Pacific Notes: LeBron, Durant, Suns, Shumpert

The Lakers will have the cap room to pursue a second star in free agency during the summer of 2019, but it remains to be seen whether any of next year’s truly elite free agents will jump at the chance to play with LeBron James, writes Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report. As Kevin Durant, 2019’s top free agent, tells Bucher, it’s probably easier for role players to fit alongside LeBron than it would be for another star.

“It depends on what kind of player you are,” Durant said. “If you’re Kyle Korver, then it makes sense. Because Kyle Korver in Atlanta was the bulk of the offense, and he’s not a No. 1 option at all, not even close. So his talents benefit more from a guy who can pass and penetrate and get him open.

“If you’re a younger player like a Kawhi [Leonard], trying to pair him with LeBron James doesn’t really make sense,” Durant continued. “Kawhi enjoys having the ball in his hands, controlling the offense, dictating the tempo with his post-ups; it’s how he plays the game. A lot of young players are developing that skill. They don’t need another guy.”

Veteran forward Trevor Ariza, who also spoke to Bucher, essentially expressed the same sentiment as Durant, noting that players who could benefit most from LeBron’s ball-dominant play-making would likely be more inclined to join the Lakers than a star who wants to be dominating the ball himself.

“If I was a free agent, I would have to consider everything,” Ariza said. “But my role is different than [Paul George] and Kawhi. They ask them to do different things than they ask of me. Guys similar to [LeBron], why would they want to play with somebody who does all the same things? I can see why they would want to play elsewhere.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In other Lakers news, Joe Vardon of The Athletic outlines why LeBron is unlikely to start deferring to the team’s young, unproven players anytime soon, while head coach Luke Walton says he thinks the franchise is capable of winning a championship without acquiring a second star (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Within an in-depth look at the Suns‘ point guard options, Bob Young of The Athletic reports that the team nearly traded up in the 2018 draft using the extra first-round pick it owns from the Bucks, and would’ve selected Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in that scenario. However, owner Robert Sarver pushed instead for the deal that saw the Suns give up Miami’s 2021 first-rounder for Mikal Bridges, according to Young.
  • Iman Shumpert, who looked like an expendable veteran on an expiring contract coming into the season, has been a key part of the Kings‘ rotation and is having on positive impact on Sacramento’s young players, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.
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35 thoughts on “Pacific Notes: LeBron, Durant, Suns, Shumpert

  1. This makes 100% sense and if you’re not a player that can put your ego in the back seat is not going to work with LeBron.

    I believe LeBron would yield to a ball-handling player a lot of times because he knows it would make the team stronger.

    Almost like Harden and Chris Paul. Harden doesn’t want the ball 100 percent of the time… he can put his ego in check and bring in Chris Paul who also likes the ball.

    That’s why the Warriors work. Curry doesn’t need the ball every time. Heck, let Durant take all the shots, let green bring the ball up, then Thompson get his 15 shots, no big deal.. no egos.

    Paul George has an ego and couldn’t go to LA.

    Let’s see what Kawhi decides.

    • @Gary, The title of this article is “Kevin Durant says the media around LeBron is ‘toxic.’ ” You can find it about anywhere. This makes me breath a little easier about the Warriors chances of keeping Durant. Also Google Kevin Durant free agency and see the article about him living in the “big city.” (San Francisco-he lives in a high rise with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the ocean). Good article about what he likes.

      • x%sure

        That’s not the title of this article nor of the linked article.
        BTW a pretty good article by Bucher, very sane

        • I’m sorry, but once again you are wrong. Go to ESPN, Bing Sports, Sports Illustrated, CBS, NBC. “Look it up.” I know you. You still say that’s not what I read.

          • x%sure

            Look at your own post on this page. Same thread, 3 posts up, not hard to find.
            “The title of this article is… (something it is not)”.

            • Once again, I hope you realize these guys can go to CBS, NBC, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Googling Rik Bucher, etc. and see you are full of it. They can go to the stories I read anytime and see you are full of it.

              • x%sure

                Maybe you should say it was a title from some toxic environment like ESPN so you’re not misinforming. If you cared.

                • I’ll listen to your sorry word over guys like Woj any day. LOL. At least Woj knows what a wing is.

                  • x%sure

                    The 4-wing set employed vs TOR at the end did not include starters Sexton or Hill. Apparently you still do not get what happened.

  2. Reflect

    Elite player who squeezed into a Warriors team that had 2 other superstars, says elite players probably won’t want to play with other superstars.

    Uhhh… ok.

    • mateodh

      The Warriors aren’t just any superstars, though, they really work as a unit and really mesh with KD’s game. That’s rare.

      • Reflect

        Is it really that rare, though? The Paul Pierce era Celtics meshed well. The previous Spurs core meshed well. The Heat big 3 got along. The Jordan era Bulls got along. The Kobe-era Lakers meshed well.

        Anytime you have multiple actual superstars and a good system, things tend to work out really well. That adaptability is what makes them superstars in the first place.

      • Z-A

        Rare…LBJ – Kyrie – Love? LBJ – Wade – Bosh? Pierce – KG – Allen? There’s at least one superstar trio that has meshed superbly in the league since 2007-2008.

        • Don’t forget to give Kyrie, Love, Wade, and Bosh their recognition. Kyrie scored 30 points in 4 of the games in 2016 and hit the series winning 3 point shot.

    • KD has said the Warriors aren’t a superteam. He says teams didn’t want Curry, Thompson, or Draymond in the draft. I’m biased. KD, Steph, and Kyrie are my 3 favorite players in the NBA.

