Dominos to Fall From LeBron’s Signing with Cleveland

Over the next 24 or 48 hours, there will be a flurry of moves in the NBA as a result of the LeBron signing. LeBron altered the landscape of the NBA in one day, and there will be ripple effects felt for a long time throughout the league. Here are just some of the things that could happen over the next few days:

Chris Bosh signs a max deal with Houston.
This is almost sure to happen. The Rockets were Bosh’s backup plan all along, and they offer him the best combination of winning and money. The Rockets have to first move Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin to make the requisite space, so that they can sign Bosh, and then match the Mavs’ 3 year/$45 million offer sheet on Chandler Parsons. Everyone will rush to anoint the Rockets as one of the title favorites, but a Big 3 of Howard, Harden, and Bosh is still far away from a title. Where’s the toughness in that trio?

parsons_lhuofKevin Love trade rumors EXPLODE and he probably winds up in Cleveland somehow.
Of course Kevin Love is ‘intrigued’ by joining the Cavs, and then signing there long-term. The Cavs will probably try to offer Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, and some 1st round picks for Love. And the T’Wolves will say no to that. The Cavs will have to think long and hard whether they want to give up top pick Andrew Wiggins to create a Big 3 of LeBron, Kyrie, and Love. Continue reading

Twitter’s Reaction to LeBron Going Back To Cleveland

Here we go…

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The Best Fit for Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol is going to end up on one the best teams in the league. That’s his reward for having to play through last season on an insufferably bad roster sans Kobe. He deserves to be on a good team. Gasol is one of the most attractive free agents on the market, despite being 33 years old. He’s one of the most unselfish players in the league and great in the locker room. He’s won two titles, so he brings a winning personality into the locker room. And he still averaged a double-double last season. Even if his stats were inflated running D’Antoni’s offense, Gasol still put up some impressive numbers. He’s the type of player that would fit into any locker room and instantly make the team better. Word on the street is that he’s drawing interest from the Spurs, Heat, Thunder, and Bulls. In other words: the three best teams in the league, and another very good team. Gasol would be great no matter where he went, but where would he fit best?

1. Oklahoma City Thunder
This is probably the best fit for Gasol in terms of playing time and winning. Gasol would most likely start from day one over Steven Adams. The Thunder could use a veteran presence with experience winning, now that Derrick Fisher is gone. The difference is Gasol would actually contribute in a major way, unlike Fisher. The Thunder’s offense often gets stuck in glue, especially in crunch time. It looks like Westbrook and Durant are just taking turns shooting, or worse yet, Westbrook is the only guy shooting. Adding an elite passer like Gasol to the fold would instantly help make things more fluid on offense. Continue reading

The First Hilariously Bad Contract (Offer) of Free Agency

You might be expecting this to be an article on the deal the Pistons just signed Jodie Meeks to. And that would be a good guess. Meeks is nowhere near deserving over $6 million per season. But that is not the craziest thing we’ve seen this free agency. Today, on day two of free agency, the Cavaliers offered Gordon Hayward a max deal. To be fair, it’s not a MAX max.

It’s a lower level max deal since Hayward is in his first post-rookie contract. But that is just an issue of semantics. What is perplexing, is how a player who shot 30% from 3 and 41% from the field is worth a 4 year/$63 million deal. Especially when that player is marketed as a shooter. Hayward is not like Kyle Korver. Hayward’s game is much more rounded out and can do lots of things on the court, but more than anything, he is supposed to be a good shooter. As CBS Sports’ Matt Moore puts it, Hayward is pretty good at everything, but elite at nothing. That’s fine. That’s just another way of saying he’s a versatile player–not a speciality guy. But there is the very legitimate question of how good your team can be, especially in the West, if your two highest paid players are Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. Both guys are probably the third or fourth best players on very good teams. But right, restricted free agency. This is how it works: you have to overpay to pry someone away. Continue reading

Let the LeBron Speculation Begin

As you’ve heard by now, LeBron opted out of his final year with the Miami Heat. So every team desperate and deluded enough is clearing cap space with the hope that they’ll be able to convince LeBron to join their team. The thing is, there are only really five teams with legitimate chances to get LeBron. Zach Lowe mentioned the Hawks and Suns as other unlikely candidates, but all he is saying is that they have the requisite cap space to get LeBron. He’d never go to either of those teams, even if they’re not that bad. Who really has a chance at getting LeBron?

1) Miami Heat
They’re still the most likely scenario for LeBron. He knows their management, respects Pat Riley’s judgement, and still made the Finals last season with its weak roster. LeBron opting out is merely a ploy to motivate the Heat and get Micky Arison to spend more money. It’s a move to push Wade and Bosh to restructure their deals and take much less money. This is the least exciting move LeBron could make. The Heat would need to show LeBron they’re going to completely alter the bench and add some real contributors and fresh legs. Let’s all hope he leaves Miami so that the bandwagons fans in Miami can disappear again. They don’t deserve a good team. Continue reading

Maverick Twin Towers: Dirk and Pau?

