Kurt Helin

Report: Celtics have interest in J.R. Smith (but they will not sign him)

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J.R. Smith and the Cavaliers remain at least $4 million a year apart (and there may be disagreement about the length of the deal as well). The team reportedly offered four years, $42 million, and Smith wants $15 million a year to start. While LeBron James tries to prod the Cavaliers to sign his friend (the two also share an agent), Smith has said he’s not looking around at other teams.

Still, Smith is a free agent. He could sign anywhere, and some teams have cap space still.

Boston is not one of those teams — they are already over the cap and have to cut one guaranteed salary before the season (they have 16). That logic has not stopped reports Boston has interest in Smith, the reports will not die, the latest coming from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

It is likely that Smith, a one-time Sixth Man of the Year with the Knicks, will re-sign with Cleveland but there are several teams that have interest in the shooting guard. One team is the Boston Celtics, whose second unit could certainly use a little scoring punch.

I can’t be clear enough here:

This. Will. Not. Happen.

I don’t know his sources (and Isola is well connected), but this feels like something someone from the Smith camp would leak to try and pressure the Cavs. Isola tries to lay out how the deal can come together but the numbers in the article are off, the cap space the Celtics had late in the summer went away with some recent signings. Boston has no glut of money to spend. Right now, the Celtics can offer only the veteran minimum, a little over $1 million a year; or the Tom exception for a couple million. That’s not going to get it done. Plus, the Celtics then would have to eat two fully guaranteed contracts just to make room (again, they already have to eat one just to get down to the league max). In theory there could be a sign-and-trade, but it makes zero sense for neither team. The Cavs want Smith (just at their price), and why would the Celtics trade away parts of their young core to bring in an older player who doesn’t make them a contender?

Smith and the Cavaliers are in a staring contest, and at some point someone will blink. But nobody is making a sideways glance at Boston.

 

Russell Westbrook: European offenses are “10 times better” than NBA offenses

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If you put an average NBA offense — last season’s Detroit Pistons, for example — up against an elite European team’s offense, the Pistons would come out on top.

But the reason is talent not system (with all due respect to Stan Van Gundy). Those European teams don’t have anyone like Andre Drummond, a dynamic pick-and-roll point guard like Reggie Jackson, athletic wings like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris. European teams have good players, but not the same level of depth and athleticism.

They make up for it by a commitment to a ball-and-player movement rarely seen in the NBA.

Russell Westbrook talked about that after the Thunder’s recent game overseas.

The best NBA teams in recent years do both. The best example over the past few years was the last championship Spurs team, which was loaded with talent (Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, etc.) but played beautiful system basketball. That team may have had the highest level of execution the NBA has ever seen. The title teams from the Heat and Warriors did it as well (although not as much as those Spurs, in my opinion).

But far too many NBA teams just lean on that talent.

Report: Mario Chalmers about a month away from being ready, teams interested

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Last March, Mario Chalmers became part of the crazy-long list of Memphis Grizzlies who suffered injuries — in his case, a torn Achilles tendon.

Right now, Chalmers is a free agent working to recover, stay in shape, and be ready to return to the NBA. While he has been cleared by doctors for some on-court activity, the veteran point guard is not ready for five-on-five play yet but told Brian Windhorst of ESPN he’s getting close.

Spoke to Mario Chalmers tonight. He’s continuing to rehab after Achilles surgery in March. He said he’s about a month away from being ready. Several teams are staying in touch with him. The backup point guard market is thin, if he’s healthy he’ll be back in the league quickly.

There are a few teams out there could certainly use Chalmers’ skills right now and Windhorst is right, once he gets healthy and cleared to play he likely will get a contract relatively quickly. He just can’t rush the process too much and have setbacks. Achilles injuries are a long and tricky rehab.

Kyrie Irving with off-the-backboard assists to LeBron James (that didn’t count)

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It’s the preseason. And the Cavs were playing the Sixers. Cleveland should be having a little fun.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving did, each scoring 15 points in less than 19 minutes on the court. And they had fun with the off-the-backboard dunk in transition during the second quarter.

Except, it didn’t count. Point guard T.J. McConnell threw the bad pass then stopped the break with a foul on LeBron out closer to half court, a foul often seen in Europe/international play to stop easy transition buckets. LeBron and Kyrie just played through it, but you can hear the whistle and see the Sixers players let up — and let the two Cavs stars have their fun.

Cleveland won the game 108-105 if you care. And why do you care who won a preseason game anyway?

Joel Embiid dunks, scores 12, puts up highlights vs. Cavaliers

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Joel Embiid is still on a serious minutes limit — his 13:23 Saturday was the most he’s played — but he’s also putting up some highlights.

He had a dozen points against the Cavaliers Saturday night, including a powerful dunk and a three ball, plus he had a block. The Cavaliers won the game 115-112, Kyrie Irving was making plays, but give Embiid his due.

In case you need to see the dunk again, we got you covered.