Report: LeBron ‘won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision,’ could leave Cleveland in free agency

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Monday was not a fun day for the Cavaliers as they met the media following an embarrassing 23-point home loss to the dismal Detroit Pistons.

There was a report of a rift between management and head coach David Blatt, and a concern over whether or not he was reaching his players just 30 games into the season.

There was LeBron James, not exactly sounding super-convincing in coming to his coach’s defense.

Now, a report has emerged stating what was essentially unthinkable before the season began — that James would actually consider bolting Cleveland after just one year if things don’t work out as he envisioned.

From Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

James, who turns 30 today, has no intention of compromising his prime years playing for a sputtering organization. He can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent.

Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I’m told he won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.

Of course, anything is possible. But logic would dictate that, to put it mildly, this is complete and utter nonsense.

James signed his two-year contract in Cleveland, which comes with it the ability to opt-out after this season, purely for financial reasons. The salary cap will skyrocket following the 2016 season thanks to the league’s shiny new broadcast rights deal, and if James had been locked into a long-term deal with the Cavaliers, his earning potential would have been limited significantly.

There’s little incentive for James to leave to play anywhere else. He has more power within the Cavaliers organization than he’d have with another franchise, and can use that to influence a head coaching hire if in fact Blatt is ultimately unable to get the most out of this season’s roster — one which had flaws from the jump, but is now more precarious than ever with Anderson Varejao lost for the season due to injury.

Kevin Love can bolt, too, and him leaving seems at least a little bit more likely, especially if he ends up being scapegoated as a key reason for a disappointing season.

But the reality is that it’s far too early to be talking about any of this.

There are problems with the Cavaliers, certainly. The effort and energy on the defensive end of the floor have been inconsistent at best, and James himself admitted to being in “chill mode” to start a recent win over the Magic. Despite it all, Cleveland has a record of 18-12 — not as good as expected, but just fine in the East, and only five-and-a-half games out of the Conference’s top spot.

If James chose Cleveland this past summer purely for basketball reasons, then it would be realistic to see him choosing to leave should this current season result in disaster. But remember what he wrote in the letter that was published explaining the move once it was finalized.

“But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.”

The fact that LeBron leaned so heavily on the homecoming angle when he made his return to Cleveland makes the notion of leaving now, after just one potentially difficult season, virtually impossible to envision.

Report: Timberwolves offered Andrew Wiggins to Nets in sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell

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Rumors have swirled about D'Angelo Russell signing with the Timberwolves in free agency this summer.

The huge question: How would capped-out Minnesota make that happen?

Darren Wolfson of SKOR North:

I am told there was some dialogue with Brooklyn to see if the Nets would have some interest in a sign-and-trade, Wiggins for D’Angelo Russell. I don’t sense those talks got even a smidge off the ground. I mean, the Nets are not taking on that contract.

Andrew Wiggins (four years, $122,242,800 remaining) might have the NBA’s worst contract. It’ll be hard to find any team that wants him. Brooklyn – which looks like favorites to land Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant – certainly isn’t using its cap space on Wiggins.

Maybe the Timberwolves have other ideas for getting Russell. This one obviously would’ve favored Minnesota. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

But if this was the Timberwolves’ plan, we can put the Russell-Minnesota rumors to bed.

Rudy Gobert says he’ll relinquish DPOY to little girl playing adorably intense defense (video)

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I’ve been looking all day for an excuse to post this video on a site called ProBasketballTalk.

Jazz center Rudy Gobertwho just won Defensive Player of the Year – provided it.

Gobert:

Everyone frets about young basketball players emulating Stephen Curry. But Patrick Beverley apparently also has influence.

Report: Knicks considering offering DeMarcus Cousins big one-year contract if they miss on stars

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The Knicks will reportedly roll over their cap space if they don’t sign Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard this summer.

Of course, New York must still field a team for 2019-20. After six straight losing seasons – including a franchise-worst 17-65 this season – the Knicks might even want to be somewhat competitive.

A candidate to fill the roster: DeMarcus Cousins.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

If the Knicks are intent keeping cap space clear for 2020 (when the free-agent class looks weak) if they strike out this year, Cousins could make sense. His shot-creation skills would raise their floor. He was a star not long ago.

But leg injuries have sidetracked Cousins’ career. He’ll turn 29 before the season. It’s not certain he’ll ever return to form.

For that reason, Cousins might prioritize multi-year offers with more total compensation, even if the annual average salary is lower. He can’t assume he’ll stay healthy and productive next season and that huge offers will follow in 2020.

Of course, Cousins might not get those multi-year offers this summer. That’s why a one-year deal in New York could work for him. It’d be another chance to improve his stock, much like his season with the Warriors was supposed to provide.

I doubt either the Knicks or Cousins want this. New York prefers better players. Cousins surely desires a larger long-term deal. But they might have to settle for each other.

Kevin Durant reportedly sells home in California, rumored to have bought one in New York

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Kevin Durant‘s company moved its office to New York. He could follow, to the Nets or Knicks, in free agency.

Maybe he’s already on the way?

Neal J. Leitereg of the Los Angeles Times:

Kevin Durant has wrapped up some business in Malibu, selling his oceanfront home on Broad Beach for $12.15 million.

Accounting for real estate commissions and other fees, the sale comes out as a bit of a wash for the 10-time all-star. He bought the place last year for $12.05 million, The Times previously reported in April.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

sources familiar with Durant’s off-court business say Durant has since purchased a new home in New York and moved his belongings there.

Many NBA players spend their offseasons in Southern California. I’m not sure what to make of Durant selling his house there. This isn’t Durant selling his condo in San Francisco, where the Warriors will open a new arena next season.

Buying a place in New York would be more significant, but a player buying a house in a city where he could sign is a classic rumor. It often gets spread whether or not it’s true. I’m skeptical of the sourcing here.

But if Durant no longer plans to play in California, it could make more sense to sell his Malibu home. Of course, he could buy another house near Los Angeles. We just know he sold this specific place on Broad Beach. We can’t extrapolate with certainty.

And Durant could buy a house in New York for the offseason. He might want to be closer to his company in the summer. That doesn’t mean he’ll play for New York or Brooklyn.

So, I’d nudge the odds of Durant leaving Golden State for the Nets or Knicks slightly higher based on this information. But I wouldn’t overreact to it.