Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs To Sign Dionte Christmas, To Waive Dunigan

The Cavaliers are close to signing shooting guard Dionte Christmas, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter link). The deal is contingent on Christmas passing his physical, which will be administered on Friday, Spears adds. In order to clear a roster spot, the Cavs will release center Michael Dunigan, Dave McMenamin of reports (via Twitter). Cleveland currently has a roster count of 20 players, which is the preseason maximum.

Cleveland is limited to offering Christmas a minimum salary contract, and Spears termed the pending arrangement as a “make good deal,” which likely means that there will be no guaranteed money involved. Christmas, 29, last played in the NBA during the 2013/14 campaign when he made 31 appearances for the Suns, averaging 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per contest. He spent last season with Paris-Levallois of France.

Dunigan, 26, was in training camp with the Grizzlies back in 2012, but he’s primarily played overseas since going undrafted in 2011. The Mike Naiditch client came to the U.S. to spend part of last season with Cleveland’s D-League affiliate, notching averages of 11.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game across 24 regular season appearances. It’s possible that the Cavs are eyeing Dunigan for a spot on the Canton Charge for 2015/16, though that is merely my speculation.

Cavs Notes: Thompson, LeBron, Love

During an appearance on Zach Lowe of Grantland’s podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst opined that the contract standoff between the Cavaliers and restricted free agent Tristan Thompson isn’t likely to end any time soon, as RealGM transcribes. “I think it will take a third party event to bridge the gap here,” said Windhorst. “I actually believe it will probably go [on for] months. This will go well into the regular season.” The ESPN scribe also compared Thompson’s current situation with Anderson Varejao‘s prolonged holdout back in 2007 that saw the center remain unsigned until December 5th of that year. Varejao’s contract impasse finally came to an end when he inked a three-year, $10MM offer sheet with Charlotte that the Cavs matched.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Windhorst also told Lowe that agent Rich Paul, who represents Thompson and LeBron James, wanted to get Thompson’s deal in place prior to James re-signing with Cleveland this summer, but plans changed when Klutch Sports realized how difficult Thompson’s negotiation would be (RealGM transcription). “It was my understanding at the outset that their plan, when I say ‘their,’ I’m talking about Tristan’s representation, was to handle Tristan Thompson’s contract first and then do LeBron’s contract,” Windhorst said. “But five days into free agency, they realized Tristan’s deal was going to go very long and they had a choice to make. LeBron could either exercise influence or not. And whether it was Rich Paul’s decision or LeBron’s decision, they elected not to do that. LeBron signed his contract.
  • Kevin Love has put his difficult 2014/15 campaign behind him and is excited about the Cavs’ chances this season, and he is ready to assume a larger role in the team’s offense, Dave McMenamin of writes. “It’s just, I think, face everything head-on,” Love said when asked about his outlook for this season. “Relationships with all the guys out there on the court, facing adversity with these guys, or staying on a high with these guys, no matter where the season takes you, it’s just I think facing it head-on and trying to be in a collision course for great things. I think if we all put our heads together, we all continue to work and get healthy, I know I sound like a broken record, but I think we can do something special.
  • Familiarity with the city of Cleveland played a major factor in Mo Williams‘ decision to re-sign with the Cavs this offseason, Joe Gabriele of relays. “That was huge,” Williams told Gabriele. “It wasn’t that long ago [since I was here]. It feels like a while, but it really wasn’t. So, there’s some familiarity here – the same people, a couple familiar faces with teammates, but mostly everyone is new. The front office is pretty much intact, but in a little different capacity. It was definitely a comfort level and an excitement. And the thing about it is, I really enjoyed every single person in the front office. Griff [GM David Griffin] was here before I left. So, with all those things being said, it was an easy decision for me. Watching these guys fall short last year and me – being, you know, kind of a ‘Cav-at-heart’ – I felt sorry, I felt bad for the city. So that was definitely what made my mind up. When Golden State won that final game, my mind was made up – I was coming back. It was just how much money Griff was gonna give me.

