The Allure of the West

From CtB, Happy Fourth of July. For today’s article, Excl and James Michael Kenney-Prentiss team up to bring you the following meditation on LeBron’s move west, to the city of angels.

The West – majestic, mysterious, beckoning – beckoning all would-be adventurers with promises of gold, of glory, of the indefinable, yet desirable. The allure has captured many an imagination, and has spurred some of the greatest triumphs and saddest tragedies in our collective human story. Christopher Columbus sailed West to find a shorter route to China, ushering in one of the most seismic clashes between two great peoples, all leading to the creation of our America. With the promise of the new world – of El Dorado, of the Fountain of Youth, of untold riches beyond the deep blue sea, many traveled and many perished. For every Columbus, there must have been a thousand others whose names are lost to history, and their squalid and unremarkable search for fortune led them only to obscurity – and death.

As Americans, we went West, past the Appalachians, past the Mississippi, always reaching out, toiling, sweating, working, with every last fiber of our beings, to grasp fortune, glory, adventure, and even utopia itself. Our own ancestors were beset by the whispers promising greater things, so they came to the Ohio territory and founded the Greatest State in the Union. Others kept going, for the gold rush, to escape the dust bowl, or simply to start anew. The West became a refuge for those cast away by society in the East, the 49ers, the hippies, the outlaws. Even now, the West beckons many – with its promises of Hollywood fame, of Silicon Valley riches, of simply starting again.

To venture West is to be idealistic, optimistic, even naive in the face of the men and women who went and failed. Many died. Many starved. Many found it difficult to simply scrape by. The gold they rushed towards turned to pyrite in their hands. Hollywood fame becomes just a dream, that after countless auditions, just still finding oneself waiting tables, still waiting for the big break that will never come. Much in the West is masked with a veil of authenticity, covering the visage of Dorian Grey himself.

And yet, many still go. LeBron has gone. He may go with the that same promise and allure that has hooked many, some into great riches, most into nothingness beneath the great city of Oz. They go, Gatsby-like; they see the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther . . . and one fine morning ——

Part I: Chasing the Ghost

JMKP: LeBron James is chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan. He seemingly wants to compete for titles, yet trails Jordan in NBA Championships 3-6. LeBron trails Jordan in MVP titles 5-6, and total points 31,038-32-292. Winning titles led LeBron to go to Miami. LeBron returned to Cleveland when the Cavs had a roster that could compete (Irving, and eventually Love).

The question now is: will the Lakers allow LeBron to compete for titles every year?

My guess is no. The West is loaded, with the Spurs, Warriors, and Rockets (and an emerging Nuggets team) well poised to take the Western Conference title every year for the next several years.

Also, the Lakers are not built for a Finals run right now. Their team is young, inexperienced. We saw with Philadelphia last year that talent alone isn’t enough to make it to the Finals – and Philadelphia had much better young talent on their roster. Plus, even if Kawhi joined the Lake Show, we see time and time again that a SuperTeam doesn’t automatically mean success. Look at OKC or the Nets from a few years ago – big named stars don’t win you games if your stars are injured (Boggie) or don’t mesh on the court (Melo). LeBron, having joined the Lakers, finds himself away from the conference that could have almost guaranteed a Finals appearance, to the brutal West.

The West, with its brutality, on a Lakers team far behind where they will be to compete – it looks as though LeBron’s chances of ever catching the ghost of Michael Jordan will be yet another failed dream thrown astray on the unforgiving wilderness of the West.

Excl: The expectation that LeBron James will simply make it to the Finals every year seems unrealistic. Playing in LA means more regular season games against the likes of Golden State, Houston, San Antonio, Utah, New Orleans, etc — and that’s even before we get to the playoffs. Then, when the playoffs roll around, LeBron is looking at three solid rounds of those same tough teams, just to get to the Finals. If he thought he was getting grief before about losing in several consecutive Finals, what will he hear now if he can’t even get out of the first or second round?

Gone too are the days of coasting through the regular season, with LeBron saving his body for the playoffs, where he could then red-line his body, put everything on the line, and come out looking like a legend. Previously in the East, even in his Miami days, he could put up about 50% effort through the winter, let his teams work through issues and drama, and still wind up with a four-seed or better. Trying to run on cruise control in the West could see him missing the Playoffs altogether with the number of teams there that are capable of reaching the post-season.

I said before July 1st thatmoving to the Lakers would be a horrible decision from a personnel standpoint, even if James managed to forge a super-team. To get two superstars on the roster, they would of had to release/renounce just about everybody on the team, outside a small handful of their young guys, to fit both under the cap. Then if they wanted a third superstar, like Kawhi, the Lakers were looking at trading pretty much whoever was left over to make the deal worthwhile for the other team. At that point, they would be left with a mid-level exception and vet minimums to try and fill out their team.

