Cleveland Cavaliers Rumors

Northwest Notes: Love, LeBron, Morrow

August 28 at 10:12pm CDT By Charlie Adams

Earlier today, Utah announced that Toure’ Murry had signed with the team on a multi-year deal. With his pact in tow, the Jazz boast a total of at 18 contracts on their books as training camp approaches. Teams can only roster 15 players once the regular season begins, so Utah will need to decide which guys on partially guaranteed deals are worth keeping around. Here’s tonight’s look at the Northwest Division:

  • Kevin Love recently made comments indicating that he spoke to LeBron James about teaming up while still a member of the Wolves, but such an admission won’t allow the league to hit Cleveland with a tampering penalty, as salary cap expert Larry Coon explains on SiriusXM NBA Radio (audio link via SoundCloud).
  • After being heavily shopped by the Sixers at last season’s trade deadline, Thaddeus Young now feels like he’s “wanted” as a member of the Wolves, as Marc Narducci of the Inquirer details.
  • Although Anthony Morrow isn’t exactly a big name, Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders points out that his presence in Oklahoma City should help bolster the Thunder’s weak shooting. Bible says the decision to bring in the former Pelicans swingman could eventually be considered a great move down the road.

And-Ones: Fesenko, Wolves, Team USA

August 28 at 6:25pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Free agent center Kyrylo Fesenko made a positive impression on the Wolves during summer league play, and he’s dropped 20 pounds, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). Fesenko has played for the Jazz and the Pacers, and has career averages of 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG over 135 games played.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The package that the Wolves received for Kevin Love is superior to the one that the franchise had gotten for Kevin Garnett, writes Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders. By acquiring Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett from the Cavaliers, Minnesota essentially skipped two years of being in the NBA Draft lottery, opines Koutroupis.
  • Bob Donewald Jr. was hired by the Grizzlies to be the head coach of their NBA D-League team, the Iowa Energy, the team announced (Twitter link). Donewald most recently served as the head coach of the Chinese National Team, and he has also worked as an assistant coach for the Cavs and Pelicans.
  • With each game that passes for Team USA, so does the horror of Paul George‘s injury, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. In regards to how the team is coming to terms with what happened to George, Anthony Davis said, “That was a gruesome injury (to George), and it kind of affected all of us, even guys who weren’t playing. Basketball players around the world and people around the world got affected by it. But now we know that he’s doing fine and we’ve got to keep moving forward and try to win this gold for him. … I’m hoping that (this experience) makes me take a leap coming into the season next year.”

And-Ones: Griffin, Calipari, Mozgov, Jamison

August 28 at 4:29pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Cavs were in talks with John Calipari about a coach/executive role that would give him authority over the front office even after they removed the interim tag from GM David Griffin‘s title, but Griffin doesn’t sound upset about the team’s attempted maneuver. Griffin made his comments Wednesday in a radio appearance on The Doug Gottlieb Show, and James Herbert of CBSSports.com provides a partial transcription.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think anything was ever done without my knowledge of what was being done, for one,” Griffin said. “And two, I turned down opportunities to be a GM because the fit wasn’t right, and when I sat with [owner] Dan [Gilbert] and [Cavs vice chairman] Nate [Forbes], when we talked about our vision for the future and me having this job, I encouraged them to talk to other people. It was something that was really important to me.”

Gilbert said he would have been “disappointed” if the team hadn’t spoken with Calipari, so it seems he and his bosses are in lockstep as the Cavs prepare to chase a title. There’s more from Cleveland amid the latest from around the league:

  • Timofey Mozgov is intrigued by the idea of again playing for David Blatt, who coached him on the Russian national team, and with LeBron James, but he says he’s not going to push for a trade from the Nuggets, as Boris Khodorovsky of ITAR-TASS observes (translation via Alexander Chernykh of Rush’n Hoops). The Cavs have reportedly been trying to trade for Mozgov.
  • Free agent Antawn Jamison won’t rule out retirement, but the 38-year-old would prefer to find an NBA deal, as he tells DeAntae Prince of The Sporting News. The 16-year vet also said to Prince that while he has “options” in free agency, he won’t decide on any of them for at least another month, and he won’t limit himself to signing with contenders, as he has the past two offseasons.
  • Some NBA teams had planned on scouting three-year NBA veteran Mickael Gelabale at the World Cup, and he’s also drawing interest from FC Barcelona of Spain, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.

