LeBron James said there is no excitement or joy without fans as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar discussed the challenges facing the NBA amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA, like many sports around the world, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed almost 24,000 people globally.

It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 season will resume, with commissioner Adam Silver unwilling to provide a return date for the league.

If the campaign relaunches, the prospect of games behind closed doors is likely, something three-time NBA champion James is not looking forward to.

"What is the word 'sport' without 'fan'?" James said on the Road Trippin' Podcast. "There's no excitement. There's no crying. There's no joy. There's no back-and-forth.

"That's what also brings out the competitive side of the players, to know that you're going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you're playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans' ass too.

"So to get back on the floor, I would love it. I'm not going to sit here and say nothing. Like, if it's get out there and get back on the floor five-on-five ... but like, we can do that in scrimmages.

"Let's just go to each other's practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. ... I just don't know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It's just, it's a weird dynamic."

There has been talk of the NBA heading straight into the playoffs if the season resumes but James, whose Lakers were top of the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the postponement, said: "One thing you can't just do is go straight to the playoffs. Because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position."

After a difficult first season in Los Angeles, James had returned to his brilliant best for the Lakers – the 35-year-old's performances catapulting him into the mix for a fifth MVP award.

At the time of the NBA suspending the league on March 11, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.

As such, he is disappointed to lose the rhythm of impressive form he felt was building nicely towards the postseason.

James added: "When you've been building six months of conditioning and preparation and then [it's gone], the narrative that I don't like [is], 'Well, now guys get so much rest' or, like, 'LeBron, he's 35, he's got so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest'.

"It's actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me, like, 'What the hell are you doing?'

"My body was like, 'Hey man, what the hell is going on? It's March 13th, you're getting ready for the playoffs, why are you shutting down right now?' And I was right there turning the corner, like, I felt like I was rounding third base, getting ready for the postseason. So the rest factor, I think it's a little bit [overblown]. Especially when you're in the full swing of things."

Elite-level sport has been paused across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic that now has over 150,000 confirmed cases worldwide.

In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, competitions have steadily been halted over recent weeks.

Each of Europe's top five football leagues are off, along with the Champions League, while the NBA came to a sudden stop on Wednesday.

Motorsport was hit as Formula One's Australian Grand Prix was postponed, while cricket, tennis, golf, hockey and, initially to a lesser extent, rugby all also took stock.

In a peculiar period with a vastly reduced sporting schedule, a number of stars were therefore left to make alternative plans.

Reigning NBA MVP and leading 2019-20 candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo did not last long before he commented on the boredom he was enduring in the absence of basketball.

The Greek Freak posted on Twitter late on Friday: "If this is how my life is going to be after basketball, I'm not retiring for a long time. #25yearCareer"

Antetokounmpo tagged his girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger, who replied: "You will literally drive me crazy so the longer the better."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was revelling in some family time, however, marking Friday 13 by watching a horror movie.

James then filmed his children as they performed a dance for their TikTok accounts, which their famous father promoted on his Instagram story.

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton found a different way to spend his time as the start of the new season was delayed, meanwhile.

"Gutted to not be qualifying today," he wrote on Saturday. "I decided to stick around Melbourne and go indoor rock climbing. It's a great way for me to keep focused."

Hamilton may not have been out on the track, but European Tour golfer Matthias Schwab was – virtually.

The Austrian shared a clip as he multi-tasked, playing a motorsport videogame while keeping fit on his exercise bike.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid had been due to take to the field on Friday before LaLiga went into lockdown, but Sergio Ramos entertained himself and his family.

The Madrid captain uploaded an image to his Instagram story of he and two of his children sporting matching hairstyles.

Ramos added two hashtags, reading, "I stay at home," "We stay at home".

Inter's on-loan Manchester United striker Alexis Sanchez was among the other players left to train at home, and he called his dogs in to help.

The Chile international posted a video, set to Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want To Have Fun, as he juggled a ball with his dogs in pursuit.

LeBron James reacted to the NBA's move to suspend its season by saying he wished the whole year could be cancelled.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar had his say after the league was put on hold for an indefinite period, in response to a Utah Jazz player testing positive for coronavirus.

Basketball suffered the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash in January, with James left "heartbroken" by the death of his fellow Lakers great.

Now the season is on hold and may not resume, leading James to post on Twitter: "Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it's been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe."

Rudy Gobert, the Jazz's French centre, reportedly contracted COVID-19, spurring the NBA to make its decision to call off all games.

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry backed the decision to put basketball on hold as he called for a sense of perspective.

