If the Warriors can create a max salary slot this offseason, the defending NBA champions could position themselves to secure a meeting with LeBron James. There is no indication that Golden State is evaluating such options to acquire the Cleveland Cavaliers star at this time. Out of respect for the Warriors’ winning culture, James would listen if Golden State explored ways to clear the necessary cap space. This offseason, James is expected to decline his $35.6 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent for the third time in his career, although re-signing with Cleveland is not out of the question. James’ distant relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is well-chronicled, and the instability in Cleveland’s front office has been of concern to him, but the Warriors’ strong organizational structure and the prospect of more championships would be an enticement that most veteran players would consider. James and his business team have been known to covet structure, if he were to leave his hometown team. With Golden State, an ultra-aggressive general manager in Bob Myers, the ownership group as a whole and coach Steve Kerr are the epitome of that. A sign-and-trade scenario would be the most realistic way for Golden State to acquire James. The Warriors could build an offer around Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala to match salary and tempt the Cavaliers into making a deal. To make a sign-and-trade possible, Golden State also would need Kevin Durantto decline his player option and take even less than his current annual salary of $25 million, in addition to moving Shaun Livingston’s salary to a team with cap space. Golden State likely would have to fill out its bench with players making the league minimum. The Warriors have approximately $135 million tied up in payroll, the highest in the league.
Suns guard Isaiah Canaan suffered a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Mavs. Canaan, 26, went up for a layup and was fouled by Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews, coming down hard on his left leg and bending his ankle in the wrong direction. The game was stopped for several minutes while the Suns training staff and doctors attended to Canaan and took him off the floor. The team said he was diagnosed with a left ankle fracture. It was a scene eerily similar to the NBA’s opening night, when Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle in a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hayward was ruled out for the remainder of the season. A full diagnosis of Canaan’s leg will need to be seen before any determinations are made about his future prognosis. A 2013 second-round pick, Canaan was averaging 9.4 points and 4.2 assists per game on 38.1 percent shooting with the Suns.
The Suns have also agreed to a buyout with center Greg Monroe. There will be “interest league-wide” in Monroe once he clears waivers. The 27-year-old joined the Suns in November in the trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks. He was in the final season of his three-year, $51.4 million deal. Monroe was owed about $7 million more of his $17.8 million salary this season. Phoenix was already $8.8 million below the cap prior to the buyout. Although he struggled to get onto the court for Milwaukee, with just 15.8 minutes per game in five contests, he fared better in Phoenix. Monroe entered Wednesday averaging 11.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in 20 appearances. Several teams may already be gearing up for a run at the big man: Celtics, Spurs, Pelicans, Bucks. The 6’11” center has been a quality interior scorer and rebounder throughout his career, averaging 13.9 points and 8.7 rebounds in eight NBA seasons. While he doesn’t have much shooting range and struggles at times defensively, he still could be a useful reserve for a contender. Meanwhile, his departure from Phoenix will allow the Suns to hand more playing time to younger players like Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Alex Len.
Longtime NBA forward Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, died in a car crash Wednesday morning in LA. CNN confirmed the news with the LAPD and added that the identity of the female passenger has not been released. The Miami Heat, one of eight NBA teams Butler played for during his career, confirmed LaBelle’s death in a statement of condolence. TMZ Sports reported Butler lost control of the vehicle he was driving around 2 a.m. local time and then the car “struck a parking meter and slammed into a wall.” The LAPD told CNN the 2011 Land Rover flipped over twice and landed in a shopping center’s parking lot on Ventura Boulevard. The Philadelphia native was selected by the Heat in the second round of the 2002 draft. He also played for the New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs across a 13-year NBA career. He most recently played for the Spurs during the 2015-16 season. In all, he averaged 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in 809 appearances. Butler also participated in the inaugural season of Ice Cube’s BIG3 League in 2017. LaBelle was an R&B singer who rose to prominence on the third season of American Idol and went on to sign with Epic Records and So So Def Recordings. She released her debut single, “Sexify,” in 2012. Butler was 38. LaBelle was 31.
The Wizards announced PG John Wall underwent an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his left knee Wednesday and will miss six to eight weeks. Wall’s knee had been bothering him since he “collided knee-to-knee with a Dallas Mavericks player” Nov. 7. Despite the persistent issues, Wall churned out All-Star-caliber numbers before going under the knife. Through 37 appearances, Wall averaged 19.4 points, 9.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field, including a career-high 35.8 percent from three. In Wall’s absence, the Wizards will turn to Tomas Satoransky as their stopgap starter at point guard:”John is the main guy, so it’s always tough to cover your main guy when he goes down, and it’s very challenging. Obviously I like challenges, but it will be a lot of responsibility. Playing for me as a starter against other starters, it’s another challenge and step up in my game, so we’ll see how it goes”.