Los Angeles Clippers v Miami Heat

Clippers want Lamar Odom to be more of a scorer


Lamar Odom has always been a maddening puzzle for fans of the teams he’s played for over the years to try and figure out. He seemingly has all the tools to be a dominant player on both ends of the floor, yet has only shows it in flashes throughout his NBA career that is now in its 14th season.

Odom is more of a solid all-around talent than he is a pure scorer, and a lot of that has been due to the role required of him in order for his teams to be most successful.

He averaged 14.4 points per game while winning Sixth Man of the Year honors with the Lakers in 2011, but this season in Los Angeles with the Clippers, he’s averaging just 3.8 points per game while playing 20.5 minutes per game off the bench.

His teammates have been encouraging him to pick it up, and his head coach has talked to him about it, as well.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

His Clippers teammates encourage Odom to be more aggressive on offense. Fans, the media and his critics want Odom to stop being so passive on offense.

But Coach Vinny Del Negro said he doesn’t really have an issue with Odom’s lack of offense because his versatile forward supplies so much more.

“I’ve talked to Lamar about that,” Del Negro said. “He understands that. Lamar has to pick his spots out there where he’s comfortable at. He’s doing a good job in a lot of areas for us. But when he’s open, he’s got to make shots for us and make plays off the dribble and get to the rim.”

Increased scoring from Odom would be nice, but the reality is that the Clippers have one of the deepest benches in the league, including the leading candidate to win Sixth Man of the Year this season, Jamal Crawford, who has no trouble lighting it up on a nightly basis.

It’s more about being aggressive when the opportunities arise than it is purely about increasing points per game for Odom; any team’s offense runs more smoothly when players take good open shots rather than passing them up.

It’s worth noting that Odom is an excellent ball handler, especially for his size. So if he can get to the rim off the dribble more often and distribute to his teammates rather than scoring himself, that would be as much of a help to L.A.’s bench unit as would an increase in his personal production.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
1 Comment

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
1 Comment

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.