Report: Cavaliers, wary of Jazz matching, reluctant to offer Gordon Hayward max contract

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The Cavaliers are considering signing Gordon Hayward to a max-contract offer sheet.

The Jazz would get three days to match what projects to be a four-year, $63,011,880 contract. They’ve threatened to match any offer for Hayward, and that has Cleveland concerned.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is how the process works.

Now, the Cavaliers engage Utah about a sign-and-trade.

The Jazz might be amenable, because Hayward on a max contract is not a fantastic asset. Sure, he would still hold value – which is why Utah would probably match – but not as much as on the smaller contract the Jazz offered in the fall. If Cleveland offered enough in a sign-and-trade, that might change the equation toward Utah parting with Hayward.

The Cavaliers must also weight what assets they’d part with to ensure Hayward joins them.

If the teams reach an impasse, Cleveland then must decide about offering a max contract to Hayward anyway. Maybe, the Jazz are bluffing and wouldn’t match. At minimum, the Cavaliers must count on Utah taking three days – leaving Cleveland in a bind with Hayward absorbing so much cap room – before deciding.

The burden for the Cavaliers specifically could be even greater.

To create max room below the projected salary cap, Cleveland would need to waive Anderson Varejao, whose 2014-15 salary is guaranteed for just $4 million of $9,704,545. Varejao is still a productive player who could be valuable on the court to the Cavaliers or another team – or in a trade for a team intent on trimming salary.

By just waiving the fully unguaranteed contracts of Scotty Hopson and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers would come close to creating enough room for Hayward’s max, though. If the cap is a little higher than projected the projected $63.2 million – at least $64,196,487 to be exact – they could offer Hayward the max without waiving Varejao.

The exact cap will be set before it’s possible to sign Hayward to an official offer sheet, so the Cavaliers know what they’re getting into. But if they waive Varejao and Utah matches, they’d lose both players.

Meanwhile, the Jazz hope Cleveland just moves along to other targets. That way, Utah has a better chance of keeping Hayward for less than the max. It’s the whole point of the Jazz’s threats to match.

However, Utah will face other threats from  the Suns and Celtics.

Any team could offer Hayward a max offer sheet just to ensure the Jazz must pay him a high amount, limiting Utah’s ability to sign other players in the future. The downside is only the team that signs Hayward will have its cap tied up for three days, and the upside helps every team in the NBA outside the Jazz. It’s a free-rider problem.

At this point, the dalliance between the Cavs, Jazz and Hayward – and maybe Suns and Celtics – becomes an elaborate game of bluffing and posturing.

J.R. Smith replacing Dwyane Wade as Cavaliers’ starting shooting guard

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The Cavaliers are 2-1, but their starting lineups have been outscored by 19 points in 32 minutes. Dwyane Wade has been so bad as the starting shooting guard, his struggles have overshadowed J.R. Smith‘s miserable play as the backup.

But at least Wade volunteered a solution to this predictable problem.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Dwyane Wade is headed for the Cavaliers’ bench at his own request and J.R. Smith is returning to the starting lineup.

Wade, 35, a 12-time All-Star who struggled in his first three games with Cleveland, asked coach Tyronn Lue to make the change, Lue said. But this wasn’t exactly Wade’s idea, either.

Lue told him when he signed with the Cavs Sept. 27 that the second unit may be the best fit for him.

“I just decided, earlier than later, just to get to the unit where I’d be more comfortable in and can probably better with this team in that lineup,” Wade said. “Why wait? Three games in, why wait? Wanted to get in there with those guys.”

Cleveland’s starting lineup needs more shooting and defense around LeBron James – especially with Derrick Rose starting over an injured Isaiah Thomas (though Rose is out a couple games with his own ankle injury). Smith provides that.

Bench-heavy units need more playmaking. Wade provides that.

This was a tricky situation given Wade’s status as a future Hall of Famer and friendship with LeBron. Whether Wade simply suggested the change or Lue is trying to give Wade public credit after coaxing it behind the scenes, the result is the same.

The Cavs can now use their most logical rotation, and they should be better for it.

Suns GM Ryan McDonough: Eric Bledsoe hair-salon claim about tweet was unbelievable

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Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:

Clear message?

Apparently not.

After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:

The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.

Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.

It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

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In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Bledsoe:

That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.