Tag: LeBron James


PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Summer Edition, where the Spurs keep on winning


The dust has almost settled on the NBA summer, with just some minor deals to get done (although there are a few good players still out there). Now that we’ve seen most the trades (probably) and gotten a look at the rookies in Summer League, it’s time to adjust the power rankings. The top of the board is easy — the Spurs move up but not to the top spot, yet — the bigger challenge is the bottom where every team has hope and think they’ve improved, but we know some will be disappointed.

source:  1. Warriors (last season 67-15). The defending champs always start in the top spot, but the Warriors did what they needed to this off-season keeping the band together. The key was re-signing Draymond Green. Their road to a repeat will be much tougher than to their first title, but this team certainly is a contender.

source:  2. Cavaliers (53-29). They re-signed LeBron James (no shock), Kevin Love, and Iman Shumpert, then added Mo Williams to the mix. Not bad, and they are not done with Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and J.R. Smith still looming and likely re-signed. Plus they can make a move with the Brendan Haywood contract. The Cavs are clear and away the best team in the East.

source:  3. Spurs (55-27). They won the off-season — Tiago Splitter was good but replacing him with LaMarcus Aldridge was a huge upgrade. Plus they re-sign Kawhi Leonard, add David West, and keep Danny Green at a fair price. This team will be hungry with it likely being Tim Duncan’s final season. But the brilliance of their off-season is they will stay near the top of the league for years even after Duncan steps away.

source:  4. Clippers (56-26). Doc Rivers the GM bounced back and had a great summer. He kept DeAndre Jordan in house (barely), plus added Paul Pierce to start, and Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith to the bench. The Clippers have the depth they lacked last season, and they are a motivated team.

source:  5. Thunder (45-37). Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are all back and healthy, with that the Thunder are back to contending for a title. The Thunder kept Enes Kanter (they had no choice) and I like the Cameron Payne draft pick. There may be no more of a desperate, win-now team in the NBA this season.

source:  6. Rockets (56-26). With the Ty Lawson trade — and if he can get his head screwed on right — the Rockets move into the elite title contender status with the five teams above them in this ranking. They are going to have a quality bench this season and lots of flexibility for coach Kevin McHale.

source:  7. Grizzlies (55-27). They did very well re-signing Marc Gasol, plus they got a good-fit pickup with Matt Barnes. But while Barnes can knock down the three ball, have they added enough shooting to balance things out.

source:  8. Pelicans (45-37). The hiring of Alvin Gentry as coach is a fantastic off-season move, and I like the re-signing of Alexis Ajinca (they should bring back Norris Cole as well). But the two key reasons this team improves are: 1) They finally get Jrue Holiday and others healthy; 2) Anthony Davis is still improving by leaps and bounds each season (and Gentry will be a big boost to them). How good their defense is determines how far they go.

source:  9. Bulls (50-32). Was the problem Tom Thibodeau grinding them down? We’ll find out. New coach Fred Hoiberg will trust Doug McDermott and the bench more, put in a modern offense, and likely not fight with management (at least for a couple years, if history continues). Is that enough with the same core? Can the Bulls be a team that can threaten the Cavaliers?

source:  10. Wizards (46-36). Paul Pierce is in Los Angeles but Otto Porter can step into the three spot just fine. Added Jared Dudley and Gary Neal help make this a deeper team. The bigger questions fall to coach Randy Whitman: Will he finally trust the small lineup more like he did in the playoffs? And can this team find more offensive diversity rather than being the John Wall show.

source:  11. Heat (37-45). They re-signed Goran Tragic and Dwyane Wade, plus added some depth with Justise Winslow, Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire. With Chris Bosh back healthy is going to be a sneaky good regular season team that finishes is the East’s top four.

source:  12. Mavericks (50-32). They bounced back well after losing DeAndre Jordan — Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews and Zaza Pachoulia make Dallas a pretty good team that should battle for a playoff spot in the West.

source:  13. Hawks (60-22). This is a good team and they retained Paul Millsap, but the loss of DeMarre Carroll certainly does not help. That said, Thabo Sefolosha steps into that role, and the did make a quality addition with Tiago Splitter. The real question is this: Can they really replicate the first two-thirds of last season, or was that just things going perfectly for them and they are not quite that good?

