August 26, 2014

Zydrunas Ilgauskas considering a return?

photo1

Could the No. 11 jersey be coming down from the rafters? Tony Rizzo of ESPN Cleveland (WKNR/850 AM) reports that long-time center Zydrunas Ilgauskas is considering a return to the Cavaliers, eying up a role for “10-to-15 minutes per night.”

Ilgauskas, 39, has not played in the NBA since the 2010-2011 season. His jersey was famously retired by the Cavs last season in a ceremony that included his friend LeBron James, who was still a member of the Miami Heat at the time.

The Cavs continue to be in need of a center; speculation is swirling that the newly acquired Kevin Love could see time at the five in the event head coach David Blatt runs with a small lineup. Rizzo claims that Ilgauskas has been medically cleared and has been working out in hopes of a comeback that (finally) results in an NBA Championship.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst believes that Ilgauskas is in shape to still play, but his immobility on defense would be one that would not satisfy the team’s need for rim protection. Windhorst also believes that while Big Z may be in play, it would not be a signing that would happen before the start of the 2014-15 regular season. It is also believed that the all-time leader in games played as a Cavalier is content with his current situation.

Image: NBATV

 

NBA Rumors: Suns make late push for Kevin Love trade

kevin love cavsAccording to a report by Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com the Phoenix Suns reached out to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday regarding a trade for Kevin Love.

The report once again comes from an anonymous source and states the Suns’ proposed offer is centered around a sign and trade for restricted free agent guard Eric Bledsoe.

The Suns and Bledsoe are currently in a stalemate over contract talks. Bledsoe’s camp is wanting a max contract for the fifth year guard while the Suns are believed to be offering a deal similar to that of Kyle Lowry’s four-year, $48 million contract signed earlier this summer with Toronto.

The ESPN.com report says the “hand shake” deal between Cleveland and Minnesota is still in tact despite the Suns late push.

Cleveland’s proposed package to Minnesota includes Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a future first round pick. The proposed deal between Cleveland and Minnesota would not be able to be executed until tomorrow, August 23, due to league restrictions on trading draft picks after they have signed.

Let the silly season continue.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

[Related: Trusting and Believing in Kevin Love]

Anthony Bennett isn’t being traded to Philadelphia after all

Anthony Bennett

As we await the final few days of the Kevin Love-Andrew Wiggins trade saga, word coming out of Philadelphia is that Anthony Bennett isn’t being sent to the City of Brotherly Love after all.

As Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 pick, and Love continue to be the focal points of what will easily be this year’s (decade’s?) biggest trade in the NBA, it was believed that Bennett, last year’s No. 1 pick, would be sent to the 76ers for forward Thaddeus Young. Bennett was atrocious during his first year in the league, averaging a meager 4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, on 35.6 percent shooting from the field, but has since lost weight and appeared to be vastly improved during the recent Las Vegas Summer League.

Multiple other reports have since followed Zgoda’s, corroborating reports that the former UNLV star is going to be sticking in Minnesota. If he were to stay with the Wolves as a part of the Love deal, he would be heading to a team without a real power forward.

“I’m just a young man just ready to work,” Bennett recently told the Toronto Sun. “Wherever I end up, doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to play the game of basketball.”

The proposed (and allegedly accepted) trade is expected to be announced on August 23.

 

David Blatt won’t commit to starting Dion Waiters

dion_winner

Flexibility is typically a benefit, but the Cleveland Cavaliers’ current options could prove to make Dion Waiters’ goal of being the team’s starting shooting guard a bit difficult. Waiters’ desires are well known by this point, and while Andrew Wiggins may very well be on his way out, but Cavs have added Mike Miller and could very well be in the mix for Ray Allen—both players who are taller than Waiters and could instantly add flexibility and floor spacing. With options abound, during a recent interview constructed with the help of David Pick, Cavs head coach David Blatt would not commit to Waiters as a member of the team’s starting five.

Dion is a lot of things to this team. I’ve never seen any particular importance to the emphasis of starting or not, I see an emphasis on playing and helping the team win. That’s not to say he will or won’t start, that’s not the point. I think his and every player’s motto and desire needs to be to help the team win. That’s what’s important.