He tweeted: "2020 ain't [sic] it. Don't know what to compare this situation to…just gotta buckle up and take care of yourself and those around you. Basketball will be back at some point but right now, protect yourself and stay safe out there!"

The Orlando Magic's Evan Fournier, a France team-mate of Gobert's, said his international colleague was bearing up well.

Fournier wrote: "Was just on the phone with Rudy. He is doing good man. Let's not panic everyone. Love you all."

Speaking in a news conference after a 136-131 loss to the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young spoke about the post-match discussions in the team's camp.

He said: "We didn't really talk anything about the game or how it ended. It was more about the next steps for us, about moving forward and what we need to do to stay safe and try to stay [as far] away from getting this as possible. It was about how we can be more cautious about it."

Young said the players had an inkling the NBA would call a halt to the season.

"We kind of knew it - we didn't know about all the details until 30 minutes before the game. Maybe tonight was about thinking what the next steps are for us," Young said.

He bowed out with 42 points, albeit in a losing cause.

"Someone told me it was our last game for right now," Young said. "We weren't going to have fans probably for the rest of the season anyway. I wanted to go out and put on a show for the fans. I was going to go out fighting and playing hard and putting on a show."

Mike Malone, coach of the Denver Nuggets, spoke after his team's 113-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Malone said: "I don't know what this means. I know instead of flying to San Antonio we're going to fly home tonight.

"We support the league's decision, obviously being putting the players', the fans', the officials', the coaches', the staffs' best interests at heart, and we have to get our minds wrapped around what this coronavirus is doing.

"We support their decision and we wait to hear from them as to what this means moving forward, because honest to God I have no idea. And I just hope we can figure this out and get back to playing basketball in a timely manner when it's deemed safe."

The Brooklyn Nets held on to beat LeBron James and the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers 104-102 in the NBA.

Spencer Dinwiddie (23 points) hit the tie-breaking jumper with 28.3 seconds remaining as the Nets upstaged the streaking Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Lakers' four-game winning streak came to an end after Anthony Davis (26 points) missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.

James had 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers (49-14), who were unable to close the gap on the slumping Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) for the league's best record.

The Los Angeles Clippers bounced back from Sunday's loss to the Lakers by routing the Golden State Warriors 131-107 away from home.

Kawhi Leonard posted 23 points before sitting out the entire fourth quarter, along with the rest of the Clippers' starters.

 

Tatum stars as Celtics secure playoff berth

Jayson Tatum put up 30 points for the Boston Celtics, who reached the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. Gordon Hayward added 27 points and 10 rebounds in the 114-111 triumph at the Indiana Pacers.

James Harden scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook finished with 27 as the Houston Rockets topped the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-111, snapping a four-game skid.

Luka Doncic registered 38 points, but it was not enough for the Dallas Mavericks, who lost 119-109 at the San Antonio Spurs.

The Washington Wizards benefited from another big Bradley Beal performance in their 122-115 victory over the New York Knicks. Beal had 40 points, surpassing 25-plus points for the 22nd time in 23 games.

All the Portland Trail Blazers' starters posted double-digit points in a 121-105 win against the Phoenix Suns – Damian Lillard (25), CJ McCollum (22), Trevor Ariza (22), Carmelo Anthony (21) and Hassan Whiteside (16, 14 rebounds).

 

Mulder headlines Warriors woes

With Stephen Curry sidelined by the flu, Mychal Mulder played guard and the 25-year-old struggled for the Warriors. Mulder was one-of-nine from the field and 0 of seven from three-point range for three points in 26 minutes.

Aron Baynes made history on Friday. The Australian joined Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game following his career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and nine three-pointers for the Suns. However, Baynes was just three-of-14 from the field and one-of-seven from beyond the arc for just seven points against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday. He tallied two rebounds in 34 minutes.

 

Russell takes flight

Westbrook hit the runway and soared to the rim for the slam.

 

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 114-111 Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards 122-115 New York Knicks
Chicago Bulls 108-103 Cleveland Cavaliers
Houston Rockets 117-111 Minnesota Timberwolves
Orlando Magic 120-115 Memphis Grizzlies
San Antonio Spurs 119-109 Dallas Mavericks
Portland Trail Blazers 121-105 Phoenix Suns
Los Angeles Clippers 131-107 Golden State Warriors
Brooklyn Nets 104-102 Los Angeles Lakers

 

Pistons at 76ers

After an embarrassing loss away to the lowly Warriors, the Philadelphia 76ers (38-26) are back on home court against the Detroit Pistons (20-45) on Wednesday. The 76ers are 28-2 in Philadelphia, compared to 10-24 on the road.

