J.R. Smith thinks Charles Barkley isn’t on LeBron James’ level ‘as a player or person’

LeBron James and Charles Barkley have some serious beef, and after Dwyane Wade had his former teammate’s back, J.R. Smith is following suit.

Barkley shredded James during a TNT segment last week. After James’ public statement on his teams’ need for playmakers last week, Barkley said the ordeal was “Whiny. Inappropriate. All the above.”

“I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point that we’ll start looking at the growth of franchises. That’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at,” the NBA commissioner said.

Silver went on to say expansion is more a matter of “when” than “if” at this moment.

The NBA has not expanded since 1995 when the league added the Grizzlies and the Raptors (though the Pelicans are considered an expansion team now).

“I think it’s just a question of when the right time is to seriously start thinking about expansion,” Silver said.

Until that happens, Supersonics’ alums will continue to try to get a team back to their city just like Allen doing right now.

They’ve been connected to a few impact bats — that’s probably their biggest need, by a hair — but will Girsch’s first move as GM really be as big as trading for a Marlins outfielder? Both Marcel Ozuna and Christian Yelich would be available for the right price, but the pending sale of that franchise complicates things. Slugger Giancarlo Stanton would probably be available, too, but he’s owed approximately $2 billion over the rest of his contract, which really complicates any deal.

Let’s look back at DeWitt’s quote from earlier in this column, about investing. He specifically talks about turning a short-term asset into a long-term asset, and it doesn’t take an advanced degree in reading tea leaves to figure out that references guys ready to hit the free-agent market soon.

The cupboard is near barren in Oakland.

Heading into the season, all eyes were on Philadelphia center Joel Embiid. After myriad injuries upended what would have been his first two seasons in the league, the 2014 No. 3 overall pick proved he was well worth the wait, averaging 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on restricted minutes, and seldom, if ever, playing on the second night of back to backs. However, a torn meniscus cut his season short in February after having played just 31 games, a factor that could (read: should) cause voters to refrain from casting their ballot in favor of him.

Dario Saric, another in the 76ers’ seemingly endless supply of talented big man who can’t seem to help them get over the hump, was phenomenal in February and March. He picked up the slack in Embiid’s absence, going for 17.7 points and 7.45 rebounds per game in the two-month span. Those are more than respectable numbers, but the small sample size and losing culture in which they were achieved can’t go unnoticed. The same can be said of Suns big man Marquese Chriss, who’s averaged 13 points and six boards while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, including 36.8 percent from 3-point range.

Kings guard Buddy Hield is balling now, but his emergence is too little, far too late.
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And don’t even get me started on their bench. The cupboard is near barren in Oakland.

Gone are game-changing stalwarts such as big man Andrew Bogut, whose injury was the sole reason the Warriors fell in last year’s final against the Cavs, according to anybody with the good sense God gave a Billy goat; Harrison Barnes, whose lights-out shooting in the 2016 playoffs is irreplaceable; and prototypical stretch power forward Marresse Speights, who wound up being just what the Clippers needed to be considered a serious contender.
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For Paul George and the Pacers, the future remains murky

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So, was Paul George looking a little longingly over at the Celtics’ locker room at TD Garden Wednesday night?

After the Pacers lost in Boston to slip to the No. 7 seed in the East playoff race, and just one game ahead of the eighth seed, George said, If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody. There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ Or, ‘What are you doing?’ They’re beyond that. And that’s the chemistry we’re trying to make—where guys are playing, and we’re comfortable with their play style, and we know what they’re going to do within our offense. We’ve got a little way to go.

Jack Youngblood Authentic Jersey A month ago, there had been a chance—slight, according to some around the league and virtually nil according to others—that George would wind up in Boston at the trade deadline, as the Pacers listened to offers for their star forward. The consensus was that the Pacers were simply feeling out the market for George, perhaps to make more serious inquiries ahead of this year’s draft, but the rumor mill around George churned in earnest for a few days.

According to TNT reporter David Aldridge, the Thunder expect Kanter to return Friday to help bolster their offensive attack. The 6-11 center had been out since Jan. 26 because of a broken wrist suffered when he punched a chair in frustration.

Kanter is averaging 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season while coming off the bench. Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo get most of the scoring opportunities, but Kanter gives them a big body in the paint and helps stretch the floor.

Stephen Curry sings Disney songs with James Corden

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With two young daughters, Stephen Curry has heard his fair share of Disney songs.

The Warriors star hilariously sang songs from Moana and Frozen while riding along with James Corden.

Coming to a franchise that had been to only one Western Conference Finals since its inception in 1980-81, Nowitzki led the Mavs to their first-ever NBA Finals berth in 2006, a year before he won the regular-season MVP.

According to the Times, the brothers withdrew the request in court Friday after Jeanie Buss asked for the restraining order.

