The Cavaliers have exercised their options for 2014/15 on a pair of third-year players and a pair of second-year players, ensuring that all four Cavs remain under contract for at least the next two seasons. The team announced today in a press release that it has picked up its ’14/15 options on Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Zeller.
Irving and Thompson, members of the 2011 draft class, will be eligible for extensions next offseason, and Irving at least seems like a good bet to sign one. Even if they don’t sign extensions though, Irving and Thompson can remain with the Cavs through 2015 before becoming restricted free agents. Irving, the former first overall pick, will earn about $7.07MM in 2014/15, while Thompson will make about $5.14MM.
Meanwhile, Waiters and Zeller are each now locked up for a third NBA season, with Waiters set to earn $4.06MM in ’14/15 and Zeller in line for about $1.7MM. The Cavs hold additional options for 2015/16 on both players.
You can follow all of this month’s rookie contract option decisions right here.
During her weekly mailbag, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer theorizes that the vitriol about Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia was stronger than Ohio's reaction to the repeatedly injured Greg Oden because Oden led the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA National Championship game, and Philadelphia lost their gamble on Bynum last season.
Boyer also predicts the Cavs' starting lineup if the whole roster–specifically Anderson Varejao and Bynum–are healthy. The hypothesis: Bynum, Tristan Thompson, Earl Clark, Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving. Noticeably absent is Varejao, who could attract interest from other teams if Bynum appears healthy and productive before the the February trade deadline.
Here's what else is happening with the Cavs, on a lazy NBA Saturday in August:
- The underlying reason the Cavs brought back head coach Mike Brown was for his defensive acumen. The Plain-Dealer's Terry Pluto writes that Brown is assigning players specific positions in an effort to avoid confusion with a player's role in his new defensive schemes.
- One example of strictly following positional assignments is Waiters. He can play either guard position, but Brown says he'll primarily assign him the defensive responsibilities of a shooting guard, with Kyrie Irving defending the helmsman at point.
- Pluto also adds that Tristan Thompson's switch from shooting with his left to right hand wasn't a big surprise for the Cavs. He'd been shooting free throws with his right hand last season at practice, and even attempted some right-handed jump shots towards the end of the year because the rotation looked better.
- Thompson shoots the ball with either hand near the basket, but throws a ball right-handed and eats with his left hand. The Cavs just want him to improve on his career 58.6 percent mark from the charity stripe.
There are a lot of contenders to the Eastern Conference crown that LeBron James and his Heat teammates have worn the last three seasons. James knows he's got to keep getting better if he wants to remain on top next year and advance to his fourth NBA Finals in his four seasons in Miami.
Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel caught up James during his charity event in Akron today to discuss all the wheeling and dealing in the Eastern Conference this off-season.
James is aware that the Heat face an even harder field in the Eastern Conference next season, and he's doing everything in his power to meet the challenge, telling Richardson, "I've seen what so many teams have done to get better. I've seen the moves that we've made, so I've got to do my part."
Here's what else is happening around the league on Saturday night:
It'll be another year before Cavs star Kyrie Irving is eligible for an extension to his rookie-scale contract, and he shied away from the topic when asked about it Saturday at his basketball camp in suburban Cleveland, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. He did offer a brief hint, telling campers, "I’ll be here awhile, so everybody get used to my face."
Bob Finnan of the News-Herald (link also includes video) also found time to chat with Irving at his summer camp. While discussing his impending eligibility for an extension next summer, Finnan asked Kyrie about John Wall's recent five-year maximum-salary extension. Irving was excited for Wall:
"We grew up together coming up the ranks. We were both guys who weren't rated at the top coming out of high school. We both burst onto the scene. He's the first guy to get a max deal out of all of us who came through the AAU scene. It was surreal for him."
After again impressing during Team USA tryouts in Vegas last month, Irving told Lloyd back in July that "Right now I'm a Cleveland Cavalier, and I'm happy to be here." The quote was in response to the rumor he was looking to head elsewhere once his rookie-scale contract concluded.
More from the Cavs and others around the Eastern Conference:
- Cavs fans may also have to get used to a much less familiar sight. Tristan Thompson has always shot left-handed, but he unveiled his new right-handed stroke Thursday with Team Canada, as SportsNet's Michael Grange details. He might be the first NBA player to make such a mid-career switch, and Grantland's Zach Lowe tweets that it has Cavs officials excited.
