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LeBron Witnesses Summer League, Team USA snubs Jerryd Bayless, and Introducing the OKC Thunder

By 07.20.08
LeBron JamesLeBron (photo. Mannion)

LeBron was in the crowd for yesterday’s Cavs/Hornets game at the Vegas Summer League, which Cleveland lost after giving up crunch-time buckets to Ndudi Ebi and somebody named Larry Owens (Oral Roberts). Funny how LeBron’s high school teammate Romeo Travis has barely been getting any PT in Vegas, then all of a sudden was in the starting lineup on the day LeBron just happened to show up. And LeBron’s other boy from St. Vincent-St. Mary, Dru Joyce, played about 20 minutes off the bench after being buried in the rotation before LeBron’s arrival. Sorry, but that’s just shameless on the Cavs’ part … We figured D.J. Strawberry might be able to put the clamps on (or at least contain) Jerryd Bayless, but JB carved him up just like he’s murked everyone else in Vegas, finishing with 36 points, 17 in the fourth quarter. Phoenix’s defenders were noticeably laying off of Bayless, who had a number of wide-open jumpers and only got to the line six times, well below his average. Bayless was, in a bit of a surprise though, not one of the VSL players chosen for the squad that will scrimmage Team USA while they prep for the Olympics. We know the select roster had certain needs position-wise, and it’s not too hard to argue that O.J. Mayo — who got picked along with Kevin Love and Robin Lopez — is better than Bayless, but Bayless did everything possible on the court to get the nod. Plus we’re just impatient and would love to see how he would do when he’s going up against Chris Paul and Kobe instead of Drew Neitzel and Dee Brown … Bayless might still get a spot on the team if Kevin Love can’t go. Love went down during Wolves/Bucks yesterday and didn’t return; last we heard it was an Achilles injury (although not a major one). If the U.S. needs another big to scrimmage against, they might as well take Brook Lopez, who was killing in the Orlando summer league … Is Anthony Randolph already better than Brandan Wright? The rook poured in 26 points and grabbed 12 boards against the Raptors in a game where Wright didn’t play. It’s looking at the moment like Golden State’s first five will be Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Al Harrington and Andris Biedrins (Monta and Biedrins are expected to re-sign), but Randolph could get a lot of minutes off the bench at the three or the four; maybe more than both Wright and Ronny TuriafJaVale McGee‘s struggles continue. One time during Wizards/Rockets he launched an NBA three that would have been an airball from the high school line, causing everyone on the Wizards bench to bust out laughing — except the coach, who immediately yanked McGee and screamed at him … The Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s reportedly the new name of the ex-Sonics. Not the worst name in the world, but not one that’s gonna automatically move tons of product. We’re assuming the mascot will be one of those unidentifiable alien-ish that has nothing to do with the team name, kind of like the Sixers’ or the Magic’s mascots … The Thunder’s first significant move of the offseason — other than, you know, leaving a city with 41 years of NBA history — was signing C.J. Miles to an offer sheet. At four years and $15 million, we wouldn’t match if we were the Jazz. Jerry Sloan is obviously not a big fan of Miles, who came into last year’s training camp out of shape and pretty much lived in the coach’s doghouse … Germany was upset in the Olympic qualifying tourney semifinals by Croatia. Dirk Nowitzki put up 30 points and 13 boards, but Chris Kaman had a quiet 12 points and three boards. Greece 25-pieced Puerto Rico in the other semi. So the final spot in Beijing will come down to Germany or PR, but PR might have to get it done without Carlos Arroyo, who injured his calf and only played about 10 minutes against Greece … What does the Keyon Dooling trade to New Jersey mean for Marcus Williams? With Devin Harris and Dooling there to fill the top two spots on the depth chart at PG, and Vince Carter and Chris Douglas-Roberts at the two-guard, Williams is the odd man out … Jason Williams and his people are said to be talking with the Kings. It would be weird to see J-Will rocking #55 in purple again, especially considering his game is totally different than it was the first time around. Is White Chocolate good enough at this point to push Beno Udrih for the starting job? … Did you realize that the Knicks owe the Jazz a first-round pick in 2009 or 2010? The whole thing started with the Stephon Marbury trade and somehow ended up with the Jazz owning the pick. So with the way things are looking, Utah gets a Lottery pick to help build one of the West’s strongest squads. Thanks, Isiah … Word around the sneaker industry is that Brandon Jennings is already getting bigger endorsement offers than Derrick Rose (about $1 million a year) and Michael Beasley (between $600,000 and $700,000 per) for shoe deals. We know the whole concept of big men not selling as many numbers as guards, but we thought The Bease would get more than what he’s getting … Paul Pierce was in the building for last night’s big UFC fight card in Vegas where, coincidentally, one of the undercard matches involved a guy named Brandon “The Truth” Vera (who looks like a real-life version of Sagat from the Street Fighter video games). The first time they showed Pierce on-screen he was buried in his Blackberry the entire time, and the next time he was giving Usher some dap before the main event … One of the UFC announcers had this gem while talking about light-heavy champ Anderson Silva (who destroyed his man in the main event after opening a huge U-shaped gash under his eye with one punch): “His precision is really precise.” … We’re out like the Thunder …


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