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NBA Free Agency: Big Board 1.0

Jul 01, 2015 -- 7:00am

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photos/Getty

CLEVELAND – NBA free agency is officially underway. Teams will spend the next week persuading top-tier players to sign with their respective organizations in hopes of inking the missing link to their championship aspirations.

Salary caps, bird rights, luxury taxes and qualifying offers are all terms that basketball fans are frantically cramming to familiarize themselves with – hoping to solve their favorite teams off-season needs.

It doesn't look like the Cleveland Cavaliers will be major players the first few days of negotiations – their priorities focus on re-signing Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, while attempting to bring Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova back to the team.

ESPN Cleveland is keeping a running tally of our perceived the top-five NBA free agents – replacing players who commit to, or actually sign, with a team this off-season and analyzing the realistic possibilities that they could end up in Cleveland.

At this time last year, most fans couldn’t fathom the idea of LeBron James returning home and one letter later, look what happened.

 

NBA Big Board 1.0

1. Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies)

2014-15 stats: 17.4 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots

Previous contract: Now an unrestricted free agent, Gasol played the last four-years on a $57.5 million contract. He earned $15.9 million during the 2014-15 season.

Outlook: 

Future Cavalier? Gasol is going to command top-dollar. At just 30 years old, he has another major payday in his very near future. Cleveland just isn’t able to compete financially with other suitors. The rumors of his interest in signing with the New York Knicks lost major stream last week and now Marc Stein first reported that Gasol will only meet with the Grizzlies.

 

2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers)

2014-15 stats: 23.4 points per game, 10.2 rebounds and one blocked shot

Previous contract: Now an unrestricted free agent, Aldridge made $65 million over the past five years in Portland. 2014-15 was the most lucrative year of that deal at $15.3 million.

Outlook:  

Future Cavalier?  Some speculate that IF Kevin Love would leave Cleveland for another team, the Cavs could make a run at Aldridge, however he has meetings scheduled with the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets. It is most likely that he signs with one of those teams before the Cavs even get involved in the conversation.

 

3. Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls)

2014-15 stats: 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game

Previous contract: Butler played the last two seasons on the team option part of his rookie contact. He opted not to sign an extension last off-season with the goal of being a highly touted free agent this year. Butler’s base salary in 2014-15 was $2 million.

Outlook: 

Future Cavalier?  No. It would be a great addition but Butler is just 25 years old and one of the most sought after free agents in the league this summer. He has been reportedly offered a max deal from the Chicago Bulls worth about $90 million over five years.

 

4. Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)

2014-15 stats: 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game

Previous contract: Leonard is a former NBA Finals MVP who has made just $8.3 million during his four-year career. A restricted free agent, he would make $4 million off of a qualifying offer from the Spurs but is expected to gather much larger from other teams.

Outlook:  

Future Cavalier? In the same conversation as Butler, Leonard would be a great addition to the Cavs. Unfortunately, he is guaranteed to be offered a max deal from another team, if not the Spurs. Leonard turns 24 at the start of free agency and has multiple paydays in his future.

 

5. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)

2014-15 stats: 21.5 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game

Previous contract:  Wade agreed to a two-year deal last off-season with a player option for 2015-16. The contract was valued at $31 million over the two years but Wade opted out of the final $16 million.

Outlook: 

Future Cavalier? He is best friends with James, but the Cavs are not going to be able to offer him the 3-year, $16 million per year contract that he is reportedly seeking. It’s no secret that James and Wade would love to reunite but the outlook is not promising. No matter how badly Cavs fans want it to happen.

 

Five more free agents to watch:

Goran Dragic (Miami Heat)

DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)

Monta Ellis (Dallas Mavericks)

Brook Lopez (Brooklyn Nets)

Greg Monroe (Detroit Pistons)  

 

Cavs Update

The team made two announcements regarding free agents on Tuesday. Mike Miller picked up his player option for the upcoming season and will make $2.8 million from the Cavs. Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson have all been extended qualifying offers, per team announcement, and are officially restricted free agents.

###

 

 

Windhorst: Cavs spending spree

Jun 30, 2015 -- 5:21pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – Brian Windhorst didn’t even say ‘hello’ when he joined The Golden Boyz on the eve of the NBA’s free agency period. He jumpstarted the show with a declaration that, over the next few weeks or so, the Cleveland Cavaliers intend to spend money, “like maybe no NBA team has spent before.”