- The Knicks have locked up players to fill 14 of their 15 available roster spots, after signing Beno Udrih to act as a third guard with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. Jared Zwerling of ESPNNewYork.com looks at some of the available free agents and D-Leaguers the Knicks might target for that final roster spot, focusing on front-court players who could spell 31-year-old Tyson Chandler.
- No. 4 overall pick Cody Zeller spoke with the Charlotte Observer about the importance of going through the NBA's Rookie Transition Program before he suits up for the Bobcats next season. Zeller said the highlight of the four-day affair was the talk former Celtics and Nuggets guardChris Herren gave about his battle to overcome a long-standing drug addiction.
Bob Finnan of The News-Herald rounds up the latest NBA rumors in his weekly column, and though he usually focuses on the Cavs, his latest dispatch is heavy on Pistons news. We'll hit the highlights here:
- Re-signing Jose Calderon remains a priority for the Pistons, but Joe Dumars and company "don't want to break the bank" to do so, Finnan writes. It's unclear exactly what breaking the bank would constitute, but I'd say the Pistons would balk at any deal approaching $10MM per year, based on previous estimates that peg his worth at between $6MM and $8MM.
- The Pistons aren't high on Trey Burke, and they probably hope he's off the board by the time they draft eighth overall, since there's pressure from fans to draft the University of Michigan star.
- Detroit is instead enamored with Cody Zeller, though most observers believe they'll draft a guard, according to Finnan.
- The Cavs, like the Pistons, have drawn mention as a likely suitor for Andre Iguodala, but Finnan isn't so sure Cleveland is willing to shell out a lucrative deal for him. The News-Herald scribe figures another team will overpay the soon-to-be free agent.
- The Pistons and Raptors were certain the Cavs were going to draft Jonas Valanciunas with the fourth pick in 2011, and had a deal in place based on that contingency. Detroit would have sent Ben Gordon and the No. 8 pick to Toronto for Calderon and the No. 5 pick. The Pistons would have drafted Tristan Thompson, whom the Cavs wound up taking at No. 4 that year, while the Raptors would have picked Brandon Knight.
- Finnan unveils his latest mock draft as part of a separate piece. He has the Cavs taking Nerlens Noel first overall, despite rumors the team will pass him up. Finnan predicts the Pistons will take shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported earlier today that the Cavs aren't going after DeMarcus Cousins, and he has plenty more on Cleveland's team in his latest dispatch. He gets credit for the updates below, unless otherwise noted.
- The Cavaliers have tried and failed to pry Kevin Love from the Timberwolves, and their alternative may be to go after center Nikola Pekovic, one of the leading restricted free agents. Cleveland has the cap room to make him an offer of $12MM or better, a price Wolves owner Glen Taylor has said he won't pay.
- The Blazers have no interest in Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters or draft picks, and have turned down the Cavs' inquiries about LaMarcus Aldridge.
- Nerlens Noel says he'll be ready to play around Christmas, but the Cavaliers don't think he'll be back from his ACL injury until February or March. The team remains undecided about whether Noel will be the No. 1 pick, and Amico confirms that Otto Porter is also in the mix for that selection.
- Amico hears the Cavs are willing to trade up to nab Sergey Karasev in the middle of the first round if it doesn't look like he'll fall to them at No. 19. The Cavs are also high on Alex Len, and he could be theirs if they trade out of the No. 1 pick.
- The Cavs like Shaun Livingston, but he's seeking a larger payday than the team wants to give him.
- Omri Casspi and Luke Walton probably won't be re-signed, but the Cavs hope to bring back Wayne Ellington.
- The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer answers reader questions in her mailbag column, and opines that Al Horford makes more sense as a trade target for the Cavs than Love or Aldridge do.
Cavs fans worried about what the hiring of Mike Brown might mean for the team's potential pursuit of LeBron James in 2014 shouldn't put too much stock in the move one way or the other, says Chris Broussard in his latest ESPN.com piece (Insider-only link). Brown's return to Cleveland doesn't mean LeBron is coming back too, but it also shouldn't be a deterring factor, according to Broussard, who notes that there will be plenty of other factors in play over the next 14 months. The ESPN.com scribe explores that topic and a number of others in his article, so let's round up the highlights….
