Report: Cavaliers will offer Kyrie Irving max contract extension

18 Comments

Will the Cavaliers give Kyrie Irving a max contract extension this summer?

One report says they might not.

I actually think that might be a wise move.

Nothing against Irving, who’s one of the NBA’s top young players. Teams just probably shouldn’t extend players coming off their rookie-scale deals to max contracts, period.

Mostly, it’s about getting more information. If Irving gets hurt again next year – he’s missed 15, 23 and 11 games in his three seasons – or stagnates, his value could plummet.

If he improves, the Cavaliers can offer the exact same contract next offseason as they could in the form of an extension this offseason. Why commit to the highest-possible salary sooner than you have to? At worst, you’re just going to give him the highest-possible salary next offseason, when Irving would become a restricted free agent and Cleveland could match any offers.

The Cavaliers would have no risk of losing him before 2016, and for him to leave that quickly would require him taking a one-year contract. If a five-year max contract is on the table, would Irving really turn that down to accept a one-year deal?

And if Irving accepts a five-year contract as a free agent in 2015 rather than a five-year extension in 2014, he wouldn’t count as a designated player. So if Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker – the Cavaliers’ top options with the No. 1 pick – is the rare player who’s worth extending to a max deal prior to his rookie contract ending, Cleveland could still do it.

Undoubtedly, there are benefits to give Irving a max extension. It keeps him happy – which could also serve as a negative if it makes him feel too entitled, but is probably a positive – and secures his standing on the team. John Wall became a much better team leader because of his max extension.

I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the cost – especially for a player with Irving’s injury history. The worst realistic-case scenario is him taking a four-year deal with a player option in 2015, and then you have three years to get him to come around and believe in the team (or trade him).

Anyway, the conventional choice is to give a max contract extension to anyone who would deserve a max contract after his third season – and Irving definitely qualifies on that front. So, though the Cavaliers should consider not offering Irving a max extension, that would be bucking precedent. Based on how every other team has handled this situation, Irving deserves a max extension.

And one report says he’ll get one.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

Reports about the Cavs even considering backing away from a maximum contract are simply wrong.

My sources tell me that the Cavs have had no doubts about offering Irving the 5-year deal, and will do so. Once July 1 arrives — the first date that an extension can be offered — the Cavs will set up a meeting with Irving. They will present their All-Star guard with a contract extension, a 5-year deal in the $90 million range (or whatever is the maximum number).

The term “max contract” has become a misnomer. Often, it’s doesn’t describe the absolute largest contract a player could sign.

A team signing a player to the highest possible salary over fewer years than the most allowed? “Max.”

A team signing a player to the top starting salary but less than the highest-possible raises? “Max.”

A team re-signing a player to the biggest contract another team could offer, but less than the re-signing team could offer? “Max.”

There are many other examples. Simply, you can’t read a report about a player’s max contract contract and have a full understanding of the picture without more context.

Using a crude estimate of the salary cap in 2015-16,* when Irving’s contract extension would begin, his absolute maximum salary for a five-year extension would be $109,106,328. He’d get that if he’s voted a starter in the 2015 All-Star Game – that vote should be fun! – or wins MVP next season.

Otherwise, his full max would be $90,921,940.

*$67,721,000 – which is based on the cap rising the same amount its projected to rise this year.

That’s why I’m not totally sold on Pluto’s report. It’s quite possible something got lost in translation between his source, him and readers.

Even if the Cavaliers are willing to give Irving a five-year extension, they might not want to give him the full amount he could earn if he meets the Derrick Rose rule criteria (for him, being elected an All-Star starter or winning MVP next year).

That $90.9 million figure is based on 25 percent of the salary cap. The $109.1 million is based on 30 percent of the salary cap.

The extension would be signed with a clause indicating he’d exceed 25 percent only if he qualified under the Rose rule. But if he qualifies, he doesn’t have to get the full 30 percent. He and the Cavaliers could negotiate any amount between 25 and 30 percent. The Pacers did that with Paul George, who got just 27 percent but a player option on the final year of his deal.

So, maybe the Cavaliers would offer Irving 25 percent ($90.9 million) and no escalator if he becomes Rose rule eligible. Or maybe they’ll offer less than the full 30 percent if he qualifies ($109.1 million).

Are those max contract? In the truest sense of the word, no. But they’d get described as max contracts.

Which is why I’m still in the dark about exactly what the Cavaliers are willing to offer Irving this summer.

Aggressive, attacking Boston drives right into heart of Miami defense, wins Game 3

Boston Miami
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Boston’s first possession of the game, Marcus Smart drove right to the rim and got an and-1 on a reverse layup.

