Visiting locker rooms in the NBA are the opposite of opulent. They are small and without frills, meant to keep the opposing team uncomfortable during their stay.
In the past, teams have made some additional adjustments to either the climate in the room or the water temperature to further irritate the opponent. But having a live, venomous reptile in place awaiting the visitors seems like a bit much.
From Casey Holdahl of the Blazers’ website:
Upon arriving at the AT&T Center for Game 2 versus the Spurs, the Trail Blazers were greeting by an unexpected guest in Thomas Robinson’s locker: a rattlesnake.
“Man, me and Thomas at our lockers as usual,” explained Trail Blazers guard Will Barton. “We’re changing and he goes to put his shoes down and he’s like ‘What the …?’ You know what he said. He’s like ‘There’s a snake under my locker dog!’ And I’m like ‘Stop playing.’ He’s like ‘No for real! A real snake!’ And we just looked under there and there was a snake. I was scared!”
“I just put my shoes down and once I put my shoes down I double looked and I seen a snake sitting there,” said Robinson. “After that, I got away from it. I just seen something curled up and I looked again and it was a snake. No one believed me until they looked in there. It hissed, I backed up.”
Arena security moved in and removed the snake, but not before Mo Williams snapped some photos.
“We get in the lockerroom n its a damn snake, yea a snake in the lockerroom. Man we was scared as hell,” the caption read.
No one was hurt, but there’s no question that the Blazers were a little freaked out by the experience.
To which I say: Yeah, but still.
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.