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Will the Chicago Bulls or the Cleveland Cavaliers Win the DeMarcus Cousins Sweepstakes?

by Alan Goldsher
Fan Duel

For two members of the United States Men’s National Basketball team, the Rio Summer Olympics has become a Boogie wonderland.

Jimmy Butler isn’t the only Olympian to be involved in a bromance with the man they call Boogie: It’s been speculated that thanks to their on-court chemistry in Brazil, Cavs All-Star Kyrie Irving could try and recruit Cousins to help form a Golden State Warriors-like super team in Cleveland when the Sacramento center becomes a free agent after the 2017-18 season.

With the rumors flying, the question becomes, would Chicago or Cleveland offer Boogie a better situation? The answer might seem simple on the surface (Cleveland, naturally), but there are several factors involved that muddy the waters:

THE TRANSACTION FACTOR

Somebody needs to tell Kyrie Irving that concocting a Warriors-like “big four” with himself, Cousins, LeBron James and Kevin Love would be next to impossible; Golden State’s signing of Kevin Durant required a level of salary cap juggling that Cleveland likely couldn’t pull off. As for a trade, Sacramento likely wouldn’t agree unless Love was involved, but Love wouldn’t fit into the Kings future plans (whatever those plans may be), so they probably wouldn’t agree in the first place.

Chicago, on the other hand, can offer a combination of young veterans (Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic), up-and-comers (Denzel Valentine, Doug McDermott) and draft picks (they have two first rounders in 2017, one of which used to belong to Sacramento) that would be far more enticing than anything Cleveland could deliver.

ADVANTAGE: Chicago

THE DIRECTION FACTOR

Chicago had a bumpy 2015-16 season and missed the postseason for the first time since 2009. In his rookie campaign, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg had to deal with a whole lot of turmoil, stemming in part from the fact that he wasn’t Tom Thibodeau. Much of that turmoil might have left the building with new New York Knicks Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah—Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that their relationship with Butler and the rest of the team had deteriorated dramatically—so it’s possible the mess is on its way to being cleaned up.

The Cavs, on the other hand, are coming off of two consecutive NBA Finals appearances and are a massive favorite to win this season’s Eastern Conference title. Tyronn Lue has proven himself to be a savvy coach and his recent five-year, $35 million contract extension demonstrates the organization’s strong commitment to his vision, so Cleveland is both really stable and really good. (It’s interesting to note that Lue’s deal runs for five years, while LeBron James’ contract is up in three seasons. Sure, that was likely James’ decision, but still.)

ADVANTAGE: Cleveland

THE INDIVIDUAL STATS FACTOR

History tells us that when an Alpha Dog frontcourt star takes his place alongside LeBron James, his numbers make an immediate downward spiral. The first season Chris Bosh paired with James in Miami (2010-11), his averages took a 5.3 point/2.5 rebound hit, while Kevin Love’s maiden voyage in Cleveland (2014-15) found him losing 9.7 points and 2.8 boards.

If we split that down the middle and apply it to Cousins’ 2015-16 totals, we’re looking at averages of 20.8 and 9.2 boards, making it the first season in his career during which he didn’t average a double-double. Boogie would likely be willing to sacrifice digits for a ring, but he might not be thrilled about it.

In Chicago, Cousins would be the co-Alpha with Jimmy Butler and his numbers would likely take a slight dip, but nothing that would cause him to pause.

ADVANTAGE: Chicago

THE BFF FACTOR

While Cousins and Irving seem to be getting along well, Boogie and Butler appear to be on their way to becoming best friends forever:

Additionally, new Chicago Bull Rajon Rondo — Boogie’s former Sacramento teammate and fellow former Kentucky Wildcat — have been tight for years. There’s something to be said for comfort level.

Advantage: Chicago

THE FUTURE FACTOR

Let’s assume Golden State has the NBA title sewn up for the length of Kevin Durant’s contract, that being two seasons. For Cleveland, the addition of Cousins combined with the subtraction of Love slightly improves their chances of taking down the Dubs before 2018. Slightly.