Explaining The Wolves’ Trade Exception

August 28 at 11:54am CDT By Chuck Myron

The Timberwolves reaped a trade exception worth $6,308,194 from Saturday’s completion of the Kevin Love trade, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders confirmed Tuesday. That wasn’t the only avenue the Wolves could have gone down to create an exception from the swap, as Pincus pointed out, and the multitude of scenarios in play seemed to add to the confusion that swirled about the precise details of the trade almost until it went down. The creation of trade exceptions is one of the most difficult to understand facets of a salary cap that’s otherwise convoluted enough, but we’ll try to explain how the Wolves wound up with the exception and examine alternate scenarios they could have pursued.

The trade itself was a three-teamer that saw Love go to the Cavs, Thaddeus Young, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett go to the Wolves, and Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved and a draft pick go to the Sixers. Still, the league allows each team involved in a trade to frame it differently so that the ability to create trade exceptions is maximized. A trade exception is the product of a deal in which a team gives up more salary than it receives. They allow capped-out teams to participate in subsequent trades in which they take back more salary than they relinquish, trades that otherwise wouldn’t be legal under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

The Timberwolves chose to regard the transaction as a pair of trades, one in which they swapped Love for Young and another in which they gave up Mbah a Moute and Shved and took back Wiggins and Bennett, as Pincus pointed out. It doesn’t matter that Love went to a different team than Young came from, nor that Mbah a Moute and Shved went to a different team than Wiggins and Bennett did. For the purposes of creating trade exceptions, it simply matters what the Wolves relinquished and what they got back.

Each of the component trades had to meet the NBA’s salary matching requirements for the capped-out Wolves and Cavs, but not for the Sixers, who are far beneath the cap. The swap of Love for Young meets the requirements for Minnesota, since the Wolves are giving up more than they’re receiving. Love’s $15,719,062 salary is more than 150% plus $100K greater than Young’s pay of $9,410,869, which would exceed the amount the salary matching rules allow if Philadelphia were over the cap, but all that matters is what the Wolves gave up and what they’re getting, so Philly’s situation isn’t relevant as it applies to the trade from Minnesota’s perspective. Of course, Love isn’t, nor was he ever going to be, a member of the Sixers, but again, the NBA allows teams to structure “mini-trades” as they see fit within the larger structure of the transaction itself for the purpose of creating trade exceptions.

The other “mini-trade” the Wolves pull off here sees them exchange Mbah a Moute, who makes $4,382,575, and Shved, at $3,282,057, for the salaries of Bennett ($5,563,920) and Wiggins ($5,510,640). They’re receiving more than they’re giving up, so the sum of the salaries for Bennett and Wiggins have to come in under the matching limit, which, once more, is 150% of the outgoing salary plus $100K, since the outgoing salary is less than $9.8MM. Mbah a Moute and Shved combine to make $7,664,632, so 150% of that figure is $11,496,948, and another $100K makes it $11,596,948. That’s not too much more than $11,074,560, the sum of the salaries for Bennett and Wiggins, but it works. Since this swap is allowed, it lets the Wolves pair it with the Love/Young swap, which is the one in which they give up more than they get. The amount of the difference between the salaries for Love and Young results in Minnesota’s $6,308,194 trade exception.

That exception is better than the $4,644,503 exception the Wolves could have come away with if they had framed the transaction as a trade of Love for Wiggins and Bennett and a swap of Mbah a Moute and Shved for Young. That structure is more straightforward, since the “mini-trades” involve exchanges of players that mimic the real-life structure of the transaction, but it’s also less advantageous for Minnesota, which is why the team took a more complicated route.

