These are exciting times in the life of a new Washington Wizards owner, and Ted Leonsis is making headlines pretty much every day. After being blessed with John Wall, the Wizards owner has come out with discussions of changing the name of the Wizards back to the bullets and cutting down on in-game nonsense.
But perhaps most significant for the future of the the Wizards franchise is what Leonsis said about Gilbert Arenas. As the Washington Post reports, Leonsis reasserted that the Wizards are “not actively trading” Gilbert Arenas and discussed the fact that most general managers will be reticent to put up anything for the former All-Star turned gunslinger.
“We’re not actively trading him,” Leonsis said. “But I would ask you to
put yourself in another general manager’s shoes. He was injured for two
years and suspended for a year and he’s a max [contract] player. If you
were another team’s general manager, would you be trading for Gilbert
Arenas right now?”
It’s a realistic perspective, and one that Wizards blog Bullets Forever has been advocating for a while. The only question is if Arenas’ presence could damage the integration and development of John Wall. The discussions of Arenas as a leader have always been somewhat of a red herring, and in general, he’s just Gil. Crazy, gun toting, occasionally brilliant, ocassionally super-usage Gil.
At the same time, Leonsis’ statement indicates that a decision has been made regarding the realistic implications of trading Arenas and how those implications make it impossible. So now the Wizards will have to figure out how to make it work. It’s not an impossible task. Arenas isn’t Ricky Davis by any means. or even Ben Gordon. He can work off-ball, and maybe this whole ordeal has taught him something about humility. This can work, and it appears to be how the Wizards will approach it.
Just make sure Wall doesn’t like card games.
Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.
Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.
But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.
LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.
LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.
However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.
For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.
Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.