Paul George spurned Los Angeles, and it may of actually helped a bit, as they no longer needed to renounce everyone. But even now, they are looking at a team that’s not a whole lot better than what the Cavs offered him. The Lakers may have more young pieces that could be attractive in a trade, but they also still play in the West and they have a bunch of head cases who can’t shoot. If Magic wants to go the free agent route again next year, they are back to the reality of needing to release their entire roster to make room.

Even when LeBron took his talents to South Beach and formed his first super-team, they struggled to find chemistry in their first year and ultimately lost to Dallas, a team that was a far cry from the war-machine Golden State fields today. That Miami team also played in a weaker Eastern Conference and featured a LeBron James in his mid-twenties instead of his mid-thirties. If he went to LA thinking he could build a super-team that could topple Golden State and continue to build his legacy, he really didn’t think that one through.

The New Death Lineup?

Part II: Expectations, Legacy, and Los Angeles

JMKP: I’ve already spoken about how LeBron presence on the Cavaliers gave him a greater glory than  he could achieve with any other team, and how winning for Cleveland will echo across generations. In that light, going to Los Angeles might have the worst effect on LeBron’s long term legacy.

The Los Angeles Lakers already have a rich, championship riddled history, filled with their heroes of past glory. Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, Magic, Wilt-the-Stilt, the Logo, and Lonzo Ball (kidding!).

One extreme of the LeBron-as-Laker future would be  LeBron winning four straight Finals. Granted, they also have a pretty significant Championship-draught (since 2010), so winning in 2019 will be cathartic for a city with little else to cheer for (#sarcasm). It will be good for LeBron, he will have topped Jordan’s record, and he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats. And yet, in thirty years, Laker fans won’t remember “LeBron” as the pinnacle of Laker history. Rather, the name “LeBron” will be tossed into the same historic bin as the rest of the celebrated Laker cast. It might be good to win in that historic tradition, but if he does, LeBron’s name will be one of many instead of the singular hero for an entire people.

Moses looking out at the Promised Land, and destined never to set foot in it.

The other extreme: LeBron doesn’t win four straight Final. Let’s say the West is too tough and LeBron doesn’t even make it to the Finals once. It was tough for LeBron this year to get past Indiana and Boston in the East. With Kevin Love and and some guys whose gravity at least spreads the floor. How far do you think LeBron will get with Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson? How quickly will Laker fans turn on him? How quickly will the Kobe-fans say “well, if Kobe was here instead of LeBron…” LeBron might fall into the same trap that lured many to the West before it crushed their souls once they reached a discarnate and disquieting “promised land”.

Excl: For the most part, LeBron is expected to reach the NBA Finals no matter where he plays. Here in Cleveland, we all want another Championship banner in the rafters. But generally, I think fans are appreciative of the one we did get. We understand that LeBron and a team of misfit toys can’t get past an offensive juggernaut that signed a top-three player in the league (and now a 5th All-Star).

In Cleveland, there may be disappointment, but there is at least acceptance of our fate and appreciation for what we have achieved. With the Lakers, that is all out the window. Anything less than multiple championships will be considered a failure. This is a team that has won 16 Championships, with many of them coming either back to back or within a few years of each other. The Lakers and their fans want a dynasty, not a one-year, plucky success story.

In Cleveland, LeBron is a prodigal son whose mistakes are forgiven. In LA, he’s a blood mercenary that has to play in the shadows of those 16 championship banners. And the weight of those shadows will increase with each playoff loss.

Let’s hope he can be a charming blood mercenary…

Lakers fans will never truly embrace him. Let’s face it, LeBron has no ties to Los Angeles, no real roots in California, and frankly, has been considered public enemy #1 for years to fans who feel that Kobe was always the far superior player. Why would this fan base suddenly take him in and treat them as one of their own? Yes, the Lakers will suddenly be relevant again, they will win more games, and Hollywood celebrities will pull their jerseys out of boxes filled with mothballs and start learning players’ names once more, but will LeBron ever encounter the same thrills he did when he hit a game-winner in Cleveland? Would he have the same experience of a defining crowd roar as he stood on the scorer’s table or stretched his arms out to the fans, soaking in the adulation that would only be bestowed upon the favored son of a proud people?