Windhorst reported that representatives from the Cavs, owner Dan Gilbert and general manager David Griffin, will be in the City of Los Angeles to begin conversations with their top-free agent prospects, LeBron James and Kevin Love.

The two parties can start negotiating contacts at 9 pm Pacific time, 12 am Eastern.

“They’re going to offer some gigantic contracts tonight,” Windhorst said. “I believe they are going to have two max offers out tonight, and a third one very close with Tristan Thompson.

“Over the next seven to 10 days, the Cavs are going to spend as much money as any team has ever spent in one free agent session – at least in a year-by-year basis – In NBA History.”

Although the assumption is that James will be back with the Cavs next season, Windhorst still believes that it is important, and responsible, to touch base with James as the period opens up, to confirm that the team will be offering him a maximum contract. The expectation then is that he will wait for the other free agents to finalize their contracts with the team before signing on the dotted line.

The contact Cleveland is reportedly ready to offer Love is worth $110 million over the next five seasons.

Tristan Thompson will also receive an offer for five-years, worth somewhere between $60-75 million.

“If this goes the way that I think it is, the Cavs payroll is going to be $110 million to $115 million,” Windhorst added. “Which would kick their overall commitment, including tax, Dan Gilbert’s commitment to potentially higher than $200 million next season, which would eclipse the all-time record of the Brooklyn Nets $193 million two years ago.

“The playoff slogan this year was ‘All In,’ and Dan Gilbert has been ‘All In’ for a long time and I think you’re about to see some spending like we’ve never seen spending in Cleveland sports history.

“If he goes through with this, it is an absolutely incredible investment to trying to win in Cleveland.”

Take of the day

“I think what the Cavs are looking for is a combo guard, or a guard that can play both guard spots, especially to play backup point guard and I think they would like to have some depth at the small forward position if they could. A trade that accomplishes one or both of those maneuvers.”

Windy’s forecast

Windhorst has heard rumors of the Cavs’ interest in pursuing many different players from around the league. He mentioned the names of Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Mario Chalmers and possibly Joe Johnson from the Brooklyn Nets if Gilbert wants “to get crazy,” although he does not “foresee it.”

Rumors of Mo Williams and the Cavs having mutual interest in a reunion have surfaced as well.

Listen to ESPN’s NBA Insider Brian Windhorst throughout the week on ESPN 850 WKNR and every Friday morning during “Hey Windy” on ESPN 1540 KNR2. Download all of Windy’s podcasts here.

 

 

NBA Free Agency: Rumors

Jun 30, 2015 -- 10:46am

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo Illustration / ESPN @SportsNation

CLEVELAND – The NBA’s annual free agent frenzy tips-off at 12:01 am EST, July 1 2015. At that juncture, team owners, general managers and representatives are legally cleared to participate in meetings with potential signees – offering their best sales pitches to land that missing piece for championship contention.

The terms “sources” and “reports” will subsequently begin to trend on numerous social media outlets, as reporters and insiders utilize all of their connections to break the news of scheduled meetings and verbal agreements.

Players are not allowed to sign an actual contract until the leagues moratorium period ends at midnight on July 9 – it’s also then when teams are finally allowed to make public comments about free agents or deals.

Michael Jordan didn’t hold back when asked about the free agency summer of 2010 where LeBron James and Chris Bosh teamed up with Dwyane Wade to create a championship big three for the Miami Heat. Jordan – speaking with NBC Sports at a celebrity golf tournament five years ago – vocalized how the game has changed since he last played.

“In hindsight now, I would have never called up Larry (Bird), called up Magic (Johnson) and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team," Jordan said. "In all honesty I was trying to beat those guys.

“Things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. That’s the opportunity these kids have today.”

Rumor Mill

• Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, LeBron James will not entertain meetings with any other teams and will be back with the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. Repeat, James will not seek out any other offers and will reportedly observe while the Cavs pursue other free agents and work on re-signing teammates Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert and Kevin Love. Thompson and James are both represented by agent Rich Paul. 

• Love – on the other hand – will take part in meetings with other suitors who hope to earn his services for the upcoming season. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are thought to by long shots behind the Cavs to land Love, but all three teams are planning on meeting with him at an undisclosed hotel suite in L.A where Love is currently vacationing. By all accounts, he fully intends to be back in Cleveland. 

