Tag: LeBron James

Phoenix Suns v Oklahoma City Thunder

Rumors: Knicks may go after Reggie Jackson this summer, or no one of consequence


J.R. Smith and his $6.4 million owed next season are now gone. Amare Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and a lot of other players come off the books as their contracts expire. After their moves this week the Knicks should have more than $25 million in cap space next summer to go after….

Maybe nobody?

That’s not really accurate, they will make a run at Marc Gasol for one, but the rumor is they are realistic about it and not optimistic they will land the Spanish big man. After that the names that come up are the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson and then, maybe nobody of note, reports Ian Begley of ESPN New York.

The feeling among some around the league is that the Knicks will instead target second- and third-tier free agents this summer and maintain some cap flexibility for the summer of 2016, when a free-agent class headlined by Kevin Durant becomes available.

One name to keep an eye on this summer is Reggie Jackson. NBA people expect the Knicks to have interest in Jackson, who can test free agency this summer. Jackson likely will be a restricted free agent. But with Oklahoma City having obtained Dion Waiters, the club may not break the bank to retain Jackson.

Durant’s potential free agency is like LeBron James’ in 2010 in the sense that he is such a game changer every team that can will make sure it has cap space to offer him a max contract. If he were to leave Oklahoma City — and that is still a big “if,” the Thunder remain the odds on favorite to retain him — teams such as his home town Wizards, the Lakers and a host of others will join the Knicks in trying to land the top scorer in the game.

I don’t think the Knicks should be totally quiet in free agency and only swing for the fences, they need to spend a little on role players who fit the triangle system. That means smart veteran guys, unselfish guys, and some guys who can space the floor with their shot. Not everybody fits in their system.

But they do need another star to go next to Carmelo Anthony and they do need to keep enough money free to offer the max to Gasol or Durant or whomever else they are able to land down the line. If they strike out on the big names this summer, they may very well keep most of their powder dry looking ahead to 2016.

Report: Dion Waiters to wear no. 23 for Thunder

23 waiters

LeBron James was reportedly consulted before the Cavaliers traded for J.R. Smith.

Might his opinion similarly have been sought when the idea of trading Dion Waiters was first approached?

It’s murky at best, but what has become clear is that Waiters is wasting no time in putting his Cleveland past behind him.

From Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

Dion Waiters will wear #23 for the Thunder.

Waiters wore no. 3 in college at Syracuse, and in two-plus NBA seasons with the Cavaliers.

Maybe Waiters knows more than we do about the inner workings of how all this went down. But it’s difficult to see this as anything other than a subtle shot at James, at least on the surface.

Report: Cavaliers consulted LeBron James before trading for J.R. Smith

Maccabi Tel Aviv v Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s no secret that Dion Waiters wasn’t a good fit for these Cavaliers.

On a team stacked with offensive options like LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, Waiters and his propensity to take as many shots as possible was a skill set that simply wasn’t needed — and nether was the embarrassing way in which he begged for the ball at times.

It’s unclear if James had anything to do with Waiters being sent out of town in the three-team trade that involved the Thunder and the Knicks. But he was consulted about at least one of the players who Cleveland netted in return.

From Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Team officials spoke with LeBron James about his willingness to play alongside Smith before executing the deal, sources said.

Now, for plenty of teams around the league, consulting a star player on personnel moves is something that would be heavily (and rightfully) criticized. You don’t want the lunatics running the asylum, and a sure-fire way to make a mess of things is by having the players call the shots.

But in Cleveland, and especially with LeBron, these are very different circumstances.

James can opt out of his contract at the end of this season to become an unrestricted free agent, and while he reportedly would consider it, the notion of him actually doing so seems preposterous on the surface.

Part of the reason for that is the amount of power that James wields within the Cavaliers organization. LeBron is still arguably the game’s best player, and championships will remain the goal for every one of his next several seasons. He needs to feel good about the moves the front office is making to help build a team around him that is capable of contending, and management consulting him on the players it wants to bring in will only solidify that relationship.

Making sense of the Dion Waiters trade, for everyone involved

Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat

What a weird night. Dion Waiters began Monday evening listed in the starting lineup in his hometown of Philadelphia, and ended it as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. J.R. Smith is now on the Cavaliers. The Knicks actually won a trade, which is the most improbable part of all. It’s still hard to believe last night’s three-team deal actually happened, but it actually makes a lot of sense for everyone involved—although it’s not without its risks.