Admit it, in LA he’s merely a soldier of fortune. They’ll cheer, but it won’t really be for him. It would be as if Steph Curry or Draymond Green decided to opt out and join the Cavs. Yeah, we would pull for them, but I don’t think they would truly ever be “one of us”. If they ever started approaching Mark Price’s shooting records or Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ rebounding records, some of us would probably secretly hope it never happened. In the same way, the biggest “legacy moment” left for LeBron could be breaking Kareem’s all-time point total. You think Laker fans are going to be really excited for him to surpass that Laker legend?

In all likelihood, Lakers fans will turn on him. In the same way that they will never really accept him, they will also likely be quick to blame him if those extraordinary expectations are never reached. These are the same fans that, for years, would come up with every excuse imaginable to marginalize LeBron’s amazing accomplishments, all while propping up Kobe’s own value. Eventually, as the empirical evidence all but disappeared, they would simply fall back on Shaq’s favorite go-to excuse: “Ringz!” Now that the expectation is nothing less than “more Ringz”, he will either have to meet that lofty goal, or become the prime reason why they weren’t able to achieve it.

James is now the built-in, scapegoat excuse for every Laker fan out there. If they don’t win, it’s because LeBron wasn’t clutch, LeBron couldn’t carry the team the same way Kobe could, or LeBron just didn’t have that ice-water in his veins that other Laker legends had. Laker fans have used these same excuses for years, and they will fall back on them again if they need to explain why they couldn’t win a Championship with a super-team. Why? Because LeBron isn’t really one of “them”.

LeBron is already a legend in the minds of most people who follow basketball. He could announce his retirement tomorrow, and most people would probably still pencil him as one of the two best players to ever play. If he were to sign with the Cavs or even a number of other teams, where a championship wasn’t completely expected, he could quietly rack up career records, bow-out expectantly somewhere in the playoffs, and still be considered among the greats. It would look similar to Jordan’s final years in Washington, where people just appreciated his amazing skills but never docked him greatness points for exiting the post-season early. Playing for the Lakers on a super-team means he has to deliver or his legacy takes a hit. Dragging a group of average Joes and a Roomba to the NBA Finals is worthy of an SNL sketch and only adds to his mystique. Losing in the second round with a super-team that you colluded to build is not the stuff of legend. Locally too, LeBron has all but set himself up as the greatest athlete in Cleveland history. After another five years and few broken NBA records, Cleveland could all but guarantee him a Rocky-esque statue on the top of the Terminal Tower. A few years in LA might warrant him a small plaque on the wall at Staples Center denoting, “Yeah, LeBron once played here.”

Part III: The Pay Cut

JMKP: LeBron could have made roughly $50M more dollars with Cleveland than with the Lakers. He’s already a transcendent star with multiple homes, so I’m not really sure how moving to LA would increase his potential lifetime earnings. The basketball season is brutal with its constant traveling and occasional team practices (coach-dependent), so he still wouldn’t be able to film his Space Jam Cinematic Universe regardless of where he lived.

For this point, I really sympathize with LeBron. I have passed up many opportunities that offered a much higher salary, yet didn’t align with what I ultimately wanted out of life. There are more important things in life than money, and if LeBron found that in LA, then more power to him.

Excl: This really represents the first 50 million or so reasons LeBron picking LA over Cleveland didn’t make a lot financial sense. Okay, sure, Nike is his true employer with a billion dollar lifetime deal, but $50M+ is still $50M+. Passing up a deal with Cleveland meant passing on his only chance at signing a super-max 5-year ~$205 million dollar dear. Signing anywhere else means he could only max out at ~$152 million across only 4 years. As somebody who will be pushing 38 when the fourth year expires, he may of wanted to consider having that 5th year of guaranteed money at a maximum salary. Outside of basketball salary though, he’s still the most recognized man in the sport.  I don’t see how moving to LA suddenly makes him any more visible or marketable than he was before.

State taxes also seem to be a huge selling point whenever writers talk about players wanting to go play in places such as Texas or Florida. “They have no income tax so that 50 million dollar deal is actually 50 million!” But why is this never mentioned when talking about the opposite end of the scale? California has some of the highest taxes in the nation, while Ohio is still fairly moderate by comparison. Income taxes for big earners in the Golden State approach 13.3% while sales tax amounts to another 7.35%. In Ohio, well-paid basketball players would be looking at a 5% income tax and a 5.75% sales tax. LeBron would have saved far more in yearly taxes choosing Ohio over California than he would have choosing an income tax-free state like Texas over Ohio.

Part IV: The LA Experience

JMKP: Full disclosure, I have never lived in Los Angeles or its surrounding suburbs. I do, however, have many friends, family, and professional relationships with people who have lived in the City of Angels, so I might not be completely off-base here. Up to y’all to decide.

