DeAndre Daniels, Niels Giffey

DeAndre Daniels, fresh off strong tournaments, declares for NBA draft

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DeAndre Daniel’s draft stock will likely never be higher.

The junior just helped Connecticut win the national title. In nine American Athletic Conference and NCAA tournament games, he averaged 15.6 points and 7.4 rebounds – up from his full-season averages of 13.1 and 6.0, which are up from his sophomore numbers, which are up from his freshman numbers. He’s hitting his ceiling as an NBA prospect, and at 22, it would have been hard for him to stay ahead of the curve with the Huskies next season.

So, he’s entering the draft now.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

If the draft were held today, I’d peg Daniels as a late first-round pick. However, I expect some of his luster will wear off by June 26.

There’s a lot to like about Daniels, a 6-foot-9, 195-pound small forward. He shot 42 percent on 3-pointers this year, and he’s long and athletic. Averaging 1.4 blocks per game from his position, he’s shown impressive defensive potential.

But the question of consistency remains. Were his final nine games a true breakthrough or a fluke? Where does his 3-point shooting (28 percent his first two seasons) fall on that scale?

PBT’s draft expert Ed Isaacson of and Rotoworld says a big key for Daniels will be getting “much stronger.” That’s not something that can happen overnight.

What can happen overnight is NBA decision-makers looking closer at Daniels’ full record and downgrading him slightly. If he remains in the first round, it wouldn’t be a reach. In the second round, he’d hold good value.

That Daniels straddles the first/second round line probably says more about the strength and depth of this draft class than him.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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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.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

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.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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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.