Central Notes: Cavaliers, Smith, Pistons, Allen

The Cavaliers are looking at a reduction in their luxury tax of about 35%, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Cleveland’s luxury-tax payment last season was a hefty $54MM, a figure that was $34MM more than the next-highest team. Even factoring in LeBron James‘ league-high $31MM salary for the upcoming season and the expected re-signing of free agent J.R. Smith, the Cavs are looking at a luxury tax payment closer to $35MM.

Much of the drop corresponds to the huge rise in the salary cap for 2016/17, with an accompanying increase in the luxury-tax threshold to $113.3MM. The threshold was just $84.7MM last season, and the Cavs were joined by the Clippers, Warriors and Thunder with luxury-tax payments topping $14.5MM. Between salary and taxes, Cleveland spent about $160MM to secure its first-ever NBA championship.

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • In a summer where virtually every big-name unrestricted free agent cashed in, the Cavaliers‘ Smith remains an exception. Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders examines why there has been so little interest in the veteran shooting guard and whether his return to Cleveland is inevitable.
  • The battle between Lorenzo Brown and Ray McCallum to become the Pistons‘ third-string point guard will be among the highlights of camp, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Brown, who joined the team in April, is the favorite because of an impressive summer league performance and his 6’5″ size, Langlois states. But McCallum, who signed a one-year deal with Detroit in July, is expected to put up a fight. Other camp storylines will include fitting new additions Ish Smith and Jon Leuer into the bench unit, developing new leaders after the departure of Anthony Tolliver, Joel Anthony and Steve Blake, and determining how soon second-round pick Michael Gbinije will be ready for the NBA.
  • Lavoy Allen has beaten the odds by carving out a career as a late second-round pick, writes Jake Rauchbach of Basketball Insiders. After being selected 50th overall by the Sixers in 2011, the 6’9″ power forward/center has become a rotation player, first in Philadelphia and now in Indiana. Allen will make $4MM this season, and the Pacers have a team option for $4.3MM in 2017/18.

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