Lots of NBA action off the court

James heads home to Ohio, Wizards sign Pierce and Humphries


LeBron James learned Wednesday that he has fans even in Hong Kong. When he gets home from China, he will head for Cleveland, not Miami. (Kin Cheung/AP)

The 2014-15 National Basketball Association (NBA) season does not begin for more than three months. But there is still plenty of basketball news because this is the time of year when NBA players sign contracts with different teams.

Let’s take a look at some of the summer’s biggest stories.

LeBron James: The biggest news is that LeBron James is leaving the Miami Heat and returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. James grew up in Akron, Ohio, which is less than an hour from Cleveland, and he played for the Cavaliers for his first seven seasons. So this is a homecoming for the player sometimes called King James.

James is the best player in the world. During his 11-year NBA career, he has won two NBA championships and played in three more NBA finals while averaging more than 27 points a game as well as about seven assists and seven rebounds.

Still, how much of a difference can one player make? The season before James left for Miami, the Cavaliers had a record of 61-21 (61 wins and 21 losses). The next season, without James, the Cavs were 19-63. Big difference.

James’s move back to Cleveland has already made a big difference in the NBA: Now everyone is talking about the Cavaliers.

The Washington Wizards: The Wizards followed their most exciting season in years with an exciting offseason.

First, Washington re-signed Marcin Gortat, “the Polish Hammer.” Bringing back Gortat is important because the 6-foot-11-inch center gives the Wiz a big man who can score, rebound and defend.

Forward Trevor Ariza chose to leave the Wizards and sign with the Houston Rockets. The Wizards quickly replaced him by grabbing forwards Paul Pierce (formerly of the Brooklyn Nets) and Kris Humphries (Boston Celtics).

The Wiz will miss Ariza’s tough defense, but Pierce, a 10-time NBA all-star, should be able to replace Ariza’s 14 points a game, and the rugged Humphries should be able to help on the boards. So the Wizards may be even better this coming season.

Kevin Durant: The NBA’s most valuable player and leading scorer will continue to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder this season. But in 2016 he will become a free agent, and he may choose to sign with another team.

Durant was born in Washington, D.C., and played hoops in the area before enrolling at the University of Texas. That Washington connection has caused some Wizards fans to hope Durant will someday put on a Wizards uniform.

It’s not that crazy a dream. The Wizards are getting better. Durant could make them a championship team.

Who knows, maybe some day Durant will come back home. Just like LeBron James did.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids. His 20th book, “Double Reverse ,” will be published in August.

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