      • Tyson Chandler says in the article when you play with LeBron, it has to be all about LeBron. Durant says you automatically become a role player, and you have to change your style. KD says LeBron needs young players who are still developing because he wants the ball all the time. Problem is LeBron doesn’t like playing with young guys.

        • bowserhound

          He could have gone to any team yet he chose to go to a team full of young guys…
          LeBron and Kobe are/were on a whole other level of talent than anyone in the NBA. Just because they are better than everyone else doesn’t exactly mean they are trying to reduce everybody else’s role on the team. I’m getting tired of everybody making it out like LeBron wants to huck 90 shots a game just so nobody else can touch the ball. He leads the team in scoring AND ASSISTS this season.

          • What about you guys comments on Brandon Ingram? The only thing that matters is when free agency gets here, who will sign with the Lakers? It doesn’t look like Durant, Thompson, Kawhi, Butler, Kyrie, Kemba, Tobias, or Middleton from what they are saying.
            There were a lot of great players in the NBA than just Kobe and LeBron. LeBron never would have won a title in Miami without Wade and Bosh. He wouldn’t have won in Cleveland without Kyrie and Love.

          • Durant said the stars don’t want to play with LeBron because he wants the ball all the time. Magic just got done saying the Lakers are watching his usage rate. Magic said they don’t want a repeat of the “Cleveland” model.

            • x%sure

              1. Durant did not say that. He made about 3 criticisms but not that. His main thing was a toxic media environment.
              2. The Earvin J quotes also concerned 3 things– his minutes, his usage, and also he wanted more “up and down”. Way to only mention 1. And watch how pace and usage do not change much on the Lakers; “Magic” can watch the numbers all he wants.

              Ptn is not reliable. He puts his thoughts into other people’s attributions.

              • I get my comments from other articles. We all know what Magic said, it was just on here. I read the different versions of “Kevin Durant says media around LeBron is “toxic.” You say I’m not reliable. These guys check my stuff. I contacted them this afternoon and told them this went viral. Durant did indeed say this. Sorry dude.

                • x%sure

                  So quote him. You can’t. You lied.

                  You don’t know what is checked or not checked, if anything ever is. There are wrong statements in the comment section. I just made one concerning how Burks’ salary affects CLE’s salary situation.

                  • Google Kevin Durant says media around LeBron is toxic and see what comes up. Bucher’s article was titled why other stars don’t want to play with LeBron. You don’t have to look it up, these guys can. They can see first hand you are a liar. I know Luke will delete these threads. I wish you’d stopo lieing.

                    • When I report something, they mark my stuff “awaiting moderation” to let me know they are checking it. True story. They know the truth, that’s what matters to me.

  3. mateodh

    Don’t worry about stars. Get LeBron the best catch-and-shooters and rebounders/defenders you can and let him run the offense.

    • You need Stars. A couple of them.

      JJ Redick, buddy hield, Carmelo Anthony, Ryan Anderson are not going to get it done.

  4. Z-A

    Do you think KD knows what “bulk” means? 12 points is bulk of the offense?

    His remarks are pretty dumb. He joined a superteam. Kyrie and Love never even sniffed playoffs before LeBron. If Kyrie never gets back to the finals he only has himself to blame.

    Now there was a Superstar player that wanted to play with LeBron and he chose LA over winning. LBJ – Embiid – Simmons would have been guaranteed finals appearance. Jimmy Buckets is doing just fine though.

    • Butler wanted to play with the Clippers and Miami over the Lakers. It hasn’t been that long ago. It’s not hard to remember.

      • Luke Adams

        I think the superstar who wanted to play with LeBron that Z-A is referring to is Embiid, who made an effort to recruit LeBron when he was a free agent this year.

        • LeBron’s replacement as the best player (Giannis too) in the east, Kawhi, outscored Embiid tonight 36-10 in the Raptors win. It’s looking like Warriors-Raptors. These guys can’t forget the Warriors were 12-1 at the beginning of the season when they had everybody.
          All I’m looking at is this summer. It seriously doesn’t look like many if any tier 1 free agents will be changing teams.

  5. It really has very little to do with ego or attitude, and almost everything to do with skill set. The nature of today’s game encourages most star offensive talents to develop offensive games that are quite ball dominant, extremely so by historical standards. The higher the degree of ball dominance in a guy’s game, the harder it will be for him to play effectively with other players that have a bunch of it in their games. Some guys can adjust their games better than others, but few can replicate the dominance of game built on ball dominance with one that isn’t.

    LBJ’s game has become more and more ball dominant as the years have gone by. Magic, perhaps uniquely, understands this and it appears he believes that it’s a trend that needs reversing if the Lakers are going to win a title in the immediate future. Magic made a point of not surrounding LBJ with a bunch of high efficiency spot up shooters, defenders, etc.

  6. x%sure

    Speaking of victory laps, the Iman Shumpert article verifies what I predicted. Start Shump at the 3, let him develop as a leader, and Sacto will be happy with the results! (Unless ownership would rather lose games, which is possible.)

    I hope coach Joerger hangs in there with Shump and Bjelica. Maybe all 3 deserve better for whatever that’s worth.
    To be fair to the dark forces, it is a top-heavy draft coming up.

  7. goldenmisfit

    KD could not be more wrong. Other superstars do work with LeBron just ask the Miami Heat. He had two other stars with him and four consecutive finals appearances with two NBA championships. Did anyone ever think this was a tactical ploy by him to make sure he did not have to compete with Leonard when it comes to the Lakers deciding on a second superstar come July?

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