Kyrie Irving’s contract extension lets him opt out early

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We don’t yet know what type of contract LeBron James will sign with the Cavaliers.

Will it be a two-year deal with a player option, a three-year deal with a player option or a four-year deal with a player option?

Those are the possibilities. Barring an unlikely extension, LeBron will hit free agency again by 2018.

Kyrie Irving can follow not long after – and a year earlier than expected.

Before LeBron announced his plan to sign in Cleveland, Irving agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Cavaliers that begins after the upcoming season. However, Irving could terminate that contract after just four years of the extension.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The terms of Cleveland star point guard Kyrie Irving’s five-year, $90 million contract will include an early termination option for the 2019-20 season and a 15 percent trade kicker, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Irving’s deal includes the “Derrick Rose” provision, which allows Irving to gather 30 percent of the Cavaliers’ salary-cap space instead of 25 percent

Jeffrey Wechsler, Irving’s agent, really took the Cavaliers to the cleaners.

The designated-player and Derrick Rose rules allow teams to offer a  longer and larger rookie-contract extension. By design, those mechanisms are in place so a team rewards a player it wants to keep for five years rather than the standard four. That way, both the team (a young star under it’s control for longer) and player (more money) get something out of the arrangement.

Irving took his bounty and left the Cavaliers none of their extra security.

Essentially, Irving could escape Cleveland after four years of the extension, which starts in 2015-16. Thankfully for the Cavs, they signed LeBron, surely diminishing Irving’s desire to leave.

Blake Griffin and Paul George are the only other designated player to receive the ability to opt out after their fourth season of the extension. To get his player option, George had to drop his Rose-rule-raised salary from 30 percent to 27 percent. Griffin, though, got his full 30 percent along with an early termination option.

As can Irving.

We won’t know the value of Irving’s extension until the 2015-16 salary cap is set next July, but if the cap rises by the same amount it did this year, the baseline would be $90,686,380.

Irving would trigger the Derrick Rose rule – raising his contract to$108,823,656 based on the the same projected cap – only by winning MVP or being voted an All-Star starter this season. Considering he was already voted a starter last year and now the NBA’s most popular player is bringing more attention to his team, Irving should have no problem getting voted a starter again. Plus, I bet plenty of Heat fans wouldn’t mind voting for Irving if it makes Dan Gilbert write a larger paycheck.

Of course, 2020, when Irving can become a free agent, is a long way off. So much can change between now and then.

But that’s when Irving will get his first chance at the unrestricted ability to change NBA teams.

Luckily for the Cavaliers, they’ll have LeBron to coax Irving back to Cleveland. Probably.

LeBron James on the Finals: “I feel good about our chances. Very good.”

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If there is one team in the NBA that can knock off the Warriors in a seven-game series, it’s the Cavaliers. They are the best team in the NBA at creating mismatches and isolating them, and in Kyrie Irving and LeBron James they have two of the best isolation scorers in the game. Cleveland is strong on the boards and is capable of impressive defense. Also, they have the best player on the planet.

If nobody else is confident in the Cavaliers chances, he is.

Here is what LeBron James said his confidence level facing the Warriors in a Finals trilogy.

What else is he going to say?

And if anyone should be confident, it’s LeBron. He can change a series.

From the outside, we saw a series last year where everything needed to go right for Cleveland to win — LeBron playing the best ball of his career for the final three games, Kyrie Irving hitting big shots, Draymond Green getting suspended, Andrew Bogut getting injured, Stephen Curry being off (due to injury or fatigue or just a slump). And even then took the Cavaliers seven games and heroics at the last minute. Now the Warriors add Kevin Durant, and it’s hard not to see this ending differently.

However, LeBron James is the one guy who can alter that vision. And he’s confident he can do it, he’s done it before.

Steve Alford: LaVar Ball never meddled with UCLA Basketball

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Is LaVar Ball just a harmless loudmouth, or will he actually undermine the team that drafts his son, highly touted guard Lonzo Ball?

The Lakers, who hold the No. 2 pick, are the most likely team to find out.

