Blakely: A ready-made rival to Warriors awaits LeBron in Boston

Blakely: A ready-made rival to Warriors awaits LeBron in Boston

BOSTON – Golden State once again steamrolled towards another NBA title while leaving LeBron James and the Cavaliers as the last bit of roadkill on the journey.

But the Warriors’ third title in four years was a secondary topic of discussion as James’ impending free agency was to the surprise of no one, the center of attention.

The future of James will dominate the NBA rumor mill for weeks with several teams – including the Celtics – being talked up as a possible landing spot.

But James coming to Boston will require a bit of role reversal to come to fruition.

In the past, teams have gone through a series of salary cap gymnastics, spending months, sometimes years, shedding salary to create enough space to bring James into the fold.

Boston hasn’t done anything like that with an eye towards acquiring James and won’t even consider going down that road unless James makes it absolutely crystal clear that he wants to be a Celtic.

Success at the highest level tends to travel with James, in part because of what’s already in place but also because of what – and who – he brings with him.

In Boston, the only thing James needs to bring is his ridiculously impactful game.

Because with or without James, Boston is built to compete for an NBA title now and in the near future.

The Cavs have very little financial flexibility to make major upgrades to their roster, which few envision will be good enough to contend for a title next season even if James decides to return.

Trades in Cleveland are always possible, but who’s really trying to holla at George Hill for $19 million? Or Jordan Clarkson, who has two years and $25.9 million left on his deal? J.R. Smith is owed $14.7 million next season, but considering his up-and-down, erratic – no, make that bad – decision-making...there’s not a viable market for him, either.

And while the Los Angeles Lakers have been the most aggressive team in terms of creating space to make a strong run at James, the Lakers will have to add at least one more proven star (Paul George? Trade for Kawhi Leonard perhaps?) to convince James to join the Purple and Gold.

Even LeBron-to-L.A. came to pass, the Warriors would still be the odds-on favorite out West with the Houston Rockets a close second.

Boston came one win away from being in the NBA Finals instead of Cleveland and the Celtics’ entire postseason run came without their two best players in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

With those two back in the fold next season, the Celtics will begin the season as the odds-on favorite in the East along with Philadelphia.

The Sixers are one of the league’s youngest teams and looked the part in their second-round exit from the playoffs courtesy of the Celtics.

So, the need for them to add James is great.

As for the Celtics, like the rest of the league, they would love to have James on their roster for next season.

But the difference is that most teams see the addition of James dramatically improving their chances of competing for an NBA title.

The Celtics?

They’re already on the short list of title contenders and the addition of James would put them over the top.



Report: If Spurs can't retain Kawhi Leonard, they'll trade him to Eastern Conference team

Report: If Spurs can't retain Kawhi Leonard, they'll trade him to Eastern Conference team

If the San Antonio Spurs can't retain disgruntled Kawhi Leonard, they'll likely trade him to an Eastern Conference team, according to a USA TODAY report.

The Celtics have made inquiries about Leonard, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this month. 

More from Sam Amick's story in USA TODAY: 

Fellow West teams have been told, in essence, to get lost – none moreso than the Lakers, according to ESPN. As it stands, the Spurs are determined to either fix the situation or trade Leonard to an Eastern Conference team. For teams other than the Lakers, the threat of losing Leonard in free agency next summer makes the prospect of offering meaningful assets a complicated, calculated risk.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich flew to San Diego earlier this week to meet with Leonard, who reportedly will tell any team he's traded to that he intends to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers or Clippers when he becomes a free agent next summer. 



CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Robert Williams' college coach Billy Kennedy discusses the C's draft pick

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CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Robert Williams' college coach Billy Kennedy discusses the C's draft pick

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely bring you the latest in Celtics and NBA news in this episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast...

1:40 - The Celtics select Robert Williams with the 27th overall pick. Draper and Blakely discuss why he was still on the board and if the reward will outweigh the risk.

5:15 - Blakely says that a comparison to Roger Williams could be Clint Capela, with maybe a chance to be even better. Also, a discussion about why the Celtics did not move up in the draft.

8:27 - 18:18 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely are joined by Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Kennedy. Kennedy describes the potential he sees in Robert Williams, if he thought he would go higher in the draft, and what part of his game he will need to improve in the NBA.

18:53 - All eyes will be on Roger Williams during the Celtics summer league. What will he be able to bring to the Celtics?

20:04 - Would you want the Celtics to sign Dwight Howard? Or would you rather have Aron Baynes return to Boston?

26:02 - The Spurs are not going to be able to get full value for Kawhi Leonard and how it's looking less and less likely that the Celtics will trade for Leonard.