Report: Cavaliers made trades without long-term commitment from LeBron James

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The Cavaliers have been trying to get LeBron James to commit to Cleveland long-term, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert seemingly particularly wary of going all-in this season if LeBron might leave in free agency this summer. But LeBron pledged to stay only the rest of the season, no longer.

Yesterday, the Cavaliers traded for George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. In those deals, Cleveland:

  • Increased spending this season by $9,606,233 ($582,337 in prorated salary, $6,923,896 in increased luxury tax, $2,100,000 in cash sent to the Kings and Jazz) – plus the cost of additional players with two cleared roster spots, which be taxed at 425% of their salaries
  • Increased its 2018-19 payroll by $15,455,332 – not counting paying Hood in restricted free agency or the luxury tax
  • Increased its 2019-20 payroll by $6,621,967
  • Surrendered its own 2018 first-round pick, a 2020 second-rounder and swap rights on its 2024 second-rounder with Utah

That’s significant long-term cost. Did it earn the Cavaliers a pledge from LeBron?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The Cavs did not get a commitment from LeBron James that he will stay past this season before executing today’s trade, sources said.

This is unsurprising. LeBron values his leverage, and he won’t relinquish it this easily. He can opt out next summer, and once again, Cleveland will be forced to please him.

Yesterday’s trades could help. They revitalize what had increasingly become a toxic environment. They make the roster better-equipped to win now. And they remind LeBron management is committed to winning.

But LeBron also views big spending as an expectation, not a favor. He doesn’t seem inclined to give Gilbert the benefit of the doubt on anything. However LeBron feels today about the trades will dissipate, and his last game experience heading into the offseason will still likely be a playoff loss.

For four years, LeBron and Gilbert have formed a tense, prosperous partnership that has resulted in three straight trips to the NBA Finals and a championship. LeBron has delivered on the floor and drawn attention to the Cavs. Gilbert opened his checkbook in a major way, and that continued yesterday.

But thanks to his repeated short-term contracts and no-shortage of teams eager to court him, LeBron still has leverage.

The Cavaliers hold some cards, too. They didn’t trade the Nets pick, the most valuable chip in a potential post-LeBron rebuild. Or that pick could be used in a win-now trade this summer to woo LeBron.

No matter what steps were taken yesterday, the effort of convincing LeBron that Cleveland is the right place for him never ends. He has made sure of that.

Rumor: Did Porzingis want out of New York because he didn’t want to play with Durant?

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In less than a year, Kristaps Porzingis went from the anointed savior of the Knicks franchise to being traded to the Dallas Mavericks to make way for whatever and whoever is next. It was a turn of events that shocked and angered much of the Knicks fan base.

After the trade went down, the spin machines got busy. The Knicks said that Porzingis requested to be moved, and while there was some push back about that from KP’s camp there was no question he had his frustrations with the Knicks and might have looked around as a restricted free agent. Why did he want out? Did he not trust management? Or was it something else… like who the Knicks are reportedly targeting as a free agent? One Kevin Durant.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe floated that last theory on his podcast Friday:

“I don’t think he was psyched about playing with Durant. I don’t know how directly that was verbalized to the Knicks, but I’m confident that it wasn’t something that was his Plan A, he wanted to be the face of the franchise.”

That apparently was not said to the Knicks.

Expect push back from Porzingis’ camp on this.

There is a whole lot of speculation in this rumor, starting with the Knicks being able to land Durant (even though most sources I talk to around the league see that as the most likely outcome this summer). KD’s star would have been brighter than Porzingis’, but in New York there is plenty of spotlight to go around. Was sharing the stage really an issue?

Porzingis’ frustrations likely had many layers and cannot be defined by Durant alone. If he didn’t trust ownership and management, can you really blame him? We’ll never really know how much of a factor Durant was — or, was not — in that mix.

Where Porzingis landed, he and Luka Doncic are the face of the Mavericks going forward. Mark Cuban and Dallas bet big on them. The question now for Porzingis is was that a good gamble?

Watch Kawhi Leonard strip DeMar DeRozan, get dunk to put Raptors up for good

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DeMar DeRozan was welcomed back to Toronto Friday night with a standing ovation — DeRozan is still the most beloved Raptor in franchise history.

But with the game on the line, Kawhi Leonard showed everyone why Toronto made the trade.

Leonard stripped the ball from DeRozan at midcourt and took it in for a dunk that put Toronto up for good.

The Spurs missed their next shot and a couple Leonard free throws after that iced it.

Leonard had 25 points in the game while Pascal Siakam added 22 — those are the two guys who can make this postseason in Toronto different from the previous ones.

Draymond Green reportedly to switch agents to Rich Paul

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This summer, the Golden State Warriors need to deal with the free agency of Klay Thompson (expected by sources around the league to re-sign and stay) and Kevin Durant (those same sources think he leans toward leaving).

The following summer of 2020 it’s Draymond Green who is up. Will he have a max offer waiting from the Warriors?

In anticipation of what’s to come, Green is reportedly switching agents to Rich Paul, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green is close to hiring Rich Paul of Klutch Sports as his basketball representation, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

He was previously repped by Wasserman.

Paul most famously represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis, although he has a number of other clients.

I’ll say about this switch what I said when Davis switched to Klutch at the start of this past season: Rich Paul is not the guy you hire if the plan is just to automatically sign the contract put in front of you.

Green is a former Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time All-NBA player, and this season he is averaging 7.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. However, there has been debate around the league about whether his next contract should be a max, or more accurately, should it be a max at the full five years? Or at the four years other teams can offer? The defensive versatility Green brings Golden State is unquestioned — the Warriors are not the Warriors without his ability to guard fives effectively — he is a fantastic passer, and he is the emotional bellwether for the team in many ways. However, he’s shooting 25 percent from three this season (and teams dare him to take that shot now), doesn’t really create on offense (the Warriors can easily hide that with their starters right now), and there are thoughts that he hits free agency at age 29 and his game will not age well. Green also has had a very public clash with Kevin Durant.

What the Warriors will do with Green may hinge in part on happens this summer. If Durant decides to re-sign with Golden State could they then look to trade Green? Also, Green is extension eligible this summer, but with the Warriors cap situation, the raise the Warriors could offer Green will be well below what he likely makes on the open market in 2020. There are a lot of moving parts in the Warriors’ future. And Green’s.

It looks like Rich Paul will be part of that future now as well.

Grizzlies’ standout rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. out indefinitely with deep thigh bruise

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Jarren Jackson Jr. looked like a future franchise cornerstone in Memphis this season. He’s averaged 13.8 points a game, shot 35.9 percent from three, grabbed 4.7 points per game, played good defense as a rookie, been improving, and as the Grizzlies enter a rebuild he will be what the team is building around in the paint.

However, he’s going to miss some time now with a thigh bruise, the team announced Friday night. From the official announcement:

Grizzlies forward/center Jaren Jackson Jr. suffered a deep thigh bruise and will be out indefinitely. He is expected to make a full recovery.

Expect the Grizzlies to be cautious and take their time bringing him back, he may no return this season. In part because they should be cautious with an injury to a future cornerstone, but also in part because they are trying to hang on to their draft pick this year, which is top eight protected (otherwise it goes to Boston). Currently the Grizzlies have the sixth worst record in the league and only a four percent chance of losing their pick, but fall farther back in the standings and the odds get even better they keep it.