I had the notion for a really good play for Lebron. Maybe you can pass it on to Mike Brown and the boys. See if they can utilize it for this year. Picture this. Gibson at point. Lebron playing 2 or 3. Gibson brings the ball down to either wing. Lebron runs off of a screen in the paint to curl onto the block or the elbow. Lebron is now isolated with Gibson with the ball. 2 man game just like the Lakers did when Kareem was hurt in the Finals and Magic played center. He scored 42 with this play. Gibson passes Lebron the ball. THE OTHER 3 PLAY GARBAGE MEN AND COAST TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COURT. Lebron, in isolation has several choices. He can keep his back to the defender and look for passing lanes as 1 of the GARBAGE MEN cut to the basket. Or he can swing and face up on his man. 1 dribble and a step and he can explode to the basket or shoot the short J. He can drive and dish to 1 of the set up GARBAGE MEN or Gibson for a 3. The possibilities could be endless with this play. Old school basketball. Lebron goes to the line about 5-10 times a game.
Well, first off, I think you'd have trouble telling the other guys they were garbage men. Second, the Cavs do run this play. And about 90 percent of the time, LeBron doesn't establish post position and floats out near the 3-point line to receive the "entry" pass, then turns and starts dribbling.
If I had an idea for an Cavaliers/NBA product should I get it patented before I present it to the team/NBA? I think I have something good that will definitely boost season/package ticket sales.
That or e-mail Dan Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org, he might buy it off you. Last year he bought the Flashseats idea off a couple of guys from the east suburbs.
Could you break down the Salary cap structure real easily for me? I have a hard time explaining it to my buddies, as I swirl around in monstruos NBA-linguistic terms that don't make sense for them. The Bird clause, trade kicker, mid level exception - those kind of things need a good explaining.
Well, the cap isn't really easy but here goes. The NBA has a so-called soft salary cap, which means it can be exceeded. It can be exceeded, however, under five so-called "exceptions." They are the "Bird" exception, the mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception, an injury exception and a trade exception.
The most important is the "Bird" exception, named for Larry Bird when he was with the Celtics. If a player has been under one contract for at least three years, the team who has the expiring contract -- aka "Bird rights" -- may go over the salary cap and pay the player up to the maximum contract. If a player has been signed for two years, teams have what is called "early Bird" rights. They can exceed the salary cap up to the average player's salary, which is about $5 million right now. The Cavs will have early Bird rights to Daniel Gibson next summer.
The mid-level exception changes every year and can be used to sign one or more free agents. This year it is $5.3 million. All teams over the salary cap, or within $5.3 million of the cap, get the exception. The bi-annual exception must go to one player and can only be used every other year. This year it is worth $1.8 million and the Cavs can use it. These contracts can only be for two years. Trade exceptions are created when trades are unbalanced within the trade rules. Say a player making $10 million gets traded for a player making $7.5 million (which is legal) the team who got the $7.5 million player gets a $2.5 million trade exception. It can be used by itself in another trade. Sometimes teams can just trade salary-cap space for players, creating large exceptions. This is what the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic did this summer. When a player gets injured and is out for the year, teams can apply to the league for injured player exceptions, which can be used like trade exceptions but can be combined with players. The Milwaukee Bucks used an injured player exception (for Bobby Simmons) to get Earl Boykins last season.
And finally, a trade kicker is a clause in a player's contract that provides a bonus if he's traded. The most it can be for is 15 percent. Eric Snow had a trade kicker in his contract, he got a 15 percent raise when coming to Cleveland. Deep breath.
I have a question on exactly how much owners are dishing out for their respective teams. I realize that to buy a team costs an incredible amount of money, but where does that money go? (I'm guessing it's to the previous owner, but I'm not positive). And once an owner actually purchases a team, do they invest any more money in player salaries, etc.? What exactly is the owner's role financially after purchasing a team? The money goes to the old owner in full or in pieces, depending on the agreement. Most of the time these days, people barrow heavily to buy the team and then service the debt while the equity grows. Just like an interest-only mortgage, eh, Mr. Gilbert? But the NBA requires a significant percentage of cash be brought to the table as well. Then, yes, they must pay for everything including player salaries, etc., etc. Often the operating money for the team comes from the arena, which most teams get the revenue from. The Cavs lost money for years, but the Gund Arena Company made money on concerts and other events. The lease Gilbert got when he bought the Cavs is as valuable as owning the arena outright. Teams without arena deals just don't sell, which is why the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers couldn't sell last year. Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen has since bought the arena, no word on whether Philly owner Comcast would be willing to give up control of the Wachovia Center, before they were not and therefore the Sixers did not sell and were taken off the market.
Brian, we were seeing major trades for the last ten years because of all of the salary issues. Why have all of these trades dried up? The Ray Allen deal was really the only one the last year. Could the Cavs make a major deal before February 2008?
Well there were no big trades during the season, but since the season ended three players with max contracts -- Zach Randolph, Steve Francis and Ray Allen -- have been traded. I think this is pretty active on the blockbuster front. Yes, I believe the Cavs will make a major deal in the coming months. But it is still playing out. Right now there are rumors Kevin Garnett and his $23 million contract and $6.7 million trade kicker are getting traded to Boston.
