Cleveland Cavaliers

Mavs Sign Salah Mejri

4:14pm: It’s a partially guaranteed three-year deal, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, so the Mavs are using cap space.

3:51pm: The Mavericks announced that they have signed center Salah Mejri.  Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the press release, though Marc Stein of ESPN.com recently reported that the Mavs made a three-year offer to the big man.

Mejri played in 34 games with Real Madrid last season and averaged 4.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 8.6 minutes on the way to helping his team win the Spanish League title.  In championship play, he increased those averages to 5.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 10.3 minutes across eight games.  While Mejri didn’t play much last year, Dallas is intrigued by his energy, mobility, and length, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com noted recently (Twitter link).

A native of Tunisia, Mejri was a member of the Tunisian National Team that competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The team secured its bid to the London Olympics by winning the 2011 FIBA African Championships where Mejri was named MVP.

Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi first reported the interest from Dallas. The Cavs were reportedly interested earlier this year.

Wolves’ Flip Saunders On Love, Garnett, Bennett

Before the D-League, there was the Continental Basketball Association.  Like the D-League, the CBA gave a platform to some of the less-heralded players out there to show their stuff and earn NBA deals.  In the case of Flip Saunders, the CBA was a springboard to a successful NBA coaching career.  This week, the head coach/president of basketball operations/part owner of the Timberwolves spoke with Zach Lowe of Grantland about Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett, his journey, and much more.  Here’s a look at some of the highlights..

On Kevin Love:

I didn’t have a problem keeping Kevin into the final year of his deal and coaching him. Guys just don’t turn down the extra year and $30MM. Even though he maybe wanted to leave, I thought we still had an opportunity to re-sign him. When you are patient, you can say, ‘This is what we need to get something done, and if we don’t get it, we’re keeping him.’

Then things kind of fell into place, with LeBron going to Cleveland and [Andrew] Wiggins becoming available…People thought it was [bluster when I said I wanted to keep him]. Thoughts might have changed when I announced I would coach. Because what coach wouldn’t want to coach a guy who was All-NBA? Coaches want to win that night. I’m in a unique situation, because as the coach, I live in the present, but as the GM, I look into the future. I try to steer both courses. But people believed I would coach the guy.

On balancing roles and whether he watches college game film to scout draft prospects: 

I do watch a lot, actually. You also have to trust people you hire. I’ve been in the league for 18 years. I have an understanding of players. I have a wide base of college coaches I talk to, so I know a lot about guys before they even come into the league. Look, there are positives and negatives to it. You need checks and balances. You can’t make snap decisions. What helps is, I came up in the CBA, where you did everything. I was president, GM, coach, everything, for seven years there. You get to understand the intermingling of the business and basketball sides, because they both have to be successful. You learn how to deal with agents. Building trust with agents is as important as anything in our league now.

On Kevin Garnett‘s role:

He’s gonna start. That’s who he is. KG is a starter. He’s the best power forward on our team, actually. No one rebounds better. He’s the best help defender. No one communicates better. He knows the offense, and he can pass it. 

On whether he’ll exercise Anthony Bennett‘s fourth-year option:

We’re going to evaluate him over the summer. He played a good Pan American Games. There is no question about his talent. It’s about getting in shape. He’s in shape now. But it’s going to be competitive with all those guys, and also Nemanja Bjelica, who no one talks about.

