Portland fans, this is not personal. It’s business.
Gerald Wallace — a key part of the Blazers resurgence — will not sign an extension with the Trail Blazers, representatives for the free agent to be told the team, reports Jason Quick at the Oregonian. It’s not that the veteran isn’t happy or doesn’t want to stay in Portland, but it’s what the new collective bargaining forces players who want the most money to do.
Wallace is under contract for this season and the 2012-2013 season, but he can opt out of the final year of his contract, which would pay him $11.4 million. The Blazers had hoped to avoid that potential scenario and in December had casual conversations with agent Rob Pelinka to extend his contract this season. However, under the new CBA, the Blazers can only extend Wallace for two more seasons, down from the four-season option in the previous CBA.
If Wallace opts out this summer and becomes an unrestricted free agent, he can sign with any team for as many as four seasons, but the Blazers would hold significant bargaining chips. If Wallace opts out, the Blazers would hold his Bird Rights because they acquired him in a February 2010 trade, and as a result would be able to offer him five years and more money.
You are going to see a lot of players — even players who have no intention of switching teams — do the same thing. Wallace can get two years now or five years this summer from Portland, what do you think he’s going to do? It is the same situation with Deron Williams in New Jersey or Dwight Howard in Orlando, save that those two guys are more likely to switch teams.
Wallace is averaging 15.6 points per game, plus his defense and energy are keys to Portland’s fast start this season. Wallace likes Portland and the team is winning, you just can’t expect him to leave cash on the table. So he will opt out. Other teams will bid. But in the end, Portland will probably lock him up long term.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.