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News from and

  • Report: Kyrie Irving's broken knee cap could keep him out until January (Ball Don't Lie)

  • Random NBA Players: John 'Hot Rod' Williams (Ball Don't Lie)

    The NBA is a smarter league now. Even if things are about to get silly. The league’s salary cap, benefiting from an influx of new television money, is set to hit around the $90 million mark (and possibly more) in 2016. It will shoot well over the nine-figure in 2017, and the league’s players, executives, owners, media and fans are all well aware of this. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] News about the impending TV money has been around since the 2014 offseason, and this is why the outrage of a then-so-so player like Gordon Hayward signing a four-year, $63 million contract that summer was so brief. It’s why the four-years and $52 million handed to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a small forward who didn’t take a single three-pointer last season, was referred to in many circles as the bargain of the 2015 offseason. Everybody, it seems, understands the finances. And because the NBA and its teams have collectively bargained themselves into a place where one team can’t set the league on fire with a bit of free agency trickery – though Houston and Dallas have tried in recent years – the figures won’t pin your ears back even with all the cash that is flowing around. That wasn’t the case in 1989, when the Cleveland Cavaliers signed John “Hot Rod” Williams to a contract that genuinely infuriated just about everyone involved. Williams had come off the bench in all but 10 of the Cavaliers’ games the season prior, though he was a valuable contributor in averaging 11.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 25.9 minutes a contest. Cleveland had lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round that year in an upset, but this was still one of the NBA’s best young teams. And deepest, with the 26-year old Williams leading the charge off the pine. The Miami Heat, coming off of a 15-win expansion season that saw them feature a player payroll of merely $3.4 million, was looking to augment its young roster. They dialed in on Williams, a restricted free agent whose defense-first game would pair nicely next two the scoring touch of center Rony Seikaly. What they offered blew everyone away. Seeking to approach the NBA’s minimum salary floor of $9.6 million, the Heat offered Williams $26.5 million over seven years. The front-loaded contract would start at $5 million. Faced with losing their versatile defensive big man, charged with remaining a championship contender while watching a sometimes-brittle Brad Daugherty and aging Larry Nance run the floor as starters, the Cavs felt they had no choice but to match the terms. So they did, making Hot Rod the second-highest paid player in the first year of the deal. Not the second-highest on the Cavs, and not in the NBA. In all of sports. Only Jose Canseco, coming off of a World Series championship, made more at $5.5 million. Immediate reaction was sensible. Here’s Kevin McHale, as quoted by Jack McCallum in Sports Illustrated : ''Higher risks for higher rewards,'' said the Boston Celtics' Kevin McHale, a better forward than Williams who will make far less ($1.4 million) than Hot Rod this season. ''John Williams played the game by the rules. He waited until his time came, and he hit a home run.'' Ha, just kidding! Everyone just lost their damn minds over the deal. From the same piece : ''I guess just about every team in basketball is upset with Miami,'' said one NBA team executive who asked to remain anonymous. ''What they did was very irresponsible and bad for the league.'' From David Aldridge’s piece in the Washington Post : "Now sometimes you can get too excessive," Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin said of the Williams deal. "I don't know if we reached that or if we're going to reach that. This particular contract, in my mind, is ridiculous. That kind of money for that kind of player doesn't make any sense. And I would tell my fellow owners that in a meeting. The front-loading is part of it. The entire salary structure as dictated by the salary cap makes some sense, but somehow there's got to be some sense in it other than the cap -- what the worth of a player is in the whole structure of things." For John “Hot Rod” Williams, a sixth man who made $364,000 the season before, to not only top the Jordan/Magic/Bird triumvirate in terms of salary but also the hallowed income of your Joe Montanas, Wayne Gretzkys and all but one participant in the National Pastime was abhorrent to some. To many. Many that hadn’t seen Hot Rod’s recently-updated resume, we’re guessing. Williams and several of his Tulane teammates made national news in 1985 when they were arrested under suspicion of point shaving. The Cavaliers selected Hot Rod in the second round of the 1985 draft, but he was forced to play two seasons in the minor leagues while awaiting and working through trials that could have led to his NBA banishment. After one mistrial, Williams was acquitted of all charges in the second, and he quietly joined the Cavaliers in 1986-87, starting 80 games. That quiet ended when Williams took the Cavaliers to court prior to his free agent turn, arguing that his time spent away from Cleveland based on unfounded charges should go toward his overall NBA tenure, making him an unrestricted free agent. The judge declined, turning Williams into merely a restricted free agent. The judge may have done him a favor. Williams making over 42 percent of the NBA’s $11.8 salary cap in 1989-90 did not cause basketballs to spontaneously explode mid-flight, and it hardly signaled a new era of reckless spending. The league was benefitting from a salary cap it imposed in 1984, the implementation of “Bird Rights” that allowed teams to go over the soft cap in order to retain free agents (enhancing team chemistry and consistency), and the players were benefitting from the 53 percent of the pie guarantee that NBPA leader Larry Fleisher negotiated for in 1988. Both were about to benefit from the slow and steady influx of other revenue streams, increased attendance, and above all the money earned from new TV packages with NBC and Turner Sports. Hot Rod never put Cleveland over the top, and in 1995 he was dealt to Phoenix for quite the price: Dan Majerle, a younger player that made the All-Star Game the previous season, and a first-round pick that turned into Brevin Knight. By 1995-96, the final year of Williams’ front-loaded deal, he was well underpaid at $2.5 million. A few weeks after Hot Rod’s contract expired, Michael Jordan would take his rightful place atop the NBA’s salary list at over $30 million for 1996-97. Phoenix then re-signed Williams as an unrestricted free agent in 1996 for $4.1 million, in hopes to battle new Laker center Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq had just signed a seven-year, $120 million deal: $93.5 million more than the seven-year deal Williams signed just seven years earlier. He signed one last weird contract – a three-year, $3.6 million deal at age 36 with the pre-Mark Cuban Dallas Mavericks in 1999 – but only made it 25 games into that contract before being let go. Dallas would go on to use that lingering contract in trades, and Williams finally hung it up in the fall of 2000 after being cut in Boston Celtics camp. And, over 25 years on, we can safely conclude that John “Hot Rod” Williams’ contract didn’t kill the league, and that the NBA isn’t crazy. (Unless it signs Bradley freakin’ Beal to the max.) Previous Entries : Tom Gugliotta , Ron Mercer , Terrell Brandon . - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

