LeBron James isn't 'same animal' about winning, David Griffin believes

LeBron James isn't 'same animal' about winning, David Griffin believes

By now, you know the set up for the upcoming NBA season. 

The Warriors, fresh off five straight NBA Finals appearances, are wounded, limping into the new campaign without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and DeMarcus Cousins. Klay Thompson is recovering from a torn ACL and is expected to be out until at least the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Western Conference got better. Anthony Davis joined LeBron James with the Lakers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George teamed up on the Clippers, Russell Westbrook now is a Rocket and Mike Conley now calls Utah home. 

With the Warriors licking their wounds, many expect James and the Lakers to battle the Clippers for conference supremacy. 

Will James, fresh off his first missed postseason since 2005, still have the same juice he used to? Current Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations and former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has his doubts. In a wide-ranging conversation with Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer, Griffin noted how James' drive appeared to dissipate after he and the Cavs beat the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals.

"There wasn’t a lot else for him,” Griffin told Fisher of James' mindset after that title. “I don’t think he’s the same animal anymore about winning.”

James has faced criticism of late, with a number of people proposing that he only joined the Lakers due to his desire to live in Southern California and that his play in Year 1 with the Lakers showed he no longer craved a title run as he once did. 

[RELATED: Klay thinks Warriors have many years of title contention ahead]

The three-time NBA champion will have a chance to prove Griffin and the rest of his doubters wrong this season. With Griffin trading Davis to the Lakers, James now has the co-star he was missing last season and a roster that is better suited to form a title-contender around him.

At 34 years old, James and the Lakers will need to manage his load in order to keep him healthy for what LA hopes is a lengthy postseason run. If he's healthy come playoff time, we'll see if James still has that winning drive when he and the Lakers face the likes of the Clippers, Warriors and Rockets with the title hanging in the balance.

Klay Thompson gets trolled again by friend Zaza Pachulia on Instagram

Klay Thompson gets trolled again by friend Zaza Pachulia on Instagram

Death, taxes and Zaza Pachulia bashing on Klay Thompson.

Those are the guarantees in life. But it's all in good fun, even on matters of the heart.

Klay recently posted a cute photo while he was in France with Laura Harrier. It was so precious, but Zaza had to ruin the moment:

"Finally somebody loves you bro," Zaza commented.

Don't worry, they're close friends and do this from time to time.

[RELATED: Six Warriors storylines to watch next season]

When Klay suffered his torn left ACL, Zaza posted a sweet video on Instagram to wish him a speedy recovery -- and only because he wanted to have a dunk contest rematch. 

That's what friends are for.

Team USA's 78-game international win streak snapped with Australia loss

Team USA's 78-game international win streak snapped with Australia loss

Don't bet on the B team. 

In stunning fashion, the United States Men's National Basketball Team had their 78-game international winning streak snapped on Friday with a 98-94 loss to Australia. The loss was Team USA's first defeat in a major international tournament or exhibition since the 2006 world championship semifinals. 

With the 2019 FIBA World Cup a week away, this depleted Team USA is far from winning gold. 

Kings forward Harrison Barnes is a veteran for Team USA and scored 20 points in the loss. He was Team USA's second-leading scorer behind Celtics point guard Kemba Walker, who dropped 22. Barnes also led Team USA with six rebounds and made three of his five 3-point attempts. 

Team USA, led by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, had no answer for Australia's pesky point guard Patty Mills. The longtime Spurs guard, who Popovich is well acquainted with, scored a game-high 30 points and drained four shots from beyond the arc. 

[RELATED: Why winning 73 games didn't end in a Warriors championship]

"As I told you all after the last game, Patty's a pain,'' Popovich told reporters. 

Team USA's next tune-up before the World Cup comes Monday in Sydney, Australia against Canada.