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Starting 5 | Cleveland knows drama

Sean Kennedy



The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content around the Internet

1. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James Could Be the Next Star Couple to Break Up – Kevin O’Connor, The Ringer

The much-publicized breakup of the premier team in the Eastern Conference has a multiple of interesting angles to dissect. Here, O’Connor’s sources support other reports that Irving wants to spread his wings, with one executive comparing it to a Shaq and Kobe or Shaq and Penny situation. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s a difficult time to trade anyone, as free agency has already nearly wound down to its conclusion. As O’Connor mentions, the only silver lining could be if the return package for Irving is someone like fellow Banana Boat-member Carmelo Anthony who would increase the odds of LeBron sticking around. No matter how you slice it, though, things in Cleveland are looking bleaker than you could possibly imagine for a team that has reached three straight NBA Finals.

2. Stephen A. Smith Says Kyrie Irving’s Camp Believes LeBron James Leaked Trade Wishes to Media – Kyle Neubeck, Complex Sports

Considering the source is professional yeller Stephen A. Smith, I take this rumor with an extra large grain of salt. Still, I love the theory that LeBron is using Kyrie’s trade request to soften the backlash for his eventual move to Los Angeles. We’ve seen some petty mind games from James on social media over the years, but that would truly be some next level, Machiavellian maneuvering. Owner Dan Gilbert certainly angered his superstar by letting former general manager David Griffin go, and when you come at the King, you best not miss.

3. Sources: John Wall agrees to $170M extension with Wizards – Shams Charania, Yahoo Sports

After deliberating for weeks about whether he would sign a max extension, Wall should now be in the nation’s capital through 2023. Wall has expressed lukewarm feelings in the past about both Bradley Beal making more money than him and Otto Porter signing a max deal earlier this offseason. Making over $200M should certainly go a long way toward assuaging any concerns. We’ll see whether Washington’s locked-in core is good enough to be a major factor in the watered-down Eastern Conference.

4. Knicks GM Scott Perry, week after hire, still stranger to James Dolan – Ian Begley, ESPN

Dolan has stated this year that he will be more hands off with basketball operations going forward; the fact that he hasn’t even met his new general manager certainly supports that notion. For most franchises, an owner being absent from such a crucial personnel decision might be viewed as a negative, but when that owner is the common denominator for close to two decades of dysfunction, ignorance is bliss. Knicks fans will hope Dolan stays entirely focused on JD & The Straight Shot, at least long enough to allow Perry and team president Steve Mills to bring Kyrie Irving to the Big Apple.

5. The Basketball Tournament 2017: Catching up with former Oakland star Travis Bader – Russell Steinberg

With all the craziness happening among the best players on the planet, it’s easy to overlook guys on the periphery of the basketball world. One of those, Bader, finished ahead of Steph Curry, J.J. Redick and every other college player ever to top the NCAA career list for 3-pointers made. Now, he spends his summers playing for Overseas Elite, as that squad looks for its third straight title in The Basketball Tournament. This is a fun interview that talks about that tournament, before diving into his former coach Greg Kampe and his Oakland connections.

Sean Kennedy is a Philadelphia native who has been an avid fan of the local sports scene since the days of PRISM. Sean is the founder and lead writer for PhillyFastBreak.com, covering primarily the Sixers and City 6 college basketball. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyFastBreak