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.

Anthony Davis challenging Michael Jordan as best opening-game player on record

AP Photo/Michael Wyke
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Anthony Davis called himself the NBA’s best player.

He sure backed it up last night.

Davis posted a 32-16-8-3-3 to lead the Pelicans to a 19-point win over the Rockets, considered by many to be the NBA’s second-best team. The performance immediately vaults Davis to the forefront of any MVP discussions.

But for him, it was just par for the course. Davis has repeatedly dazzled in season openers. When 18-6-2-3 qualifies as the dud, you know Davis is doing something right.

Davis’ box scores in New Orleans’ first game each season:

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That makes Davis’ average season-opener game score 24.1, one of the best ever. Only Michael Jordan has a higher mark on record (since 1983, as far back as Basketball-Reference records go; minimum: three games).

Here are the leaders:

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Obviously, Davis cares more about how he finishes than starts. The Pelicans have made the playoffs only twice with him, getting swept in the first round in 2015 and falling in the second round last season.

But it should be clear by now: Davis comes to play as soon as the season tips.

PBT Extra: Boston can be team to dethrone Golden State Warriors

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I’ve heard it from friends. I’ve seen it on NBA Twitter. I’ve debated it with sports talk radio hosts.

“This NBA season is already decided, nobody has a chance against the Warriors.”

Not true.

Boston has a shot, as I get into in this PBT Extra.

Absolutely the Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win it all, if healthy they should three-peat. They were my pick. But I believe Boston has a legitimate shot to dethrone the Warriors — they have the wing athletes, the switchability on defense, the scoring, the versatility. A Boston/Golden State Finals is going six or seven games… if we get there. It’s just day two of a long season.

But I believe in Boston.

 

Boban Marjanovic dunks so hard (with his feet touching floor!), rim must be checked for levelness (video)

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The Nuggets had no answer for Boban Marjanovic.

Neither did L.A.’s rims.

The 7-foot-3, 290-pound Clippers center scored 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds in 18 minutes. The Clippers outscored Denver by seven with Marjanovic on the floor, but got outscored by 16 otherwise in a 107-98 loss last night.

Marjanovic just doesn’t have the stamina to play huge minutes, though he caught an extra breather when officials stopped the game to check the levelness of a rim Marjanovic dunked on – with his feet still on the ground. Incredible!