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.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?

Report: Warriors “perplexed” by Kevin Durant’s offseason fighting old battles

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Kevin Durant made his move to Golden State last summer — it was an emotional, wrenching decision for him — and it went as well as he could have dreamed. He felt at home. He’s got a ring (or will have one on opening night), he was Finals MVP, and he not only strengthened his legacy with a title, but also helped it out by taking a paycut that made it easier for the Warriors to keep their core together this summer.

So why is he living in the past? Why release a shoe line taking shots at his detractorsWhy did he blast his former organization on Twitter? Sure, he apologized, but why slide back down that rabbit hole? For that matter, why take a shot at Stephen Curry’s shoe line?

Chris Mannix at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports said some with the Warriors are wondering the same thing.

But make no mistake: Many in Golden State, team officials and players alike, have taken note of Durant’s oddball offseason and are perplexed by it. They see a bright future for Durant in Oakland, league and team sources told The Vertical, and are bewildered as to why he is still addressing his past.

Oklahoma City will always be in Durant’s DNA, but it’s time for him to move on. Slapping around a team that was loyal to him, even in rejection, is a bad look. He’s a Warrior, and the possibilities for this Golden State team are endless. He can win championships, can win awards, can build one of the great dynasties in NBA history. The Thunder are doing their thing. Durant should forget about them, and do his.

This will all blow over. Soon the season will start, Durant and the Warriors will look dominant, and this will all seem like a minor distraction in the deadest part of the offseason. The focus will be on the rings.

But if you want an answer as to why, Durant’s response to a YouTube comment to someone who told him “who cares what other people think, just do you.” (Hat tip For the Win.)

…of my stature, I play basketball, I got acne, I grew up with nothing, in still figuring myself out in my late 20, I slide in DMs, I make fun of my friends, I drink beers and play Xbox. I’m closer to you than u think

Durant still can be a little immature, still wants to be a regular guy, and just like a regular guy he wants to be liked. And like a lot of people, he snaps at people when he knows he should just let it go and rise above. Maybe that will come with the lessons of this offseason.