Larry Hughes is not the wing you're looking for, Boston. Move along, move along.


At this point in free agency, there’s a general understanding that teams take what they can get. They go for value, look for lower tier talent, and aim for bargains to fill out the roster while keeping an ear to the ground for trades. The whirlwind is behind us, and generally all that remains is the rubble not swept up by the gusts.

According to Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe, the Celtics are examining both of the remaining avenues laid before them in their search for another wing player. Benbow notes that Rudy Fernandez is on the C’s wish list, just as he’s coveted by every other sensible team in the Eastern Conference. Nothing particularly news-worthy there.

But the Boston alternative, should Fernandez not shake himself free from the Blazers? Larry Hughes. The man who has somehow dodged unemployment like the plague, despite the fact that he’s a 31 year-old jumpshooter who could never shoot.

The Celtics have made a number of notable acquisitions this summer, and have done well to supplement their pre-existing core through free agency (Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal) and the draft (Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody). They retained Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and head coach Doc Rivers. Now they could add Larry Hughes to that mix for who knows what reason, other than the fact that he’s one of the bigger names among the remaining free agents, and happens to fill a desired position.

Hughes isn’t even a former star drifting quietly into the night. He was good, but far from great, at his peak. He’s always been plagued by poor shot selection and a few too many turnovers, and though he was once a decent enough defender, saying he’s maintained that level of defensive effectiveness would be a hell of a stretch.

What would Hughes’ purpose on the Celtics even be? To score? He shot 35.5% from the field last season. To space the floor? He’s a career 31% shooter from three. To set up the offense? I’d be more comfortable with Nate Robinson or rookie Avery Bradley running the show. Why NBA teams continue to offer Hughes employment is beyond me, and an elite club like the Celtics would seem to have no business even returning his agent’s calls.

Boston can do better, even if better is leaving the roster as-is. Rudy Fernandez is well-worth the trouble and the roster spot, but if it comes down to Hughes or some roster flexibility, the Celtics would be wise to keep their options open. 

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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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.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

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.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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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.