Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak told reporters, including Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, that if Los Angeles makes a deal, it’ll be one that address issues in “2014/15 and beyond” (Twitter link). Another tweet from Trudell explains that the club won’t be dealing for a player that can make an immediate impact, and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com hears from Kupchak that it’s actually been pretty quiet around the office as far as trade talks go (Twitter link). Let’s round up a few more tidbits in our nightly look around the league..
- Adam Zagoria of Sheridan Hoops looks toward the 2020 Summer Olympics and sees Canada’s potential team as a formidable force. Zagoria hears that college studs Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis are expected to join forces with current NBA players Anthony Bennett, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph. It’s possible a similar team could assemble for the 2015 Olympic qualifiers, but Zagoria thinks 2020 is when the expected Canadian roster will be able to reach its full potential.
- Euroleague CEO Jordi Bertomeu revealed he is interested in a potential NBA expansion into Europe. “Adam Silver, the new commissioner, is a great contributor to the sport,” said Bertomeu. ”We have met and I think that we have a future together. We want to increase our cooperation and we want to see things realistically.” Lefteris Moutis of EuroHoops.net has the full story.
- Silver looks even beyond Europe and sees opportunity for the NBA in markets all over the world, he tells Sam Amick of USA Today in an exclusive interview. “To me, the U.S. is less than 5% of the world’s population. So when I look at markets like the billion people in Africa, the over billion people that live in India, the (1.3 billion) that live in China, just those markets alone where we’re just barely scratching the surface, there is so much opportunity out there for us.”
- Amick’s piece sees Silver address a variety of hot-button issues, including the lottery, the minimum age for draft eligibility, and the latest CBA.
Steve Hetzel, coach of the Cavs D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, gives Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside some insight as to how the developmental process works for Cleveland: “We all talk and communicate about when they’ll be sent down, their overall expectations and how they’ll be able to be coached. They allow me to coach these guys as if they’re my players. It’s a good relationship in the sense that we give constant feedback to each other on when we’re going to have those players and what they want the players to work on in-game. It’s a real benefit to be directly affiliated with the Cavs because it’s a struggle for teams who don’t have a direct NBA affiliation.”
Here’s more from Cleveland:
- In the same interview, Hetzel doesn’t rule out the possibility of an Anthony Bennett assignment, telling Schmidt, “That’s completely up to Coach [Mike] Brown and the Cavs organization. If they want to send him down, we’d be open arms. Right now Bennett is getting time with Cleveland and if you’re getting minutes in the NBA, then that’s the best experience that you can get. Whether he’s flourishing or struggling, he’ll improve with the playing time that he gets. If that time comes, we’ll cross that bridge as it happens.” Bennett’s play has finally picked up in recent days, after his historically poor play for a number one pick had some calling for him to get some time in the D-League.
- Rival executives believe new Cavs GM David Griffin‘s best option going forward would be trading recently acquired Luol Deng and trying to land a premium first-round pick in this year’s draft, per Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Since it appears unlikely that Deng will stay with Cleveland beyond this season, Kennedy thinks buyers would see value in obtaining him now, while he still has his Bird Rights, to have a leg up on signing him to a long-term contract extension. Deng can be traded a second time this season with some limitations: he cannot be dealt back to the Bulls and he cannot be traded away along with any other Cavs players.
- The Cavs have recalled rookie Sergey Karasev from the D-League, per Cavs.com. Karasev has been in the D-League since being assigned late last month, and has totaled 17 games in his time with the Cavs.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said before tonight’s game against the Mavericks that the chances of Charlotte making a deal soon depends on who’s available and what makes sense. GM Rod Higgins couldn’t put a percentage on the likelihood that something gets done, but went so far as to say “…the thing you should know is we’re definitely shaking the tree (and hope) a trade pans out” (Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer).
You can find several links worth sharing tonight out of Eastern Conference below, including more from the above piece:
- Sorensen hears that the Bobcats are interested in 76ers guard Evan Turner and presumes that Ben Gordon and a first round pick are on the table (whether it’s the one owed to them by the Trail Blazers or Pistons is unclear).
- Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears says that in addition to Turner, Thaddeus Young is another starter who could be moved soon.
- Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW shared some of what he’s heard from around the Eastern Conference: Turner and Spencer Hawes are the most likely to be traded from Philadelphia; the Celtics are reportedly bound and determined to make moves before the deadline; the Cavaliers think pretty highly enough of their key pieces and aren’t likely to deal them for anything less for a “king’s ransom.”
- Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony tells Fred Kerber of the New York Post that tales of stars trying to make recruiting pitches during the All-Star break are blown out of proportion by the media and says it “never happens.”
- Earlier tonight, we relayed a piece from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports about the Cavs’ recent misfortune over the last few years. Another interesting thing to note is about how Anthony Bennett – who aside from his double-double performance tonight has otherwise failed to impress this season – would likely have fallen into the back end of the top 10 picks or further on draft night if Cleveland didn’t select him first overall.
Going into the 2013 NBA draft, experts had viewed it as one of the weakest in recent memory. There was no franchise savior available, and the lottery was looked on as a guessing game at best. A little more than halfway through the season, the rookie class hasn’t done anything to dispel this notion. Outside of Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, there hasn’t been much rookie production. Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders.com believes there are five rookies who might be able to turn their seasons around. The players he examines in the piece are Anthony Bennett, Cody Zeller, Ben McLemore, Alex Len, and Otto Porter.
More from around the league:
- Free agent center Marcus Camby is progressing in his rehabilitation from foot surgery and expects to be fully healthy by February’s end to join an NBA team, a league source told Shams Charania of RealGM. The 39-year-old, who would become the second-oldest player in the league behind Steve Nash, averaged 1.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24 games with the Knicks last season.
- German team Medi Bayreuth and Will Conroy have parted ways, according to an announcement on the club’s official website translated by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 31-year-old, who was averaging 5.2 PPG across nine games, is already working out with another German team and is likely to sign for the rest of the season, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com.
- A Western Conference executive tells Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News that he expects more coaches to lose their jobs now that Maurice Cheeks has lost his. That’s a grim sign for Mike Woodson, Lawrence observes.
- It was previously thought that the NBPA would vote on a new union leader in New Orleans during the All-Star break but the latest signals suggest that won’t take place, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. There’s a push from some in the union to start the search over from scratch.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The leading story in the Central Division, and around the NBA, surrounds Kyrie Irving and his alleged discontent with the Cavaliers. It’s in the team’s best interests to mend fences with the star point guard, as multiple Cleveland-area writers have written, but the Cavs still wield most, if not all of the leverage. Irving would be a “raving lunatic” if he passed up a max extension from the team this summer, opines Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Here’s more on the Cavs and their Central Division rivals:
- The Bulls have no immediate plans to re-sign Cartier Martin, whose second 10-day contract expired this week, but Tom Thibodeau won’t rule out the idea of bringing him back later this season, notes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- In the same piece, Thibodeau admits that Derrick Rose could begin practicing with the team later this season. The Bulls have maintained that Rose is out for the season, but Rose has left the door open for a return during the playoffs.
- Executives around the league believe the Cavs are hesitant to send No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett to the D-League because they think it would look like an admission of failure on their part, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com.
- With landing the No. 1 pick seemingly the best-case scenario for the Bucks this year, Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel explains that it’s no panacea.
The Cavaliers will take the court this evening against the Suns, but prior to the game, two of Cleveland’s beat writers discussed the current state of the Cavaliers. Here are a few takeaways from their discussions:
- It is unlikely LeBron James will return to Cleveland, according to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald. Finnan is hearing from many around the league who “now think Heat forward LeBron James will take a pass on returning to the Cavaliers in free agency this summer.” Finnan thinks it becomes “extremely tough” for LeBron to leave Miami if the Heat are able to win a third consecutive NBA title this season.
