LeBron James

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

Report: Tristan Thompson rejected $80 million contract offer from Cavaliers because his perceived peers got more

71 Comments

Tristan Thompson and the Cavaliers were reportedly near a five-year, $80 million contract.

Then, they weren’t.

What happened?

Was the report inaccurate? Did the Cavaliers pull the offer? Did Thompson back out?

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Thompson and the Cavaliers had reached an agreement early in free agency that was believed to have been centered on a five-year deal worth some $80 million. The problem with doing a deal at that number is that virtually everyone in Thompson’s talent range got substantially more, most receiving the NBA maximum salary, some for less years, but most for the same year one dollar amount.

Thompson’s camp pulled back from the $80 million number, wanting the Cavs to step up with more based on what virtually everyone else in Thompson’s peer range got.

I’m not sure who Thompson considers his peers, but I place him solidly behind Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, Draymond Green, Brook Lopez, Paul Millsap and Tim Duncan in the next group of big-man free agents.

Does that warrant more than the $16 million per season the Cavaliers reportedly offered?

Here’s how much other free agents in the tier will get annually, using data from Basketball Insiders:

  • Enes Kanter: $17,515,007 (four years, $70,060,028)
  • Robin Lopez: $13,503,875 (four years, $54,015,500)
  • Tyson Chandler: $13,000,000 (four years, $52,000,000)
  • Thaddeus Young: $12,500,000 (four years, $50,000,000)
  • Amir Johnson: $12,000,000 (two years, $24,000,000)
  • Omer Asik: $10,595,505 (five years, $52,977,525)
  • Kosta Koufos: $8,219,750 (four years, $32,879,000)
  • Ed Davis: $6,666,667 (three years, $20,000,000)
  • Brandan Wright: $5,709,880 (three years, $17,129,640)
  • Jordan Hill: $4,000,000 (one year, $4,000,000)

Thompson might think he’s in the same group as Monroe (three-year max contract) and Green (five years, $82 million), but he’s not as good as those two. They deserve to be paid more than Thompson.

But deserve has only so much to do with it.

Thompson holds major leverage. If he takes the qualifying offer and leaves next summer, the Cavaliers won’t have the cap flexibility to find a comparable replacement. They can sign Thompson only because they have his Bird rights. That won’t be the case with outside free agents.

The Thunder were in the same boat with Kanter, which is why they matched his max offer sheet from the Trail Blazers. Thompson should point to that situation for comparison. The Cavaliers, though, would probably tell Thompson to bring them an offer sheet, like Kanter did with Oklahoma City.

But Thompson has even more leverage. He shares an agent, Rich Paul, with LeBron James. Cleveland surely wants to keep LeBron happy, and LeBron wants Thompson back.

Thompson might get more than $80 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got his max ($94,343,125 over five years). It just won’t be because his on-court peers all got that much. The max-level free agents – with the exception of Kanter – are a class above in actual ability.

But that Kanter comparison works for Thompson, and he and Paul should hammer it until the Cavaliers relent. No need to bring up that Kanter signed well after Thompson’s talks with Cleveland broke down. This is only minimally a discussion about logic and production.

It’s mostly about leverage, and no matter what flawed viewpoints got us here, Thompson still has leverage.

NBA rookie survey suggests Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor was a mistake

2015 NBA Draft
9 Comments

Most NBA teams would have picked Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor with the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. I would have. The Timberwolves did.

But a plurality of NBA rookies prefer Okafor, who went No. 3 to the 76ers.

Two responses in NBA.com’s annual rookie survey reveal that:

Who will be the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year?

1. Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 41.9 percent

2. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 19.4 percent

3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 12.9 percent

T-4. Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 9.7 percent

D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers — 9.7 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Trey Lyles, Utah

Which rookie will have the best career?

Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia — 24.1 percent

2. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota — 17.2 percent

T-3. Justin Anderson, Dallas — 13.8 percent

Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver — 13.8 percent

5. Stanley Johnson, Detroit — 8.0 percent

6. Sam Dekker, Houston — 6.9 percent

Others receiving votes: Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento; Bobby Portis, Chicago; Kelly Oubre, Washington; Kristaps Porzingis, New York; D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers; Rashad Vaughn, Milwaukee

Picking Okafor for Rookie of the Year doesn’t necessarily mean he should have gone No. 1. The former Duke center is exceptionally polished offensively, and he should fill a big role on the lowly 76ers.

But the “best career” question is essentially asking who should have gone No. 1 – especially considering Towns and Okafor play the same position. Perhaps, a majority of respondents who took a third candidate would have taken Towns over Okafor, changing results of a run-off race. But with the information we have, plurality rules.

The survey also includes other interesting (Mavericks’ Justin Anderson as most athletic), unsurprising (Suns’ Devin Booker as best shooter) and surprising (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as best defender) responses. Willie Cauley-Stein went No. 6 to the Kings largely based on his ability to guard the interior and exterior. If he’s not elite defensively – and his peers don’t rate him that way, ranking him fourth with 5.9% of votes – questions about his offense and rebounding become more significant.

For the second straight year, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James ranked 1-2-3 as rookies’ favorite players.

Of course, don’t take these responses as gospel. Despite 13.8% of respondents – tied for third most – picking Anderson to have the best career, nobody voted for him as the draft’s biggest steal. How you can think the No. 21 pick will have the best career yet isn’t the draft’s biggest steal is beyond me.

Carmelo Anthony: LeBron James, Chris Paul and I talk ‘all the time’ about winning gold medal in 2016 Olympics

NBA All-Star Game 2015
9 Comments

LeBron James has a spot on the 2016 Olympic team if he wants it, but he has been mum on whether he wants it.

Carmelo Anthony offers a clue about LeBron’s and Chris Paul’s desire to play in Rio.

Melo, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“We talk about it all the time,’’ Anthony said of winning another gold medal with James and Paul. “Just about how we want to go out and end it the next year with the Olympics, just how much we want to take from this experience. I’m going on four [Olympics], LeBron is going on four. Paul going for three. We’re connected by the hip.’’

LeBron, Melo and Paul won gold medals in 2012 and 2008, and LeBron and Melo took bronze in 2004.

But Melo will be 32 and LeBron and Paul 31 in 2016. LeBron’s Cavaliers will very likely make a long playoff run this season. Paul’s Clippers are good enough to, though the tough Western Conference makes it less likely. Melo… the Knicks will probably give him a longer break before Rio.

I’m sure they all like the idea of playing in the 2016 Olympics. The more enthusiastic they are about it now, the more likely they follow through. But Rio is still a long way off, and aging goes only one direction.

Michael Jordan doesn’t like people seeing him wearing his reading glasses

Michael Jordan
8 Comments

Michael Jordan is supremely confident.

It was a defining characteristic of his great playing career, and it obviously hasn’t dissipated with age.

Who would he take 1-on-1 against LeBron James in their primes? Himself, of course.

What about against current Hornets now? Himself there, too.

But, testifying in a lawsuit over use of his image, Jordan apparently revealed something that makes him self-conscious.

Associated Press:

Jordan, 52, displayed an amused discomfort with having to wear reading glasses while on the witness stand, jokingly saying “don’t look” when he put them on to read a page he was handed.

ABC 7’s report includes a courtroom sketch of Jordan in glasses:

Economist: Michael Jordan makes more annually in endorsements than any current NBA player

Michael Jordan
23 Comments

Michael Jordan and LeBron James have sparked a conversation about who’d win a 1-on-1 game between the two in their primes.

Jordan took himself, as did LeBron.

But when it comes to endorsement money, it’s no contest.

Jordan sets a high bar for any potential sponsors, and they’re obviously willing to meet his lofty demands.

Associated Press:

An expert in sports economics says Michael Jordan’s endorsement income has grown and still eclipses that of current NBA players, including LeBron James.

Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist testified Monday in federal court in Chicago

He says Jordan’s endorsement income was $75.5 million in 2012.

Here are the NBA’s top endorsers in the last year, according to Forbes:

1. LeBron James – $44 million

2. Kevin Durant – $35 million

3. Kobe Bryant – $26 million

It’s quite remarkable that Jordan – 12 years after his last retirement as a player – collects so much sponsorship money. He’s a marketing force unlike any other.