Cleveland Cavaliers

Austin Daye To Play In Italy

Small forward Austin Daye has signed with the Italian club Victoria Libertas Pesaro, the team announced (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). The length and terms of the arrangement are not yet known, nor if Daye’s pact includes an NBA out clause.

The 27-year-old was waived by the Hawks back in July in an effort to clear cap space. Daye’s salary was non-guaranteed, but releasing him cleared away his $1,185,784 cap hold from Atlanta’s books, which it needed to re-sign of Paul Millsap and trade for Tiago Splitter. The forward then signed with the Cavaliers back in September on a non-guaranteed deal but didn’t snag a regular season roster slot and was subsequently waived in October. The former 15th overall pick averaged 5.0 points in 11.9 minutes per game in six preseason appearances for Cleveland.

Daye has made 293 career regular season appearances in the NBA over the span of his six year career. His averages per contest are 5.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists with a slash line of .402/.351/.778.

Eastern Notes: Batum, Clifford, James

Hornets coach Steve Clifford‘s new contract extension could enhance the team’s chance of re-signing swingman Nicolas Batum, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer notes (Twitter links). “He trusts me. He believes in me. So that could be a big factor,” Batum said when discussing his upcoming free agent decision. Batum was acquired from Portland this past summer in exchange for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson.

Here’s more from the East:

  • The first three years of Clifford’s extension are fully guaranteed, with the final season in 2019/20 a team option, Bonnell tweets.
  • The Cavaliers held a players-only meeting after their Wednesday night loss to the Raptors, and LeBron James and James Jones both chastised the squad for its inconsistent play and effort, Dave McMenamin of writes. “It’s all mindset,” James said after the game. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it; my upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.” LeBron also noted that the Eastern Conference, which has been much-maligned for being mediocre the past few seasons, is greatly improved this year, McMenamin relays. “There’s always been a lot of shade thrown at our conference the last few years, so it’s great to see that our side is definitely picking it up and playing at a high level,” James said.
  • Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis is winning over the team’s fans, but he still hasn’t forgotten that his draft selection was met with boos when first announced, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “It still sits inside of you a bit,’’ Porzingis said of the boos. “It’s not a good feeling when you get booed. But I don’t want to be good because somebody booed me. I want to be great player because that’s the way I am. It definitely gave me extra motivation.’’

Eastern Notes: Monroe, Irving, Stoudemire

Greg Monroe believes his departure from the Pistons played a role in Andre Drummond‘s ascension as the NBA’s leading per-game rebounder, as Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press details. The Pistons replaced Monroe, who averaged 10.2 rebounds alongside Drummond, with trade acquisition Ersan Ilyasova, who’s averaging only 3.6.

“When you have someone you’re playing with that averages 10 rebounds, too, you’re going to get a few less rebounds,” Monroe said. “There’s a lot more rebounds available, so he’s gonna get more. It’s not surprising to me at all. He’s always had that motor. He’s always had that hunger to rebound.”

Drummond’s average on the boards has jumped from 13.5 last season to 17.6 this year. See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Kyrie Irving is expected to return for the Cavaliers before January, a source tells Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link). Concerns that his absence would linger into the new year existed over the summer.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire calls it a “long shot,” but he won’t rule out playing next season with Hapoel Jerusalem, the Israeli team in which he has an ownership stake, notes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Stoudemire is on a one-year deal with the Heat“I had a pretty strong 14-year career so far,’’ Stoudemire said. “Right now I’m taking it one day at a time, one season at a time. I don’t know how much time left I have as a player. I’m just cherishing the moment and try to develop the young guys.’’
  • Offseason trade addition Jared Dudley is a smaller version of Nene in many ways, observes J. Michael of Dudley insists that Nene, a free agent at season’s end, remains an integral part of the Wizards in spite of his reduced role, as Michael relays. “Offensively, it starts with Nene,” Dudley said. “He’s the one guy [on the second unit] that can get his own shot and then we move the ball. Me being the four, when I get the ball even when I’m open sometimes it’s getting the ball side to side and getting other guys involved.”

Central Notes: Copeland, Blatt, Smith, Vogel

The Pacers didn’t try to re-sign Chris Copeland this past offseason, but they still gave him access to their training staff after his contract ended on July 1st, writes Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star. Copeland, who signed a one-year deal with the Bucks on July 29th, is grateful for the help he needed to recover from the injuries that he suffered when he was stabbed outside a New York City nightclub in April, as Buckner details.

“I was just blessed to have guys like [Pacers president of basketball operations] Larry Bird and the training staff who stuck with me way past when they had to,” Copeland said. “Legally by July 1st they’re not obligated to do anything, but those guys took care of me. They did more than they needed to. That’s why I’m forever in their debt. I appreciate the type of people that I was [around] for the last two years.”