Tell Dan Fegan that the market is way too full next year just sign Anderson Varejao to a 3 year 18 million dollar deal and go for the big money in 3 years. Mr. Fegan knows the market. His style and history, though, is to get a big deal for his clients and get a big deal now. He'll continue to pursue this avenue.
What's the status on Boykins? I know he's a shoot first point guard, but look at Hughes. I mean is Boykins defense really that bad? I like Earl and I like what he can bring to a game. The Cavs don't think he's a great fit perhaps due to defense, but that could change if he doesn't have a team in six weeks.
Wondering whether LeBron prefers Pepsi or Coke and his favorite tv shows LeBron has a $12 million deal with Coca-Cola to promote Sprite and Powerade. He is a big fan of Sopranos but also likes cartoons.
That's all for the moment, be back later.
LeBron made some pointed comments after the Team USA scrimmage about his love of up tempo basketball. Have you heard anything from the Cavs that indicates an upcoming change in their offensive philosophy? Seems to me that appeasing James might not be a bad idea. I agree LeBron sent a jabbing little message from Vegas. However, my advice to him would be to do it more behind closed doors. Ask Kobe how his public demands have gone. LeBron should want the Cavs to improve, but he needs to do his part as well. He said he had to improve over the offseason, we'll see if he's able to.
Who do you think would be/should be on the CAVS short list in terms of assistant coach addition?
As a beat writer for one team, I don't know every assistant coach in the league and his strengths. I have been led to believe the Cavs want a new and somewhat loud and experienced voice to "evaluate everything they do." That's why they have interviewed men like Dwane Casey, a former head coach with lots of experience.
What is the best way to handle the roster players on the end of the Cavs’ bench? Guys like Scot Pollard, David Wesley and Ira Newble. Trade, cut or find a way to use their talents? Is the only answer to leave them sit at the end of the bench and let time take its course. Do you feel that any of the last 5 players on the 15 man roster have anything to offer? Would any non-contract Summer League Players be any better? Could you evaluate by player? I think this is a good question for the dead time of the year, while many of us still want to read about the Cavs.
Pollard probably won't be back, neither will Wesley and if Ira Newble isn't traded by the deadline, he'll probably be bought out. You always need to have veterans who can fill in on the bench. But there are always going to be 3-5 players who don't play, what you want is a mix of developing players and veterans. The Cavs have had that over the last several years.
Whats the latest on the Bibby trade?
Now that Mikki Moore has been signed by Sacramento, I don't see it happening unless a third team gets involved. I believe Kings GM Geoff Petrie has said he doesn't expect to trade him right now. The moment passed.
With Countryside and other mortgage lending companies reporting losses and concerns about future earnings, should we have any concerns about Quicken Loans and Dan Gilbert’s willingness to go outside the cap?
Excellent question. Quicken Loans is a private company, so they don't have to release earnings reports. With the housing downturn, there are less loans being processed so it stands to reason there is less business being done. Also, Quicken Loans doesn't service many of their mortgages, they sell them off. They make money in churn, in the volume of them turning over. How the downturn could affect the Cavs is unclear, Dan Gilbert has constantly shown the willingness to spend money and, as a result, he just had the great financial season in team history. I don't see him changing his philosophy. He still has a company turning over billions in loans.
I wouldn’t exactly call this entire scenario a rumor but it has recently been reported that the Cavs were exploring sending Gooden back home to the Warriors, who have a $9M trade exception at their disposal. Could you see something like a three-way deal sending Drew to GS, Ira and Damon and the GS trade exception to Phoenix, and Shawn Marion to the Cavs? It seems like it makes too much sense to actually happen, assuming that Phoenix really wants to dump some salary.
Two reactions here, I think Phoenix has dumped all the salary is it going to. Steve Kerr talked about those moves "keeping the core together." Marion is part of that core. I would not rule out Gooden being traded, however, it will not be for a trade exception unless it is part of a three-way deal. Also, understand the Cavs will not trade Gooden without having a plan in place to replace him in the lineup.
Hey, Brian, I saw that Henry (TrueHoop) mentioned a book that you’re working on. Is it true? When will it be available? Terry Pluto and I have written a book on LeBron and the Cavs, a 15-month project we started at the end of the 2005-06 season. It is called The Franchise, and will be coming out at the start of the upcoming season. I believe it is the most inside and detailed piece ever written about LeBron. Part of that is because I'm biased, part of it is because I've read everything ever written on him. Hopefully many of you will check it out, it is due to come out in October.
Brian, Cavs fans tend to view the Cavs’ offense as well… well, you know: bad. What’s the league wide view of Mike Brown and Danny Ferry in that regard?
Most of the league gives Mike Brown credit for having a great defense and they laugh or shake their heads at his offense. Again, everybody knows they need a point guard, too.
How does your blogging influence your job as a reporter? I remember McInnis stopped talking to you. For example, does Damon Jones laugh when you tease his fashion sense, or does he hold it against you? Does your relationships with individual players even matter any more given how little exclusive access you have? Blogging is just an extension of what I do as a reporter, just a different form of reporting. Unlike some bloggers, who comment from afar, I am on the inside. This is both a positive and a negative. In general, most players do not read stories or blogs but their friends and families do. Some of them read everything. Over the course of a season, five or six times you upset a player, coach or the general manager and have to deal with the fallout. Sometimes you're wrong, sometimes you're right. Part of the job. As Paul Silas said, "ain't nothing going to be a bed of roses."
