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Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: LeBron dunk forces OT in Cavs/Mavs thriller

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If you’re like me, you stopped your binge watching of Making a Murderer to flip on NBA games Tuesday. If you’re not like me and just kept right on watching the Avery family, then here is what you need to know from a Tuesday around the Association.

1) LeBron James’ dunk sends Cavaliers and Mavericks to overtime, where Kyrie Irving sank the dagger. What.A. Game. Dallas and Cleveland played one of the most entertaining games of the year a back-and-forth contest that even saw Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron matched up head-to-head in key moments. Dallas’ starters played fantastically — Chandler Parsons had 25 points — while Cleveland’s struggled for much of the game (Kevin Love was 5-of-19 shooting, but, at least, he got 19 shots). LeBron continued his hot shooting from the outside ever since John Schuhmann’s tweet; he looked like his vintage self for stretches. Then when the Cavaliers needed a bucket to send the game to overtime LeBron attacked the rim and Devin Harris was not about to stop that finish.

That led to an overtime where eventually the Cavaliers went on a 10-2 run, but it was LeBron’s hesitation after a Deron Williams flop, and then a kick-out to a very deep Kyrie Irving, that put the dagger in Dallas.

2) Carmelo Anthony sprains ankle, could miss time. It was a fluke play not long before halftime. Anthony was running back upcourt, watching the play behind him, and crashed into a referee, stepping on the ref’s foot. ‘Melo rolled his ankle.

Anthony had his ankle retaped and tried to start the second half, but played 19 seconds and came out. The good news is the X-rays were negative, and he’s not going to miss much time. However, don’t be surprised if Anthony sits out Wednesday against the Nets.

‘Melo’s ankle almost stole the headline from the real story: The Knicks are a .500 team at 20-20 after beating Boston (which has struggled since the first of the year). Before the season it would have seemed impossible that the Knicks would be playing this well, or that .500 would still be on the outside looking in at the playoffs in the East, but here we are. Knicks fans can thank the youngsters for this win: Jerian Grant had nine points and six assists in the fourth quarter; Kristaps Porzingis had 16 points and took one three from a step off the Knicks logo at center court.

3) Derrick Rose leaves the game due to tendonitis, says he’s not going to miss time (but we’ll see). The Chicago Bulls have lost three straight games now (falling to the Bucks Tuesday 106-101), their defense has gone on hiatus, and those are not their biggest worries anymore — Derrick Rose had to come out of the game in the second half with what he called “jumpers’ knee.” Rose wasn’t worried that this is serious, but he just came back after three missed games (hamstring) and now this. Don’t be shocked if he sits out a game or three.

The Bulls actually have been better this season with Rose off the court, mostly because their defense improves. Plus they are used to playing without him (the offense is very close to the same scoring rate with him on or off the court). Still, Chicago is going to struggle to find its identity if it can’t just get a stretch of games with settled rotations with everyone healthy.

[graphiq id=”1XQgwamimGh” title=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015″ width=”600″ height=”548″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/1XQgwamimGh” link=”http://basketball-players.pointafter.com/l/383/Derrick-Rose” link_text=”Bulls Opponent Stats With Derrick Rose On/Off Court in 2015 | PointAfter”]

4) Kobe Bryant leaves Lakers’ game with a sore Achilles.
Speaking of superstars whose bodies will not let them stay on the court, Kobe had to leave the Lakers’ eventual win over the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans because of a sore Achilles. Considering his previous injury there, the Lakers rightfully are going to be cautious. Kobe is listed as questionable for Thursday’s game at Golden State.

I watched the second half of this game and here are my two quick takeaways:

1) Byron Scott, for the love of the game, keep D'Angelo Russell in at the end of the fourth quarter. He played well, you can start to see his development of late, he is mentally starting to figure out how to play at the NBA level and work off pick-and-rolls — why are you sitting him? You reward his good play with getting to watch the end of the game from the bench? Interesting player development choice.

2) The final two minutes of this game were just sloppy and ugly. These are two bad teams playing matador defense basketball.

5) A power outage leads to 20-minute delay during Suns at Pacers. This was the best defense Phoenix played all night. A power outage throughout downtown Indianapolis turned off the lights at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the game had to be delayed with 4:32 left in the second quarter and the Pacers up by two. The stoppage was about 20-25 minutes.

Indiana went on a 14-3 run not long after the lights came back up. The Pacers went on to win 116-97.

Why timing of Anthony Davis trade matters so much for Lakers

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The Lakers will get Anthony Davis.

That’s clearly the only thing that matters to them.

Not only will they send the Pelicans a massive haul of draft picks and young players, the Lakers could lose significant cap space with the trade’s structure.

Los Angeles and New Orleans can’t complete the reported deal until the league year turns over June 30. Then, the NBA immediately goes into a moratorium in which most transactions aren’t allowed. The moratorium ends July 6. That’s when two main options emerge.

Option 1: Trade July 6

Let’s start with Davis’ trade kicker, a bonus paid to him if traded. Davis’ base salary next season is $27,093,018. His 15% trade bonus could raise his salary $4,063,953 to $31,156,971. Davis could waive all or a portion of the bonus. The Pelicans would pay the bonus, but the Lakers can also include enough cash in the trade to cover the full bonus amount.

The Lakers will send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart (combined salary: $17,918,965) and the No. 4 pick (which will count about $7 million against the cap) to New Orleans.

Davis’ salary will be between $27,093,018 and $31,156,971 next season, depending on his trade kicker.