Quite frankly, from everything I hear, LA really seems like a terrible place to live. On top of being the most polluted city in the United States, and having the worst traffic in the United States, the culture in Los Angeles always appears shallow, superficial, vapid. Fake body parts. Fake personalities. Constant name dropping. A deafening echo chamber of unoriginal, chasing-the-trend opinions. An entire city in a rat race of rat races, where the very many seekers of fame, wealth, and notoriety swarm at the pittance from the very few. I lived in New York City for three years, and the comparisons between the two cities – two rat races on two different coasts, each going for something different, soured any curiosity I would have in living in such a place.

In Ohio, people are nice. We don’t generally care how much money someone makes, or how famous someone is. All we care about is if that person is a good person. We value family, long-term meaningful friendships, and a life well lived. We aren’t as slow or as closed off as some of the rural south, nor are we trapped in a break-neck speed, cutthroat game where our success means always means another’s failure. Our currency is sarcasm, and we generally stand as moderates to the more extreme wings in the country. And Los Angeles seems the opposite of all of that, in every possible way.

Los Angeles is also the place where someone came up with this scene for a movie . . .

And LeBron is now in Los Angeles. Will he miss the Midwest? I would think so.

LeBron is now surrounded by the distractions of the rich and famous. Everyone I know who has ever met LeBron always tell me that he was a very humble guy, down to earth, and always gracious. He has always seemed like one of us – like an Ohioan. Yet, I can see him getting swarmed wherever he goes in LA. The hangers-on. The salespeople. Everyone seeing him of a means to their own ends, to their own big breaks.

Those in LA won’t embrace LeBron like we did in Cleveland. Laker fans might turn on him. They might leave games early, since those in LA have their beaches, the nice weather, the celebrities to go see. Remember how much we made fun of Miami fans when they left games early? In Cleveland, LeBron was King. In Los Angeles, LeBron is just one person of many to cheer for and appreciate. Until he won’t be. And Los Angeles will move on to whomever is the next flavor of the week, flitting from trend to trend, always being sure to exude their superiority to the morons in flyover country.

This might hurt LeBron’s charity work as well. As an Ohioan, he is still one of us. He understand what it’s like to be a kid growing up in NEO. Just by living in Ohio, the mere exposure to other Ohioans has a general moderating effect on peoples’ opinions.

Now, welcome to the LA echo chamber. I’ve spoken about culture before, but I think we can all agree that Los Angeles elite culture exists, and exists far outside the bounds of where most Americans find themselves. Importantly, this isn’t a political point, disparaging one political party over another. Rather, this is an extreme echo chamber point. Whenever you are in a place like LA, there exists a powerful social pressure towards a homogeneity of opinion, purity of thought, and the demonizing and intolerance of deviance. In addition, the trend towards purity of thought leads to a constant one-upmanship of purity. We see this on both the far left and far right. I’m not only eco friendly, but I compost! And I not only compost, but I compost all of my own waste! No running water for this eco-bro!

Or, on the right, we sometimes see smaller towns falling victim to the extremity of a single religious dogma – Not only are we Christians, but we take everything in the Bible word-for-word literally! As literally as we can make it!  This one-upmanship, mixed with an ideological echo-chamber, leads certain parts and cultures of this country to extremities of thought. College campuses have their victimhood culture, where they shut down speech, violently threaten speakers, and preach the harmful doctrine of microagressions and safe spaces. On the far left, we see people thinking that vaccines cause autism (they don’t), that GMOs are dangerous (they aren’t), and that America is the worst country ever (it isn’t). On the far right, we see people thinking that the Earth is less than 6,000 years old (it isn’t), that evolution through natural selection is a hoax (it isn’t), and that anthropogenic climate change is a lie (it isn’t).

LeBron now joins the LA echo chamber. Even if he keeps his sanity in the midst of the emotional torrent of purity tests and vapid opinion homogeneity, the LA-branded LeBron will be easier to dismiss, ignore, and cast aside because he’s just another Hollywood elite. And if he loses himself and drowns in the depths of the LA borg-mind, clutching his healing crystals next to Gwyneth Paltrow, then he will be relegated to the long list of celebrities-turned-running-jokes.

One last note about raising a family. I’m raising a family now, and I was lucky enough to be raised in Northeast Ohio. In my younger years, I lived across the United States, and even spent time living in Japan, China, and Austria. But now, confronted with the question of where to raise a family, I can unequivocally say the following: my family needs to be in Ohio; Ohio is the only place I find suitable enough, culturally, to raise my family. Too many stories are abound with the children of celebrities who lose their minds in the shadows of wealth, fame, and excess. Too many people grow up in the culture of a rat race, of fake people, of a culture that priorities material wealth over the contents of one’s character. I do hope that LeBron has a solid family culture. Establishing a family culture is hugely important. Living in a place that promotes that culture is even more so.