Next possession, Jaylen Brown got a bucket cutting for a layup, with the assist from Smart. Next possession, Brown drove the lane and banked in a floater. The next Boston bucket was a Jayson Tatum driving layup.

The first nine Boston points came with them attacking the heart of the Miami defense (going at Duncan Robinson in particular), and that continued all game with the Celtics getting 60 points in the paint.

“Boston came out with great force. You have to give them credit for that,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game.

Throw in 31 quality minutes from Gordon Hayward in his return from a sprained ankle — providing more quality wing play and good decision making — and Boston raced out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 not until Wednesday night (a little delay to allow the West to catch up).

After a sloppy Game 2 loss where the Celtics became passive in the face of Miami’s zone defense in the second half, followed by a postgame meltdown and meeting of the minds, the guys at the heart of the Celtics young core stepped up their game.

Particularly Brown, who had 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was getting to the rim all game. He also was playing smothering defense.

Smart — an All-Defensive Team player — had his best game of the series, blanketing Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best scorer and shot creator through two games. Without Dragic breaking down the Celtics’ defense and getting points in the paint, Miami has to live by the three and the Celtics defenders did a better job staying home.

“Marcus’ ball pressure on Dragic was important,” Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “It’s something we need to continue to look at. Marcus did a great job on a guy who is playing better than I’ve ever seen him.”

Boston also got more minutes from Gordon Hayward than expected, minutes Stevens called a “stabilizing force” for the team.

“I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore,” Hayward said postgame, adding with the extra days off he should be good to go for Game 4.

Hayward’s presence also allowed Boston to play small ball without Daniel Theis or any true center on the floor, the Celtics switched everything defensively, and Miami didn’t take advantage. Look for Eric Spoelstra to turn to more Bam Adebayo against that small lineup next game.

“They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping and having fun. I guess that was the difference in the game,” Bam Adebayo said postgame.

Miami didn’t shoot the ball well Saturday night, hitting just 27.3% from three. Jae Crowder, who had been hot, was 2-of-8 from deep, while Tyler Herro was 4-of-12. Adebayo had 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Heat.

Boston had four players with more than 20 points: Brown (26), Tatum (25), Kemba Walker (21), and Smart (20).

Boston will need another game like that — and they will need to close better, Miami made it interesting late — to even the series on Wednesday.

Miami said postgame they saw what happened in this game as a challenge to them. Game 4 is going to be intense.

Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year

Ja Morant thumb
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ja Morant was not the unanimous Rookie of the Year — 99 out of 100 media members voted for him, one voted for Zion Williamson.

When the media votes became public Saturday, Morant got to see who the one voter who voted for someone else was: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).

While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.

To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.

Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.

Boston’s Gordon Hayward warming up, available to play in Game 3

Gordon Hayward return
Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Celtics are getting their X-factor back — Gordon Hayward is available for the must-win Game 3 for Boston.

This had been expected, but he was out warming up pregame as reports he would be available started to bounce around the web.

Even 20 minutes of Hayward would be a big boost for the Celtics. Hayward suffered a grade III ankle sprain in the first game of the playoffs against Philadelphia. He’s been out ever since, even leaving the bubble for a while to get treatment.

Hayward’s return gives the Celtics another versatile player who can create his own shot and knock down the open looks others create for him. Hayward can run pick-and-rolls with the second unit while Tatum and Walker get rest. He’s the Celtics’ fourth-best scoring option right now, but he’s more dangerous than any other team’s fourth scorer.

Miami leads the series 0-2. If Boston doesn’t find a way to break down Miami’s zone defense and defend the rim better themselves this series is going to be short. Maybe Hayward can help with that on Saturday night.

Ty Lawson dropped by team, reportedly banned from Chinese league after social media posts

Ty Lawson China
Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ty Lawson’s off the court challenges were among the reasons he was playing in China and not the NBA this season. He signed for good money in China instead.

That era of his career after some social media posts, apparently of him at a strip club in China, has him dropped by his team and rumored to be banned from the league.

Lawson’s team, the Fujian Sturgeons, apparently gave this statement to Chinese news agency Xinhua:

“His inappropriate words are inconsistent with the social responsibilities and values abided by our club and have brought serious adverse social impacts to the club and the league. We will not sign him for the new season.”

Emiliano Carchia, the CEO of Sportando, reports that Lawson is out of the Chinese Basketball Association for good.

Lawson’s quickness and ability to create space and score could help some NBA teams, but incidents like this make it less likely an NBA team would roll the dice on the 32-year-old point guard. Lawson spent eight seasons in the NBA then the last two in China.