How depressed was Mo Williams after LeBron James decided he was taking his talents to South Beach? After watching his coach and GM leave and realize the Cavaliers were starting over.
How about walking away from $26 million depressed. In a refreshingly honest interview by Marc Spears of Yahoo, Mo Williams said he almost walked away from all that money left on his contract. He almost quit.
“That’s how bad it got,” Williams said. “I contemplated it. I really sat down and envisioned life after basketball. …I really saw myself not playing.
“It just didn’t make sense to me. …It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Williams vented that the night of the decision, tweeting about denial, bargaining and seeming to move through the stages of grief. He was expressing what the Cavaliers fans throughout Ohio.
In a matter of moments the Cavaliers went from a title contender to a team that will struggle to make the playoffs. It’s a huge drop, and an emotionally devastating one for real competitors. The entire
“This summer was very, very stressful for me,” Williams said. “I really lost a lot of love for the game this summer.
“You play this game for one reason. You play to win games and win championships. I couldn’t understand why a lot of things were happening to our organization, to a really good basketball team. I couldn’t really understand it. And when you don’t understand things, it can really stress you out.”
The business of basketball can suck the fun out of it.
Williams has a lot on his shoulders. Now he will have to take on a big role, the point guard who is one of only a handful of players on this team who can create his own shot. He is a leader.
He will work hard, he will have big nights. But he knows it will not be the same.
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.