Morning shootaround — Oct. 2

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Tristan Thompson and Cavs sweat out deadline | Dwight Howard feels silence is better this time | Back in the coaching chair, Sam Mitchell is ready | Big man pairing has Okafor and Sixers excited |

No. 1: Tristan Thompson officially a holdout — The midnight deadline came and went and nothing changed in the Tristan Thompson negotiations, or lack thereof. Thompson had until midnight to sign the Cavs’ qualifying offer, which he refused to do. And the sides are still apart on a new deal. Thompson can either sign a new deal or accept an offer from another team until March 1, which the Cavs would then be free to match. The Cavs expected Thompson to report to training camp Friday, although that’s uncertain now. Here’s Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal with a recap

The two sides remained separated this week on a long-term deal. If Thompson accepts the qualifying offer, he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Contracts are fairly rigid under the collective bargaining agreement, making holdouts rare in the NBA — although they do happen. Anderson Varejao’s bitter contract dispute spilled into December in 2007 before he finally signed a three-year, $17 million offer sheet with the Charlotte Bobcats that was quickly matched by the Cavs.

“It wasn’t easy for me. I missed the first 21 games if I remember,” Varejao said Thursday. “But I had to do it back then because I felt like I was disrespected with the offer they offered me. I don’t really know what’s going on with Tristan right now, numbers and stuff, I’m not sure. But I’m pretty confident he will be here soon.”

LeBron James twice in recent days also said he was optimistic the two sides would reach agreement on a long-term deal sooner than later.

James Jones is the secretary/treasurer of the players union and held the role when the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified. Players typically always stick together on financial issues, yet Jones is a veteran trying to win another championship and understands Thompson is a vital piece the Cavs need.

“First thing’s first. We understand that this is a business, and once the business is taken care of we can come in and work on the floor,” Jones said. “Until that’s resolved, he’s handling his business and we support him 100 percent. At the same time, the guys that are here are working, and we have a goal and a mission and we’re not going to let anything stop us from focusing. We’re staying on course.”

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No. 2: Dwight Howard feels silence is better this time — When the summer arrives and if he becomes a free agent, there won’t be a big fuss made about Dwight Howard. For one, he perhaps isn’t the franchise player now than he was then. And he isn’t going to make the process a dramatic presentation, unlike a few years ago when he made a messy exit from Orlando. Older and wiser and certainly stung by the criticism, Howard has adopted a new approach this time: He’d rather leave well enough alone. Ken Berger of CBS Sports had a take on Dwight and what the future may hold…

Given that each of Howard’s pre-free agency go-rounds with the Magic and the Lakers turned into a full-on circus, this was a step in the right direction for the soon-to-be 30-year-old All-Star.

“There’s no need for me to focus on anything next summer,” Howard said. “My job is to focus on how I can get this team to be the best team in the NBA and win a championship.”

The Rockets didn’t get LaMarcus Aldridge, as there is only one LaMarcus Aldridge and he signed with the Spurs. But with a worthwhile gamble on Ty Lawson — who will take some of the play-making pressure and defensive attention away from James Harden — the Rockets will be among the better teams in a loaded Western Conference. According to Las Vegas oddsmaker Bovada, the Rockets’ championship odds are 16-1 — sixth in the NBA.

Though the team revolves around Harden, the Rockets need a healthy, committed and engaged Howard to be in the hunt to come out of the West. Healthy, committed and engaged, however, are not words that have been synonymous with Howard in recent years.

With the Lakers, he was hindered by after-effects of back surgery and an uneasy partnership with Kobe Bryant. Last season, he played only 41 games due to persistent issues with his right knee.

In many ways, Howard is a cautionary tale for marquee free agents who are thinking about leaving their teams when the TV revenue windfall hits the market over the next two summers. After forcing his way to the Lakers from Orlando in a 2012 trade, Howard spent one miserable season in LA before bolting to the Rockets. Howard, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are just a few examples of superstars who left for supposedly greener pastures (either through free agency or via trade) and still have yet to advance as far in the postseason as they’d been with their former teams.

Are you paying attention, Kevin Durant?

