Cavs owner Dan Gilbert apologizes for controversial Detroit ad

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is apologizing after a graphic on a downtown Detroit building created a social media firestorm.

He covers a lot of ground. He is long and athletic, but he has good self-awareness, so he can get to an empty spot before the next guy and be there in time for a block or a rebound. He has that kind of natural intelligence about playing in space. A lot of young guys don’t have that.

I think Miami knew what it was getting with him, and that is a player who needs to add one or two things to make him serviceable offensively. He has a long and inconsistent release on his jumper, and he has to be able to fix that, or else you can ignore him on that end.

His footwork. He got a lot of attention for the dunks, but he is in position for those dunks because of what he does with his feet. He always has a solid base, and he does not waste a step. He runs the floor, he gets to offensive rebounds and he is very good in the paint. That’s all footwork.

You have to wonder about where he fits defensively. He is probably going to guard 4s, but he did not show that he’s ready for that. He’ll make a lot of mistakes, the question is, how does he learn from them?

Stats don’t encompass careers, but consider these numbers. LeBron is better than Kobe (regular season and playoffs) in the categories of… points per game, assists per game, steals per game, blocks per game, field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage, true shooting percentage, box plus/minus, value over replacement player and player efficiency rating.

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Blake Griffin has no hard feelings toward Chris Paul as he takes over as Clippers’ leader

With Chris Paul out of the picture and a five-year, $172 million contract now signed, the Clippers are officially Blake Griffin’s team. Griffin, at least publicly, is ready to move forward without CP3.

He said Wednesday he has no hard feelings toward Paul for orchestrating an offseason trade to the Rockets. The two played together for six seasons, at least when one or both weren’t sidelined by injuries.

I really care about the bus drivers, Barkley said after Durant’s decision. On every team, there’s a bus driver. Most of those guys are just bus riders.

Towns still stops himself when he thinks about the position he’s been put in, he said. It was only in 2014 that he gave an emotional, memorable speech upon winning the Gatorade Athlete of the Year award.

In it, a teary Towns thanked his parents, and said his most memorable day was when his father told him they were taking all their savings and putting in a basketball court in the yard for him. We didn’t have enough money for a real hoop, Towns told his father. But you made sure that you built one, by hand, so I could practice.

He’s come a long way.

I went up there with a lot of emotion, Towns recalled. I just was thinking about all that I had gone through to get there, and it was truly special. Three and a half years later, and I am still thinking about it. I felt so young when I won it, but now I feel so old like it was decades ago.

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Former first-round pick Shane Larkin signing with Celtics, report says

The Celtics’ roster continues to evolve.

Boston reportedly is making moves to sign Shane Larkin, ESPN.com reported Thursday.

The free agent point guard spent last season in Spain playing for Saski Baskonia, where he averaged 13.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game.

By trying to compete for a spot on Boston’s starting lineup, Larkin bypassed a $6.3 million contract with Saski Baskonia.

A first-round pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Larkin played one season for the Mavericks, one with the Knicks and one with the Nets before going overseas.

The Celtics on Friday made their four-year, $128 million signing of Gordon Hayward official after juggling their roster to fit him under the salary cap.

Only Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown were on the team last season.

Alas, there is ego to consider. Gilbert was not much fond of the accolades Griffin got for the Cavs’ success. He is the owner. He wanted his glory, but that went to Griffin all too often. Gilbert, who signs the luxury-tax checks and does get involved in personnel matters, perhaps deserved more credit than he got for the Cavs’ recent run.

But so what? That’s part of being an owner. You’re better off behind the scenes, and when your name is in the media, it’s probably not for good reasons. I’m reminded of former Jets owner Leon Hess, who was so publicity-shy that one confidante said of him, Leon Hess pays people to keep his name out of the papers.

And so Griffin was shuttled out, followed by a half-baked plan to bring in popular former player Chauncey Billups to run the basketball outfit on a cheap contract. Billups turned that down, and the Cavaliers — the envy of the league a year ago — have looked to be short on competence since.

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Nets eye Chinese buyers, hoping for $2B sale, report says

The Nets are hoping to squeeze $2 billion out of a Chinese buyer of the NBA team, the New York Post reported.

The investment bank representing team owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov already has heard from several interested parties, according to the report, which said one has been trying to box out others in the sale process.

Irving, of course, blindsided LeBron James and Co. when the news broke late Friday he had asked the team to trade him in a meeting last week. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft and four-time All-Star has averaged 21.6 points, 5.5. assists and 3.4 rebounds in six seasons for Cleveland. Anthony, a member of the infamous Banana Boat crew alongside James, has averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game in his seven years in New York.

