We can be calm and rational about this whole LeBron James-to-the-Warriors thing, right? Nah, we’re probably already past that point.
The wildfire started after ESPN’s Chris Haynes reported early Thursday morning that James could meet with the Warriors this summer during free agency if Golden State is able to create a slot for a max salary. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree, and the usual ranting and raving came from the professional loud people.
But here’s what the report actually said if you break it down: the Warriors could secure a sit-down conversation with James if they had a max salary available for him, and James would listen out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture, per Haynes. All of that information is extremely far from a reality in which James is wearing a Warriors jersey.
For that reason, all eyes should be on how Ball improves as a scorer for the remainder of this season. His play since the Knicks game on Dec. 12 has been a step in the right direction, but being sidelined since Jan. 15 with an MCL sprain could impact some of the momentum he’s built up when he returns to the lineup. It’ll also be worth monitoring his on-ball defense when he returns, particularly when it comes to how he matches up with the best point guards in the NBA. As valuable as his switchability is to a team like the Lakers, he has to prove that he can match up with his own position in order to reach his full potential as a defender.
Unless ownership is far more frugal than expected, the Celtics would be willing to become a luxury tax team for a few seasons if they could add an elite talent on top of their current team. Even if that is true, trade rules are constraining for teams at or over the salary cap, and even more stringent for teams over the luxury tax because of situations like this one.
Kemba Walker, Hornets: This might be a longshot, but any time an All-Star caliber point guard is on the market, it’s a big deal. It was reported last month the Hornets had made Walker available in trade talks, but they want to attach one of their less desirable contracts (like Nic Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams or Dwight Howard). Keep an eye on Walker, but don’t count on a trade.
With Ersan Ilyasova gone, the Hawks now have (basically) four centers, and they’ve dabbled a bit with the biggest, least rangy combination of them: Dewayne Dedmon and Former Inexplicable Starter Miles Plumlee. I wrote about the Knicks’ bastardized lineups last week.