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NBA Notebook: Is LeBron foreshadowing a Lakers exit?

Profile Picture: Rory Breasail

Rory Breasail

February 25th, 2022

The players might have had the week off, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of important news this week in the Association. We're here to get you caught up in the latest edition of our NBA Notebook.

STEPH CURRY WINS ALL-STAR GAME MVP

There was a certain poetry to Steph Curry’s weekend. After being loudly booed by the Cleveland faithful during introductions, Steph put on one of the best All-Star game performances of all time, totaling 50 points on 17-27 shooting from deep.

Curry’s performance electrified and eventually won over the crowd at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, and the lesser-known kid from Akron received cheers as he hoisted his first-ever All-Star Game MVP award after the game.

IS LEBRON FORESHADOWING A LAKERS EXIT?

But it was the words and actions of the original kid from Akron that set the NBA on fire this weekend. Clearly unhappy with the state of the Lakers, LeBron fired some thinly veiled shots at Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office and heaped praise both on the up-and-coming Cleveland Cavaliers as well as rival GMs, including the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Sam Presti.

That LeBron then hit the game-winning shot to keep his record as an All-Star captain a perfect 5-0 only added to the drama of the proceedings.

LeBron keeping the door open on a Cleveland return is intriguing, as the Cavaliers have a promising young core that he could push over the top. Though LeBron would reportedly prefer to make things work in LA, he’s clearly putting pressure on the Lakers to improve next season.

Perhaps even more dramatic though were LeBron’s statements about his plans to play with his son Bronny. LeBron said emphatically that he will play his last season with his son, wherever that is, and that money is no object. This creates a fascinating scenario in which teams that might otherwise never have a chance to add LeBron will seek to draft Bronny regardless of his long-term outlook. Any team that adds LeBron in his farewell season is going to print money, but it’s also fun to imagine LeBron playing his last season next to say Steph Curry or Nikola Jokic.

The end of LeBron’s career is going to get weird.

CHRIS PAUL TO MISS SIGNIFICANT TIME

We learned this weekend that Chris Paul will require surgery on a broken thumb and will be reevaluated in 6-8 weeks. This probably won’t hurt the Suns' chances at the top seed, but it could mean he misses time in the playoffs. For a detailed breakdown on the implications of the injury and the Suns’ chances, we wrote about them on Tuesday.

NEW YORK MAYOR MULLS END OF VACCINE MANDATE

While nothing is official yet, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced his intention to end the vaccine mandate for the city’s indoor spaces in the coming weeks.

Kyrie Irving's unwillingness to meet that mandate has relegated him to part-time player status, but if it is revoked as it appears likely to be, the Nets' chances of winning a championship take a significant jump.

NBA Championship 2021/2022

Sat, June 18 2022, 11:58 PM

Golden State Warriors

+400

Phoenix Suns

+400

Brooklyn Nets

+650

Milwaukee Bucks

+650

Philadelphia 76ers

+700

Miami Heat

+1000

Utah Jazz

+1800

Chicago Bulls

+2500

Memphis Grizzlies

+2500

Boston Celtics

+3000

GORAN DRAGIC SIGNS WITH THE NETS

After fielding offers from several contending teams, Goran Dragic has signed with the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets oddly are one of the few teams that can’t offer him a significant role. Apparently, it was the pitch by his one-time Phoenix Suns mentor Steve Nash that sold Dragic on the move.

NBA HONORS TOP 75

As part of All-Star weekend, the NBA honored the top 75 players for its 75th anniversary. While the ceremony was nice enough, it was a bit of a bummer how many players opted not to attend.

The ceremony was saved by a surprise last-minute appearance by Michael Jordan, whose mere presence at the event lent the whole thing an air of legitimacy it sorely needed.

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS ZION WILLIAMSON?

A fresh round of controversy swirled around New Orleans Pelicans' star Zion Williamson this week when CJ McCollum (who was recently traded to the Pels) revealed that he had reached out to Zion but had yet to hear back from him. Following this JJ Redick, who used to play with Williamson in New Orleans, called Zion a "detached teammate" and suggested his lack of communication fit a pattern of unprofessional behavior.

In the following days, McCollum reported that Zion had reached out and that the team was ready to welcome back Williamson with open arms as soon as he was healthy. But with rumors swirling that Zion may need a second foot surgery and less than 30 games remaining, it’s beginning to feel overwhelmingly like that return will have to wait until next season. 

All of this is set against the backdrop that Williamson is eligible for a max extension this offseason, and that he has reportedly been unhappy in New Orleans. One way or another things in the Big Easy are going to come to a head this summer.

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