I think the best question of all directly relates to the first 10 words of this blog entry: Why has this been a quiet summer for Cavs news? This baffles me. This should baffle you. This should baffle everybody.
The Cavs know they need to make changes. Whether or not you agree, they feel like doing it through trade is a better option than this summer's free agent market. They are investigating options. They don't have to have a complete team in July. At some point they will make a deal and there will be plenty to talk about then.
I’m concerned that the Cavs are strapped down by contracts and will remain the same team if/until Lebron has the ability to bolt via free agency. Do you feel the same? For the foreseeable future the Cavs will not have salary cap flexibility. Guess what? Neither do 90 percent of the teams in the league. Of the teams that had cap flexibility this summer only one of them was in the playoffs last year, No. 8 seed Orlando. Now, they are bogged down in contracts. Everybody is strapped down by contracts to a certain extent. The Cavs have a young core and an owner willing to spend, they are in position to contend for titles. As for LeBron's future, it is impossible to predict what the league will look like one year from now, much less three years.
How can we get that “soul patch” shaved off the back of Drew Gooden’s head?
Wait for it to go out of style in Oakland.
What about Navarro?
The Wizards want cap relief or draft picks for him. Cavs don't really have either, so I don't think it is a great chance. However, he has to be dealt by the end of the week so his price may drop.
Maybe an odd question but I know the Cleveland Indians are a very tight group with great team chemistry. They play a lot of pranks on each other, they also always have video game tournaments as well. Do the Cavs players pull off any good pranks towards each other or have any weird bonding traditions to maybe better the chemisty?
In general, the Cavs have good team chemistry. To my knowledge, the locker room has been very stable over the last several years. As for pranks, other than small stuff to the rookies, I haven't seen pranks. They do play lots of video games and lots of poker with each other. Like on every team, there are cliques of players who go out together and hang out at each other's houses.
What is goin’ on with the Sasha talks? Not much. I think the Cavs like Sasha, but I'm not sure they want to commit to anything long term with Daniel Gibson and Shannon Brown there. I think they'd like to re-sign him to a cheap, short term deal. What is complicated is wings have signed for all over the board this summer, from Jason Kapono and Luke Walton getting near the mid-level while players like DeShawn Stevenson and Morris Petterson getting much less.
What is going on with the Anderson talks? I suspect the Cavs are offering somewhere in the range of 3 years, $18 million. I suspect that Anderson is weighing taking this guarenteed money vs. taking the minimum tender of 1 year, $1.8 million. If he takes the low-ball offer, he is expecting to hit a bigger contract. He is debating whether the guarenteed offer is better than the risk of injury/competing with some of the top NBA players who will be free agents next year.
Anderson's agent, Dan Fegan, has had success in the past by waiting out the summer. Two years ago, he go Erick Dampier a massive deal in late August. Last year, he got Reggie Evans a five-year deal at about the same time. So he'll wait things out. The Cavs have an offer on the table that isn't likely to improve much right now. The only X-factor in place now is whether Andy is feeling pressure to sign to play for Brazil in the FIBA qualifier next month. If he lets that go, it could be September before he makes up his mind.
What do you think the Cavs’ biggest need is in order to get a championship? They have some glaring shortcomings in the makeup of their team and I know what I consider to be the biggest one of them all. What I want to know is what you think it is. They play championship quality defense. They have a playoff game-changing star. They don't have championship offense, which a quality point guard could help fix.
Do the Cavs have any interest in Brendon Haywood? Since watching him shut down Z in the playoffs in ‘06, I’ve thought he would be a good fit here because he would bring some shot-blocking and some attitude, plus he can run the floor a little. His contract seems somewhat reasonable and I know he’s in the coach’s doghouse in Washington. If we could get him for the spare parts you talked about earlier that could decrease a team’s cap number (i.e., Wesley, Jones, Newble, ect.) and maybe a draft pick I’d do it in a minute. Or maybe they could get haywood and Navarro in a trade for Andy?
I think the Wizards would do that deal, but I don't think the Cavs would. Haywood is what you'd call a "quality big" who has a reasonable contract. However, he's been a problem in the locker room and with the head coach. The Cavs don't like players who are problems.
I’ve always wondered if there is a resource for NBA player salaries. I’m always currious about the plausability of trade scenarios, but never know where to find out about player salaries that match.
Hoopshype isn't 100 percent accurate, but is pretty close. ESPN and Real GM also have trade checkers. Under the current rules, players salaries have to be within 25 percent plus $100,000 for a deal to win. Teams cannot combine players with trade exceptions in deals.
Is LeBron working on his mid-range jumper with team USA? He looked very bad at the end of the Blue vs. White game where Kobe hit the jumper with 1.6 seconds left. I haven't been with Team USA, so I just don't know the answer to this one.
Why isn’t Danny Ferry burning up Seattle’s phone lines trying to pry one of their three talented young point guards away? This seems like a no brainer to me. Both Earl Watson and Delonte West play good defense and can make threes when left open. I’m very perplexed.
