Dan Feldman

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 22:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets fights for a rebound with Rudy Gay #8 of the Sacramento Kings during the game at the Toyota Center on January 22, 2014 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Report: Rockets among teams expressing strongest interest in Rudy Gay trade

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The Kings upset Rudy Gay by not talking to him about trading him. Then, they got on the same page by talking to him about trading him.

What will it take to actually get a deal done?

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

The next hurdle is value. League sources say while there are teams that have expressed interest in Gay – most notably the Houston Rockets – getting anything of real value back on what could be a one-year rental at Gay’s price tag is hard math to make work.

There is a sense among league insiders that the Kings are not looking for a ton in return for Gay, so that may make finding a deal a little easier even with all the issues surrounding a deal.

The Rockets added offensive talent this offseason in Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Mike D’Antoni to complement James Harden. Gay would fit the trend.

Sacramento might want Trevor Ariza in an exchange of small forwards. Houston would probably rather use Corey Brewer as centerpiece of a trade. (Neither player alone would make salaries match, though Gay could be traded for Ariza and Brewer.)

The Kings might not be seeking much for Gay, but their definition of selling low could still be higher than what the rest of the league considers fair value. There’s a reason a trade hasn’t happened yet.

Report: Cavaliers offered J.R. Smith about $10 million per year, believe they’ll re-sign him

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers acknowledges the crowd during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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The Cavaliers handled their most-pressing matter, locking up LeBron James.

That leaves J.R. Smith as Cleveland’s – and the NBA’s – top remaining free agent.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

While the Cavaliers and J.R. Smith have not yet reached a free agent deal, there is a continued sense from league and Cavalier insiders that a new agreement is going to happen, it’s simply a case of how long and how much?

Smith got married over the weekend and was surrounded by his Cavalier teammates, who posted pictures all over social media.

League sources said that Smith and his camp were not overly concerned about reaching a deal, with a belief that the Cavs have put a multi-year deal in the $10 million per year neighborhood on the table weeks ago and the Smith and his advisors have been looking for a slightly bigger package and that waiting things out, was simply the leverage to try and get a slightly better deal.

LeBron’s deal took the Cavs slightly above the luxury-tax line. Smith would shoot them well past it. Assuming the Cavaliers pay the tax this season – it’s determined by team salary on the final day of the regular season – they would be on the hook for the repeater rate in 2017-18.

So, Smith’s length will be important. Cleveland might hesitate to guarantee much money beyond this season for Smith, who turns 31 next month.

Smith reportedly wants $15 million per year, which would be slated to cost the Cavs more than $43.75 million – Smith’s salary plus $28.75 million in luxury tax. (The “more than” is because they already have a couple players on partially guaranteed deals that put them slightly over the tax line. A $15 million salary for Smith would push the Cavaliers into the fourth tier of tax, where each dollar of salary is hit with a $3.25 penalty.)

Is Smith worth that? The market has largely dried up, so Cleveland would be bidding against itself.

But his agent is LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul. Smith and Paul have waited out the Cavs, even as other teams spend their cap space. I’d guess that’s by design. A strong 3-point shooter and improved defender, Smith would be a valuable part of a championship-contending team with its window wide open. He can leverage that and his LeBron tie more effectively than he could leverage an offer from another team.

Those negotiations, without another team helping to set the market, aren’t easy, though. So, Smith remains unsigned.

Carmelo Anthony: If I don’t win an NBA title, I can still say I had great career

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States celebrates winning the Men's Basketball gold medal game between the United States and Spain on Day 16 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 12, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony won a national championship at Syracuse. He has won two Olympic gold medals, and he’s trying for a third in Rio. He has made nine All-Star games and six All-NBA teams and won a scoring title. He’ll earn more than $260 million in his career, and his next contract could raise that total significantly.

But he hasn’t won an NBA title.

Anthony, via Marc Stein of ESPN:

“Most athletes don’t have an opportunity to say that they won a gold medal, better yet three gold medals,” Anthony said. “I would be very happy walking away from the game knowing that I’ve given the game everything I have, knowing I played on a high level at every level: high school, college, won [a championship at Syracuse] in college and possibly three gold medals.

“I can look back on it when my career is over — if I don’t have an NBA championship ring — and say I had a great career.”

Anthony is deflecting to a certain degree. If his Knicks were legitimate championship contenders, he might view an NBA title as more important. But with that goal so far removed, he’s trying to manage expectations – both internal and external.

Of course, Anthony also contributes to New York being so far from a championship. He’s an excellent scorer, but his limitations make it difficult to build a team around him – especially because his scoring prowess commands such a high portion of the salary cap. The Nuggets assembled an effective supporting cast for him, but it sure wasn’t easy.

It also doesn’t help that Anthony isn’t totally consumed by winning a title. He cares about more than just basketball, which makes him like many of us who have broad interests outside our jobs. It also separates him from many of his peers who, following Michael Jordan’s lead, are manically devoted to winning.

And that’s OK.

Anthony’s values don’t have to be your values or Jordan’s values or anyone else’s values.

When Anthony retires, he’ll have had a great career. A championship might be the missing piece, and when comparing him to other all-time greats it’d be fair to hold that against him. But how we rank players isn’t everything, and Anthony seems content with his accomplishments. That matters, too.

Report: Wizards, after firing trainer, changing approach for injuries

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 03:  Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards reacts after an injury during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on May 3, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Randy Wittman lashed into a writer for reporting John Wall clashed with the Wizards’ training staff over handling of his injury.

Well, the Wizards dumped Wittman, and now they’re changing their medical approach.

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

After a disastrous 2015-16 in which they were among the NBA’s most battered and injured teams, the Wizards are heading in a new direction with their athletic training staff and are close to finalizing a new structure that focuses more on the clinical side, league sources tell CSNmidatlantic.com.

Longtime head athletic trainer Eric Waters was fired with one year left on his contract after a 41-41 season in which multiple players were injured and stayed in street clothes for long stretches. A clinical focus would include developing new treatments, therapy, studying trends, taking into account genetics to understand injuries and many other aspectss by having a more specialized medical group rather just a head athletic trainer and an assistant.

What the Wizards did last season didn’t work well. Bradley Beal missed significant time, and several other players were on the shelf for prolonged periods.

But can anyone be certain an alternative approach would’ve worked better? The counterfactual is hard.

Still, Washington will try something new and try to evaluate it. But it’s difficult to separate the new technique from regression to the mean on injury luck.

Report: LeBron James’ new contract contains player option

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 22:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers attends the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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LeBron James signed a three-year contract worth nearly $100 million, and OF COURSE he got every clause in his favor – including a player option.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

I bet LeBron also has a no-trade clause and 15% trade kicker, just for posterity.

LeBron’s salaries:

  • 2016-17: $30,963,450
  • 2017-18: $33,285,709
  • 2018-19: $35,607,968 (player option)

Based on the NBA’s latest salary-cap projection, LeBron’s max in 2018-19 would be about $35.5 million. Of course, that’s a relatively rough estimate, because:

1. The league’s projections tend to be conservative.

2. The Collective Bargaining Agreement could change before then, significantly altering the system.

LeBron won’t have to make the call for another couple years, and he’ll have much more information by the time he does. But he has a $35,607,968 salary in the bag and will opt out only if his options look better. That’s a pretty great fallback.