It was 20 years ago this week that Larry Bird retired from basketball. Over at CSNNE.com, they have done a fantastic job this week of remember him and what he meant to the Boston Celtics and the city.
Here’s a highlight video of Bird (if you want more, there are countless more on the Web). What I take away from this was two rememberances. First, the guy had every shot in the book. Three pointer, spin move in the post, running floater, whatever it was he could hit it. It was the hours spent in the gym practicing shots nobody else thought of.
Second, has there ever been a better shooter of a contested jumper in the game’s history? He had the footwork and game to create space for himself, but he didn’t need much because he was tall enough to shoot over you and drain it.
Just a reminder of his career numbers: 3 NBA championships, 3 time league MVP, 2 time finals MVP, 10 time All-Star, gold medal, Dream Team member, Hall of Famer. The man who, along with Magic Johnson, revitalized the game, saved the NBA and cleared the path for Jordan and all that was to come.
And that’s the short list.
LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs
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’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
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.