Central Rumors: Cavs, Jackson, Pacers

The Cavaliers traded Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to the Trail Blazers mainly to add two exceptions and expand their trade options, even though they will save millions in luxury tax, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Cleveland believes teams are more willing to make mid-season trades and the exceptions it picked up on Monday — $10.5MM for Haywood and $2.85MM for Miller — gives it some flexibility to make those moves, Pluto continues. The Cavs’ salary cap concerns would have made any trade next season much more difficult without those exceptions, though they cannot be combined, Pluto adds.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Second-round pick Sir’Dominic Pointer is a longshot to end up on the Cavs roster this year, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal writes in his story on the Haywood deal. Cleveland drafted the small forward from St. John’s 53rd overall last month.
  • Reggie Jackson was convinced he would re-sign with the Pistons when they helped him with a family crisis, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. When Jackson found out his father Saul had a diabetic seizure in March, the organization flew Jackson on the team plane to Colorado to visit him, the story continues. That made a lasting impression on Jackson, who didn’t consider any other teams before signing a five-year, $80MM deal as a restricted free agent to remain with the club. “I think I knew then I didn’t need to be nowhere else,” Jackson said to Ellis. “In my mind I was already here, but that kind of solidified it. There was no need to even play around and do free agency. I was good.”
  • Only the first year of Glenn Robinson III‘s three-year contract with the Pacers is guaranteed, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Robinson will make $1.1MM this season, then $1.05MM in 2016/17 and $1.09MM in 2017/18 in the non-guaranteed years, Pincus adds. The signing was officially announced on Monday.

Pacers Sign Rakeem Christmas

2:06pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

1:01pm: The Pacers haven’t formally announced the deal yet, but their official team Twitter account passed along a tweet from Christmas that depicts him signing his contract.

MONDAY, 9:32am: The final two seasons are partially guaranteed, sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM, who hears the deal is for $4.3MM, slightly less than the $4.5MM originally reported (Twitter link)

THURSDAY, 6:14pm: The Pacers and rookie Rakeem Christmas have reached an agreement on a contract, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports (on Twitter). The pact is for four-years and $4.5MM, with the first two seasons fully guaranteed, Haynes adds. Christmas was the No. 36 overall selection in this year’s NBA Draft.

Christmas’ draft rights had been acquired from the Cavaliers earlier today in exchange for the 2019 second round pick that Indiana garnered from the Lakers in the Roy Hibbert trade. Cleveland reportedly made the deal for Christmas in order to acquire a draft pick that it could use to help flip Brendan Haywood‘s uniquely valuable non-guaranteed contract.

The 23-year-old averaged 7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks to go with a slash line of .560/.000/.681 during his four years spent at Syracuse. Christmas logged 17.5 PPG and 9.1 RPG during his senior season.

Cavs Re-Sign Matthew Dellavedova

1:35pm: The signing is official, the team announced.

12:13pm: It is indeed the qualifying offer that Dellavedova will sign, McMenamin writes in a full story, which puts his reporting in agreement with that of Mannix.

10:56am: The Cavaliers will re-sign Matthew Dellavedova to a one-year deal worth about $1.2MM, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Chris Mannix of SI.com indicates that the Bill Duffy client is taking his qualifying offer (Twitter link), which is worth $1,147,276. Either way, it’ll likely cost the Cavs nearly four times as much in luxury tax penalties. The restricted free agent nonetheless appears to be taking a sharp discount from the $4MM he was reportedly seeking.

Dellavedova, who went undrafted in 2013, quickly established himself as an NBA player and further proved his worth in this year’s playoffs, and especially in the Finals, when he served as a fill-in for the injured Kyrie Irving. GM David Griffin made it clear he wanted him back, but Cleveland’s tax concerns appeared to slow negotiations. Dellavedova wanted to move on a deal at this point in part because of a desire to have his future settled before he starts playing for the Australian national team this summer, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link). The Cavs can make him a restricted free agent again next summer, since he’ll only have three years of service.

The deal puts a further squeeze on J.R. Smith, who remains unsigned, though Dellavedova’s willingness to sacrifice ostensibly leaves more flexibility for the team to pay Smith what he would like to make, depending on just how much tax owner Dan Gilbert wants to shell out. The Cavs sliced their projected luxury tax bill to little more than $4MM when they agreed to trade Mike Miller along with Brendan Haywood to the Trail Blazers, but that doesn’t include what they’d have to pay for Dellavedova’s salary, nor does it take into consideration a new deal for Tristan Thompson, who remains a restricted free agent.

