Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

Three Stars of the Night: Amnesty That! Don’t make Kobe angry.


I don’t think what Mark Cuban said was meant as an insult to Kobe Bryant. But Kobe uses everything for fuel — the security guard doesn’t wave to him on his way into the arena and he gets pissed and drops 40 — so you kind of knew what was coming if you were Dallas. Just be glad it wasn’t 62 points in three quarters.

Third Star: Jarrett Jack (23 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds)

Good teams win ugly and that’s what the Warriors did Sunday. But they wouldn’t have had a chance without another big game from Jack — this is three straight 20 -point games for him. He had 11 points in the first quarter kept the Warriors within reach and in the fourth quarter had five points and 4 dimes. Jack needs to be in the sixth man of the year conversation.

Second Star: Dwyane Wade (24 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds)

Early in the season everyone said he had lost a step. But veteran players get smart about when they can and should turn it on over the course of the long season. And with the Heat behind in the fourth quarter Sunday Wade turned it on — 15 points in the fourth quarter. Miami has 11 wins in a row and that streak is alive because Wade hasn’t lost much if anything.

First Star: Kobe Bryant (38 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists)

Don’t make Kobe angry, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. This was a vintage Kobe performance where some of the shots were ones that make coaches everywhere cringe — and he knocks them down. The Lakers are playing much better lately but this is why you want to have a Kobe on your team — there are nights you need a guy to put you over the top. That’s what Kobe did. Amnesty That.


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.