Can LeBron attract a superstar free agent to the Lakers?


When Kevin Love picked up his telephone on July 1 after the announcement, he ended his message to LeBron James with: “I really like you.”

He mentioned it once more final month when the 2 former teammates received collectively in New York and Love received the prospect to say it to James’ household as properly. Love and James are in a very good place, which hasn’t at all times been the case with teammates when James has left groups up to now. It completely wasn’t the case when he left Cleveland the primary time round, when a number of friendships eroded rapidly and publicly.

So final week I wasn’t positive what Love was going to say after I requested him this: “As an example subsequent summer season a star free agent calls you and asks what it is wish to play with LeBron James. What would you say?”

That is related for a number of causes. One, the Los Angeles Lakers have constructed their recreation plan round touchdown one other star in free company subsequent summer season. Two, between Kyrie Irving asking out of Cleveland, Paul George not even taking a gathering with the Lakers and Jimmy Butler reportedly not having L.A. on his most well-liked commerce checklist, there may be some query as to the drawing energy James has amongst stars in the intervening time. Three, maybe no teammate ran the gauntlet of optimistic and damaging penalties of being with James greater than Love did over the past 4 years.

“Nicely, it is dependent upon whether or not we’re speaking a few perimeter participant or a put up participant,” Love mentioned, making an attempt to demur and maybe making an attempt to inject a plug for Shock Physician, a mouthpiece he believes saved his tooth final season when he received run over in a recreation in Miami and the supposed purpose for this interview.

Lastly, although, Love made the purpose.

“You need to comply with. You need to be taught loads about that,” he mentioned.

Love mentioned that when he was in Minnesota he felt like he ought to have been extra of a pacesetter, that it was one thing anticipated of him. He labored on it, tried to check it, because the franchise participant he thought it was his function. It did not precisely work out, as anybody will let you know. However he by no means actually had somebody to comply with, both.

“It was exhausting to, that place was a revolving door. We did not have veterans, and there was no continuity,” Love mentioned, maybe with some irony, as that apparently continues to be a problem for the Timberwolves right now. “I had some dangerous habits.”

Backside line, Love wasn’t fairly prepared when he received to Cleveland and encountered the drive that was James, who made positive everybody knew the place he stood. On the primary day of apply in Cleveland in 2014, James halted the proceedings and took everybody into the locker room to run a players-only assembly the place he described the function every participant on the crew could be anticipated to play. Coach David Blatt waited on the apply court docket for James to dismiss the crew.

James has mellowed considerably and maybe discovered to make use of a softer hand. At his first apply with the Lakers he did not even handle the crew and afterward mentioned that was coach Luke Walton’s job.

Nonetheless, Love’s level is properly taken. More often than not a star participant goes to be the de facto voice of his crew. However when becoming a member of James, most voices and affect have typically been compromised to a level. Perhaps it will not be the case eternally; James has talked about eager to loosen the reins. There was a time when James envisioned a transition course of wherein he would hand off the Cavs to Irving and take a lesser function for himself. That clearly did not occur.

“You need to comply with. You need to be taught loads about that.”

Kevin Love on taking part in with LeBron James

There was a purpose James longed to play with Rajon Rondo, and a part of it’s how Rondo takes cost and holds others — together with the teaching employees — accountable. When James and the Lakers take their max house on the highway subsequent July, James goes to wish to have a pitch on how roles are going work. It may find yourself being an enormous think about whether or not the Lakers can get that second star.

“[Playing with LeBron] you are not the highest man. I simply tried to proceed to be myself and never faux it. I mentioned how I felt,” Love mentioned. “Whether or not we disagreed or agreed, my voice was heard.”

Love got here out of his 4 years with James with a championship ring, years of fulfilling deep playoff runs and two $100 million contracts. He additionally was berated on the ground, mocked on social media and had his manhood challenged in apply. He needed to make large and typically uncomfortable modifications to his recreation. However the intense deal with his crew afforded an enormous platform, so when he grew to become vocal about psychological sickness, his voice grew to become a beacon that modified the best way he checked out his life.

Finally, that is why Love thinks he’d suggest stars to hunt out an opportunity to play with James.

