Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Korver, Tucker, Shumpert

It will be a long time before J.R. Smith is back in uniform for the Cavaliers, writes Joe Vardon of The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Smith, who broke his right thumb December 20th, has a doctor’s appointment today and hopes to be cleared to start cardio work. But basketball drills are a long way off as the thumb continues to heal. Smith was given a 12- to 14-week prognosis after suffering the injury, which would put him on track for a return in late March or early April, right before the playoffs begin. “I need to be able to do something to get my heart rate up before I can even think about playing again,” said Smith, who signed a four-year, $57MM deal before the season started. “It’s crazy cuz it’s still a long ways away. From when I start being able to work out, it’s still a long ways away from me being able to get on the court.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Smith gave his approval to the deal that brought Kyle Korver to the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same piece. Korver is averaging 8.4 points in five games since the trade and has given the team another outside shooter to make up for Smith’s absence. “He’s good,” Smith said. “Space the floor. Gives a great effort on the defensive end. And we really need the shooting.”
  • The Cavaliers are among the teams rumored to be interested in Suns’ forward P.J. Tucker, but Sam Amico of Amicohoops doesn’t see Tucker as a good fit in Cleveland. Phoenix is looking for young players and draft picks, which the Cavs don’t really have to offer, and he wouldn’t be guaranteed playing time with Cleveland’s current roster.
  • Iman Shumpert has scored in double figures in all three games since replacing DeAndre Liggins in the starting lineup last week, notes Chris Fedor of The Plain Dealer. Shumpert had a season-high 17 points in Thursday’s win over Phoenix. “He started off the season shooting the ball great and I thought in the second lineup trying to have him play the backup point asking him to do too much,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “Now he’s back in his comfort zone.”

P.J. Tucker Drawing Trade Interest

The market for P.J. Tucker, who is on track for unrestricted free agency this summer, is growing and several teams hold interest in acquiring the veteran small forward, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM reports. The Clippers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks all have interest in trading for Tucker, who is known for is defensive prowess, Gambadoro reports.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Knicks had interest in Tucker as well, but Gambadoro did not add New York to his list. Gambadoro cautions that a trade may not get done for a few reasons. The main one seems to be that Phoenix is also interested in re-signing Tucker because it does not have another player like him with his defensive and rebounding abilities, Gambadoro writes. Unless the Suns are confident they can re-sign him, however, it makes to shop him around.

The Suns likely aren’t willing to part with Tucker unless they can get a first-round pick or good prospect in return, Gambadoro reports, and for a team like the Clippers, that may be a deal-breaker, considering Tucker is only a marginal upgrade over someone like Wesley Johnson. This is simply my speculation, but of the teams listed, a larger trade would likely have to take place for it to make sense because those clubs do not have much to offer in terms of draft picks or young talent.

Tucker has made only 17 starts for the Suns this season, but has appeared in 41 games. His minutes are down a bit at 27.4 per game. Never known as a particularly strong shooter, Tucker is averaging 6.3 points per game and is attempting 5.7 field goals per game. His 5.7 rebounds per game is lower than any of his averages in that category in his three previous seasons with the Suns.

Korver Feeling More Comfortable With Cavs

  • The Cavaliers are just 1-3 since trading for Kyle Korver, but the veteran shooter believes he and the team are adjusting to each other, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Cavs just returned from a long road trip, giving Korver his first chance to get a taste of life in his new home. “It’s great to have a practice here in Cleveland,” he said. “… The more time we spend together, the better chemistry we’re going to have. A lot of what my game is based on chemistry. Getting a good feel for the guys, me getting a feel for them, them getting a feel for me and how I play. Every day gets a little better.” 

Revisiting Cleveland's Choice To Draft Bennett

The Cavs considered as many as six prospects for the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, but a number of factors led the team to pass on five of them and draft Anthony Bennett, as Sam Vecenie of The Sporting News details. Nerlens Noel and Alex Len were unable to work out for Cleveland due to injury. Otto Porter and Victor Oladipo were viewed as players with limited ceilings, which didn’t entice the team and Ben McLemore showed up to workouts overweight and unprepared, which took him out of the running for the No. 1 overall pick.

