It may seem like a long shot, but the 24-40 Cavaliers believe that they can still lure LeBron James back to Cleveland, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. The Cavs made sure to schedule Zydrunas Ilgauskas‘ retirement on a night that the Heat had off and the club used the event as a chance to try and pluck at LeBron’s heartstrings.
Lloyd notes that the Cavs still have the assets to pull off a mammoth trade this summer at the draft and get another star to entice James. Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge will be entering the final years of their contracts and if the Timberwolves or Trail Blazers come to the conclusion they can’t re-sign their stars, this summer is the time to move them. If they’re available, the Cavs will be at the front of the line with young players and future draft picks. It all sounds like fantasy, but as Lloyd rightfully notes, the fact James could listen to a speech from Dan Gilbert in person just three-and-a-half years after The Decision and its aftermath is remarkable.
Meanwhile, Ilgauskas could be on his way out of Cleveland. It’s an open secret that Ilgauskas is unhappy with his role in the front office and while he’s technically an assistant to the General Manager, the GM who he was working under is no longer with the club.
Bulls center Nazr Mohammed tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that growing friendships between players at the NBA level is changing the way teams are constructed. Mohammed says that animosity between rival players is no longer the norm. “AAU, social media, that’s all gone. Basketball on a high school level has just meshed all these kids from all over the country, especially with social media, so playing with each other at this level is no big deal. There’s no longer that dislike,” said the 15-year veteran. “Ultimately, it’s good for the league. You’ve got guys that like each other, want to play with each other. Why not? The collective-bargaining agreement is going to settle some of it because either guys are going to take huge pay cuts to play with their best friends or you can’t do it because of the CBA.” Here’s more from the Central division:
- Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune thinks that the environment Jimmer Fredette now has with the Bulls will help him succeed. Luhm says the combination of great coaching, talented teammates, stable ownership, and skilled management–things he didn’t have with the Kings–create an ideal situation for the dead-eye shooter.
- Anthony Bennett has improved his play after a disastrous start to the season, but the Cavs first-overall pick from the 2013 draft now faces a potential minutes reduction as Anderson Varejao returns from injury. Bob Finnan of The News-Herald says that Bennett needs to improve and get in better shape over the offseason if he wants to shed the perception that he’s a bust.
- In the same piece, Finnan says there is “no pretense whatsoever” that Luol Deng will re-sign with the Cavs this offseason, as Finnan is hearing from many that Deng is counting the days until he can flee Cleveland.
Chris Babb‘s 10-day contract ends on Monday, but the Celtics are high on him, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. Coach Brad Stevens said, “He’s a perfect fit for what we need as far as, he’s not going to play 38 minutes a game — he’s going to come in, get open shots, hopefully knock those open shots down, play off of other people, and then be a feisty defender for us. He really is an outstanding defender for a young guy.” There has been no official word on if the Celtics plan to re-sign Babb.
More from around the east:
- The Cavs have assigned Arinze Onuaku to the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League, tweets Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer. Onuaku hasn’t scored in 2 appearances for the Cavs and was re-signed for a second 10-day contract on Wednesday.
- The Cavs were planning on using the ceremony to retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas‘ jersey as one means to recruit LeBron James back to Cleveland, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. But what little chance the team had to that possibility might have ended with the firing of former GM Chris Grant. Grant was one of the team executives who had the best relationship with James, according to Windhorst.
- Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News also weighs in on how unlikely the chances are that James returns to Cleveland this summer. The team’s lack of a proven winner in the front office is the main deterrent to attracting James, writes Lawrence.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post takes a look at how the Wizards trade for Andre Miller is working out for him and for the team. So far, the pairing is paying dividends for both, opines Lee. The Wizards offer Miller a clean slate and a playoff opportunity, and Miller gives the team a proven veteran.