Waiters, who averaged over 18 points per game as a starter for the Cavs in 2013-14, has lost approximately 10 pounds since the start of the offseason.

If Waiters has anything going for him, it’s the fact that Blatt referred to Kyrie Irving as the team’s “multifaceted point guard” and, as a coach, is a fan of small lineups. If the first-year head coach opts to run with Kevin Love (who is expected to be announced as a member of the Cavs on Saturday) at the center and LeBron James at power forward, it would be expected that Miller, Allen or Shawn Marion (the shortest being 6-foot-5) would play small forward with the 6-foot-4-inch Waiters getting plenty of run at the shooting guard spot. Whether or not this has implication on who starts, however, remains to be seen.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Trusting and believing in Kevin Love

Kyrie LeBron Love Cavs Photoshop

The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly agreed to send two former No. 1 overall picks and a protected, future first-rounder for one guaranteed year of the best power forward in the NBA along with his word that he will re-up for five more years next summer. In the deal, Minnesota gets Andrew Wiggins, a much hyped and once thought of as a LeBronesque rookie, along with an in-shape and a steady breathing Anthony Bennett. Throw in a future Heat first-round pick and Flip Saunders and the T-Wolves faithful got a sizable haul compared to superstar trades of years past.1 Still, despite Minnesota inheriting some hope for the future, the value which the T-Wolves got back is nowhere close to comparable to what Cleveland brings in with Love. Love’s numbers and skills speak for themselves, but the most intriguing piece of this deal—one that won’t be measured until next summer—is Kevin Love’s word. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. The best of recent history is the Nuggets sending Carmelo Anthony to New York in exchange for Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov and a future first rounder which ended up being the eleventh pick in the 2014 draft. Over the next three full seasons the Nuggets would win four more games than the Knicks. []

Sources: Chauncey Billups visits with Cavs

Boston Celtics v Detroit Pistons

Could Chauncey Billups be the next veteran to join the Cleveland Cavaliers? Multiple sources tell WFNY that Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star, spent Tuesday in Cleveland with Cavs head assistant coach Tyronn Lue, ultimately finishing up his trip with a Warehouse District dinner meeting alongside Lue, Cavs general manager David Griffin, head coach David Blatt. This, of course, comes one day after the Cavs contingent met with free agent small forward Shawn Marion.

The nature of any discussions with the Cavs are unclear, but it is believed that Billups, who will be 38 years old by the time the 2014-15 season tips off, is interested in eventually moving into a coaching or executive role once he officially retires. Retiring is the operative word, however, as the 2004 NBA Finals MVP was believed to be in search of another contract as recent as early July, working out in Las Vegas and reportedly looking good despite his age and recent run of injuries.

Billups signed a two-year, $5 million deal to rejoin the Pistons last summer, but played in just 19 games (averaging 3.8 points per game), undergoing surgery to reapair the meniscus in his right knee this past February. He has not played in more than 22 games since his 2010-11 season with the New York Knicks and on June 30, the Pistons announced that they would not be picking up Billups’ team option, making him an unrestricted free agent.

“You don’t want to end the way that my last couple of seasons ended,” Billups told 9News.com this past June. “But I’m back from that now. Just getting older.”

Recently announcing the signings of veteran swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones, the Cavs now have 16 players on their roster, so any addition in a player capacity would likely be delayed. Cleveland is believed to soon be on the receiving end of a trade that would net them Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Love, with multiple players being sent to Minnesota. The Cavs were interested in adding Billups to the fold as recent as last season.

Billups’ name was also loosely discussed in Cleveland this past summer as the team was in search of a head coach following the firing of Mike Brown. He was reportedly pursued by Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves to serve as an assistant coach. Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert has reportedly long been a fan of Billups—those Detroit connections run deep—but belief amongst NBA executives is that the long-time Pistons point guard, who was one of the league’s most outspoken players during the 2011 NBA lockout, has desires to one day be in a league front office, following in the footsteps of friend and idol Joe Dumars.

(Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images)

Free Agent forward Shawn Marion visits with Cavs

Photo1

Could the Cavaliers be adding even more veteran athleticism? Free agent small forward Shawn Marion was in Cleveland on Monday afternoon, taking in a visit with Cavaliers GM David Griffin and head coach David Blatt.

Per ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Marion is the latest target for LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, according to sources with knowledge of the team’s plans. Griffin has a strong relationship with Marion from their Phoenix days together and Cleveland, years that featured Marion as one of the league’s best when it came to total statistical output.

Per Stein, the 36-year-old Marion is a “natural target” for the Indiana Pacers in the wake of the devastating leg injury suffered by Paul George this past weekend, but the Cavaliers—thanks to the presence of James—have the upper hand over Indiana or anyone else recruiting the veteran small forward, showing that depth (despite potentially dealing several players in the near future) should be of little concern.

In 2013-14, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. The Cavs, largely anticipated to be on the receiving end of a Kevin Love deal, can offer Marion nothing but the league minimum.

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am tournament in Toronto?

Anthony Bennett had been one of many Canadian basketball players participating in the second annual OVO Bounce tournament this week in Toronto. He played on Monday in the pro-am and he started playing again on Tuesday. Nothing seemed noteworthy, just the slimmed-down and finally-breathing 21-year-old Cleveland Cavalier playing in front of some fans.

But according to various reports, he was then oddly pulled out early tonight and lounged around at the tournament. The move was reportedly made by Bennett’s agent and he will not play the rest of the event.

The tournament, which is being played at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, is sponsored by Drake and named after his label, October’s Very Own. The eight-team tournament will conclude with Saturday’s fifth annual OVO Fest, also to be headlined by Outkast. Other participating players include Tyler Ennis, Jordan Clarkson, Sim Bhullar, Myck Kabongo and Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson.

Bennett’s agent was among the players in the tournament. So it’s certainly possible that there is nothing to be made of this little odd piece of news. But as always, we’re just passing along the update in case anything might be in the works. Of course, Kevin Love withdrew from Team USA amid his uncertain NBA destination status as well.

Kevin Love may not opt in, Cavs may not care

kevin love cavs

While many continue to debate the merits of players involved in a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, the great unknown continues to be how long Love would call Cleveland home. There are rumors that he’s demanding a trade to Cleveland and wants to play alongside LeBron James; Cleveland would be the only place he would commit to in the way of a long-term deal, starting with an opt-in for 2015-16. But The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto says not so fast:

Love is guaranteed $15.7 million this season, with a player option for $16.7 million in 2015-16. I wrote a column insisting the Cavs should demand Love pick up his option before making a deal. Talking to some NBA executives, that could be a problem. One executive explained how the best move for Love may be to come to the Cavs on the current deal — no changes. He becomes a free agent in 2015, then signs a five-year deal for the maximum (could be more than $100 million) to stay here. …

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option… I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

There has been plenty of Twitter angst surrounding this aspect of the deal. On one side is a group saying that you can’t gamble with a No. 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins if you’re only going to get one year out of Kevin Love. On the other side are those saying that Cleveland team’s have gone decades without swinging for the fences and have wound up empty-handed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly only muddies the waters even more.

Do the Cavs trust Love? Does Love love Cleveland? Stay tuned. We’re about to find out, one way or the other.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Ray Allen leaning toward joining Cavs

ray-allen-compressor

The Free Agency haul rolls on as Ray Allen is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This report is according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Allen is expected to have MRIs on his legs to make sure they’re healthy, so nothing will be official until after Thursday. Mike Miller, another recent addition, has been recruiting Ray Allen to join him and LeBron James—both teammates of Allen in Miami—in Cleveland.

“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said on ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Show. “Now it’s about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”

The 39-year-old Allen was fielding offers from the Cavs as well as the Houston Rockets in addition to contemplating retirement. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes with 2973, and over 19 years of professional play, Allen has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Cavs “firmly in lead” to acquire Kevin Love

Photo1

Andrew Wiggins is one step closer to being an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether or not he ultimately reaches that destination remains to be seen.

