If you see him in the street/Walking by her side/Talking by her side/Have Pity/They are going through the unimaginable. From Sakis Papakonstantinou:
Further to your 'Morning Tip' last week, I'd like to kindly suggest another scenario. It may sound heretical at first, but it seems perfectly plausible:
The key idea is that the Cavs decide to give the keys to the franchise to Kyrie, and convince LeBron that they must part ways sooner that everyone thought. Maybe not straight away, but by February 2018 at the latest. Wouldn't everybody be better off? Let's see:
• Assuming that LeBron is anyhow LA-bound a year from now, such a turn of events will free him from having to feel apologetic leaving Cleveland once more ...
• If LeBron joins the Lakers/the Clippers at mid-season, this can serve as a smoother transition (call it a grace period?) in his new whereabouts, so that they'll be better prepared to chase the 2018/19 ring ...
• Kyrie gets to be the undisputed leader he wants to be, on a team (Cavs) that can build around him, using the opportunity to replace LeBron with a mix of short-term (vets) and long-term (picks) talent ...
• The Cavs will have some months of regular season action to better identify potential trade targets, and work a deal without the 'last-minute pressure' effect ...
• Altman establishes himself -- at such a young age -- as a gutsy and visionary executive ...
I will just say that you’re not the only person who’s suggested that to me, Sakis. Tony Kornheiser (of PTI fame) said the same thing last Monday. And I understand the idea: if you can’t get assurances from LeBron that he’s staying, why not move him instead of Irving? But there’s just no way Koby Altman’s going to make that his first big move as GM of the Cavs. I don’t think Jerry West would have the cojones to trade LeBron (and I’m not talking about a sign-and-trade after he’s announced he’s leaving, as Cleveland technically did in 2010 with Miami). Whatever pressures and/or problems LeBron’s presence creates for the Cavs, the bottom line is that the franchise’s valuation…well, just look at this chart from 2003, when Cleveland drafted LeBron, through now. Notice that little trough from 2010-14? Having LeBron on the roster is, literally, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to owner Dan Gilbert. I just can’t see him ever signing on off trading LeBron by choice.
I thought April was the cruelest month. From Joe Nelson:
How cruel would it be for the Timberwolves to trade Jeff Teague in December? I mean, Teague reached out to the Wolves before they reached out to him. Trading him basically immediately after signing him is crazy ... and the dude has Bambi's eyes. How could Thibs possibly do that even if he gets Kyrie?
If Minnesota gets Irving, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be for Teague. The Wolves could move Andrew Wiggins instead of Teague, though that wouldn’t be a popular move locally, I’m sure. On the other hand, trading Wiggins now would make it much easier for Minnesota to be able to give Karl-Anthony Towns a max deal via the Designated Player Rookie Extension in 2019 -- that summer, the deals of newly signed Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford also expire -- without going deep into the tax.
Under this scenario, Minnesota would have to work out a new deal for Irving in 2019, and would likely have to do one for Butler, too; he has a player option for 2019-20 at $19.8 million. They could do Irving and Butler first and then extend Towns, as San Antonio did a couple of years ago with Kawhi Leonard’s max deal, taking advantage of the flexibility of the lower cap hold on Towns’s rookie deal. Sending Wiggins to Cleveland would put Teague and Irving in the backcourt together alongside Jimmy Butler, which would be just as lethal offensively as Teague, Wiggins and Butler (though there would be significant questions on defense). As Commander Lewis said about something else entirely in "The Martian", maybe it’s not such a bad idea.
But the Trade Checker says this works! From Jay Little:
Why wouldn’t you just package Kevin Love with Irving for Boogie Cousins and Jrue Holiday in New Orleans?
Because the Pelicans would never do that deal, Jay. They love Holiday, as evidenced by the yuuuge contract they just gave him, and still believe a Cousins-Anthony Davis pairing can work. Getting a commitment from Holiday to stay in New Orleans was big and something the Pels won’t take lightly. The last thing they’d want to do is go through that all over again in a year or two when they’d want to lock up Irving long-term.
The Secondary Market. From Chris O’Donnell:
I am a Sixers fan and I have been all in on the process from the beginning, I have been able to justify/follow all of the moves until the time they sold two of their 2nd round picks to the Bucks and Clippers. The sale of these picks does nothing to help the franchise or the competitive balance of the league. There is no penalty to the teams that buy the picks and no benefit to the team who sells the pick (aside from cash from one owner to another). Why does the league allow it? I know they legislate it by capping the dollar amount, but why allow it at all? If it is allowed, is there a way that the money exchanged could count toward the buying teams salary cap/luxury tax totals? Any insight would be great.
Why wouldn’t the league allow the sale of picks, Chris? I’m not sure I understand your issue with that. A Draft pick is an asset that has potential value. The Sixers’ roster construction is such that the chances of a second-rounder making their team any time soon is remote. Why not get some cash and get some expenditure off the books? If I were a Sixers fan I’d be thrilled that the team has reached the point where it doesn’t need to strike gold with a second-rounder any more.
Shaqasaurus Rex. From Michael Jancovich:
Here is my question -- Is there a future in the NBA for traditional bigs? More specifically, guys who operate as a back-to-the-basket offensive player?
Yes, but it will take, IMHO, the next Shaq to convince a team to play that way, Michael. He will have to be so strong, so dominant in the post, that a team would feel comfortable building a team around him instead of a bunch of three-point shooters. Those are much easier to find (and pay) than Shaqs.
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BY THE NUMBERS
$50,000,000 -- Reported amount of money the Nets will begin receiving this year from the YES Network, double what they’d gotten in previous years -- and which has helped lay the financial groundwork for owner Mikhail Prokhorov to look to sell at least part of the team to investors, possibly even controlling interest.