  • Three-Man Weave: Which coach will be on the NBA's hottest seat in 2015-16? (Ball Don't Lie)

    With the draft and the bulk of free agency now behind us, it's time to start taking stock of what's transpired this summer and how it all figures to impact the upcoming NBA campaign. This week, we discuss: Which coach will be on the NBA's hottest seat in 2015-16? *** Dan Devine : Dwane Casey, Toronto Raptors. Which, to be honest, feels kind of nuts. After winning just one division title in their first 18 years of NBA existence, the Raptors have won back-to-back Atlantic Division crowns under Casey. Toronto followed up its 2013-14 coming-out party — a franchise-record 48 wins, a return to the postseason, top-10 finishes in both offensive and defensive efficiency, raucous crowds at Air Canada Centre, the unveiling of "We The North," etc. — by setting a new franchise record last season with 49 wins. The Raps also finished third in the NBA in points scored per possession, landed point guard Kyle Lowry in the starting lineup for the 2015 Eastern Conference All-Star team, and made a second straight playoff appearance for the first time since the 2006-07 and '07-'08 seasons. The Raptors will again enter the season as favorites to win the Atlantic and host Game 1 of a playoff series; that's not the sort of thing that gets coaches fired. And yet, it's really tough to shake the memory of how Casey's crew has finished these franchise-record-setting seasons. All the good will of the 14-win improvement in 2013-14 ended in a final-seconds Game 7 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on the Raptors' home floor. And after looking to wipe that bad taste out by racing out to a 24-8 mark through the first three months of the 2014-15 season, Toronto limped home, playing .500 ball after Jan. 1 struggling with slow starts while posting the NBA's seventh-worst defense after the All-Star break, and ultimately getting dismantled in Round 1 by Bane of Canada Paul Pierce and the Washington Wizards in a four-game sweep that prompted the following summation from our Kelly Dwyer : "The Raptors should be embarrassed. The team’s long-suffering fans, after years of dealing with this nonsense, should be livid."

