LeBron James may not know what “contraction” means, but his most recent ramblings came off as offensive to the Nets while sparking a league-wide debate regarding the ongoing labour negotiations.
James unintentionally brought the issue to the forefront last week by saying the league would be better off with fewer franchises, singling out the Nets and Timberwolves as teams “that aren’t that great” and candidates for contraction. James used the word “shrink” in his unsolicited comments but claimed Monday he was misinterpreted and didn’t know what “contraction” meant.
That an NBA player wouldn’t know the dreaded C-word – which would result in lost jobs on several levels across the league – was a surprise to Nets guard Devin Harris, who was singled out by James as a player who could help the NBA by playing elsewhere.
“For him to talk about us specifically, it was a little offensive,” Harris said. “But from a business standpoint, to know what’s best – we’re still trying to figure this out.
“But I think he’s of the mind-set of, ‘Oh, let’s team up everybody as stars and kind of duke it out, which, it kind of was like that in previous eras. But who is to say what’s best for the league now?”
The Nets are an easy target because of their abysmal record (21-92) since the start of last season. Yet James, who is buddies with Nets minority owner Jay-Z, also wants to keep the peace. He met with the Nets during the free agency process and was impressed by their presentation.
“I didn’t mean to upset anybody,” James said. “I didn’t tell Avery Johnson to leave either. I didn’t say ‘Let’s abandon the Nets, and not let them move to Brooklyn,’ or ‘Let’s tear down the Target Centre in Minnesota.’ I never said that.”