Kevin Ollie

Report: UConn’s Ollie will listen to Lakers’ offer, but probably stays


UPDATE 2:55 pm: Adrian Wojarowski of Yahoo Sports basically confirms this story but adds a twist — Ollie and UConn are talking about a contract extension.

University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has started discussions on a new contract with school officials, but hasn’t ruled out listening to NBA overtures, sources told Yahoo Sports….

Fresh off his masterful national championship coaching run this spring, Ollie is a consideration for the Los Angeles Lakers and is expected to move onto short lists as more NBA teams make coaching changes, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

2:24 pm: The best time to look at switching jobs is when you don’t need to.

When there is no pressure to take the next job, when you are comfortable and maybe even happy where you are at, you can evaluate any offers that come in evenly and compare them to what you already have.

That is where UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie is at — by all reports he is very happy as the Huskies’ basketball coach, leading his alma mater to the NCAA championship last season.

But because he has an NBA pedigree — 13 years in the Association as a player, at the end of it one of those great locker room veterans teams love to have — and has shown he can coach, NBA teams are going to come calling. Every year. Starting this year, reportedly with the Lakers who are interested now that Mike D’Antoni is out the door.

The guy who played his high school ball in Los Angeles would listen, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. But probably that’s all.

“He’ll listen, but he’s real committed to his alma mater,” said a person familiar with Ollie’s thinking.

NBA teams will come aggressively at him the next couple years because Ollie is a favorite of Kevin Durant — KD said Ollie showed him, Russell Westbrook and James Harden how to be professionals. Durant can be a free agent in 2016. You don’t need an advanced mathematics degree to draw the line there.

The Lakers need to think long term with their hire — don’t hire a guy to make Kobe Bryant happy, hire the guy to make the next face of the franchise happy. That said, you want to throw a rookie NBA coach in the shark tank with Kobe the next couple seasons?

I don’t see the Lakers as a fit.

But eventually Ollie will go pro and try his hand, almost all big time college coaches do (John Calipari, Rick Pitino, and the list goes on and on). If it doesn’t work out, you go back to college. Still, I expect Ollie to bask in the glow of UConn for a couple more years.

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.