In 2018, when some or all of Golden State’s Durant/Stephen Curry/Klay Thompson/Draymond Green core go their separate ways — and a trophy for anybody other than the Dubs again becomes a realistic thing — LeBron James will turn 34 and enter the final year of his contract. Michael Jordan won his last championship when he was 35 and in the final year of his contract…and then he retired. So for Cousins, it might well be 2018 or bust.

As for Chicago, the Bulls we see today won’t come close to resembling the Bulls we’ll see in 2018. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo could be gone after their contracts are up on two years, plus the Cousins trade will have emptied Chicago’s cache of young assets, thus we’re looking at Butler, Boogie and a whole bunch of who-knows-what. So it’s 2016 or bust, and with Golden State standing in the way, bust has the edge.

Advantage: Cleveland

While Cousins is driving this particular ship, Sacramento ultimately has to agree to any trade, so if Boogie thinks the Kings brass would be more apt to pull the trigger on a deal with Chicago, he’ll apply the pressure. Even if the Cavaliers have a better shot at a ring than the Bulls, the Windy City offers Cousins stats, friends and the postseason, a far better combo platter than what he’s being served in Sacramento.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/16/will-the-chicago-bulls-or-the-cleveland-cavaliers-win-the-demarcus-cousins-sweepstakes/

You’ll Be Bummed Out If You Miss Any of These 10 Hot NBA Games Next Season

by Alan Goldsher
Fan Duel

You’ll Be Bummed Out If You Miss Any of These 10 Hot NBA Games Next Season

It’s been said many times, many ways, but it bears repeating: The NBA regular season is a marathon, not a sprint. Like any marathon, there’ll be some rough patches (e.g., the Sacramento/Denver games on January 3, February 23, March 6 and March 11), but also like any marathon, it’s a celebration of athleticism, hard work and the ability to overcome inopportune chafing.

Of the 2,460 games on the schedule, there are a whole bunch of standouts and paring it down to ten was a chore—that said, opening night is still 73 days away and we needed a hoops fix, so it was all good:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Props to the NBA schedule-meisters, who concocted a fantastic opening night. Aside from a Western Conference Finals rematch in which the Tim Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs visit the juggernaut known as the Golden State Warriors and a clash between exciting up-and-comers Utah and Portland, we’ll get to enjoy the unveiling of Cleveland’s 2015-16 championship banner, as well as our first look at Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and the new-look 2010-11 Chicago Bulls, er, the 2016-17 New York Knicks superteam.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat

The game itself might not be scintillating—both the Heat and the Bulls come into 2016-17 with an overhauled roster and a bagful of question marks—but Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami should make for compelling television. One would hope that the Heat fans would shower love upon the man who led (or helped lead) them to three titles. One would hope.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Golden State Warriors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Oklahoma City and San Antonio took a few steps backwards, leaving a likely void in the standings that could potentially be filled by the young, hungry, athletic, well-coached Wolves. When these teams last played on April 5, Minnesota handed the Dubs a 124-117 overtime loss. Trust us, neither team has forgotten that. An important test for both squads.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Some NBA games are about the teams, while others are about the players. We can all agree that this one falls into the latter category. This summer’s number two draft pick, Los Angeles’ Brandon Ingram, will try to make the Sixers kick themselves for choosing Ben Simmons at number one. It probably won’t work, but it’ll be enjoyable to watch.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Finals rematch highlights a slick Christmas schedule, which also features a surprise (and welcome) appearance by the aforementioned Minnesota Timberwolves, who will be visiting the OKC Thunder. For those who can’t get enough of Draymond Green kicking Kevin Love in the boy-parts, the rematch of this rematch is comes January 16.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

In the minefield known as the Western Conference, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul will be under tremendous pressure to drag their teams into a top-four playoff seed. On this New Year’s Eve matchup, expect both point guards to run each other ragged, then go out for a holiday dinner at OKC’s beloved (and pricey) Ranch Steakhouse, then fight over the check.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

