prudential center New Jersey

For Newark this isn’t a stopover, this is an audition

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The New Jersey Nets are using Newark and the Prudential Center as sort of a layover on the way to Brooklyn in 2012. Get out of the Meadowlands and into a better arena — read: more revenue streams — that is an easy train trip from New York to get the people in the boroughs ready for their arrival.

But that’s not how the fine folks of Newark see it.

They remember when hurricane Katrina blew the Hornets out of New Orleans up to Oklahoma City for a season plus and that city so embraced the team that when push came to shove about moving the Sonics, the league knew it had a viable fan base and market in OKC. (Then Hornets owner George Shinn wanted the Hornets to stay in Oklahoma City, and if nothing else we should thank David Stern for not letting Shinn ruin a third market.)

Newark sees this as its chance to prove it is big time and deserves an NBA franchise. And according to the Bergen Record, the governor talked with the NBA powers about that possibility down the line.

Governor Christie has had “casual conversations” with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern about the possibility of Newark getting another NBA team once the Nets leave for Brooklyn in 2012, he said Tuesday….

“I think there is a future for NBA basketball here in Newark,” Christie said. “I think that New Jersey having a state-of-the-art facility like Newark has here, you have the possibility of doing that. We support three [National Hockey League] teams in the region, so I don’t see why we can’t support three basketball teams.”

Sterns’ concern is a third team saturates the greater New York market (which is what Newark is considered). Those same concerns likely would greet any team thinking about moving to Anaheim with the Lakers and Clippers just up the 5 Freeway.

But this is Stern’s NBA — money talks. If Newark proves it can really support a team, sell out the luxury boxes and provide a solid base of season tickets, then anything is possible. If there is money to be made, the NBA will listen.

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.