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Morning shootaround — June 17


VIDEO: Top 5 plays from Game 6 of The Finals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

LeBron, Cavs face bevvy of decisions| Report: Butler to pursue short-term deals | Report: Gordon likely staying with Pelicans | Nowitzki ‘guessing’ Ellis opts out

No. 1: What’s next for LeBron, Cavs? — The Cleveland Cavaliers put up a mostly valiant fight in The NBA Finals, but ultimately were short on firepower and succumbed to the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 to lose the series. LeBron James was great all series and was arguably the MVP of these Finals, too, but that’s all over for now. James and the Cavs must ponder the offseason and some choices lie in wait for LeBron himself, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

James’ foreseeable future is in Cleveland. With the ability to opt out of the two-year deal he signed with the Cavaliers last offseason, James must now decide just how much he wants to influence the Cavs as they enter a summer full of uncertainty and potentially massive spending.

The Cavs prefer he give a lot of input. In past similar situations, James has skewed toward passive-aggressiveness from the shadows. Taking such a position now would only add to the anxiety the franchise is sure to feel.

As if the Golden State Warriors’ championship celebration on the Cavs’ floor Tuesday night wasn’t bad enough, the Cavs’ immediate future is troublesome: James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and Matthew Dellavedova could all be free agents by July 1.

James, Love and Smith have player options for next season and all are expected to decline them. Thompson, Shumpert and Dellavedova are expected to receive qualifying offers from the Cavs and they will become restricted free agents, giving the team the right to match any offer they receive. And the extensions Kyrie Irving (five years, $90 million) and Anderson Varejao (two years, $20.3 million) signed last year are also set to kick in.

Internally, the Cavs have discussed their payroll needing to balloon to between $100 million and $110 million for next season, according to sources.

When James does re-sign with the Cavs this summer, it’s probable it will be to another one-year contract plus a player option. Even if this route makes financial sense for James with the salary cap expected to surge following the 2016-17 season, it will keep the Cavs uncomfortable going forward.

But that’s the point: He doesn’t want his organization to be comfortable.

Welcome to the modern NBA, where James doesn’t just control every facet of the game, he controls every facet of the organization.


VIDEO: LeBron James talks after the Cavs’ Game 6 defeat

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No. 2: Report: Butler to pursue short-term deals — The allure of the salary cap to come once the new collective bargaining agreement kicks in for the 2016-17 season will shape many free-agent moves this summer. One player due to cash in this offseason is Chicago Bulls star and the reigning Kia Most Improved Player Jimmy Butler. Yet as free-agent talks ready to open in just a few weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports Butler isn’t likely to sign a max deal with Chicago just yet and he may have eyes for the Los Angeles Lakers:

Chicago Bulls restricted free-agent guard Jimmy Butler has plans to pursue shorter-term offer sheets this summer, resisting the Bulls’ initial plans to offer him a five-year, maximum contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

As the NBA’s salary cap is set to dramatically rise beginning with the 2016-17 season, Butler has become far less interested in locking himself into the five-year, $90 million-plus deal the Bulls are expected to present him on July 1, league sources said.

For Chicago, there’s no challenge to retaining Butler. As a restricted free agent, the Bulls have matching rights on any offer sheet. Nevertheless, Chicago could be faced with Butler’s agents at Relativity Sports, Happy Walters and Steve McCaskill, loading up a short-term offer sheet that includes a trade kicker and the potential loss of Butler to unrestricted free agency in 2017.

As Butler spends time in Los Angeles this summer, a stretch that’s included an overseas “Entourage” promotional jaunt with producer Mark Wahlberg, Butler’s intrigue with signing a potential Los Angeles Lakers offer sheet has increased, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Butler has preliminary plans to pursue meetings with several teams once free agency starts in July, sources said. Several teams pursuing Butler told Yahoo Sports that they’re under the impression a short-term, max money offer sheet is the wisest way to approach Butler this summer.

Unless Bulls officials bring Butler a shorter-term deal that’s more favorable to his long-term earning power, they’ll likely be waiting to match an offer sheet, league sources said.

Chicago has to sell Butler on a post-Tom Thibodeau era under Fred Hoiberg to get him fully comfortable with the franchise’s direction. What’s more, there’s an increasing belief surrounding Butler and point guard Derrick Rose that they need to come to a greater understanding about how to best co-exist on the floor.

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No. 3: Report: Gordon likely to opt in with Pelicans — Eric Gordon hasn’t always had the easiest go of things as a member of the New Orleans Hornets. From him initially not wanting the team to match the offer sheet he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2012 to an array of injuries that have kept him off the court, it has been a bumpy road. He has an opt-out clause in his contract this summer and, while he did look at leaving in search of a new deal elsewhere, it seems Gordon is sticking with New Orleans. Shams Charania of RealGM.com has more:

Despite leaning strongly toward exercising his player option for next season, Eric Gordon has scoured the NBA market for a potential long-term deal out of New Orleans, a league source told RealGM.

Gordon has expressed excitement about the Pelicans’ future, which includes the hiring of Alvin Gentry and his own likely return. The head coach led in the Phoenix Suns’ recruitment to sign Gordon to a free-agent offer sheet in 2012.

In weighing the league landscape, Gordon has looked into four- or five-year contract possibilities with other teams, a source said.

Nevertheless, accepting the $15.5 million option to enter free agency in 2016 has been the expected decision for the 26-year-old guard.

Gordon averaged 13.4 points and 3.8 assists in 61 games last season, a productive yet injury-hampered year. He has spent four of his seven NBA seasons with New Orleans, following a three-year run with the Los Angeles Clippers in which he scored 22.3 points per game in 2010-11.

