Pacific Notes: LeBron, Irving, O’Neale, Ballmer

Discussing his former teammate Kyrie Irving on his Mind The Game podcast (YouTube clip), Lakers star LeBron James said he has gotten satisfaction out of watching Irving’s success in Dallas, but admitted that he’s disappointed to no longer be playing with the star guard.

“I’m so f—ing happy and so proud to watch him continue his growth,” James said. “I’m so f—ing mad at the same time that I’m not his running mate anymore.”

As Dave McMenamin of ESPN details, Irving requested a trade out of Cleveland in 2017, in large part due to his desire to get out from under James’ shadow and to have his own team, but the mutual appreciation between the two stars seems to have grown since their days together as Cavaliers.

LeBron was known to be pushing for the Lakers to acquire Irving during multiple transaction cycles before the guard was ultimately sent to Dallas at the 2023 trade deadline. However, with Irving thriving in Dallas and under contract for up to two more seasons, it seems unlikely at this point that he and James will reunite prior to LeBron’s retirement.

James added that he doesn’t view the Mavericks as a significant underdog vs. Boston in the NBA Finals because he views Irving as a potential difference-maker.

“To have a guy like Kyrie Irving as the ultimate wild card,” James said. “It’s like having a Draw 4 in your hand every time someone deals you cards in Uno.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Responding to an ESPN report that said the Suns are expected to retain free agent forward Royce O’Neale, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirmed on The Burns & Gambo show (podcast link) that a new deal between the two sides is likely, but suggested that Phoenix will probably have to offer a longer-term contract to make sure it gets done. “What they’re going to have to three or four years to keep him. Other teams will probably offer him more money on a shorter-term deal,” Gambadoro said. “… What I’m expecting and what I’ve heard is that the Suns will likely go three to four years on an offer to keep Royce O’Neale.”
  • With the TV series ‘Clipped’ debuting this week, Law Murray of The Athletic takes a look back at how Steve Ballmer reset the Clippers‘ culture after buying the team in 2014 following the Donald Sterling scandal. “It was positive in a way,” former Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said of the Sterling situation. “Because we did end up getting one of the greatest sports owners, in my opinion, in Steve. The things that he’s done have been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what he continues to do, especially starting next year (when the Clippers move into their new arena).”
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers are said to be “zeroing in” on J.J. Redick as their next head coach. Get the full story here.
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