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Rodney Hood’s plan: ‘After this year I’ll be able to make Cleveland my home’

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Rodney Hood could not get a contract offer this summer. It was a stunning fall, because one year ago he expected to be the go-to scorer of the Utah Jazz and by the end of the season he barely got off the bench in Cleveland (and in one case would not get off the bench). No team would make an offer to the restricted free agent that they knew the Cavaliers wouldn’t match, so no team made an offer. Eventually, Hood signed his $3.4 million qualifying offer with Cleveland and will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

But he doesn’t want to go anywhere.

Hood said his goal was to help lead the Cavaliers and play so well they would offer him more and keep him, speaking to Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“I believe strongly in myself that after this year I’ll be able to make Cleveland my home and we’ll get a better deal next summer,” Hood told cleveland.com Monday in a wide-ranging interview…

“My twins were born here,” he said. “I like the community, even though I haven’t been out there a lot. I want to make this a home. It’s just didn’t happen this summer. That’s how I look at it.”

It’s certainly possible. Hood is a 6’8″ swingman who can create his own shot, is strong as a pick-and-roll ball handler, runs the floor, can hit the three, can iso, and just knows how to get buckets. If he’s comfortable in the system, he should put up numbers that will get him paid a little next summer.

Maybe that’s in Cleveland, although what the Cavaliers will look like a year from now and what direction the team ultimately goes remains uncertain. They brought Kevin Love and are talking playoffs, but a slow start and the sands could shift around this team. Either way, have a strong season and Hood will like his contract offer a lot more.

 

 

J.R. Smith responds to chances of Knicks signing Kyrie Irving: ‘High’

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Kyrie Irving is reportedly the Knicks’ top target in 2019 free agency.

Will he leave the Celtics for New York? His former Cavaliers teammate, J.R. Smith, appears to think so.

Rob Perez of The Action Network:

Irving reportedly told Cleveland teammates of his desire to join the Knicks. But that was while he was on a team he clearly wanted off. Now that he’s in Boston, his plans definitely could have changed.

So, maybe Smith is just going off old information. But maybe he knows more.

Another theory: Smith wasn’t actually addressing the possibility of Irving signing with the Knicks, but rather his own personal status.

Cavaliers lose one star, lock up another, sure don’t break even

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

It’s nice to feel wanted.

Particularly if you’re the Cavaliers, a small-market team that has been shunned by most stars. LeBron James was the shining exception, but even he left again.

LeBron’s second exit didn’t hit as hard. He already made good by leading Cleveland to the city’s first championship in several decades. Experiencing his departure once already also softened the blow, as Cavs fans and personnel seemed more primed and accepting this time. It’s difficult to summon that much outrage twice.

Still, in the aftermath of LeBron signing with the Lakers, the Cavaliers were in a certain state of mind when they found another star who wanted to stay. That’s when they signed Kevin Love to a four-year, $120,402,172 contract extension.

Admittedly, that’s hard to turn down. When a star picks a market like Cleveland, there’s a logic to the team just signing him then figuring out the rest later.

But it’s such a fleeting victory. If 30-year-old Love declines significantly during the next few seasons, as many players do at that age, fans will forget all about him embracing this team. That’s why the Cavs should have resisted indulging in that instant gratification.

Love’s extension could work. Out of LeBron’s shadow, maybe Love shows the all-around excellence he did with the Timberwolves. Maybe he leads the Cavaliers to the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, which would be quite the satisfying result the season after LeBron leaves. Maybe, even if Love is overpaid, Cleveland trades him for value like the Clippers did with Blake Griffin.

But it’s such a narrow path to success. After years of aging and injuries, I’m not convinced Love still possesses the athleticism necessary to play like did with in Minnesota. The supporting cast that was holding back LeBron doesn’t seem like a playoff outfit to me. And I don’t like the idea of holding out hope for a sucker/risk-taking team, especially with one potential Love suitor already having traded for Griffin.

Still – despite high enough disaster potential and low enough upside that I wouldn’t have given Love this extension – I get it. It could pay off long-term, and it definitely made the Cavaliers feel better right now.

They sure didn’t find a star small forward who wanted to join them, though. So, they took fliers on Sam Dekker and David Nwaba. The prices were cheap enough. The Clippers paid a portion of Dekker’s salary to trade him to Cleveland, and Nwaba signed for the minimum.

But Dekker and Nwaba are slight downgrades from the previous small forward.

No. 8 pick Collin Sexton might lead the Cavs into a new era. For now, he’s the big youthful exception on a team that’s relatively old for its limbo position.

The Cavaliers are probably at least a couple seasons from finding a direction, and this offseason didn’t help.

