LeBron to the Lakers This Summer? Not So Fast, According to a New Report

Folks around the NBA have murmured for more than a year now about LeBron James' purported interest in bolting to Los Angeles when he has the opportunity to opt out of his contract during the 2018 offseason. Would he really leave his hometown team twice in his career? That remains to be seen. But people around the league have suspected as much—and suspected that he's headed for Los Angeles—for a long time now.

LeBron owns two houses in L.A., and conquering the West would provide him with a new challenge—a new potential legacy boost, if you will. Also, the Lakers have a wealth of cap space, a promising young roster, and a storied history. If he could bring them back to prominence, well, it would do a ton for LeBron's place in the history books. Of the two L.A. franchises, it seemed way likelier that LeBron would desire a spot on the roster of the Lake Show.

According to a new report from two of the most plugged-in NBA reporters, however, the Lakers may pass on pursuing LeBron this offseason. As Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN report, the Lakers are focusing their efforts—and their cap space—on the free-agent class of 2019 rather than that of 2018. The 2019 class is indeed ripe with young talent; Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler could be among the players on the market.

In 2018, it's expected that LeBron, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins will be available. But LeBron, as great as he is, is 33, George seems very interested in sticking with the Thunder, and Cousins just suffered an absolutely debilitating Achilles injury.

This recalibration also reportedly stems from the Lakers' lack of belief that LeBron is actually interested in joining the team. Though L.A. has a bunch of gifted young players—including Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma—there isn't a bona fide star on the roster. LBJ would be taking a big risk by signing with the yellow and purple.

A lot could change in the next few months, of course. The Lakers are still reportedly shopping Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. But with this latest report, it looks a lot less certain that LeBron will head to Hollywood this summer.

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Carmelo Anthony ‘Done’ With NBA Refs

According to Royce Young, Carmelo Anthony last week said, “You look at somebody wrong, you get a technical foul. You say one wrong thing, you get a technical foul.” Last night, it was true. Russell Westbrook was ejected after receiving two technicals for yelling at the referee, after the ref blatantly missed a call on Westbrook. The ref instead called a traveling violation on Westbrook, which he didn't respond kindly to. 

Westbrook finished the game with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 9 assists while leading the Thunder to a 95-88 victory over the Sacramento Kings. However, Carmelo Anthony and head coach Billy Donovan weren't happy with the officials after the game. Anthony stated that he was “done with them” when speaking to reporters last night. 

Westbrook also didn't speak with reporters after the game (duh) which is a good thing because it probably saved him some money from a fine he would've received. Young points out that this was the second straight home game that Westbrook left the locker room before speaking with reporters. The Thunder have been up and down all season long, and still haven't figured out their identity. They sit at fifth in the Western Conference at 24-20, but if they figure this thing out, lead by last season's MVP and DPOY candidate, Paul George—the sky is the limit for this Thunder team. 

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Carmelo Anthony’s Son Is One of the Main Reasons He Ended Up on the Thunder

When Isaiah Thomas got traded to the Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving deal this summer, he wasn’t happy about it. At all. In fact, he’s still not all that thrilled with the way things went down, and he has committed himself to not speaking to Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge for the foreseeable future. But there was one person who was ecstatic when he found out Thomas had been traded: His own son James.

“LEBRON! LEBRON JAMES!” his son yelled when he found out about the trade, according to a piece Thomas penned for The Players’ Tribune. “Dad—Dad. You get to play with LeBron James!”

And it sounds like there’s another famous NBA player’s son who was also incredibly happy when he found out that his dad had been traded to a contender.

Carmelo Anthony spoke with The New York Times this week, ahead of the Thunder’s season-opening game against the Knicks on Thursday night. He revealed that long before he considered waiving his no-trade clause to accept a trade that would take him to Oklahoma City, his son Kiyan came to him and told him that he should consider making a move to the Thunder. Carmelo hadn’t thought about it much up until that point, but he said it definitely played a role in his final decision to go to OKC.

“My son said he wanted me to play for OKC,” Carmelo said. “Even before OKC was in the picture.”

