Of Xavier Henry, Nate Robinson, rookie contracts and incentives

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henry_Stern.jpgXavier Henry and the Memphis Grizzlies remain at an impasse.

There are only two first round picks from the last draft that have not signed, and they both belong to the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s because Memphis has broken with what is seen as rookie contract tradition.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, rookie contracts are on a scale, in Henry’s case that first year salary is $1,683,500.

Memphis can offer from 80 to 120 percent of that scale. Teams almost always offer the 120 percent figure (the Spurs are the prominent exception). As is pointed out in a great contracts post at Sham Sports today, often incentives are used to reach that 120 percent figure (or a part of it). But those incentives often are pretty obtainable things, such as keeping up with workouts. Things that the player can control.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace doesn’t see it at way, as he told David Aldridge at NBA.com.

“There have been some teams that have tied performance bonuses to the 20 percent,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said on Sunday. “Basically, our position is that the extra 20 is a bonus. And bonus means additional performance. We feel like if a guy gets on the court and plays for us, then you’re contributing to our team in a significant way.”

Wallace is tying the bonus to the number of minutes Henry plays.

That brings us to the Nate Robinson story. Last year late in the year, Doc Rivers sat Nate Robinson for a few games. Robinson had a couple rough games before that, but that is Nate — some nights brilliant, some nights he struggles more. Sit him and you risk missing one of those nights when he wins the game for you off the bench. Rivers sat him anyway.

Then it turns out missing those games cost Robinson a contract bonus of $1 million. As Boston was paying the luxury tax, that is $2 million in savings to the franchise.

Look at that and you can see why Henry and his agent Arn Tellem balk at the idea of Henry’s bonus being in control of the team. Over the course of his rookie deal, that 20 percent could be worth $1.7 million. A lot of money to a rookie and to a small market team.

So here we stand. Memphis has picked a fight with a tiger in Tellem, and the fight drags on. To the potential detriment of the franchise and the player. Maybe it’s all just a foreshadowing of the lockout next summer.

LeBron James throws touchdown pass like Cleveland fans hope Sam Darnold can

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Cleveland fans can only hope Sam Darnold is as good a passer as LeBron James.

And that his receivers are better than Jose Calderon. Or at least taller.

LeBron James grabbed a rebound and threw a perfect touchdown pass to a leaked out Jose Calderon as the Cavaliers went on to beat the Phoenix Suns Friday night.

🙌🏽 @kingjames 🎯 @jmcalderon8 🙌🏽

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By the way, LeBron made a nice dish to the returned Larry Nance Jr., too.


Report: Rockets to waive Brandan Wright

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Finally healthy, it was easy to see where big man Brandan Wright would fit on Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets — he’s an athletic big man who can get up and down the court, he knows how to finish lobs above the rim, and could provide some front line depth behind Clint Capela and Nene. That’s why the Rockets picked him up in February after he was bought out by the Grizzlies.

It didn’t work out that way. Wright played in one game with Houston before his sore knee forced him to shut it down. He has not played since.

The Rockets are moving on, waiving Wright and bringing in forward Le’Bryan Nash out of the G-League on a 10-day contract, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

With center Brandan Wright unable to return from his knee issues this season, the Rockets will release Wright, who signed as a free agent last month, a person with knowledge of the move said…

He had a minor procedure and will work on his rehab with the Rockets staff, the individual familiar with the plans said.

 “Brandan did everything positive,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He just wasn’t physically able to hang in there. We hate it that the guy isn’t part of this.”

Wright has played in just 28 total this season averaging 5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 13.6 minutes. He’s battled knee issues for a few seasons now and has not played more than 28 games in the last three. If healthy he can help teams, but we’ll see if he ever gets back into the NBA.

The Rockets use Ryan Anderson as their backup center, using Nene less of late, although how much D’Antoni can use Anderson in the playoffs due to his defensive challenges remains to be seen.

Nash, who played a season at Oklahoma State, will get his first taste of the NBA. He was a highly recruited kid out of high school, and this season has averaged 8.5 points in 19 minutes per game for the Rio Grande Vipers this season.



Cavaliers get Nance Jr., Thompson, Hood back from injuries

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are closer to being at full strength.

Forwards Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, and Rodney Hood all returned from injuries on Friday night as Cleveland, which has been riddled with injuries all season, hosted the Phoenix Suns. Acting coach Larry Drew said none of the players will start and all will be on minutes’ restrictions.

Drew, who is filling in while coach Tyronn Lue is on leave to address his own health, plans to keep his starting lineup intact and ease the returning players into the rotation.

LeBron James, Jose Calderon, George Hill, Jeff Green and Kevin Love were scheduled to started against Phoenix, which has lost nine in a row. Drew said he and Lue will talk again Saturday about lineup changes for the upcoming trip to Brooklyn, Miami and Charlotte.

“I really didn’t want to disrupt the starting five that we have out there right now and those guys will be playing limited minutes, so I wanted to get them slowly back and acclimated to what we’re doing,” Drew said. “There’s a chance that there could be some early substitutions to get the guys in there. I’m not ruling that out, but right now I just kind of want to stay with the flow, stay with what we’ve done the last couple of ballgames and then we’ll probably after tonight we’ll see as far as where we stand as far as starters are concerned.”

Thompson missed nine games with a sprained right ankle, Nance Jr. was out four with a hamstring issue and Hood was out the past three games with a bad back.

Drew said he did not know if Lue will accompany the team on its trip.

But while the Cavs are healthier than they’ve been in weeks, the team is still missing Kyle Korver, who is with his family in Iowa following the death of his brother, and rookie Cedi Osman, who is sidelined with a left hip flexor strain.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Bulls with ankle injury

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the Milwaukee Bucks’ home game Friday night against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The Bucks ruled out Antetokounmpo earlier Friday.

Antetokounmpo got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.