I am sure Danny talks with Seattle GM Sam Presti, who he is close with, quite often. As for Watson, he isn't that great of a shooter and his contract isn't great. The Cavs have more interest in West, who has been injury prone. I think the Sonics may spend time evaluating their players before trading them, though.
As versatile as our combination of big men are, my impression is that they’re “soft”. i submit that we need a defensive “MF” type who will cold cock a guy driving the lane. of course, as long we’re good, we’ll never draft high enough to get that kind of player in the draft. Supposedly that was what Scot Pollard was for. I did notice more of an edge from the Cavs this season compared to last. Varejao and Gooden aren't afraid to hard foul. They'd like to have a guy like that as their fifth big man, we'll see who is available in that spot over the next six weeks.
Is gooden really as much a space cowboy as some accounts hint? for example, in the pistons game where we have a 4 point lead, during the timeout, you can read lebron’s lips “don’t leave the f-ing floor” - and sure enough rasheed jacks up a 3 point attempt, and gooden LEAVES THE FLOOR in a block attempt - a foul on a 3 point shot being the only way the pistons could tie the game. that and his “YEEE!” gives me the impression he’s just a big 6 year old with an attention span to match. as skilled as he is, 4-5 of those types of brain farts a game is what could keep any team from being champions.
Drew is a very smart and thoughtful person. On the court, however, his focus tends to drift. This is partially because he's a very emotional player. He will always have to deal with this and so will any team that has him. Of course, Andy tried making a spin move from 15 feet away in Game 3 of the Finals. All players have pluses and minuses. Could he keep the Cavs from being a champion? I don't know how to answer that one.
Is there any indication on who Lebron wants to bring to Cleveland? It seems that he has the first and final say.
Yes, he'd like Jason Kidd. Then again, so would Kobe Bryant.
Does Danny Ferry think the Cavs can take the next step and win the NBA championship with the same personnel they ended the season with? Also, how possible would it be somehow get Jason Kidd? There seems to be an mutual respect there between he and LeBron which I would think would make the team probable to repeat in the East and an excellent contender for it all. It would also give boobie a couple years to mature into kidd’s role. No, Ferry knows they must improve. Right now, it is impossible to trade for Kidd. It is also impossible to trade for LeBron.
Have the cavs made any efforts to go after Mike Connelly? Do you think he will be a good pro? I assume you mean Mike Conley. After talking with Grizzlies coach Marc Iavaroni at summer league, he looks at Conley as a franchise player. So no, the Cavs won't be getting him. He will have some problems scoring because he's not a good shooter and on defense big guys might bother him, but I think he's got a chance to be a great player. I'm talking Chris Paul, Deron Williams-type great. He's super quick and he can make any pass from anywhere.
Why don’t the Cavs trade S. Brown to Bucks for rights to PF L. Ji from China? I hear LeBron is big in China, so maybe they won’t object playing with LeBron. We could use more scoring from the big guys. Is there a chance?
Do you mean Yi Jianlian? Why would the Bucks trade him for Shannon Brown? I'm not sure there is a player on the Cavs roster other than LeBron the Bucks would trade Yi for right now.
Z is getting older, but he’ll still be a valuable player for a couple years to come. We’ve noticed he can hit the open jumper from a step inside the 3-line somewhat consistently. Wouldn’t it be great if he could work on that shot and maybe extend it back behind the line, since he’s becoming less and less effective inside?
Z is pretty good from 15-18 feet, which he's developed for years. He might be a descent 3-point shooter, but that really isn't his game. He gets many of them on pick-and-rolls from the wing. I'm not sure it is a viable option, I'd rather see him continue to develop the hook.
Hey there. Not a Cavs fan, I’m from MPLS (Go Wolves!) but I got your link from Henry Abbott’s True Hoop. Anyways, I was wondering about a 4-day NBA camp in Vegas that Craig Smith and Rashad McCants are attending. I was wondering what type of stuff they do there, how common they are and, to throw a little local flavor in, are there any Cavs attending these camps this summer?
I believe you are referring to Tim Grugich's camp, which is a development camp. It is a way for young players and coaches to come together and work on things. Not sure if any Cavs are there. He's been running it for 20 years.
From this point on when is the best time to pickup a player. Dog Days of August? (As contracts are being finaliized) Just prior to Training Camp in September? End of Training Camp when rosters are cut? Early in the Season? Anytime? (All are about the same.) As a fan when can we expect the bulk of the player movement?
The bulk of major player movement has been done. However, every year there are players out there who sign right at the end of the summer who make impacts. Usually guys who are sort of undervalued in the league. A player like Jannero Pargo, Devin Brown or even Earl Boykins might be in this category.
It seems from what I have read and watched that most of the starters are being underutilized being that they are told to fit the system rather than play to their strengths. If this is an accurate assessment, do you believe that Coach Brown should change his approach or should there be new players brought in to fit his system? With that being said, with the current list of players, who would you say would be realistic and helpful for this team? I really appreciate reading your column and hope you keep up the good work, thank you! I wish I knew what Mike Brown's offensive system was. I believe having a better point guard would allow some player's talents to flourish more on offense. Getting any starting quality point guard probably would help a great deal. But you can't get those guys on the street corner.