The Wolves also had the option of creating a pair of smaller trade exceptions that would add up to more than the one they chose. They could have done that if they considered Love for Young, Bennett and Wiggins as one trade and the offloading of Mbah a Moute and Shved as second and third trades. The league wouldn’t allow Mbah a Moute and Shved to go out on their own without the Sixers giving anything in return if they were standalone transactions, but since this is within the structure of a larger trade, it’s OK. The salary-matching requirement for the other component of this structure is different because Love makes more than $9.8MM. So, the Timberwolves are allowed to take back Love’s salary plus $5MM, or $20,719,062. The salaries for Bennett, Wiggins and Young add up to $20,485,429, a shade under the limit. But, again, it works.

That means the Wolves could reap exceptions of $4,382,575 and $3,282,057 equivalent to the salaries of Mbah a Moute and Shved. That would allow them to add a greater amount of salary via trade overall, but it wouldn’t allow them to acquire a single player who makes more than either amount, as the $6,308,194 Love-for-Young exception would. Minnesota chose to give itself the chance to net a more highly paid player, and while it could still split that exception on multiple acquisitions, the team wouldn’t be able to accommodate quite as much salary as it otherwise could have.

Understanding trade exceptions is no easy task, but it’s a requirement for every NBA executive. Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders and his staff surely spent plenty of hours during the weeks-long waiting period between the time the teams agreed to the trade and the time the trade became official crunching the numbers and weighing all the different scenarios at play. Cavs GM David Griffin and Sixers GM Sam Hinkie surely did, too, even though neither of them had a way to come away with a trade exception from the transaction. The Sixers have plenty of cap room that serves in place of any exception. The Cavs have Love and a team that will contend for the title. The Wolves have a new foundation and a mathematical weapon they can use to acquire a player they otherwise couldn’t within the next year.

Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ and the Basketball Insiders Salary pages were used in the creation of this post. 

And-Ones: James Jones, Sterling, Young

August 27 at 5:02pm CDT By Chuck Myron

The Wolves haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, leaving owner Glen Taylor to blame as the constant amid a changing cast of star players, coaches and executives, argues Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Taylor’s latest salvos, aimed at Kevin Love, reflect poorly upon him, too, Ziller believes. Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Heat and James Jones had mutual interest in a new deal this summer and they spoke about the possibility before he chose to sign with the Cavs instead, as he tells Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Jones called his departure from Miami “the toughest professional decision I’ve had to make,” and while he previously cited a desire for more playing time as the reason why he left, he says to Winderman that he doesn’t harbor any resentment toward coach Erik Spoelstra.
  • Donald Sterling failed to petition the California Supreme Court by Monday’s deadline for review of a lower court’s decision to reject Sterling’s earlier petitions to halt or unwind the sale of the Clippers, according to Michael McCann of SI.com. That means Sterling has essentially run out of legal avenues to fight the sale, as McCann explains.
  • It was difficult to trade Thaddeus Young, Sixers GM Sam Hinkie admitted, citing the forward’s professionalism and positive attitude, as Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com chronicles. “Those things matter,” Hinkie said. “That’s why these decisions, while necessary, are still challenging.”

Central Notes: Love, Meeks, Bucks

August 27 at 12:41pm CDT By Chuck Myron

Kevin Love was unsurprisingly an early topic of conversation between Cavs GM David Griffin and new coach David Blatt, as Tim Warsinskey of the Star Tribune passes along.

“Kevin Love [is] a player who quite frankly fits us as well as any player possibly could,” Griffin said Tuesday. “The very first thing David Blatt said was, ‘I need a spacing big. Somebody who can shoot and pass and who knows how to play.’ We said, ‘We have one in mind. His name is Kevin Love, he’s a trade target.’ He said, ‘If you could get Kevin Love to go with LeBron James, you would have had a really good offseason.’ ”