An anonymous league executive tells Vecenie that the lack of quality options at the top of the draft led the Cavs “to talk themselves into a guy they knew had flaws.”

  • One anonymous scout within the league believes the Cavs never got the full story on Bennett when they conducted their pre-draft research, Vecenie writes in the same piece. “I don’t think they got the full scoop on [Bennett],” a scout told Vecenie “UNLV’s staff would say nice things about people. They tolerate a lot. The Cavs got a rosy version of his work ethic and attitude.”

Five Ways Cavs Could Address Backup PG Spot

Seven months after defeating the Warriors in the NBA Finals, the Cavaliers remain the class of the East, but Monday’s blowout loss to Golden State served as a reminder that Cleveland can’t afford to simply stand pat and hope to repeat as champions this spring.

Upgrading the roster in certain areas remains a priority for the team, and while LeBron James and GM David Griffin have a difference in opinion on the need for another big man, they agree that the Cavs could use a veteran point guard to take some pressure off of LeBron and Kyrie Irving.

Earlier in the season, the Cavs were getting by with their in-house options at the point behind Irving. Guys like Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith aren’t point guards, but they’re capable of handling the ball and making some plays for short stretches during games. James will also take over point guard duties for several possessions over the course of a game. And while rookie Kay Felder probably isn’t ready to take on a significant role quite yet, he has shown flashes of promise when he has gotten a chance to play.

Still, with Smith sidelined and Felder still not quite ready, the Cavs will be monitoring the trade and free agent markets in the coming weeks for point guard solutions. After making a two-for-one trade with the Hawks, Cleveland has an open roster spot, giving the club some flexibility to address the backup PG spot in a number of ways.

Here are a few possible directions the team will likely consider, along with the pros and cons of each approach:Read more

David Griffin Talks Cavs, Roster Moves

When the Cavs decide to sign or trade for a player, LeBron James is often credited with the orchestration of the roster move. GM David Griffin isn’t upset by the notion that a player is doing his job, though he does believe it’s unfair for outsiders to paint James as someone who is constantly pushing the buttons behind the scenes, as he tells Michael Lee of The Vertical.

“I take offense to it on [James’] behalf at times,” Griffin said. “He doesn’t like that image. I don’t think he wants that image. He wants to lead his troops. He wants to be a player. He wants to lead the guys from within. He never tried to do any more than that. I think for him, it’s almost an unfair characterization of him, that he’s some kind of overlord. That’s not at all what he does.”

James has publicly lobbied for the organization to add a veteran point guard with his most recent request coming after the team traded for Kyle Korver. Griffin knows the team can get better, despite sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

“We like our group. We think we’ve got a group that belongs together, that fits together,” Griffin told Lee. “But if we can improve and continue to further the cause, then we will. We’ve got that same small window to capitalize in and we’re going to do what we need to, when we can.”

Griffin is well-versed in mid-season moves. Within months of taking the GM position, he traded for Spencer Hawes in hopes of competing for the eighth seed in the conference. During the 2014/15 season, he made a bold move in acquiring J.R. Smith along with Iman Shumpert. Last year, he made an even bolder move by firing David Blatt, a coach who had taken the team to the NBA Finals in the previous season.

“Our ownership has something they fell back on as a saying: ‘Nothing clarifies like clarity.’ We know what we’re about. Our only goal is to win championships. Sometimes, when that’s true, decisions make themselves,” Griffin said of the decision to fire Blatt. “It was not an overly difficult decision to make the move we made; it was just difficult to execute. We had a conversation like, ‘Nobody ever does this.’ And my response was, ‘You don’t know how many teams should have and where they’d be had they done it. I know no one has done it, but I can tell you somebody should have.”

The decision turned out to be the right call, as the Cavs won the championship under new coach Tyronn Lue. This year, the team is looking to go back-to-back and Griffin understands the unique situation he’s in, as he tells Lee in the same piece.

“I’ve said this several times since, but you’re basically charged with the legacy of Babe Ruth, and it’s our responsibility to allow that legacy to grow and evolve,” Griffin told Lee. “So it’s almost like a sacred trust that the kid gives you. He’s so good, in his own right, by himself, that he sort of mandates you have to be a title contender just by his presence alone … and if you don’t capitalize on the years he has left, then shame on us.”