The Mavericks have recently expressed in signing 33 year Pau Gasol. Gasol would be paired in Dallas’ frontline with Dirk, easily giving the Mavs perhaps the most skilled frontline in the NBA. Gasol is 33 year olds and has endured two disappointing seasons in Los Angeles without Kobe’s help. Despite the Lakers’ recent struggles, Pau has vowed to stay in LA if Kobe wants him to. But aside from loyalty, Pau has little reason to sign up for any more time in LA. The Lakers own the 7th pick in this year’s draft, as well as some cap space–some of which would have to be used on Pau–but that is not enough to turn the Lakers into a playoff team. The Lakers won only 27 games last year, and even the biggest Kobe-diehards have to realize that his return to the court will mean little as a 35 year old. Of course, Los Angeles is one of the premier destinations in the league. The Lakers are probably the most storied franchise in the league and the weather is always a plus, but if Gasol wants to add one more ring to his collection, Los Angeles is not the place to stay. Continue reading

Is Carmelo worth a max contract?

Of course he is, right? What a silly question. Or is it? Carmelo is one of the most prolific scorers in the league and has been for the past decade. At 30 years old, Carmelo is at a crossroads for his career. He has reached the Conference Finals once in his career, but never further. If not for his title run at Syracuse, it’d be worth pondering whether Carmelo is a winner or not. This is not a Skip Bayless exercise in superstar trolling, but given the fact that Carmelo is often his team’s highest-paid player, and gets to take upward of 20 shots per game, his team’s failures will fall on his shoulders. He maneuvered his way to the big city in hopes of rejuvenating the Knicks in the post-Isiah Thomas era and bringing a title to New York City. As ESPN’s Beckley Mason points out, aside from last year’s 54 win season, ending in a second round loss to the Pacers, the Knicks have remained a laughingstock in the lousy Eastern Conference. At what point do we begin to question Carmelo and his worth? He had his career year two seasons ago, when he led the team to 54 wins, but that was also the year J.R. Smith won sixth man of the year. Continue reading

One Free Agent could save the Heat (Hint: His name is not Carmelo)

As soon as the Heat were on the ropes against the Spurs, rumors began to circulate that Carmelo Anthony could possibly come to Miami and create a Big 4. If Carmelo joined the Heat, they would immediately become the title favorites, at least according to Charles Barkley. Off talent alone, many would jump to anoint the Heat as favorites to win the title, but then again, lots of people rushed to claim that the Nets would challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference when they got Pierce and KG.  Carmelo would add a much-needed scoring punch to the Heat, but he wouldn’t fix what doomed them: poor point guard play and lack of rim protection. Rather than go after Carmelo, the Heat would be better off targeting arguably the second best unrestricted free agent this summer, Kyle Lowry. There is apparently mutual interest on both sides. Lowry was one of the biggest All-Star snubs and seems perennially underrated, but perhaps no more, after leading the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Anyone who watched the Raptors take on the Nets could see that Lowry is better than Deron Williams, despite not receiving nearly as much attention as the other top point guards.

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Born Ready: What teams could handle Lance Stephenson?

You either love Lance or you hate him. How you feel about Lance Stephenson inevitably acts like some sort of NBA Rorschach test, giving valuable insight to your personality and how you view the game of basketball. He can fly down the court by himself and finish like LeBron. But then he’ll sprint down court on one-on-three breaks and turn it over. He’ll throw no-look passes like Magic. And then he’ll throw a no-look pass into the fourth row. He’ll go off for 30 points. He’ll kill ball movement and be a ball hog. Lance Stephenson is one of the hardest players to understand. His talent is undeniable. His craziness is also undeniable. He’s one of the most unpredictable players and personalities in the league. He went from perhaps the most hyped up New York city high school prospect ever, to an underwhelming afterthought at Cincinnati, to a second round draft pick, to a benchwarmer in his first few seasons, to the first runner-up for NBA’s Most Improved Player this past season. Continue reading

What should LeBron do?

12 days. That is how much time LeBron has before he must decide if he will opt in for one more year with the Heat. If he was to opt in, LeBron would have one year left for over $22 million, but money is not the issue. Or it is, but not how you might think. Recently, there has been speculation that the Heat are interested in signing Carmelo, but that would require the Heat’s Big 3 to each take paycuts. Usually, players of LeBron’s caliber, at the age of 29, would never take a paycut, even in the name of winning. Maybe in the twilight of his career, LeBron would take a paycut, a la Tim Duncan, but now. MJ would never take a paycut. Kobe didn’t exactly take a paycut at age 35. Their ego won’t allow it. It’s especially difficult to imagine LeBron taking a paycut when he said just a few months ago, that he is severely underpaid. If the Big 3 all opt in, then the majority of the Heat’s nucleus will be relatively similar next year. But the supporting pieces could be drastically different. Shane Battier retired right after Game 5. Rashard Lewis is a free agent. Mario Chalmers is a free agent. Ray Allen is a free agent and might retire. Mike Beasley and Greg Oden are free agents. But Miami might not be able to make significant improvements rounding out its roster if the Big 3 all opt in, and are owed over $60 million together. So, what if LeBron opts out. Yes, LeBron, Wade, and Bosh could each opt out, take substantial paycuts like the Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili did, and then try to lure Carmelo or Kyle Lowry to South Beach. Miami could also do a sign and trade with LeBron. Or, he could simply opt out and leave Miami. Here are a few possibilities, some more realistic than others. Continue reading