Carmelo suggested it wasn’t the only time he had discussed the possibility of a trade with his son, but he said Kiyan was pretty adamant about the idea of him playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

“My son has a basketball mind,” he said. “So I will always throw little topics at him. He was like, 'Dad, where are you getting traded to?' I told him, 'I don’t know, where do you think I should go?' He said: 'You really want me to give you my opinion? I think you should go to OKC.' It worked out.”

It sure did—and OKC fans have Kiyan to thank.

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Elsewhere in his interview with the NYT, Carmelo addressed the fractured relationship he had with Phil Jackson. He admitted that he only spoke to Jackson twice all last season, and accused Jackson of trying to trade him away from the Knicks “for a bag of chips.” He also spoke on how difficult it was to deal with it all while also trying to focus on playing basketball.

“When I signed with the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York and I believed in Phil,” he said. “Then last year it went to: I was being pushed out. There were things being said about me that I didn’t know where they were coming from. And I still had to go to the gym and play and practice and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day.”

You can check out the Times’ full piece on Carmelo ahead of his game against the Knicks here.

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Carmelo Anthony Takes Subtle Jab at Knicks Over Joining OKC

Carmelo Anthony has only been playing for the Thunder for about 10 days now. But to hear him tell it, he’s already way happier playing in Oklahoma City than he ever was playing for the Knicks.

On Monday, Carmelo—who is a three-time Olympic gold medalist—told reporters that playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the Thunder feels a little bit like playing alongside his fellow Olympians as part of Team USA. And while explaining why that is, he managed to take a shot at the Knicks and the talent, or lack thereof, that he was surrounded with when he played in New York City.

Olympic Melo connotation comes into play [where] I’m surrounded by great players,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I try to get where the game is easier for myself, easier for everybody else. That’s where I can come in and not have to do too much and bring my game and help me blend with other guys. I’ve always been a product of my environment. Whatever the environment wants from me, that’s what I give my environment. This environment is different, reminds me of being around Olympic teams, those great teams.”

Elsewhere, Carmelo also spoke about how his move to the Thunder has rejuvenated him and put some energy back into his game. It sounds like playing for the Knicks was dragging him down and sucking a lot of the fun out of basketball for him, which isn’t going to be a problem now that he’s in OKC.

“I’m like born again a little bit,” he said. “I feel like I’m in college again. My second college campus being around in a city with a college feel. The energy and joy is back with the game of basketball. I can feel it when I wake up. That energy is different. I think you’ll see something special.”

Can you blame Carmelo for being this happy? After what he endured in NYC over the last few years, the idea of going into a season with a championship being a realistic goal has to feel great. And while the Knicks players who played with him probably won’t be thrilled to hear what he had to say about his time with the team, it’s hard to argue with the things he said and it’ll be interesting to see what he looks like once he starts taking the court for the Thunder on a nightly basis.

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Carmelo Anthony Reveals 2 Major Trades That Almost Happened This Summer

Carmelo Anthony sent shockwaves through the NBA community last Saturday when he agreed to waive his no-trade clause so that the Knicks could deal him to the Thunder. It gave Oklahoma City three superstars on its roster—Anthony will be joined by Russell Westbrook and Paul George next season—and it also made the Western Conference even more talented than it already was (R.I.P. Eastern Conference, smh).

On Thursday, Anthony sent even more shockwaves through the NBA community with some comments he made on SiriusXM Radio. While talking about his trade, he said that he came close to being traded not once but twice at other times during the offseason. One of those trades involved him heading to Houston to join James Harden and Chris Paul on the Rockets.

“A deal was done with Houston early, then for some reason, whatever happened behind-the-scenes, it didn’t go through,” he said. “It fell through, then we had to really start paying attention and thinking about other options.”

That trade, according to Anthony, nearly went down in July. And there was another trade involving Anthony that almost happened a few weeks before that on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft. Anthony claims that he and George were scheduled to be dealt to the Cavaliers in deals that would have put Anthony, George, and LeBron James on the same team during the upcoming season. But that trade was also called off before it was finalized.

“It was funny because me and PG was supposed to be in Cleveland on draft night,” he said on SiriusXM. “We were communicating about that. The deal was actually done, and it got called off on draft night, so me and PG stayed connected throughout the course of the [offseason]. We never even talked about OKC, though.”