What could the cavs get for larry hughes?
Bad contracts and/or players who are not as good as him. But that could change down the line.
If u were the GM what would u do???
Well I personally think getting an offensive-minded assistant coach would really help. Danny Ferry and Mike Brown disagree with me on this. That and get any sort of point guard, not just a home run player, because I think it would help. People forget that when Jeff McInnis was playing under control, he really helped the Cavs. He was just a mid-level point guard.
How come Sarunas Jasikevicius can’t get any playing time? it seems like he can run an offense and he can shoot, but he’s been on two teams and can’t get more than 10 minutes a night. he seems like a good fit for the cavs, but is there something i’m missing? is his defense that bad? He has defensive problems, but in Golden State it is more of a numbers issue. There are more talented guys ahead of him. He has an expiring contract, wouldn't surprise me if he was traded again.
Ferry is known for playing his cards close to his chest in his dealing and targeted acquistions. how do you think that is viewed by 1) the press - does it make your job harder? 2) the Cavs organization - does Gilbert look at that as plus? 3) the players - unlike NY, is it benficial not see player names daily in proposed trades 4) the fans - does it give fans the perception that nothing is going on behind the scenes
It doesn't matter what the media thinks, although there are some who think he should be more proactive. Overall, Dan Gilbert is very pleased with how Ferry has performed thus far. The players would all like to play more, score more and be paid more. The fans want the team to improve and want it to happen yesterday while the GM has to think for the long term. In other words, being a GM is a hard job from a perception standpoint.
Are there any trades/players that the Cavs are currently targeting? With all the talk it seems like the Cavs will pass on the MLE unless something catastrophic happens and improve through trade…
The Cavs will use some of the mid-level exception if they need to, but they'd rather re-sign Varejao and Pavlovic and attempt to make a trade. They do need a fifth big man, so it is possible they'll dip into it for that purpose.
What is the news on a true PG? What is your prediction of who and when? I am guessing at the all-star break- what’s your thoughts?
I wish I knew. The Magic (Keyon Dooling), Sonics (Watson, West), Rockets (Rafer Alston, John Lucas) and Timberwolves (Troy Hudson) all have spare point guards at the moment. More may become available as the season goes along. I think Ferry would like to acquire a major addition so he may see how certain situations play out before making a move.
Why the hell are we (the Cavs) taking a “flyer” on Brevin Knight? He can’t do worse than Eric Snow and he actually has a jump shot that opponents have to factor in when they create their defensive schemes. The dude had over 6 assisteses per game! That’s LeBron-esque! It’s better to have the ball in his hands than Larry Hughes…what do you think, Brian?
Knight can't shoot and isn't as good of a defender as Snow. So I don't see how he'd help the Cavs. He can distribute, but how does that free up LeBron from double teams? Perhaps if he's out of work in September the Cavs will consider it.
Just wondering if lebron’s been working out his game..? his jumper is atrocious and he needs to develop his post game… any update on this? thanks sir..
LeBron is always working, he hinted at the end of the season he was interested in a shooting coach. I have not spoken to him since the end of the season, so I don't know what he's working on. I will ask when I have the chance.
Whatever happened to that young intern you were mentoring, Brian? Did he ever approach any of the Cavs girls?
You are referring to Jordan Zirm, he's starting college at the University of Missouri in the fall.
Maybe someone else already asked this, but I would be interested in some sort of projection/chart of the Cavs salary cap for the next few years, with team options and player options, it is hard to understand what happens when. Particularly, I am wondering if we are going to have any more offseasons with cap space before LeBron can opt out. Thank you. It is hard to predict because no one is sure what Varejao and Pavlovic will sign for. As it stands now, the Cavs potentially could have $15-$20 million in cap space in two years when Snow, Donyell Marshall, Gooden and Damon Jones come off the cap. It's way to early to determine whether that will still be there then. The Cavs are going after a title, not to save that space.
Why is Mike Brown against having an offensive coordinator?
Because he thinks he can coach offense and he thinks he's getting better. He and Danny have told me it is unrealistic because the head coach should be the one calling the plays. It is easier to have a defensive coordinator, they say, because most defensive adjustments take place in timeouts and not on the fly. To me, it doesn't matter who calls the plays. I think the system is what needs some work.
That is all for now. I have some more in my e-mail inbox, I will answer those in the next post.
Since this has been a quiet summer for Cavs news, I figured it might be a good time to have a little forum here. If you have a question about the Cavs or the NBA, send it to me and I'll try to answer it. Want to know about how the salary cap works, how trade exceptions are used, what exactly qualifying offers are, how do you match salaries in a trade, what BRI is, what rumors are true or false, what sort of gum the Cavs have in the locker room, whatever. If I don't know the answer, I'll try my best to find it out.
Send questions to email@example.com or leave them cleanly and respectfully in the comments section. I'll try to post some replies early next week.
Stephon Marbury watched LeBron James host the ESPYs last weekend and apparently was amused. While guest hosting a blog for the New York Post on Friday, Marbury ripped James several different ways, seeming to call him both a bad person and a clown. Here is the quote:
"You want to make me the clown…I’m not the dude on the ESPYs, getting carried on a throne. I’m not him. I’m the good guy, not the bad guy. I don’t want to be carried on the throne…I just want to walk among the people."