LeBron James has backtracked on his comments about refusing to play games behind closed doors due to the spread of coronavirus.

Los Angeles Lakers star James said on Friday he would not take part in matches without fans, something the NBA had reportedly advised teams was a distinct possibility.

The proliferation of COVID-19 has led to all sporting activity in Italy being banned until April 3, while professional football games in Spain and France will be played behind closed doors.

In the United States, MLB, MLS, the NBA and NHL have stopped granting media access to locker rooms for an indefinite period.

James clarified his remarks on Tuesday and claimed he was unaware the possibility of games being played in empty arenas was already under consideration.

"When I was asked the question, 'would you play without any fans?' I had no idea there was a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus," said James.

"Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that's what I play for – I play for my family, I play for the fans.

"If they [the NBA] decide to go to that point [where games are played behind closed doors], I'd be disappointed in that, but at the same time you've got to listen to the people that keep track of what's going on.

"If they feel like it's best for the safety of the players, safety of the franchise, safety of the league to mandate that, then we'll all listen to it."

There have been 472 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the USA as of Tuesday, when the death toll stood at 19.

James was listed as questionable to face the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday but told reporters he intended to play.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is listed as "questionable" for the team's clash with the Brooklyn Nets.

James could miss Tuesday's NBA game against the Nets at Staples Center in Los Angeles due to a sore groin.

Lakers team-mates Anthony Davis (sore elbow) and Alex Caruso (sore hamstring) are "probable".

James posted 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Western Conference-leading Lakers downed neighbours the Los Angeles Clippers 112-103 on Sunday.

The three-time champion and four-time MVP is averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.

Sitting atop the west with a 49-13 record, the Lakers are riding a four-game winning streak.

Patrick Beverley described guarding LeBron James as "no challenge" after the Los Angeles Clippers' loss to the Lakers on Sunday.

James' 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds helped the Lakers beat the Clippers 112-103 at the Staples Center.

But asked about guarding the four-time NBA MVP, Beverley quickly shut down questions.

"No challenge," the Clippers guard told a news conference.

"No challenge," he said again to a follow-up question before a third was answered with: "Not hard at all."

Anthony Davis (30 points) and Avery Bradley (24) were also key contributors for the Lakers (49-13), while Paul George (31) and Kawhi Leonard (27) led the Clippers (43-20).

Beverley gave the Lakers credit for their victory while calling on his team to bounce back.

"We've got to give them a lot of credit. They came and won a basketball game, they took it personal, you've got to give them a lot of credit," he said.

"This is one game of course, but I live in LA man, it's hard, it's hard to deal with this loss.

"But we have to wash it down in the shower and keep getting better and we will."

LeBron James heralded a "big weekend" for the Los Angeles Lakers as they followed up a defeat of Eastern Conference leaders the Milwaukee Bucks with their first win over the Los Angeles Clippers this season.

The Lakers and the Clippers are the top two seeds in the West as things stand, boasting an array of talents after Anthony Davis joined James last year, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George went to their rivals.

Although James' Lakers lead the conference, they had been beaten by the Clippers in the sides' prior two meetings.

That run came to an end on Sunday, however, when the four-time MVP came up with 28 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a 112-103 road win. Davis finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, as George (31 points) and Leonard (27 points) could not keep the Clippers in the game.

Coming less than 48 hours after the Lakers had beaten the Bucks, James recognised the significance of his team sending a message to their fellow title contenders.

"It was hard fought, two teams that are getting up for the playoff," he told ESPN. "We're still trying to get better. Both teams are trying to get better.

"We won it with our defense, and we won it with our offense at times, as well.

Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted the Milwaukee Bucks "didn't play smart" against the Los Angeles Lakers - but believes his team will learn lessons from Friday's defeat.

LeBron James scored 37 points, had eight rebounds and provided eight assists as the Lakers won the battle between the top seeds in each conference, prevailing 113-103 at Staples Center.

However, the home team were aided by shooting 38 free-throw attempts in the contest, hitting 31 of them, much to Antetokounmpo's frustration.

"We definitely didn't play smart," Antetokounmpo, who led his team with 32 points in a losing cause, told the media after the game. 

"We obviously tried our best. We fight – we fight in every game. We try to stay in every game that we play.

"But they shot 31 free throws. We put them on the line so easily. You take that away and it's 70-odd points. You give them 12 free throws, 14 free throws, and now you have a ball game.