Rodney Hood accepting the qualifying offer is a step toward the Cavs squandering an asset. That’s not to say they should have paid him whatever it took to lock him up long term. He might not be worth what he demanded. But this is a negative outcome for Cleveland. Only one player – Spencer Hawes with the 76ers – has ever accepted his qualifying offer then re-signed with the same team the following year. And Hood can now veto any trade, making it more difficult to get value for him before his 2019 unrestricted free agency.

Even if Hood doesn’t want to stay, at least Love did. And in another feel-good story, Channing Frye returned on a minimum contract. The respected veteran seemingly could have had his pick of better teams, and he chose Cleveland.

But likely overpaying Love and attracting a nice guy can’t paper over the biggest development of the offseason.

LeBron is gone.

Offseason grade: F

Isaiah Thomas says he’s the best point guard in the NBA (VIDEO)

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Isaiah Thomas is a little guy with big confidence. It’s mostly deserved, as Thomas was one of the most electric players of the 2016-17 NBA season with the Boston Celtics.

Of course, since then Thomas has bounced around a little bit following a hip injury and a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers that didn’t quite work out. Thomas has played for the Los Angeles Lakers since then, and now he’ll try to resurrect his chances at a larger contract with the Denver Nuggets this upcoming year.

Still, I’m not sure that how Thomas apparently feels about himself is reasonable. While the NBA guard was talking to comedian Kevin Hart during an interview this past week, Thomas revealed his top five point guards playing in the NBA today. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) Thomas listed himself as the best PG in the league.

According to Thomas, the list includes Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard.

Some players need to be that Irrational Confidence Guy, but Thomas is so far removed from his peak that it’s a little disheartening to see him have a lack of humility — or perhaps humor — about his current situation. Thomas has gone from a top VORP guy to a negative VORP guy in the course of two seasons. Nobody is backing up the Brinks truck for him soon, and at age 29 it’s more likely than not he will have a hard time recovering from his previous injury concerns.

Criticism of Thomas’s opinion about himself aside, he really is the victim of poor timing and NBA GMs letting their prejudice against short dudes get the better of them. Advanced statistics suggest that Thomas was not deserving of the kind of money he wanted when he made the Brinks truck comment, but he was worth more than what teams were willing to offer him. His injury simply came at an inopportune time.

Hopefully he can be a spark plug for a team in Denver who will be fun to watch and will likely be a playoff team if health allows.

Lakers ace offseason by signing LeBron James

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Lakers signed LeBron James.

Offseason grade: A+

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, you want more?

The Lakers followed the summer’s biggest coup – not just signing LeBron, but locking him in for three years – with a dispiriting (or, depending on your perspective, comical) set of transactions.

Los Angeles didn’t lure Paul George or trade for Kawhi Leonard. Instead, the Lakers valued playmakers as if the best course isn’t giving LeBron the ball, talked about defense as if anyone who was once a good defender or has the physical tools will defend well and treated shooting as if floor spacing barely matters.

The good news: The Lakers are penciled into this plan for only one year.

The bad news: It’s a year of 33-year-old LeBron’s eventually ending prime.

The Lakers have essentially assembled three contingents:

They’ll have a chance to prove me wrong, but I have little faith in those veterans complementing LeBron well. And most of them didn’t come cheap – Caldwell-Pope ($12 million), Rondo ($9 million), Stephenson (room exception), Beasley ($3.5 million). If anything, Caldwell-Pope – whose shared agent with LeBron, Rich Paul, might have forced the Lakers’ hand with re-signing him to a generous salary – is probably the best fit.

That puts a lot of pressure on Lakers president Magic Johnson to assess the young players. Which will become capable of contributing to winning at the highest level before LeBron’s prime ends? Which should be traded for veterans? These are not easy questions, but it’s a much more enjoyable challenge than the one Los Angeles would have faced if LeBron didn’t come.

The Lakers went 35-47 last season, their best record in a half decade. LeBron changes everything.

But there might be a ceiling on the Lakers’ progress next season. Don’t ignore the departures of Julius Randle (to Pelicans) and Brook Lopez (to Bucks). Even Larry Nance Jr. helped the Lakers build credibility before getting shipped to the Cavaliers in a midseason trade that helped open cap space for LeBron.

This isn’t the end of the road, though. After convincing Luol Deng to relinquish $7,455,933 in a buyout, the Lakers are in line for about max cap space next summer. They also still have all those valuable young players to develop or trade. The cupboard is full of ingredients around LeBron.

Now, the Lakers must just find a winning recipe.

I don’t think this year’s plan is it, but whatever missteps the Lakers made this summer, landing LeBron overshadows everything else.

Offseason grade: A+