Happy Tuesday, WFNY!
And it really is just that, a happy Tuesday. The Cavaliers seem to have themselves back on track a bit (although that defense still leaves an awful lot to be desired) and with that Super Bowl we had on Sunday we had the ultimate culmination of the most ridiculous string of sports championship games/series of my life. The sports world is good today, my friends.
But alas, just as Daniel Plainview drinks poor Eli Sunday’s metaphorical milkshake in There Will Be Blood, this being Shamrock Shake season and all, so too in our world, There Will Be Drama and I drink your milkshake.
Monday evening, just as the Cavaliers and Wizards were getting under way, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News released his annual Love-for-Melo trade piece. This time, citing the omnipresent “league source”, Isola says it’s LeBron who is pressuring the Cavaliers front office to trade Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony.
Wow, that is major news! A great get for Isola, for sure. But obviously, before reacting too much to this news, we should first ask LeBron for his response to this article. Turns out, the media did just that.
LeBron responds to the recent K Love/Melo trade rumors… pic.twitter.com/zmLTovOpxN
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2017
LeBron James has been on quite the roll lately, speaking his mind and lashing out at the media. He’s actually kind of reminding me of…..Charles Barkley.
Hey, to me, that’s a good thing. Barkley is my favorite basketball player of all time. A poster of him hangs in my office, when I was a kid I collected all of his basketball cards, I would read all his books. Barkley was everything I loved about basketball. And I loved how outspoken he was. I hated Michael Jordan’s political correctness. I was so sick of athletes regurgitating the same tired answers and cliches. Barkley was exciting and dangerous. You never knew what he was going to say next.
I love that LeBron is finally dipping his toes in these waters. He’s speaking out more on activism and causes he believes in, and he is sticking up for himself and his teammates. And if LeBron needs to go a little low-blow to get his point across, so be it. I love it.
As for Isola, think what you will. He’s been doing this a long time and is a well-respected (By some. Many?) sports journalist who has covered basketball for as long as I remember reading about it. Seen by some (many?) as something of a provocateur, Isola loves to write things that are sure to get a reaction. He managed to really piss off the Knicks organization. He often reports things that feel like rumors and assigns them to a random “league source”. He’s been right about a lot of things over the years. He’s also gotten some things wrong.
During LeBron’s original run in Cleveland, Isola often drew the ire of Cavaliers fans for writing about the Knicks getting LeBron. A lot.
Can't confirm this but a Knicks source claims the location may be Allan Houston's house. Wow
— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) July 7, 2010
All of this is to just place this latest report into some context. A lot of basketball writers I really respect seem to think highly of Isola, so that has to count for something. Myself? Well, he’s not my cup of tea and I really don’t think much of his constant passing along of rumors that come from anonymous sources.
This is now the third year in a row Isola has written about the Knicks trading for Love, an amazing feat of endurance.
Frank Isola has literally had Kevin Love being traded or leaving in free agency three years in a row pic.twitter.com/l5ApyPT8ma
— Bottlegate (@Bottlegate) February 7, 2017
Multiple writers including the Akron Beacon-Journal’s Jason Lloyd have verified Isola’s report last season as being true. He was very much wrong on the first one. This year’s rumor? Remains to be seen, but the Cavaliers sounded awfully adamant yesterday that Kevin Love is going nowhere.
So Isola is obviously just making this stuff up. Clearly. Right? Well, not so fast. You don’t have as long of a career as Isola has by just making things up. I don’t think that’s what happened here at all. I believe he was told by a “league source” that LeBron is pushing the Cavs to trade Love for Melo. And then he reported it.
The bigger issue here is whether Isola sometimes plays things a little fast and loose with anonymous sources. In the world of sports reporting, there can sometimes be ulterior motives for sources spreading information or even misinformation. They want these things to be in the papers for various reasons. Sometimes it’s to induce drama, sometimes it’s to gauge reaction from the teams or individuals involved, sometimes it’s to try to force someone’s hand in some kind of negotiation.
I have no clue who Isola’s source is. Maybe it’s true. Maybe LeBron is lying to the media and behind the scenes is trying to pull these strings. Or maybe Isola’s source is someone who is either trying to make something happen or is simply expressing wishful thinking. Only Isola knows if he tried to get in touch with LeBron’s representatives or someone from the Cavaliers to confirm the report before he posted it. I don’t want to judge based on things I don’t know.
What I do know is that LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Ty Lue all squashed this report in a way that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. On ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike show this morning, Isola seemed to imply that LeBron was only mad at the timing of the report, not the content itself, as Isola somewhat-weakly stood behind his report. But from the tone coming out of Cleveland, I believe them.
I might be naive. I can admit I certainly am more inclined to want to believe the Cavs than I am Frank Isola. I have a knee-jerk reaction when I hear things like this; to not want to believe them and want to lash out at the source. But I’ve seen far too often reports like this turn out to be true. So I’m keeping an open mind.
If it is true, however, then I don’t understand what LeBron is doing. I get it, he wants to play with his friend. Nothing wrong with that. Except when you push out an important piece like Kevin Love who is playing some of the best basketball of his life right now for a player who, on the court, doesn’t fix any of the Cavs’ problems.
Is Carmelo Anthony making that pass to set up LeBron for the game-tying three-pointer last night? No chance. Is Carmelo going to replace Love’s 11 rebounds per game? Carmelo’s career-high in rebounds is eight per game. Is Carmelo going to solve the issue of defending both Draymond Green and Kevin Durant? Nope. Carmelo is an elite scorer. That’s the one thing the Cavs don’t need help with.
You could argue Carmelo helps by being a playmaker who can have the ball in his hands when LeBron or Kyrie is on the bench. OK, fine. But I do not think swapping out Love and bringing in Carmelo makes the Cavaliers better. I don’t think it gives them a better chance of beating the Warriors. It makes no sense to me as an on-court solution to figuring out Golden State. And I just don’t believe LeBron is willing to hurt his chances at another Championship just for the sentimentality of playing with Carmelo.
In a perfect world, I’m sure LeBron would love to have the Cavs bring in Carmelo to play with the Big Three. There’s no good way for the Cavaliers to achieve that, however, and everyone knows it. So I don’t totally buy into this latest “drama”. It’s just your run-of-the-mill pre-All Star break trade rumor. These things come up every year. The Cavs squashed it for now, and until someone comes up with a more concrete report to the contrary, I think we can consider this closed.
Until the next rumor…..