The Cavs’ latest trade talks are indicative of an organization in flux: They made it to their third consecutive NBA Finals against the Warriors, but were manhandled in five games in a 4-1 series loss this year. The Cavs have since tried to make several moves to close the gap between them and Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of the superteam in Oakland.

They nearly pulled the trigger on a deal that would have sent Paul George to Cleveland. They also low-balled Chauncey Billups in the team’s search for a new GM. The team has reportedly agreed to terms with Koby Altman to fill that role. He’s got a big mess to clean up.

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Charles Oakley, age 53, will play in Big3 event this weekend

Charles Oakley had his day in court last week. Now we’ll see how he fares on the court.

The 53-year-old big man will make his playing debut in the Big3 Sunday in Los Angeles, taking the court at Staples Center alongside Killer3s teammates Stephen Jackson and Reggie Evans. Oakley had been serving as the team’s coach, but Chauncey Billups will take over those duties Sunday.

Oakley’s debut will come a little over a week after he agreed to a deal that saw him accept a one-year ban from Madison Square Garden in the wake of a Feb. 8 arrest there during a Knicks game. Criminal charges filed against Oakley in connection with the incident will be dismissed and excised from his record if there are no further incidents for six months.

Oakley last played in the NBA in 2003-04 for the Rockets, appearing in seven games.

This does not preclude the Cavs from a championship run next year, though. They still have James, and they are still the favorites in the East. They were far more competitive in the last three games of this year’s finals series than the first two, giving some indication that they can play with the Warriors. Golden State is just a strained hamstring or twisted ankle away from being vulnerable to Cleveland in a seven-game series.

But there has been harm done to the relationship between James and his team this month. There are plenty of players who go into their summers, disappear for a tropical vacation, return to begin offseason training and prepare to rejoin their teams without taking meaningful looks at the machinations of their organizations.

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Derrick Rose signing with Cavaliers on one-year deal

Unlike Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose is committed to the Cavaliers for next season.

With rumors swirling on future status of Irving, Rose has committed to sign with the Cavaliers and completed his physical exam Monday, his agent confirmed Monday. The news was first reported by The Vertical.

Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, Kyle Korver, Cedi Osman, and now the 2011 NBA MVP have agreed to join the Eastern Conference champions this offseason after near-misses for Jimmy Butler and Paul George in the trade market.

Rose, 28, averaged 18 points, 4.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 64 games with the Knicks last season before undergoing season-ending knee surgery in April. While he still has scoring ability, his health and playing style have made it difficult to find a match this offseason.

Rose will join the Cavaliers on a one-year, $2.1 million minimum deal, according to ESPN, a near-perfect contract for the cash-strapped Cavs.

As long as Doc Rivers surrounds with him the right players, Griffin should have all the room he needs to continue making these high-level reads:

Even something basic like running a dribble hand-off with Griffin can force the defense to make tough decisions. Either Griffin will open up a driving lane by drawing his defender away from the basket out of respect for his midrange jump shot…

The threat of Griffin’s passing will only become greater when he plays center next season. Gallinari is perhaps best suited to play power forward at this stage of his career, and the Clippers can pair them with some combination of Beverley, Williams, Teodosic, Dekker and Austin Rivers in the backcourt. Griffin’s defensive limitations at center will hurt them on that end of the floor, but those lineups should have enough firepower offensively to compete against most teams. It helps that Beverley is comfortable playing without the ball in his hands, having made a career out of being a 3-and-D point guard next to James Harden.

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LeBron James’ subtweet leaves internet assuming swipe at Kyrie Irving

The interwebs stood at attention Monday night after LeBron James dropped what looked suspiciously like a subtweet. The natural assumption was that King James was tweaking Kyrie Irving.

In quoting the hook from Drake’s song Portland, perhaps King James was just offering Irving some advice before they break up: Don’t let the betas feed off your alpha-ness. On the other hand, perhaps LeBron was saying he’s done with letting betas like Irving get the credit for helping him win rings.

It’s the same rings argument Jordan used back in 2013 when he said five beats one every time I look at it. (Jordan changed his tune later that year, saying James had passed Bryant after the Black Mamba was forced to recover from a brutal Achilles injury.) You can’t simply take out championships from a basketball discussion, but by most objective measures, James has firmly passed Bryant.

James also eclipses Bryant as a 3-point shooter in the regular season (34.2 percent vs. 32.9 percent) and owns a nearly identical percentage in the playoffs (33.0 vs. 33.1). Bryant has James beat on championships, scoring titles and All-Star, All-Defensive and All-NBA appearances, but James owns three more MVP awards and one more NBA Finals MVP award. It’s not all that crazy to think James will add to his resume and pass Bryant in some of those other categories, too.