Is this a fair deal for Dellavedova, or should he have held out for more? Leave a comment to tell us what you think.

Blazers Acquire Brendan Haywood, Mike Miller

MONDAY, 12:55pm: The deal is official, the Cavs and Blazers announce. Miller receives $428,241 from Cleveland thanks to his 15% trade kicker, though that amount will apply to Portland’s cap, lifting Miller’s total cap hit to $3,283,181, notes former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

8:49pm: The Cavs will not receive draft picks in the deal, Wojnarowski tweets. The Blazers, however, will send cash, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

SUNDAY, 8:19pm: The Cavs have agreed to trade Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to the Blazers, reports Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (on Twitter). Cleveland is set to gain two trade exceptions in the deal — one for $10.5MM and another for $2.85MM — Wojnarowski tweets.

Mar 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Brendan Haywood  shoots prior to the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The Cavs are also set to send the better of the 2019 second-round picks that they own from the Lakers and Timberwolves plus their 2020 second-round pick, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst (on Twitter).

Haywood’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season at $10,522,500. It will become guaranteed on August 1st and therefore the Blazers are expected to waive him, Windhorst writes in a full story. The Cavs, of course, had been shopping Haywood and his sizable contract for months to no avail.

The Cavs are still interested in making deals with Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, but at the moment, are set to cut their luxury tax bill from a little more than $32MM to just over $4MM by shedding the salaries of Haywood and Miller, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweets.

Eastern Notes: Irving, Anthony, Embiid, Raptors

The CavaliersKyrie Irving is being cautious about his return to basketball after fracturing his left kneecap in the NBA Finals, writes Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media Group. Irving had surgery the day after suffering the injury in Game 1, and the team estimated his recovery time at three to four months. That should have him ready for the start of training camp in late September, but the star guard isn’t focused on that timetable. “I’m honestly not putting a date on anything,” Irving said. “People are going to put a date regardless. I’m just continuing to be on the journey I’ve been on and that’s continuing to get better every single day and rehabbing my leg.” Irving said he expects the Cavaliers to be even better next season after adding veterans Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson through free agency.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks have given their approval for Carmelo Anthony to attend a USA Basketball minicamp next month in Las Vegas, according to Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News. It’s the latest indication that Anthony will be healthy in time for training camp after February’s surgery on a torn patellar tendon in his left knee. The August 11th-13th event will bring together players who have participated in the USA Basketball system. Non-contact workouts are planned with an informal all-star game capping off the proceedings. Anthony, who is still recuperating from the surgery, is not expected to participate in all the events.
  • If Joel Embiid had slipped to the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA draft, there is a good chance the Celtics would have taken him, reports Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald“[The Celtics] did have the go-ahead from their medical staff to make that pick,” said an unidentified source. “They weren’t going to say no to him.” The Sixers recently announced that Embiid will undergo another surgery on his right foot and probably miss a second consecutive season.
  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star compares the Raptors‘ philosophy under GM Masai Ujiri to the team’s under former GM Brian Colangelo in the writer’s latest mailbag. Smith believe the main difference is that the current regime tends have more patience with the team and lets things develop longer.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Central Notes: Cavs, Jackson, Hilliard

The Cavs would benefit from bringing back unrestricted free agent J.R. Smith and the guard would benefit from a return to Cleveland after testing his luck in free agency, Bud Shaw of the Northeast Ohio Media Group opines. Smith, who is expected to meet with the Cavs soon, left $6.4MM on the table when he declined his player’s option with Cleveland in June. The reunion would make sense from a basketball standpoint, Shaw writes, because the Cavs would not need Smith to carry the load of a top scoring option and Smith is at his best off the bench and playing loose.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson‘s five-year, $80MM deal with the Pistons does not carry any options and will pay the guard $13.9MM in the first year and $18.1MM in the final year, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). It was recently reported that despite widespread criticism, Detroit coach/executive Stan Van Gundy still likes the contract.
  • Darrun Hilliard, who the Pistons drafted at No. 38 and later officially signed to a three-year deal, received $600K guaranteed in the first year of his contract with Detroit with the second and third years of his deal at the minimum salary, Pincus tweets.
  • The final year of the two-year deal E’Twaun Moore signed in September with the Bulls became fully guaranteed on July 15th, Pincus tweets. The combo guard will be paid slightly more than $1MM this upcoming season. Moore’s production fell last season as he made 56 appearences and averaged only 2.7 points per game.

