NBA All-Star weekend from Cleveland wrapped on Sunday, and there a lot of news was made by Lakers star LeBron James. Yes, he made the winning basket and improved to 5-0 as a team captain. But that wasn’t the news. James went out of his way to praise Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his “eye for talent,” leading many to speculate this was a shot at his general manager Rob Pelinka.
“The MVP over there is Sam Presti. He’s the MVP,” James said of the 44-year-old front-office executive who has held the post since 2007. “I mean, Josh Giddey is great. But Sam Presti, I don’t understand this guy’s eye for talent. He drafted [Kevin Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on. This guy is pretty damn good.”
James was responding to a question about Thunder rookie Josh Giddey.
Since the trade deadline expired on Feb. 10, without the Lakers making any moves, there have been reports that James was unhappy with the Lakers inaction.
A couple of hours after the deadline passed, Pelinka said he consulted with James and Anthony Davis, and the trio were on the same page when it came to L.A.’s inaction. Sources close to James said there was no prior sign-off accepting a quiet deadline.
Now LeBron is out here praising Sam Presti so overtly.
Look, James is passive-aggressive. He has a 19-year NBA track record of passive-aggressive behavior. Both toward teammates and management. He’s angry Pelinka didn’t make any moves, but this roster is what James wanted. He wanted Westbrook, Malik Monk, Carmelo Anthony, etc.
Now he’s mad that Pelinka didn’t trade any of the guys he brought in? Come on, son.
This is the downside to giving roster control to players. It usually ends badly for both the team and the player.
Also during All-Star weekend in Cleveland, LeBron let it be known that he wouldn’t rule out a return to the Cavaliers. The team that drafted him, that he left in free agency and returned to and led to a championship.
“The door’s not closed on that,” James told The Athletic on Saturday when asked about a potential return to Cleveland. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”
You don’t know when you’re free? Stop it, LeBron. We don’t believe you. You need more people.
James knows every detail of his contract, what he can and can’t do and the tremendous power he wields over the entire NBA. He’s just voicing his current displeasure and letting the Lakers and the league know he still runs things.
Are we sure Cleveland would want LeBron to return?
Cavaliers first-time All-Star Darius Garland offered his thoughts.
“Our guys want to make our own legacy,” Garland said Saturday. “It’s a new look, a new feel. It’s a rebirth in Cleveland. It would mean a lot to all of us.”
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