Sacramento Kings v Phoenix Suns

If Kings make trade, saving money will be motive

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At $44 million, the Sacramento Kings have the lowest payroll in the NBA this season.

Still, at the trading deadline they will be sellers with their primary motive is to keep costs down and preserve their cap space heading into the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, according to Sam Amick of FanHouse in a detailed post on what the Kings are thinking.

The only way they will take on more salary is in a “can’t miss” opportunity, Amick says. Those are rare. Teams don’t really give away “can’t miss” guys.

That doesn’t mean that Omri Casspi, Carl Landry or particularly Samuel Dalembert will not be moved. Amick says that New York, Chicago, Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers have all expressed interest in Casspi. A lot of teams need front line help and may want Landry or Dalembert.

However, any deal with the Kings almost certainly will have a couple of features:

First, some other team will take on one of the Kings long-term contracts they want to dump. You can have Casspi or Landry, but you need to take on Francisco Garcia, too (owned $11.9 million over the two seasons after this one). The Kings would sorely miss Garcia in the locker room and on the court, Amick notes, but such is their cost-saving mentality right now that they would move him to save money.

Secondly, any deal will be for other expiring deals with picks thrown in as sweetener. The Kings want to rebuild around DeMarcus Cousins — who has played better in recent weeks — and Tyreke Evans. They want to keep salary costs down. They are not shipping out Garcia and some talent to take on equally bad (or worse) deals.

Still, the Kings are a team to watch as we start to move to the trade deadline.

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.