I believe this goes back to the spring when Marbury got upset at some things LeBron told the New York media before a game with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. In brief, when asked whether he would ever have discount shoes like Marbury's year old $15 Starbury line, James pretty much said he and Nike have a higher standard. I remember the interview, I didn't think LeBron was doing it with malice. However, it did come off like he was a taking a cheap shot at what Marbury is trying to do and sounding like a Nike elitist. Which, by the way, he is.
From a public relations standpoint, the Starburys have been a hit. He was just in Cleveland promoting them this week. He says he isn't doing it for the money, although he is surely making some, in addition to his $17 million a year salary.
I do not know Marbury personally. I do know a couple of years ago, he proclaimed himself the best point guard in the NBA. I know he has a reputation around the league of sometimes being selfish. He famously has never been on a good team. Being from New York and playing for his hometown team like James, perhaps he wishes he was more well liked around the league. Perhaps he wished he got them to The Finals. Perhaps he wishes he was on Team USA. Perhaps he wishes it was him hosting the ESPYs and hosting Saturday Night Live. He does like the spotlight of television, he hosts his own show in New York.
Then again, perhaps LeBron did look a bit silly with that ESPY stuff. Marbury made two appearances at Cleveland malls this week, two more promo appearances than LeBron will probably make anywhere in Northeast Ohio this summer. So he is "walking with the people" more. And, obviously, he's not afraid to point that out.
--To start with, the Mike Bibby deal looks to be totally off. While I was confident last week because the talks were ongoing, with the Kings signing Mikki Moore, they likely are no longer interested in Drew Gooden. There are all sorts of rumors flying around the league as to why the deal did not get done last week when it was on the table. I'm not going to relate them here, but let's just say some are weird and wild. The Cavs really liked Luis Scola, who they could've acquired from the Spurs if they were willing to take Jackie Butler after the Bibby talks stopped. They were not, so they didn't get that deal done either. Scola is an excellent pick-and-roll player and a good passer. He should excel in Houston, Rick Adelman's offense needs good passing big men (Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, etc.).
--The Cavs believe the best way for the team to improve is through a trade, not the free agent market. Which is why they have been on the sidelines. Some trades come off in a hurry, some take time. The Cavs have been discussions with many teams. They do not have to make the trade today or even at the start of the season. Because they are so close, what is important is the trade works. Not how fast it is done. That may not be popular truth, but it is reality.
--Much of what happens in summer league can be thrown out, especially the stats. They are a basis to make some judgments, but more importantly Vegas sort of gives an update on where players are. Last year, for example, Sasha Pavlovic played and was pretty much terrible. Obviously, it wasn't the end for him. That said, Shannon Brown was not especially impressive. He wasn't bad, he did some good things, but there were not signs that he was about to take a big step. He handled the ball a lot and made some nice passes, but he is not a point guard. He did not shoot well from the outside and overall did not execute at a high percentage went going to the basket. He did show some amazing athleticism, which is his best attribute. Based on the way the Cavs currently are put together, I find it hard to believe he will be able to play ahead of Pavlovic, Eric Snow or Daniel Gibson. He is a better defender than Damon Jones, but his shooting issues will make it challenging for him to get major minutes. Several coaches/scouts told me they were underwhelmed by him. So that's the report, it isn't the final one, just the latest.
--Meanwhile, Gibson picked right back up where left off at the end of the season. He missed two games with injury, but for the most part he shot well and let the game come to him. He continues to work on the little floater in the lane, which has the potential to be a nice weapon. The Cavs front office is more convinced than ever that he could be a special player.
--Based on what I saw, the Cavs coaches told me and other scouts and coaches said, there didn't appear to be any other players on the Cavs summer team who are serious candidates to make the team.
--Right now, the Cavs are considering opening the regular season with Larry Hughes at point guard. They are exploring other options to be sure, but in the short term it may very well be the best option if the roster stays intact. Please consider the following:
Here are numbers from the 24 games Hughes started at point guard in the regular season: Record: 17-7 PPG: 99.6 FG pct.: .464 APG: 23.4
In those games, Hughes averaged 15.4 points and 4.1 assists.
Numbers when someone else started: Record: 33-25 PPG: 95.6 FG pct.: .440 APG: 19.8
He may not be the total answer there, but I often think many fans overlook his value because everyone thinks about his contract first. He does not produce at a near-max deal level, that is a reality. He should not be shooting so many jumpers. But he is a quality player and was a big part of many Cavs wins over the last two years.
--The word going around the NBA is that the Spurs are ready to sign defensive wing Ime Udoka, who had a good year in Portland last year. But right now the Spurs are over the luxury-tax threshold and want to get under it to make the deal. The Cavs have David Wesley (cap number $1.8 million, real money owed $250,000) and a $2.2 million trade exception. There may be a deal to be made there, remember the Cavs like third-string point guard Beno Udrih. The Cavs could trade either for Udrih, if the Spurs can part with him for nothing in return, which isn't certain. Although, they just gave away Scola and Butler for no players in return.