Lee’s piece contains several other quotes from Griffin. It’s worth a read for both Cavs fans and fans of the league in general.

Five Possible Players Cavs Could Add Using TPE

After sneaking into the playoffs and faring as well as anybody could have hoped against the Cavaliers in the first-round, the Pistons have struggled in 2016/17. Heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Lakers, the team was 11th in the Eastern Conference.

James Not Convinced Cavs-Warriors Is Rivalry

It’s no secret that, despite the MVPs, Stephen Curry makes less money than some of his Warriors teammates do. The superstar guard is okay with it. “If I’m complaining about $44MM over four years, then I’ve got other issues in my life,” Curry told the Mercury News in a podcast.

Of course Curry is in line for a hefty pay raise as soon as this summer. Per Chris Haynes of ESPN, Curry will be eligible for a five-year extension worth roughly $210MM and you can be sure that the Warriors will present it to him as soon as they’re able too.

Though it would make little basketball sense for Curry to leave an elite level like a contender, the latest CBA makes it harder to justify on a financial level, too. Were Curry to consider options other than the Warriors, he could only receive $140MM over four years.

Like I’ve said from Day 1, when I was first asked about free agency, this is a perfect place to play. Bay Area fans are amazing, our organization’s amazing, we’ve put together an amazing team that’s competing for championships every year,” Curry said. “There’s really no reason that I can see right now that would draw me elsewhere.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors have seven centers on their roster — eight if you include Draymond GreenTim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson of the Mercury News spoke with assistant general manager Kirk Lacob about how the club structured the roster coming out of training camp and what might come next.
  • Though not as frequently featured on highlight reels as some of his teammates, Luc Mbah a Moute has had a significant impact on the Clippers, writes Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. Head coach Doc Rivers agrees, offering some bold praise about the 30-year-old veteran. “He is one of the best defensive players in the league, bar none, but because he’s not a scorer, no one really notices, but that’s his value to a team.”
  • Despite their consecutive NBA Finals matchups,  LeBron James does not believe the Cavaliers and Warriors have a rivalry. “We’ve had two great Finals appearances the last two years,” James told the media. “But I had the same with San Antonio when I was in Miami. We weren’t rivals. And I think I played those guys more, so I wouldn’t look at it as rivals.”

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 1/15/17

Here are the D-League transactions for the day so far:

5:21pm:

2:15pm:

Cavaliers Notes: Korver, Osman, Shumpert, Brown

The Cavaliers were interested in Kyle Korver long before last week’s trade was completed, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. GM David Griffin had been asking the Hawks about Korver for the past 12 months, and former GM Chris Grant tried to sign him in 2013, offering more than the four-year, $24MM deal he accepted from the Hawks. The Cavaliers believed they needed to acquire a shooter as quickly as possible after J.R. Smith had surgery on a broken thumb and Mike Dunleavy Jr. was unable to fit into the offense. Korver, 35, is headed for free agency in the offseason and didn’t fit into Atlanta’s long-term plans.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers refused to part with draft-and-stash prospect Cedi Osman in the trade, Pluto adds in the same piece. The 21-year-old wing plays for Anadolu Efes in Turkey and has developed into one of the best prospects in Europe. He wants to join the NBA next season and the Cavs told the Hawks he wasn’t available.
  • The addition of Korver allowed coach Tyronn Lue to insert Iman Shumpert into the starting lineup, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Shumpert is an improvement over DeAndre Liggins, but Lloyd says Lue was hesitant to start him because he feared the second unit would be too thin. Smith may ultimately reclaim the starting spot, but he isn’t expected back until April. The Cavs started installing plays for Korver at Friday’s walkthrough, and Lue likes the idea of teaming him with LeBron James when the reserves are in the game.
  • Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown talks in depth about his two stints in Cleveland in an interview with Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News. Now the lead assistant in Golden State, Brown reportedly had trouble connecting with Kyrie Irving and was fired for a second time in 2014 when Irving was eligible for a contract extension.

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