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McGrady can picture Howard and D-Will in Dallas


As they are the two guys left in the game of “franchise player musical chairs,” it is kind of logical Deron Williams and Dwight Howard could end up on the same team. That is certainly what New Jersey has banked its Brooklyn opening on.

But what about Dallas? Mark Cuban has all but sacrificed a shot at a repeat on the alter of cap space for next summer to go get a new franchise player.

Tracy McGrady told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo he can see not just one but two stars landing in Dallas. He can’t see Howard staying in Orlando.

“I’ve been watching Orlando play, and I think they let it go too far – to where they can’t compete for a championship,” McGrady said. “Dwight’s going to find a sweeter spot for him next year with him being a free agent, with D-Will being a free agent, and Dallas already having an established star there. … Yup, Dallas.”

And then he laughed and said, “You heard it from me first.”

If Howard doesn’t come to the Nets Williams is all but gone next summer and that means….

Hold on, Mavs fans. Reality intervenes here and pretty much blows this up.

Dallas will have cap space with Jason Terry and Jason Kidd coming off the books plus a buyout of Lamar Odom’s final year possible. But they will only have enough cap space for one max (or near max) deal, not two. The only way they can sign two players near the max is to amnesty Brandan Haywood and find someone to take on the final two years, $18 million of Shawn Marion’s contract. Good luck with that.

D-Will is a Dallas native, there is some logic there if he wants to go home again. Howard is the bigger (literally and figuratively) prize here, the better player in the long term to build around. But Orlando will eventually have to trade Howard (near the March 15 deadline) or risk losing him for nothing. And Dallas doesn’t really have the trade assets unless Marion and Terry sound like the kind of veterans Orlando is seeking.

I don’t want to bet against Cuban, but it’s hard to see him drawing a pair this summer.

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.