First Cup: Thursday

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Chandler Parsons will go from the NBA’s best bargain to a $15 million a year contract. Which team will reward him so greatly will soon be in the Rockets’ hands. The Rockets gambled by making Parsons a restricted free agent. The Mavericks will make them pay, costing them either their starting small forward and team captain or the $45 million over three seasons it will take to keep him. Parsons signed an offer sheet with the Mavericks, giving the Rockets three days from when they receive it to either match the offer or let Parsons jump to their in-state rivals. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posted a photo with Parsons and Parsons’ family on his Cyber Dust account. Parsons later posted a tweet. Extremely humbled! One night of fun and back to work. THANK YOU to everyone who has helped me! I am blessed."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: The deal for Parsons was done in part because it became clear earlier Wednesday that Anthony and James had axed the Mavericks off their list of potential destinations. The Mavericks always considered themselves longshots to land either. While the Mavericks wait for Houston’s decision on Parsons, they will try to get sixth man Vince Carter to agree to the $2.7 million exception the Mavericks can use as a team under the salary cap. With the offer to Parsons, that would be the most they could offer Carter. That means anybody else who joins the team — and the Mavericks will have at least four more potential spots available — would have to sign for minimum contracts. Right now, Nowitzki, Harris, Tyson Chandler, Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright, Raymond Felton, Jae Crowder, Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel are the only players confirmed on the roster. Add whoever starts at small forward, presumably Parsons, and Carter and that makes 11 players.

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: If James spurns them yet again, it won’t be on him this time. He hasn’t given any indication he’s returning, because from all accounts, he has kept quiet since the season ended. But the Cavs met with Paul last week and have been working toward this reunion for years. Wednesday’s trade was simply the most obvious step. The Cavs have let Spencer Hawes and C.J. Miles walk in free agency without putting up a fight. Luol Deng will be the next to go. Gordon Hayward arrived in town last week believing he was going to get an offer sheet, but left without one and ultimately agreed to a max offer sheet instead with the Charlotte Bobcats. If the Cavs swing and miss on James, there isn’t much left. Chandler Parsons agreed to an offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, leaving only Trevor Ariza. Ariza’s name has been floated as a possibility, but the Cavs had enough space to pursue him without all these moves. And let’s be honest: Expecting James and landing Ariza is like inviting the pope to dinner and watching Father Guido Sarducci give the blessing. Much like four years ago, the Cavs are all in on LeBron James. Now they’ll sit, wait and wonder if he feels the same way.

  • Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald: There isn’t a lot of precedent for this spectacle we are presently Witnessing. So much power. So, so, so much power. LeBron James is the most powerful athlete in sports, by a lot, and what is going on around him these days is equal parts lunacy and chaos. It isn’t just that a basketball legend has to fly across the country to get a few minutes with him because James has 100 percent of the leverage and champion czar Pat Riley somehow has exactly zero. (Come over here and kiss the King’s ring, Pat, and he’ll get back to you at his earliest convenience.) It isn’t just that James has hijacked the sports-news cycle in a way that is overwhelming and annoying, turning ESPN into the Worldwide Leader In Covering One Player, drained fans all over the country losing sleep and spraining fingers refreshing Twitter accounts for any microscopic crumb of information or misinformation or speculation or lie. It isn’'t just that James has two NBA teams behaving — with millions of dollars and James-appeasing player transactions — as if they both think they are going to sign him very soon … and that all the rest of the teams in the league would behave the same way if he so much as winked in their direction. It is the deli line of basketball power taking a number just to stand in line behind James, waiting to please be fed after the biggest dog finally decides that, yes, now is the time he shall eat.

  • Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: It was the late George Young who said this to me nearly 30 years ago, when he was in the middle of a tough contract negotiation when the Giants were set up to win the first Super Bowl in their history. “When they say it’s not about the money,” Young said to me, and famously, "it’s always about the money." I also believe Anthony wants to win a pro title before he is through to go with the college title he won at Syracuse when he was a freshman with as complete a game for a kid his age I had ever seen in a Final Four. I believe he wants to put an NBA title with the gold he has won at the Olympics, playing with LeBron and his other famous friends. But he was never going to leave around $30 million on the table, nor should he have been expected to leave that kind of money on the table. No player in recent memory has made the current system in the NBA work better for him than Anthony has. He forced his way out of Denver and got paid here. Now he gets paid again, bigger than before.

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Things got a little interesting in regards to Gordon Hayward on Wednesday after he agreed to terms of a max contract with Charlotte owner Michael Jordan and the Hornets. Utah Jazz fans debated about him. Teammates expressed a desire to continue to play with him. The man who could be his future coach gave a compliment but also deftly deflected questions about him. And the company running his basketball camp in Salt Lake City this week canceled a media availability for him. The NBA team that Hayward has played for the past four seasons now has three days to officially match the Hornets' $63 million offer sheet to keep him. Utah, which has first right of refusal on Hayward's contract, was expected to be put on the clock late Wednesday night when the 24-year-old signed with Charlotte, which hopes to reunite him with former Jazz center Al Jefferson.

  • Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer: I like the gamble. If the Jazz doesn’t match – and Utah is reportedly $30 million under the salary cap, with far more room to maneuver than Charlotte – then Hayward will make more than Al Jefferson and everyone else on the Hornets, and he obviously would not be Charlotte’s best player. That would be either Jefferson or point guard Kemba Walker, and Walker is going to command a similarly huge contract at some point. But Jefferson and Walker truly want to win, and this is how you do it. You sign a guy like Hayward instead of a loose cannon like Lance Stephenson. You play Hayward more at shooting guard – he can do either that or small forward, but if he plays shooting guard you can use Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive prowess more effectively. Hayward becomes more of a scoring threat immediately than Gerald Henderson is from outside, which gives Jefferson (who Hayward knows how to play with, having done so in Utah) more room inside. Isn’t it interesting, by the way, how the tenor of the criticism for the Hornets has changed? Once, people said Michael Jordan was cheap. No one can say that anymore. Now they just say he’s giving the wrong guys too much money.

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: The Raptors have another piece of the off-season puzzle in place. Greivis Vasquez has agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract, according to team and league sources, as Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri continues to lock up necessary pieces from last year’s team. Vasquez, who was a restricted free agent, averaged 9.5 points and 3.7 assists in 61 games with the Raptors after being acquired from the Sacramento Kings about a quarter of the way through the season. By getting Vasquez on a two-year deal, the Raptors won’t dip further into the cap space they have for the summer of 2016, when a handful of key NBAers can become free agents.

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: The window to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer's salary officially opened at 11:01 p.m. Wednesday. But the Bulls all along have been trying to trade him, not only to relieve themselves of their financial commitment to him but more to stay above the salary cap. This would allow them to use exceptions to sign other players. Nikola Mirotic, Trevor Ariza, Shawn Marion, Kirk Hinrich and Ramon Sessions are just some of the possibilities. With the NBA setting the salary cap for the 2014-15 season at $63.065 million, the Bulls would have $10 million of cap space if they have to use the amnesty route on Boozer, who won't be back. The Bulls have until July 17 to use the amnesty provision.

  • Tim Kawkami of the San Jose Mercury News: Last question: Does Klay Thompson's ballooning long-term price make it more likely that the Warriors would be willing to put him into a Love deal? Last answer: You'd initially think so. How can they fit Love's expected massive deal in with Thompson and all the rest, even if Lee goes to Minnesota in the projected trade? Wouldn't Thompson have to go, too? But again, I've heard that the Warriors believe they don't get into title contention with Love unless they keep Thompson, too. I'm told the Warriors have done the spreadsheet work and believe Thompson can still be squeezed in. Unsaid: I think the Warriors can fit Thompson's long-term money into this ... only if they can move either Lee's or Iguodala's contract before then. And if Love comes on board, it'd take the off-loading of both Lee (in the trade) and Iguodala (at some point) to fit Thompson's new market rate, I believe. That's a lot of pieces all put in motion without Klay Thompson doing much of anything, except watch his stock price go through the roof. It's not a bad way to spend a summer.

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: When Caron Butler reached a buyout with the Milwaukee Bucks back in February, a number of teams coveted the veteran forward’s services for the playoff run. Butler, of course, chose the Oklahoma City Thunder. He opted for the Western Conference powerhouse for a number of reasons, one being the persuasiveness of Thunder superstar Kevin Durant. Butler is a free agent again and Durant is making his pitch to convince his friend to re-sign with the Thunder. Durant flew from Los Angeles, where he had been working out, to attend Butler’s basketball camp at Park High School in Racine. “I would love to have him back,” said Durant, the NBA’s reigning MVP. “He can definitely help us. But some things are out of your control; management makes those decisions. But I’d like to have him back.”

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: Best Blazer ever? Clyde Drexler? Totally disagree with Aldridge's target. I understand that the metrics Aldridge, and many, use here is that Drexler is the all-time franchise leader in points scored (18,040). I get that Drexler (apologies to Brandon Roy) is the most recent example of a generational super star who has worn a Blazers uniform. I understand that before Game 1 of the Rockets-Blazers series Aldridge passed Drexler in the hallway and joked, "I'm coming for you," before going out and scoring 46 points. But I bristle at the notion that it's Drexler, and not legendary center Bill Walton, that Aldridge needs to surpass to be the franchise's greatest star player. For Aldridge, waiting to sign an extension is about money. It's about security. It's about legacy. For the Trail Blazers, giving Aldridge the opportunity to attain all three of those things is about one thing, and one thing only --- winning a championship. Walton delivered one on June 5, 1977. Don't care that he never brought Portland a second one. He brought the only one. Something Drexler failed to do, even as he went into the Hall of Fame scoring and trying. There has been only one player in franchise history to be a league Most Valuable Player and an NBA Finals MVP --- Walton.