Report: Cavaliers reach “handshake” deal to hire Mike Brown

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It’s a very different team than last time he was there, but it appears Mike Brown is returning to Cleveland.

The Cavaliers have a deal in place to bring Mike Brown back as coach, replacing Byron Scott, who replaced Mike Brown three years ago (after Brown had led the Cavaliers to back-to-back 60-win seasons with LeBron James, but lost in the playoffs).

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal broke the news.

Mike Brown and the Cavaliers have reached a handshake agreement on a new deal, a league source told the Akron Beacon Journal on Tuesday. An official announcement should be made Wednesday.

There are still some issues to work out, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. This is a five-year deal in the $20 million range but with a buyout in the final year, Woj reports. The real issues may revolve around how much say Brown would have players/personnel decisions. But it appears they are not big hurdles to climb as a formal deal is imminent. Also, talks are ongoing about how much the Lakers would still owe Brown of his $4 million salary for next season they were going to have to pay him.

Expect the Cavaliers to insist on an offense-minded assistant coach to run that end of the show.

Brown had started the season as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, trying to install a Princeton-hybrid offense that Kobe Bryant has asked for, but that lasted all of five games before he was fired. In an effort to talk to every Lakers coach of the last decade (except Frank Hamblen) the Cavaliers also reached out to Phil Jackson. But bringing him out of retirement was going to be very costly and he would want a lot of power.

Brown makes more sense. Yes, he’s a retread. But he’s a defense-first coach and that is what he Cavaliers need right now — they can score as long as Kyrie Irving is healthy, but they were 26th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession) last season. Improve that end and the team can make a big jump.

Some of you will be asking “what does this do to Cleveland’s chances to land LeBron in 2014?” I would say nothing — I don’t think Cleveland was ever really in the running. I don’t think there is much of a running, period. Despite how much people like to speculate about it, very few people in the know think LeBron is leaving Miami when he opts out, he’s just going to get a new deal with the Heat. I’ve heard multiple people who know LeBron better than I say they think he will return to Cleveland at the end of his career, but not in 2014.

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.

Sixers will talk contract extension for Joel Embiid this summer, want to lock him up

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Could Joel Embiid be Philadelphia’s Stephen Curry?

No, I don’t mean taking 30-foot bombs that demoralize opponents (although, no doubt Embiid is game for trying it). I mean in having a contract extension off his rookie deal for less than the max, a value contract that allows the Sixers the cap room to secure a title contender around him.

After three seasons in the NBA, Joel Embiid is eligible for a contract extension this summer (one that would be negotiated now but not kick in until the 2018-19 season). Teams lock up their stars at this point, and Embiid is that — he was dominant in the 31 games he played. But it’s 31 games in three seasons, how much do the Sixers want to pay here?

Sixers owner Joshua Harris said extending Embiid is a priority for the team this summer, speaking at a press conference, via the Courier Times.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

A max contract for Embiid would be five years at about $130 million, an average annual salary of $26 million. Because of his injury history, would he be willing to sign five years at $100 million, maybe with an opt-out after four? That extra cap space may not sound like a lot, it’s not a Curry-level savings, but it would help the Sixers’ team building.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by Oct. 31 (the deadline), Embiid will play out this season then be a restricted free agent next season. If he stays healthy, he will get a max deal from another team that the Sixers would just match (the Sixers and Embiid could also reach a deal).

The Sixers are not about to let Embiid go, they have their young core they believe they can contend with in a few years. Plus he is a fan favorite. The only question left is cost.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.