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Report: John Calipari was ‘deep in discussions’ with Cavs before Kentucky extension

John CalipariJohn Calipari already tried coaching in the NBA once, and it didn’t go well. After winning the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award in 1996, Calipari went on to compile a record of 72-112 in less than three seasons with the New Jersey Nets. According to one report, he was fairly close to giving the NBA another shot last week.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Brett Dawson of Yahoo Sports claim Calipari was “deep in discussions” with the Cleveland Cavaliers before he finalized a contract extension with Kentucky last week. He had even reportedly outlined the terms of a potential agreement with the Cavs that would be worth $60 million-plus over seven years and make him president of basketball operations as well as head coach.

Calipari, who signed a seven-year, $52 million extension with the Wildcats, was offered more than $8 million per season from Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. That would have placed him among the highest-paid coaches in the league. Calipari was said to be “intrigued” by the offer, but there is some speculation that he may have been concerned over how he would mesh with a hands-on owner like Gilbert.

Had Kentucky defeated UConn and won a national championship in April, it probably would have been easier to lure Calipari away. Now that the Harrison twins are returning to Lexington for their sophomore seasons and the Wildcats are easily the No. 1 team in the country heading into next season, Calipari probably wants to stick around. It’s a shame he’ll have to settle for only $7 million-plus per season.

Cavs GM was getting calls about No. 1 pick before he got off TV

NBA draft lottery ping pongThe Cleveland Cavaliers won the No. 1 overall pick for the third time in the last four years on Tuesday, despite the fact that they had less than a 2% chance of getting it. The 2014 draft class is loaded at the top, and there are plenty of teams who want a shot at someone like Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Just ask Cavs GM David Griffin.

During an interview with ESPN Cleveland’s “The Really Big Show” on Wednesday, Griffin said he was getting phone calls from teams wanting to trade for the No. 1 pick before he was done being interviewed about it.

“I actually got calls right afterward, while I was standing there doing media,” he said. “Teams were already reaching out and texting, so I think it will be an active period of time.

“I’ve said many times that I’d trade me if it made us better. We’re going to be open-minded to whatever it is that advances our cause the furthest.”

The big name on everybody’s mind is obviously Kevin Love, and the Minnesota Timberwolves would be wise to check in with the team that has the top overall pick before anyone else. However, it seems unlikely that Love would want to go to a team like the Cavs. Winning the draft lottery three out of four years and still not having a competitive team isn’t a great quality.

Teams are always going to inquire about trading for the No. 1 pick, but it’s also possible GMs around the league think the Cavs are more likely to deal it this year. Let’s face it, having the top overall pick hasn’t worked well for Cleveland over the past few years.

H/T Pro Basketball Talk

Cavaliers still think they have chance to acquire LeBron James

Dan GilbertAh those pesky Cavaliers. How can you not love them?

Even though team owner Dan Gilbert trashed LeBron James after the star left the team for the Miami Heat in free agency — a widely unpopular move at the time that turned out to be a wise choice — the team still believes it has a chance to acquire their former franchise icon. Seriously.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal wrote an article on Sunday about the Cavs’ ceremony to retire the jersey of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. In the article he talked about how the Cavs still believe they have a chance to get James if they can add another star to the team.

Here’s what Lloyd wrote:

But the Cavs privately believe it’s not too late. They still have the assets to pull off a mammoth trade this summer at the draft, the type Grant tried so hard to make. Kevin Love will be entering the final year of his contract, as will LaMarcus Aldridge. Grant tried for two years to unsuccessfully pry both stars out of their current cities, but each had too many years left on their contracts for their current teams to consider it. That’s no longer true.

Let’s just break down how absurd this line of thinking is. First, Cleveland needs to acquire another star to pair with Kyrie Irving just to make themselves a semi-attractive option. Secondly, as Lloyd outlines, the team fired ex-GM Chris Grant, who was close with one of LeBron’s marketing people. Big Z is close with Grant and unhappy with the team for that move. So that’s not going to help. Lastly, they still are the Cavs and still have the same owner who trashed LeBron. Why would he want to return to that? And why would LeBron even want to leave the Heat anyway?

I suppose you might as well dream big if you’re going to dream, but someone needs to give the Cavs a dose of reality!

Chest bump to Eye on Basketball

Cavaliers could put off Luol Deng contract talks to try to sign LeBron James

LeBron-James-Free-AgencyThe Cleveland Cavaliers recently acquired Luol Deng in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, and you would assume they envision the 28-year-old remaining with the team for several years. Deng is scheduled to become a free agent after the season, but the Cavs may hold off on negotiating with him until they figure out where they stand with a more familiar impending free agent — LeBron James.

LeBron can opt out of his current contract with the Miami Heat after the season. The Cavs have yet to discuss a contract extension with Deng, and he understands why LeBron might stand in the way.

