While the NFL has issues with concussions, the NHL can’t field a product, and all of like seven people care about baseball, we’re on the cusp of what figures to be one of the best NBA seasons in the past 20-30 years. Stars in big cities. Rivalries. Incredible young talent. Older cats still bringing it like Susan Sarandon. And we also have LeBron James, who’s not only the best player in the world, but wants to be… the greatest player ever to pick up a basketball. Before you spit out your coffee or say 23 Rosaries at the foot of your life-sized MJ cutout, think about it for a second. It’s possible. We’ve done the math. LeBron’s official words, to the Associated Press, were, “I want to be the best of all time. It’s that simple.” Last year was just the first step: finally winning a championship and learning how much he’s been leaving on the table for so long by never developing a post game. From here, James either gets complacent, or he turns it up. From everything we’ve heard about him over the past year, it feels like he’s just hitting his stride, just now beginning to reach his potential. That’s scary. Before you bring up the whole “6-0 record in the Finals” argument (which is just weird considering in the years before winning his first championship in ’91, Jordan was only 3-3 in the first round while LeBron has never lost in the first round. What would you rather be doing? Losing in the first round or in the Finals?), know that LeBron has a long way to go. Yet with the way he’s dominating, gobbling up MVPs and All-NBA Selections, and with the way the East is mapping out for Miami over the next five years (to summarize: it looks like a graveyard for everyone not in South Beach), it could happen. For once, that doesn’t sound so crazy … While Gerald Green is out in Indiana attempting to basically jump over backboards, another great young dunker has found his own shot at an NBA career in Orlando. Even after we suspected all preseason that he’d be a casualty of numbers, DeQuan Jones has officially made the team. He didn’t start in college at Miami, averaged just 5.9 points as a senior, and yet here we are. He might be the only reason to watch the Magic this year … The Magic also waived Quentin Richardson, according to Yahoo! Sports … The Knicks waived four different small name players, but the one surprise who looks like he’s made the team is Chris Copeland. The crazy thing about it is the dude might actually have a significant role in the Knicks frontcourt since everyone there is either old, fat, out of shape or hurt. He averaged 15.5 points a night in six preseason games for New York. But if he truly expects to make a difference, he has to start rebounding more. He was making Brook Lopez look like Rodman during the preseason … And through Twitter, we found out Paul George came home to find someone had stolen his Forgiato rims. Damn, Indiana, we didn’t know you got down like that … Keep reading to hear where James Harden will be playing this year …
That sound you hear is one of two things: either James Harden flipping the extra millions of stacks he’s now going to get, or it’s Laker fans everywhere screaming and shouting because they were just handed the Western Conference on a silver platter. In one of the most surprising moves we’ve ever seen – seriously, has a team that’s THIS close to a title ever traded one of their core players on the eve of a season like this? – OKC failed to secure Harden to a contract extension, and instead of letting the situation linger all year, traded him to the Houston Rockets for guards Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. The Rockets will also receive Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward. Yahoo! Sports reports the Rockets will probably immediately sign Harden to a max deal, which could be for four or five years. Do you know what this situation reminds us of? Tracy McGrady‘s move from Toronto to Orlando. Harden probably doesn’t have that type of potential (then again, everyone said the same thing about T-Mac), but with Houston, he’s going to put up All-Star numbers (think 22, five and six), and finally get the chance to officially spread his wings. More importantly, on the other side, Martin can replace Harden’s scoring off the bench, but he isn’t nearly the same ballhandler or pick-n-roll player. The picks will help down the line, but from our angle, OKC just squandered what was a very good shot at another Western Conference title, and possibly a championship. Harden scared the Lakers. Martin doesn’t … Put yourself in Harden’s sneakers right now. You were a good soldier for the first three years of your career, and quite obviously were the team’s third-best player last year and yet you came off the bench for the good of the group. You saw players like Eric Gordon and Roy Hibbert lock down max-level contract extensions this summer, and you can argue you’re more accomplished than either one of them. And all of your teammates have been paid, even if they did take slight pay cuts to help the organization. Now, after all of that, the Thunder not only asked you to continue to come off the bench, they also didn’t want to give you the maximum. Reports indicate the two sides were at a stalemate over Harden’s contract situation, and once he turned down a deal worth $55.5 million over four years, Sam Presti started working the phones. Harden now has extra money for beard maintenance, and can start AND be the star. Whereas most of the public will throw up their hands in disgust and call Harden out for not being a team player (or being greedy), why should anyone criticize him? He deserves his payday. He didn’t have to accept a low-ball offer from the Thunder. His market value is set, and OKC didn’t want to cooperate. We can’t hate him for what happened … But OKC was like a brotherhood, and with the season being so close, we could see this screwing them up internally for at least a few weeks or so into the year (think Perkins being traded from Boston). Kevin Durant chimed in on Twitter last night, and he spoke for everyone when he simply said, “Wow.” … Some other contract news: the Bobcats exercised the 2013-14 team options for Bismack Biyombo ($3.2 million) and Kemba Walker ($2.7 million) … And with the regular season starting in a few days, here are a couple of names that are still out there: Derek Fisher, Gilbert Arenas, Mickael Pietrus, Michael Redd, Josh Howard, Kenyon Martin, Ryan Gomes, famed rapper Juwan Howard, Ben Wallace, Erick Dampier and Mehmet Okur. Is there anyone worth a shot? … We’re out like Paul George’s ride.
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