The art of the deal

Patrick Creighton: Dear Daryl Morey, call Dan Gilbert’s bluff on LeBron

LeBron James, right, would make a series with Steph Curry and the Warriors very interesting. SBNation.com

The worst kept secret in the NBA is that LeBron James and Dan Gilbert aren’t buddy-buddy anymore.  Gilbert fired the GM (David Griffin, who was significantly underpaid for his position) that LeBron liked, and Gilbert really doesn’t like paying the huge salaries ($134M+, barely 2nd in NBA to Golden State) and subsequent high luxury tax bill (reportedly near $50M).

LeBron has demanded more help from the team, but after getting all his buddies paid (JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Kardashian Thompson, et al) the team is almost $35M over the cap and has very little to offer other teams to get that help.

Currently, this incarnation of the Cavaliers has lost 13 of their last 20 games, and have a negative point differential for the season.  They are 26th in scoring defense and 28th in defensive efficiency.  Let’s be honest, this team is in a free fall and can no longer be considered a contender for the Eastern Conference let alone the NBA title.

After the Rockets laid a beatdown on Cleveland at Quicken Loans Arena, LeBron suggested the NBA take them off national television since they have been so bad.  LeBron knows no help is coming, and he played that way on Saturday.  His teammates followed his lead.

LeBron will not commit to Cleveland, and his actions continue to indicate he will leave Cleveland in the offseason.  Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers, reportedly doesn’t care if LeBron leaves because the Cavs got a title out of him and they have the Nets draft pick.

Clearly this relationship is doomed.  That being said, Gilbert is an absolute fool if he is willing to lose LeBron for nothing a second time.

Enter Daryl Morey.  The Rockets GM is notorious for being extremely active and a dealmaker. Call Gilbert’s bluff.

Getting some quality players and another pick would certainly help ease the hurt of losing James yet again.  Why give up an asset for nothing if the intent is to rebuild?

The time is now for Morey to pounce.  It’s well chronicled how much Morey has wanted that third superstar to add to James Harden and Chris Paul.  LeBron and Paul have a long standing friendship.  It would seem like a no-brainer that James would waive his no-trade to come to Houston.  All that remains is creating an amenable package and matching salaries.

So here’s the proposal.  Ryan Anderson (let’s be real, any deal has to include Ryno’s money though he has regained his shooting touch again) reigning 6MOY Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Chinanu Onuaku, and their 2020 1st rd pick for LeBron.  The salaries work, Ryno, EG10 & Ariza are all good players (Ariza is also in a walk year) Onuaku is a young player under control cheaply for another year, and that pick will be useful.

LeBron is still arguably the best player in the world, and they will never get equal value (especially since LBJ must OK the deal anywhere he goes), but they can get some value.  Moving LeBron will also get them a better pick in this year’s draft as their record will surely continue to plummet.

Meanwhile, the Rockets (and LeBron) are now a deadly threat to the Golden State Warriors.  Meanwhile, the Cavs can begin their rebuild early, and have the option to keep those players or move them (Gordon has value).

It’s probably the best scenario for both Gilbert and LeBron, who are fractured beyond repair.  No one stalks better than Daryl Morey.  Let’s see if Gilbert really doesn’t care if LeBron leaves, call his bluff Daryl.  

 

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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