"We've got to do better, obviously. We will learn a lot from this game, go back and watch the tape and get better. Now we've got to move onto the next one."

As well as a potential NBA Finals preview, the game in Los Angeles pitted two of the leading candidates for this season's MVP award against each other.

The home crowd made clear who they believe should get the individual honour, chanting 'MVP! MVP!' for James after he pulled off a spinning dunk in the closing seconds.

Antetokounmpo, however, remains the overwhelming favourite to be crowned for a second successive season.

"It's always good playing against one of the best players in the league," he said. "When you bring the ball down, whenever you go against him, you can feel greatness.

"I've said in the past, that's where I want to be. As I said, he's one of the best players in the game, really smart. He's going to come at you – you've got to be ready to go, ready to fight against him. He's going to get his shots up, get his team-mates the ball."

Khris Middleton endured a tough outing for Milwaukee, finishing with 12 points on a 5-for-19 shooting night, but was backed by Antetokounmpo to keep on letting it go.

"Khris has got to keep shooting," he said of his team-mate. "It doesn't matter if you're having an off night, you're one of the best players in the team.

"A rough night cannot stop you from being who you are. Even if you go 0 for 20, he has to keep shooting."

LeBron James has no intention of playing if NBA games are staged behind closed doors due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the league had sent memos to teams advising them to prepare for the possibility of games taking place without fans.

That measure has already been implemented in Italy, where a government decree this week stated that all sporting events are to be played behind closed doors until April 3.

The outbreak originated in China but has now spread across most of the world and there have been over 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, where 17 people have died.

It has played havoc with the sporting calendar in many countries and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain saw their trip to Strasbourg postponed this weekend, yet one of the NBA's biggest names is not interested in the possibility of playing in empty arenas.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, it's impossible," the Los Angeles Lakers star told reporters.

"I ain't playing. If I ain't got the fans in the crowd, that's who I play for. I play for my team-mates, the fans, that's what it's all about.

"If I show up to an arena and there ain't no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do.

"I ain't ever played the game without no fans, ever, since I started playing ball.

"I don't give a damn, this isn't Europe. They can do what they want to do."

Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker also hopes it does not come to that for the NBA.

"That would be terrible," he said, as quoted by ESPN.

"That would be boring. They might as well cancel the whole game before that. That would suck.

"But at the end of the day, it is getting serious. I don't know. It would be very weird, though, for sure."

However, James' Lakers team-mate Alex Caruso admitted he would understand if preventative measures were put in place.

"It's a nice privilege to be able to play basketball, but I would like to be able to live many, many years past this," Caruso said.

"If it is a legit thing that needs to be done, do whatever you have to do. People watch on TV way more anyway."

LeBron James upstaged Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Los Angeles Lakers secured their playoff berth with victory over the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

James led the Lakers to a 113-103 victory at home to Antetokounmpo and the visiting Bucks in Los Angeles on Friday.

Lakers superstar James won his battle with reigning MVP Antetokounmpo, posting 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Western Conference leaders.

Anthony Davis added 30 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who improved to 48-13 following the blockbuster showdown.

Antetokounmpo's 32 points and 11 rebounds were not enough as the high-flying Bucks fell to 53-10 for the season.

 

Baynes makes history

Aron Baynes had a game to remember. The Australian tallied a career-high 37 points, 16 rebounds and made nine three-pointers as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 127-117. He joined James Harden as the only players in NBA history with 30-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and eight or more three-pointers in a game.

Kristaps Porzingis recorded his fifth straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds after putting up 26 and 11 in the Dallas Mavericks' 121-96 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Duncan Robinson made history in the Miami Heat's 110-104 loss away to the New Orleans Pelicans. Robinson finished with 24 points following eight three-pointers. It took Robinson's three-point tally to 233 this season – a single-season record by an undrafted player.

Bradley Beal's 35-point performance extended his streak of 25-plus points to 21 consecutive games. It tied LeBron James for the second-longest run by an Eastern Conference player since the 2000-01 season. The Washington Wizards won 118-112 against the Atlanta Hawks.

 

Bradley struggles

Usually a handy contributor for the Lakers, Avery Bradley failed to make much of an impact despite his team's victory over the Bucks. The point guard played 31 minutes and failed to make any of his shots from the field (0 of five) or three-point range (0 of three). His two points came from the free-throw line.

The Chicago Bulls went down 108-102 to the Indiana Pacers and Lauri Markkanen headlined his team's woes. The 22-year-old had just three points, going one of 10 from the field and missing all five of his shots from beyond the arc.

 

LeBron slams it down!