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No. 3: Back in the coaching chair, Sam Mitchell is ready — The guy in charge of the Wolves at the moment never thought he’d be in this position so soon. But a year after joining the staff as the top assistant to Flip Saunders, Sam Mitchell is now coaching the Wolves while Saunders recovers from cancer treatment. Mitchell was a former Coach of the Year with the Raptors but flamed out shortly thereafter and found himself out of work until his old buddy Saunders reached out. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune recently did a question and answer with Mitchell…

Q. It has been seven years since you were a head coach. These obviously aren’t the circumstances you wanted, but did you always want to do this again?

A. Yeah, once I made the decision to come back into coaching, to prove myself and show people I want to be a head coach again. I enjoyed my time in the media. I learned a lot, got to watch a lot of basketball. It still tugs at me a little bit with the circumstances, but we all have a job to do and we’ve got to be professional and do our jobs.

Q. How did being away from coaching change the way you look at the game?

A. When you’re coaching, you just watch your team and the opponent. When you’re doing TV and radio, you’re watching everybody. I got a chance to talk to different coaches. Why do you do this or do that? It was a great learning experience and it proved to me I can do something else if I needed to. A lot of guys panic if they’re not in coaching, like that’s all I know, what am I going to do? It gave me confidence in myself that I can do other things.

Q. You said it at the news conference yourself and Glen Taylor said he has seen you mature. How will people who watched those Raptors teams see it now?

A. That’s not for me to say. I think every day you try to get a little better. That’s what I try to do. I’m probably not as hard on myself and not as hard on people as I used to be. I’ll probably still have my moments. But I appreciate life in different ways now. I can appreciate what these guys do, I can appreciate what assistant coaches do, I can appreciate what the media does now because I was there. Hopefully with that experience I have more patience and I look at things a little differently. But I’m not going to sit here and try to list how I’m different. I guess if you’re around me enough, you’ll see it.

Q. Were you too hard, too intense the first time around?

A. Well, I’m not going to lose my intensity. I was talking to my minister recently and he reminded me don’t lose what got you here. You’re an intense person, but you can do it a little bit different. I can communicate a little differently. Hopefully my language is better.

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No. 4: Big man pairing has Okafor and Sixers excitedJahlil Okafor was a high lottery pick and so was Nerlens Noel and now these two found themselves playing next to each other for the team that drafted them. When that team is the Sixers, you can see what they’d be in position to score a pair of bigs in two years. Now many teams have the luxury of putting two promising young bigs on the floor and watching them develop, yet that will be one of the main themes of the Sixers this season while they use yet another 82-game season to search for a star from within. Marcus Hayes of the Daily News thinks Philly is on to something …

With skillful tanking and blind luck, the Sixers today find themselves in a nearly unprecedented position. Noel and Okafor were the two most coveted post players of their respected draft classes; each nearly 7 feet tall with wonderful athletic gifts, though slightly different; each hungry to prove he was more valuable than the slot in which he was drafted.

Ralph Sampson, the Virginia gentleman, and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Nigerian project, were drafted first overall a year apart by the Rockets, but they played only two full seasons together. Both No. 1 overall picks, they never had the extra incentive of being snubbed.

Charismatic Midshipman David Robinson had cemented his Hall of Fame berth by the time the Spurs added dour islander Tim Duncan in 1997.

“They were very different people,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown, who worked with Duncan and Robinson briefly as a Spurs assistant.

Those pedigreed pairs had less in common than Noel and Okafor.

Both Noel (Boston) and Okafor (Chicago) are products of big American cities; AAU-groomed, highly touted, one-and-done products of elite college programs expected to lead their drafts.

Both also are still upset that other teams passed on them. Each was projected as the No. 1 overall pick but slipped; Noel, injured, to fifth two years ago; Okafor, his unmatched skill set out of vogue, to third this year.

So, they are angry.

So much common ground.

So much time to grow.

It shouldn’t take long.
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Warriors will wear special jerseys in the opener … Mike Conley is sticking with the mask for now Serge Ibaka is coming back from an injury too, remember … Dorell Wright wrote a letter to his younger brother and NBA rookie Delon …

12 Comments

  1. dustydreamnz says:

    2. Dwight Howard showed signs of maturity last season, I thought.
    4. Don’t think 76ers will make the Playoffs but also don’t think they’re as bad as most people say. Sure, they started last season terribly but started winning near the end of season and had lots of narrow losses. They’ve been unlucky with Joel Embiid.

