The Cavaliers missed the playoffs and have already hired Mike Brown as their new coach. The draft lottery, in which they'll have a 15.6% chance at the top pick, is more than three weeks away. Still, the rumor mill is far from dry in Cleveland. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald rounds up the latest:
- Finnan doesn't believe rumors that the Cavs are willing to part with young talent like Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson in return for All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love, in part because Cleveland would have to give up too much to swing such a deal.
- Finnan thinks Marreese Speights might not fit the Cavs culture, and the scribe believes the team is hoping Speights turns down his $4.515MM player option for next season.
- A source tells Finnan that Shaun Livingston will likely ask for $3MM to $4MM this summer and settle for $2MM to $2.5MM.
- It's no longer a given that the Cavs will bring back C.J. Miles next season. His $2.225MM contract for 2013/14 is fully non-guaranteed.
- John Kuester has been expected to join new Brown's staff, but sources tell Finnan he might be reluctant to coach again in the NBA after negative experiences as head coach of the Pistons and as an assistant with the Lakers.
- Donyell Marshall, a player under Brown from 2005 to 2008, has likely inquired about a position on Brown's coaching staff, according to Finnan, who suggests Eric Snow, Jamahl Mosley, Nate Tibbetts and Alex Jensen as other possible assistant coaching candidates for the team.
The Cavaliers have 16 games left in the season, and with the team out of the playoff race, they'll amount to auditions for many of the players whose status for next season is uncertain. Only half of the members of the team's current 14-man roster possess either fully guaranteed deals or a player option for next season, meaning GM Chris Grant and company have plenty of decisions to make. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald takes a stab at predicting which of the Cavs will return, and he includes a few interesting nuggets, as we highlight here along with other news from Cleveland:
- Coach Byron Scott, on whom there could be pressure to make the playoffs next season, will make about $4.5MM in 2013/14 after the Cavs picked up the option on his contract.
- Finnan expects Marreese Speights to opt out of his $4.515MM deal for next season, and doesn't believe the Cavs will re-sign him at an asking price likely to be in the neighborhood of $5MM.
- Restricted free agent Wayne Ellington is line for a deal similar to the three-year, $9.75MM contract Alonzo Gee received late this summer, Finnan surmises.
- Daniel Gibson, Omri Casspi and Kevin Jones are long shots to return, according to Finnan.
- The Rockets and Lakers had interest in C.J. Miles before he signed with the Cavs last summer, notes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Miles said the uncertainty surrounding L.A.'s pursuit of Dwight Howard dissuaded him from joining the purple-and-gold. Miles' deal is non-guaranteed for next season, and while he hopes Cleveland retains him, he isn't worried about his free agent prospects if they don't.
The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto believes that the Cavaliers will have to tread carefully with Kyrie Irving's health, as he says that the young star has missed a significant amount of time over his first two seasons due to several different basketball-related injuries. Whether it involves reducing his minutes or learning how to manage his game to take less hits, Irving's durability will have to take top priority for Byron Scott and the organization, opines Pluto. Here are a handful of more significant notes about the Cavs from his column on Cleveland sports:
- The team will likely part ways with Daniel Gibson this summer, when the 6'2 guard is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
- Wayne Ellington, a restricted free agent, will probably be re-signed.
- C.J. Miles has a $2.25MM team option and will likely be kept.
- Whether or not the Cavaliers keep Shaun Livingston will depend on the price that the market sets for him.
- While Dion Waiters is still prone to making rookie mistakes, the rookie out of Syracuse has made noticeable improvements over the course of the season. With Kyrie out of the lineup, Pluto thinks this will be a key opportunity for Waiters to handle the ball more.
- Although the team's biggest needs include a small forward or a big man, Irving's injuries may prompt the team to draft a guard in June.
With LeBron James
currently slated to become a free agent in 2014, Mary Schmitt-Boyer of The Plain Dealer
thinks that speculation about a possible return to the Cavaliers
could become a hot topic over the next 18 months. Don't count former Cleveland guard Mo Williams
among those who thinks about the notion much, telling Schmitt-Boyer when asked about the possibility of LeBron's homecoming
: "I don't know, I don't know. I think that is a question for him only."
Here's more links from the rest of the NBA tonight:
The Thunder have an eight-game lead on the Nuggets in the Northwest Division, but that says more about Oklahoma City's brilliance this season than it does about their competition in the Northwest. It's the only division with four teams above .500. The Timberwolves, at 16-20, might be a winning team, too, if not for all their injuries. Before news broke that the league will allow Minnesota to sign an extra player to compensate, we rounded up several Wolves rumors. Now we'll do the same for a couple of their Northwest Division rivals.
- Nuggets coach George Karl said last year's trade of Nene Hilario "had to be made," explaining that, among other factors, the team needed him to be more assertive, as Michael Lee of the Washington Post details. "The situation came down to, when you’re reshaping a team, it’s better to go younger and that’s the choice management made and I was supportive of that," Karl also said.
- JaVale McGee was the younger player the Nuggets received in that deal, and in a separate piece, Lee rounds up Karl's comments about what JaVale McGee needs to do to earn minutes in line with the team's expectations after signing him to a $44MM deal this summer.
- Cavs small forward C.J. Miles said over the summer that comments he made suggesting a disconnect between Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and his players were taken out of context. As he prepares to face his former team, Miles added that he has "nothing but love" for his former boss. Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal has the story.
