Stars in NBA Finals say they don’t want White House invite

Stars in NBA Finals say they don’t want White House invite

It doesn’t seem like the NBA is going to have to go through this charade in a few months. 

Neither the Cavaliers nor the Warriors — both are in the NBA Finals now — are going to go the White House for a celebratory visit. 

Some star players from both teams were asked about President Donald Trump’s decision to disinvite the Eagles to the White House, a visit that was supposed to happen today. 

Trump’s disinviting a team to the White House wasn’t a method reserved for the Eagles. In fact, he told the Warriors they weren't invited after Golden State won the NBA championship last year. 

When the president disinvited the Eagles, he claimed the team disagreed with him insisting that “they proudly stand for the National anthem,” although every Eagles player during the 2017 regular season and playoffs stood during the anthem. 

While the NFL recently passed a new rule in the hopes to eliminate protests during the national anthem, the NBA actually has a rule that requires players to stand during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. 

Sixers one of early favorites to win NBA title next season

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USA Today Images

Sixers one of early favorites to win NBA title next season

With all the chaos surrounding the Sixers and Bryan Colangelo right now, it's easy to forget the Sixers have a pretty bright future. They have two young stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and won their first playoff series since the 2011-12 season. Oh, and they have plenty of money to spend in the offseason. LeBron James did tell a joke at Colangelo's expense (see story), but that doesn't automatically mean he's crossed the Sixers off his list of possible destinations.

It looks like Vegas didn't let the Colangelo situation overshadow all the signs pointing to the Sixers being a contender next season. In Westgate Las Vegas' opening odds to win the 2019 NBA Finals, the Sixers are 7/2, tied for second-best with the Rockets and behind only the Warriors, at 5/4. 

Below are Westgate's odds, courtesy of Keith Smith.

It's interesting to see Cleveland so far down the list at 30/1. While James certainly doesn't have the best supporting cast and the Cavs won't be in contention if he leaves (Westgate says the Cavs' odds will fall to 500/1 if LeBron signs elsewhere), those are very low odds for the defending Eastern Conference champions.

Seeing the Celtics have worse odds than the Sixers is a major surprise. Given that the Celtics beat the Sixers in the playoffs in five games without Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, it's hard to fathom how the Sixers could have better odds than Boston. Unless the Sixers land James or perhaps another major name like Paul George or Kawhi Leonard, you'd think a healthy Celtics team would still have an edge over the Sixers.

But LeBron is the ultimate x-factor. According to Smith, the Celtics will have the best odds to win the Eastern Conference if James signs with anyone besides the Sixers. That basically means Westgate feels James' influence is large enough that, in a season where he turns 34, he would immediately transform the Sixers from the second or third-best team in the Eastern Conference to one of the top title contenders. 

NBA Finals rematch shows Sixers there's no specific way to build contender

NBA Finals rematch shows Sixers there's no specific way to build contender

The NBA Finals are officially set and for a fourth straight year, we’ll see a Golden State Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers showdown for the title.

While fans of the league let out a collective yawn at yet another championship rematch, the Sixers should be paying close attention to the participants.

Sure, the Sixers know both the Warriors and Cavaliers have all the ingredients that make up true contenders — great players, veteran leadership, strong coaching, positive culture, etc. But the biggest takeaway should be that there is no specific way to climb the NBA mountaintop.

With an important summer ahead of them, the Sixers have the ability to keep adding to their young core with more draft picks to grow organically or shake up their roster with superstar talent through free agency/trade.

Loyal supporters of “the process” would prefer the first model, one perfected by the Warriors. The Dubs have eight players on their current roster drafted by the club, including perennial All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. That group has blossomed together to reach incredible heights and will now go for a third crown in four years.

It’s a prototype the Sixers could definitely continue to follow with young studs Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric already making their mark in the league.

“We have to figure out what’s the best way that we can continue to develop our core, supplement that core with good veteran experience and players that are going to help them grow and develop, and exercise patience along the way,” Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said earlier this month.

Or … the Sixers could throw that patience right out the window and make a splash for big-name talent. The top target, of course, being LeBron James, who stars for a Cavs squad that features 12 players acquired via free agency or a trade.

“With respect to adding — I’m going to say talent, not free agent — because talent comes in many forms,” Colangelo said. “Talent comes in a possible trade, possible free agency. Both options loom with cap space and flexibility. If the right deal comes along, we’ll certainly pursue it. We will explore any and all options to add that talent. 

“But to say that this group can do it now, they obviously proved they couldn’t.”

And proving it is all that matters in the end.

Whether it’s the Warriors or Cavaliers that finish the Finals hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy while splashing champagne all around, neither side will be worrying about how their roster was constructed to reach that point.

If the Sixers want to have that feeling again for the first time since 1983, they won’t concern themselves with what people think about their plan to assemble the best team either.