Cleveland Cavaliers v Phoenix Suns

Report: Cavaliers will offer Kyrie Irving max contract extension


Will the Cavaliers give Kyrie Irving a max contract extension this summer?

One report says they might not.

I actually think that might be a wise move.

Nothing against Irving, who’s one of the NBA’s top young players. Teams just probably shouldn’t extend players coming off their rookie-scale deals to max contracts, period.

Mostly, it’s about getting more information. If Irving gets hurt again next year – he’s missed 15, 23 and 11 games in his three seasons – or stagnates, his value could plummet.

If he improves, the Cavaliers can offer the exact same contract next offseason as they could in the form of an extension this offseason. Why commit to the highest-possible salary sooner than you have to? At worst, you’re just going to give him the highest-possible salary next offseason, when Irving would become a restricted free agent and Cleveland could match any offers.

The Cavaliers would have no risk of losing him before 2016, and for him to leave that quickly would require him taking a one-year contract. If a five-year max contract is on the table, would Irving really turn that down to accept a one-year deal?

And if Irving accepts a five-year contract as a free agent in 2015 rather than a five-year extension in 2014, he wouldn’t count as a designated player. So if Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker – the Cavaliers’ top options with the No. 1 pick – is the rare player who’s worth extending to a max deal prior to his rookie contract ending, Cleveland could still do it.

Undoubtedly, there are benefits to give Irving a max extension. It keeps him happy – which could also serve as a negative if it makes him feel too entitled, but is probably a positive – and secures his standing on the team. John Wall became a much better team leader because of his max extension.

I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the cost – especially for a player with Irving’s injury history. The worst realistic-case scenario is him taking a four-year deal with a player option in 2015, and then you have three years to get him to come around and believe in the team (or trade him).

Anyway, the conventional choice is to give a max contract extension to anyone who would deserve a max contract after his third season – and Irving definitely qualifies on that front. So, though the Cavaliers should consider not offering Irving a max extension, that would be bucking precedent. Based on how every other team has handled this situation, Irving deserves a max extension.

And one report says he’ll get one.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

Reports about the Cavs even considering backing away from a maximum contract are simply wrong.

My sources tell me that the Cavs have had no doubts about offering Irving the 5-year deal, and will do so. Once July 1 arrives — the first date that an extension can be offered — the Cavs will set up a meeting with Irving. They will present their All-Star guard with a contract extension, a 5-year deal in the $90 million range (or whatever is the maximum number).

The term “max contract” has become a misnomer. Often, it’s doesn’t describe the absolute largest contract a player could sign.

A team signing a player to the highest possible salary over fewer years than the most allowed? “Max.”

A team signing a player to the top starting salary but less than the highest-possible raises? “Max.”

A team re-signing a player to the biggest contract another team could offer, but less than the re-signing team could offer? “Max.”

There are many other examples. Simply, you can’t read a report about a player’s max contract contract and have a full understanding of the picture without more context.

Using a crude estimate of the salary cap in 2015-16,* when Irving’s contract extension would begin, his absolute maximum salary for a five-year extension would be $109,106,328. He’d get that if he’s voted a starter in the 2015 All-Star Game – that vote should be fun! – or wins MVP next season.

Otherwise, his full max would be $90,921,940.

*$67,721,000 – which is based on the cap rising the same amount its projected to rise this year.

That’s why I’m not totally sold on Pluto’s report. It’s quite possible something got lost in translation between his source, him and readers.

Even if the Cavaliers are willing to give Irving a five-year extension, they might not want to give him the full amount he could earn if he meets the Derrick Rose rule criteria (for him, being elected an All-Star starter or winning MVP next year).

That $90.9 million figure is based on 25 percent of the salary cap. The $109.1 million is based on 30 percent of the salary cap.