source:  14. Jazz (38-44). This was one of the better teams — and by far the best defense — in the NBA after the All-Star break. They didn’t make big off-season moves, instead banking on more growth and development (although draft pick Trey Lyles looked at Summer League like a guy who needs a couple years). If they can retain anywhere near that defense from the second half of last year, the Jazz should be in the mix for one of the final playoff spot in the West.

source:  15. Bucks (41-41). This may be low for the Bucks. They looked like a team on the rise last year under Jason Kidd and with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Carter Williams improving, plus Jabari Parker back and healthy. Then they nail free agency landing Greg Monroe. This team could move into the second tier in the East, but I need to see it.

source:  16. Raptors (49-33). Toronto has spent the offseason transitioning from an offense-heavy team that doesn’t defend well to a defense first roster — signing DeMarre Carroll was at the heart of that transition. That may serve them better in the playoffs, I’m not sure about the regular season. Still, they should win the weak Atlantic division.

source:  17. Pistons (32-50). Greg Monroe is gone but replacing him with Ersan Ilyasova, who can stretch the floor as a shooter, is a better fit for what Stan Van Gundy wants to do. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond showed some pick-and-roll chemistry last season, with what those two are now getting paid they better have a lot more of it.

<source:  18. Suns (39-43). I like their guard rotation with Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin, and Devin Booker. Both Booker and T.J. Warren looked strong at Summer League. I’m not sure about the Tyson Chandler fit, and I don’t see a big step forward in a West where there are good teams fighting for the last playoff spots.

source:  19. Kings (29-53, LW 26). This is the hardest team to place on the board — this is either way too low or way too high for them. George Karl can coach, DeMarcus Cousins is a big-time talent, they added Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos and Willie Cauley-Stein. Karl called the mix combustable. The players will either unite (possibly in a dislike of Karl) and they will surprise people and be in the playoff mix, or they will blow apart in spectacular fashion. I don’t see much in between.

source:  20. Celtics (40-42). They snuck into the playoffs last season in the East, then this summer made a nice pickup with Amir Johnson. Terry Rozier looked good in Summer League, and Jordan Mickey impressed as well. That said, this is still a team trying to develop into a winner and there is a lot of work to do.

source:  21. Magic (25-57). This feels like a year the young Magic can take a step forward. They retained Tobias Harris, made a nice draft pick with Mario Hezonja, and Aaron Gordon looks like he’s going to take a big step forward based on what we saw at Summer League. If all that happens this spot is too low for them, but I need to see it happen first.

source:  22. Trail Blazers (51-31). It’s been a rough offseason in the Pacific Northwest. Gone are LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, and Robin Lopez. This is now a rebuilding team — but one that gets to start with Damian Lillard. That’s a big head start. There are some other nice players here like Mason Plumlee but it’s going to take time.

source:  23. Nets (38-44). They finally got out from under the Deron Williams contract and people around the team say that alone will bring the players closer together. The Nets have a nice front line with Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez, but defense and consistent play out of the guards remain a question mark (no offense intended, Jarrett Jack).

source:  24. Lakers (21-61). After striking out when swinging for home run, the Lakers hit some solid singles this off-season landing Lou Williams, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert. D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle may well turn out to be players, but that is going to take a couple years of development. This team will not be embarrassing like last season, but it’s going to be more about the Kobe farewell tour than wins.

source:  25. Pacers (38-44). Paul George will be back, which is reason to celebrate. Pair him with Monta Ellis and you have some dynamic wing scoring. But this is now a roster in transition with a lot of questions along the front line.

source:  26. Timberwolves (16-66). They are going to win more than 16 games, and they are going to be must-watch because of the entertainment value of Andrew Wiggins in his second year, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Ricky Rubio running the show. This may be a must-watch League Pass team. But they are not going to be good. Not yet. There still is a lot of development to do, although Kevin Garnett should help speed that process along.

source:  27. Knicks (17-65, LW 29). I like what Phil Jackson did this summer — Kristaps Porzingis looked at Summer League like he will develop into a player, Jerian Grant can help them right now, plus Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez are solid pros. The Knicks should be better, and maybe if everything comes together they can compete for a playoff spot. But with this team right now, I need to see it before I believe it.

source:  28. Hornets (33-49). This may be too low for a team that could have a bounce-back season. I like landing Nicolas Batum, Spencer Hawes and Jeremy Lin will be better than either was in Los Angeles last season, but the question is defense and if Al Jefferson will be serious about playing it. Another team that has to prove to me on the court they can bounce back.

source:  29. Nuggets (30-52). I love the hiring of Mike Malone to change the culture (and moving Ty Lawson had to be part of that). After seeing him at Summer League I think Emmanuel Mudiay can develop into a franchise cornerstone kind of player. All this portends good things for the future, but the present will be rough as they work to get to that better spot.

source:  30. 76ers (18-64). Maybe this is too low for them, but if we didn’t start the season with the Sixers on the bottom it would feel wrong. It’s tradition. I saw Jahlil Okafor in Las Vegas and was impressed, he can be a franchise cornerstone. He’s also still a rookie with a rough learning curve. There are still serious questions about the backcourt.


