LeBron teases Cleveland, plus Orlando’s diamond in the rough

By: 07.08.09
LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

LeBron James (photo. Mannion)

Four words you’re going to hear more than “rumor” and “sign-and-trade” over the next 2-3 weeks:


Remember that when you see some of the stat lines coming out of Orlando and Vegas from rookies and guys trying to shoot their way into the NBA. Yesterday the PTP’er was none other than Ryan Anderson, the Magic’s throw-in of the Vince Carter trade who dropped 33 points (11-15 FG, 9-9 FT) and 14 boards on the Celtics. Impressive, but consider that Boston’s summer squad could stunt double for the Smelters in Rebound (and Martin Lawrence would be paying more attention on the bench than Doc Rivers) … Remember Maurice Ager? First-round draft pick-turned-one of 172 mediocre shooting guards to pass through the Mavs roster in the last five years? He’s now on the end of Orlando’s summer-league bench, putting up 10 points yesterday in 17 minutes. What happened? … Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 27 points (11-13 FT) for the Nets/Sixers combo team against Utah, while Eric Maynor had 12 points, five boards and four assists … James Harden started at SF for the Thunder and scored 19 against the Pacers, while D.J. White had the Greg Oden stat line (8 pts, 8 fouls) and Serge Ibaka looked solid with 13 points. But the best player by far in this league has been Russell Westbrook, who went for 22 points, eight dimes and three steals on Tuesday. In two games, Westbrook has proven that he probably doesn’t need to be here, and don’t be surprised if he’s a BEAST in the major leagues next season. We’re talking Deron Williams/Derrick Rose-style breakout season … There was about 12 hours there between Monday night and Tuesday morning when Cavs fans were walking around pretty pleased with themselves. ESPN originally reported that LeBron James, in an effort to pry Trevor Ariza away from the Rockets, promised Ariza that he would stay in Cleveland beyond 2010. But just as that story picked up steam, LeBron’s people refuted it. That’s what happens when your “unnamed source” is Mike Brown … You’ve seen how some Lakers fans immediately turned their backs on Ariza — how will they react if/when Lamar Odom walks? According to the L.A. Times, Odom is looking for $10 million-plus per year, a number the Lakers aren’t really trying to match. At this point, only the Blazers and Thunder can shell out that $10M, so L.O. will likely be in Portland or take lesser money to stay with the Lakers … It seemed Avery Johnson had the Pistons’ job locked up, but something went wrong over the last couple days and Avery got passed over for Cavs assistant John Kuester. “I looked at it, I was interested in it, but I was only interested in it if we could agree on a vision for the team going forward,” Avery was quoted. What that means between the lines, we’re not sure, but it makes total sense that Avery and Joe Dumars were too stubborn to work out an agreement. They would’ve been butting heads often, and Avery probably wanted a longer committment than Dumars was willing to give … Meanwhile, the Pistons are trying to keep Antonio McDyess, but it sounds like he could be headed to San Antonio, Orlando or Cleveland. ‘Dyess learned his lesson last year after the Nuggets trade; don’t pass up an opportunity to play for a contender … Birdman Andersen agreed to a five-year, $26M deal to stay in Denver, and Mike Bibby agreed to a three-year $18M deal to stay in Atlanta. Assume Al Horford stays healthy through the playoffs, Jamal Crawford is in the mix as the sixth man, and hell, let’s say they keep Marvin Williams — how far can the Hawks go in the postseason? … So everyone knows the Rockets are desperate for a starting center, and Philly reportedly calls to see if they’d like to take Sam Dalembert off their hands — and Houston still says “No thanks.” That’s your $11M big man, Sixers fans. We feel a Stromile Swift desperation signing coming in about a week, followed by Rick Adelman talking himself into believing HE’S the coach that’ll finally get Stro Show to realize his potential … We’re out like Avery …

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