• LaMarcus Aldridge is reportedly “very unlikely” to rejoin the Portland Trail Blazers. The San Antonio Spurs – according to Yahoo Sports and other outlets – are the favorite to sign the all-star power forward. Aldridge put his Portland home up for sale in May. ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony has reached out to Aldridge. Per TNT’s David Aldridge, he is scheduled to meet with the Lakers right as free agency opens, followed by the Houston Rockets, Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and then Toronto Raptors. 

• Arguably the biggest asset on the free agent market this off-season, Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is reportedly only talking to the team he has played for since 2008. ESPN reported that he is not scheduling any meetings with outside teams and the two sides could reach an agreement shortly after the midnight opening. The Lakers were interested in Gasol, but according to the LA Times, he has no interest in going there after his brother, Pau, had a tumultuous final few seasons with the organization. 

• Dwyane Wade has officially opted out of his contact with the Heat and rumors – from hopeful fans – have surfaced about a reunion with James in Cleveland. This is a highly unlikely scenario because of available dollars to spend on free agents in Cleveland. Reports say that Wade is aiming to make around $16 million per year for the next three seasons at least. 

• Draymond Green doesn’t appear to be on the move either. A restricted free agent of the Golden State Warriors, Green will meet with them first before even thinking about scheduling any other meetings. Ramona Shelburne reports that if the meetings go well, he won’t talk to any one else. He has been given a qualifying offer from the Warriors. Yahoo Sports reports that other teams who would be interested in Green and the Atlanta Hawks and Rockets. Teams are forbidden from commenting on free agents, but GM Bob Myers did say “tell Warriors fans not to worry,” to the San Jose Mercury-News during the NBA Finals. 

• The Lakers drafted combo guard D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick in the NBA draft, essentially removing themselves from the Rajon Rondo conversation. Sporting News’ Sean Deveney said sources have called it “doubtful” for L.A to be in talks with Rondo. 

• DeAndre Jordan will meet with both Los Angeles franchises at the start of free agency. Jordan is an unrestricted free agent after playing seven years with the Clippers. The Dallas Morning News reports that Jordan and his agents will meet with the Mavericks, Lakers, Clippers and Knicks. The LA Times also reported that the Milwaukee Bucks will get their chance to meet with Jordan before he makes a final decision. 

• Greg Monroe doesn’t appear to have any interest in returning to the Detroit Pistons. Monroe is unrestricted and will reportedly meet with the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Pelicans at some point during the moratorium. The New York Post reports that the Knicks are a strong front-runner to land the 25-year old post-player. ESPN reported that Monroe said he doesn’t want to play anywhere where he’s “not wanted.” 

• Wesley Matthews, recovering from a season-ending Achilles injury, is ahead of schedule with his rehab according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. He also reports that the Toronto Raptors and Mavericks are interested in signing him. Chris Broussard confirms that the Knicks will also have a meeting with Matthews. 

As for the Cleveland Cavaliers

• General Manager David Griffin confirmed at his end of the year press conference that the team would extend qualifying offers to both Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert. They reportedly did so on June 29. Dellavedova and Shumpert were both tendered with qualifying offers, $1.147 and $4.33 million respectively, and are officially restricted free agents. Both are expected to be back with the team, but other franchises have shown interest in both players, and could possibly extend offers, forcing the Cavs to match.

• Mike Miller optioned into his $2.8 million player option for next season and will be back with the team. Miller is already 35 years old and only played in 52 games last season, scoring 2.1 points per contest. 

• J.R. Smith, James Jones and Kendrick Perkins are other free agents that the Cavs have yet to address. Smith did say immediately after the Cavs final game of the season that he “absolutely” intended to be back, but there has been little to no communication between the two sides since. 

• ICYMI: The Cavs picked up their team option on center Timofey Mozgov on June 23. He averaged 10.6 points and seven rebounds for Cleveland after being traded from the Denver Nuggets. He’ll earn $5.5 million from the team during the 2015-16 season. 

• As rumors begin to swirl early, the most realistic name for the Cavs to possibly sign is Mike Dunleavy. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that LeBron James would “love the Cavs” to make a run at the former Chicago Bulls shooting guard. Dunleavy averaged 11 points in 12 post-season games for Chicago last season. He made $3.3 million with the Bulls last year and is an unrestricted free agent. 

“I anticipate that we’ve created the kind of environment and culture that (pending Cavs free agents) want to be a part of,” Griffin confidently confirmed in the same press conference. “I have no reason that those players don’t want to be back, quite frankly.”
 

