Update on 06/18/15: Mark Stein finally reveals what most insiders were aware of, but were awaiting a book deal to disclose:
… And we likewise saw LeBron emasculate Blatt in ways that are simply unbecoming of a player of James’ legend-in-the-making stature.
I saw it from close range in my role as sideline reporter through the Finals for ESPN Radio. James essentially called timeouts and made substitutions. He openly barked at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. He huddled frequently with Lue, often looking at anyone other than Blatt.
There was James, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine — which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else.
I understand James had no input in Blatt’s hiring and had to roll with him in less-than-ideal circumstances. But it struck me as a rather unflattering look for an all-time great, no matter how inept he might think the coach is.
How is any fellow Cavalier going to treat Blatt with something resembling reverence when James treats him like a bench ornament in plain view?
Despite not making the playoffs, please note the following circumstances from the 2015 NBA post-season and how they could work in the Miami Heat’s favor for the 2015-16 NBA season:
- The Miami Heat kept its 1st round draft pick in the lottery.
- Kyrie Irving got hurt. Kyrie Irving gets hurt often. Cavalier fans, say hello to Derrick Rose fans.
- David Blatt has been treated in a viably dismissive manner by key players on his team and will likely be fired in the off-season. Thereby ensuring that instability continues to pervade the franchise James was with before the franchise he was with which won 2 NBA championships before he left to return to the aforementioned franchise.
- Lebron James did not get hurt in yet another season, while again going deep in the playoffs. The odds of James continuing to avoid injury in his next season [12th] and beyond are, like my actuarial lifespan tables, not moving in the right direction. At this point, every season James is healthy and does not win a championship should be counted in dog years.
- Kevin Love getting hurt created an opportunity for Tristan Thompson. Thompson, a free agent his summer, played well. His agent is LeBron James’s business manager and they turned down 4 years for $52 million last summer. People wondering if Love wants to return to Cleveland are missing the point, they can’t pay both Love and Thompson. Which means that Cleveland traded the #1 pick in the draft, Andrew Wiggins, for 1 year of Kevin Love. Thank you for being shortsighted General Manager LeBron James.
- Andre Iguodala has played well against James and raised his profile. Like most leagues, NBA teams tend to copy success. Contending teams without their own version of Iguodala will be looking for a veteran to battle James in the playoffs. Miami already has a slightly taller version of Iguodala in Luol Deng. Deng has a player option for $10 million with the Heat for next season.
- The Heat need Deng to opt out of his player option. They need the freed up money to pay Dwyane Wade a one year max contract without exceeding the luxury tax threshold next season.
Please read Albert Nahmad’s blog post at Heat Hoops about the Wade situation. As usual, he is detailed and thorough in presenting the information. Nahmad quantifies how prohibitive it would be for the Miami Heat to exceed the tax threshold when Dragic and Whiteside are factored in:
If the Heat exceeds the tax threshold next season, it would become the NBA’s first team to ever pay the “repeater tax,” which adds an extra $1 for every dollar a team is over the luxury tax threshold, over and above the incremental tax rates that would apply. The repeater tax is triggered when a team has paid the tax in four of the previous five seasons. The Heat has paid the tax in three of the last four years.
For every dollar by which the Heat exceeds the tax level next season, it will need to pay at least $2.50 in taxes. That rate increases to $2.75 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $5 million, increasing further to $3.50 per dollar for any incremental amount by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $10 million, increasing further to $4.25 per dollar for any incremental by which the Heat exceeds the tax by $15 million, and increasing an additional $0.50 for each $5 million increment thereafter.
If Deng exercises his player option for next season and Dragic re-signs at or near the max, granting Wade such a large raise would push the Heat’s team salary to as much as $100 million or more (excluding potential trade scenarios). A team salary at that level would trigger a tax payment of more than $58 million.
That is why the negotiations with Wade are at an impasse. Deng is the answer. We may have Andre Iguodala to thank if Deng opts out.