Before the Cavs preseason loss last night, LeBron James told reporters including Joe Vardon of the Plain Dealer that his return to Cleveland had little to do with his new teammates. “It was more about these fans and the city and the people here,” James said. “So, the team didn’t mean much. I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces, [but] obviously it happened quicker than I thought.” Here’s more from around the Central Division:
- Pau Gasol tells Michael Lee of The Washington Post that it was tough to leave the Lakers and Kobe Bryant this summer, when he signed with the Bulls as a free agent. “[Bryant] wanted to pretty much retire together,” said Gasol, who feels he made the right choice for his career. “That was an attractive option. One part of me wanted to stick with him and try to turn it around. But deep inside of me, I felt it was time after everything that I’d been through that I wanted to put myself in a position where I was highly stimulated…I feel energized. I feel rejuvenated.”
- Gasol confirmed to Lee that he weighed cultural factors when choosing a team, in addition to the on-court outlook. “To me, it was important on a personal level because I’m not just a basketball player,” said Gasol, who was reportedly concerned about Oklahoma City’s lack of diversity when the Thunder chased him this summer. “I have other interests, other desires than basketball, and Chicago had a lot to offer from that aspect.”
- In a session with reporters (video link at Basketball Insiders), Stan Van Gundy said he traded for Joel Anthony to bring a more “defensive-oriented culture” to the Pistons, citing Anthony’s experience as a rotation player in multiple postseason runs with the Heat.
- Van Gundy praised Detroit’s new director of strategic planning Pat Garrity, saying he was an obvious hire. Garrity originally sought a coaching job with the Pistons before Van Gundy steered him to the team’s front office.
- Will Bynum tweeted a thankful goodbye to Pistons fans (H/T Vincent Ellis of Detroit Free Press). “It has been a great run in Detroit,” said Bynum, who was traded to the Celtics on Friday afternoon. “You have all been so supportive for me throughout my time with the Pistons. Goodbyes are painful but are signs of great memories.”