Utah Jazz v Cleveland Cavaliers

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.

Carmelo Anthony predicts Knicks-Bulls on Christmas or opening night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.

So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

The storylines are overflowing.

The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.

Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.

Newspaper uses crying Michael Jordan photo with article on his race statement

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Jordan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speaks during an induction ceremony on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.

That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:

Only in Malawi.

Watch Amar’e Stoudemire’s top 10 career plays (video)

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When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.

Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).

Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: DeMarcus Cousins is ‘most dominant player in the whole world’

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States Men's National Team dribbles the ball up court against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.

So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?

Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.

James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:

He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”

If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t

If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.

There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.

That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.

Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.