Report: Knicks, Sixers discussing possible Amare Stoudemire deal. Don’t bet on it.

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Because the Sixers have room under the salary cap and therefor can absorb bad contracts, they have become everyone’s favorite dumping ground for bad contracts. By everyone I mean people at home playing on the trade machine and real GMs looking for options alike.

Enter the Knicks and Amare Stoudemire.

Stoudemire will make $23.4 million this season, the last year of the max deal that brought him to New York (to pair with Mike D’Antoni… that’s a memory Knicks fans would like to repress). That contract, combined with Andrea Bargnani’s $11 million and in theory a max contract for Carmelo Anthony (the cap hold is there now) ties the hands of what Phil Jackson could do. However, if he could dump Stoudemire’s deal…

Enter the Sixers and rumors, ones that first went big with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN and now picked up by the New York Post.

Knicks president Phil Jackson is still trying to clear this year’s payroll and has looked at avenues to try to trade Amar’e Stoudemire’s expiring contract, already having contacted the obvious team, the 76ers.

The Sixers have $30 million in cap space and have made it known they’d be willing to accept an undesirable expiring contract if a pawn is thrown in. That extra pawn likely would be Iman Shumpert — something the Knicks prefer not to do.

The idea is, at the least, to reduce payroll so the Knicks can make a sign-and-trade to obtain a free agent and be able to wield the full mid-level exception of $5 million instead of mini-mid-level $3.27 million. Currently, the Knicks are above the luxury-tax apron and are forbidden to obtain a free agent through a sign-and-trade or use the full mid-level to try to lure free agent Pau Gasol.

This is unlikely. To put it kindly. I see it as a Knicks fan fantasy — Jackson I’m sure did make the call, he should at least try — but not one the Sixers likely pull the trigger on without more in return.

The Knicks have shopped Shumpert around since the last trade deadline so the idea that Jackson is hesitant to move him now is borderline laughable.

The better question is would the Sixers do all this just to get Shumpert? Hard to see that, they will want more. Problem is the Knicks don’t have more and the Sixers will have other offers to fill up their cap space that could land them picks or better young players (a proposed Jeremy Lin deal from the Rockets, for one).

This trade makes a lot of sense for the Knicks, who if Carmelo Anthony returns would love to add Pau Gasol at a reasonable price to the mix. Of course, the Thunder and Spurs have offered Gasol that exact same financial deal and those teams are legit title contenders next season, and the Bulls are expected to go hard at Gasol (and could make a larger offer) if/when Anthony chooses another destination. Which is to say Gasol to the Knicks is not likely at all.

I could go on, but you get the idea. This is out there, Phil Jackson might love to make it happen, but the quick fix is not coming to New York. This is going to be a process, it’s a deep hole to climb out of.

Report: Cavaliers players played songs like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ around John Beilein

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.

Of the six Cleveland players who publicly addressed the issue the following day, only Tristan Thompson didn’t offer clear support of his coach. The Cavs kept Beilein.

But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.

“There was no coming back from that,” he said.

Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.

“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.

If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:

  • “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
  • “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
  • “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”

…they did it wrong.

For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”

Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.

But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.

Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.

The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:

Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row

Rumor: The Cavaliers might try to flip Andre Drummond in trade at draft, or in July

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When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.

Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?

We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.

Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.

“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.

“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.

Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.

Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.

 

Counter-report: John Beilein will receive some of remaining salary from Cavaliers

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.

But apparently he’ll get a payout.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.

That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).

But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.

There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.

Kevin Durant not close to return, but his jumper still looks wet

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Kevin Durant will not play an NBA game this season.

His jumper, however, looks to be in midseason form. Following All-Star Weekend, a video surfaced on Instagram of Durant working out at UCLA, and his shot remains a thing of beauty. His pull-up works, too.

There’s some debate around the league about just how good 31-year-old Durant will be when he returns.

When he left he was the best player on the planet, an unstoppable scorer who could defend LeBron James in the clutch of a game, KD was a two-time defending Finals MVP at the peak of his game. Suffering a torn Achilles means he’s not going to have the same level of explosiveness, but when you’re pushing 7-foot tall (in shoes), have a high release over your head, can hit from anywhere, and have a deadly fade away, does it matter if you lose half-a-step?

With Kyrie Irving possibly done for the season in Brooklyn, these videos provide a little hope to Nets fans. Get this roster healthy next season and they can hang with anyone in the East.