The extension would be signed with a clause indicating he’d exceed 25 percent only if he qualified under the Rose rule. But if he qualifies, he doesn’t have to get the full 30 percent. He and the Cavaliers could negotiate any amount between 25 and 30 percent. The Pacers did that with Paul George, who got just 27 percent but a player option on the final year of his deal.

So, maybe the Cavaliers would offer Irving 25 percent ($90.9 million) and no escalator if he becomes Rose rule eligible. Or maybe they’ll offer less than the full 30 percent if he qualifies ($109.1 million).

Are those max contract? In the truest sense of the word, no. But they’d get described as max contracts.

Which is why I’m still in the dark about exactly what the Cavaliers are willing to offer Irving this summer.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
Leave a comment

Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
Leave a comment

The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.

Byron Scott doesn’t see reason D’Angelo Russell should play more in fourth


The Lakers’ clear top priority for this season should be simple: develop their young stars.

Julius Randle is a beast with the ball in his hands, but a one-handed beast who needs to work on his right hand. D'Angelo Russell has shown flashes but is trying to adapt to the speed and style of the NBA game. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. can be pieces on a good team, eventually. The Lakers need to build that foundation.

Which is why coach Byron Scott sitting Russell in the fourth quarter of games, even blowouts, is perplexing. As were his responses when asked about it after the Lakers’ lastest blowout loss, Tuesday night to the Golden state Warriors. So Scott, is there value in playing Russell in blowouts to get him more time on the court? Mark Medina of the LA Daily News had the answer.

“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”

That would be 32-year-old Marcelo Huertas, who played the fourth quarter Tuesday while Russell sat.

This is not Gregg Popovich resting his stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs here. We are talking about a 19-year-old rookie point guard whose game is based on court vision, anticipation, and angles, a guy who has to learn how to apply those in a league where everybody is long and fast. He needs time on the court to adapt. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. A lot of them. That’s what rookies do. If you coach them up, they learn from those mistakes and make fewer each time out. It’s a sometimes painful process, but it’s how rookies learn.

Except in Byron Scott’s world where they get benched. Because that will teach them. Meanwhile Kobe can do whatever he wants, because he was once great and that gives him carte blanche.

Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay apologizes for verbal spat with coach

Emmanuel Mudiay, Michael Malone

Nuggets’ coach Mike Malone was willing to get into it with just about anyone Tuesday night. He had a few words with Blake Griffin.

And he had a few words with his rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay — and Mudiay gave it right back. Then got benched. Later the rookie realized he should be a little more deferential to the guy who controls his minutes, and apologized. Malone played it down. Everything is fine in Denver (well, except for the four straight losses). Here are the quotes, via Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

Said Mudiay: “It’s just both of us being competitors. It probably was my fault, I could have been doing a lot more. So I kind of put the blame on myself. I’ve got nothing against Coach, I respect him. He’s a great person, and I have all the respect in the world for him.

“Me and him are both competitive. We want to win. We hate losing. We’re on a four-game losing streak, something like that. It’s just us trying to win. At the same time, it’s over with. It’s on to the next game. It’s been like that my whole life. He’s just trying to challenge me, which I accept.”

“There is frustration on our end, having lost four games in a row now,” Malone said. “Just trying to find way to get a win. Winning is a great cure-all for anybody, like it was for (the Clippers) tonight, coming in having lost three in a row. So this is a very competitive game, guys are out there working hard trying to do their best, and sometimes emotions get involved. By no means is there an issue with Emmanuel or anybody else on this team. We are together, we are unified and we’re going to continue to fight to stay together to get this thing turned around.”


These kinds of little flare-ups are a common part of the NBA season — if the Nuggets were not frustrated after losing four straight, it would be a bigger concern. That Mudiay pushed back is some fire I want to see from a rookie.

Mudiay is learning, his turnovers are down of late (although they flared up against Golden State). His shooting is still an issue, and his decision making has a ways to go, but there is progress.  Which is all you can ask of a rookie. And it helps to have a coach who will push him. (And play him in the fourth quarter — Byron Scott, we’re looking at you.)