M.M.: I have to admit I felt that LeBron handled his return to Cleveland a lot better then he handled his departure. His letter to Sports Illustrated sounded genuine and although it was a little flashy it was nothing compared to his departure. What I struggle with this time is how fast people forget. Four short years ago fans in Cleveland were burning his jersey and all of a sudden Cleveland is acting like the second coming of Jesus just happened. If LeBron knows what is good for him he will stay in Cleveland this time. He has two championships - now stay home and see how many more you can collect. Now all of the Heat fans that appeared in Banker's Life the last four years can go put their old number 23 back on and come cheer the Cavilers on in Indy.
T.O.: The Cavs are young and potentially dangerous this upcoming season. If they get Love, they are definitely title contenders. I think James handled this much better than "the decision", but I also think this is a smart move for him both short and long. He wins back his home state so he can retire there, and he secretly is giving himself a better chance to win than in south beach. Hate to say it, but the King made a good move here... and didn't promise championships, so if they do come he is a hero.
B: I agree with TO and Brian, LeFlop handled this much better than four years ago. I'm so thankful we didn't have to put up with a 2-hour ESPN special all about LeFlop trying to make up his mind. To Brian's comment about Cavs fans in Indy...ugh. They were the worst four years ago and I can't see them being any better this time around. I guess we'll just need a new chant. "Trash the Cavs"...no...maybe "Thrash the Cavs"...I think not..."Smash the Cavs"...maybe a little better. You should let us know some of your ideas!
M.M.: Chris Bosh is not worth $118 over 5 years but Miami really didn't have a choice after LeBron left. Riley does take care of his players and this is a prime example.
T.O.: I am going to disagree with Marris just a little here, I don't think this is a matter of Riley not taking care of his players so much as there wasn't enough talent on the aging Heat to support the big 3 and win another championship. That said, Bosh isn't worth that kind of money and Wade is aging, the Heat will be respectable next year, but not title contenders with Wade and Bosh carrying the load alone.
B: Nope, not worth it. It is nice to think about the Miami Heat ship sailing into the setting sun though. I won't miss them.
M.M.: I think Melo is heading back to New York for all the right reasons. First he will get a good pay day which is a big deal for him. Secondly he is staying "home" and is playing in the biggest market. Finally with Phil Jackson in charge the Knicks will start to see improvements and Jackson will make sure the team is built properly around Melo.
T.O.: Melo wants the money. Jackson will give him a better supporting cast, but the Knickerbockers have dug them self a pretty big hole with financial commitments and really don't have a lot of young talent to build around. Melo is getting paid first, winning may come from the Zen master (Jackson), but there isn't a lot to work with currently in New York. Plus, I don't think Melo had enough in the tank to play in Chicago where everybody plays D and everybody works hard for 48 minutes every night.
B: So Melo decided to stay in New York. I think in the end it was the money and the bright lights that kept him in New York. It's definitely not Denver. For those not familiar...Melo left Denver for New York similar to LeBron leaving Cleveland for Miami (I don't think he got an ESPN special though). Needless to say he's not well liked in these parts of the country. That being said, I think he respects what Phil Jackson has planned thinks some of that young talent might pay off, even if it isn't this year. Leave it to the Cubs fan to talk about next year...
M.M.: The Bulls have definitely improved their position and will make the playoffs but until Rose is completely healthy or they find a replacement for Rose - the Bulls will not be contenders. Pau is getting older and despite being a great anchor the Bulls won't be able to advance to the Finals until they have the speed and athleticism of Rose - or whoever will eventually take his spot.
T.O.: The Bulls have been on the verge of being really good for a few years. If Rose can ever get truly 100% again, they will be solid. They play very similar to the Pacers... Big, physical and defense first. Gasol doesn't hurt them one bit, but a few things will have to fall right for them to win the Conference.
B: I agree with what's already been said and agree it helps the Bulls chances but without Rose, they can't go all the way.
M.M.: The Pacers 5 year, $44 million dollar deal is not only good for the Pacers but also good for Lance. The only other thing I would suggest the Pacers try is a 4 year, $44 millions dollar deal with an opt out at the end of the third season. The only reason I suggest this is because it gives Lance a little more money and the option to move on in the future or the Pacers a chance to pay more if he pans out. Otherwise the Pacers should not dish out any more and let him walk. At this stage I don't know how many options Lance has as many of the markets he has discussed have landed big name players. The only other team that was looking his way was the Lakers and they just said they didn't have the cap room. So where will Lance go - I am thinking he will be in Texas with the Mavs or Rockets or he will be coming back to Indy with a favorable contract for the Pacers.
T.O.: I like the Pacers current offer and don't really want Bird to raise the number much at all. Lance is an exciting player who can help the Pacers win, but he's not irreplaceable. If we let him walk, Bird will need to be shrewd to replace him. I would LOVE to see the Pacers work a sign and trade if he does go where we get either picks, prospects or both to replace him. I know this probably makes me a terrible Pacers fan, but I see some parrallels between Lance and Ron Artest and I'm not saying we will see a brawl again, but he could do something really dumb that hurts the overall cause.