Simply, the Lakers’ incoming salary in the trade will be about $2 million-$6 million higher than their outgoing salary in the trade.

That works just fine under the cap rules. The Lakers will have way more than $2 million-$6 million in cap space. As far as salary matching, teams can always trade when they end up under the cap.

So, after this deal, the Lakers would have about $24 million-$28 million in cap space.

But there’s another path that would give the Lakers even more flexibility.

Option 2: Trade July 30

On July 6, if they renounce all their free agents and waive Jemerrio Jones‘ unguaranteed salary, the Lakers project to have about $33 million cap space.

That’s about enough for a max salary for a free agent with fewer than 10 years experience – someone like Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving. Or multiple helpful role players.

The Lakers could spend all that money then trade for Davis.

Here’s how they could get Davis after reaching the cap line:

They’d sign the No. 4 pick June 30. (Signing first-round picks is one of the few moves allowed during the moratorium.) He couldn’t be traded for 30 days after being signed. Hence, the July 30 date on this trade. But his actual salary would count toward the trade. Unsigned draft picks count $0 in trades.

In this salary range, the Lakers could acquire 125% of the outgoing salary in the trade plus $100,000. Aggregating Ball, Ingram, Hart and the signed No. 4 pick would allow the Lakers to acquire about $31 million of salary. That covers Davis’ full salary and most, if not all, of his trade bonus.

But why would the Pelicans wait?

That’d mean the No. 4 pick can’t play for them in summer league. There’d also be complications flipping the No. 4 pick to another team.

It’d also tie up a portion their cap space until the trade is completed, as they’re the ones holding the more-expensive Davis through July. Most good free agents will be off the market by July 30.

New Orleans could always reach an unofficial agreement with a free agent then make the deal official after the Lakers trade. But that requires trust, and some free agents might not go for that.

There’s no upside in waiting for the Pelicans. The only question is how much downside.

What’s at stake?

A quick recap:

If the Lakers trade for Davis sooner, they’d project to have $24 million-$28 million in cap space (depending on his trade bonus).

If the Lakers trade for Davis later, they’d project to have about $33 million in cap space.

That extra $5 million-$9 million could go a long way.

What now?

It doesn’t sound as if the Lakers pressed New Orleans to wait until July 30 before accepting the trade.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:

For now, the plan is to execute the trade on July 6, right after the moratorium ends on the start of free agency — and it’s unlikely that will change.

The Lakers could always negotiate with free agents June 30-July 5 then decide. If they want the additional cap space, the Lakers could try to entice the Pelicans with extra draft picks to delay. But that’d make the trade even more costly to Los Angeles.

The alternative might be even more grim – the Lakers not finding worthy players in the first week of free agency. Los Angeles could even view that as a face-saving move to justify the timing of this trade.

But if the Lakers make this trade July 6 then claim they didn’t have good use for an extra $5 million-$9 million in cap space, they’ll only be telling on themselves.

Report: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has griped about Chris Paul’s contract in front of rival executives

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In 2017, Chris Paul opted in to facilitate a trade to the capped-out Rockets. By forgoing free agency and a max salary, Paul sacrificed $10,083,055 that season. With Paul and James Harden, the Rockets became a championship contender and pushed the Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference finals.

The bill came due last summer.

Houston re-signed the aging Paul to a four-year max contract worth $159,730,592. That deal always looked like it could age poorly, and Paul – now 34 – is already slowing.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has noticed.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Fertitta has grumbled about Paul’s contract, expressing regret to Rockets staffers and even in front of rival executives, according to league sources.

Fertitta bought the Rockets after they traded for Paul. Though the sale was completed before they re-signed Paul, it seems the contract terms were at least discussed as far back as the opt-in-and-trade.

So, Fertitta didn’t necessarily sign off on this arrangement.

But it was good for Houston! It made the Rockets the biggest threat to the Kevin Durant-supercharged Warriors to that point. Re-signing Paul helped keep Houston in title contention this year. The Rockets were limited in that pursuit by Fertitta’s spending limitations, not by locking Paul into this contract.

Yes, there’s downside to Paul’s deal. Houston is feeling it now. Paul will be difficult, though not impossible, to trade this summer.

But as much as Fertitta talks about winning, he yet again shows why that’s all bluster.

Kawhi Leonard wears ‘Board Man Gets Paid’ shirt to Raptors’ championship parade (video)

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NBA championship celebrations have become defined by the shirts (or lack thereof).

The clear winner at the Raptors’ parade today: Kawhi Leonard and his ‘Board Man Gets Paid‘ shirt:

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MVP!

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Second place goes to Kyle Lowry, the Raptors’ all-time franchise player honoring Toronto’s original franchise player, Damon Stoudamire:

As expected, Julius Randle will opt out of contract with Pelicans, become free agent

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The math on this is very simple.

After a couple of impressive seasons in a row, Julius Randle‘s stock is going up. The 24-year-old forward averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for the Pelicans last season, using his strength and athleticism to bully his way to buckets. That said, he also shot 34.4 percent from three, you have to respect him at the arc. He’s impressed a lot of teams.

Randle had a player option for $9.1 million with the Pelicans next season. On the open market, he likely will get a multi-year deal starting in the low teens ($13 million at least). So what do you think he was going to do?

The Pelicans are okay with this move. While they like Randle, they have Zion Williamson coming in playing a similar role (and they hope better).

A few teams to keep an eye on rumored to have interest in Randle are the Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn, Nets, and Dallas Mavericks. Others will throw their hat in the ring as well.

It’s going to be a good summer to be Julius Randle.