2010 NBA Draft

Looming lockout or no, there will still be a draft this June. After that? Good question.

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Yes, we’re still pretty convinced in these parts that there will be a lockout come July 1. Hope we’re wrong, don’t think we are.

But lockout or no, there will be an NBA Draft this June 23. Clippers fans can start debating now whether or not to draft Harrison Barnes with that top pick.

What happens after that, nobody is sure.

Draft picks cannot be signed until after July 1 in any year, according to ESPN’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expert Larry Coon. That means these players will be signed under any new CBA — and if there is a lockout they are locked out. They really have no control over the situation.

The threat of a lockout is not impacting decisions about whether or not to come out or stay in college another year, at least not yet, according to Jonathan Givony, president and director of scouting for Draft Express.

“I imagine at the end of the day players will still enter, except for those rare guys that truly love school and come from the type of background that means they don’t have to worry about financial considerations as much as others,” Givony said via email. “Every year there are a ton of guys who enter without much hesitation at all because they feel like they’ve had enough of college and they are ready to be pros. My opinion is they’ll still enter.”

One interesting side note: As Henry Abbott noted at TrueHoop yesterday, one group that consistently loses in every NBA CBA is young players, particularly those yet to enter the league. To use an easy example, if David Stern wants to push the mandatory one year of college (well, really one year after high school) rule to two years, the players union is likely to go along with that because it means players in the union have fewer people threatening their jobs short term.

That two-year rule will come up in negotiations (whether it is put in or not remains to be seen). But would a rule like that push more players to go the Brandon Jennings route and go to Europe for a couple years?

“Europe could become a more attractive option if that’s indeed the case, but the big-money European teams need to show mutual interest, and right now they aren’t,” Givony said. “Those guys after all really can’t help those teams win games at their level. A lockout will mean more borderline NBA type players will head to Europe, so there will be even less “good jobs” for those high school guys.”

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.