Eastern Notes: LeBron, Jackson, Antetokounmpo

Most league insiders think it’s unlikely LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will opt in for another season on their deals with the Heat, though the same people feel like they’ll all sign new deals with Miami for at least one season, writes Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. Many feel as though James will stay with the Heat even if Bosh and Wade leave, with the Cavs as the next in line for his services, and all other teams as dark horses. Amico cautioned that his sources are merely making educated guesses, as James has offered few hints. It appears we’ll have to wait until the summer for clarity on that front, but there’s plenty of other news around the Eastern Conference in the interim:

  • Phil Jackson strongly encouraged Pistons owner Tom Gores to hire Steve Kerr last summer when Detroit instead tapped Maurice Cheeks as coach, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. Jackson has remained an adviser to Gores, though that ostensibly ends with today’s official announcement of the Zen Master as Knicks president.
  • Most NBA teams thought Giannis Antetokounmpo had a promise from the Hawks that they’d take him with the 17th pick, and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri tried “frantically” to trade into the top 15 to draft him before the Bucks snagged him at No. 15. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has the details behind the scramble for the Greek prospect.
  • Ujiri doesn’t deny that he was close to a deal in December to send Kyle Lowry to the Knicks, observes Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, who examines how a better attitude is enhancing the Raptors point guard’s free agent value for this summer.
  • The Sixers are unlikely to spend a lot of money in free agency this summer, writes Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com, who thinks that’s a reason why the team should hold on to trade candidate Thaddeus Young.
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