But really, this isn’t an argument about LeBron vs. Kobe. By that logic, Robert Horry is actually better than Jordan, Bryant and James, right? No, this is about James vs. Jordan.

You could bring out the same numbers to easily prove Jordan stands tall over Bryant. It’s an apples to apples comparison. Jordan is a better, more efficient version of Bryant. That’s not said to detract from Bryant’s incredible accomplishments, but it’s true. There have been entire video compilations showing how Bryant took Jordan’s moves and used them to climb up the all-time scoring list.

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Shattenkirk’s No. 1 reason for signing with the Rangers?

Putting the fact of playing at home aside, it came down to which team is ready to win, that was the biggest priority on my list, explained Shattenkirk. When you are with the New York Rangers, they’re in the business to win every year. They’re not a team looking to go through a rebuild. It seems like every year they are making the moves necessary to make their team a championship team. I think we are right on the cusp of making something big happen here.

The Rangers won 48 games a year ago and finished with 102 points, good for fourth place in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division, fifth in the Eastern Conference. It was the third straight season the Rangers earned at least 100 points; and since 2011-12 New York appeared in three conference finals, won a President’s Trophy and played in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

If you can bring it home in New York, it’s something you can’t replicate anywhere else, the New York-born and bred Shattenkirk said of winning the Cup.

A pinpoint shot from the blue line by Predators defenseman P.K. Subban beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray 7:13 into the first period. On the surface, it appeared Nashville was off to an early lead. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan felt otherwise and challenged whether Filip Forsberg was offside as the Predators gained the attacking zone.

Upon further video review, officials ruled that was in fact the case.

As Forsberg corralled the pass, his left foot crossed into the Penguins zone while the puck remained on the blue line, negating the goal by a matter of inches, and seconds. Under strict interpretation of offside, it’s the correct call, but that won’t stop the debate over the coach’s challenge to spill out on the NHL’s biggest stage.

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Stanley Cup Final 2017: One year later, Sidney Crosby and Penguins continue to ‘just play’

The day the Pittsburgh Penguins took their first shot at reaching their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final was an important anniversary in my relationship with the team. Unlike those involving my wife, which I remember with religious fervor, I forgot all about this one.

Yes, I wrote on May 23, 2016, with the Penguins trailing Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals by a margin of three games to two, that Sidney Crosby was not an emphatic enough leader to push his teammates past the playoff petulance that had ruled their springs throughout this decade. When the Pens rallied to defeat the Lightning and reach the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals, I responded by tweeting I was fine with being proven wrong.

Lundqvist is 35 and his best years are clearly behind him. His main supporting cast members, in particular Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, are still above-average contributors, but they aren’t getting younger.

Ultimately, we have some philosophical differences on how to build our team. Therefore, we mutually agreed that it is in everyone’s best interest to have a coaching change in order to move our franchise forward.

A couple suspect whistles (and non-whistles) irked both sides, including Predators superfan Carrie Underwood. The country music star and wife of Nashville captain Mike Fisher, already in hot water these playoffs for her social media thoughts on officiating, made it clear she felt the refs were out of line.

Suddenly all the pent-up anger went away when Kessel broke through with 6:55 remaining in the game.

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They won the shot battle again 33-28 and kept the Penguins’ lethal power play off the board in three chances.

When Jake Guentzel scored this 13th goal of the playoffs and fourth in three games just 2:43 into the first period, the Predators were on their way to a near-insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. It silenced the crowd, but that didn’t last long.

A struggling Pekka Rinne, 0-7-2 all time against the Penguins with a .778 save percentage in two Final games so far, had the boisterous crowd in his corner and came through with a number of big saves to get to the first intermission.

Roman Josi tied the game 5:51 into the second period and Frederick Gaudreau scored 42 seconds later to send the arena into a frenzy.

Finally, having outshot and outplayed the Penguins in Games 1 and 2 with little to show for it, the Predators’ labor bore fruit.

They won the shot battle again 33-28 and kept the Penguins’ lethal power play off the board in three chances.

In doing so, the Preds improved to 8-1 at home this postseason and, with Game 4 back here Monday, the party isn’t ending in Nashville anytime soon.

Hockey and Nashville right now is like Max Yasgur’s farm: it’s a mass gathering of humanity, though instead of enjoying three days of music, they’re enjoying many days of hockey and music. The only difference is that there is not as much nudity here.

Weber is always ready with a quip, and truth be told he does repeat some of them quite often. However, if the Predators do win the Stanley Cup this month, Weber’s call of the final seconds will come straight from the heart, not from a glib script.

I want to be totally honest with it, explained the 66-year-old Weber. I’ve heard too many scripted calls and it just seems to lack the genuineness that everybody truly wants.

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