For the Knicks, there’s no real downside. Phil Jackson wanted J.R. Smith gone for cultural reasons, and he was able to find a taker without taking back any guaranteed money. Losing Iman Shumpert isn’t ideal, but it was basically clear at this point that he wasn’t interested in re-signing with the Knicks this summer, and the Knicks weren’t really set on bringing him back. He’s the best player involved in this trade, but if the decision had already been made that he wasn’t a part of their future, giving him up is a small price to pay to unload Smith. The Knicks took back a bunch of minor contracts and a 2019 second-round pick (it’s still weird anytime the Knicks get a pick in a trade) and added $7 million to their cap space this upcoming summer, which will be approaching $30 million once Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani come off the books. This season was a lost cause anyway, and they should end up with a top-five lottery pick to help rebuild alongside all their cap room and a hopefully rejuvenated Carmelo Anthony. The Zen Master did well here.

For the Cavs, this deal hinges on Smith. Shumpert is a terrific get, instantly becoming the best perimeter defender on the team (since LeBron James has taken several steps back on that end over the last couple years). But if James and David Blatt couldn’t stand Waiters, they basically brought in an older, more set-in-his-ways version of the same player in Smith. For all his faults, Waiters is at least only 23 and, theoretically, can be molded into a more team-oriented player. The 29-year-old Smith is what he is as a player and a personality. Maybe he’ll be motivated being on a good team after a season-plus on a Knicks team that was a disaster on every level, on and off the court. Maybe James will be able to get through to him and make him more of a team player.

This is all possible. But as a player, Smith is similar to Waiters, and if he’s not getting the minutes and touches he wants (which he shouldn’t on a team with LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love), he might be disgruntled, which wouldn’t be great for the locker room. If the Cavs are planning to buy him out (unlikely) or flip him at the deadline (maybe, if they can find a taker), this trade is a huge win for them. If they’re keeping him, it becomes more high-risk/high-reward. This team still needs a real rim protector, and this trade doesn’t immediately put them on the level of the Chicago/Toronto/Atlanta/Washington tier of contenders in the Eastern Conference. But things couldn’t get much worse than they were already, and it’s worth the gamble to see if getting Waiters out helps.

The most intriguing part of the deal is Waiters’ fit in Oklahoma City. In Sam Presti’s mind, Waiters is a replacement for James Harden—the Thunder have lacked that instant scorer off the bench since trading the former Sixth Man of the Year, who has turned into a superstar and MVP candidate in Houston. They needed depth, and they got it without giving that much up. Reggie Jackson was initially reported as being involved in the deal, and giving him up would have been a disaster. The most Presti gave up was a protected first-round pick going to Cleveland, which he wasn’t going to use anyway. So from an asset standpoint, this is fine.

The success of this trade hinges on Waiters’ willingness to buy into the Thunder culture. They have a clearly defined hierarchy of talent, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook at the top, and then Serge Ibaka, and then everyone else. If Waiters knows his place, it could be a great fit. He was demanding the ball on a team with James, Irving and Love, but he’s been on the Cavaliers longer than two of those players have; this Thunder core, on the other hand, has been to the Finals together, with this coach, and if Waiters doesn’t buy in, he won’t play. And if he doesn’t play, or it doesn’t fit, that could be a disaster for a famously close-knit locker room. With Durant hitting free agency in two years, and Westbrook and Ibaka in three, bringing in a personality like Waiters is a risk. But a common criticism of Presti since the Harden trade is that he doesn’t swing for the fences to bring in talent, and he certainly did that here. Whether the gamble will pay off remains to be seen.

Either way, it will be impossible to evaluate this trade overnight. The Knicks’ perspective is pretty cut-and-dried—they’ve given up on this season and the trade was a salary dump for them. The Cavs and Thunder brought in risky talents with the chance to either save their seasons or derail them. We will see which it is.

Tony Wroten hits the game-winner to give Sixers win over Cavaliers

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers were without LeBron James and Kyrie Irving heading into their matchup with the Sixers, which was already going to make things difficult for a team struggling to find its identity in the early part of the season.

But once Dion Waiters was pulled from the starting lineup due to his inclusion in a three-team trade that sent him to the Thunder, the task became too tall to accomplish.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $150,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Tuesday’s NBA games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 8:00pm ET on Tuesday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Sixers overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to get their first home win of the season, thanks to this Tony Wroten drive and finish that gave Philly the lead for good.