Excl: Full disclosure, While I don’t live in what is typically considered a suburb of LA, I am still in an area that can be considered a part of the Greater LA Area.  I’m surrounded by LA fans, LA sports talk radio, and terrible, traffic-causing LA drivers. Most of what James says is true. My wife and I unaffectionately call the place Hell-A, and rue the days we have to head up that way and drive through the parking lots they call the LA Freeway system.

The Ball Conundrum

Looking away from basketball itself, it’s already been established that Nike is LeBron’s true employer, as they can pay him a lot more than the CBA will allow a professional team to compensate him. The big problem for Nike with LeBron in LA, is that unless Lonzo Ball is traded out (and frankly, who would want that Lonzo/Lavar package deal?), LeBron is going to inadvertently boost the publicity of the Big Baller Brand. A super-team in LA means the national media attention will be focused hotter than it’s ever been on that Laker team. You just know Lavar Ball is going to fly straight into that spotlight faster than a fat Texas mosquito into a purple bug zapper. Unless LeBron just straight freezes-out Lonzo or his knee doesn’t heal, the young-point guard’s stats will likely see quite an improvement in his sophomore year. You don’t think Lavar will parley that into more promotional advertising for his fledgling brand? Does Nike really want to give a leg up to a new brand looking for whatever foot-in-the door they can get to steal market share? Could this start a major war-of-words between LeBron and Lavar (and other NBA players) who treat shoe deals like street-gang turf battles? Is this really the type of distraction LeBron needs when trying to cement the last years of his legacy?

LA will be a distraction. Back in 2015, a trade was made to acquire one Iman Shumpert. As penance for making the deal, the Cavs were asked to take on the salary of JR Smith, who had not lived up to his hefty contract in New York. But then a funny thing happened. JR suddenly became focused and a legitimate starter for the Cavs, who would eventually win a Championship with JR as a major contributor. What happened? JR himself said that being out of the New York limelight allowed him to focus more on basketball. The distractions and temptations were gone, and thus he was able to just play basketball again. Los Angeles offers the same distractions as New York. Yes, LeBron is much less likely to be bemused by shiny objects, but Los Angeles is going to provide a number of temptations for him that could pull him away from concentrating on basketball. Is he going to want to make more movies? Is he going to want to hang out with more celebrities? Will any of this pull him away from focusing solely on winning championships? Does he even care at this point?

And yet, despite all of this, LeBron ended up going West

LeBron made his decision. He’s a grown man with a family and responsibilities. He has a burgeoning movie career and might have started thinking about a life post-basketball.

LeBron won a championship for us in 2016. Even in this last year, he played 82 games, killed himself in the Finals, and put up with Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, thrown soup, IT, D-Rose being on the team, D-Rose being absent from the team, and Ty Lue.

LeBron has gone West.

West – LeBron has been lured by the promises of the frontier, a Magic-al place with the hint of future NBA glory under the shadows of past NBA giants. LeBron the basketball player. LeBron the movie star. LeBron the activist.

LeBron, Gatsby-like, finds himself in a place far beyond the Ohio, with its interminable inquisitions which spares only the children and the very old, filled with a distorted quality masquerading as genuine human experience, fleeting, evanescent — yet he chases! He chases the green light, the orgastic future . . .

—— so he beats on, boat against the current. Borne back ceaselessly into the West.

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Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

Interesting discussion downthread between Tom Pestak and Jack. I have to say they’re both wrong. Yes, LeBron is hard to build around, but also, the Cavs made so many mind numbingly dumb decisions. Yes, getting rid of Griff was borderline, but maybe Dan already knew Bron was gone. Bottom line, neither guy trusted the other. However, whoever’s idea Derrick Rose, Jeff Green, giving up a draft pick to eat Jordan Clarkson’s contract, Jose Calderon, and not firing Ty Lue… That guy doesn’t know what he’s doing with a basketball team.

Tom Pestak
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

Is “interesting” the right word if we’re “both wrong” :)

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago

Things were said, mistakes were made, pie was eaten.

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago
Gilbert’s biggest problem as an owner is that he doesn’t treat the team like a real business. He is constantly mixing his personal feelings and aspirations with it, refuses to build and maintain a stable front office and let the people who have been working in basketball their whole lives make the basketball decisions . These are observable facts — The Letter, never extending a general manager, a never-ending carousel of questionable coaching hires, criticizing another front office in a press conference. Lebron is no harder to build around than any other superstar. They couldn’t build a champion around KD and Russ in OKC, Kawhi also still only has 1 ring from the Duncan era, it took Dirk over a decade to get his ring (basically until Cuban backed off), 2008-2012 Boston only got 1 ring, Nash never got one, Malone and Stockton never won a ring and the list goes on. The Warriors have 3 rings and the Spurs have 5 overall because they built around franchise players and stable front offices that were ahead of the curve as their cornerstones, and the Cavs did everything on the fly. They didn’t plan for Lebron’s free agency in 2014 and… Read more »
MikeO
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MikeO
4 months 7 days ago

Not resigning Griffin WHEN YOU HAD NO VIABLE BACKUP PLAN was just criminal negligence, and people seem to forget to mention that. Gilbert let him go in an important offseason, and he had nothing else in place.

And god I’m tired of Lebron talk. He’s gone, it is what it is. I’m glad I won’t have to deal with all the Lebron related nonsense anymore. And, hey Lakers, he’s gonna play in the post, he’s gonna play off ball, he’s gonna concentrate on defense, sure he is. LOL.

Slammin Sam
Guest
Slammin Sam
4 months 7 days ago

I’m irritated with Gilbert for being an incompetent d bag, irritated with LeBron for all his fake cornball “nothing is given” bs, and irritated with the Warriors for changing the calculus with the Durant signing. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to having a nice, normal, crappy regular season. One without thinking the sky is falling down every week.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 7 days ago

I am very happy. Last year and the year before, watching games, even wins, often wasn’t fun. They just were so uneven quarter to quarter, let alone game to game.

Ironic part about the GS thing is that LBJ and Chris Paul resisted cap smoothing which would have prevented the Durant signing. The money would be made up eventually by the players or added initially to existing contracts. So in a sense, Lebron played a large part in dooming his own chances for more championships.

Jack
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Jack
4 months 7 days ago

You realize that it was a unanimous vote by every team rep, right? Not just CP3 and Lebron’s unilateral decision.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 7 days ago

Aware of it. Good god. Lebron is perfect and has never done anything wrong in his career. Happy? That is a naive as hell view. My point stands. He and Paul were the head of the players union. They resisted efforts for cap smoothing that were initially put forth by the nba. They and the other player team reps won that battle.

The other player reps voting for it doesn’t change the irony.

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago

Definitely makes it less ironic, and I’d be happy if people stopped conveniently omitting facts, making false comparisons and generally just making Stephen A Smith statements all the time. I’m not saying Lebron is perfect. His legacy is just more complex than you can express in hot takes. That’s why we have all these absurdly long discussion threads.

Also, one has nothing to do with another. If the cap-smoothing decision somehow weakens the players bargaining position, then that would be ironic since that was the whole point of turning the owners down. But the effect on their ability to win rings shouldn’t matter to them anyway. As player reps, their job is to represent the interests of the players from a financial and bargaining standpoint. So if they ignored the impact on their legacies to strengthen their bargaining position, then good for them.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

Maurice Wagner looking good for the lakers. Would’ve been nice to have that draft pick.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Definitely… skilled big man and tough as well.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 7 days ago

I doubt he is ever going to be able to defend anyone, though.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

4 blocks. Can play in that quazi zone a lot of teams play.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 7 days ago

We’ll see. I bet he gets absolutely scorched on any switches. I’ve watched this dude a long time, I don’t see it.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Yup…. he had a little make up speed today too.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

He can be exploited on the perimeter, but his smarts and length will compsenate for awhile.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 7 days ago

ICYMI. #Pelicans talking trade for #Hawks PG Dennis Schroder. #NBA https://t.co/q6dITuQDRx

— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) July 6, 2018

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

Man. If I was the Spurs I would consider suing Kawhi for breach of contract.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 7 days ago

I feel like the way the nba is going contracts will be completely unenforceable in the next 5-10 years. Might as well not even have them. Just give guys a bunch of money up front and let them decide whether they ever actually want to work/play for that money. If not, consider it charity and let them all join the warriors. At some point maybe they will up the roster numbers so every star gets to play for gs. That way everyone can get their championship participation ring.

