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Report: NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for longer contracts for designated veterans

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The NBA’s 2018 free-agent class – slated to include LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Isaiah Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Favors and Brook Lopez – might get a little less star-studded.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement opens the door for mega contract extensions for players on veteran contracts.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

Currently, extensions to veteran contracts allow the amended deal to total up to four years, including the current season. Is a six-year extension to an expiring contract here for five or six additional years? There’s a difference between how we conventionally describe those deals and how the CBA defines them, and it’s unclear which method the writers are using here.

Veterans with Bird Rights – by and large the type of player discussed here – can re-sign on a new contract for up to five years at any starting salary up to the max. But their extensions can last up to only three years with the salary in the first year of the extension capped at 107.5% his previous salary.

Presumably, the new designated-player-extensions won’t increase potential compensation for players on such deals. It’ll merely allow the player to get in a extension what he could get in free agency after his contract expires.

This would mirror the currently allowed designated-player extensions for rookie-scale deals. Players can re-sign after a completed rookie-scale contract for up to five years, but a non-designated-player rookie-scale extension can add up to only four years.

So, we’ll see how large of an effect this has. These extended veterans would seemingly gain only security – not more favorable contract terms than they’d be eligible for in free agency. Some players value that security, but for clear max players, why not keep the flexibility of free agency? The fallback is re-signing for the same terms that designated-player extension would’ve offered anyway.

This rule might not grant much additional leverage for teams to retain the biggest stars, but it should help teams lock up the next tier of players.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”