestly say Tilman has been fantastic with me, with our staff, with everything that we’re doing while under a significant amount of stress.” “He’s given me and Daryl [Morey] the directive to continue to handle things the way that we’ve always had to handle things during times of crisis like this. Tilman has been fantastic with the Rockets and Toyota Center organizations, and really supporting us in that endeavor.”
Storyline: Season Suspension