Las Vegas -- So the Cavs and Kings are at it again with Mike Bibby. As one of the three writers who was swarming all over UNLV to break this story yesterday, I still am not quite sure why this deal broke down. It certainly looked like it was going to happen when both Damon Jones and Drew Gooden were in the gym with the Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and their entire front office. Let me also pass this along, Danny Ferry really wanted the rights to Luis Scola from the Spurs. I mean really, really, really wanted him. It would also make sense for the Spurs not to hand players to a division rival for nothing but money. Yet, no dice.
The only thing I can think is the Kings just still aren't happy with the package being offered. The Cavs can offer Gooden and expiring contracts (Ira Newble, David Wesley) or they can offer Gooden and a shooter (Jones) or a combination of both. They are still trying to get a third team involved, just as they were for hours and hours back in February, to sweeten the package. With all this talk, my gut tells me this probably gets done at some point in the future. They aren't going to give up now.
On the Anderson Varejao front, one league executive told me yesterday: "This is going to be one to watch." He meant for entertainment value, in a sick, detatched way. Andy's agent, Dan Fegan, is looking for the big score. I'm talking about something like $9-$10 million a year. I believe the Cavs are offering something much closer to $6 million a year. You don't have to be a math major to know that is a wide gap. The Cavs will not pay it and, because Varejao is restricted and no teams who want Varejao have cap space left, they will not have to pay it. They do not have to do a sign-and-trade for it if they don't feel like it, either. Here's the thing, though, Fegan does not like to compromise. He may rather have Andy play out a one-year qualifying offer and become unrestricted next summer.
Now, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. First off, because's a second round pick, his qualifying offer is only $1.3 million. Sasha Pavlovic's, for example, is around $4 million. That means Andy potentially would be leaving $5 million on the table just this season alone. This is a guy who has made just $2.6 million over the last three years combined. He may never make up that money. Second, next summer the free agent market is deeper and there are no teams that will have a bunch of money. So if he leaves the Cavs, it very likely would be just for the mid-level exception, which will be around $5.5 million next year. Does that make sense? No, but it does make a point, which is what Fegan might want to do.
Here's something you need to keep in mind that no one is talking about. Andy really, really wants to play for Brazil in next month's FIBA Americas Tournament. He loves playing for the national team and the Brazilians are fighting for one of the two spots in the Olympics next year. With the Americans and Argentines there, they need their best players. Andy can't risk playing without a contract, remember he blew out his shoulder playing for the national team two years ago. I have not spoken to Andy since the season ended, so maybe his feelings have changed. But he's always expressed to me how he wants to make the basketball team as popular as a the national soccer team, when the whole country shuts down to watch. That is probably unrealistic, but Andy always sounded passionate about it. Anyway, that means the contract has to get done in the next few weeks if he wants to play. We'll see...
Las Vegas -- Greetings from South Nevada, where the temps are hot and the action at the Vegas Summer League is, well, not. Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, the two headliners, haven't played well so far. No big deal, I've been to five summer leagues and see lots of top picks struggle. It means nothing, really. Durant can't make a shot and Oden keeps fouling, largely because he's using his hands too much. They will both be fine. But here's a few Cavs happenings.
--Anderson Varejao met with the Memphis Grizzlies over the weekend in Las Vegas. The Cavs have also met with Varejao's agent, Dan Fegan. Varejao and the Cavs are far apart right now, which is to be somewhat expected. As has been discussed here before, it is hard to put a value on him. That said, there are signs the Grizzlies may present Varejao with an official offer sheet after Wednesday, when free agents may sign. Depending on how aggressive the Grizzlies are, the Cavs will probably have to do some stewing. Danny Ferry has been saying he will match, which follows normal strategy. Fegan has been playing hardball, which follows normal strategy. So we'll see what happens and just how much everybody values Varejao, but things could heat up very soon.
--Daniel Gibson played well the first two games, but couldn't finish either. He had a cut on his face that required stitches in the first game and he sprained his left ankle against the Chinese on Sunday. It isn't bad, but Gibson told me it had swollen a bit. He'd been playing well, scoring 14 points in the first half and often looking like the best player on the floor Sudnay. At this point, he probably was. The Cavs and Gibson himself are not ruling out a return, but it's highly doubtful he'll play again this week. He told me he plans to workout again with John Lucas in Houston for the rest the summer, which is what he did last year. Overall, he just continues to impress and the organization is extremely excited about his future.
--Shannon Brown is playing with more poise than he showed last year. He's put some hard work into developing his mid-range game it seems. He is so very impressive with his aggressive drives to the basket and flashy dunks, which he's had a few of already. He had 26 points against the Chinese as he repeatedly drove to the basket and finished. But they were playing zone and couldn't stop him, so I don't know how to judge it. In the other games, including tonight when he went 5-of-19 against the Suns, he's struggled to hit a high volume of shots. He has been playing point guard some, although he is not one and will not be one probably. He's thrown some great passes but he's dribble happy, often taking too long to get into a move. Overall, he's better and he's still working very hard, he has a chance to make a push for playing time come this fall.
--Dwayne Jones plays very hard and he fights for every rebound. His skills, though, are still very raw. Not sure about his future with the team.
--Darius Rice, a lanky 6-foot-10 shooter from Miami, has been the most impressive non-roster player for the Cavs. He scored 21 points in the win over the Suns and had 19 against the Spurs on Saturday. The man can shoot and can create his shot a little bit for a guy his size. Worth watching some more.
