Tag: LeBron James

From foe to friend: Lance Stephenson finds it funny he and LeBron James are teammates

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

 

Ohm Youngmisuk ESPN Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS —After all the antics and the rivalry he had with LeBron James, Lance Stephenson finds it “actually funny” that the two former foes are now teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Uh, it was actually funny that I am actually on the same team,” Stephenson said in a conference call on Tuesday. “I am very excited to see what that brings and just playing with him, one of the best players to play the game, is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to get on board.”

The Lakers officially announced their signing of Stephenson, who once famously blew into James’ ear in an attempt to do anything to throw James off his game. After battling each other in the Eastern Conference for several years, mostly when Stephenson was with the Indiana Pacers, Stephenson said James’ side reached out to his agent this offseason about the idea of teaming up together.

“I was actually surprised he made the move to L.A.,” Stephenson said of James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Lakers. “I guess he needed a new look. I feel like just him reaching out and showing that he liked what I bring to the game is amazing. I just can’t wait to be on the floor with him, actually get on the court with him.”

The Lakers signed James, Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to go with a young core that includes Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart.

Stephenson says the Lakers want him to bring his defensive edge, be a veteran leader and just be himself. The guard, who averaged 9.2 points and 2.9 assists last season, isn’t worried about the Lakers having a plethora of ball handlers and playmakers despite the fact that many around the league wonder how it will all mesh.

“It is going to give us a great advantage,” Stephenson said. “We have a lot of unselfish guys and winning guys and even the young guys you can see they are the same way… we have a lot of potential and different ways we can win games and I feel like we are definitely going to show that this season.”

“I actually talked to [head coach] Luke [Walton] and he basically told me he wanted me to be myself, bring that defensive edge, be a leader on and off the court for the young guys and just bring that focus of winning and coming to compete every night,” Stephenson added. “But the one that stands out the most is letting me play and let me be myself, and when you got a coach telling you that stuff, it is just amazing.”

The Lakers also officially announced the signing of second-round pick Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and McGee, who comes to the Lakers after winning a championship with the Golden State Warriors. McGee says he likes how all the Lakers’ defensive pieces fit between himself, Rondo, Stephenson, James, Caldwell-Pope, Ingram, Ball and Hart and that the Lakers can challenge the Warriors.

“Yeah, it’s definitely possible, but it’s not going to be easy,” McGee said when asked about posing a threat to beat the Warriors. “Obviously they have five All-Stars now, four immediately. But it’s definitely going to be defense over anything. Going into playing the Warriors you’ve got to be extremely focused just because the Warriors like to play off of every single mistake that you make, especially turnovers, so keeping the turnovers down and playing great defense will definitely enhance our chances of beating the Warriors.”

“I think all the pieces are going to fit perfect,” McGee added of the Lakers’ defensive additions. “We all definitely have great defensive minds. Rondo is great with the steals, also on offense with the passing and court vision. Lance, he’s pretty good at defense also. Bringing me into the bunch as a rim defender and a big who can switch is just an amazing process and I really give kudos to the front office.”

Dan Gilbert wants LeBron James to leave Cavaliers

 

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said, “Dan Gilbert believes that he can build a championship team without LeBron, and I think he is looking forward to trying.” Windhorst later clarified he was making his own comment, not citing the Cavaliers owner. But the distinction, though significant, carried only so much consequence.

Because Gilbert says things like that about LeBron James.

Stephen A. Smith on ESPN:

According to a couple of owners I’ve spoken to and a few executives I’ve spoken to, Dan Gilbert is known for not being particularly fond of LeBron James. He doesn’t mind the thought of LeBron James leaving at all. As a matter of fact, I had one executive tell me, “Excuse me, I can’t wait until he leaves, because I’ll get my team back.” This is something Dan Gilbert has actually echoed.

That is an exact quote from my sources that said that Dan Gilbert said that.

I believe Gilbert wants LeBron to re-sign with the Cavs. But, while the rest of us believe they’d be left in ruins without LeBron, I believe Gilbert sees silver linings.

Having LeBron on your team brings challenges. He demands so much – spending, say on personnel and just generally that everyone follows his lead. The Cavaliers have directly lost a lot of money the last few years (though Gilbert has received indirect financial benefits due to their LeBron-fueled success).

But give Gilbert this: He sucked it up and dealt with those challenges. He apologized for his infamous letter and convinced LeBron to return (against the initial wishes of LeBron’s family). He promised unconditional spending and backed up that pledge by paying huge luxury-tax bills. He remained mostly in the background while LeBron got all the credit.

Is Gilbert tired of that? Probably.

Would he keep doing it to keep LeBron? Probably.

At this point, Gilbert likely looks forward to LeBron departing, because what other choice is there? Most – likely including Gilbert – believe LeBron will leave Cleveland this summer. Gilbert would take greater control of the Cavaliers at that point. They’ll be far worse with a provenly bad structure. But they’ll be more clearly Gilbert’s.

Billionaires typically like to be in control, and this type of talk is an attempt to give the impression Gilbert is in control. “I can’t wait until he leaves, because I’ll get my team back” seems like something he would spout off trying to sound impressive.

In reality, Gilbert would be a driving force behind LeBron leaving the Cavs again. But nobody wants to talk in depth about how he alienated the greatest player of his generation.

So, Gilbert spins another tale – for others and, maybe more importantly, for himself.