“Congratulations, Koby. Here’s your new corner office with a view, meet your new executive assistant, and finally here are the keys to the Cavaliers franchise… oh, and by the way, Kyrie Irving wants to be traded. And LeBron James is a free agent next year. Good luck with all that, we’ll leave you to it.”
Since Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert inexplicably let go of David Griffin as the team’s general manager, assistant GM Kobe Altman has stepped into the lead role for the franchise. Now Gilbert is going to remove the interim tag from Altman’s title, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first.
Now that he has the job, all he has to do is find a new home for Irving, who has demanded a trade… or he doesn’t have to. Irving may be traded this summer, but he has two years left on his deal so Altman could just bring him back with LeBron and Kevin Love and make another run at it. Or he could sit back and listen to trade offers from a lot of teams, and if he sees one he likes pounce — Irving (unlike Carmelo Anthony) doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he can go anywhere. Altman has leverage.
Altman respected around the league, but he took over a team up against the cap and tax, a team that needed to find a way to get more athletic to compete with the Warriors. Instead, the Cavs re-signed Kyle Korver (age 35), signed Jose Calderon (age 36), and re-signed Richard Jefferson (age 37). The Cavs have essentially treaded water this offseason, while Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets all got better. That’s not all on Altman, he was thrown into the job and with the team well into the tax his options were limited. He was handed a near impossible task.
Now Altman gets to own that task. Enjoy.
Derrick Rose is suddenly in demand – once the market was set at a minimum salary or so.
Not only are the Cavaliers pursuing the former MVP/overhyped role player, so are the Lakers.
Rose is also meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, sources told ESPN’s Chris Haynes and Ramona Shelburne. The Lakers are trying to entice Rose to sign with them, suggesting they can offer more playing time and money in a better environment after Rose’s tumultuous season in New York, sources said.
Rose’s tumultuous season was due in part to Rose. No matter where he signs, he can’t escape himself. And Los Angeles is even further from his native Chicago.
But the Lakers can offer more money. They still have the $4,328,000 room exception. Rose would earn just $2,116,955 on a minimum salary from Cleveland, and the Cavs can bump that offer to only about $2.5 million. (That’d come with exponential additional costs, so they probably wouldn’t do that, anyway.)
The Lakers can also offer a larger role. Lonzo Ball can’t play every minute at point guard, and Rose would fill in the rest. They’ll likely add a point guard, Rose or not. The Cavaliers might be set with Kyrie Irving, Jose Calderon and Kay Felder if they don’t get Rose.
I’m not sure how Rose would work as a veteran mentor, especially on a one-year contract as he eyes a bigger payday next summer. But – say whatever else you want about him, and there’s plenty to say – Rose has remained impressively focused on basketball amid untold chaos. Ball – with outsized attention given LaVar and his media market – can probably relate.
LeBron James is reportedly frustrated with the Cavaliers’ offseason.
Can they soothe him with former MVP Derrick Rose?
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
Rose is still a big name, but his play has SIGNIFICANTLY regressed. He could add scoring punch to reserve units, but his only plus skill – driving to finish for himself – doesn’t complement LeBron and Kyrie Irving. Rose is a poor spot-up shooter and defender, so his usefulness would be limited to minutes when LeBron or Irving – or maybe both – sit.
The Cavs rushed to lock up Jose Calderon on the first day of free agency. Rose is better, and if the Cavs want to spend a minimum contract – or even the remainder of the taxpayer mid-level exception – to upgrade, more power to them. But following Calderon with Rose suggests there isn’t much a plan here.
That’s not shocking for a team without a general manager.
The Cavaliers have had a dud of an offseason.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert ousted general manager David Griffin just before the draft and didn’t offer enough money to lure Chauncey Billups as a replacement. Cleveland still hasn’t named a long-term front-office leader.
In the meantime, the Cavaliers have made a few low-key moves – signing Jose Calderon, Jeff Green and Cedi Osman and re-signing Kyle Korver. They reportedly won’t re-sign James Jones. They didn’t get Jamal Crawford or trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
LeBron James noticed.
Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
LeBron James, the NBA’s most powerful player and biggest star who brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA championship, is concerned about the Cavaliers’ offseason, a person close to the situation told USA TODAY Sports.
Expecting an aggressive offseason approach that would close the gap on the champion Golden State Warriors, James soon found his anticipation and optimism diminished after Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert dismantled the front office, declining days before the draft and free agency to bring back general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden.
Gilbert’s decision left the Cavs without the franchise’s top two front-office execs at a critical time, and it left James frustrated and concerned about the team’s ability to put together a roster that can better compete with Golden State, the person with direct knowledge of James’ thinking told USA TODAY Sports.
So, Los Angeles, huh?
LeBron is not shy about pressuring Gilbert. The Cavs’ payroll is high, but the roster lags well behind the Warriors. Cleveland hasn’t used its full mid-level exception, and without someone authorized to take long-term control of the front office, nobody has the vision to go after the league’s available stars like Butler and George. With the Cavaliers’ championship window still open, this was a terrible time to stall.
And, of course, LeBron can be a free agent next summer. There’s still time to make amends and/or hope the Lakers look less appealing than they do on paper now, though others suitors will race out of the woodwork if LeBron shows any inclination of leaving.
It seems the Cavs are doing a decent job of alienating their superstar and giving other teams hope.
The Cavaliers’ bench is ancient.
Richard Jefferson (37), Kyle Korver (36), Jose Calderon (35) and Channing Frye (34) are past their primes. The worry is they run out of gas, just as LeBron James‘ supporting cast did his final year with the Heat. (Is this LeBron’s final season in Cleveland?)
But the Cavs will inject youth onto their roster with Cedi Osman, the No. 31 pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
The most the Cavaliers can contribute toward Osman’s buyout is $675,000. They’ll use a portion of the taxpayer mid-level exception to pay his base salary.
This is a good price on Osman, even with the included luxury-tax pain. Osman is a reasonably athletic hustle player with solid court vision. The Cleveland needs more players like him, especially considering he’s just 22.
Young players provide energy and contribute to an environment of not becoming content. The only players the Cavaliers acquired and rostered from the last four drafts were Kay Felder and Joe Harris, a couple second-rounders. Osman, whom I rated as a low first-rounder and who continued to develop overseas the last couple years, is a welcome addition.