The Cavs have been quiet in free agency thus far, which was to be expected. Without cap space to spend they were never going to be in the market for the big-name players. With restricted second-tier free agents like Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao, the game is going to have to play out for a little bit. Here's some things to chew on:
--The Andres Nocioni watch is in full effect and it involves Anderson Varejao. The Chicago Tribune, which has been all over this story, is reporting the Bulls are still the front-runners to keep Nocioni despite the Memphis Grizzlies' serious sales pitch. Supposedly, the Argentinan media is reporting el Chapu has been offered $46 million over five years by Memphis. That may be in error, because the Tribune says Nocioni may be ready to take a $38 million deal with the Bulls.
There is wide-spread speculation that if the Grizzlies fail to get Nocioni, they will target Varejao. This is probably true. Here is the thing, it would be hard to believe Varejao would get the same offer as Nocioni because he's an energy rebounder, not an offensive threat in addition to a talented defender like Nocioni. Even if Varejao gets a deal that averages $7-$8 million, it seems the Cavs will likely match even if it is a bit of an overpay. That is the life of restricted free agents. By the way, I still stand by my story that Varejao's representation have told people he has an offer (solid or not, on paper or not) over the mid-level exception of around $6 million to start.
--Expect Cavs GM Danny Ferry to let the process play out with Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic. Last year, he waited all summer on Drew Gooden. Gooden didn't get an offer sheet and ended up signing a very reasonable contract. If the Grizzlies don't make Varejao a big offer, he may have to do the same thing so and Ferry may wait. If Memphis or another signs him to a sheet, the Cavs will take their time in thinking about it while other free agents may dry up. As for Sasha, there doesn't seem to be much action at all going on with him right now. In judging the market, I'd say he ends up signing for somewhere between what Matt Carroll (6 years, $27 million) and Jason Kapono (four years, $24 million) signed. Unless he gets an offer sheet, which is a possibility but as yet no major suitors have emerged, his market is probably a deal starting between $3-$4 million per season. Then again, I could be wrong.
--Keep an eye on Juan Carlos Navarro, a Spanish guard who surprised some this week when he cut a deal with his Euro team, FC Barcelona, to come to the NBA. I saw Navarro play last summer in Japan and I was impressed with him as shooter, both from mid and long range. If memory serves, he played shooting guard mostly for Spain because Jose Calderon and Sergio "Spanish Chocolate" Rodriguez were running the point. But he ran the offense at times, I think. Here are the stats.
The Washington Wizards own his rights and have since 2002, but he's a second-round pick and not subject to rookie salary scale. It sounds like this came as a surprise to the Wizards, too. So here is the thing, based on my understanding of the salary cap, if the Wizards want to sign Navarro to something more than the minimum salary (and he's not coming over for $400,000, folks) they will have to use a piece of their mid-level exception. Considering they also want to re-sign DeShawn Stevenson, whom they don't have Bird rights to, it seems hard to believe they can do both. Which is why there are rumors the Wizards are listening to offers to help in the decision. The Cavs may have interest in both Navarro and Wizards' restricted free agent Andray Blatche, whom the Wizards have partial Bird rights to so they won't have to use part of the exception with him. So it wouldn't be surprising if the Cavs and Wizards had some talks over this issue. The Wizards seem to be looking to move Etan Thomas and/or Brendan Haywood. Thomas has a bad contract and good relations with head coach Eddie Jordan while Haywood has a good contract and bad relations. Just stuff to chew on.
I'm the middle of an 18-hour travel day here but I have a few minutes. I gotten some various e-mails on the Anderson Varejao story I wrote for today's paper. Please allow me to elaborate. In it, I quote an NBA executive, and I'll tell you now that is it a general manager but not from the Central Division, who has been told by Varejao's representation that he has an offer above the mid-level exception. I expected the mid-level to be between $5.5-$6 million, so higher to start.
I personally speculated it could've been the Grizzlies, but my source did not tell me that. But this morning I read about new Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace in South America to meet with Andres Nocioni. It may be the Grizzlies after Varejao, it may not be. Maybe it is from a team that wants to do a sign-and-trade with the Cavs. It may be that there is no offer and there's posturing going on. But I know what is being put out there and so I reported it.
Let me just add two points here: Even if it is overpaying a little, were someone actually able to sign Varejao to a deal that averaged $7-$8 million per season, the feel is the Cavs would likely match. Athletic big men are hard to find and Varejao is a potential long-term replacement for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. If it gets to $10 million a season, then it's a different story. Secondly, with Darko Millcic becoming an unrestricted free agent today, the game totally changes. Darko is younger and has more upside, especially on offense, than Varejao. With no restricted status to deal with, he may become more attactive than Varejao all of a sudden.
Also, Darko has the same agent, Marc Cornstein, as Sasha Pavlovic. So with all this stuff going on, and with Cornstein spewing venom at the Magic (and it sounds like he's got a point) Pavlovic is on the back burner for now. It seems having Pavlovic back is a large priority for Danny Ferry, so his contacts of players like Morris Peterson, Matt Carroll and the like are probably backup plans if Sasha talks go poorly.