Cavs Re-Sign James Jones

SATURDAY, 9:44am: The deal is official, the Cavs announce in a press release.

THURSDAY, 6:00pm: The deal is for one-year and $1.45MM, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Windhorst is likely rounding down from the minimum salary, which for Jones would be $1,499,187.

MONDAY, 8:22am: The Cavaliers will re-sign James Jones, a league source confirmed to Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Jones told Vardon on Sunday that he would “be back in Cleveland for sure.” The 12-year veteran forward who turns 35 in October spent last year with the Cavs on a one-year deal for the minimum salary.

“I’ve made it well-known last year when I told them I was coming to help change the culture and do something special,” Jones said. “It wasn’t a situation where I was looking for a platform to move on. I was looking to be a part of something, to build something. And so I’m still in.”

Jones can receive up to $1,799,024 from the Cavs via Non-Bird rights, but it seems likely that Cleveland will push him to sign for the $1,499,187 minimum salary. If he takes the minimum on another one-year deal, the Cavs would only be responsible for $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum, with the league picking up the rest. That savings of $851,748 would allow Cleveland to avoid paying an additional amount of more than three times as much in tax penalties because of the team’s otherwise soaring payroll. So, a roughly $300K sacrifice for Jones would mean much for the Cavs.

The Joel Bell client, a Miami native, followed LeBron James from the Heat to the Cavs last summer. Jones played more total minutes this past season than he had in any of the previous three with Miami, averaging 4.4 points in 11.7 minutes per game with 36.0% three-point percentage across 57 appearances. His role increased in the playoffs, when he saw 15.5 MPG, but he averaged the same 4.4 PPG.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 7/24/15

With the month of July nearly over most of the bigger name free agents have already locked down their new deals and know what jerseys they will don for next season. The most notable remaining unrestricted free agent is J.R. Smith, who left $6.4MM on the table when he declined his player’s option with Cleveland for the 2015/16 campaign back in June. While there’s still a good chance that Smith will re-sign with the Cavs, his chances of topping that salary amount for next season are rapidly dwindling along with most of the teams’ available cap space. Smith experienced a bit of a career revival after escaping New York at midseason, though his postseason shooting woes, and ill-advised elbow to Jae Crowder‘s face that earned him a two game suspension, could not be considered closing out the season on a high note.

This brings me to the topic of the day: Where does J.R. Smith play next season, and how much do you predict he’ll earn for 2015/16?

Smith can be an explosive scorer when he’s “on” and playing under control. He’s also only two seasons removed from winning Sixth Man of the Year honors, and he did manage to steer clear of trouble while with the Cavs, except for that one postseason incident. The 29-year-old also fit into the Cavs’ rotation quite well, and the team has expressed a desire to re-sign Smith, though they reportedly weren’t pleased at him opting out of his deal.

Is remaining in Cleveland the best option for Smith, or do you see another team being a better fit? What sort of deal can Smith expect to land at this stage of the offseason? Does anyone out there believe he’ll top the $6.4MM he was set to earn? All these questions and more are fair game. Take to the comments section below to express your opinions, share your thoughts, and kill some time with your fellow hoops fans. We look forward to what you have to say.

Note: Since these Shootarounds are meant to be guided by you the reader, we certainly welcome your input on the topics we present. If there is something you’d like to see pop up here for a discussion, shoot me a message at hoopsrumorsmailbag@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter at @EddieScarito to submit topics or ideas for what we should present in future posts.

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