Duke’s Jabari Parker is going to be a high pick in the NBA Draft. Often compared to Carmelo Anthony because of the variety of ways he can score (although that may be high praise for Parker’s potential) Parker is third on most team’s draft boards (behind an assumed healthy Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins).
But Parker says he is still debating coming back for his sophomore season at Duke, he told ESPN.
Parker and the other Wooden Award finalists were making the media rounds Friday and of course Parker was asked about his plans on ESPN’s Los Angeles radio station.
“It’s a very tough decision, especially leaving behind my coach and all the people who are behind the program that really helped me out this year,” said Parker. “I really have to keep them in consideration. The whole process, it’s very mind-boggling….
“It’s more than just next year,” he said. “It’s going to be my career from there and how happy I’ll be in life.”
In other interviews he went on to say about how he planned to speak to coach Mike Krzyzewski and that he plans to announce his decision the middle of next week.
I’d be surprised if he stayed.
I have no doubt he loves Duke, I have no doubt his game will be more mature in a year (although he has a long way to go on defense, as was highlighted in the NCAA Tournament). But the simple fact is he will develop faster in the NBA and he will get paid to do it — his offensive game is NBA ready right now.
If you are projected as a late first rounder that is one thing (second round picks don’t get guaranteed contracts), but if you are a lottery pick your decision to come out is very different. And Parker is a top five pick on every board in the land.
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.