Media day is an exciting day for NBA fans (in particular NBA twitter) as it signals the beginning of the new season. It’s not just us fans, the players love it too – with LeBron referring to media day as being like the first day back at school, Robin Lopez messing about with Bulls mascot Benny the Bull and (in case you somehow haven’t heard) even Kawhi Leonard managed to let out the a laugh during the world’s most awkward interview. If you haven’t seen the Leonard laugh, you can find it here.
However, beyond the joking and posing for the cameras, there are some serious questions that get asked (and answered!) on media day. LeBron shut down a question regarding whether he’d be be able to maintain focus on basketball whilst living in Los Angeles and producing TV shows and starring in films. He also disclosed that the Lakers’ bench mob would be crucial in the team’s quest for success. James went as far as to nickname the unit made up of Rondo, McGee, Stephenson and Beasley as M.U.D. – Misunderstood, Under-appreciated, Determined.
James also took time to address the gap between his new team and that of his old adversary Golden State. The 4x MVP told reporters that a championship ring isn’t the only mark of success for a team, explaining that the Lakers are “picking up from scratch” and have “a long way to go” to catch the Warriors.
In Cleveland, the first day of official team duties since James departed saw head coach Ty Lue make clear that his team would not be tanking this season. This had already been made clear by the signing of Kevin Love to a long-term contract extension. But, Lue reiterated that the organisation “is committed to keeping a competitive product on the floor that has a chance to win and make the playoffs every year”. This seemingly bodes well for the Cavs making the playoffs (5/1 with Skybet) and possibly even Ty Lue winning Coach of the Year (150/1 with Paddy Power). Read more about those bets here and here.
Kristaps Porzingis attended the Knicks‘ media day, where he revealed he’s taking his time rehabbing his knee (left ACL tear) and that there is currently no timetable for his return. Sadly, this means it’s unlikely we’ll get to see the Latvian play against the Wizards in London this January.
Still in the news – Jimmy Butler was excused from attending the Timberwolves‘ media day following his trade request last week. Although not a surprise, this was still a massive disappointment for NBA twitter – give us awkward photos of players who don’t want to be there!
Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau didn’t hold back on information regarding the team’s position on trading away Butler. He emphasised that getting Butler out the door wasn’t the number one priority, but instead that it was important to seek out the best deal for the franchise and that the Wolves won’t rush a poor deal to fulfil Butler’s demands of a move. With twenty days until their first game, Thibodeau and Minnesota don’t have time on their side.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters how he wants his team to improve on the offensive end. Boston made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season without Kyrie Irving (missed 15 games plus playoffs) and Gordon Hayward (missed all regular and postseason games after first game injury), so should improve if only for their returns. Stevens reported that, on top of his elite scoring, Hayward will have to carry a load as a primary ball handler during the season. Boston have several high-level playmakers on their roster and keeping all of them happy and functioning will no doubt be a challenge for Stevens all season long.
Irving also spoke of how much he enjoys being a Celtics player and that he hopes his #11 jersey will hang in the rafters of TD Garden once he retires. This comes amidst rumours of his departure next summer – Irving will be an unrestricted free agent – for either the Knicks of Brooklyn Nets.
Next up on the NBA offseason schedule: preseason games. Keep an eye out for LeBron James’ Lakers debut when his team play a warm up game against the Denver Nuggets in San Diego on Sunday evening / early Monday morning.
Kawhi laughing? This is different. 😄 pic.twitter.com/gXUrqz8Aqw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 24, 2018