Greetings, Sports fan.
Todays BBN is going to be somewhat of a long form, because I have a lot to cover. A whole lot. Let's dig in:
Tristan Thompson will be back, so says LeBron James
- This is and has been expected. Tristan and the team were close on $80 million. He isn't going to take a qualifying offer or a shorter, cheaper contract from another team. Neither of those really makes sense, unless he just gets so frustrated that he doesn't want to deal with it. There isn't any indication that's it. He isn't holding up the Cavs money, he isn't missing any practices, there is nothing for him here but waiting to get his price.
Something that IS surprising
- I really didn't expect the Cavs to deal Rakeem Christmas. They talked, and he talked like he would be around. I asked him about fitting in at Summer League, and he spoke about providing energy and blocking shots to fit in around guys like LeBron and Kevin Love.
- Perhaps that became the cost of unloading Mike Miller though. This was more than anything a favor to Miller who, from what we've heard from people around him, wanted out badly. His salary wasn't huge, but it's tough to get someone to pay him for no reason. For the Cavs, it becomes a cost/benefit analysis of what Rakeem offered, and paying Mike, vs what those two roster spots and savings do for you.
Something that is NOT suprising
- Matthew Dellavedova signed for his qualifying offer, which is not surprising at all based on all of the people I was bothering in Vegas. I tried to ask every scout, GM, agent, and writer I ran into what they thought of the young Aussie's quest for $4 million, and the answer was a pretty uniform: "No chance".
- The only chance implied was a LeBron tax, but without getting into specifics, it was pretty clear that there was not a huge market out there, and that the Cavs would not be competing with higher or longer offers for other clubs. The view is that he is a passable defender who has one offensive tool: Shooting, which can be explained by LeBron's existence and him being as a lot of people said: "Forgotten."
- That's not a bad THING! Really! Don't kill me! That is just me telling you that most teams see him as a guy who hits wide open shots that LeBron creates, of which there are probably many. He fine in that role! That's also a replaceable role, as most people in the league see it. I think the high end for Delly's arch-type is probably Kent Bazemore, and Bazemore has a few more tools,and athleticism that got him a lot more money. It's not bad! It's just not surprising that the QO ended up being what was out there for him.
- Which leads me to the next thing I learned: Boy did the "Delly shut down Steph!" lines make people MAD. I am an admitted critic, and have no problem telling you that while I find him one of the nicest people on the planet, his fans coming for me almost from day one instantly turned me off. What I didn't expect was the vitriol from so many people I talked to. It didn't matter who I introduced myself to, it seemed the first question was "So what do you think of Delly?" almost as a way to gauge how to view me. Coaches did it, writers did it, scouts did it, everyone did it. It was something else. He got under a lot of people's skin. It is kind of funny.
- So to recap: Great guy! Good in the right role! Amazing teammate! I want to live!
Something that WILL NOT be surprising
- Everyone I asked (again, this is not scientific, or Sauces, it's just me asking people who might know what they think) seemed to think that J.R. should be back, because not many teams are out there for him. I don't have numbers, years, any of that, just a general sense of "Where else is there?".
- It makes sense for the Cavs too. J.R. does J.R. things, but tough to find a guy who shoots as well as he does, at the VOLUME that he does. Of the top 10 players in catch and shoot attempts per game (all shot 4.9 or more) only Kyle Korver (50%) and Klay Thompson (46%) shot better than Smith's 42%. High shooting numbers over a large volume is tough to find, and J.R. is among the best. The Cavs really need him on the weak side of their offense.
Quick notes from LVSL
- With Rakeem Christmas out of the picture, Sir'Dominic Pointer could probably get a spot at the deep end of the Cavs bench to start the season. They will need flexibility and random assets to include with the trade exceptions of Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller to facilitate taking guys off of teams hands. Pointer has great potential as a defender and athlete, but his offense might not translate. He has a decent dribble drive game, but a very shaky jumper. That said, guys have made it on the strength of their defense and ability to dunk before, and he definitely has that.