$2,900,000 -- Amount that the Trail Blazers remain above the luxury tax line after last week’s trade of Allen Crabbe to Brooklyn for forward Andrew Nicholson, who was stretched and waived by Portland after the deal. Moving the remainder of Crabbe’s $75 million contract -- which he received last year via offer sheet from the Nets while a restricted free agent, which Portland matched -- saves the Blazers an astounding $43 million in tax payments this season; by stretching the remaining $19.9 million on Nicholson’s deal and getting Crabbe’s $19 million this season off their books, the Blazers save an additional $16 million on the cap. The deal was a very savvy save for Portland GM Neil Olshey after going buck wild in 2016 both in free agency and in retaining his own players like Crabbe, who’ll get a chance to start in Brooklyn next season.
17 -- Years that the Lakers spent at their practice facility, the Toyota Sports Center, in El Segundo, right next to LAX. The team is moving to new, swankier digs at the UCLA Health Medical Center a couple of blocks away or next season.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) Lamar Odom remains one of my favorite people, because he’s lived almost all of his life in the open and rarely hidden from the self-inflicted consequences. He continues to do so with a powerful first-person account in The Players’ Tribune this week, on his years of drug abuse while in the NBA, and how it almost killed him (decidedly NSFW for language and situations). Odom says he’s sober now, but it’s an everyday struggle to remain so. “I have an addiction,” he wrote. “I’ll always have an addiction. It never goes away. I mean, I want to get high right now. But I know that I can’t if I want to be here for my children.” God speed and good luck, LO. You’ve got a lot of people behind you.
2) That’s a pretty productive offseason in the Bay for the Dubs. JaVale McGee, back on a one-year deal as of last week, was the final returning piece to the championship team puzzle. Basically, Golden State swapped Ian Clark for Nick Young, and we’ll see how that works out. But to be able to get Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston back in the fold, and add the criminally underrated Omri Casspi for the vet minimum, and get Kevin Durant to take way, way, way less than he could have…take a bow, Bob Myers.
3) Another good hire by Sacramento, bringing in the 76ers’ Vice President of Basketball Administration, Brandon Williams, to replace Scott Perry as the Kings’ assistant GM. Williams has been working on his bona fides as an administrator for more than a decade, starting in the league office while he was getting his law degree, then going to the Sixers and running their G-League team for the last few years.
4) Do I like the Pacers’ new Nike uniforms? Yeah.
5) I could not be happier than I am for my friend Claire Smith, who won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame Saturday -- the highest honor a sportswriter can get in baseball, the equivalent of induction. Claire has written about the game and the people in it for three-plus decades, always with an eye to their humanity, which only served to display her own, as well as her love of the game. That Claire is the first woman, and just the fourth person of color, to receive the Spink Award is a testament to her toughness -- it was not easy for her in the early days, or any woman covering baseball -- her talent and the esteem in which her peers hold her. Many congratulations to Claire -- welcome to the Hall!
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) Still an awful lot of good players out there this late in free agency -- Tony Allen, Nikola Mirotic, Boris Diaw, Brandon Bass, Monta Ellis, Ian Clark, Shabazz Muhammad, Gerald Henderson, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., JaMychal Green, David Lee -- with others like Nerlens Noel and Alex Len stuck in restricted free agent hell. Brandon Jennings opted for a deal in China late last week; others will follow.
4) Yes, you must allow for sample bias; families likely wouldn’t donate the brains of their loved ones to be studied if they didn’t suspect something was wrong with them while they were alive. Yet the latest study from Boston University regarding the high incidence of CTE in NFL players remains chilling. I love sports and I love football. My two boys will not play football.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Just met the 🐐@kobebryant .appreciate your words of wisdom and answering my question on who is the best to ever play..we know it's you 🤷🏾♂️— Dexter McCoil (@26Int_Hit) July 29, 2017
-- Los Angeles Chargers safety Dexter McCoil (@26Int_Hit), Saturday, 4:27 p.m., after Bryant surprised the Chargers during their first day of training camp in Los Angeles with a visit, giving the newcomers advice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1ej2EQuR6w for living in the City of Angels.
THEY SAID IT
"I think you also have to look at history sometimes. The other Kobe, not this Kobe, Kobe Bryant, I think there was a time he was calling radio stations and saying he was demanding to be traded and won two or three championships after that point. Things happen and you never know.”
-- Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, during his first media availability with local reporters since Kyrie Irving’s trade demand became public July 21. Gilbert said during the availability introducing new General Manager Koby Altman (hence the “not this Kobe” line) that he expected Irving to report to training camp in September but that the situation between the disgruntled All-Star and the team was “fluid.”
“We joke on each other diets. We’ll laugh at Kevin for always having Almond Butter like he’s too good for peanut butter. Same thing with [LeBron], who doesn’t eat pork. We’ll be like, “Your momma never gave you a piece of bacon, and you didn’t get to the NBA without eating bacon?” We all do it to each other but we all understand everybody’s body is different.”
-- Iman Shumpert, to GQ Magazine, on his dietary habits during and after the rigors of the regular season.
“I scream at Jason all the time, just to get a rise out of him. I tell him I love the off-season Jason. The off-season Jason is the greatest person I ever met. The in-season Jason? Uh, not so much.”
-- Bucks President Peter Feigin, to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on his close relationship with coach Jason Kidd. Feigin is in the midst of getting the Bucks’ new $524 million arena built in time to open as scheduled for the 2018-29 season. The building is already halfway completed.
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