Mark Cuban continues to argue that the D-League is a more honest and effective developmental system than college hoops. SportsDayDFW quotes the owner’s response to Larry Brown‘s defense of the college system: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence when a dad, uncle, cousin, an AAU coach and six other relatives find themselves at a university. And it seems like there are a lot of guys taking the easiest classes they can to get through, or correspondence or on-line classes and then get to the second semester,” said Cuban. “It’s a business that, when you look at it, it’s ripe for disruption. When you look for a business to disrupt, you look for one that’s done the same thing for years and everybody knows it’s dysfunctional but nobody’s done anything about it. We happen to be in that industry.”
More from the D-League:
- Count Jerry West amongst the fans of what the D-League can do for the future of the NBA game, writes Keith Schlosser of SBNation. Last month West criticized the quality of this year’s draft, as well as expressed his disdain for the one-and-done college system. In Schlosser’s article, West goes into detail on why the D-League is a crucial component for developing young players.
- According to Gino Pilato of D-League Digest, Denzel Bowles has entered the D-League’s player pool. Bowles most recently played for the CBA’s Jilin Northeast Tigers. In 34 games for the Tigers, he averaged 26.0 PPG, and 8.5 RPG. Bowles played on Pelicans’ Summer League team in 2012/2013. He averaged 7.2 PPG, and 6.6 RPG in 16.1 minutes.
- Kevin Jones has accepted a buyout from the Canton Charge to go play in the Philippines, according to Bob Finnan of The News-Herald (Twitter link). Jones last saw NBA action in 32 games with the Cavs during the 2012/2013 season, and averaged 3.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 0.3 APG in 10.4 minutes. Jones was a 2013/14 NBA D-League All-Star with Canton, averaging 16.9 PPG, and 8.0 RPG in 30.5 minutes per game. The Charge will retain Jones’ player rights in the D-League for the next two seasons, according to Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer.
Cray Allred contributed to this post.
The Knicks are expected to sign Earl Clark to a second 10-day contract after tonight’s game in Cleveland, reports Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link). Clark was signed by the team last week after the Knicks cleared roster space by waiving Beno Udrih and Metta World Peace. Clark can play either forward position for the team. It looks to be another prorated minimum-salary pact for the Kevin Bradbury client.
The 14th overall pick in the 2009 draft had some of the best performances of his career during the 2012/2013 season he spent with the Lakers. He then regressed after signing a two-year, $8.5MM deal with the Cavs during the summer. Cleveland then traded him to the Sixers at the deadline, who waived him less than 24 hours later.
In five games with the Knicks, Clark has averaged 2.63 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 0.4 BPG in 7.8 minutes per contest. There is still no word on the status of Shannon Brown, who also signed a 10-day contract with the team on the same day.
Derrick Byars has been acquired as a returning player by the Bakersfield Jam, according to Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. Byars’ last NBA action came during a call up by the Spurs during the 2011/2012 season. He attended training camp with the Grizzlies this season, and most recently had signed with the Russian club Krasny Oktybr, but left the team prior to ever playing in a game.
More from the D-League:
- Former Knicks and Erie Bayhawks guard Chris Smith tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link) that he left Erie for “personal reasons” and intends to catch on with a team during the Summer League.
- The Cavaliers have assigned Sergey Karasev to the Canton Charge of the D-League they announced via press release. Karasev has appeared in 12 games for the Charge and has averaged 13.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.2 SPG while logging 30 MPG.
- The Raptors have reassigned Dwight Buycks to the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League (Twitter link). Buycks has appeared in 13 games for the Raptors this year, averaging 3.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, and 0.8 APG in 9.5 minutes per game.
Indiana’s loss to the Warriors on Tuesday kept the Pacers from clinching a playoff berth, but the team will lock up a trip to the postseason the next time it wins a game. Once that happens, that means the team’s first-round pick is guaranteed to go to Phoenix, as I noted today when I looked at protected first-rounders that could be changing hands. Here’s more from the Central Division:
TUESDAY, 10:40am: Cleveland has made the signing official, the team announced on its website.
