Tag: Andrew Bynum

David Griffin

Cavaliers GM says he’s shifting team into ‘targeted acquisition mode’


It was a disappointing season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They were aggressive in free agency last summer, getting Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark, both of whom were coming off of productive, above-average seasons. And, they took a chance on Andrew Bynum, just in case he was able to become healthy enough to contribute to a campaign intent on making the postseason in a very weak Eastern Conference.

None of those moves panned out, obviously, and it cost Cleveland GM Chris Grant his job mid-season. Interim GM David Griffin wants the job more permanently, and said he will continue his aggressive pursuit of players who can immediately improve the franchise’s fortunes.

From Jodie Valade of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Griffin said he immediately is shifting the Cavaliers from “asset accumulation mode” into “targeted acquisition mode” as the team is expected to have $26 million in salary-cap space this off-season.

Specifically, Griffin said the Cavaliers need to be bigger, have players with a higher basketball IQ, better shooters, and tougher players.

Griffin also offered his support to the often disjointed backcourt pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, saying “I’ve seen flashes of them being very, very good together. … They’re two ball-dominant, drive-and-kick players. They require spacing and shooters. It’s too easy to look at them and blame one of them. It’s a collective thing.”

There are problems in Cleveland that go beyond player personnel.

Mike Brown is not a great head coach, but the Cavs are stuck with him because he signed a five-year contract worth $20 million last summer. And not only that, it’s his second tour of duty with the team — a complication that makes firing him this early into such a large financial commitment essentially impossible.

There’s also the media frenzy surrounding Kyrie Irving and his alleged desire to leave town as soon as he is able, along with his reported battles with Dion Waiters over big man on campus status with the franchise.

Plenty of things need to be worked out in Cleveland before talent fixes the issues there — something that was proven once Luol Deng came to town and got a look at the team’s inner workings.

NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks


Atlanta Hawks: 38-44 (8 seed)
Indiana Pacers: 56-26 (1 seed)


Andrew Bynum hasn’t played since March 15, and the Pacers have officially ruled him out from participating in this series. Nothing new for the Hawks — Al Horford, Gustavo Ayon and John Jenkins have all been out for the season due to injury for a while now.

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS (points per 100 possessions)

Atlanta Hawks: Offense 103.4 (15th in the NBA). Defense 104.1 (14th in the NBA)

Indiana Pacers: Offense 101.5 (22nd in the NBA), Defense 96.7 (1st in the NBA)


1. Can Roy Hibbert get right? Hibbert started off the season on a Defensive Player of the Year pace, protecting the rim for the league’s top defense. He still may win the award, despite his personal (and the Pacers overall) drop-off since the All-Star break. But Hibbert’s honestly been a shell of himself on both ends of the floor recently, and with the Hawks starting Pero Antic at center who shoots 3.4 three-pointers per game, Hibbert is going to have his hands full if he’s the one responsible for that matchup. Whether it’s Antic or not, however, Hibbert needs to use this series against a weaker opponent to get himself back to anchoring the defense that his team will need to rely on in the postseason’s later rounds.

2. Atlanta’s three-point shooting: The Hawks were second in the league in three-pointers attempted during the regular season, averaging 25.8 per game which was second only to the Houston Rockets. They also feature the best shooter in the game from beyond the arc in Kyle Korver, who knocked down his shots from distance at a league-best 47.2 percent on the season. This is what Atlanta does, but they’ll need to do it much better against a Pacers team that doesn’t allow points in the paint very easily. Despite averaging the second most attempts from beyond the arc during the season, the Hawks converted them at a rate that was good enough for only 13th in the league — that number has got to go way up for Atlanta to have a chance at extending this series.

3. Indiana’s intensity: The Pacers were shot out of a cannon to begin the season, determined to make sure that they would finish the year with home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs after losing a Game 7 in Miami last season. Indiana achieved its goal, but stumbled to the finish line and compiled a record of just 16-14 since the All-Star break. The Pacers saw just how dangerous Atlanta can be when you don’t come mentally prepared, and were shellacked by the Hawks by 19 points back on April 6 in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. The Pacers will need to regain the swagger and team offensive cohesiveness that they proved capable of in the first half of the season.