This is no doubt the beginning and not the end of the game-playing, Jeanie Buss’ attorney Adam Streisand told the Times. They don’t have a legal leg to stand on. This is a legal strategy doomed for failure.

Jeanie Buss took control of the franchise after the death of her father, Jerry Buss, in 2013. She recently fired her brother Jim from his longtime position as the Lakers’ executive vice president for basketball operations as part of a shakeup that put Magic Johnson in charge of the department.

Greg Zuerlein Authentic Jersey The Cavs held a workout for Larry Sanders on Wednesday, but the team won’t make a decision on whether to sign the former Bucks center until after the trade deadline, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. Cleveland may attempt to acquire Andrew Bogut from the Sixers, as Philly does not plan to keep the big man. Expect another trade or buyout.

The Brooklyn picks are in play. Relay back to base, the Brooklyn picks are in play.

The Celtics and Pacers have been kicking the tires on a Paul George deal, but Boston has yet to meet the asking price, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, the coveted pick the Celtics own for this year’s draft (via Brooklyn) has entered the conversation, per Wojnarowski.

CT scan on brain of Hornets’ Nicolas Batum negative, report says

Nicolas Batum underwent a CT scan on his brain Wednesday with hopes of finding the source of severe migraines, ESPN.com reported, citing unidentified sources.

The Hornets forward has been suffering from “excruciating” migraines, and ESPN’s sources said it has been “a scary period” for him.

Good news for Batum — a team spokesman told WCNC-TV before Wednesday game against the Pacers his CT scan revealed no major problems in the brain, such as brain tumors.

For now, the nine-year veteran is expected to be sidelined for Saturday’s game against the Wizards, if not more.

Batum, 28, is a key piece in the Hornets offense, averaging 15.4 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists this year.

Jeremy Lamb and Marco Belinelli will need to step up if Batum is forced to take an extended leave, especially since Charlotte is 3 1/2 games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot entering Wednesday’s games.

McCollum has played second fiddle to Damian Lillard to this point in his career, and he’s been incredibly successful in that role. He was named the Most Improved Player in the NBA for the 2015-16 season, and he’s averaging 23.1 points per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.4 percent from 3-point range this season. He’s proven himself to be one of the purest scorers in the league with the ability to function as a secondary playmaker when needed.

The intrigue with McCollum taking over a role similar to Harden’s is how much better could he be as the primary ball handler on a team. In the five games Lillard missed this season, McCollum put on a show with an average of 31.2 points, 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. That includes a 43-point outburst against the Timberwolves on the road followed by a 35-point showing at Oracle Arena three nights later. He shot nearly 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line and 90 percent from the free throw line in those games too.saints_010-223x223

Judge dismisses just one count in Pete Rose’s defamation suit against John Dowd

A Pennsylvania judge dismissed just one of the three counts in Pete Rose’s defamation suit against attorney John Dowd.
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Judge Petrese Tucker would not dismiss all counts against Dowd, allowing Rose’s lawsuit to proceed.

In a U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania, Tucker stated that Dowd’s statutory rape allegation made during a 2015 radio interview was known to be false and malicious.

The court concluded Rose sufficiently pleads a claim for defamation per se under Pennsylvania law.

Dowd said during an interview with Philadelphia radio station WCHE that memorabilia dealer Michael Bertolini told him Rose, not only ran bets but ran young girls down at spring training, ages 12 to 14.

So he’s not available then, right? But multiple reports have said the Mets are open for business and with the team 12 games out of first place in the N.L. East and 9.5 games out of the second wild card spot this team has virtually no hope for this year.

And with the seeming collapse of Matt Harvey as a viable starter, the health issues that Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler have all been plagued with over the last few years will they really have a chance to compete next year?

Limited Alexander Mogilny Jersey Alderson clearly has to be thinking of that possibility because he went on to say just a few minutes after his quote above that they won’t fully close the door on any trade because who knows what another team could offer?

NBA free agency: With cap space drying up, what money is left for top restricted free agents?

We’ve known that the NBA’s drunken-sailor spending spree of the past two years was not going to be sustainable, that eventually the salary cap would level off and teams that overbought on the market would be facing a grim reality. But the grimness of that reality is not going to wait a year to show itself.

For restricted free agents around the league, it is already here. Cap space is drying up around the league, and the inherent advantage of incumbent teams when dealing with restricted free agency is showing itself. Andre Roberson has been re-signed, the Wizards have a max offer sheet to match from Brooklyn for Otto Porter, and the Hawks must decide whether to match the Knicks’ offer to Tim Hardaway Jr., but some of the youngest and most interesting players on the market are untouched restricted free agents. They’re facing a long period of contract limbo.
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Authentic Youth Nate Palmer Jersey Osweiler was an afterthought in the battle right after his trade from Houston, given the move was primarily made to give the Browns a second-round draft pick and give the Texans a way out of an expensive mistake. But perhaps humbled from his crash and burn in Houston, Osweiler has been impressive in the offseason, showing the accurate arm once coveted by the Broncos. He also has been wise to lean on the fact that, at 27 to be, he has a big experience edge on the other two. That includes being familiar with a Super Bowl-winning locker room vibe from Denver.