It’s pretty crazy to think about how all of this played out. And it’s also pretty crazy to think about what might have happened if Anthony had been traded to either the Cavaliers or Rockets. It could have affected where a bunch of other players, including guys like Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade, landed. And it could have shaken up the NBA even more this summer. What an offseason.

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The Kyrie Irving-LeBron James Relationship May Not Be Ruined After All

It seems there’s a new twist every day in the Kyrie Irving drama. To recap the major points: the 25-year-old point guard asked Cleveland for a trade in July. He said there were four teams he’d be wiling to go to: Miami, New York, Minnesota, and San Antonio. Then word got out that Kyrie wanted the trade because he was tired of playing with LeBron James, and he’d actually wanted to get out of town for a long time.

For now, it seems the Cavs are content to bide their time until a compelling offer comes along. They watched Chicago and Indiana deal their stars (Jimmy Butler and Paul George, respectively) for peanuts and then get roasted by the NBA world, and Cleveland doesn’t want to replicate the error of those franchises.

Thus, the big question is: if Cleveland wants to go into this season with both Kyrie and LeBron on the roster, could they coexist? Their former teammate Dahntay Jones thinks so.

Jones appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio Thursday and said the rifts in their relationship have been dramatized in the media.

“Nothing's to a point where it can't be fixed,” Jones said. “It can be fixed with a small conversation.”

Jones spent parts of the last two seasons with James and Irving on the Cavs. Based on reports, it’s sure seemed like the relationship between the two stars is beyond the point of no return—it seems like they couldn’t play together this coming season. Adding to that narrative, James is back in Subtweet Bron form.

Jones clearly knows the two and the situation well, so we should take his opinion seriously, but it would still be a surprise if Kyrie were to suit up for Cleveland on opening night.

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Carmelo Anthony to the Trail Blazers? Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum Are Trying to Make It Happen

If Carmelo Anthony isn’t back with the Knicks next season, the thought is that he will end up with either the Rockets or the Cavaliers. There have been trade rumors swirling around Carmelo for months now, and just about all of those rumors end with him in either a Houston or Cleveland jersey. Carmelo has a no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to nix deals to any teams he doesn’t want to play for, so he can basically force the Knicks' hand and get them to trade him to the team he wants to play for. As a result, you’re probably not going to see him playing anywhere other than New York, Houston, or Cleveland next season.

But one new potential landing spot for Carmelo emerged this week when the Trail Blazers’ top two players both started to indicate that they would love to be in the discussion for Carmelo this summer. Earlier this week, C.J. McCollum raised more than a few eyebrows when he posted a photo of Carmelo in a Portland jersey on Instagram:

 

A post shared by CJMcCollum (@3jmccollum) on Jul 16, 2017 at 12:02pm PDT

And at a basketball camp on Wednesday, McCollum and his teammate Damian Lillard revealed that they have been actively trying to recruit Carmelo to come to Portland in recent days. Lillard imagined what it would be like to add Carmelo to the Blazers’ current roster:

McCollum went as far as to say that Carmelo was “interested” in what they had to say.

McCollum also did an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Wednesday, and he suggested that, if the Trail Blazers were to add Carmelo to the mix, Portland would immediately leapfrog a bunch of teams and land near the top of the Western Conference.

“If we add Carmelo Anthony, we’ll be a top-three team in the West immediately,” he said.

McCollum also reiterated that point when he responded to a @siriusxmnba tweet that featured his “top-three team” quote and wrote, “Facts.”

Despite McCollum and Lillard’s interest in Carmelo, it doesn’t sound like Carmelo is as “interested” in getting traded to Portland as the two Trail Blazers players think he is. The New York Daily News reported Wednesday night that, despite McCollum and Lillard’s pitch, Carmelo is still not willing to waive his no-trade clause for anyone other than the Rockets and Cavaliers. A source told the NYDN that the Blazers are “positioned well” to get into the mix if Carmelo expands his list of teams. But at least for now, McCollum and Lillard are out of luck.

The idea of Carmelo playing for Portland seems like a longshot. But then again, if you had told us that Paul George would end up on the Thunder just a few weeks ago, we would have called you crazy for suggesting that, too. Stay tuned to see where Carmelo ultimately ends up playing after this whirlwind of a summer.

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