See more on the Pacers amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers made it a point to improve their depth in the offseason, in spite of the tax implications, and they’ve benefited from the strategy in the season’s first month, notes Dave McMenamin of“I think that we went through a year last year where we put ourselves in a great position and had a tremendous season and a tremendous opportunity, then at the very end we fell prey to the lack of depth,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “And we addressed it this summer. Obviously up to this point in the season, it’s really paid off for us because the guys that we brought in are major contributors and the guys that stayed obviously are high-level people and high-level basketball players.”
  • J.R. Smith, who re-signed with the Cavs this summer after a midseason trade, credits the team and Cleveland at large for greeting him with a level of acceptance he hasn’t found elsewhere in the NBA, he tells McMenamin for a separate piece, calling it “first place I’ve been where I’ve started off with a clean sheet.”
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel is pleased with the contribution he’s seeing from the back end of his roster, quipping that Bird “gave me too many good players,” notes Mark Montieth of

And-Ones: Sixers, Bucks, Stoudemire

One reason why the Sixers are the worst team in the league right now is because almost half the team’s salary (which is close to $60MM) is going to players no longer on the roster, Michael Schwartz of details. Perhaps even more startling, 17 players make more this season than the combined salaries of the Sixers players who have taken the court this season, according to Schwartz. While the present is dreadful, the future seems bright, Schwartz writes, because the Sixers could own up to four first-round draft picks in the 2016 draft and already have five draft picks from the past three drafts under team control.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Bucks have assigned Damien Inglis to the Canton Charge of the D-League, Milwaukee announced in a press release. Inglis is headed to the Cavs affiliate as part of the flexible assignment rule since the Bucks are without a one-to-one partnership with a D-League team. Inglis has appeared in five games for the Bucks this season and averaged 1.6 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire believes his lack of playing time is part of a bigger plan to preserve his body, Marc Berman of the New York Post relays. Stoudemire has played in only two games with the Heat despite saying he is healthy, Berman notes. “We’ve got a big picture in mind,” Stoudemire said. “We know we want to be there in the postseason. We want guys to stay healthy. Now, it’s not about wearing somebody down during the regular season. It’s about really just keeping the maintenance program and making sure we’re at 100% strength by the playoffs.” The veteran power forward inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Miami this past summer.
  • David West, who signed with the Spurs for $1.5MM as a backup instead of staying with the Pacers for $12MM, is playing well while filling in for LaMarcus Aldridge, who remains sidelined, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Cavaliers Notes: Irving, Blatt, Smith, James

The Cavaliers aren’t ready to set a date for his return, but injured point guard Kyrie Irving is making significant progress, writes Dave McMenamin of Irving hasn’t played since fracturing his left kneecap in the NBA Finals, but the team is encouraged with his rehab work. “He has advanced to running plays 5-on-0. He’s doing some light 1-on-1 contact drills. He’s certainly taking some steps forward,” coach David Blatt said Saturday. “Again, can I put a number on it in terms of days left until we see him back out there fully? I really can’t. I’m not trying to keep it from you. I just don’t know. But definitely seeing progress in the last few days and that’s encouraging.” A source told McMenamin that Irving won’t join the Cavs on their road trip next week, but he could be with the team when it travels to Orlando and Boston starting December 10th.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • In his second season as coach, Blatt is now comfortable enough to take a public swipe — even if it’s humorous — at LeBron James, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Angered by an errant pass, James subbed out of Saturday’s game and walked to the bench while play continued. The Cavs were called for a technical foul for having just four players on the court. “He was frustrated, knew we weren’t playing right and thought we were playing hockey. Hockey sub,” Blatt said afterward. “I understand his frustration but obviously you shouldn’t do that.”
  • The Cavaliers don’t seem concerned about allegations that J.R. Smith choked a man in New York last week, Lloyd writes in the same story. Smith is denying the charge and explained his version of the incident to the team. “Things aren’t being reported the right way,” he said.
  • Injuries are getting in the way of the plan to reduce James’ regular-season workload, according to Joe Vardon of Starters Timofey Mozgov and Mo Williams are both currently sidelined, joining Irving and Iman Shumpert, who haven’t played yet this season. As a result, James is averaging 36.5 minutes per game, up slightly from last year. “We definitely don’t want to keep putting ourselves in this position but one thing you can’t control is injuries,” James said.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Stoudemire, Dudley

Despite beginning their inaugural campaign winless, the Raptors‘ D-League affiliate isn’t going to judge its success based on winning percentage, but rather by how well it develops the franchise’s young talent like Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira, Josh Lewenberg of writes. “It’s hard because so much in professional basketball is gauged on wins and losses, and it’s just not that way here,” said Raptors 905 coach Jesse Mermuys. “That’s not the goal and so really if we start getting guys called up, then we’re having success. And if we start losing players to other teams and for some reason Lucas and Bruno are able to enter a [NBA] game this season for whatever reason and perform at a decent level, then it’s a success. We’re just going to really focus on the players, put the players’ development in the forefront. That’s a hard thing for a coach to do but I’m fully aware of it. I’m committed to it.

