I don’t know if you heard, but LeBron James recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers, instantly demoting the franchise from perennial contender to — at best — middle-of-the-pack sideshow. But never fear, Clevelanders — the Cavs have signed the 30th pick in the 2009 draft, Christian Eyenga, to a two-year deal (with team options in the third and fourth years) worth approximately $2 million in guaranteed money according to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Eyenga should slide comfortably into LeBron’s shoes next season, in the same way that a toddler can slide comfortably into the shoes of a full-grown adult. Eyenga is actually a pretty interesting player for a late-late-late first rounder, but occasional rotation minutes are all one could reasonably ask of him in his rookie season. Eyenga isn’t quite ready for a full-time NBA gig, but there’s nothing wrong with bringing him in ahead of schedule to work on his development. It’s not like Cleveland will be vying for the title again this season anyway.
Maybe that was uncalled for. Would it make it better if I said I’m sorry, Cavs fans? If I wished you a very happy Delonte West salary dump? If I say that even if you don’t have LeBron, you still have your dignity?
Yeah, didn’t think so. Good luck with Eyenga, though. He could be a rather decent player if the Cavs give him time to develop and put him in a position to succeed.
James Harden had a historic season in Houston.
Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.
Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.
That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.
Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.
Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.
The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.
Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.
Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:
I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.
Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.
But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.
Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction
On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.
The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.
Now, we know when.
The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11
After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.