CLEVELAND, Ohio — The phone usually rings about 2 a.m.
It’s the son calling the father. It’s Larry Nance Jr. calling from Los Angeles after his latest home game with the Lakers. On the other end of the line is former Cleveland Cavalier Larry Nance Sr., who lives in Bath.
“We talk every day,” said Nance Sr. “I watch every game on TV. He calls me. He wants to talk.”
The former Revere High star is averaging 7.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and shooting 58 percent in 22 minutes a game coming off the bench for the Lakers.
Saturday, Nance is making his first appearance as a pro at Quicken Loans Arena. He was injured when the Lakers played in Cleveland last season.
Larry and Jaynee Nance will be there to see their son.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Nance. “He has gone through a lot to get to the NBA.”
Nance Jr. battles Crohn’s Disease.
Despite being 6-foot-7 and averaging 18 points as a senior at Revere, the only Division I offers he received came from Wyoming and James Madison. He went west to play for coach Larry Shyatt, a former Clevelander.
With the Cowboys, he sustained a major ACL injury as a junior. Nance Sr. said some NBA teams told him his son was not likely to be drafted. As a senior, Nance averaged 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and led Wyoming to the NCAA tournament.
It was hard to find an NBA draft report that had Nance even as high as a late first-round pick. But the Lakers made him the 27th pick in the 2015 draft.
“I know that surprised a lot of people,” said Nance Sr. “Larry heard people say he shouldn’t have been drafted that high. He kept it inside, but he heard. He has set out to show them (they’re wrong).”
Nance received national attention recently for a monster dunk over 7-footer Brook Lopez.
“For a long time, I’ve been kidding him about his dunks,” said Nance Sr. “I’ve been telling him that they’re pretty weak. But that one … I said, ‘You officially passed your dad with that one.'”
Remember, Nance Sr. won the first Slam Dunk contest in NBA history.
“Larry works so hard and he’s such an unselfish player,” said Nance Sr. “He has a good motor. He’s a good person. We’re so proud of him.”
THE NEW LABOR AGREEMENT
The new NBA labor agreement has put the Cavs in a strong position to win another title in the next few years. It is complicated, but the new deal makes it harder to assemble “super teams.” For example, Golden State will have to make some major contract dumps of decent players to be able to give Kevin Durant a maximum deal in the summer of 2017.
But David Griffin’s front office, backed by owner Dan Gilbert’s checkbook, already has the Cavs’ main players all signed for the next few years.
Furthermore, salaries are about to explode again as new TV contracts worth about $1.4 billion begin an avalanche of cash. Within a year, the average salary could rise from its current $5 million level to $9 million.
I’m not going to go totally geeky on this, but here are the main points:
1. LeBron James is under contract through the summer of 2018, and he has a $35 million player option for the 2018-19 season.
2. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are under contract for the next three seasons (until the summer of 2019) and each has a player option for 2019-20.
3. Tristan Thompson is under contract through the summer of 2020.
4. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are under contract for at least three more seasons.
5. Channing Frye is under contract until the summer of 2018.
ABOUT THOSE TAXES
The only problem for the Cavs will be the luxury tax bill, which is expected to rise quite a bit over the next few seasons.
For the 2014-15 season, the Cavs paid about $7 million in luxury tax. Only Brooklyn ($20 million) paid more. For the 2015-16 season, the Cavs led the NBA by paying $54 million in luxury tax. Next came the L.A. Clippers ($20 million) and Golden State ($15 million).
Obviously, Gilbert doesn’t want to pay the luxury tax unless there is a payoff. But he also promised James that he would spend if the superstar came home, and Gilbert has stuck to that promise.
Meanwhile, Griffin and his staff kept signing key players to long-term deals. At the time, critics insisted the Cavs “overpaid.”
Not any more. Consider:
1. Over the next three seasons, Love’s average salary is $23 million. For Irving, it’s $19 million.
2. Soon, maximum contracts will bolt past $30 million and approach $40 million annually for some players.
3. The Cavs have no intention right now of trading any of their key players. But if they do, the long-term contracts make them attractive. That also is true for Thompson, Smith and Shumpert.
4. Salaries are really expected to explode in the summer of 2018. The key will be what James does. That’s when he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent, or he can pick up his $35 million option.
5. There is a third possibility, one far more likely. In the summer of 2018, James will be 33. He will have played 16 NBA seasons. At this point, he could decide to take a five-year maximum deal. Estimates on that range from $209 million to $240 million.
6. So fans can relax over the next two seasons, at least when it comes to the roster. The team is in excellent shape.