  • Is it October Yet? (Rotoworld)

    It's been a slow week around the NBA, but Jonas Nader breaks down all the latest news that could impact your plans in fantasy drafts this season.

  • JR Smith to re-join Cleveland Cavaliers (AFP)

    Cleveland (AFP) - JR Smith, who opted out of the final year of his contract after the NBA finals, said he is re-joining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • J.R. Smith agrees to return to Cavaliers for at least one season (Ball Don't Lie)

    J.R. Smith's big summer gamble appears to have ended in something other than outright disaster. The veteran shooter announced via Instagram on Thursday that he has reached an agreement to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group later reported that Smith will earn $5 million for the 2015-16 season with a player option for the second year of the deal, later confirmed by Yahoo's Marc Spears . Smith will also have a no-trade clause, which is not insignificant given his controversy-filled history and the deal that sent him to Cleveland from the New York Knicks last January. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:   The best slams from all of basketball] You can take a look at Smith's Instagram post here: Happy to say that I am returning to the Cavs! It’s been a long ride this summer but I can say for sure, well worth the wait. When I opted out of my contract, I wanted to understand the landscape of the NBA and where I fit best. The Cavaliers had things they needed to do in order to piece together a championship caliber roster. I ended up deciding that instead of potentially securing a larger deal elsewhere, I wanted to rejoin an incredible organization in pursuit of the ultimate goal, an NBA championship. Thank you to the Cavaliers for making this happen. Can’t wait to get started! #TheLand Smith's comment appears to be a sunny spin on a questionable decision. After Cleveland's NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, Smith decided not to take his player option for the final year of his contract, worth just shy of $6.4 million. Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Saturday that recent Cavaliers offers had been below Smith's option figure , and his new deal seems to confirm that news. The Cavs cannot be faulted for that decision, because the franchise's massive offseason salary commitments (with a deal for Tristan Thompson yet to come) mean that they must save money when and where they can. Most players would be lucky to end up on a contender at any salary, but Smith's claim of wanting to understand landscapes seems questionable when he could have had a similar experience in 2016 while being paid more than a million dollars extra. It's far more likely that he expected a reasonably active market for his services and encountered little interest. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] The move makes sense for the Cavaliers for much more than the financials. At the very least, LeBron James is happy: Welcome back brother @TheRealJRSmith ! Happy you're sticking around. #TheLand #StriveForGreatness — LeBron James (@KingJames) August 21, 2015 It's easy to understand why J.R. is seen as a problematic player. He struggled throughout the NBA Finals , which would have been a problem without injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving but became a catastrophe with both players sidelined. While LeBron did an admirable job in trying to carry the team to a title, Smith stood as the team's most likely breakout scorer and could have turned a game or two with a stellar performance. He didn't, though, and the Cavs fell to a deeper, more versatile Warriors squad. Yet Smith was a very effective role player for the Cavs up until that series, Smith shot 39.0 percent from three-point range over 46 regular-season games and 35.9 percent in the playoffs with several excellent games . He's not a terrific defender and definitely isn't dependable, but Smith is the sort of x-factor who can help a team win a title under ideal circumstances. The fact that he didn't rise to the occasion vs. Golden State says more about what Cleveland required to beat a 67-win team than anything else. Personal image aside, the big news with this deal is that the Cavs have retained one of the league's best bench shooters at a rate that allows him to save face and remain committed to the cause. Cleveland looked like the overwhelming East favorite before this announcement and the re-addition of Smith only makes them more formidable. Given the paucity of challengers in the East, it wouldn't be crazy to tab the Cavaliers as the favorite to win the 2016 title. Expect to see them in June. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

  • AP Source: J.R. Smith agrees to new contract with Cavs (The Associated Press)

    J.R. Smith looked around and realized there was no place like Cleveland. The free-wheeling and enigmatic shooter has agreed to re-sign with the Cavaliers, a person familiar with the decision told the Associated Press on Thursday night. Smith, who declined his $6.8 million player option shortly after the season, considered other options before returning to Cleveland, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract has not yet been signed.

  • LeBron James throws down monster dunks during mentoring visit to Philippines (Ball Don't Lie)