Portland Trail Blazers v New Orleans Hornets

Report: Hornets and Raptors close to Peja trade

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A report popped up this morning on a Euro site via HoopsHype describing a trade between the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors. Now ESPN is reporting the same: The New Orleans Hornets are very close to trading Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to the Toronto Raptors for Jarrett Jack, David Andersen, and Marcus Banks.


The trade makes little to no sense for either side. Stojakovic’s $14.25 million gold mine of a contract could be moved at the deadline for a substantial set of assets, far beyond a player who splits time with Jose Calderon, a center that was discarded from center-light (at the time) Houston, and Marcus Banks. Bayless himself is a dynamic young talent that can run either guard position, hit from the outside, run the break, and attack the rim with reckless abandon. That’s two good if not great wing players being shelved off for a solid backup point guard when you have Chris Paul, Marcus Banks who is Marcus Banks, and a center that looks like he would belong more in Stillwater.

There may be other assets tied to this deal, including part of the massive trade exception the Raptors received in the Chris Bosh sign-and-trade this summer. That would make it slightly more attractive for New Orleans. This also could be tied to the ongoing drama regarding the protracted sale of the Hornets. Dropping some hefty assets could help move the deal along, but that’s just conjecture in a very complicated subject.

ESPN reports the deal is currently held up over the amount of cash the Raptors want in the deal. We’ll let you know if it goes through.

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.