By the time Phil Jackson signs with the Knicks it feels like Ted Mosby will have met the mother of his children. Finally.
Pretty much every source in the universe says a deal is close, that includes Ramona Shelburne and Chris Broussard of ESPN.
Todd Musburger, Jackson’s Chicago-based agent, is in Los Angeles to finalize the contract with Jackson and Knicks officials, according to sources. Jackson’s contract is expected to pay him $12 million a year, sources said.
Madison Square Garden officials have been making plans for a news conference early next week in New York, sources said.
There is nothing new here, just a little bit more of a timeline. If it’s not Friday it could be Saturday. Or Sunday. Jackson works on his own timeline.
There was buzz in Los Angeles that as this dragged out the Lakers had tried to start talks with Jackson and his representatives. Shelburne says that is not true. Here’s the real problem with Jackson taking over in Los Angeles — Jim Buss has that job, he loves the Lakers and he is not giving it up. What the Knicks are giving Jackson, in addition to the $12 million a year, is power to change the Knicks organization. (Or, at least that’s what he thinks he is getting, we’ll see how Jackson and Knicks’ owner James Dolan are getting along in 18 months. But that’s another story.) The Lakers will not give him that power. Right now there is an uneasy truce between Jim and Jeanie Buss and Jackson — who is engaged to Jeanie — would tip that balance. It’s not happening. Not now anyway, no matter what Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson or anyone else thinks.
Jackson has a lot of work to do in New York, which starts with the question of whether or not they should try to keep Carmelo Anthony this summer when he opts out of free agency? If so, at what price?
Sounds like we can start asking Jackson, and he can start dodging the questions, early next week.
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 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.
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.