Tag: Cleveland Cavaliers

J.R. Smith

It’s official: J.R. Smith re-signs with Cavaliers


If J.R. Smith had opted in this summer, he would have made $6.5 million playing in Cleveland. He thought he could get more — he averaged 12.8 points per game after being traded to the Cavs last season, shot 39 percent from three, and played quality defense. Didn’t that merit a raise?

Wednesday Smith signed a new deal that will pay him $5 million this season, although it does give him a player option for the 2016-17 season. The Cavaliers announced it as official.

Smith didn’t have the leverage he thought he did. First, volume shooters such as himself have been going out of style around a league looking for efficiency at every turn. And Smith is a volume shooter. Then getting suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals, followed by poor play and riding around on a Phunkee Duck when he did return didn’t help his cause.

Smith didn’t have other teams beating down his door, he wanted to stay in Cleveland, and that was going to mean a pay cut. He does have an option for next season, so he picks up a little security and makes more in the long run. But this couldn’t be what he imagined when it all started.


Report: Cavaliers don’t fear LeBron James leaving Cleveland over Tristan Thompson


After LeBron James said Tristan Thompson should spend the rest of his career with the Cavaliers, there was talk LeBron would wait to re-sign until Cleveland locked up Thompson. LeBron and Thompson share an agent, Rich Paul, who once said LeBron considers the agency and its clients to be family.

But LeBron already re-signed, and Thompson continues to wait for a max offer.

Crisis averted?

The Cavs apparently didn’t think there was one to begin with.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

I’m told that, privately, the Cavaliers are convinced that LeBron cannot afford to break Cleveland’s hearts a second time and leave and therefore does not have the leverage that everybody supposes he has.

If this is what the Cavaliers believe, I think they’re right. The way LeBron framed his return to Cleveland – professing his commitment to Northeast Ohio – it’d look awful for him to leave.

But I don’t know they’re right, and neither can they. Nobody can read LeBron’s mind. If he has told them he’s OK with their handling of Thompson, that’s a strong indicator. It still doesn’t mean they know his true feelings, though.

Remember, LeBron left the Heat, at least in part, because he was dissatisfied with their spending. Dan Gilbert has paid plenty this offseason, but we don’t know LeBron’s exact standards.

LeBron has repeatedly and publicly said he wants Cleveland to re-sign Thompson. He has dialed down his rhetoric from when he pushed for Thompson to be a Cav for life, but the message is clear. LeBron believes the Cavaliers should get this done.

And if they don’t? Yes, it’s too late for LeBron to leave this summer. But he’ll probably be a free agent next year and the year after. I doubt LeBron would bolt just because Thompson takes the qualifying offer, but it’s one decision that could eventually contribute to his departure.

Again, I think LeBron will stay with the Cavaliers for precisely the same reasons they reportedly believe he’ll stay. But do they really want to find out whether they’re correct?

The downside of pushing his limits is extreme.

LeBron James: Championship not a requirement of a great team

LeBron James

LeBron James played for a 66-win team. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron and his teammates proved it wasn’t a fluke the next season, winning 61 games. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a team many feared would destroy the NBA’s competitive balance. Didn’t win a title.

LeBron formed yet another super team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Didn’t win a title.

But – at least in LeBron’s eyes – that doesn’t mean those teams necessarily fell short of greatness.

LeBron, via Bleacher Report:

If you don’t know the history of the game, man, you’ll forget how many great teams didn’t win championships. And that doesn’t mean they wasn’t great, though.

LeBron was referring to the 2000 Western Conference finals. The eventual-NBA-champion Lakers beat the Trail Blazers in seven games. Portland – with a starting lineup of Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Scottie Pippen, Rasheed Wallace and Arvydas Sabonis – won 59 games and crushed the Jazz and Timberwolves before running into the Lakers.

I agree with LeBron’s premise. A team can be great without winning a title. Sometimes, a team just catches the wrong breaks, like playing in a season where there are multiple great teams.

Those Trail Blazers were borderline great, with both past and future success to support their consistency. They just ran into Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Nothing Portland could do about that.

But a title is an important consideration – the most important – when determining a team’s greatness. Personally, I think the 1999-00 Trail Blazers fall just short, but either argument is reasonable.

And for what it’s worth, I think all of LeBron’s title-less teams fall short of greatness for similar reasons, though last year’s Cavaliers played great between their midseason trades for Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith and the postseason injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

Who has the NBA’s best starting lineup?

The Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut)?

The Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov)?

The Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan)?

The Clippers (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)?

Take your pick between those four or other contenders like the Thunder, Rockets or Bulls.

But there’s one team that belongs in the discussion despite two oddities:

  • All five projected starters played for the team last season, but its projected starting lineup didn’t log a single minute together.
  • The team missed the playoffs.

Yup, the Heat with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Bosh was sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots just after Miami traded for Dragic. So, the lineup’s debut was postponed to this season.

On paper, the Heat have it all – offense and defense inside and out. They’re balanced, and nobody is playing out of position.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cautions against expecting instant gratification.

Spoelstra, via Zach Lowe of Grantland:

“It’s not the kind of lineup where you can just throw it out there, and you know it will work,” Spoelstra says. “It’s going to take practice.”

The biggest question with the Heat’s top lineup is health, especially Wade. He’s 33 and has a history of knee problems. There are also questions about Whiteside’s ability to perform over a full season, Bosh’s rust and Deng’s longevity.

But those are all individual concerns.

Like I said, there’s a lot to like about this unit as a whole. The one area for caution is probably Dragic and Wade sharing ball-handling duties. Though they play different positions – Dragic point guard and Wade shooting guard – both are used to being the lead guard. That could take more time to sort out.

Mostly, though, I think Spoelstra is just trying to lower expectations. The less people think of a team, the more opportunity the coach has to impress (and the less blame he’ll take if the team falters).

No Timofey Mozgov, Sasha Kaun or Sergey Karasev for Russia in EuroBasket

Basketballl without Borders Moscow
Leave a comment

No Timofey Mozgov, who underwent knee surgery in early July.

No Sasha Kaun, who just signed with the Cavaliers

No Sergey Karasev, who dislocated his patella and tore his MCL in March.

Not even Alexey Shved, the former Knick who is suffering from back pain.

Russia announced its roster for EuroBasket, and it doesn’t include a single NBA player. The team:

  • Semen Antonov
  • Evgeny Baburin
  • Andrei Desiatnikov
  • Vitaly Fridzon
  • Dmitry Khvostov
  • Nikita Kurbanov
  • Sergey Monya
  • Ruslan Pateev
  • Anton Ponkrashov
  • Andrey Vorontsevich
  • Egor Vyaltsev
  • Andrey Zubkov

Andrei Kirilenko has his work cut out for him as president of the Russian Basketball Federation. This program was in jeopardy of not even competing in EuroBasket. There are deep problems.

But the short term doesn’t look much brighter. It’s hard to see this barren roster finishing in the top seven of EuroBasket and qualifying for the 2016 Olympics (top two) or Olympic Qualifying Tournament (third through seventh).

At least this is good news for Cleveland, which won’t expose two of its players to injury risk in the tournament.