Report: Cavaliers will offer Kyrie Irving max contract extension

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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.

Report: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer no longer considering Suns job

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There’s been a lot of talk as the coaching carousel ramps up, long before the NBA season is even over. Now, we know one coach won’t be heading to the Phoenix Suns: Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer.

Budenholzer was reportedly among one of the candidates for the Suns job, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi the Hawks coach has decided not to pursue the position after being given the opportunity to do so.

The Suns coaching search still includes current interim coach Jay Triano and former Memphis Grizzlies head man David Fizdale.

Via ESPN:

Budenholzer met with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough and owner Robert Sarver early this week, but there was never traction on reaching a contract agreement as the week wore on, league sources said.

As the Suns kept interviewing candidates — including David Fizdale and interim coach Jay Triano — Budenholzer informed the Suns on Thursday that he would no longer be a candidate for the job, sources said.

Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season. Budenholzer had a hefty resume to consider — he won 60 games in Atlanta in 2014-15, heading to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Suns need someone to guide their young star in Devin Booker. Who they choose will influence the direction of their franchise for longer than the next coach may even be around.

Warriors beat Spurs in glum Game 3

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The Spurs were playing with heavy hearts following the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin. Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston appeared to injure their left ankles on back-to-back plays late.

Everyone seemed ready for the Warriors’ 110-97 Game 3 win Thursday to end well before it did.

Soon enough, the first-round series will. Golden State is up 3-0, and all 127 teams to win the first three games of a best-of-seven series won it – most of them via sweep. Game 4 is Saturday in San Antonio.

There’s hope neither Durant’s nor Livingston’s injury is serious. Durant walked off on his own, though gingerly. Livingston shot his free throws before exiting.

Durant (26 points) and Klay Thompson (19 points) have carried the Warriors’ offense with Stephen Curry sidelined by his own injury. If Durant isn’t at full strength for Game 4, Golden State could really struggle to score.

But it still might not matter, as the Spurs are overmatched against the Warriors’ dialed-in defense. Draymond Green (10 points, seven assists, six rebounds, four blocks and two steals) led tonight’s effort.

After two losses in Oakland to start the series, returning to San Antonio didn’t do much for the Spurs, who were 33-8 at home and 14-27 on the road this season – the NBA’s largest home-road disparity in a half decade. It’s just had to see San Antonio – whether Popovich returns or Ettore Messina remains acting coach – finding enough sources of offense.

Pelicans move one game away from sweep after bashing Blazers in Game 3

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But for a moment, the Portland Trail Blazers felt as though they could turn the series. For half a quarter, the Blazers had hope. Then, Nikola Mirotic dropped a career-high 30 points, Anthony Davis added a double-double of 28 points and 11 rebounds, and the New Orleans Pelicans moved one game away from completing a sweep of the third seed after a big win on Thursday night, 119-102.

Under the guidance of Mirotic, the Pelicans unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers starting midway through the first quarter. The game was close to being a contest, but Jrue Holiday and Mirotic started to pour it in after being uncorked, with New Orleans taking a 16-point lead going into the second period.

Running up and down the court in a panic, Portland looked nervous in the spotlight. The Blazers racked up 12 turnovers by halftime, all while rattling 3-pointers off the back iron. Portland rushed its offense in the face of unlikely success by the Pelicans, who continued to rain down from deep. New Orleans hit four big shots in the final 1:47 of the half, including three from beyond-the-arc.

Never one to back down, Blazers star Damian Lillard tried to force the issue. He would finish with 20 points on 5-of-14 shooting, but most evidentiary of his night was Lillard lobbing up a wild 28-footer with 24 seconds left in the half as he tried to answer a gutshot 3-pointer from E'Twaun Moore from a moment before. It didn’t work, and the Pelicans took commanding 64-45 lead to start the third quarter.

So went the story of the rest of the game, as Portland couldn’t fully tamp down the New Orleans offensive attack for longer than a few minutes at a time. Even after one 10-0 run for the Blazers in the third, the Pelicans ended it in the most deflating way possible — a wide open dunk for Mirotic on a cut after Portland’s defense fell asleep.

It was an electric atmosphere at Smoothie King, and the sellout crowd that gave us a glimpse of what kind of homecourt advantage the Pelicans could have in the second round. The New Orleans fans were in a back-and-forth with the players, with Smoothie King working to such a fever pitch it felt as though every shot hoisted by the team in red and gold was destined for the nylon.

Demoralized, Portland battled — flailed, really — but the Blazers couldn’t make up any ground as the momentum continued for New Orleans. Finally Blazers coach Terry Stotts relented and waived the white flag for Portland with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter as he subbed in his bench.

Even with a 49-win season under its belt, the questions surrounding the Blazers become more serious. The team that had a 13-game win streak this season now will face rumblings about whether Stotts will remain with the team. An exit for Stotts would be unwise for Portland — he did wonders with a team that didn’t play up to its potential most of the year — but it’s not out of the ordinary for a team looking to break through to look elsewhere, especially after Lillard’s meeting with owner Paul Allen.

Although their work isn’t done yet, New Orleans looks as though it’s a team to be feared in the playoffs. What it needs to do is concentrate on sweeping the Blazers, not only to give themselves confidence heading into the second round but to show their second-round opponent (likely the Warriors) that they aren’t to be taken lightly.

How Porltand can counter in the deciding Game 4 isn’t clear. The Pelicans have looked like the better team for nearly every quarter of the series, and the Blazers clearly don’t have an answer for them on either side of the ball.

Happy New Orleans fans will pack Smoothie King on Saturday for Game 4 at 2:00 PM PST in Louisiana. Davis will look to win his first playoff series, and Portland will try to avoid their most embarrassing sweep since they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 Western Conference Finals.

Steve Kerr, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili celebrate the life of Erin Popovich (VIDEO)

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The NBA community has been effuse in their thoughts and condolences to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over the past 24 hours. Erin Popovich, 67, passed away on April 18, leaving behind her husband, Gregg.

Many were taken aback at the news, including players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both of whom were emotional when they first heard the news of Erin’s passing.

Gregg Popovich was not with the team to coach them in their Thursday night matchup against the Golden State Warriors, as Ettore Messina took the reins for Game 3.

Meanwhile, those close to the Popoviches spoke about Erin, her influence on Gregg, and how much both mean to them. Steve Kerr, who played for Popovich in San Antonio for four seasons, told reporters that Erin was, “The sort of balance that Pop needed.”

Current Spurs Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker also voiced their support for the Popovich family.

Via Twitter:

Here’s hoping Popovich finds some solace in the support he’s received over the past day.