James was an immovable force for the Lakers against the Bucks, who were unable to prevent this dunk.

 

Friday's results

Washington Wizards 118-112 Atlanta Hawks
Brooklyn Nets 139-120 San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder 126-103 New York Knicks
Utah Jazz 99-94 Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers 108-102 Chicago Bulls
Orlando Magic 132-118 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 110-104 Miami Heat
Dallas Mavericks 121-96 Memphis Grizzlies
Phoenix Suns 127-117 Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles Lakers 113-103 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Warriors

The Philadelphia 76ers (38-25) will be eyeing back-to-back road wins when they travel to the Golden State Warriors (14-49) on Saturday.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James became the third player in NBA history to score 34,000 points.

James reached the milestone in Friday's blockbuster showdown with Giannis Antetokounmpo's league-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

The three-time champion and four-time MVP was already third on the NBA's all-time list for scoring after leapfrogging Kobe Bryant in January before the Lakers legend tragically died in a helicopter crash.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) still owns the record, ahead of Karl Malone (36,928) and the 35-year-old James.

Entering the Lakers' clash against the Bucks, James had been averaging 25.4 points, 10.7 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.

Stephen Curry's comeback on Thursday night was a welcome sight for LeBron James, who told the Golden State Warriors guard "the game missed you".

Curry had been out since October with a broken hand but he played 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors at Chase Center, draining three three-pointers in a 23-point display.

The Warriors, whose season has been ruined by the injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson, lost 121-113 but head coach Steve Kerr said his team were "through the woods" now their two-time MVP was fit again.

Golden State's NBA-worst 14-49 record means they are not a factor in the Western Conference, with the Los Angeles Lakers leading the way ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets.

Yet Lakers star James was still pleased to see Curry back on the hardwood.

"Happy to see @StephenCurry30 back out there again!" James wrote on Twitter.

"Nothing like being in your sanctuary! The game missed you."

LeBron James' enduring brilliance is a source of inspiration to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who aims to follow in the NBA great's footsteps. 

The pair will face off when Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks take on James' Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

At the age of 35, James is still producing the goods, and Antetokounmpo – whose Bucks side beat the Indiana Pacers 119-100 on Wednesday – cannot help but admire him.

"It's amazing. He's 35 and playing at a high level," said the 25-year-old Antetokounmpo, per ESPN.

"A lot of times we think that, 'Okay, we're going to retire at 35,' but seeing a guy at 35 being still a top-three best player in the world, that makes us want to be there.

"It makes me want to be there one day, so I've got to keep taking care of my body, eating the right way, being healthy, and as I said – he paved the way, and hopefully we can just follow."

Looking ahead to the Bucks' match-up with the Lakers ​– the two teams leading their respective conferences – Antetokounmpo cited James and Anthony Davis as key players, while Frank Vogel's men will have revenge on their mind following a 111-104 loss in December.

"The Lakers are going to come and play hard. We know that," he said. "I watched the game [against the New Orleans Pelicans]. They played extremely hard. They played through Anthony Davis, LeBron was facilitating, guys were shooting the ball, they were running to the corner, they were playing good basketball.

"And they lost the first game, so they're going to come out and try to win the second one.

"But at the end of the day, we've got to do what we do, which is defend and run to the corner and run to our spots, move the ball, take the open shot, make the right play, drive the lanes.

"We've done this for two years now – a year and a half, almost two years – and things take care of itself. So as a leader, I've just got to do that, and as a team, we've just got to stay on track."

LeBron James was thrilled to see Anthony Davis "going nuts" in the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Davis was 13-of-19 from the field for his 37 points and 13 rebounds, with the Lakers claiming a 120-107 victory.

James, who had 22 points and 14 assists, thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

"AD was going nuts," said James, per ESPN. "It was fun."

James had long lobbied for the Lakers to sign Davis and, with that ambition realised when he traded from the New Orleans Pelicans in July, the three-time NBA champion is delighted with how things are working out.

"It's everything I expected and more," he said. "Obviously that's why I wanted him here. When you get a generational talent like that and you got an opportunity to get him, you just try to do whatever you can to get him.

"I gave my opinion on what I thought he could bring to this franchise. I gave my thoughts about the player, but not only the player, the person. Hopefully they took my advice to heart.

"Obviously, ultimately they made the decision to do what we did in the offseason. It's no surprise to me.

"I already knew how incredible the guy is. He had 50 [points] in the All-Star Game. You know, 30s, 20s, 40s and 20s he had when he was with the Pelicans and just doing the things he was doing at that size, there's not too many guys who have done that in this league."

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