 

 

Windhorst: LeBron isn't looking around

Jun 29, 2015 -- 4:43pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/JensenKarp

CLEVELAND – LeBron James set the precedent while exploring his free agent options back in 2010.

NBA players who will be entertaining contract offers from teams all across the league no longer have to travel from coast to coast to be wined and dined by general managers and owners. Now, the team representatives come to them.

During an interview with The Really Big Show, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said that nowadays players’ agents rent out suites in luxurious hotels – generally in destination cities such as Los Angeles or Miami – and schedule client meetings during the NBA’s moratorium period, July 1 – 8.

James is not expected to partake in – nor will his agent, Rich Paul, schedule – any such meetings. And although James is currently in California, there is no guarantee that he’ll be there for the start of free agency, or talk to other teams trying potentially trying to woo him out of Cleveland.

“I cannot see it. No,” Windhorst said when asked about the possibility of James jumping ship and signing elsewhere this offseason. “Doesn’t mean it isn’t theoretically possible, those of us in the media always couch everything because that’s responsible, but no, I can’t see it.

“It’s not LeBron’s intentions to take meetings. He’s not looking around.”

This report should come as good news to fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers who learned that James opted out of his $21.5 million player option contract just this past weekend.

In a similar situation, Kevin Love was obligated to alert the Cavs that he was optioning out as well, foregoing nearly $17 million from the team in 2015 and becoming – like James – an unrestricted free agent.

He – despite accounts reporting that he’ll be back with the Cavs –will do his due diligence and entertain meetings with potential suitors outside of Cleveland.

“If I were him, I would (meet with other teams),” Windhorst said. “He has never been an unrestricted free agent and he owes it to himself. I know that the Cavs will be in L.A. My assumption is that Dan Gilbert and David Griffin, one or the other, maybe both, will be in L.A tomorrow (June 30) at 9 pm Pacific time and ready to meet with Kevin. And, if LeBron is still out there, they will meet with both of them and make their new offers.”

James is expected to take time to mull over the offer, observing silently while the Cavs manage the rest of their free agent acquisitions before he inks the contract.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin has some people over in his hotel suite to talk about it and you’re going to see some teams that are interested in him for sure. But, you know how I have been handling this, for months now I have been couching this because no mater what Love says, I will only buy it when he signs. But every sign that I’ve got over the last 10 days is that Kevin Love is re-signing with Cleveland. Agents are telling me that. Executives are telling me that.

“I think the Cavs are in a reasonably good position with Kevin. I think there is a very strong chance that he is re-signing with the Cavs in the next couple of days.”

There is also confidence from Windhorst that Tristan Thompson could be locked into a multi-year deal by the end of the week, in hopes of avoiding a bidding war with other franchises for the restricted free agent.

“I think it’ll happen by the end of the week,” Windhorst said of Thompson’s contract with Cleveland. “Tristan Thompson is about to get paid crazy money. I think 14 to 15 (million dollars) per year, if not the (maximum) which is ($15.5 million). And, that is too much money for Tristan, but, the salary cap is going up, so a $15 million a year player today is not the same as a $15 million player a year in a year or two.

“If you’re going to take a risk on a player, that you’re going to invest four or five years in, we are talking about a guy who is 23 years old and who has never been hurt and can play both center and power forward. Someone who is extremely versatile and LeBron loves playing with.”

The Thompson contract – according to Windhorst – is another reason why James may be stepping back into the observational role.

“A lot of this is leverage for (Thompson), to be honest,” he said about James waiting to sign his deal. “They have the same agent and (James) wants to make sure that (Thompson) is taken care of.

“Quite frankly, Tristan was so awesome this year that I don’t have a problem with it. Let Tristan get paid.”

Coaching quote of the day

“Comparing to (Michael) Jordan, Jordan had a different constitution. Jordan liked to be coached and liked to be challenged. LeBron has challenged all of his coaches throughout his career,” Windhorst said while elaborating on the reported rift between James and current Cavs head coach David Blatt.

“There are other people that will make a reasonable position and say to you that LeBron challenging his head coach, LeBron saying ‘I don’t want to run this play,’ LeBron saying ‘lets do it this way,’ is actually good leadership. That it is him taking an investment in the team and trying to lead and doing exactly what a guy should do.”

Take of the day

“I think the risk on Tristan is a lot lower than Kevin Love.”

Windy’s forecast

“LeBron, in two years, is going to be the third $30-million player a year ever, behind Jordan and Kobe (Bryant). Then in about three seasons, when LeBron is about 34, he is about to become the first player ever to eclipse $40 million in a season.”