President Magic Johnson said LaVar won’t affect whether they draft Lonzo, but coach Luke Walton wants the team to ask UCLA coach Steve Alford about LaVar’s involvement.

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times did just that:

Was LaVar Ball around the team much?

“Zero,” Alford said.

Was he ever at practice?

“Never at practice,” Alford said. “Never at practice; never called me.”

Did he ever try to meddle in your coaching?

“Never,” Alford said.

LaVar has said his other sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, will play for UCLA. So, Alford has incentive to maintain a productive working relationship with LaVar. The players’ high school coach had a much worse experience dealing with LaVar.

Alford vouching for LaVar means something, but the total picture is more complex.

Still, LaVar would hardly be the first difficult parent of an NBA player. He’s just the most public. Even if he’d try to meddle into the Lakers, they might be willing to handle that to get his talented son.

John Wall: Bench was Wizards’ ‘downfall’

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John Wall left the Wizards’ season-ending loss to the Celtics talking about how badly Washington’s bench got outscored.

Now that he has time to reflect and isn’t just speaking with raw emotion shortly after a devastating loss, how does he feel?

Wall, via CSN Mid-Atlantic

“We need to help our bench,” Wall told CSN’s Chris Miller. “Just to be honest, that was our downfall in each series that we had in the [Eastern Conference] semifinals, our bench got out played.”

It starts from upstairs – just building the right bench guys and building the chemistry. That’s all it is.

I think that’s where they won the game at. I heard Marcus Smart say after the game that I had no legs. He’s basically right. I don’t make excuses. I’m going to play. If I miss shots or make shots, I’ll live with it. I know people will say he finished oh for 11, but I play – I took everything I had in me to keep fighting.

It’s just that their bench guys came in and played well. I think Kelly Oubre could’ve played a little bit more. I wish he would’ve played a little more than Jason. But coach makes the decision, and we stick behind him 100 percent. I feel like those two guys could have really helped us.

Wall – eligible for a designated-veteran-player extension but reportedly unsure about signing one – is clearly telling the Wizards what he wants. Marcin Gortat similarly criticized Washington’s bench earlier in the season, and he apologized. Wall has the leverage not to stand by his assessment.

Both Wall and Gortat were right. The Wizards’ bench was the source of much of their problems.

Washington’s starting lineup outscored opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions in the playoffs. Its bench (all other lineups) got outscored 15.5 points per 100 possessions.

Only the Thunder had a similar split in net rating:

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The Wizards knew their flaw and tried to hide it. Washington’s starters played 34.2 minutes per game together in the postseason – second only to the Pacers (34.5). Wall’s heavy workload contributed to him running out of gas late in Game 7 against Boston, which Marcus Smart noted.

What can the Wizards do to upgrade their bench? Spend.

They sound committed to keeping Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this summer. But that would push them near the luxury tax – so they could scrimp on the bench in a variety of ways:

  • Don’t re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic, another restricted free agent. He’s in line for a raise.
  • Trade Marcin Gortat, elevating Ian Mahinmi into the starting lineup and therefore weakening the bench.
  • Trade Jason Smith, who might be expendable at his salary (especially given Wall’s comments about not wanting him to play as much) but at least still provides depth.
  • Don’t use the mid-level exception. That’s Washington’s best mechanism for adding outside help, but it’d be costly.

Will the Wizards take any of those cost-saving measures? Wall is certainly watching.

Don’t like the wait for this year’s Finals? Here’s the top 10 plays from the last two (VIDEO)

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Que the Tom Petty

Nobody is enjoying the week-long break between the end of the Eastern Conference Finals and the start of the NBA Finals (except maybe a few of the older Cavaliers players trying to get healthy). For those of us basketball junkies, we just want to get on to the two best teams in the league battling it out.We need a fix.

Here’s the best we can do today: The top 10 plays from the last two NBA Finals, the last two Cavaliers/Warriors showdowns. Courtesy the folks at NBA.com. There’s plenty of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and a big shot by Kyrie Irving made the list. Enjoy. And just try to be patient.