More max-space slots than max-level players

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nba_gay.jpgSomeone is going to get very overpaid in this summer’s free agent market.

Not LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh — those are guys who deserve max contracts (which will be about $16 million the first year, depending on factors with the salary cap not yet determined). And they will have choices on where they want to play because at least eight teams spent the last few weeks clearing out all sports of cap space so they could offer a max contract this summer.

But there are not eight free agents this summer worthy of max money, and that’s where the problem lies. There are eight fan bases that have high hopes and expectations — and eight general managers feeling enormous pressure to make something happen.

Let’s play a hypothetical: LeBron decides to re-sign with Cleveland this summer to start, then Chris Bosh decides he wants to play with Derek Rose in Chicago and takes their max-salary slot. Then Dwyane Wade decides to stay in Miami after the Heat finally swing an Amare Stoudemire trade.

What is Donnie Walsh going to do in New York? What is Mike Dunleavy going to do with the Clippers? Rod Thorn with the Nets? They will all be under pressure, and so they will get in a bidding war over the second tier of players. Suddenly everybody wants Joe Johnson and he is being offered a max or near max deal. Same with Rudy Gay. Both very good players that can be good fits with others around them. Neither max players.

A smart general manager may try to hold on to that space until the following free agent class the next summer, which is deep as well. Plus, with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming the financial rules for teams is changing, some may want to wait.

But that is a hard sell to fans, that you just gutted their team for cap space and now you are going to sit on it for a year. There will be an outcry.

Which means someone is going to get very overpaid this summer.

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.