The world belongs to LeBron James, or at least it seems to be, based on all the attention that James’ newest decision is getting. Will he return to the old tested teams of South Beach? Or will he try to forge a title back in Cleveland, armed with Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, and maybe Kevin Love?
Regardless, the free agent market will start to sort itself out quickly once LeBron makes his move. That means now is as good a time as ever to review NBA transactions that have affected players with ties to the Old North State. This will not include drafted players, as that has already been addressed.
Duke’s Kyrie Irving Becomes the $90 Million Dollar Man
The leader of team Coco now has no reason for why he can’t afford to buy us all delicious boxes of Coco Pebbles. Irving was signed to a max contract by the Cleveland Cavs in a move that surprised exactly no one. That contract is worth $90 million over five years. The summer of Kyrie has brought in Andrew Wiggins and may even bring LeBron James. It is a good time to buy Kyrie Irving stock. Now if he could only get along with Dion Waiters…
Duke’s Shane Battier Retires
Shane Battier bought into being a gritty defender that could shoot threes every now and then and made a career of it. Over the past year Battier’s game seemed to decline and Battier is smart enough to notice this fact. He is taking his two rings and leaving the arena. Battier will likely resurface in the media somewhere, considering he was brought in for the 2013 NBA Draft by ESPN. Miami has since tried to replace him with Danny Granger, but they need LeBron to make that work.
Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan Returns to San Antonio
I covered this back when it happened. The only thing to further report is that San Antonio is trying to invest the savings Duncan gave them. They have resigned forward Boris Diaw and guard Patty Mills and are a dark horse for the services of Pau Gasol.
North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough’s Option is Picked Up by the Toronto Raptors
Toronto had a team option on the second year of Hansbrough’s contract. This meant that they essentially were kicking the tires on the veteran forward last season. Hansbrough will make $3.3 million this upcoming season, which means the Raptors must have liked enough of what he showed them last season. He average 5 points and 5 rebounds over about 15 minutes per game
Duke’s Josh McRoberts signs with the Miami Heat, 4 years $23 million
This caused some conundrum in Hornets Nation when it first came down. McRoberts is part of the package that is supposed to keep the Big 3 in Miami. Otherwise he will be counting his money while a new Heat rebuild plan simmers. McRoberts offers good passing and shooting from the four spot which make him an ideal sub for Chris Bosh off the bench and a good match for LeBron’s drive and dish game. Meanwhile, Charlotte will get to see what Noah Vonleh is made of that much sooner.
North Carolina’s Raymond Felton traded to Dallas Mavericks for North Carolina’s Wayne Ellington
This trade was something that I covered as it happened. Tyson Chandler and Ray Felton were sent to Dallas for Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Jose Calderon and two second round picks. The Knicks are now busily trying to resign Carmelo Anthony and Dallas is chasing Chandler Parsons.
North Carolina’s Brendan Haywood traded to Cleveland Cavs
This trade was also covered as it happened. Haywood and second round pick Dwight Powell were sent to Cleveland. The Hornets were looking for cap flexibility. The Cavs are currently hunting LeBron James and Kevin Love. Haywood allowed them to move Tyler Zeller in the next trade, transactions seem to breed more transactions.
North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller traded to the Celtics
The Cleveland Cavs sent Tyler Zeller and a first round pick to the Celtics. The Brooklyn Nets received Sergey Karasev and Jarrett Jack from Cleveland as well. They sent Marcus Thornton to Boston. The Celtics used a $10 million trade exemption to facilitate all moves.
The Cavs were clearly dumping salary to fit LeBron James if he is coming. Brooklyn was looking to get out from under Thornton’s contract and pickup a backup point guard to replace Shaun Livingston (signed with the Warriors). Karasev will likely be well received by the Russian-friendly atmosphere.
Why This Trade Works For Tyler Zeller
Anyone familiar with Zeller’s body of work in Chapel Hill knows two things about Zeller. He’s tall and he can run. He can shoot a little too, but the best thing about this trade is the ability of Boston to match Zeller with speedy point guard Rajon Rondo. Which is also potentially the worst thing about this trade. Rondo is likely to be traded and thus that team up may never occur. Teams may be more interested in Rondo after the losers of the James chase realize they have a lot of money and no clear targets. Transactions are never as simple as they appear.