“He’s a great player, why wouldn’t you look at him?” Deng told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “If he wants to come back home, that’s great for him and great for this organization. He’s a great player. Why not?

“I’m all right with that. I’m here to do what I can do and be Luol Deng. I don’t really worry about it. I don’t have the mindset that I can control what everyone else thinks. I just do what I can do and try to be the best at what I do.”

Of course, the Cavs could never publicly admit that they intend to pursue King James. Since LeBron is under contract with another team, that would be a violation of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. Team owner Dan Gilbert wrote a nasty letter to the fans ripping LeBron after he left, but we all know he would gladly welcome him back.

“I really think for Cleveland that LeBron knows the way he left, and he apologized for it already,” Deng said. “…And at the end of the day, he is a great basketball player and I think for him to come back to Cleveland is not only a great story, but you can’t hold grudges forever.”

As Spears pointed out, it would not be impossible for the Cavs to sign LeBron and extend Deng. However, Deng turned down a three-year, $30 million extension from the Bulls before he was traded. He will obviously be looking for a hefty contract. If LeBron opts out, he will become priority No. 1 for Cleveland. The same will be true for every other team in the NBA.

Cavaliers reportedly offer Andrew Bynum $24 million deal

Andrew BynumThe Cleveland Cavaliers have about $15 million in cap space, and they are looking to spend some of that money. It sounds like the player they are most interested in is free agent center Andrew Bynum.

Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavaliers have offered Bynum a two-year, $24 million incentive-based deal. The second year of the contract would be a team option, and we don’t know what kind of incentives are included. Bynum missed all of last season because of multiple knee injuries, so he may not get a stronger offer.

Woj says the Cavs are pushing to hear back from Bynum quickly because they would be interested in Andrei Kirilenko or Elton Brand if they are unable to land the oft-injured center. Bynum met with the Cavs on Monday and then headed to Atlanta to meet with the Hawks. As we told you earlier on Monday, the Dallas Mavericks are also reportedly interested in Bynum.

For what it’s worth, a fan says he saw Bynum at the airport and claims Bynum told him he was headed to Cleveland.

You can’t count on Bynum for more than 50 games next season, but this deal probably wouldn’t be bad for the Cavs. What other moves could they make?

Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks reportedly interested in Andrew Bynum

Andrew-Bynum-hairIf Andrew Bynum signs with a team other than the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, his stat sheet from his time in Philly will be completely blank. The Sixers gave up a great deal to pry Bynum away from the Los Angeles Lakers last year, but injuries prevented him from appearing in a single game. Should he sign with another team, Philly would have absolutely nothing to show for the trade.

According to ESPN.com, that may happen. The Cleveland Cavaliers are considered to be “legitimate contenders” to sign Bynum, particularly if he is interested in signing a one-year deal. Cleveland currently has around $15 million in cap space but would like to save future space to pursue free agents like LeBron James next summer, so a big-money, one-year deal would suit the team nicely.

[Related: Philly DA wants to investigate Andrew Bynum for fraud]

And the Cavs aren’t the only potential suitors for Bynum. The Dallas Mavericks reportedly began courting Bynum after missing out on Dwight Howard on Friday. However, sources told ESPN.com that the Mavs have launched an “exhaustive” evaluation process of Bynum and are trying to figure out if his ailing knees are healthy enough to justify a long-term contract. If he cuts back on the bowling, he just might be able to stay on the court.

The Atlanta Hawks are also believed to be interested in Bynum, though they would prefer to sign free agent Monta Ellis. Whatever the case, it seems obvious that the Sixers have competition for the 25-year-old if they hope to bring him back and prove that their trade with LA was not completely useless.

Dan Gilbert regrets saying Cavs would win an NBA title before LeBron James

It took more than two years, but it appears that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is finally beginning to think rationally as he continues to deal with the pain of losing LeBron James. As you likely remember, Gilbert wrote a hilarious letter to Cavs fans after LeBron signed with the Heat and emphatically guaranteed that Cleveland would win an NBA championship before LeBron won one.

LeBron is already the proud owner of a flashy NBA championship ring, and Gilbert now regrets making that promise.

“Looking back now, that probably was not the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Gilbert said Tuesday — the day LeBron got his shiny new ring — according to an Associated Press report.

“If you’re going to predict something that doesn’t happen and you’re going to do it publicly, you’d for sure take it back,” he continued. “When that happened when they won, it was the end of the end of the end of that whole thing. Now there’s nothing more to talk about. In a way it was like a little bit of a relief. If they didn’t win it, it would’ve been still another thing of who’s going to win it (first).”

There was nothing left to talk about back when Gilbert was trying to look into whether or not the Heat tampered with LeBron, but he was still hung up on it. Now that LeBron has won a championship and it probably won’t be his last, Gilbert really has to prove to the fans that he can get past losing one of the biggest stars in NBA history. He can start by focusing on his own team and his own team only.