  2. Byrd says:

    Double T is a good rebounder a good screen an roll player a good teammate but not a complete basketball player. I dont think he is worth max money and if he is betting on himself i wish him all the best but i think the offer the Cavs made him was reasonable for him to work with and he should have taken it. Lets see if anyone else offer him max money next season….

  3. michael says:

    southernbird2k must be tristan’s mother or at least some kind of relative because he/she is nuts too for saying he deserves a max contract LOL

  4. michael says:

    Let him go!!! Since when do backup role players get max contracts?

  5. Nick says:

    Tristan, you’re a good rebounder and decent shot blocker. You have a long way to go to be worth the kind of money you are asking for. You need to fire your agent and whomever else is advising you to hold out.

  6. michael says:

    It seems like Lebron’s endorsement of this guy has gone to his head just a tad, i mean i know he played very well during the cavs playoff run to the finals but come on buddy. Do you realize he wants more money than lamarcus aldridge and kawhi leonard? This guy is nuts!!!

  7. southernbird2k says:

    Tristan is well worth the max deal…It takes a team to win and not just Lebron, Love and Kyrie as they cannot do it by themselves…Even Lebron said Tristan was a piece to the puzzle. Anybody that cant see he’s a missing ingredient must have come from another planet. Lebron also said he played this way all year and not just for the playoffs…Mind you he is better than Kevin Love – what is it Kevin do other than catch and shoot…Defense wins games and Lebron and the Cavs know it. He is not a full bench player as he was a starter for 3 seasons before Lebron came…They knew he had star power that is the reason they called on him to fill in for Love and made to the finals w/ his contributions. Same as Igoudala with the Warriors – they call on star power players when needed and the team is on the line. HE IS WELL DESERVING OF A MAX DEAL.

    • Carl says:

      You sound delusional.

      His number was called because they didn’t have a choice.

      Dude rebounds. That’s it. Offensively limited.

      Not worth more than Kyrie Irving.

      Wasn’t even worth the $80 million Cleveland offered and he turned that down.

      No one is paying him as much as Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green. He’d also be getting more than Klay Thompson.

      Those three are far and away better players.

  8. Robert says:

    Tristan Thompson needs to realize the he is a one dimensional backup player for god sakes. He wants to get paid like a franchise player!!!(Nah son, you will be denied)

    Hey Tristan, you don’t have any offensive game and although you were great in the playoffs, you have not proven yourself for significant amount of time. If you would have played like that for at least 3 seasons then maybe we could have justified your ridiculous asking price. Cleveland offered you a $80 million dollar or so for 5 years and you have the audacity to say no to $16 million per year???? Who do you think you are? As if playing for contender is not enough for you. Shame

    You need to get real dude. I think Cleveland should let him walk. They MUST NOT pay the asking $19 million for his services. These young guns need to learn a listen and not be so god damn greedy. I hope Cleveland does not cave. If they can’t make it work with LeBron, Love and Kyrie then they can’t make it with addition of Tristan. Not to mention they are going to have Mazgov as well.

    Remember people that Cleveland went to final because LeBron played like he was the best player on the planet and made me a fan of his just by his astonishing performance. He needs to whisper some words of whisper into Triston’s ear like get real BOOOOY and take the $80 million and shut your trap!!!

    • Noel Rolon says:

      I say let him go bring in JJ Hickson

    • Lovins says:

      I was going to make a comment, but you pretty much said it all for me.

      As a Cavs fan, I want him from a basketball standpoint, but I still hope the Cavs stand firm. Even the $80M offer would be an overpayment. Honestly I think he’s worth about half that. Now the guy is going to start missing practices and games because he needs $18.8M/yr instead of $16M?? At this point he’s now also holding out on his teammates and his fans.

      You’d think a heart and hussle player would be hungry to get back to work and build on what he contributed in the Finals, to help him team get back there again. We all know now where his true priorities lie.

      Let him walk and then laugh at the team dumb enough to give him his max contract, which will go down as one of the worst contracts in NBA history.

      Ok I ended up making a long comment anyways lol

  9. Harriethehawk says:

    Flip Saunders, get well soon.