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago
It’s a shitty situation, but it’s been this way in the NBA for a long time. Kareem forced a trade out of Milwaukee over 40 years ago. Danny Ferry also refused to play for the team that drafted him almost 30 years ago. The built in restrictions on player movement already go above and beyond what you find in other big business industries (the NBA is big business). I read contracts for a living. If a pharmaceutical companies gives a CEO a $20 mil a year, 5-year contract, there is a noncompete and probably a buy-out clause for both parties. NBA contracts aren’t much different. A lot of contracts have team options where a certain portion of the contract is not guaranteed, and they regularly negotiate buyouts for lower amounts. Kawhi not being able to play for another team barring a trade is the equivalent of a noncompete clause. This is how business works. Not to mention the NBA teams receive compensation in a trade, which should negate any buyout amount. Also, the Spurs also aren’t innocent in all of this. They didn’t necessarily do anything to Kawhi, but they went way outside the norms in terms of their comments,… Read more »
Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago

Moreover, just look at soccer in Europe if for some archaic reason you don’t think the NBA should be equivalent to pharma and banking. They don’t even trade players. If a team wants to transfer a player or the player wants to be transferred, then they find a team that will pay the right price.

Look at what’s happening with Ronaldo: http://www.espn.com/soccer/soccer-transfers/story/3558069/cristiano-ronaldo-rumours-lead-juventus-shares-to-spike-in-italian-stock-exchange

Fiat is supposedly even paying part of the transfer cost!

I don’t understand why people are so appalled by players acting like business people.

Excl
Member
4 months 7 days ago

If he continues to refuse to play this year, they absolutely should. They would have a decent case for getting back a large portion of last year’s salary, and if he does it again, they should just try to get back both years. It’s really a bad precedent to be setting, refusing to play until you get traded.

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 7 days ago

Didn’t start with him. But yeah at some point nba teams will have to take a stand and simply bench these guys. Definitely teams should be able to sue for breach and recover lost money while having their salary numbers taken off the cap. Then the guys can boycott teams all they want.

You don’t want to play. Fine you signed contract though so you don’t get paid if you don’t fulfill that contract.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

I wonder if the CBA allows them to sue for damages. Could be in the hundreds of millions.

Jack
Guest
Jack
4 months 7 days ago

No. They can treat him like a holdout and refuse to pay him, but they can’t sue him for damages. If it was like the NFL and they paid signing bonuses, it would be possible, but in the NBA, you pay for services rendered.

If he holds out, I’m sure they can terminate for cause, but if they don’t have a noncompete they might as well trade him and get assets in return. They can also just suspend him without pay for conduct detrimental to the team, and they don’t have to pay him, but he may still count against the cap (not sure, but definitely not luxury tax because that’s calculated at the end of the season) because again, that’s the agreement they came to with other owners and the players.

Excl
Member
4 months 7 days ago

It does. There’s some sort of language in there for “Refusal to provide services”. I think if the team doctor gives the okay for a player to participate, but they feel they are still injured, they have to go through some sort of second party doctor to establish that they are still injured, and then file a grievance through the players union. I’m not entirely sure on how that works though, or if he forfeits a year towards free-agency or not.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 7 days ago

If he doesn’t play for no reason, he’s not a free agent next year.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Allen looks legit… Tony Bradley looks like he’s in the running for a backup spot somewhere. Niang looks like he could find a spot in the league as a backup too.

Trae Young’s passing is legit… but he’s struggling with everything else. Spellman had a good game with close to a double double.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

Geez oh pete Grayson Allen is obnoxious as hell.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 7 days ago

He even SOUNDS like Ted Cruz.

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
4 months 7 days ago

LOL!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Allen with block on the three!!! Young finally hits a 3!!!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 7 days ago

Trae Young and Grayson Allen mixing it up in Summer League 👀 pic.twitter.com/wCJx50Q2GS

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 6, 2018

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Tony Bradley with the offensive putback!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Nice transition finish by Allen! Nice finish by Young!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Niang smart play… with the finish!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

ALLEN DRAWS THE CHARGE!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Allen with the tough defense forces the TO!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Allen with the tough defense on Young…. gets the steal, keys the fast break!!! Bradley with the finish!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Young picked on the defensive side.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Nice oop pass by Young!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Allen out of control on the break…. should’ve pulled it back out and ran offense.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Nice take to the rack by Allen, draws the foul against transition D.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

Area of improvement for Allen: ballhandling

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 7 days ago

TERRIFIC perimeter defense by Niang!!! Forces miss!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Utah moves the ball so well… Niang with the assist on that 3.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

WOW…. young rejected and leads to wide open 3 for Utah. Clearly Young’s lack of size is going to affect him at the next level. IT’s going to take time for him to adjust.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

So the Wizards are going thru with the Dwight experiment?

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Last I heard…. ?

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Young has the yips…. he’s made virtually nothing from the perimeter.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Nice pass Young… nice read.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Bad pass Niang, Roll man was wide open.

Raoul
Guest
Raoul
4 months 8 days ago

Reflecting on LBJ to LA:

I am actually a big Magic Johnson fan. He might be the only person in the world that LeBron would listen to, and rightfully so. To bad Dan didn’t hire him.