Osweiler is pretty much there to push the youngsters in presence only. He’s more down with Kevin Hogan, who’s in this competition in name only. This is Kessler vs. Kizer, and the second-year man from USC can officially start to worry about the trajectory of the competition.

Nelson Cruz has Yadier Molina stop All-Star Game to take picture with umpire

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Nelson Cruz and Yadier Molina are two of baseball’s eldest stars, but the veterans had a bit of playful fun during Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

When Cruz came to the plate for the American League in the top of the sixth at Marlins Park, he pulled a cell phone from his pocket and had Molina take a picture of him alonside umpire Joe West.

The crazy part of the story is after Cruz, 37, nearly homered off Zack Greinke with a cell phone in his back pocket, Molina, 34, went deep in the next half-inning, tying the game at one. He’s the oldest player to homer in an All-Star Game since Barry Bonds in 2002.

With the All-Star Game now meaningless in terms of World Series home advantage, players are seemingly soaking it in and just having fun which is great for the game.

The Angels initially said Trout would play five rehab games, but instead he played four.

I’m where I want to be, he said. Im just getting my legs under me in center field, and I feel great.
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The two-time AL MVP, on the DL for the first time in his career, has missed 39 games since injuring the thumb May 28 on a head-first slide and undergoing surgery three days later. Yet he still leads the Angels with 16 homers. Before the injury, he slashed at .337/.461/.742 in 47 games.

The Angels (45-47) went 19-20 in Trout’s absence and are in second place in the AL West at the All-Star break, but they’re 16 1/2 games back of the Astros.

Love is the X-factor for Cleveland.

James has ascended again. Gaudy numbers from rival superstars left James overshadowed for much of the year, but he has asserted his dominance in the two rounds of this postseason. His numbers — 34.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game — are off the charts, and at age 32, he is having arguably his best ever postseason.

What separates these playoffs for James so far has been his remarkable efficiency. He is shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 46.8 percent from the 3-point line. He’s not just making selectively chosen, easy 3s either — he is averaging 5.9 3-point attempts, most of his playoff career as he has been passing up midrange jumpers to take advantage of his deep accuracy. He has been good as ever finishing at the rim (73.3 percent) and drawing fouls (11.5 free throws per game, most since the 2009 playoffs).

And James probably saw the toughest defender he will see between now and the NBA Finals in the series against the Raptors, where P.J. Tucker did his best to harass and harangue James, to little avail. No matter what happens in the Wizards-Celtics series, neither has an individual defender who can give James much of a challenge.

It’s hard to get an accurate representation of what the Cavs will look like in the playoffs this year due to their propensity to rest starters on a semi-regular basis. The “Big Three” of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are all healthy and ready to lead this team back to another Finals, but they need to rediscover their chemistry.

Love is the X-factor for Cleveland. James and Irving can score when needed, but Love’s presence in the paint (19.0 points, 11.1 assists per game) will be important against physical teams.

Despite making a myriad of offseason moves, the Pacers looked sluggish to begin the season. They have since bounced back, led by Paul George’s 23.7 points per game. Myles Turner (14.5 ppg) and Jeff Teague (15.3 ppg) are perfect complementary pieces to George’s well-rounded game.jets_014

LaMarcus Aldridge leads Spurs to 39-point win over lifeless Rockets

Will Tye Womens Jersey Lifeless. Listless. Uninspired. Pathetic. Use any adjective you like to describe the poor effort put forth by the Rockets in Thursday’s NBA playoff elimination game and you’ll come to the same conclusion — it was bad.

Even without MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs dominated the Rockets in every aspect of the game en route to a 114-75 victory at Houston’s Toyota Center to advance to the Western Conference finals with a 4-2 series win.

We actually went to him with Kawhi off the court, to generate some offense, to make some things happen, and he did a good job, whether it was distributing it or scoring. He was big for us, Popovich told reporters.
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Ginobili was playing in his 208th career playoff game and his 11th in this postseason. That experience informed his decision to go for the all-or-nothing block.

I know where his shot release is from, and he went by me, so I tried to bother him as much as I could and I saw that I found myself very close to the ball, so I went for it, he told reporters. Very risky, it was a risky play, but it was also risky to let him shoot, so I took my chances.

The gamble paid off. Ginobili had rewarded Popovich’s trust once more.

Leonard vows to be back for Game 6 on Thursday in Houston. Even if he plays his usual minutes, there should be space for Ginobili to get some extra run.

Manu should get more time to keep turning back time.