Cavaliers pick up Timofey Mozgov’s team option


The Cavaliers have a summer of spending ahead of them.

LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are each in line for sizable contracts.

Timofey Mozgov, who has a $4.95 million team option, is one of Cleveland’s few chances to lock up a player for less than market value.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

This was an obvious move, because Mozgov is a solid starting center, and starting centers typically get eight digits.

But it’s not difficult to see the Cavaliers’ payroll – counting player salaries and luxury tax – eclipsing $250 million next season if they bring everyone back and trade Brendan Haywood’s contract. Removing Mozgov, because of the progressive luxury tax, could save Cleveland more than $30 million.

If the Cavaliers are going to try saving money, they’ll do it somewhere else.

New Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry calls Anthony Davis “The best player in the NBA not named LeBron James”


Fresh off winning a championship as an assistant with the Warriors, Alvin Gentry was finally officially introduced Monday morning as the next head coach of the Pelicans. His uptempo offensive style should be a great fit with the Pelicans’ roster, and he gets the opportunity to coach the league’s fastest-rising star in Luke Babbitt Anthony Davis. Gentry made his excitement known at his introductory press conference.

From the Times-Picayune‘s John Reid:

With emerging star power forward Anthony Davis in the fold, Gentry said the Pelicans roster has tremendous potential and he is eager to get started.

”We got the best player in the NBA, not named LeBron James,” Gentry said. ”But I’m really excited. I look at the roster and I lot of these guys I have a special relationship with.”

He’s not exactly wrong. The other player in that discussion is Kevin Durant, but he missed most of the 2014-15 season with a foot injury. If he’s healthy, he’s probably still the second-best player in the NBA. But taking into account age (Davis is 22) and untapped potential, there’s nobody in the league that any coach should be more excited to get to work with than Davis.

Report: Heat and Dwyane Wade to meet this week to discuss contract situation


If everything goes as it’s expected to, Dwyane Wade is going to opt out of the final year of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent on July 1. He wants a bigger long-term contract than the Heat are currently willing to give him, and he’s indicated that he’s open to testing the market to see what’s out there, and possibly leaving the only team he’s played for in his 12 years in the NBA.

According to a new report by’s Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst, Wade’s representatives and the Heat front office are planning a formal meeting this week to try to close the gap before Wade can test the market.

Wade has until next Monday to decide on whether he’s going to opt in for next season and earn $16.1 million or become an unrestricted free agent.

Wade and the Heat are currently far apart on their desires; the Heat would prefer for Wade to opt into the deal and Wade would prefer a new, richer and longer-term contract, sources said.

The sides have not formally spoken in some time. They had discussed a new contract for around $10 million per year for up to three years beyond his current deal, sources said.

For his part Wade has every right to feel like the Heat owe him the respect of a better offer than they’ve given him so far. He took a pay cut in 2010 to allow LeBron James and Chris Bosh to sign in Miami, and last summer opted out of the final two years and $41 million of his contract in order to help Pat Riley retool the roster while keeping the big three together. James left to sign with the Cavaliers, and Wade watched as the Heat gave Bosh a five-year max deal. He, meanwhile, signed a two-year, $31 million deal with a player option in the second season — essentially giving back $10 million that would have been his if he hadn’t opted out.

The Heat understandably don’t want to commit big long-term money to Wade at 33, with his injury history. He can’t be counted on to play more than 55 or 60 games a year anymore, even though he still contributes at an extremely high level when he does play. But taking the long view, the Heat’s hands are more or less tied here if they want to preserve the long-term health of their franchise. They’re widely expected to make a run at Kevin Durant when he hits free agency next summer, and the package of Riley’s reputation and the city of Miami is an attractive pitch for any big-time free agent. But a major selling point for the Heat has been the way they take care of their own — the way they stood behind Alonzo Mourning when he had various health problems during his playing career and gave him a front-office position after he retired. The way Udonis Haslem is seemingly headed on the same track once he retires, taking less money throughout his career to stay in Miami and becoming part of the fabric of the organization. Wade has made it clear that he wants to stay in Miami if the money is agreeable. If they let him, of all people, go over a few million dollars, how’s that going to look to future free agents? There has never been a more important player in Miami Heat history than Dwyane Wade, and the “we take care of our own” pitch falls apart if they lowball him again in free agency.

It has never before felt like Wade could leave the Heat, but it’s very much in play now. But both sides have too much invested in staying together to think they won’t get a deal done at some point.

Phil Jackson: LeBron James travels half the time he catches the ball


Get off Phil Jackson’s lawn.

The 69-year-old Knicks president thinks basketball has lost its way, and he cited LeBron James when outlining the problems.

Phil Jackson, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“I watch LeBron James, for example,” he said. “He might [travel] every other time he catches the basketball if he’s off the ball. He catches the ball, moves both his feet. You see it happen all the time. There’s no structure, there’s no discipline, there’s no ‘How do we play this game’ type of attitude. And it goes all the way through the game. To the point where now guys don’t screen—they push guys off with their hands.”

He concluded: “It struck me: How can we get so far away from the real truth of what we’re trying to do? And if you give people structure, just like a jazz musician—he’s gotta learn melody, and he’s gotta learn the basic parts of music—and then he can learn how to improvise. And that’s basically what team play is all about.”

The agitation in Jackson’s voice is evident.

“The game actually has some beauty to it, and we’ve kind of taken some of that out of it to make it individualized,” Jackson said. “It’s a lot of who we are as a country, individualized stuff.”

Indeed, Jackson seems much less concerned with validating the triangle than with the state of the game itself.

“When I watch some of these playoff games, and I look at what’s being run out there, as what people call an offense, it’s really quite remarkable to see how far our game has fallen from a team game,” Jackson said. “Four guys stand around watching one guy dribble a basketball.”

Kids these days – ruining America with their individualized offenses. Or is it the other way around?

Anyway, Jackson comes across like a grumpy old man, far too obsessed with how they did it in his day rather than what actually works now.

There was no better example of an individualized offense than the playoff Cavaliers, who funneled everything though LeBron. And they scored more points per 100 possessions with LeBron on the floor (104.2) than the regular-season Knicks (97.1). Even in the Finals – with LeBron intentionally bogging down the offense to slow the game and against the Warriors’ NBA-best defense – Cleveland still scored more with LeBron on the floor (97.3) than the regular-season Knicks.

Maybe the script flips once (if?) Phil Jackson acquires better players. But Jackson’s attitude doesn’t give me much confidence. Even if he’s no longer framing his complaints around the triangle offense, he seems too obsessed about the wrong things

I’ll take effective over aesthetically pleasing.

Nike commemorates LeBron James’ return to Cleveland with full-page ‘Plain Dealer’ ad


The Cavaliers may have lost in the Finals, but LeBron James’ return to Cleveland was the most important event in the franchise’s history. To commemorate the Cavs’ season, which involved making the Finals despite injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Nike has taken out a full-page ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer  recounting the season, with a twist. Here’s the full advertisement:





























Here’s the full text of the ad:

Imagine if LeBron came home to Cleveland.

Imagine if the team struggled early but finished the regular season strong.

Imagine if their big man went down, but they still found a way to power through the Eastern Conference.

Imagine if they faced the top seed in the Finals.

Imagine if they pushed Game 1 to overtime but lost another star to injury.

Imagine if everyone counted them out.

Imagine if they shocked the world and took the next two games.

Imagine if fatigue caught up with them, and they lost Games 4 and 5.

Imagine if they defied odds, logic and the basketball gods to come back and win the series in 7.

Except this isn’t Hollywood. It’s Cleveland.

Nothing is given. Everything is earned.

Just do it.