Paul George

Cavaliers have three choices with Kyrie Irving. And no rush decide on one.

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There were a lot of questions around Kyrie Irving‘s unexpected decision to tell Cleveland he wanted to be traded.

The first was why? He reportedly wants out of LeBron James‘ massive shadow, to “be the man” with another team. It also strikes me as a preemptive move — LeBron could leave next summer and Irving wanted to be in control of his own destiny rather than deal with the “is LeBron leaving roller coaster” for a season.

Next was “why now?” This is harder to find a good explanation for. Back in June, Irving talked about staying with LeBron and finding ways to beat the Warriors, a month later he wants out. It has to be frustrating for the Cavaliers front office, if Irving had told them this back at the start of free agency Cleveland might have been able to land Paul George or Chris Paul.

Finally, the question settled on Cleveland and what will they do?

They have three legitimate options.

1. Do nothing and keep Irving. The Cavaliers do not have to trade him — Irving has two years left on his contract, and the Cavaliers have leverage. Cleveland could take notes from the Lakers after Kobe Bryant’s trade me demand circa 2007 — Los Angeles told him they were looking but not move him, and eventually smoothed things over (and won a couple more rings).

It may be a lot harder for the Cavaliers to do that. How deep is Irving’s dissatisfaction run? Can LeBron and Irving mend fences? Or is the discord in Cleveland too great right now to smooth things over? Usually winning can cure all ills, and the Cavaliers should win plenty again. Then again, star players in the NBA usually get their way so if Irving really wants out…

2. Trade Irving for players to help them chase a title next year. My guess is this is the direction the Cavaliers will go. Why? Because Dan Gilbert looks at his franchise valuation since LeBron’s return and wants to keep him, and if the Cavaliers can get another ring (or at least look like a more serious threat to the Warriors) he’s far more likely to stay.

Because Irving does not possess a no-trade clause, the Cavaliers are not forced to send him where he wants to go (unlike Carmelo Anthony). Irving wants to go to San Antonio, but the Spurs would want to send LaMarcus Aldridge back, a guy who is also older and starting to decline, can be exposed defensively, and it leads to questions about a second ball handler for the Cavaliers. A Carmelo Anthony trade with the Knicks creates the same questions — ‘Melo wants to be a Cavalier, but would he and a young player (Frank Ntilikina or Willy Hernangomez) going to make the Cavaliers better. Or even keep them in front of Boston.

That said, there may be deals with other teams not on Irving’s list that better fit the Cavaliers’ needs. What if Phoenix offers Eric Bledsoe, a young player (Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, T.J. Warren) plus a pick? Cleveland gets a good point guard (not as good as Irving overall, but a better defender), a young athletic player, and they can stay near at the top of the East. There will be options like this that come on the table.

3. Trade Irving for young players and picks to jump start a rebuild. This is also known as the “we believe LeBron leaves next summer so let’s just be proactive and get all we can” plan. It should include trading LeBron as well before the deadline and just going into full on rebuild mode.

If the Cavaliers managed this path well — a legitimate question after Dan Gilbert decided he didn’t need one of the league’s best GMs right before the start of free agency — they could stockpile players and picks. It might not be the full Boston stockpile post Garnett/Pierce trade, but it puts the Cavaliers on that road (then it would come down to drafting well and developing players). All of this would require shrewd moves now and patience down the line, but it’s a legitimate course of action.

A fourth option discussed by fans — trade LeBron and rebuild around Kyrie — is unlikely I’ve been told. Start here: LeBron’s importance to the bottom line of the Cavaliers’ franchise value makes him far more important to Dan Gilbert and the organization than Irving. Also, even with what the Cavs get back in trading LeBron it would not make them a contender with Irving as the alpha (he doesn’t defend that well, and he’s not the guy on that team that moves the ball). Plus, Irving may want out still and could leave in 2019 anyway.

Regardless of which option the Cavaliers choose, what matters is not to rush into a decision. If they decide to trade Irving, do not trade out of frustration or anger — it needs to be devoid of emotion. It has to be about getting the best possible return. This summer is obviously a huge turning point for the organization, and they need to make a smart decision.

You know, the kind David Griffin would have made.

Suns hire NBA veteran James Jones for front office position

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James Jones spent 14 years in the NBA, was a trusted sidekick of LeBron James and with that has been to seven straight NBA Finals had has three rings. It’s been a good career, one where he was back in the Finals with the Cavaliers last season.

Now he’s stepping out of that uniform — and into a suit. Or, at least a pair of khakis and a Phoenix Suns’ polo shirt.

On Wednesday the Suns announced that they have extended the deal of general manager Ryan McDonough, and created a new role in the organization for Jones, the new Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“James has a wealth of experiences that will greatly benefit our organization,” McDonough said in a statement. “He is a three-time NBA Champion and has been one of the top executives with the National Basketball Players Association over the past few years. We welcome ‘Champ’ and his family to our Phoenix Suns family.”

Jones has a good basketball mind and can help the Suns evaluate both players in the league now and college guys coming up. At the press conference announcing the moves the Suns as an organization preached patience and development, things Jones can help with (if they stick to that plan, the Suns don’t always stick to the plan).

Also, make no mistake this is part of the “we’re going to make a run at LeBron next summer” potential in Phoenix. The Suns often swing for the fences, have the ability to have max cap space (moving Brandon Knight or Tyson Chandler for an expiring contract would help), and they can boast a good young core of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss, and Alex Len. I wouldn’t move the Suns to the top of the list of likely LeBron landing spots, but Jones may at least get them a meeting. The Suns are smart to put themselves in position to go after him, and if not him pitch other big time free agents next summer — Paul George, Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas, DeMarcus Cousins and more.

Con man posing as Adele’s manager got shoes from Paul George, Oladipo, others

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Do you know who Adele’s manager is? Of course not, nor should you. That’s not something you would need to know, we need to focus on things that impact our daily lives, like why The Hound is having visions of the White Walkers in the flames?

Multiple NBA players also did not know who Adele’s manager is either, so when a Florida con man posed as said manager and promised tickets in exchange for shoes, he got some. The Miami Herald has the details.

Two months ago, police arrested a notorious South Florida con man on accusations that he impersonated the manager of singer Adele to try to get tickets to a Miami hip-hop concert. But his scam targeted a host of other sports stars and celebrities over the years, prosecutors said Tuesday in filing new criminal charges against Justin Jackson and his wife….

Offered Adele concert tickets in exchange for sneakers from basketball players Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Bismack Biyombo, among others, purportedly for an auction to benefit charities. He succeeded in getting sneakers shipped to him from NBA stars Paul George, Victor Oladipo and Richard Hamilton.

First off, and this should be obvious, this Justin Jackson is in no way related to the Justin Jackson just drafted by the Kings out of North Carolina. (That hooping Jackson had a decent Summer League, BTW).

I don’t blame the players here, they get charity requests for gear all the time and were good enough to pitch in — the con man also had an email sent from the “manager” of Lionel Messi to bolster his claim. Maybe those players and the people around them do a little more research in the future, but this isn’t that big a deal.

According to the Herald report, the con couple face more than a dozen felony charges related to their efforts with not only the basketball players but a host of other stars. Jackson did two years in prison already related to a scam where he got jewelry from a story pretending to be Madona’s manager.

 

 

Report: LeBron James frustrated with Cavaliers’ offseason

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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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.

Report: Nick Collison signing one-year deal with Thunder

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Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks), Tony Parker (Spurs), Manu Ginobili (Spurs), Udonis Haslem (Heat) and Nick Collison (SuperSonics/Thunder) are the only active players to have played more than 10 seasons all with the same team.

Collison isn’t leaving the club.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Collison has played just 13 years in the NBA [update: after spending his first year sidelined by injury]. It’s unclear whether Charania just got a number mixed up or whether Collison plans to play two more seasons.

Presumably, Collison will make the minimum, because, unless the Thunder are willing to hard-cap themselves, that’s the most they can offer and it’s because that’s the most Collison is worth. He’ll earn $2,328,652, though Oklahoma City will pay and be taxed at just $1,471,382. (The league covers the rest for veterans on one-year minimum deals.)

The 36-year-old Collison looked done last year, playing just 128 minutes in 20 games. At least he appears to be well-liked and a helpful veteran in the locker room.

At worst, injuries will press Collison into playing time that could have gone to someone who still possesses NBA athleticism. At best, he’ll sell Paul George on why he likes Oklahoma City so much.