LeBron says Wade is “getting that Kobe deal” in next contract. Should he?

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If the Miami Heat’s big three of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all decided not to opt out and came back to the Heat under their current contracts, they would make a combined $61.3 million next season. Next year’s salary cap is currently projected to be $62.9 million.

However, all three of them can and may well opt out and seek longer, potentially richer deals (LeBron and Bosh almost certainly will, Wade seems likely unless he only wants to play a couple more years). Those potentially larger salaries could really hamstring management’s ability to put a good enough team around those three to win a title.

All of which came up in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s extension with the Lakers. Kobe will make $48.5 million over the next two seasons, which is a paycut from the $30 million a year he makes but also will leave him the highest paid player in the league. That money going to Kobe cuts into the cap space the Lakers would have had available to put players around him. A lot of people expected Kobe to take a Tim Duncan sized contract (he went from $21 million down to $9.6 million) and there was some frustration in Los Angeles.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com tried to ask Wade about if he would take a paycut.

LeBron James answered for him.

“D-Wade is getting that Kobe deal,” James said from the next locker

Wade, knowing the gravity of this issue, smiled and shook his head. Then he gave a more diplomatic answer.

“When I get into that position, it’s something I’ll think about,” Wade said. “You have to sit down at the time and see what is best for you and for your team.”

That’s vague, but what else do you expect Wade to say?

At this point the discussion is largely theoretical. How this all plays out will depend on a lot of things, including how the Heat do in the playoffs this season. All three took a little bit less money in 2010 to come together, would they be willing to take more of a cut to stay together? Would Wade be willing to make a larger sacrifice? Or does Bosh decide he wants to be the star somewhere else and bolt? How much luxury tax is Miami’s ownership willing to pay?

All of these conversations will happen with agents on some level before July 1, when all of them can be free agents. Both management and the players have some hard questions to answer before then.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.