It appears MJ has given a lot of thought to how LBJ can be most effective at this stage of his career, and started the steps to remake the team for a new style. I am starting to see this as an interesting experiment, and it will be fun to watch. And I will be rooting for them to beat the Dubs, a team I hate. I don’t particularly like the Thunder or Rockets, either.

Good work with the play by play guys!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Hey thanks! Also agree about the experiment part…. I actually think guys like Rondo and Lance could be less of a problem on a team with LeBron. I’m very curious to see how it plays out.

bw..
Guest
bw..
4 months 7 days ago

He was a head case on a team that had KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. I guess maybe LeBron, Lance, and Javale could be more commanding.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

I see them getting more shooting as the season progresses. Maybe Korver?

JOHN B
Guest
JOHN B
4 months 7 days ago

No desire to trade Korver to a contender. Only to a borderline playoff or a team looking to clear cap space.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Yup agreed… Kuzma will be a shooter. Hart and Pope too. Wagner can too, although I’ll be surprised if he gets PT, even though he absolutely should.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Spellman misses open three… Trae Young with a nice alley oop pass, but can’t convert.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Nice backcut by Spellman, draws the foul, but should’ve finished the dunk.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Guys diving on the floor in Summer League!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

ALLEN DRIVE AND DISH! ASSIST!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Nice drive and dish by Allen… and nice offensive rebound.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Double double for Tony Bradley… a really good Summer League so far for him.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Bradley misses an easy layup. Grayson Allen with defensive breakdown. Atlanta showing some fight!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

I want to see Young just start jacking contested 3s.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Should’ve watched game 1. He’s not doing it anymore lol.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

ALLEN WITH THE DISH!!! TONY BRADLEY WITH THE FINISH!!!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

Young gets his first bucket

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Niang with the 3!!! He’s juiced up!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young misses the floater.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

Niang could be a decent player

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

I think so, improved since last year.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young with a nice drive… I gotta feeling he needed that “fight” to get going finally.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Nice pass Allen to Niang!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

Young not really looking to shoot much huh?

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

One bad shot… not forcing anything, some good passing.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Donovan Mitchell coaching them up during the review.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

Hold me back – Niang

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

I’m loving it!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Wow…. that’s the first time I’ve seen fire from Trae Young!

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

They should allow fights in Summer league.

Arch Stanton
Member
Arch Stanton
4 months 8 days ago

Young and Allen going making summer league fun with some shoving

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Allen midrange miss off side PnR, I think he should’ve passed it to Niang.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Allen poor play on the PnR…. had an open pick and pop with Niang, opted for the tough finish at the rim…. then committed foul which led to foul shots.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

GRAYSON ALLEN! PnR assist to Niang on the pick and pop!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Tony Bradley with a strong half….. one track for another double double.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Grayson Allen missed showtime dunk in transition…. also, got burned by shake and bake by Young in 1v1 on the perimeter.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Young nice read off side PnR.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young should be running high PnR with Spellman every possession. Either bad coaching or bad recognition on Young’s part.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young and Spellman pick and roll….. Spellman with the drive, finish and 1!!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Spellman using his strength to finish that drive off!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Allen draws the foul off the curl cut!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Misses both free throws… that’s terrible for a great shooter like him.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

GRAYSON ALLEN STEAL< FAST BREAK AND ASSIST!!!

GRAYSON ALLEN ANOTHER ASSIST TO TONY BRADLEY!!! AND 1!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Allen with the floater off the curl cut!… Young with a missed 3.

newnomad
Guest
newnomad
4 months 8 days ago

CLF–appreciate the play by play—great job—-thought I would break the boredom of “talkin to yourself “–ha-ha —keep up the good work—-looking forward to watching our young / “NEW ‘ CAVS team tomorrow night

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Thanks NOMAD!!! HAHA I appreciate the love!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Young bad shot. Niang nice steal.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young terrible foul on defense.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young nice drive and dish, assist!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Spellman pick and pop 3!!!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young assist, nice read out of double.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young floater air ball.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Trae Young nice read from PnR…. assist.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Stanton Kidd from Colorado State making some plays for Utah.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

ALLEN ANOTHER ASSIST! Good ball movement. Trae Young misses first jumper….. nice pass Young for the assist.

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

ALLEN!!! STRONG REBOUND, ran the break, dishes for the assist!!! great vision!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

NO LOOK BOUNCE PASS FOR THE ASSIST!

CLF
Guest
CLF
4 months 8 days ago

Nice screen Spellman. sprung open shooter.

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