- The Cavs are hoping to upgrade the roster before next summer in an attempt to lure James (or another impact free agent, presumably). As we heard from Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports yesterday, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and draft picks could be dangled as trade chips. Broussard mentions LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love as potential targets.
- The Bucks would like to keep all three of their free agent guards this summer, but recognize that they'll probably only be able to retain two, with Brandon Jennings the player most likely to stay put.
- Several sources around the league believed Lance Blanks, who the Suns fired earlier this week, was a scapegoat for the team's poor season. According to Broussard, the widely panned signing of Michael Beasley was Lon Babby's call, and Blanks had "little to do with" Alvin Gentry's firing as well.
- Bucks assistant GM Jeff Weltman is viewed as the frontrunner for the Suns' GM opening, says Broussard.
- Former Suns assistant Elston Turner may join Rick Adelman's staff in Minnesota, with an understanding that if Adelman steps down, Turner would take over as the Timberwolves' coach. We've heard in the past that Adelman "badly wanted" Turner on his staff when he first took the Wolves' job.
- While Kevin McHale isn't expected to step down as Rockets head coach anytime soon, Broussard hears from sources that the team would have "strong interest" in Stan Van Gundy if McHale left.
Now that the Cavaliers have made it official, announcing that Mike Brown has returned as the team's head coach, one looming question is what effect the hire will have on Cleveland's potential pursuit of LeBron James in the summer of 2014. LeBron told the Associated Press (link via Cleveland.com) that he's "very happy" for Brown, adding that he's a "really good coach," but would James be interested in playing for his former coach again? Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tackles that subject in his latest column, so let's round up the highlights….
- One former Cavs staffer told Wojnarowski that "the way Mike had to bend for LeBron weakened him as a leader. They'd be crazy to put him through that again. It's pointless."
- One league source tells Wojnarowski "there are still some scars" when it comes to Brown and the Cavs, primarily centered on the coach's relationship with Dan Gilbert, who fired him in 2010.
- Agent Rich Paul has created anticipation for LeBron's possible return to the Cavs in 2014, but according to Wojnarowski, "the idea of returning as the conquering hero is probably much more romantic than reality." Wojnarowski suggests that it's "unfathomable" that James would trade Miami, Erik Spoelstra, and Pat Riley for a return to Cleveland.
- According to Wojnarowski, the Cavs have privately pitched the idea of trading young players and draft picks to the Trail Blazers for LaMarcus Aldridge.
- Such a deal with Portland is unlikely to ever happen, says Wojnarowski, since the Cavs value their young players like Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters more than other teams around the league do.
Aside from shedding light on Tristan Thompson as arguably the Cavaliers' most valuable player (aside from Kyrie Irving), Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer makes the case that Cleveland will have to add a couple of experienced and productive veterans through trades or free agency if they are to make significant progress in 2013-14. We've got a few more notes to share out of Ohio tonight:
- Pluto finds it odd that Irving didn't comment on Byron Scott, especially considering that Thompson gave the head coach a strong vote of confidence. Even if Irving was wary of saying the wrong thing, it didn't seem to indicate that all was well between the two.
- The team will offer restricted free agent Wayne Ellington some type of contract for next year, and although they'd like for Marreese Speights to exercise his $4.5MM player option, they'll also take a look at the type of offers he'll get if he declines.
- After an injury-riddled season and one of his worst statistically, Daniel Gibson tells Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer that he doesn't want to end his tenure with the Cavaliers this way and would be willing to consider any offer that they'd give him this summer.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer (also of The Plain Dealer) answered a bunch of questions from her readers about the Cavs, saying that the team should look to add a defensive specialist this summer and isn't sure whether or not Byron Scott will be back. Boyer doesn't think Scott should be fired, and believes that the team will make the playoffs if they are healthy next season.
- Cleveland has four draft picks in June, and Boyer doesn't foresee them ultimately adding four rookies to an already young roster. With that being said, she expects some of those picks to be shopped.
Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW writes that the Mavericks are now in the market for adding a player after severing ties with guard Dominique Jones. Sefko comprises a list including Mike Bibby, Michael Redd, Earl Boykins, and Gilbert Arenas as available veterans who could be worth a look. Among the D-League hopefuls who could warrant an opportunity, Justin Dentmon, Chris Wright, or Sean Singletary come to mind. Sefko rules out the chances of Delonte West making a return to Dallas, citing that the team wouldn't want to reconnect after how badly things ended with him last year. You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous news and notes below: