Court Vision: LeBron James stars in Cleveland paper’s April Fool’s Day joke
By Ben Golliver
• The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a “LeBron re-signs with Cavs” headline as an April Fool’s Day joke. Who could forget the paper’s “Gone.” front page when James announced “The Decision” in 2010? See below.
• David Aldridge of NBA.com has a lengthy piece on John Wall, in which the Wizards’ point guard, who will soon be eligible for a rookie extension, takes some shots at his former teammates.
The Wizards have no intention of low-balling Wall. They know what the floor is. They just don’t want to scrape the ceiling.
“Well, I feel like I get what I deserve,” Wall says. “I know what I play like. I think they understand what I’ve been through the first two years, having what I had. Not to talk bad on any of my teammates or any of the guys I’ve had. I just feel like some of them weren’t very professional about their job. They didn’t care about winning, to be honest.”
• The NBA will not fine the Heat for resting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade against the Spurs because of minor injuries. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com examines that decision, given the league’s hefty fine of San Antonio when coach Gregg Popovich rested four players earlier this season.
As it stands now, teams make up their injury reports as they go along. Players who are “listed” as doubtful routinely play, and players with no injury reporting history sometimes do not. Other players are simply listed as “out indefinitely,” or “day-to-day.” Coaches who wish to keep their jobs continue to obfuscate when asked about injuries and timetables with vague quotes like, “He’s getting better,” “He’s progressing,” or, “Nothing’s changed.”
It’s time for this charade to stop, and it’s time for the NBA to have a clearly communicated and understood policy about injury reporting and the so-called “strategic resting of particular players.”
• Mark Haubner writes for TrueHoop that the Kings’ offense is much improved since they dealt Thomas Robinson at the trade deadline, in a move he thought was criticized too harshly at the time.
And then, of course, there’s the Sacramento Kings, who are second in the league in offensive efficiency since Feb. 26 with 110.3 points per 100 possessions, just a shade behind Miami’s 110.4 and ahead of the Thunder’s 109.5 for that time period. (The Kings also lead the NBA in points per game (109.6) for that span.)
No, it’s not an April Fools’ joke. It’s the same Sacramento Kings who, you may recall, were universally ridiculed at the trade deadline for shipping rookie lottery pick Thomas Robinson to the Houston Rockets (along with Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt) in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas.
• Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider) has a thorough look at the 2013 free agency class with an eye toward how much money the top 30 players should command. Here’s his take on Andrew Bynum.
Nine months ago, before sitting out the entire season due to knee injuries, Bynum was almost assured of a maximum allowable contract. When healthy, Bynum is probably the premier low-post scorer at his position. He excels on either block and converts at a high rate (75 percent) around the rim. Plus, he’s a voracious rebounder and doesn’t turn the ball over much for a big. On the other hand, Bynum is not a good defender in space and has a quirky personality that can manifest itself in mood swings. While the talent is there, there’s a serious question as to whether he has the mentality to be a franchise cornerstone.
Factoring in his lengthy injury history, it’s difficult to commit to Bynum long term without protection. A three-year, $40 million deal with PIE (prior injury exception) language that allows a team to exit the contract with minimal exposure (if the player experiences serious injury) is the only way I’d be comfortable signing Bynum. A player option would allow him to exit his deal and sign for his true market value if he can stay healthy.
• Nuggets center JaVale McGee has always danced to the beat of his own drum. Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post digs into why.
McGee, a 7-footer who’s lanky and loony, says weird things and does weird things and says weird things while doing weird things. On the court, the backup center will complement an aerodynamic alley-oop with a boneheaded goaltend at the other end. The only thing predictable is the unpredictability, which makes some sense when, lounging at his locker on a quiet morning recently, McGee admitted: “I have extreme ADD. They tried to put me on Ritalin, but I wouldn’t do it. I just didn’t want to take it. I was young (when it was diagnosed); it was a long time ago. But, yeah, it’s definitely fun having ADD. It’s extremely fun. I’m not boring.”
• Kyle Soppe of Hickory-High with oodles of James Harden stats.
• Fran Blinebury of NBA.com writes about the Spurs’ loss of Manu Ginobili to injury for three to four weeks.
“It’s a huge blow for us because he’s the guy that allows our second team to do what they’ve been doing all year long,” said coach Gregg Popovich. “It’s a huge loss for that group and in game situations it’s a tough one because he’s one of two guys — he and Tony (Parker) — that are the creators who make everything happen for everybody else on the court. It’s an unfortunate loss at this point of the season.”
Even after Ginobili hobbled off the court in the first quarter Friday night against the Clippers, things were looking so bright for the Spurs that you thought they might have needed sunglasses. They had a three-game advantage on the Thunder for the best record in the West and hoped to pad that lead with a win over Miami.
However, the stunning loss to the Heat, who were playing without starters LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers, combined with the medical diagnosis on Ginobili in fewer than 18 hours, puts the squeeze right back on the Spurs with a difficult stretch of schedule ahead.
• Who is the NBA’s MVP of most underrated players? Matt Moore of CBSSports.com says Tim Duncan.
There is a difference in his role. He is not the centerpiece of the offense anymore. There is no centerpiece of the offense anymore. It is a self-supporting automation that runs on grizzled determination and pride in execution. But Duncan’s particular cog happens to be bigger than most, and the Spurs are thriving because they can rely on it.
The bigger impact is on the defensive end, however, where at age 36 Duncan has put himself in the running for defensive player of the year. The standard, and horribly flawed media approach, will point out his absurd 2.7 blocks per game, but as I’m always preaching, defense is way more than blocked shots.
• SonicsRising.com – a Sonics blog — has launched on SB Nation this week, weeks before the NBA’s Board of Governors is set to determine the fate of the Kings/Sonics.
• The Big Lead has video of two female fans getting into a crazy fight at a game between the Hawks and Magic.