This NBA on TNT clip perfectly sums up how I feel about this gloomy Wednesday morning here in the Chicagoland area (Kenny is Wednesday, and Shaq is all of us):
But cruddy weather be damned, we’ve got some hoops to talk about this morning. And we’re going to start in Cleveland, where Donovan Mitchell had himself king’s night on the night that the King returned to The Land.
Spida Spoils LeBron’s Return to Cleveland
Donovan Mitchell said after the Cavaliers’ 116-102 victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers that “you always want to spoil the homecoming.” Spoil it he did.
Mitchell scored a season-high 43 points and nailed a dagger three-pointer to put the outcome to rest late in the fourth quarter and was then seen telling the Lakers to hit the road, in not-so many words:
Darius Garland added 21 points and 11 assists for the Cavs, and Cleveland moved to 11-1 at home this season, their best start at home since the 2015-16 season when LeBron James led them to an NBA Finals Championship.
After the game, James had nothing but praise for Mitchell, who appears to be the final piece for the Cavaliers, who now look like a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference. LeBron called Mitchell “a special kid” after scoring 21 points and logging 17 rebounds in the losing effort. The loss for James was just his third in 20 games against the Cavs.
The Lakers played most of the game without Anthony Davis, who left in the first quarter and did not return with what Lakers coach Devin Ham called flu-like symptoms.
While Donovan Mitchell might be the missing piece in Cleveland, the Cavs were the missing piece for Mitchell, who says he’s having fun playing basketball again in a recent column by Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
“This is no shot at my guys in Utah, so I don’t want the message to get misconstrued or whatever, especially on like Twitter, but I’m having fun again,” Mitchell said. “That’s just straight up. I’m in a situation where you go all summer and not know what’s going to happen. But I’m just having fun playing the game.”
You can read more about Mitchell’s hot start and his rediscovered enjoyment of the game in Cleveland in Russo’s story:
Trouble in Atlanta?
After what the Atlanta Hawks dubbed a “miscommunication” between star Trae Young and head coach Nate McMillan last Friday, Young was not in the Arena for the Hawks contest with the Denver Nuggets. According to Shams Charania, Young was presented with two options by McMillan after not participating in the team’s morning shoot-around: “Play off the bench — or do not show up to the arena.”
According to Charania, Young wanted to focus on treatment on his right shoulder, but McMillan wanted him to participate in the shoot-around and then receive treatment during the walk-through for the game. Young was not interested in this plan, however, and the disagreement led to Young missing the game.
While Young returned to the Hawks over the weekend and played 37 minutes in a 121-114 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, Charania says that the disagreement between Young and McMillan is a “microcosm of tension that exists among Young, McMillan and the locker room.”
Shams went on to say that Young – whose tension with former head coach Lloyd Pierce led to Pierce’s firing – and the Hawks have had “multiple team meetings early this season to resolve various conflicts.”
More on the brewing trouble in Atlanta from Shams:
Nike, Kyrie Split, Ja Morant Getting Signature Sneaker
A month after Nike suspended its relationship with Kyrie Irving, the company announced that Irving is no longer a Nike athlete, according to Shams Charania.
Irving had been a Nike athlete since 2011 and had one of the most successful signature shoes of the last decade during that span.
The majority of Irving’s $17 million in revenue from endorsements last year came from his shoe deal with Nike, according to Forbes.
Charania also reported that Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant would be getting a new signature shoe from Nike soon, something that the two sides have been “working on for months” and comes unrelated to the parting of ways between Nike and Kyrie Irving.
- Real good interview here by Sam Amick with Devin Booker, who is carrying the Suns to the Western Conference’s best start this season despite plenty of off-season turbulence and injury issues.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo has been on quite the heater of late, scoring 30 or more points in each of his last seven games. Over those seven games, this is what Giannis per game averages look like: 36 PPG, 10.1 REB, 5.7 AST.
- Shams sits down with Kyle Kuzma to talk about a bevy of topics, including his exit from Los Angeles and his breakout season with Washington last year:
- Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero leads Jonathan Givony’s latest NBA rookie power rankings in a landslide. Banchero is averaging 21.8 points per contest for the Magic this season.
- Happy Birthday to Larry Legend!
- Facts …
- Remember, Luka is coming to town this weekend, Bulls fans:
- May some Michael Jordan game-winners brighten up your day today!