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No. 4: Nowitzki ‘guessing’ Ellis will opt out — As is often their wont, the Dallas Mavericks have revamped their roster time and again over the last few offseasons with few constants remaining on the roster. Two such players, though, are Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, the latter of whom holds an opt-out clause on his contract this summer. According to Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Ellis seems likely to test the free-agent waters this summer, per Nowitzki:

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki believes teammate Monta Ellis plans to opt-out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“I haven’t talked to him lately, but I’m guessing he wants to opt-out,’’ Nowitzki said Tuesday. “Why would he not?

“He’s had two phenomenal seasons here. He was our closer, he was our leading scorer last year and I’m sure for his market value he feels like he was a little underpaid.’’

Certainly, Ellis and his representatives are fully aware of the three-year, $46 million contract the Mavs signed small forward Chandler Parsons to last summer and believes Ellis is worth at least a contract of that nature. For now, Ellis has until June 24 to decide if he will opt-out of his current contract with the Mavs, or go ahead and play next season for the remaining $9.08 million on his deal.

“We’ll have to wait and see what happens this week, but my gut feeling would be that he’s going to opt out and then that’s another decision we’ve got to make,’’ Nowitzki said. “He’s been phenomenal for us.

“He’s another guy I’d love to keep and build on, because he’s been so phenomenal for us. But we don’t know.’’

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Ten stats facts to takeaway from Game 6 of The Finals … The Cleveland Cavaliers are already favored by Las Vegas to win the title next season … Cavs forward Tristan Thompson will reportedly not play for the Canadian National Team this summer … Cavs guard J.R. Smith plans to opt out of his deal this summer, but is likely to re-sign with Cleveland … Warriors coach Steve Kerr credits the Mike D’Antoni/Steve Nash-era Phoenix Suns teams for Golden State’s success … Trial date has been set for Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic in New York … Great piece on Andre Iguodala‘s role and his rise to stardom with the Golden State WarriorsKristaps Porzingis is looking more and more like a potential Euro find in the 2015 Draft … Charlotte Hornets GM Rich Cho said Lance Stephenson never ‘fit in great’ with the team

18 Comments

  1. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    I hope the Pacers jump in the free agent signing this summer.

  2. Roger Antezana says:

    I don´t think James or any other in the CAVS should feel like they had a bad season, it was a fantastic season James built the team for it. Altough sometimes life is a funny thing and kicks you where you never thought you’ll get it. James left the CAVS because he didn´t want to feel the whole teams in on his shoulders, so he went to miami had a couple of god friends over and decided he could win a championship building a team like a lego castle, and HE DID!!, with a reaaly good run and some new jewelry in his hands he tought and saw he could do the same thing with the CAVS, again he built his lego castle with a lot of good pieces, but fatality oh fatality then came the problems, and he found himself where he didn´t want to be some years ago, lifting the whole team on his shoulders. I think James should look back and be proud of this season, also lear that not everything comes quickly even if you push every bolt to speed it up.

  3. harriethehawk says:

    I don’t think Jimmy Butler plans on signing a new contract with the Chicago Bulls. Don’t blame him if he doesn’t. Best wishes.

  4. dreadyjun says:

    Maybe get 3 more all stars to join lebron. Only then he can win another ring.

  5. Piggy Azalea says:

    Funny how all free agency headlines always involve the Lakers… but first they need to dispose Kobe and his humongous contract of hell

  6. MJ says:

    LBJ’s decision will determine what is his priority. Money or rings.
    Cavs can’t retain all those guys if James won’t make financial sacrifice. Cavs can win several titles if everybody is healthy with their line up.

    I just hope he won’t make predictions again… not one… not two…

  7. Estonian says:

    Congratz to NBA for finally having the courage to give the finals MVP reward to the player who actually was the best instead of giving it to the superstar of the team! Such a positive surprised for second year in a row. Also, Congratz to Steve Kerr – probably the most intelligent person that’s ever been in NBA. His memory is…. epic, he can remember basketball scores from 30 years ago or so. Howww..?!!?
    And good luck to Kristaps Porzingis. Us, Estonians are jealous, but we still like our Baltic neighbours! See you at Eurobasket in two months.

  8. bballjunkie1 says:

    What a treat these finals my home team won it all East Oaklands own Golden State Warriors and my boy from the east lit it up with final records broken as only he can you go Lebron. You made a finals out of nothing when u got there anyway cause thats how u roll. Golden State what can I a full house wins evrytime. No head cases, a coach on a mission, and fans who believe. Great season.

  9. Xang Vang says:

    Can’t wait for the next season to start! Things are going to get interesting!

  10. Chris says:

    That’s an interesting article about Jimmy Butler. Couple that with an earlier article about ” Rose unhappy with butler being the focus” that was discussed on FIrst take. If Butler does end up somehow leaving Chicago, leaving a lot of money on the table doing so, what does that say about playing alongside Derrick Rose?

  11. New Jersey Nets says:

    Jimmy Butler to the Lakers sounds great. I prefer Towns over Okafor but I think Mitch Kupchak hinted he might pick a guard, hope they pick Emmanuel Mudiay. Plus Greg Monroe if they get him in free agency would make a pretty nice team.

    Cavs, they have a nice balance team of offence and defence maybe another shooter wouldn’t hurt.

    Rondo,D-Will,Joe Johnson and Eric Gordon how they play better next season on different teams.

    Rooting for Memphis and Chicago in the 2016 Finals some how.

  12. Nick says:

    “Welcome to the modern NBA, where James doesn’t just control every facet of the game, he controls every facet of the organization.”

    That’s precisely why the Cavs lost!

  13. Craig Hodges says:

    I hope Melo and the Knicks play better next year.


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