This really comes down to Indiana proving that they are still the best defensive team in the league, and using that to fuel an offense that struggles plenty in its half court sets. The Hawks likely light it up at least one game, but there shouldn’t be enough there to sustain success against a Pacers team that is built for the playoffs.

Pacers in 5.

Chicago Bulls creating offseason trade options with latest signings (updated)

Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls

Update: I miscalculated. The Bulls are safe from the luxury tax — at least unless Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson each get $500,00 bonuses.

Because Andrew Bynum signed with the Pacers, Chicago can set off a portion of his salary ($105,564 in this case) — an amount I didn’t account for. That leaves them $791,165 beneath the tax line — more than the $750,000 in leeway discussed below.

Noah ($500,000 for All-NBA first team) and Gibson ($500,00 for All-Defensive first team) could still send the Bulls into the tax. However, even if the Bulls hadn’t signed Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson, Mike James and Greg Smith, they still would have had more than $750,00 but less than $1 million in leeway.

So, Chicago can absorb a $500,00 Noah bonus for All-NBA first team and a $250,00 Gibson bonus for All-Defensive second team and avoid the tax. But if Noah and Gibson each get $500,000 bonuses, Chicago will pay the tax.

It’s the same situation regardless of whether the Bulls made their latest run of signings.

In sum, these signings won’t make the Bulls more likely to pay the luxury tax, but they’ll cost Chicago a few extra real dollars. In return, the Bulls get more trade flexibility — a definite win for them.

Original post: The Chicago Bulls, like every team, would like to avoid the luxury tax.

Not only are luxury-tax penalties already costlier than ever, repeater penalties loom. If a team might be willing to pay the tax only while contending, it’s especially prudent not to pay the tax when out of contention.

That’s what makes the Bulls’ situation so fascinating.

With all due respect to the marvelous job Tom Thibodeau, Joakim Noah and crew have done this season, Chicago is an extreme longshot to win the 2014 championship. But once Derrick Rose gets healthy, Nikola Mirotic signs, the Bulls use both their 2014 first-round picks (one from Charlotte) and exhaust their pending cap space… Chicago could get really good – and really expensive – in a hurry.

Yet, the Bulls have flirted with the luxury-tax line this season while still remaining pretty competitive. It’s a tight line to walk – wanting to keep salary low without completely blowing up the team (a dichotomy the Luol Deng trade accomplished).

Chicago caught a big break in that quest when they waived Erik Murphy and the Jazz claimed him, removing his salary from the Bulls’ books. That positioned Chicago to add up to three players and leave $750,000 in leeway under the luxury-tax line for performance incentives potentially due to Joakim Noah ($500,00 for All-NBA first team) and/or Taj Gibson ($500,00 for All-Defensive first team or $250,000 for All-Defensive second team).

The Bulls opted to go another way, though.

Chicago signed Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson and Mike James to minimum-salary multi-year contracts, according to Larry Coon. Amundson’s’ agent, Mike Bartelstein, confirmed his client’s contract was for two years. James’ agent, Bernie Lee, did the same for his client.

The multiple years matter, because the NBA pays a portion of the minimum salaries for veterans with at least three years experience and the league’s portion of the payments are not taxed – but only for one-year, 10-day and rest-of-season contracts. By signing those three to multi-year deals, Chicago assumed all payments and the increased tax burden that comes with them.

On the positive side, the Bulls signed Greg Smith – who surprisingly cleared waivers – without having to worry losing their $750,000 leeway, because they’d already lost it.

Smith – like Brewer, Amundson and James – could prove useful in trades after the season. Smith is a talented young big man, and the other three have unguaranteed contracts, according to Coon. That allows their salaries to help a trade match, and then they could be released them without penalty.

All in all, the Bulls are now $685,601 below the luxury-tax line – meaning they can absorb only one of the bonuses potentially due to Noah and/or Gibson without paying the tax.

If the bonuses due to Noah and Gibson fall short of $750,000, the Bulls win. They’ll avoid the luxury tax and will have added potentially useful trade assets.

But if Noah and Gibson both hit their incentives, the Bulls will pay the tax, though they’ll still have tradable assets in Smith, Brewer, Amundson and James.

It’s a calculated risk that I think will work. I project Noah to make the All-NBA first team, but I don’t have Taj Gibson making an All-Defensive team.