Report: James Jones plans to re-sign with Cavaliers

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

The Cavaliers are facing a little more difficulty than anticipated with re-signing Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith

But James Jones should present no such issues.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“I’ll be back in Cleveland for sure,” Jones told the Northeast Ohio Media Group Sunday in Las Vegas, on the red carpet for the first Players’ Awards show.

“I’ve made it well known last year when I told them I was coming to help change the culture and do something special,” Jones said. “It wasn’t a situation where I was looking for a platform to move on. I was looking to be a part of something, to build something. And so I’m still in.”

A league source confirmed the Cavs would re-sign Jones.

Cleveland can pay Jones up to $ 1,799,024 next season – 120% the minimum salary – thanks to his Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of bird rights). That should do the trick.

It will cost Cleveland multiple times over in luxury-tax payments, but so would signing someone else instead. Might as well keep a player LeBron James values.

Jones found a role for the Cavaliers in the playoffs as a stretch four. Obviously, Kevin Love will provide that dimension if healthy.

But that Jones earned a spot in Cleveland’s postseason rotation is telling. David Blatt is clearly more comfortable with Jones than other veterans on last year’s roster.

The Cavaliers should be healthier and deeper next season, which means they won’t have to lean as heavily on Jones. That bodes well for Cleveland, and Jones can still make 3-pointers in spot duty.

Phil Jackson says J.R. Smith displayed “delinquent behavior” before trade

New York Knicks v San Antonio Spurs

Phil Jackson speaks with a purpose and for effect. He doesn’t say things that will be published without having some motive.

Which is why what he told his old friend Charlie Rosen about the big mid-season trade in New York — which sent J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to Cleveland for non-guaranteed contracts — was so interesting. Jackson tries to make himself look better, like the adult cleaning up the mess at the children’s table.

It’s about as direct and blunt as you will ever hear someone if a front office speak about a player on the record.

Jackson didn’t hold back talking about Smith and Shumpert in the piece posted on ESPN.

“J.R. had been exhibiting some delinquent behavior and had gotten into the habit of coming late to team meetings, or missing them altogether,” Jackson says. “Also, Shump and Tim [Hardaway Jr.] were regressing, so I decided to meet with them separately and try to find out what, if anything, was bothering them.”

Smith was first on the list. “We talked about his statement to the press that our shooting guard depth was going to be the team’s asset, but so far it hadn’t worked out that way,” Jackson says. “He was supposed to carry the scoring load for the second unit and he wasn’t doing the job. I also said that because of his unacceptable behavior, he had two strikes against him with this team. He didn’t really respond. He’s a very sensitive guy, with his big doe eyes. He looked like he was going to tear up. But he finally responded that he was going through some issues with his gal.”

Shumpert was next in line. “After he suffered a hip injury in Dallas, his game went rapidly downhill. Did he have any other issues to explain his decline? He said, ‘No. I don’t know what has gone wrong with my game.’ As with J. R., nothing got resolved.”

Jackson goes on to say coach Derek Fisher thought Smith walked around like there was a dark cloud over his head, and that Shumpert’s ego was a problem in the locker room.

Whether you want to say it was the negative impacts on their game in New York — Smith was known to enjoy the New York nightlife — or the positive ones of LeBron James in Cleveland, both Shumpert and Smith played a lot better after the move.

Smith saw more minutes, and his true shooting percentage jumped from a below average 48.7 percent to and above average 56.6 percent (boosted by him shooting 39 percent from three in Cleveland). Smith’s PER jumped from 11.5 to 14.5 (which is still slightly below the league average).

Smith also had some delinquent behavior on the court during the playoffs, which led to him being suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals. Smith opted out of his contract and is still hanging out there as a free agent, likely about to take a pay cut, although the Cavaliers seem the most likely to retain him.

