Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Atlanta Hawks

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Chicago, Portland make it look easy

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What you missed while wondering why, if aliens were going to abduct and study some of us, they would choose Sammy Hagar

The Lakers/Suns triple overtime thriller was our game of the night.

Bulls 114, Hawks 81: What an absolute thrashing (starting right about the end of the first quarter). If this game were a dog we would have put it down just to end the suffering. Derrick Rose and his Bulls did whatever they wanted on offense. On their end of the floor, the Hawks didn’t get a point in the paint the entire second half as they happily settled for jumpers. And they seemed to happily settle for falling farther behind, too.

Here are two tidbits that tell you all you need to know about these teams:

The Bulls have now won their last two games by a total of 73 points, a franchise record. Better than anything Jordan did. They are finding their groove at the right time.

Atlatna, on the other hand, has now given up more points they have scored this season by 22 (via’s John Shuhmann). That usually happens to teams at or below .500. The Hawks are playing like a team well below that line right now and are 6-10 since the All-Star break. And the answers to fix it are not easy (trade Josh Smith this summer?).

Trail Blazers 111, Wizards 76: Portland’s front line dominated Washington — Gerald Wallace had 28, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge each had 22.

Portland’s zone defense had Washington players with a look on their face that probably was a lot like the face on the defense the first time a Knute Rockne team threw a forward pass. Stunned, confused, as if they had invented an entirely new game. The Wizards turned the ball over on 40 percent of their possessions. Yes, 40 percent. That was 27 turnovers in all. Add that to shooting 37 percent for the game and you had another blowout.

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.