Here’s more from the East:

  • The Cavaliers have assigned shooting guard Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be the second jaunt of the season to Canton for Harris.
  • Heat power forward Amar’e Stoudemire has only made two appearances this season and says that keeping himself prepared for this type of role is the most difficult thing that he has had to do in his career, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald tweets. The veteran big man inked a one-year, $1.5MM deal with Miami this past summer.
  • Jared Dudley is finally healthy and he is beginning to make an impact on the court for the Wizards, but despite the swingman being primarily known as a scorer, he’s finding other ways to contribute to the team, J. Michael of notes. “It’s not so much scoring,” coach Randy Wittman said of Dudley. “Spacing, smart, ball movement, being in the right spot, fighting his tail off at the defensive end. I like those things that he’s done the last couple of games.

Central Notes: Drummond, Thompson, Monroe

Andre Drummond‘s game has taken another leap this season, and while the challenge for him is to become more consistent, the soon-to-be restricted free agent is impressing many, including Pistons owner Tom Gores, as Rod Beard of the Detroit News examines.

“He’s developing incredibly and I’m not surprised. We knew it from the first time he got on the floor,” Gores said. “He worked so hard this summer to develop some other skills and right now it’s showing on the floor and his character is reflecting on the team. You can talk about it, but then you have to do it. Andre’s doing it and he’s also developing great chemistry among all the players. You can say it or you can do it.”

Gores already referred to Drummond as a “max player” this spring, and with the Pistons and Drummond working in concert when they tabled extension discussions with the idea of allowing the team more cap flexibility in the summer, it doesn’t appear as though the big man’s free agency will carry much suspense. See more from the Central:

And-Ones: Simmons, Cuban, McHale

A major reason Kevin McHale was fired by the Rockets on Wednesday was the front office’s belief that he had lost the locker room, Chris Mannix of relays in response to a reader’s mailbag question. Mannix also notes that McHale’s strength as a coach is not in devising strategies or calling plays, but rather in his ability as a motivator. Houston swingman Corey Brewer has gone on record defending McHale, and emphasized that his former coach did not lose the team, and instead placed the blame for the Rockets’ slow start on the players.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, with an assist from three NBA scouts, ran down the top 10 hoops prospects for the 2015/16 season, including Ben Simmons (LSU), Skal Labissiere (Kentucky), and Brandon Ingram (Duke). The top of next year’s draft could be filled with more international players than usual, Spears notes. “The top three picks might not be from the United States next year,” an NBA scout told Spears. “Blame AAU basketball in America for that.”
  • Simmons had the opportunity to play overseas this season rather than in college, but the talented forward wanted to get a head start on acclimating to the U.S. as well as the style of basketball played here, Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News writes. “I felt like it helped me develop my game more,” Simmons says. “I was able to get the chance to experience different teams, different playing styles. For me it was just more going to high school and competing against the best players every day. It helped me mature, living by myself in Orlando while my parents were back home. A lot of different things come into it: new team, new coaches, different style, system, and living in a different country.
  • Mavs team owner Mark Cuban, who isn’t one to mince words, acknowledged that last season’s trade for Rajon Rondo was a risk that didn’t work out as planned for the team, Ben Rohrbach of WEI 93.7 FM relays. “[Expletive] happens, right? There are a lot of risks I’ve taken that have worked out just fine. They’re not all going to work,” Cuban said.
  • Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant, speaking about his potential retirement during a radio appearance on SiriusXM, said, “If something changes I’ll come back and play next season. If something doesn’t change this is it for me,” Frank Isola of the New York Daily News relays (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Durant, World Peace, Smith

The early season play of rookie Kristaps Porzingis coupled with Carmelo Anthony‘s return to health has given Knicks fans hope, not just for this season, but beyond. Another benefit the franchise may glean from exceeding expectations is that team president Phil Jackson will have a far more appealing product to sell Kevin Durant when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News opines.

One issue I have with the Knicks potentially adding Durant is that both Anthony and Porzingis are frontcourt players, and unless Anthony shifted to power forward full-time and Porzingis to the pivot, one of the trio would need to come off the bench. Shifting Porzingis to center would also serve to displace Robin Lopez, who the team inked to a four-year, $54MM deal this past summer, which is obviously not an ideal move for New York given its financial commitment to the big man.

Here’s the latest out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Metta World Peace, discussing his relationship with Pacers executive Larry Bird, said that he has tried to rejoin Indiana over the years, but he may have burned too many bridges with his disruptive attitude in his younger days for that to occur, Dave Zarum of relays (Twitter link). World Peace did note that Bird was extremely patient with him during his time with the team, and that Bird would often go out of his way to work with him to improve his game, Zarum adds.
  • Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith is feeling much more comfortable in the flow of the team’s offense, something he credits to his increased playing time, Jason Lloyd of writes. “It’s hard to just run up and down the court four or five times, then just get one spot shot, then come out of the game, then go back in the game. Getting in a rhythm early is the most important thing,” Smith said. “It’s not even so much to shoot, just to feel the ball, get the motion, get the ‘camaraderie’ within the system. I think that’s big, not only for me but for everybody. It’s not from a selfish aspect, but to feel the ball, feel the flow of the offense a little better.
  • The Cavaliers have recalled shooting guard Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. You can keep track off all the D-League assignments and recalls made throughout the season here.

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