However, the downside – paying the tax – is high enough that I don’t believe the multi-year deals were worth it. Had the Bulls waited until Saturday to sign Brewer, Amundson and James, Chicago would have kept its $750,000 luxury-tax leeway and still signed Smith, anyway.

Chicago is choosing to play with tax fire to better position itself for a trade later, perhaps a revealing strategy about the franchise’s long-term plans.

Kyrie Irving rips latest report he wants out of Cleveland, says he’s ‘sick’ of ‘rumors and accusations’


The latest report that Kyrie Irving doesn’t want to be in Cleveland isn’t new, and it isn’t even from a new source.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com said the same thing that he’s been saying since at least late February, which is that it’s been made known by people close to Irving for years that he wants to play somewhere else in the future.

But in our short-attention-span news cycle, it got treated as breaking information on Friday, and that had Irving taking to Twitter to angrily rip the allegations.

Let’s be careful to note a few important things here:

– The source of the report is as credible as they come, and there’s zero reason to believe that the information Windhorst has been receiving (and has subsequently put out there) isn’t 100 percent accurate.

– These types of things obviously cause issues with an athlete and his current team, with teammates wondering what’s really going on, and with reporters covering the club being forced to repeatedly ask about the allegations. It’s understandable that Irving is tired of hearing them. However …

– There was no denial by Irving here of anything that was reported.

Irving wanting out of Cleveland wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, and it wouldn’t be the first time (or the last) that a star player wants out of a small market that hasn’t been able to surround him with enough talent to win in the time he was there.

The Cavaliers tried multiple times to add players in free agency to improve and make a run at the playoffs this season, it’s just that none of the moves worked out. Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum were signed last summer, and when none of those players could make an impact, the team traded for a well-respected veteran All-Star in Luol Deng.

The effort is there. But Deng will almost assuredly leave in free agency once the season is finished, and Cleveland will essentially be back to square one, having one more season to try to put the pieces in place to impress upon Irving that Cleveland is a fine place to stay.

Irving is a restricted free agent following next season, but he will be offered a five-year max contract extension this summer. If the reports are really false, all Irving has to do is sign the deal to (at least temporarily) prove that’s the case.

Wednesday And-1 Links: Jordan Hill wants out of L.A. if D’Antoni returns

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• Jordan Hill doesn’t want to return to the Lakers next season if Mike D’Antoni is still the coach. As a side note, Laker management isn’t going to work that hard to keep him.

• Speaking of the Lakers, Andrew Kamenetzky hits the nail on the head here — there is going to be a civil war next season between Lakers fans and Kobe Bryant fans. And make no mistake, those are two different groups just with some overlapping interests.

Paul Flannery of SB Nation has a fantastic look at Doc Rivers and what he has brought to the Clippers. It is a must read.

• Speaking of great read’s the Boston Globe’s post on analytics in the NBA is something you should sit down with and check out.

• One more long form read worth your time — Zach Lowe of Grantland on Anthony Davis.

• Andrew Kamenetzky hits the nail on the head here — there is going to be a civil war season between Lakers fans and Kobe Bryant fans. And make no mistake, those are two different groups just with some overlapping interests.

• Basketball-Reference’s Andrew Bynum practice shooting charts were the best of the NBA April Fools jokes.

• Chris Hansen, the guy behind the Seattle bid to buy the Kings and move them to the Pacific Northwest, said he and his ownership group are still looking at NBA possibilities. Which is tough because the next team with a lease up that could be up and the team sold and moved is Milwaukee — and that is a couple of years away and the owner is working to find new local ownership.

• In case you missed it, Heat and Pacers fans got in a fight when the two teams played.

• Looking at the connection between an older roster and success in the NBA.

• The Pelicans do not plan to sit Eric Gordon down for the rest of the season, if his knee will let him play he will play.

• John Salley says the New York Knicks will be in the NBA Finals next year. No pressure, Phil.

• If you want more of the Mark Jackson saga with Golden State, check this out. He is seriously coaching for his job right now.

• Some unintended consequences of the new CBA.

• Damion James will reportedly sign a 10-day deal with the Spurs.

• The Spurs are trying hard to make “frogging” the new thing. I wish I were making that up.

• Anthony Davis was on the Pete Holmes Show: