Tag: Kevin Love

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

Report: Cavaliers offering J.R. Smith less than his player option would have paid


J.R. Smith declined his $6,399,750 player option in search of a better contract.

He hasn’t found one yet.

Unsurprisingly, he probably can’t even break even.

Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com:

The Cavs have made him an offer. I hear it’s less than $6.4 million that he turned down.

The Cavaliers’ top priority, as decreed by LeBron James, is re-signing Tristan Thompson. But re-signing Smith would also help Cleveland. His 3-point shooting is particularly valuable given the open looks LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love create by drawing so much attention.

If the Cavaliers don’t keep Smith, they could offer only a minimum salary (or a smidge more to a player with fewer than eight years of experience) for a replacement. That’s not going to net a shooter as good as Smith, unless Ray Allen comes out of retirement.

So, Smith has a little leverage.

But Cleveland has much more.

Only the 76ers and Trail Blazers can offer Smith at least $6.4 million. I doubt either rebuilding team would.

The Cavaliers, armed with the Brendan Haywood trade exception, could trade for a replacement. Jamal Crawford is reportedly on their radar. They might have higher hopes with that exception, but a trade is a suitable fallback option.

One question the Cavaliers must ask themselves: Do they want to retain Smith for the lowest possible amount, or would they prefer to keep him happy? Smith has a history of sulking when things go poorly. Matching his player-option salary would allow him to save face. That might be worth the extra money (and luxury-tax payments).

Right now, though, Cleveland clearly doesn’t think so.

LeBron James: “Our No. 1 objective right now” is to get Tristan Thompson signed


Tristan Thompson is a restricted free agent who wants a max contract extension. The Cleveland Cavaliers are offering less than that. Considerably less according to some reports. The two sides are at an impasse and have dug in.

LeBron James just wants to see a deal get done.

LeBron both shares an agent with Thompson and doesn’t care about the tax bill Dan Gilbert would have to pay, he just wants to see his friend and teammate get paid. He didn’t phrase it that way, but he may as well have speaking to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

“Our No. 1 objective right now is to sign Tristan,” James said Thursday at Cedar Point amusement park. “He’s a huge part of our team. Short term and long term he makes our team more dangerous….

“Things need to be worked out from his side and the Cavs, but we need him back,” James said. “I think our front office has done a great job this summer. The next step is to get Tristan done.”

This week Thompson’s agent ratcheted up the rhetoric, saying Thompson would consider playing next season for the $6.8 million qualifying offer but then would be gone for sure in 2017 as a restricted free agent. The two sides have until Halloween to figure out a contract extension or that is what happens.

This is an unprecedented situation because of the coming spike in the salary cap due to the flood of money from the new television deal about to wash over the league (the $70 million salary cap this season is expected to jump up to around $90 million next season). Thompson is a young big man with a skill — he is an excellent offensive rebounder. Last season he averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds a game, that bounced to 9.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in the postseason, where due to an injury to Kevin Love he was pressed into service.

Look at those numbers and you say Thompson is not a max player, he should take the reported less than $80 million on the table (he wants $94 million over five years). Most years, Thompson would have little leverage and probably takes the deal. There are no teams willing to give him a big offer sheet that would force the Cavaliers to match it, and all that money he would lose would not be something he could get back.

But this isn’t most years. Because the salary cap is going to spike next season, the max salary numbers will also and so Thompson can make his lost money back. What’s more, with an expected two-thirds of the teams in the league going to have max contract money available next summer and only a handful of decent free agents, some guys are going to get max deals that don’t necessarily deserve it. Thompson is one of those — he would get paid next summer.

The concern for the Cavaliers is the luxury tax. After re-signing Kevin Love and LeBron James, plus bringing in Mo Williams and others the Cavs are $4 million over the tax line right now. Look at it this way: If Thompson plays for the qualifying offer the Cavaliers tax bill would be around $13 million (in addition to the team’s salary), but pay him the max and that jumps to $35 million. And that is with J.R. Smith still out there unsigned and adding to the bill.

I expect the two sides to reach a deal before the deadline, maybe before camp. But because Thompson has some leverage it’s not a certainty, and Thompson’s agent can play the long game.


LeBron James and Chandler Parsons fulfill appearance requirement at USA Basketball minicamp

Cleveland Cavaliers v Dallas Mavericks
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LeBron James and Chandler Parsons needed a little extra time, but they made it to Las Vegas for USA Basketball’s minicamp.

LeBron discussed his plans for the 2016 Olympics – he’s undecided – and even practiced.

Parsons, recovering from injury, hung out with Spencer Haywood, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin:

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called the minicamp mandatory for players who want to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. So, LeBron and Parsons should still be in the running.

Obviously, that means more for LeBron, who has a roster spot if he wants it. But, with a healthy and productive season, Parsons could make a case as a passing/shooting specialist in the frontcourt. Colangelo values role players.

He also values commitment, and LeBron and Parsons showed that by showing up yesterday.

Ten must-watch games from new NBA schedule

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

It’s the reason broadcast networks are paying ungodly sums of cash to secure rights to leagues like the NBA — you need to watch live. This isn’t Top Chef where you can set the DVR and then watch it later in the week, when it comes to sporting events you need to carve out the time to watch the games.

But what games are good enough you tell your girlfriend you have to work late that night, and then head to the bar with your buddies to watch because you don’t want to miss them? (Remember, do not post pictures of yourself at said bar to social media that night.)

That’s why we’re here. The following are 10 games you do not want to miss this coming season.

• Oct. 27, New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors: The championship banner is going up at Oracle Arena, the first title for the Golden State franchise since before Led Zeppelin broke up. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the entire Warriors band are back to defend the title. Well done by the NBA to set the Pelicans as the opponent — their new coach is Alvin Gentry, who last season masterminded the Warriors’ offense. Also, Golden State swept New Orleans out of the first round of the playoffs, but this is going to be a better Pelicans team.

• Oct. 28, San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder: I can sum up why to watch this game in five words — how does Kevin Durant look? The former MVP battled foot injuries last season but is back and expected to be ready opening night. While you’re at it, see how LaMarcus Aldridge looks in Spurs black and gray. 

• Nov. 11, San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers: There was only one big time free agent that switched teams last season — Aldridge, who jumped from Portland to San Antonio, where he teams up with and becomes the heir apparent to Tim Duncan. But he’s got to go back to Portland some time, and that is Nov. 11. How will Blazers fans treat Aldridge? You can be sure Damian Lillard will be pumped up to get the win.

• Nov. 11, Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks: I know how Mavericks fans are going to treat DeAndre Jordan, who first said he would come there as a free agent then changed his mind. The Clippers were already one of the more hated teams by many fans around the league, this just played right into that narrative.

• Nov. 23, Philadephia 76ers at Minnesota Timberwolves: Who did you think should go No. 1 last draft, Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor? Flip Saunders had the only vote that counted and he cast it for Towns, and while that may be the right call long term (I think it will be) Okafor will be the better rookie. Watch these two young bigs go head-to-head (on League Pass because the Sixers are not on national television once this season).

• Nov. 30, Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics: There has been no better rivalry in NBA history than the Celtics and Lakers, and Kobe Bryant has added to that with a must-watch Finals series. Kobe very well may walk away from the NBA after the season, and if so this will be his final game in the Boston Garden. That will be emotional.

• Dec. 23, Dallas Mavericks at Brooklyn Nets: Deron Williams returns to Brooklyn. The Nets paid a lot of money for him to turn their franchise around in a Chris Paul kind of way, and they did not get their money’s worth. So they just paid him to go away. Now he returns, and he should not expect a love-in from Nets fans.

• Christmas Day, Dec. 25, Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: Were you not entertained by the NBA Finals? It had Stephen Curry and LeBron James, and that helped draw the biggest NBA television ratings since the Jordan era. The NBA puts its biggest stars on its biggest stages, and this is that. The difference is this time LeBron has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love healthy.

• Jan. 18, Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets: The Clippers were up 3-1 on the Rockets in the second round of the playoffs, and were in total control of Game 5. And then the wheels came off. The Rockets played better, the Clippers looked exhausted (worn down by an epic series with the Spurs the round before), and Houston came back to take it. This eats at Chris Paul like you would not believe. Clippers/Rockets is becoming a real rivalry and all their meetings this season will be entertaining.

• April 13, Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers: Is this Kobe’s final game? It will be the last game of the season for the Lakers (who are unlikely to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference). Kobe does not know right now, and there’s a chance he may not know when this game tips off, or at least not be saying publicly. But this game could be the end of one of the great careers in NBA history, and that is as must watch as it gets.

Flip Saunders has cancer, will continue as Timberwolves president/coach

Flip Saunders

A couple months ago, Flip Saunders said he planned to continue coaching the Timberwolves.

It appears not even a scary medical issue will stop him.

Behind Kevin Garnett, Saunders is probably the most influential person in Timberwolves history. Saunders has coached the team to more wins in his two stints than anyone else combined. He also runs the front office and even owns a share of the franchise.

He has done a lot for Minnesota, including – as this timeline details – overseeing the 2015 draft process while dealing with his Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That resulted in the Timberwolves selecting Karl-Anthony Towns No. 1 to join an exciting young core headlined by Andrew Wiggins.

Saunders has done an excellent job rebuilding this team after Kevin Love asked out. Hopefully, Saunders fulfills his plan to stay on duty and gets a chance to see his vision through.