Listen to ESPN’s NBA Insider Brian Windhorst throughout the week on ESPN 850 WKNR and every Friday morning during “Hey Windy” on ESPN 1540 KNR2. Download all of Windy’s podcasts here.
 

 

 

LeBron James opts out

Jun 28, 2015 -- 4:23pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

CLEVELAND – LeBron James, as expected, has informed the Cleveland Cavaliers that he has decided to option out of his $21.5 million player option for the 2015-16 season. The decision was first reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. 

James, however, doesn’t plan on attending any free agent recruitment meetings with other teams around the league. All indications from James, and those close to him, assure that he will be back with the team next season – and the opt-out was a financial decision as the NBA’s salary cap is expected to balloon this year and next. 

Cavs general manager David Griffin told reporters at Cleveland Clinic Courts, following the NBA draft, that James was “engaged” with the team and their pending roster acquisitions during the leagues free agency period.

The news of James’ opt-out comes less than a week after Kevin Love also notified the team that he would turn down his player option, -- nearly $17 million – and although the expectation is that he’ll also re-sign, Love may visit with additional suitors during the NBA’s moratorium July 1 – July 8.

J.R. Smith had no obligation to contact the Cavs regarding his $6.5 million player option for 2015, allowing his deal to expire on the June 26 deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent. Attempts to contact Smith’s representatives by ESPN Cleveland went unanswered.

Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert will be given qualifying offers from the Cleveland, said Griffin, making them restricted free agents.

Tristan Thompson is the other big name that the Cavs expect to bring back – he is a restricted free agent and is expected to command top-dollar on the open market but Griffin assured that he is a top-priority and the Cavs will attempt to match any offer thrown his way.

It’s anticipated that James will now take a step back and observe while the Cavs sort out their roster moves this off-season. He’s reportedly in no rush to ink his next contract, but it will be with the Cavaliers.

Rumors began to swirl late Sunday night as a photo of Love and James sitting poolside surfaced. Windhorst reported that the two were just hanging out, and it wasn't at all a free agent meeting. 

 

 

Kevin Love opts out

Jun 24, 2015 -- 5:12pm

By Tony Cartagena | ESPNCleveland.com

 

CLEVELAND – Kevin Love is an unrestricted free agent and can begin negotiating contracts with other teams when the NBA’s moratorium period opens up on July 1.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that Love opted to decline a $16.7 million player option that would have made him a Cleveland Cavalier for the 2015-16 season. Instead, Love is officially on the market and can sign a contract with a new suitor as early as July 8 when the moratorium ends.

The announcement – coming one day before the 2015 NBA draft – did not catch Cavs general manager David Griffin off-guard – a decision he expected Love to make this summer.

“I think everybody who has the potential to opt out in this climate will,” Griffin told the media during his end of the year press conference. “I anticipate that we’ve created the kind of environment and culture that they want to be a part of.

“I have no reason to believe that any of those player don’t want to be back, quite frankly.”

The deadline for Love to opt out was slated for June 25.

By merely re-negotiating a new one-year deal with Cleveland, Love’s base salary will rise from the original $16.7 million to $18.9. If he decides to sign a long-term agreement with the Cavs, due to the NBA’s bird rights, they can offer him the most lucrative deal at 5-years worth approximately $108 million. Other teams will be able to put a 4-year, nearly $81 million commitment on the table.

Love was injured during Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs – ending his season with a left shoulder injury that required surgery.

When publicly speaking for the first time since the procedure, Love responded, “Yes, Sir” when asked if he would be suiting up for the Cavs next season. A snap reaction that many skeptics don’t believe to be true – expecting the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers to become major players in the Love sweepstakes.

He was born in Santa Monica, Cali., and attended the University of California Los Angeles for a year before declaring for the NBA draft. But, Love was raised in Lake Oswego, OR., – less than 30 minutes from Portland.

LeBron James and J.R. Smith are both in similar situations with Cleveland. Smith is expected to decline almost $7 million from the Cavs, while James could pick-up his $21 million player option before the June 30 deadline.

The Cavs have already accepted their $5 million dollar team option for center Timofey Mozgov and Griffin announced that they would extend qualifying offers to both Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova.

Love continued to reiterate his commitment to Cleveland while sitting on the sidelines during their Finals run – responding, “Yes, I want to win,” when asked again about returning.
 

 

 

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