MONDAY, 9:48pm: The Cavaliers will sign forward Arinze Onuaku to a second 10-day contract, a league source told Shams Charania of RealGM. Onuaku’s first 10-day deal expired on Monday.
Before hooking on with Cleveland, the undrafted 6’9″ forward also found his way to a deal with the Pelicans. In four games this season for the Cavs and Pelicans, Onuaku has scored three points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes.
The 26-year-old spent parts of the past two seasons with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s D-League affiliate. This season, he has appeared in 27 games for Canton with averages of 14.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 24.2 MPG.
The Heat seem to be chief in Dwyane Wade‘s mind as he eyes his early termination option this summer, but the decision won’t necessarily be straightforward, as he tells TNT’s David Aldridge, who shared Wade’s thoughts in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com.
“Well, I want to be here,” Wade said. “I think that’s always the things I’ve always said and I’ve always expressed. And after that, I want to win. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m starting over and I’m rebuilding. I want to win. And I want to be on a team that has an opportunity to do that, and feel like I’m a big part of that. This is where I want to be. But as players, [having] options is good. Because you don’t know what is to happen or what is to come. So for us, I think we’re in a great situation. Guys have options as players, and they can exercise those options. Who knows what that means? But right now, for us, we’re on a very good team. We enjoy each other. We enjoy this city and we enjoy playing for this organization, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Here’s more from Aldridge’s piece and other news from around the league:
- Bryan Colangelo spoke with Aldridge and attempted to walk back his comments from Friday in which he said he tried to tank as GM of the Raptors in 2011/12.
- The Pacers reportedly spoke with the Cavs about Luol Deng before the trade deadline, but Andrew Perna of RealGM hears Indiana had no interest in the soon-to-be free agent (Twitter link).
- The Rockets have recalled Troy Daniels from the D-League, the team announced via Twitter. Daniels had been with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers before the Rockets signed him last month. Houston immediately assigned him back there after inking the deal, which is for the minimum salary, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders notes in an update to the team’s salary page.
Commissioner Adam Silver not only defended the Sixers, but praised the organization’s strategy for attempting to build a championship contender, writes Jason Wolf of USA Today. This comes a day after former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy slammed the Sixers’ apparent willingness to field a non-competitive team and tank a season to improve its draft stock. “I don’t agree with Coach Van Gundy at all,” Silver said. “I just came from the locker room, I just spoke to the coach. It’s an insult to the entire league to suggest that these guys are going out on the floor and aren’t doing their very best to win games.” Tom Moore of Calkins Media tweeted that Silver said the team isn’t tanking, but rather “building from the ground up.” Silver also told Moore (Twitter link) that he “doesn’t believe a team has to go all the way to the bottom to get to the top.”
More from around the east:
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald relays why he thinks Jimmer Fredette would have been a bad fit with the Cavs. He cites the player’s size and lack of defensive ability making him a poor mesh with Mike Brown‘s system, in addition to the presence of Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles, who would limit Fredette’s minutes.
- Fredette will be available to play today against the Knicks, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Fredette put up a career high 24 points against them last month. Johnson also tweets that coach Tom Thibodeau doesn’t want to pre-judge Jimmer’s defensive abilities.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link) asked Fredette if the Knicks had shown any interest, and Jimmer said they hadn’t contacted him or his agent. Mike Woodson had indicated the Knicks didn’t want to wait on him, and they made their moves earlier with the signings of Earl Clark and Shannon Brown.
- With the Cavs Luol Deng set to become a free agent after the season, Bob Finnan of the News Herald thinks the team would be better served to re-sign Spencer Hawes instead. He cites Hawes’ production since arriving, as well as the age difference between the two. Finnan also notes that Hawes should come cheaper than Deng, which would allow for more cap flexibility.
- Brett Pollakoff of NBCSports.com discusses why the Knicks couldn’t deal Amar’e Stoudemire‘s expiring contract to a team that still hasn’t used its amnesty provision.