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LeBron James ‘flattered’ by #PhillyWantsLeBron billboards in Cleveland

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James has Philadelphia’s basketball pulse racing.

The NBA superstar still hasn’t seen three billboards urging him to join the 76ers, but he’s flattered by the idea that a city would want him to play there.

“That’s dope,” he said.

The three billboards were unveiled on Monday on busy Interstate-480 outside Cleveland, and each contains a message asking James to sign with the Sixers this summer as a free agent.

The signs, which were paid for by a Chester, Pennsylvania, company were inspired by the Oscar-nominated film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” But their objective was to entice James to come to Philadelphia.

Although James may not see the signs because they’re not on any route he would take from his home in Bath, Ohio, to Quicken Loans Arena, the three-time champion was warmed by their sentiment.
 

“It is actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 and in my 15th year and teams or guys — I don’t want to say teams because that becomes tampering — but people in their respective city want me to play for them,” he said. “That’s cool I think.”

James’ appreciation caused a commotion on social media as Sixers fans began dreaming of No. 23 in one of the team’s jerseys. NBA tampering rules prohibit teams from having any involvement in recruiting players, but there’s nothing to stop fans from making their pitch.

“We’re passionate about Philadelphia,” Asher Raphael, co-CEO of by Power Home Remodeling, the company that paid for the billboards told ESPN. “We have an amazing city. It’s the best sports town and it’s an awesome place to live. We think the best athletes should want to play here.”

The Sixers will visit the Cavaliers on Thursday night.

James can opt out of his contract with Cleveland following this season and the superstar can hit the free-agency market.
 

The first billboard includes a “#23” in maroon with a crown, on a court with four numbers — the jerseys for Sixers Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington. The second billboard has the motto: “Complete The Process,” a takeoff on the Sixers’ “Trust The Process” mantra and the third says: “#PhillyWantsLeBron.”

James’ free agency figures to be the NBA’s biggest offseason story, and the four-time champion recently shot down any discussion about his future until this season ends.

Following Tuesday’s shootaround before the Cavs hosted Brooklyn, James initially pretended he was unaware of the billboards.

“A lot of potholes on 480,” James joked. “Got to be careful with the cars. Got to be very careful. That’s why I don’t do much driving. I sit in the backseat. You talking about the billboards, though?”



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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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