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel believes that although Magic coach Jacque Vaughn would preferably bring young players along slowly to gradually build their confidence, he may have to expand the roles of rookies Moe Harkless and DeQuan Jones much earlier than he would like now that Hedo Turkoglu is out with an injury. Here is the rest of tonight's edition of Eastern Notes:
76ers point guard Jrue Holiday enters his fourth season as the youngest starting floor general in the Atlantic Division, and head coach Doug Collins appears confident in giving him the reigns to Philadelphia's offense: "I want that ball in Jrue's hands...I want our wings getting down the floor, I want Jrue to be the one getting that ball and pushing it. For the most part I want our guys sprinting the floor, getting down the floor and flattening it out and let Jrue come down and make plays." Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com also points out that the team now has more capable perimeter shooters compared to having to rely on multiple playmakers last year, which implicitly benefits the spacing on the floor and allows Holiday more room to operate. Here are a few more notes out of the Eastern Conference:
- Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago chronicles the shooting struggles of Marco Belinelli during the preseason, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't appear too concerned.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun believes that the Raptors could have one of the better combinations of reserve players in the league this season.
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday says that Knicks guard/forward Ronnie Brewer will go through contact work during Sunday's practice and could play as soon as Monday night if he doesn't feel any pain. The 6'7 veteran has been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery in early September.
- Heat sharpshooter Mike Miller looks forward to playing a full season this year, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes that he is the healthiest he's been in two seasons.
- Newsday's Al Iannazone provided an update on Rasheed Wallace, who according to Knicks head coach Mike Woodson is still doing conditioning work and will be re-evaluated on Tuesday after the team returns from its current pre-season road trip (Sulia link). Woodson hinted that the team may play Wallace next week in order to get an idea of his progression.
Shams Charania of RealGM had a few interesting tidbits to relay from Bulls camp, writing about how coach Tom Thibodeau personally recruited Nate Robinson, Andre Emmett's fight to earn a contract during training camp and his willingness to sign with the team at any point during the season, and coach Thibodeau's aim to maintain Joakim Noah's minutes during the season. We have quite a few more links to share with news from the Central Division...
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes that despite losing many rotation players from last year's team, Thibodeau likes the versatility of the team's new additions and the flexibility of the roster overall.
- Pacers insider Mike Wells of IndyStar.com breaks down what he will pay attention to during the team's scrimmage on Friday, particularly Roy Hibbert's positioning, the play of the reserves, Paul George's ball-handling, and how the rookies fare.
- Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio listed some of his early observations from Cavaliers training camp early on, saying that Dion Waiters' conditioning is not an issue, C.J. Miles is standing out as a perimeter shooting threat, Samardo Samuels and Jon Leuer appear to have earned significant roles, and that the team will have tough roster decisions to make by the end of camp.
- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott appears especially impressed with Leuer, who the team had claimed off waivers in July. "I just don't think he knows how good he can be," said Scott (according to a tweet by Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer). Jason Lloyd of the Beacon Journal elaborates about Samuels' hard work this past summer, shedding 20 pounds since the end of last season and has cut down his body fat from 15 percent to between six and seven percent.
- Jonny Flynn and Terrence Williams, the sixth and ninth picks of the 2009 NBA draft respectively, find themselves vying for guaranteed contracts on the Pistons roster. David Mayo of MLive.com writes about their thoughts on the opportunity as well as head coach Lawrence Frank's firm belief that both are NBA players. Frank says that he's liked what he's seen from Flynn and Williams in camp so far, even pointing out that he sees Williams as a point guard (and not a wing player).
Let's round up a few Thursday afternoon updates from around the Eastern Conference:
An August free agent signee, C.J. Miles could be on the market again a year from now, considering the two-year deal he signed with the Cavaliers isn't guaranteed for the second season. For now though, Miles is focusing on the 2012/13 campaign, and making the transition to Cleveland from Utah, where he'd spent his entire NBA career. Miles spoke to Yannis Koutroupis of HoopsWorld about his decision to sign with the Cavs, his issues in Utah with head coach Tyrone Corbin, and his expectations for the upcoming year. Here are a few of the notable quotes from Miles:
On being an unrestricted free agent for the first time:
"It was different. Seven years in the same place, I pretty much knew where I was going to be
every summer coming out. This was the first summer I wasn’t restricted
so I kind of had more power as far as going into the decision where I
was going to be at. With Cleveland it was just about making the right
basketball decision for myself. I felt it wasn’t about money; it wasn’t
about anything but basketball. I felt like being able to grow more as a
player and being able to find a place where they’re building a young
core, to step in, help, and grow myself was a complete deal."
On the similarities between the present-day Cavs and the Thunder circa 2008, when Miles signed an offer sheet with OKC:
"It’s a lot like that, I feel. Honestly, I’m a couple years
older, but other than that it’s a similar situation. They have similar
types of pieces with Kyrie [Irving] there, drafting Dion [Waiters] this
year, and drafting Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson, there are a lot of
young guys on the team. I’m one of the older guys and I’m 25 so that
just lets you know where we stand with that. I think the oldest guy is
Anderson [Varejao] and he’s 29."
On his comments about poor communication in Utah under Corbin, and not knowing what was expected of him with the Jazz:
"With the coach Corbin thing the way it happened, I felt like the
things I said were taken (out of context), like everything I said
wasn’t said. I just felt like they asked me questions and I answered
them truthfully with what I thought. I felt like where you have a
situation where everyone is young from the head coach all the way down
to the players at the end of the bench, there’s going to be times where
people are lost and not know what’s going on. They asked me what I felt
like could have been different and that’s what I said."
On his expectations for the Cavs this season:
"I feel like we’re one of those teams where obviously we’re not going to
be talked about going into it but as far as players and guys in the
league know coming into that gym or playing against us, it’s not going
to be an easy game. We’re at that step now where we’re
going to be able to take a step where we can fight for the seventh,
eighth seed and that first or second team is worried about coming in to
play us; worried that it could be an upset because we don’t have
anything to lose."