Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

Cuban believes this year’s Mavs are better than last year’s


Mark Cuban felt the heat after he let Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson go. Brining in Lamar Odom has not worked out as planned and Dallas got off to a rocky 8-7 start after two heartbreaking losses in Los Angeles (veterans Derek Fisher and Chauncey Billups did them with game winners on back-to-back nights).

But Cuban isn’t worried.

He was interviewed by ESPN, something shown before the Mavs tilt with the Clippers Wednesday, and the Star Telegram has the translation (via SLAM).

Basically, he is selling patience.

“We’ve just got to make the playoffs, that’s all I really care about. Honestly, I was telling people if we’re 10-10 I’ll be thrilled to death. And if we were 5-15, I wouldn’t have been shocked, because you can’t just walk into a season and be ready, particularly if you’re a team that bases its defense on precision and team defense, and its offense off ball movement.

“If you’re young, your legs are always in shape, and if you’re an athlete, and you just run by people and jump over people. I think that’s why you saw the more athletic teams get off to great starts and the more ‘team’ teams struggle a little bit.

“I’m always win now, but you don’t destroy the future. I think you can do both, and that’s what we’ve tried to do.

“Yeah, we’ve lost some great players, and yet at the same time we kept a lot of good players, we kept Dirk (Nowitzki), JKidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, so we lost … but kept basically our top four. So by adding Vince Carter, by adding Lamar Odom, by adding Delonte West, I think literally we can be, I think we are a better team.”

He has to say that. What is he going to say? The man has a product to sell.

I think he makes some valid points. This is a team that will get better as the year goes on, and we’ve already started to see this. Dallas is playing better defense than last year but their offense has struggled. That will change. They will make the playoffs and be a tough out.

But by the second round, the lack of Tyson Chandler in the paint will come back to haunt them. This team is not better, especially when looking at playoff basketball.

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.