New Jersey Nets v Atlanta Hawks

Deron Williams makes it clear he will become free agent


Ultimately, Dwight Howard wanted to stay in Orlando and — after a couple days of ridiculous flip-flopping — he decided to “opt in.” (Technically he waived his right to opt-out of his contract, but we’ll go with opt-in.) Dwight Howard has a loyalty to Orlando that overcame everything else.

Deron Williams has no such loyalty to New Jersey.

The day after Howard’s decision, Williams was asked if he would opt-in with the Nets. At least he didn’t laugh outright. But this is pretty close. Here are the tweets from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Deron Williams tells the Daily News: “I will not op-in. Its not monkey see, monkey do.”

So to clarify, Deron says he will definitely become a free agent after the season and weigh his options

Somewhere, Mark Cuban involuntarily smiled.

Williams has kept quiet this season and not talked about wanting to be traded or who the Nets needed to get to keep him. As best he could he stayed out of the spotlight.

Sorry Nets fans, he’s as good as gone. He’s going to opt out for sure and is a good bet to sign in his home town of Dallas next season. Which makes the Nets trade-deadline move to get Gerald Wallace — a trade meant to bolster the team in the short term — makes no sense. They gave up their first-round pick. This is a deep draft, the Nets could have gotten a good player. Instead they got Wallace, a player who also can opt-out after the season.

The new Barclay Center in Brooklyn better be stunning, because it will need to distract Nets fans from the team next season, they are going to be awful.

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.