- Otherwise, I don't think the Cavs have anyone NBA ready to pull from that team. DJ Seeley and John Shurna got a lot of run, but I just can't see them translating. If I had to pick two guys to get invites to camp and preseason, it would be those two, but maybe someone showed some things in practice that I didn't see.
- Doug McDermott is racking up love, and I'm just plain confused about it. He scored 19 points a game, but none of it was in a sustainable NBA role for him. He shot 2-16 on threes, got a ton of shots blocked, and did a lot of work driving to the hoop. This is where parsing summer league performances get tricky, because it's about the process a lot more than it is the results. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe McDermott is a dribble drive player now, but going all the way back to his college steal/block totals, there has never been anything that suggests that he plays the game with NBA level athleticism.
- I love the top 4 picks. LOVE THEM. Kristaps, Towns, Russell, and Okafor all did different things to wow me.
- Russell didn't have great numbers, but the passes and vision he shows are amazing. The Lakers ran a zone defense and looked generally clueless but it's summer league. Of course, Byron's teams in Cleveland had a lot of those traits too.....
- Porzingis is rail thin, and got bumped off drives by little guys like Will Cherry. Jahlil Okafor moved through him on post moves like he was moving through a wall made of plaster. He can shoot though, put it on the floor, and I was really impressed with his footwork on both ends, as well as his instincts to use his length and stay straight up instead of reach out for the ball. His footwork is really advanced for such a young kid.
- Towns passes out of double teams like a 10 year vet. Of course, it's summer league, so he wasn't seeing complex defenses or anything. I thinking pumping the brakes on him making a meaningful impact on wins is smart. He has so many tools though, he's gonna be great.
- The story with Okafor is the post game. He's a good passer out of doubles as well, which was impressive, but the post game was so nice. He has 2 or 3 natural moves and counter moves, which is uncommon at his age. If he or Nerlens Noel can develop a 15-19 foot jumper, they are a perfect pair, I think.
Let's talk Trade Exceptions
- As you know, the Cavs got trade exceptions for the contracts of Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller. What does that mean?
- First, the exceptions are completely separate, one for the value of Haywood ($10.5 million) and one for Miller ($2.85 Million).
- These exceptions cannot be aggregated with any other salary or exceptions. The player taken in MUST fit inside of that one exception being used. If there is leftover money, you can use the exception until it is exhausted. If unused, it expires one year from the trade date.
- Someone tweeted out that the players acquired for them will not count towards the tax. That's not correct. The exceptions count toward the salary cap (and are void if you go under the cap), but they do not count towards the tax. When you use them for a player, that player DOES count towards the tax.
- How, and if they will use them gets dicey, because you need the right things to happen. Someone has to have a player that can contribute, with basically no trade value, or a contract toxic enough to include with a player who has potential. This is how the Cavs landed Smith and Iman Shumpert. Nobody wanted JR, and getting rid of him was worth it to Phil to see Shumpert go too. Otherwise, you're looking for teams that want to squeak under the luxury tax, because the Cavs don't really have much in the way of assets. The next first rounder they have to trade is in 2018, and the next second is in 2019.
- If they don't use them, it's unfortunate, but it is what it is. The best you can do is put yourself in a position to make a move, and when the right deal finds you, pounce. If nothing opens up, oh well. There is a chance Haywood's large exception goes unused, a lot of these do, but if someone that can help becomes available, they will spend the money. If they don't think someone is worth it, they won't.
- I tweeted that I thought the Cavs getting a player for that contract seemed like a long shot this summer and endured some temper tantrums. I've given up on holding my breath for those people to come back with their apologies (I don't actually care, but gotta throw these elbows when I can).
A side note, about us
It was really interesting to experience the Vegas environment this year, to when I went to Sloan last year. The leap from where we were to where we are is lightyears. I would credit a lot of that to David, obviously, and Conrad, and our other writers who put out great content far more than I would credit myself for that. I didn't do a whole lot this year, admittedly, due to some personal issues. Still, it was kind of flooring to find out where we stand, and our level of recognition. I used to have to explain that we were a Cavs blog, for SBNation. Now in most cases the site name, and in more shocking cases my own name drew knowing nods. I was not ready for that at all. It's really cool, and I (and we) want to thank you guys for getting us to this point.