Tag: LeBron James

Oklahoma City Thunder v Chicago Bulls

Report: Thunder to host Bulls on Christmas Day


Slowly but surely, details of the NBA’s 2015-16 regular-season schedule are emerging. The whole thing is expected to be released officially this week, but four of the five Christmas Day matchups have come out. The Pelicans will play the Heat at noon, and there will be a Finals rematch between the Cavaliers and Warriors as well as a Lakers-Clippers matchup.

Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman adds a fourth game to that list: Bulls vs. Thunder, in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder will be home for Christmas.

For the sixth consecutive season, Oklahoma City will be featured in the league’s biggest holiday showcase when it hosts Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, The Oklahoman has learned.

It will be the first time the Thunder has hosted a Christmas game since 2011, when it defeated Orlando inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder is 4-1 in Christmas games, with wins against Denver in 2010, the Magic in 2011, New York in 2013 and San Antonio in 2014. OKC’s lone Christmas Day loss came at Miami in 2012.

The league has not yet determined the time of the Thunder-Bulls game. An afternoon tip is likely.

If everyone involved is healthy, this should be a good one. We haven’t had a Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook point-guard matchup since December 6, 2010. Jimmy Butler, who made a name for himself this postseason defending LeBron James in the playoffs, will likely be matched up with Kevin Durant. The coaching battle between Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan, two highly successful college coaches with no NBA experience, will be fun to watch as well.

This leaves one Christmas Day matchup yet to be determined. Spurs-Rockets would make the most sense out of the realistic possibilities: plenty of star power (James Harden, Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan) and two legitimate title contenders. We’ll find out tomorrow.

Report: Cavaliers and Tristan Thompson still far apart in contract talks

Jae Crowder, Tristan Thompson

One way or another, Tristan Thompson is going to end up in Cleveland next season. After a strong postseason in which he started at power forward for much of the Cavs’ Finals run in place of the injured Kevin Love, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the sides would work out a long-term deal. That goes double when you factor in Thompson sharing an agent with LeBron James. Paying Thompson more than market value just seemed like the cost of doing business when the greatest player in the world decided to come home.

Apparently, it’s not that simple. We’re six weeks into free agency and Thompson doesn’t have a deal, and it doesn’t seem like that will change anytime soon.

From ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst:

There is no clear precedent for his position, which has led to a stalemate between Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It has been difficult to negotiate a middle ground, setting the stage for possible tension as training camp approaches.

Thompson, an excellent offensive rebounder and pick-and-roll player who proved valuable in the Cavs’ run to the Finals, is believed to be looking for a maximum-level contract of around $94 million over five years. The Cavs’ offers have been for significantly less.

There has been no real progress since the second week of July when talks reached an impasse and both sides dug in.

It’s tough to gauge Thompson’s value. With the salary cap rising next season, a $94 million deal won’t seem like much of an overpay going forward. But barring an injury, Thompson is not going to be a starter for the Cavs. Kevin Love re-upped on a long-term deal, and Timofey Mozgov will probably do the same next summer. Thompson doesn’t have very many options as a restricted free agent. The only teams with cap space to sign him to a max-level deal are Portland and Philadelphia, and there’s not much point in either of those teams giving him an offer sheet the Cavs will happily match.

If Thompson wants to gamble, he could sign the one-year qualifying offer for $6.8 million, as Greg Monroe did with the Pistons last summer. That would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer, when nearly every team will have cap space and he’ll be able to get an even larger max offer from somebody. It’s a huge risk — Thompson could get injured or have a down year and hurt his value. By continuing to hold their ground in these talks, the Cavs are essentially daring him to take that risk. He has no other leverage.

Another Rich Paul client, Eric Bledsoe, went through this same saga last summer. The Suns let him dangle in restricted free agency, with no other teams stepping up to make offers they knew would get matched. As it got closer to training camp, things started to get ugly and it seemed like there was a real chance he would sign the one-year qualifying offer. But one week before the start of training camp, Bledsoe and the Suns finally agreed to a five-year, $70 million deal to keep him in Phoenix. It was below the max, but still a fair deal. In both cases, there were mitigating circumstances that prevented them from being clear-cut max players. Bledsoe had an extensive injury history; Thompson probably won’t be a starter.

The rising cap works in Thompson’s favor, though. His case to the Cavs is this: max me out now under the current cap, or pay a lot more than that next summer to keep me. Eventually, they’re going to have to bite the bullet and do it, or else lose one of their most important frontcourt players a year from now.

Report: Jamal Crawford would want to play for Cavaliers

Los Angeles Clippers v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers and Clippers reportedly discussed a Jamal Crawford trade. Asked about joining Cleveland, Crawford said he wished he were a free agent.

In case you can’t connect the dots…

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

I know Jamal personally, and I know he would definitely like to be a part of the Cavaliers’ organization.

Jamal is one guy off the top of my head that I know would be a fit, and I know that they’ll be looking at him.

They want to use that exception for a wing player.

Let’s be clear: This doesn’t mean Crawford doesn’t also want to play for the Clippers. Many role players want to join LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland for the open shots and championship chance, but Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan offer a similar opportunity.

The Clippers might not want to keep Crawford, though. He’s somewhat superfluous with Lance Stephenson, Austin Rivers and Pablo Prigioni coming off the bench. The Clippers might be happy to flip Crawford for just salary relief. Shedding Crawford would save the Clippers $16,180,533 – $5,675,000 in salary and $10,505,533 in projected luxury-tax payments.

The Cavaliers could absorb Crawford into their Brendan Haywood trade exception. That would create an even higher tax bill than the Clippers face with Crawford – the exact amount depends on salaries for Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith – but Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has clearly green-lit massive spending.

How much Cleveland could use Crawford on the court depends whether Smith re-signs.

If Smith doesn’t, Crawford is a decent alternative as a spot-up shooter. His 3-point shooting sunk to 32.7% last season, but that was due to off-the dribble 3-pointers – which fell to 25.0% from 36.4% the year prior. Meanwhile, Crawford’s 3-point shooting without dribbling prior to launching ticked up from 36.0% to 38.0%.

If Smith returns, Crawford is even more of a luxury as another shooter. With the attention LeBron, Irving and Love attract, Cleveland can always use more spot-up threats.

Mo Williams filled the Cavaliers’ major need for an off-the-bench shot creator. The 35-year-old Crawford has declined in that regard, but there’s at least hope he could provide a little insurance.

The Cavaliers don’t need Crawford, at least not considering they could just sign Smith. But if Gilbert is willing to pay for him and the Clippers are willing to dump him for minimal return, the only question is whether Cleveland could better use that portion of the Haywood exception. Crawford would definitely strengthen the Cavs.

Brandon Bass: Kobe Bryant is “arguably the best player in the game still”

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

We know what Kobe Bryant still thinks of his skills. Last year, when ESPN ranked him the 40th best player in the NBA right now, because he was 36 years old and coming off an Achilles injury, he said they were idiots. Then Bryant missed more than half of last season due to injury (and Byron Scott wearing him down with heavy minutes early).

So where does Bryant rank now?

If you ask newest Laker Brandon Bass right at the top. Turns out the New Orleans Times-Picayune did ask Bass that question.

“…we have arguably the best player in the game still,” Bass said. “When he is healthy he is a monster still. If he is healthy he’s right up there with the best players in the league, that’s LeBron or whoever the best players in the league are. When Kobe is healthy, 19 years in the game he is still elite.”

What did you expect him to say?

But is Kobe still elite?

All-time, no doubt Kobe is elite. He will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. He deserves the retired number in the rafters and the statue out in front of Staples — none other than Jerry West called Kobe the greatest Laker. He’s an intense, old-school competitor, a guy with amazing fundamentals and footwork, a high hoops IQ, and back in the day some impressive athleticism. He’s got five rings because few players in league history have gotten as much out of their natural gifts as Kobe. He will be missed when he walks away.

But right now?

To quote Seth and Amy, “Really?”

Last season Kobe wasn’t surrounded by much talent so — as he has done in the past — he took on an incredible load in the offense, putting it on his back. The results were inefficient and physically wore him down (his shooting percentages dropped the deeper into the season he got). Kobe can’t carry that kind the same way as he did a decade ago. He can’t get to the rim the same way (and defenses packed it in on the Lakers) which led to 55 percent of his shots coming from 16 feet or farther out, and those shots were not falling. Kobe shot just 29.3 percent from three last season and had a true shooting percentage of 47.7 percent, well below the league average. Kobe still can pass and play a smart game (if he trusts his teammates), he also still made some plays, and he was certainly above average (which should give Lakers fans hope as Kobe will have better talent around him this season).

But elite? As in LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant kind of elite?

Sorry, but Bass is just spinning what his new team and its fans want to hear. Just like the idea the Lakers can make the playoffs.



Fox News considered Cavaliers’ shot-clock buzzer for Republican presidential debate

Top-Polling GOP Candidates Participate In First Republican Presidential Debate

Quicken Loans Arena will host tonight’s Republican presidential debate.

The Cleveland arena, as you surely know, also hosts Cavaliers games.

That gave debate organizers a creative idea.

Ashley Parker of The New York Times (hat tip: Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie):

To keep the debate on schedule, the Fox team was also discussing a possible alternative to the usual gentle ding sound that signals that a candidate’s time has expired: the actual shot-clock buzzer used during Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games, which are played at the same arena.

“You could make it about synergy in that arena: Use the very same buzzer that LeBron James hears on the court when the shot clock runs out,” said Mr. Baier, who had come up with the idea over dinner Tuesday night at a local bistro. (“I was inspired,” he said with a smile, “by a beer.”)

That would have been much more fun – the harsh bzzzzzzz interrupting Donald Trump, et al.

But it doesn’t matter too much tonight. A buzzer or ding won’t substantially affect the debate.

My real question: Why doesn’t football use an NBA-style shot-clock buzzer for the play clock? How many times have you seen a team snap the ball after the play clock hits zero because the referee didn’t notice in time? Why force him to look up at a clock when a buzzer could aid his call?