Cleveland’s offseason has indeed been “really good,” and then some, but whether it translates into a championship and sustained success remains to be seen. There’s more on the Cavs amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • Love’s commitment to the Cavs is really more of a commitment to playing with James, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes as he explains the reasons why Love isn’t signing an extension with Cleveland. Love is excited about having star teammates who can help him win, and with James possessing the ability to opt out after this coming season, Love isn’t about to give up his ability to do the same, Windhorst explains.
  • Jodie Meeks confirms a report from the start of free agency that there were several teams interested in him, but he prioritized taking the first worthwhile offer, as he tells Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Meeks hopped the first flight out to meet with Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy the morning after Van Gundy called to make his pitch, as Langlois chronicles, and the sides had their deal on the first day of free agency.
  • Ben Golliver of SI.com lauds the Bucks for having been willing to take on Jared Dudley‘s salary to land a first-round pick in Tuesday’s trade. Golliver gives Milwaukee an A+ largely for coming away with the draft choice even though it’s likely to come at the back end of the first round.

Kevin Love Fallout: Taylor, Wolves, Cavs

August 27 at 10:05am CDT By Chuck Myron

Wolves owner Glen Taylor said Tuesday that Kevin Love‘s health was one reason he hesitated to sign him to a five-year extension in 2012, and he believes it’s a lingering question surrounding around the star power forward, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune observes. 

“I had that concern then,” Taylor said. “I still have that concern, and Cleveland should have that concern, too: if he can keep his health. If they sign him to a five-year contract like they’re thinking about, that’s a big contract on a guy who’s had some times when he has missed games.”

Love acknowledged that there are some raw emotions surrounding the blockbuster move but called for Taylor to keep his focus on his own roster, as the newest Cavalier said today on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show, Zgoda notes. We passed along plenty on Love Tuesday night, and we’ll detail more here:

  • Taylor said Love never asked him directly to be traded, but agent Jeff Schwartz did make the request to Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders, according to Taylor, as Zgoda writes in the same piece. The owner suggested that he would have preferred that Love go through him instead.
  • Love and Taylor haven’t spoken since the end of the season, the owner said, though he insists they’re still on good terms, as Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities chronicles.
  • Taylor had insisted amid Love trade rumors early in the summer that he was in no hurry to make a trade, and he explained his shift in thinking Tuesday to reporters, including Wetmore. “I spoke the truth when I said if Kevin would stay here then we would have the best season. Inside I knew Kevin wasn’t giving us that alternative even though it’s what I wanted,” Taylor said. “So now you have the thing where Kevin kind of said, ‘Trade me or you’re going to pay the fine next year if you don’t trade me.’ I think once we got going on that, we had about four teams that came to us with significant offers. But this one truly had the biggest upside. Flip pushed it and negotiated it the best he could so I’m really happy with it.”

Contract Details: Clarkson, Young, Powell

August 26 at 9:32pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Eric Pincus has once more updated his Basketball Insiders salary pages, and included in his changes are a few tidbits of previously unreported news on players who’ve signed this summer. We’ll pass along those items here:

  • The two-year deal that Jerrelle Benimon signed with the Nuggets is for the minimum salary and is partially guaranteed for $35K this season, while his 2015/16 salary is non-guaranteed, Pincus reports (Twitter link).
  • The Blazers gave Diante Garrett a $30K guarantee in the first year of his two-year minimum salary deal, but the second year is non-guaranteed, Pincus notes on Twitter.
  • Patric Young‘s two-year deal with the Pelicans is a minimum-salary arrangement that’s partially guaranteed for $55K this season, but it’s otherwise non-guaranteed, Pincus notes (Twitter link). Darius Miller‘s deal with the team is partially guaranteed for $400K this year but otherwise non-guaranteed, Pincus adds.
  • Both Will Cherry‘s and Jordan Hamilton‘s salaries are guaranteed for $25K for the 2014/15 season, Pincus tweets, adding that Hamilton’s pact is for the minimum. The Raptors signed Cherry to a two-year minimum salary deal, and Hamilton to a one-year arrangement. Cherry’s salary for 2015/16 is non-guaranteed, Pincus adds.
  • Dwight Powell‘s deal with the Cavaliers is fully guaranteed for the first season, with the second year non-guaranteed, Pincus reports (Twitter link). The contract covers just those two seasons, as Pincus notes.
  • The Spurs‘ two-year deal with JaMychal Green is for the minimum salary and has a $60K guarantee for this coming season, Pincus reports (Twitter link). It’s non-guaranteed for 2015/16, according to Pincus.
  • Sim Bhullar‘s deal is for one year and comes with a guarantee of $35K, while Eric Moreland‘s three-year contract is guaranteed for $200K this coming season and is otherwise non-guaranteed, Pincus notes (Twitter link). Both players are with the Kings, and, according to Pincus, make the minimum.
  • The two-year, minimum-salary deal that Jordan Clarkson signed with the Lakers is fully guaranteed for this coming season, but the 2015/16 season is non-guaranteed, Pincus reports (Twitter link).