In case you missed it, Kevin Durant is now under contract with the Golden State Warriors. Thunder fans didn’t miss it. Expect the boos to crack the roof of the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers

Yes, we know it’s not 1999. Yes, we know Grant Hill won’t be chasing Reggie Miller through six picks per possession. Yes, we know that neither of these teams are in the title discussion. However, these are two evolving franchises who might be poised to some noise out East once LeBron hangs them up. The Andre Drummond/Myles Turner battle alone should be worth the price of admission.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks

You know that Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah want to keep Chicago out of the playoffs. You know that Robin Lopez wants to keep New York out of the playoffs. Who wins that battle?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics

It’s possible that at this point in the season, the two teams favored to sit atop the Eastern Conference will have locked down their postseason positioning. Even so, the last of their four 2016-17 meetings will be a statement game, that statement being either, “See you in the playoffs, chump,” or, “Let’s rest our starters.”

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/15/youll-be-bummed-out-if-you-miss-any-of-these-10-hot-nba-games-next-season/

6 Interesting Facts to Know About LeBron James’ New $100 Million Deal With the Cavs

by Matt Musico
Fan Duel

Can you hear that? Yea, I can hear it, too. It’s the entire city of Cleveland collectively breathing a sigh of relief.

Look, there was really no reason to think LeBron James wouldn’t re-sign with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers (that still sounds weird to say), but having the process take about a month-and-a-half to become official had to make some just a tad uneasy. However, the King put that all to rest while showing off a big ol’ smile and a pretty sweet hat:

This is a pretty significant contract for a number of reasons. We found seven interesting ones you should know about:

He’s finally the NBA’s highest paid player

The 2016-17 season will be LeBron’s 14th in the NBA. He’s won titles, NBA awards, Finals MVP awards, has been to 12 All-Star games, etc etc. You get the picture — since he debuted in 2003-04, there isn’t a whole lot the dude hasn’t accomplished. Well, there was one thing, but he can cross having the league’s highest paycheck in a single season this year of his list:

His streak of being a free agent every year is over

I was just starting to get used to him opting out every single summer, but all good things must come to an end, I suppose. James has been available on the open market each of the last three years, but this three-year pact with Cleveland will officially keep him grounded in his home state for more than a single season.

He still has a way to go on the career earnings list

To this point in his professional career, LeBron has raked in just under $170 million from the Cavs and Miami Heat, which ranks him seventh all-time in earnings, according to Spotrac. Obviously, adding another $100 million to that total would put him at $270 million, which sounds like a lot, but not so much when you see who is still above him on this list.

Kevin Garnett ($326 million) and Kobe Bryant ($323 million) are safe. For now.

That’s how much money per point scored last year?

The King’s 2016-17 salary checks in at $31 million. When you add the points he scored in the regular season (1,920) and the playoffs (552), he accumulated a total of 2,472 points en route to winning a championship. That also means if he scores about the same amount of points this season, he’ll earn around $12,540 per point.

Not too shabby.

LeBron basically dominates Cleveland’s payroll

According to HoopsHype, the 2016-17 salaries of Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, Mike Dunleavy, Richard Jefferson, Maurice Williams, Chris Anderson and James Jones equals just a shade over $30 million. So, LeBron is earning more than all of them combined next season.

But Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are earning a combined 32.9 million next season, so take that, LeBron!

He’ll be taking down Michael Jordan momentarily…

LeBron recently said he stays motivated because he’s chasing the ghost of Michael Jordan and the legacy he built during his Hall of Fame career. Well, once the 2017-18 season is through, he’ll be better than His Airness in one category: single-season earnings.

In his final season with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan pulled down an NBA record $33.1 million. According to Windhorst, James’ salary in the second year of this deal will top that.

Sure, the total value of his contract isn’t actually $100 million, but I think it’s close enough where we can definitely round up in this case.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/12/6-interesting-facts-to-know-about-lebron-james-new-100-million-deal-with-the-cavs/