Shumpert played fewer minutes and took fewer shots in Cleveland, but he saw his true shooting percentage jump up to 50.8 percent. More importantly, his defense was a key part of the grit and grind style the Cavaliers had to evolve towards during the playoffs due to injuries.

The Cavaliers re-signed Shumpert to a four-year, $40 million deal and he is likely the starting two guard for the Cavaliers when next season tips off.

Check out Ray Allen’s 40th birthday cake

BET Presents The Players' Awards - Roaming Show

That cake is awesome.

Five layers, each with one of the five teams he played on — Connecticut in college, then in the NBA Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, and finally Miami.

Allen spent his birthday in Las Vegas, where he also was there for the Players’ Awards show.

Last season teams tried to lure Allen back — specifically LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers — he decided to sit it out and stay retired. He gets to play a lot of golf, spend time with his family and live in Miami. It’s hard to imagine him giving that up to come back next season.

Happy birthday Ray.

Who is left: The 10 best NBA free agents still on the board.

Tristan Thompson

Unlike a year ago, the 2015 NBA free agency period was front loaded — starting with Anthony Davis in just minutes after midnight July 1, it seemed like everyone made a quick decision. Even if they later changed their mind and went another direction.

Now almost three weeks into free agency, who is left on the free agent board?

Most teams either have their roster set or are just looking to add one or two last players to round it out (and those are the guys at the end of the bench). Still, there are some interesting free agents available — a few of them tied to Cleveland.

Here’s our list of the 10 best.

1) Tristan Thompson — The Cavaliers and Thompson have yet to agree on a number. Reportedly Thompson (who has the same agent as LeBron James) wants Draymond Green money, which the Cavaliers are rightfully finding amusing. Thompson is a restricted free agent but the problem for him is only three teams — Philadelphia, Utah and Portland — have the cap space to give him the kind of offer he would want, and none of them are likely to do it. With no other good options (read: leverage) Thompson may have to take a number lower than he wants.

2) J.R. Smith — I wrote about him yesterday, he should have opted in for the $6.4 million he was owed, but he became a free agent and now is about to take a pay cut. The Cavaliers are deep into the luxury tax (especially once they make a deal with Thompson) and they want Smith to take a below-market, one-year deal. The problem for Smith is no other teams are stepping up, so he lacks leverage.

3) Jason Terry — In the wake of the Ty Lawson trade (where Houston sent out a few guards), expect the Rockets to reach a deal with Terry to provide depth off the bench. He did shoot 39 percent from three last year and he provides a some value.

4) Carlos Boozer — There are holes in his game, but Boozer still scored 11.8 points a game shooting nearly 50 percent last year. He has some value as a rotation big man. The Clippers, Spurs, Mavs, Pelicans, and Raptors reportedly have some level of interest.

5) Matthew Dellavedova — He’s one of the most popular Cavaliers on the roster, and Cleveland wants him to provide depth behind Kyrie Irving, it’s just a question of for how much money. Delly reportedly wants around $4 million a year, which would bring another $14 million in luxury taxes down on the Cavs, so they understandably want a lower number. He is a restricted free agent, but no other team has signed him to an offer sheet (most assume the Cavaliers would match, and they don’t want to pay Dellavedova what he’s asking either).

6) Dorell Wright — He’s one of the better floor-spacing shooters still out there — more than half his attempts came from three last season, and he hit 38 percent of them. Coming off hand surgery, there hasn’t been much of a market for him as of yet.

7) Kevin Seraphin — He wanted to find a place he could be a starter, but that ship has now sailed. There reportedly was interest with the Lakers and Mavericks, plus the Wizards still want to bring him back. The question is where can he get the most run and the most money? He’s not going to find as much of either of those as he hoped.

8) Darrell Arthur — Denver wants to bring him back, and reportedly the Clippers have some interest, too. Arthur is a solid defender who mostly plays a smart game. As a reserve at the four he makes a lot of sense.

9) Andre Miller — It’s a little surprising to see a quality, veteran point guard like Miller still on the market. The Kings had some discussions with him, but nothing has come to fruition. He’s not young, but he can still give a team quality minutes nightly.

10) Norris Cole — He’s a restricted free agent who played pretty well for the Pelicans at the end of last season. New Orleans wants to bring him back, but Cole is looking for more money. He reportedly has had talks with the Sixers.