“You need to be resilient. I had a variety of exhausting nights. There have been darkish instances,” Love mentioned. “However I at all times believed preserve preventing, I used to be cussed about it. And LeBron makes positive you’ve got an opportunity to win yearly. He is gotten a variety of guys rings. You are going to win on the highest stage. We gained and we bonded and we will proceed this brotherhood.”

That is probably not a ringing endorsement, but it surely’s an trustworthy one.


Talking of the Wolves …

Like a variety of my reporter brethren, I’ve heard executives complain over the previous couple of weeks about how Minnesota is doing enterprise with the Butler saga. However let’s make one factor clear: The Wolves have the asset. They’ve the participant that everybody who calls needs. Which means they’ve leverage, and it additionally means they’ve each proper to take their time.

It is the identical purpose Butler can get away with entering into and demanding a commerce on the eve of coaching camp. Yeah, it is a dangerous look. Yeah, it backs up a few of the stuff the Chicago Bulls hinted once they traded him. However guess what, there might be groups falling throughout themselves to supply him $160 million subsequent July anyway. As a result of he is actually good and he performs each ends of the ground and he is a fierce competitor. He can do what he needs.

And so long as we’re being actual, let’s not act like an proprietor and a GM/coach being on completely different pages is a brand new factor. No, Glen Taylor did not put his entrance workplace in a great place when he contradicted them when it got here to Butler’s availability. It is not the signal of a wholesome group. However these things occurs to various levels on a regular basis.

Tom Thibodeau is aware of if he does not have a very good 12 months he’ll get fired. And he is aware of if he makes a nasty commerce for Butler or a commerce that simply shares the cabinets for the following GM that it does not assist his trigger. He is not going to take the pu pu platter. Sure, Butler can stroll on the finish of the 12 months. However you assume that is on the entrance of Thibodeau’s thoughts proper now? No approach, he is making an attempt to not get walked himself.

It is Miami and Houston, two groups who’ve been exhausting after Butler, who’ve minimal leverage. With all due respect to the Warmth, if they do not need to make Josh Richardson or Bam Adebayo out there for Butler, that is effective. However what different star are they going to commerce for then? It is not like there’s an choice B or C on the market. And so they’re paying $47 million to Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and Dion Waiters subsequent season as a substitute of being gamers within the free-agent market.

Houston has an awesome crew, however its solely probability of getting a participant like Butler for the following few years is by commerce. The Rockets can in all probability be somewhat extra affected person, they usually have fewer property to supply than the Warmth. However there is no purpose Minnesota should not play hardball with them.

This appears to be the place the Wolves are working. It is a dangerous hand they’ve, however no matter what their rivals need them to do, they are not folding but. Good for them.


Over the previous few years …

NBA groups have minimize down on preseason video games dramatically. Most groups used to have seven or eight preseason video games. Now, with the season beginning earlier, some groups have as few as 4. It may not result in nice basketball out of the gates — some have even speculated {that a} shortened coaching camp cycle results in extra early-season accidents — but it surely’s the suitable factor to do. For the gamers’ our bodies and for the season-ticket holders.

So why are there nonetheless back-to-backs within the preseason? The groups arrange their very own preseason schedules, they do not have the league responsible for this. The New Orleans Pelicans have two back-to-backs within the preseason and play 5 video games. The Toronto Raptors have a back-to-back this week, the place they go from Montreal to New Orleans.

And the league is not significantly better at this. Philadelphia and Dallas did not get again from China from their league-sponsored journey till Tuesday. The Sixers play the primary recreation of the season per week later. And for those who assume they will be again to high kind after per week you have not flown from Asia to the US earlier than. Even when the Mavs are flying on a $500,000-an-hour luxurious jet.

Subsequent 12 months, our Tim MacMahon experiences, the league is planning to triple its preseason video games in Asia and add stops in Japan, India and Dubai as properly. That can imply sending extra groups over for these necessary however taxing goodwill and promotional missions.

A league govt just lately advised me that when groups are taking midseason holidays to Napa then the schedule has gone too far by way of in-season relaxation. I feel the remaining provisions are sensible. However there’s nonetheless some work to be accomplished on one of the best utilization of time within the preseason.



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