Andray Blatche’s mom loves her son, and it cannot be easy for any parent to hear their child get booed by 15,000 people (or however many actually show up for Wizards games now days). Especially when she knows her son tends to respond better to positive reinforcement than negative.
Blatche told the Washington Post that his mom — a regular at the Verizon Center — gave him some tough love (via SLAM).
“She said, ‘They’re booing you because they know the potential that you have, the type of player that you can be,’” Blatche said. “She feels like I’m not doing everything I can do to be that player and I need to work harder and stay more focused. She said it’s no one’s fault but my own. It hurt a little, but sometimes you need the truth…”
“She just told me, ‘Just remember what got you where you at. Go back to being a humble kid and loving person you was. All the hard work you put in when you was in high school to get to the league, become that person again,’” Blatche said. “That’s why I be in the gym so late. When I was younger I played basketball every minute I get, every chance I got. That’s why I be in the gym so late now.”
Blatche has a world of potential but his mental focus and passion have always been the question marks. This season he is scoring half the points he did last season and is shooting just 38 percent on the year. He was recently benched to give him time to improve his conditioning. All of those are things only Blatche himself can ultimately change — not a coach, not a trade, not anything but the man himself.
But maybe a little tough love from his mom can help that along.
“Yes, he is wounded by this and probably very much disappointed,” (Blatche’s mother) Angela said. “But he will fight through this and he will definitely get over this.”
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.
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.
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.