- Finnan also dismisses the rumors that the Cavaliers may try to sign Luol Deng and James this offseason. According to him, there isn’t a way for the Cavaliers to do that without “dump[ing] some major contracts this summer.” It is Finnan’s opinion that Cleveland’s best odds of resigning Deng are through an extension this season, but he believes Deng does not seem interested in that option.
- Kyrie Irving will likely have the chance to sign a max extension this summer with the Cavaliers, but Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal wonders if he has earned that contract. Lloyd examines Irving’s value similar to how Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune evaluated Kevin Love last night and points out the Cavaliers are 80-193 since Irving’s arrival. Lloyd places partial blame on Cleveland’s failure to provide Irving much help of late but reiterates the All-Star has to take some of the blame if “he is truly the leader.” Lloyd urges the Cavaliers to begin holding Irving accountable instead of “anoint[ing] him the Big Man on Campus immediately upon [his arrival].” This summer’s negotiations between the Cavs and Irving will be a strong indicator as to what level of accountability the organization will place on the 21-year-old.
- It seems the Cavaliers are not alone in their surprise as to how Anthony Bennett‘s season has transpired. In a separate piece, Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal has heard from teams around the league that they had Bennett as a top 10 draft choice and “no one has [told Lloyd] they saw this coming.” Lloyd also adds that for the current time Bennett is “not going [to the D-League], period.”
A couple of former D-League players inked 10-day contracts earlier today: Dewayne Dedmon officially signed his second such pact this season with the Sixers, and Othyus Jeffers jumped on board with the Spurs to help provide some depth off the bench while the squad deals with an injury to Kawhi Leonard. Here are a few more D-League-related tidbits:
- Undrafted free agent Kenny Kadji has been acquired by the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, hears Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. Kadji spent his training camp playing with the Cavaliers, but he failed to make the opening day roster. The big man out of Miami is still free to sign with any NBA team.
- Cavaliers coach Mike Brown told reporters, including Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer, that Anthony Bennett won’t be heading to the D-League any time soon. Bennett hasn’t played in the Cavs’ last five contests and has struggled throughout his rookie season after being selected first overall in last summer’s draft.
- Kendall Marshall is unsure if he will be a member of the Lakers after this season, but he credits the D-League for keeping him in shape and helping him land a spot in Los Angeles (Twitter links via Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders). Marshall signed a deal to play for LA through the remainder of year after a rash of injuries in the club’s backcourt left them without much depth.
- Another tweet from Kyler reveals that Manny Harris praised the D-League for helping him display his skills and eventually get a 10-day deal with the Lakers. Harris, like Marshall, is also unsure of his future in Lakerland, but it was revealed last night that he might be soon receiving another 10-day contract offer from the team.
Instead of coming back and playing for the Lakers chances to play in June for a 17th NBA Championship, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times thinks Kobe Bryant should “play for June” by not coming back from his injury this season and hurting the Lakers June draft position. Plaschke believes the Lakers chances of winning it all this season are impossible so any improvement Kobe would bring hurts their draft chances this summer.
A few other notes about players that will be playing in the NBA for years to come.
- Joel Embiid is a player that has rapidly climbed in draft stock this season. One person whose draft board he hasn’t risen on is Bill Self, his coach at Kansas, and that’s because he has always been at the top of Self’s draft board. Self told Eric Prisbell of USA TODAY that he informed Embiid the moment he stepped on campus that he would be the No. 1 pick, whenever Embiid decided to come out (Twitter link).
- The Rockets have called up Robert Covington from their D-League affiliate according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The rookie scored 33 points Friday for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and was on Houston’s active roster Saturday night. Coming into tonight, Covington had yet to log any minutes in the NBA.
- Someone who may be heading to the D-League is Cavaliers rookie Anthony Bennett. According to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald, Cleveland needs to send Bennett to their D-League affiliate in order to rectify what has gone wrong this season.