The Golden State Warriors were long considered to be the Cavs’ lone rival in obtaining Love as they refuse to include swingman Klay Thompson in discussions given Love’s potential to leave after one season. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst report that the Chicago Bulls—one of the choice destinations for Love—have also entered into the fray1, but the Cavs remain “firmly in the lead” in a deal that would center around Wiggins. The Cavs are reportedly increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

The Associated Press has confirmed an earlier report from Windhorst that states the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick will sign his rookie contract with the team. Wiggins has been the topic of trade talks since being selected this past summer, the 6-foot-8-inch shooting guard being the top target of the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to deal power forward Kevin Love before he reaches free agency. Last week, the AP cited two people familiar with the discussions in saying that the Cavs were still not willing to include Wiggins in a deal despite previous reports to the contrary.

Once the deal (said to be worth roughly $5.5 million in 2014) is inked, the Cavs would be prohibited from dealing the rookie for 30 days. Prior to being signed, Wiggins’ value in a trade was zero. If the Cavaliers do decide to part ways with the highly touted swingman, they would be $5.5 million closer to the required $12.56 million needed to acquire Love. Other players rumored to be involved include Dion Waiters ($4.06 million) and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett ($5.56 million).

[Related: Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”]

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler appear to be their starting point. []

Conflicting reports surrounding Wiggins, Love

kevin-love

Welcome to last week! While it’s not the constant refreshing of LeBron James dot com, the news surrounding a potential acquisition of Minnesota power forward Kevin Love is reaching new levels. In response to Thursdays reports that had the Cavaliers being willing to include No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal for the All-Star, multiple reports are now being filed in the contrary.

The latest from Withers is noteworthy as the veteran AP scribe tends to only report concrete, multiple-sourced information, refuses to report on things coming from player representatives and has had direct lines of contact with team owner Dan Gilbert.

In an interview 850AM/WKNR, Withers told Tony Rizzo’s “The Really Big Show” that there have been multiple discussions between both teams, but Wiggins has not been mentioned as being available. (Withers also hinted that it may have been the Timberwolves who leaked this news in attempt to get Golden State to increase their offer.) Discussions are wildly different than negotiations and that could obviously change. For now, however, it appears that the teams are in a staring contest.

Wiggins, despite swirling rumors, tallied 21 points (3-5 FG, 15-20 FT), five rebounds and a block in Thursday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League

[Related: All you need to know about trading for Kevin Love: WFNY FAQs]

LeBron has talked to Kevin Love about playing in Cleveland

The murmurs continue: LeBron James has reportedly talked to Kevin Love about the possibility of playing together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears reported the news on Thursday evening.

Love is enthusiastic about the idea of teaming with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources said. James’ decision to sign only a two-year contract that affords him the option of again becoming a free agent at the end of next season has not tempered Love’s interest in joining James on the roster.

The report stated that a deal is still not imminent, but again cited sources on the topic of the Cavs’ willingness to include Andrew Wiggins. An interesting new caveat: A third team would indeed be likely for the deal to make plausible sense. Otherwise, the Cavs would likely be depleting their roster too much.

Golden State remains reluctant to include Klay Thompson in a potential trade for Love. Such a deal with the Warriors — including forward David Lee — would perhaps be a bit more logical. But with LeBron’s persistence, anything can change in a hurry.

We’ll keep you posted on anything new. Although a deal might not happen by the weekend, there’s certain to be continued buzz and updates.

Cavs now willing to deal Andrew Wiggins?

Photo1

So about all that ‘untouchable’ talk… It has taken a little over one week for the Cleveland Cavaliers to loosen their grip on No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins if in fact it were to net them Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal reports, citing a league source, that the Cavs are now willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Up until this point, it was assumed the Cavs wanted to hang onto Wiggins, largely because of comments made by Coach David Blatt in Las Vegas. Finnan’s source, however, said that the recently signed LeBron James wants the 6-10, 250-pound Love on the Cavaliers’ roster. James’ pull has also netted the Cavs swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones, two former teammates of James during his time with the Miami Heat. (Miller recently told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd that he’s attempting to lure fellow shooting guard and former teammate Ray Allen to Cleveland as well.)

Finnan reports that the latest offer could include Wiggins, last years’ No. 1 pick in power forward Anthony Bennett and an additional first-round pick. Center Brendan Haywood, who was acquired on draft night, might be included in the deal to make it work contractually. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt corroborates Finnan’s report regarding Wiggins being available.

This deal, if transacted, would be the exact opposite of what Grantland’s Bill Simmons recently coined “Don’t Do The Wrong Thing Every Time Anymore” movement.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?]

Cavs in talks with Larry Drew to join coaching staff

Former Atlanta and Milwaukee head coach Larry Drew has chatted with the Cleveland Cavaliers about joining the team’s coaching staff. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported the news late Tuesday evening.

Drew was awkwardly fired two weeks ago as Milwaukee’s head coach. He was only 15-67 in his lone season with the Bucks, then the team went out and recruited the unhappy Jason Kidd away from Brooklyn to take Drew’s job. It was a pretty messy situation.

He coached the previous three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, bringing them to the playoffs each year. But then the team went in a new direction as well, bringing in Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer to work under Danny Ferry.

It’s possible that Drew has received a tad bit of bad luck in both draws. Milwaukee had a bunch of injuries last season amid their overall suckiness. Atlanta’s been a perennial playoff team that has never seemed to have enough talent to make any significant playoff noise. It’s possible Drew wasn’t too much to blame.

But on Twitter, many Milwaukee fans chastised Cleveland’s interest. And it’s important to note that we’re also talking about Gary Washburn here. Washburn, if you recall, was lambasted by the national media — including Deadspin — for voting for Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James for the 2013 MVP award. So take this report with a mild grain of salt, although he is a veteran reporter.

The Cavs have David Blatt as their new head coach and Tyronn Lue as their new associate head coach. The Cavs made Lue one of the highest-paid assistants in league history. On the team’s website, Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Boylan, Igor Kokoskov and Bret Brielmaier are still listed as holdovers from the previous regime. It’s uncertain how many more assistants Blatt might be looking to still add.

Keep ‘em coming: James Jones signs with Cavs

photo3

While Ray Allen deliberates his future, James Jones has reportedly jumped ahead of him in former members of the Miami Heat to join LeBron James in Cleveland.

Jones appeared in only 20 games for the Heat last season, averaging 4.9 points in 11.8 minutes of action, but he is a very close friend of James, both players’ respective families vacationing together as recent as this past summer. The 6-foot-8-inch space-creating swingman would likely just provide depth behind James and recent addition Mike Miller, allowing the four-time All-Star to potentially slide to the ‘stretch 4′ position with David Blatt at the helm.

It’s clear that the Cavs are pinpointing players who are not just friends with James, but those who can create the space needed for the Cavs’ offense to thrive. Jones led the NBA lasts season in catch-and-shoot situations, hitting 52 percent of his attempts. This past May, James went to bat for Jones, pleading for the three-point specialist to receive more playing time.

“It’s the space that he provides, and his ability to shoot the ball,” said LeBron. “You can’t do both when he’s out on the floor: You can’t help on my drive and try to contest the threes.”

Jones fielded offers from Golden State, Washington, New Orleans and Miami before choosing Cleveland. Your move, Ray. Everybody’s doing it.

Ray Allen deciding between Cavs, Rockets and Retirement

ray-allen-compressor

The Cavs may have signed Mike Miller to a two-year deal, but they may very well find themselves with another former teammate of LeBron James as shooting guard Ray Allen contemplates joining the team versus outright retirement.

Allen is still undecided whether he wants to return for another NBA season, or retire after 18 years in the NBA. He has reportedly been in talks with both the Rockets and Cavaliers, but is yet to speak with his former team. Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 2973, and has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

As recent as late June, reports swirled that Allen wished to continue playing despite being 39 years of age, hoping to do so alongside LeBron James, with whom he reportedly developed a close relationship with during their two seasons together in Miami, whether it is with the Heat or another team.

“I guess everything [is factored into the decision],” Allen told the Boston Globe during the most recent NBA Playoffs. “You get away from it, you sit down and get an opportunity to think about it. It depends on how my body feels. I love the condition I’ve been in over the last couple of years. It’s just a natural progression.”

With the trading away of Jarrett Jack and the loss of CJ Miles, the Cavs continue to look for floor-spacing shooters who can hit open shots in the event defenses converge upon James or point guard Kyrie Irving. Miller and Allen would both fit this mold, the former recently turning down more money from the Denver Nuggets to join James in Cleveland.

[Related: What’s Next for the Cavs in Free Agency?]

 

WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?

WFNY_roundtable

And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.

During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer. [Read more...]

LeBron did attempt to recruit players to Cleveland prior to The Decision

LeBron James Carmelo Anthony Amare Stoudemire Dwyane Wade

So, remember all of that “LeBron didn’t try to recruit” talk that swirled shortly after July 8, 2010? Turns out that may have been rooted entirely in inaccuracies.

In a story from Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne (who is quietly becoming one of the best NBA reporters in the world), James attempted to recruit Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Trevor Ariza and Dwyane Wade as potential members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sure, they wanted to play with him. Who wouldn’t? But not in Cleveland. James was the one with a connection to the place, not them. If he wanted to win, he would have to sever those ties and go somewhere where other stars would join him.

The entire story is a must-read and features former Cavs guard Damon Jones who remains close to James, as well as current Cavs center Anderson Varejao. Every sentence is reported. You see just how important relationships are to the four-time MVP.

The waters continue to clear up. Some of it may already under the bridge, meaning little outside of the loose ends that get tied tight. Much of it, however, exists ahead.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images For Nike

 

How the CBA incentivizes LeBron to opt out next summer

lebron james cavsWhen news emerged of LeBron James’ contract details, most of Northeast Ohio was likely surprised and caught off guard. “He just committed to a long-term future in Cleveland, why only two years? Why an opt-out?” The clear-cut answer lies within the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed back in 2011.

LeBron is dead-on with his Cavaliers contract. If he truly wants to maximize his earnings – and as the best player in the league, he certainly deserves to – then he absolutely set up the right deal and his management team did a great job. Let’s start with the basics, all found via the fantastic Larry Coon CBA FAQ website.

Cleveland signed LeBron to the maximum possible salary for two years with a one-year opt out. They signed him as a free agent to their available cap space from the Miami Heat, meaning they signed him without owning his Bird rights. This is important when it comes to future raises.

Max deals signed without Bird rights carry only 4.5% annual raises from the first year’s salary. When signed with Bird rights, the annual raise is much higher at 7.5% (and contracts can include a fifth year, hence why players turn down money when signing away from their team). However, as a free agent, LeBron would guarantee himself at least a 105% increase on his previous year’s salary. Huh? Check out the math below.

lebron opt out info

By opting out, LeBron guarantees a minimum 5% raise, not the set 4.5% raise for max deals signed without Bird rights. The added 0.5% of his salary guarantees him of at least $100K more for the 2015-16 season. But that’s not the only reason why this is advantageous for LeBron. He’s thinking bigger.

The NBA salary cap actually increased by 7.5% this summer to approximately $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season. If the cap increases by more than just 5% for next year, LeBron would be advised to re-work his deal in summer 2015 and make more money with a new maximum contract based on that year’s cap number.

It is expected that the cap number will increase to at least $67 million next season and perhaps skyrocket even further. With the NBA’s new TV deal taking place for the 2016-17 season, the cap could go over $80 million in summer 2016. If the year-over-year cap increase is larger than 7.5% (LeBron’s annual raise with a new max with Bird rights), then again LeBron would be advised to re-work another deal.

So yes, it makes a ton of sense for LeBron James to go year-to-year for now1. It’s not necessarily an indictment on the Cavaliers by any means. It does mean that the circus of LeBron’s future will continue to be a topic and the Cavs will spend more money on his salary than if he had signed for the long term. But this is a pretty clear business decision.

William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. It’s possible the cap’s growth will stall somewhat after summer 2016 and thus, LeBron might finally sign a long-term deal. []