B: Lance is headed to Charlotte to play with IU stars Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh. The deal was $27 million over 3 years as opposed to the Pacers $44 million over 5. The deal with Charlotte is not that much more than the Pacers offer per year, however, the talk is that a three year contract give Lance the chance to get a max contract sooner. It sucks for the Pacers because they almost managed to keep their starting 5 from this most recent season but oh well. While I enjoyed some of Lance's antics (ie blowing in LeFlop's ear and standing in the Heat huddle), I won't miss the flopping and "Bad Lance." Through some discussion among the three of us, mainly TO and Brian and me reading texts later...2 hour time difference...Lance leaving could open the door for CJ Watson to land a spot in the starting line up. Or, what if the Pacers resigned Evan Turner? He at least already knows the system all we'd have to do would be to change his work ethic and not holding the ball FOREVER. That might change on it's own because he and Lance seemed to butt heads last season. Maybe given the opportunity we'd see the Evan Turner we traded for...one can hope right? Another option would be to go out and pursue a free agent PG because DRAFTING ONE WAS TOO HARD?!?!? The rumor mill is that the Pacers are looking at Rodney Stuckey a FA SG (of course not a true PG) our of Detroit who averaged 13.p PPG, 2.1 APG, and 2.3 RPG last season. At least the core of the Pacers is more or less intact and some...some...depth has been added to the bench.
M.M.: I honestly have no idea. At this point I would think they would snag one of the young players they have in the summer league. There is not a big name out there for the Pacers to pick up so I could see them going young and trying to fill the void with some less expensive young player.
T.O.: If we don't execute a sign and trade with Lance, we are probably in a world of hurt replacing him. I said this earlier in the summer, the best option might be to go out and get a true point guard and slide George Hill to the 2. Not sure what is out there and I hate parting with 1st round picks, but that might be the best move if you want to be a real contender this year. I bet we could get Evan Turner pretty cheap though...
B: Should have read all of the questions first...see above.
T.O.: With Dirk taking a big pay cut, people are proclaiming the sins of the extremely high luxury tax that essentially works like a salary cap. I personally like the cap/tax. It should keep the level of the league more balanced and limit the number of super stars on one team. Teams have been working their way around it the last few years trying to cram as many aging veterans as a support cast around stars to try to win a title. The current system penalizes one of 2 parties, 1 superstars by limiting the talent around them if they take a max deal (particularly if there are 2 or more on a team) or B penalize the mid level players who want to be on a winner rather than make bigger money. The problem that the league is running into is the guys who aren't quite superstars who have a great year or 2 turning that into a max or near max deal and bogging down a big chunk of salary keeping teams from competing. As much fun as it is to see an all-star line up taking the court together every night, it is not good for the game. The current system reward teams that make smart moves and value players properly. Much like teams like the Pirates have done in baseball, if you can develop talent and supplement it with good young players and veterans who fit the system, you can put together a really good team, see the San Antonio Spurs. But spending big money on stars can either help you be good for a few years (Heat) or crash out pretty quick (Knicks). The current system makes Big Market teams unable to buy there way out of their mistake much like small market teams in baseball.
B: I think it's a good thing for much of the reasons that TO stated. I especially like that big market teams can't keep buying championships. Sure it worked in Miami for a few years but that ship appears to have sailed with LeFlop wanting more money and heading back to Cleveland. I think overall a salary cap is a good thing because one it evens the playing field and two, from a spectator stand point, it keeps ticket prices from soaring through the roof in big markets because they have to pay max dollars for their players. For example, where we all sat at PNC Park in Pittsburgh a week and a half ago would have normally cost 2-3 times that at Wrigley or Yankee Stadium or Fenway. Granted, I would hope that's not true about Wrigley anymore because they sure aren't paying top dollar this year. Go ahead and try to name more than 3 current Cubs...Samardizafjaldajjjaa doesn't count because he's with the A's now. Then again, Coors Field charges stupidly high prices for the side show we call the Rockies but that's a different post for a different day.
M.M.: Professional athletes make too much money now a days any and the luxury tax benefits all. First, it keeps salary reasonable (in the world of sports). Secondly, it effectively acts like salary cap without telling teams what they can and can't do. If Miami wanted to pay huge luxury taxes they could have signed the big three again but paid extreme amounts in luxury taxes that would have have been distributed to teams in smaller markets - which leads into my third point. The luxury tax that is applied to teams over the "cap" goes to smaller market teams which helps keep the league balanced.
M.M.: There is still a lot to be figured out in the East but here is my best guess this early!
T.O.: With a lot of FA still available this is likely to change but here's my list:
But 1 - 6 are almost interchangeable in my mind.
B: Definitely subject to change as the offseason rolls on but...