Taj Gibson, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer

Report: NBA salary cap expected to increase to $63.2 million, luxury tax to $77 million

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The NBA won’t officially compute next season’s salary cap and luxury-tax line until July, but estimates are always helpful in projecting what options teams will have this offseason.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com that all 30 teams were informed this week via league memorandum that an increase in the cap from this season’s $58.6 million to $63.2 million in 2014-15 — thanks to increased revenues — is now expected. A corresponding rise in the luxury-tax threshold from $71.7 million to $77 million is also projected, sources said.

This will affect every NBA team, but any with cap space this offseason will be happy with the large rise, as will any facing a luxury-tax bill. Here are few examples of how this projection affect teams:

  • If the Bulls amnesty Carlos Boozer, they’d have $13,193,727 in cap room. If they further traded Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy with no salary returning, the Bulls would have enough cap room to sign Carmelo Anthony outright to his full max contract. That would leave them Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Tony Snell and Jimmy Butler under contract while keeping the No. 19 pick.
  • The Rockets could still strip their roster to only Dwight Howard and James Harden and not have room to offer Carmelo Anthony his full max. Though they’d be just $496,877 shy of his potential first-year salary in cap room, that would mean losing valuable players like Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones and Patrick Beverley. As with previous projections, Houston would almost certainly need a sign-and-trade to land Melo.
  • The Heat might avoid the luxury tax now. Assuming they keep all five players with guaranteed contracts next season – LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh,Udonis Haslem (player option),Chris Andersen (player option) andNorris Cole – sign their No. 26 pick to a standard 120 percent contract, sign their second-round pick to a minimum contract and fill their roster with five minimum-salary players on one-year contracts, they’d be below the tax line with $1,316,033 in wiggle room. That would probably mean losing Mario Chalmers, though. But with LeBron, Wade and Bosh each holding early termination options, a lot can change.

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.