Latest On Kevin Love

August 26 at 8:50pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Now that the Kevin Love trade is official and his introductory press conference is behind him, the pressure is on for Love, LeBron and the rest of the Cavaliers to compete for an NBA Championship this coming season. Here’s the latest news about the former Timberwolves star:

  • Wolves owner Glen Taylor said that if he could do things over again, he would have signed Love to a five-year, maximum salary contract back in 2012, as Derek Wetmore of 1500 ESPN Sportswire details.
  • Taylor thinks that Love’s defensive deficiencies will be exposed in Cleveland, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Taylor said, “I think where maybe he got away with some stuff not playing defense on our team, I’m not sure that’s how it’s going to work in Cleveland. I would guess they’re going to ask him to play more defense and he’s foul prone.”
  • In the same article, Taylor also thinks that Love may take the blame if the Cavs struggle. “I question Kevin if this is going to be the best deal for him because I think he’s going to be the third player on the team,” Taylor said. “I don’t think he’s going to get a lot of credit if they do really well. I think he’ll get blame if they don’t do well. He’s around a couple guys that are awful good.”
  • Shortly after LeBron James signed with the Cavs, he called Love, writes Tim Warsinskey of the Star Tribune. Of the call, Love said, “LeBron had signed to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers and just few hours later he called me, and I said,You know what? I’m in. James signing had a lot to do with my decision [to want to go to Cleveland].’’
  • Love admits his lack of playoff experience will be an adjustment that he’ll have to make with the Cavs, and the pressure will be much greater in Cleveland than in Minnesota, writes Chris Fedor of the Plain Dealer.

Eastern Notes: Love, Bennett, Moultrie

August 26 at 7:27pm CDT By Eddie Scarito

Kevin Love today indicated his intention to stay with the Cavs beyond this season, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com observes, and Cavs GM David Griffin is confident that Love and LeBron James will stick together for years to come, notes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). Love and James can become free agents next summer, and Love said today that he hasn’t spoken about an extension with Cleveland, though that only stands to reason, since he can re-sign for more money if he waits until free agency.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • There was confusion earlier this month about whether Anthony Bennett would go to the Sixers as part of the Kevin Love trade, but Sixers GM Sam Hinkie told reporters today that he never had any talks about acquiring the former No. 1 overall pick. Tom Moore of Calkins Media passes along the tidbit via Twitter. Bennett wound up with the Wolves instead.
  • Arnett Moultrie‘s future with the Sixers is cloudy, but Hinkie indicated today that Philadelphia still wants to give him a chance even though the power forward has to prove his worth, as Moore observes (Twitter link). Arnett was working really hard last week,” Hinkie said. “It’s been going fine. It’s a big summer for him. He’s got to show what he can do.” Last week, Chuck Myron cast the chances as remote that Philly will up his 2015/16 rookie scale contract option by the October 31st deadline.
  • The two-year $550K offer that agent Tim Lotsos said Thanasis Antetokounmpo turned down from Cimberio Varese to instead join the Knicks D-League affiliate wasn’t quite so lucrative, as Guido Guida of La Gazzetta dello Sport hears (Twitter link). The gross amount wasn’t quite that much, and the net after taxes was only slightly more than $100K per year, Guida says. A source seconds Guida’s report to David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.