Detroit’s “Big Three” of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, and Andre Drummond haven’t been as successful as Joe Dumars anticipated writes Zach Lowe of Grantland. His offseason signing of Smith to a four-year, $54MM contract has resulted in a 16-22 record and has them currently sitting as the seventh seed in the weak Eastern Conference, just a half a game up on the Nets in the playoff race. This underachieving calls into question Monroe’s future with the team, with his contract set to expire after the season. The other alternative according to Lowe, is to try and find a taker for Smith, no easy feat considering the size of his deal. Smith said “It’s easy to use me as a scapegoat“, when speaking to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Zillgitt opines that improved shot selection from Smith would go a long way toward improving the team.
Some other notes from around the Eastern Conference:
- Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel explores the idea of the Magic possibly trading Arron Afflalo. He says the main difficulty in making a trade is that teams want to get him for pennies on the dollar, and aren’t willing to sacrifice young players or draft picks, which would be the primary goal if a trade was made.
- Greg Oden made his return to the hardwood this evening for the Heat, his first action since 2009, writes Joseph White of the Associated Press. His performance going forward will have a direct bearing on the possibility of the Heat signing Andrew Bynum.
- The Cavaliers’ struggling number one overall pick, Anthony Bennett, stated he would be open to playing in the D-League, writes Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer. Bennett is averaging 2.4 PPG in just 10.4 MPG. His playing time doesn’t look likely to increase any time soon with the recent acquisition of Luol Deng. A stint in the D-League, and the chance to log some heavy minutes to get himself going might be just what Bennett needs. Despite Bennett’s willingness to take a trip to the D-League, and the Cavs having had discussions about the move, the team doesn’t have any immediate plans to send him, writes Jason Lloyd of Akron Beacon Journal.
- The Cavaliers have assigned guard/forward Carrick Felix to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, according to a press release. Felix played in six games for the Cavs this season, and averaged 1.5 PPG. In a previous three game stint with the Charge, he averaged 9.3 PPG and 5.3 RPG.
In September the Raptors and rapper Drake agreed to a partnership in preparation for the Raptors 20th anniversary and the 2016 All-Star game. A product of that partnership was tonight’s game being labeled “Drake Night” featuring among other festivities, Drake announcing Toronto’s starting line up. Prior to the evening, Drake held a press conference in which he disclosed (Twitter Link) to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun that he has weekly discussions with Raptors GM Masai Ujiri and CEO Tim Leiweke. Whether Drake is the one advising the Raptors to “start from the bottom” and draft Andrew Wiggins next summer is still to be seen.
- Speaking of Raptors transactions, Sean Highkin of USA Today describes how Toronto has changed for the better since the Rudy Gay trade. Additionally, Highkin points out the Raptors aren’t the only one doing better as Gay himself has improved since joining the Kings.
- Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times examined the contract situations for the impact players on the Sixers to preview what next year’s lineup could look like. Moore is of the belief that the current roster, two lottery picks, and $30MM in available free agency money isn’t enough to solve the Sixers missing pieces.
- Now that the dust has settled from the Cavaliers trade for Luol Deng, Bob Finnan of The News-Herald details what Deng will be seeking in free agency next summer. Finnan believes the Cavaliers won’t be able to keep Deng around if he becomes an unrestricted free agent so Cleveland will have to try their best to extend Deng for the maximum three-years, $49.5MM before June 30th. Deng has already shown by turning down Chicago’s extension offer that he believes his value is above $10MM per year but has repeatedly denied ever asking for a deal near $15MM a year.
- Finnan also evaluates what Andrew Bynum‘s options may be with his upcoming free agent decision. It looks like the Heat may still be a favorite. The Pacers and Rockets are also being rumored as options according to Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer.
- Cavaliers GM Chris Grant didn’t rule out the possibility of another trade prior to the deadline but he did tell Boyer of The Plain Dealer that his preference is to not be active and let the guys “settle in and learn”. In relation to settling in, Boyer also believes the Cavs plan to stick long term with both Anthony Bennett and Anderson Varejao.