Author: Kurt Helin

Brandon Bass, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston

Report: Lakers near deal to sign Brandon Bass, may trade Nick Young

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The Lakers are not going in the tank again, not in what could well be Kobe Bryant’s final season.

They struck out on big-name free agents but are now settling in on a smart strategy (maybe one they should have done from the start) of getting quality players to build the kind of roster base that elite free agents look at and think they could win with. They drafted D’Angelo Russell to go with Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, then they have gotten Lou Williams and Roy Hibbert.

The latest Laker addition recent Celtics big man Brandon Bass, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The financial terms of Bass’ deal are not yet finalized. He could get the room exception or they may clear some cap space for him.

Bass is the definition of solid NBA big man. He averaged 10.6 points and almost five rebounds a game, shooting 50.5 percent He had a PER of 16.3. He will play hard for them.

For the Lakers to sign Williams and Hibbert is going to take clearing out some cap space, which could mean Nick Young will be on the move.

The Lakers have tested the trade market for Young for a while, and it’s a smart move now — with Kobe and Williams and Young, all the Lakers jumpers would be contested.

Report: Cleveland Cavaliers considering trade for Joe Johnson

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets
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Dan Gilbert is opening up the checkbook for the Cavaliers this 0ff-season. He maxed out Kevin Love, and once Tristan Thompson and LeBron James are re-signed (and they will be) the Cavaliers will have the highest payroll in the Association. And a healthy tax bill to boot.

But Gilbert may not be done spending.

The Cavaliers have had conversations with the Brooklyn Nets about Joe Johnson and his $24.9 million contract next year, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are considering trading for Brooklyn Nets star Joe Johnson with their Brendan Haywood contract chip, sources told ESPN.com

Haywood has a $10.5 million nonguaranteed contract if waived before Aug. 1, an asset that has gained value over the last several days as other teams use up their cap space. The Cavs have been looking for perimeter help, and Johnson would certainly provide a major boost as an additional scoring and shooting option.

Haywood’s deal alone would not be enough to balance the salaries and make the trade work (under the CBA guidelines), it would take about another $10 million — which is why Anderson Varejao’s name has come up. He is owed $9.6 million next year, which puts this deal in the ballpark. Varejao played in just 26 games last season due to an Achilles injury, but he averaged 9.8 points on 55.5 percent shooting, plus grabbed 6.5 rebounds a game before going down. He’s a solid NBA big man when healthy.

Windhorst suggests the Cavaliers interest in David West could be tied to losing Varejao.

Brooklyn is looking to trade both Johnson and Deron Williams this summer, they realize it’s time to blow up what they have, save money and rebuild. Johnson is the one that is far more likely to be traded. While he will make $24.9 million next season it is the last year of that deal. Plus he still provides value on the court, scoring 14.4 points a game and shooting 35.9 percent from three last season. He’s not one of the best shooting guards in the league like he was, but he can still help a team.

We’ll see if the Cavs are willing to go here, but they are talking.

 

LeBron James stays on sidelines while Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson talks stall out

lebronthompson
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LeBron James has power, and he is going to wield it.

There is no thought he is going to leave the Cavaliers, but he has opted out of his contract and is a free agent right now — and he’s not talking to the Cavaliers about an extension. He’s not talking to anyone.

That includes free agents the Cavaliers are trying to recruit, such as David West. LeBron can be a fantastic draw and a closer as a recruiter because players know with him there will be wins, there will be shots at rings. But LeBron isn’t picking up the phone to recruit.

Not until his boy Tristan Thompson — who shares an agent, not so coincidentally — is inked to his new deal, and those talks are currently stalled.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reminded us yesterday that LeBron is still sitting, waiting.

And LeBron is going to get what he wants. He’s going to stand on the side and channel Teddy KGB — “pay dat man his money” — and get his way. Tristan Thompson is going to get paid, probably more than he would otherwise (although with the salary cap spiking any deal for Thompson will not look that bad in a couple years).

All because LeBron has leverage. The Cavaliers front office and ownership cannot afford to have LeBron lose faith in them, to plant the seed that they are not up to the task of constructing a champion around LeBron. He came back once, and the odds are incredibly slim that he would leave again, but even that little risk is too big for the Cavaliers to stomach. Miami’s brass didn’t think LeBron would leave after four straight trips to the Finals. But LeBron saw a tough path to winning more rings with that core, he didn’t have power, and then there was the pull of home and an agent who had greased those skids. Cleveland cannot overplay its hand with the idea he would never leave again.

Last year it was July 11 before LeBron chose Cleveland, it could be that far into free agency before he re-signs there after opting out. LeBron is in no hurry. He will re-sign, but again on a short deal that allows him to opt out next summer and start to cash in on the new television money about to flood the NBA. LeBron is in his prime and isn’t about to take a Tim Duncan discount — quite the opposite, he wants every dollar he can get. You shouldn’t blame someone for trying to maximize their income (Dan Gilbert is a far richer man, his franchise value is through the roof, with LeBron under contract, he’s not hurting and can handle the league luxury tax he will pay).

We know how this movie is going to end. Tristan Thompson will get paid, LeBron will get paid, and next October, when the season tips off, hopes will rightfully be high in Cleveland. This little episode will all be forgotten.

Except maybe by LeBron.

 

LaMarcus Aldridge thanks Portland fans in letter

LaMarcus Aldridge
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A year ago, LaMarcus Aldridge said he wanted to be remembered as the “best Blazer ever” and other things in a love letter to Portland, which turned out to be a PR statement crafted by the team. Aldridge put his name on it, but his heart was not behind it.

This July 4, Aldridge announced his intention to sign with the San Antonio Spurs.

This time Aldridge penned his own letter to the fans in Portland, via the Oregonian.

Dear Rip City, Thank you!

Those two words on a page don’t begin to express the gratitude I have for the opportunity the entire Trail Blazers organization, my teammates, the media, and you fans gave me. The past nine years have been a blessing, and I will take all of the valuable memories with me as I head back home.

As I’m sure you can respect, my decision was a very personal one but not one I took lightly. Although I will be wearing a different uniform the next time I come back to Portland, please know that I will always hold my time in a Blazers uniform near and dear to my heart.

Your friend, LA

I’m not sure a lot of Blazers fans will see him as “your friend” right now. Especially after that letter a year ago.

Aldridge can certainly make a case for his move — he’s going home to Texas and walking right onto a contender. But that doesn’t mean it hurts less for any Blazers fans who have felt like their team was close and just could not catch a break — not with Brandon Roy’s knees, not with Greg Oden’s knees, not with Wesley Matthews Achilles.

How will Blazers fans react when Aldridge returns? Boos? Applause and a thank you? Some mix of the two?

Report: Sacramento reaches 4-year, $33 million deal with Kosta Kufos

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors - Game Five
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The Kings have their franchise cornerstone center, and whether or not his coach wants him DeMarcus Cousins isn’t going anywhere. Probably. The ground seems to shift under the Kings a lot, but the owner loves Cousins so he likely stays.

However, Cousins needs some help along the frontline and the Kings made a nice pickup on the Fourth of July by prying Kosta Koufos out of Memphis. Marc Stein of ESPN broke the story.

Koufos played 16.6 minutes a game behind the deep front line of the Grizzlies last season, scoring 5.2 points and grabbing 5.3 rebounds a game. He is one of the better backup big men in the league, and a number of teams had interest. Good on the Kings to grab him at a fair price.

It’s going to be interesting to see how George Karl fits all these pieces together. There had been talk about him wanting to go smaller with Rudy Gay at the four, but then there’s not a lot of minutes up front for Cousins, Koufos, and just-drafted Willie Cauley-Stein if the Kings go that way. Remember the Kings also have picked up Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli this summer. The Kings should be interesting this coming season.