Central Rumors: George, Jackson, Cavs

Paul George has voiced some displeasure with the Pacers’ plan to move him to power forward, though he says he’s willing to stick with it, Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star reports.  George felt overmatched trying to guard Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis in the team’s first preseason game but after meeting with coach Frank Vogel and president of basketball operations Larry Bird, George said on Monday afternoon that he would remain in that role, Buckner continues. “We’re going to still stick with it, see how it works,” he told Buckner. That fact that George lobbied to scrap the team’s entire offseason plan after one game is “lunacy,” Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel opines. But Vogel told Doyel that he’s not worried about George’s reluctance to play there. “Well, he’s going to buy in, so I’m not really sure how to answer that,” Vogel said. “We’re going to work together to figure out the best combination of all these things.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Reggie Jackson can produce John Wall-type numbers because he has a top-notch pick-and-roll partner in Andre Drummond and plays in a system suited to his skills, according to Jonathan Tjarks of Wall complained when the Pistons gave Jackson a five-year, $80MM contract this summer but Jackson doesn’t have to be as talented as Wall to put up gaudy statistics because the Pistons will surround him and Drummond with shooters, Tjarks continues. In contrast, Wall often plays with Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat up front, which gives Wall less room to drive than Jackson will enjoy in Detroit, Tjarks points out. Even when the Wizards go small, they don’t have a roll man with Drummond’s talent, Tjarks adds, which means Jackson can live up to the contract just by the nature of Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy’s offensive system.
  • Cavaliers center Sasha Kaun has no plans to play in Europe again, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. Kaun joined the Cavs this summer as a backup to Timofey Mozgov on a two-year, $2.5MM deal after his contact with CSKA Moscow expired. “When I said I was done in Europe, I was definitely done in Europe,” Kaun told Lloyd. “Seven years was long enough. My wife [a Kansas native] made an amazing sacrifice in moving over there.” Kaun wanted to join the Cavs three years ago, Lloyd adds, but they only offered him the league mininum.

Central Notes: Monroe, Butler, Osman, Johnson

Bucks GM John Hammond believes the team’s plan for a new arena, which has since cleared all hurdles for public funding, played a role in convincing Greg Monroe to sign with the team, as Hammond told NBA TV’s Dennis Scott and TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for Monroe cites advice from former Bucks who became his teammates on the Pistons. 

“When I signed, it wasn’t all the way done yet, but now, they have a new stadium coming,” Monroe said. “And I saw how the fans were. We played there, been coming there for years now, multiple times a year in the division. I know what kind of fan base they have. And I talked to a couple of my former teammates in Detroit who played here before, and they had nothing but great things to say about the city and the organization. So with all of that combined, I just definitely felt I made the right decision.”

See more from the Central Division:

  • Jimmy Butler thinks new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg will improve the team’s floor-spacing, an element Butler thought was “terrible” last season, but Butler, in an interview with Aldridge for the same piece, identifies Hoiberg’s personal touch as the most significant change from former coach Tom Thibodeau.
  • The Cavs spoke with No. 31 overall pick Cedi Osman about a month ago, but he’s planning to remain overseas with Anadolu Efes, where he has a contract that runs through at least 2017/18, for the next two seasons, as Osman writes for “I’m happy that my rights are owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers and I hope that when I go there, I’ll meet LeBron James!” Osman writes. “I have a lot to learn from him!”
  • Stanley Johnson was a surprise pick at No. 8 with Justise Winslow still on the board and he struggled in the Pistons‘ open scrimmage Saturday, apart from a highlight-reel play, but he’s otherwise made a strong impression with the team so far, observes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

And-Ones: Cavs, Celtics, Nuggets

With plenty of health concerns regarding the team, it is imperative that the Cavs and Tristan Thompson strike a deal as soon as possible, especially after LeBron James called the situation a distraction, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group opines. Kevin Love isn’t cleared for full contact, Timofey Mozgov is around 60% and Anderson Varejao is still working his way into shape from an Achilles tear while Thompson appears to be in very good shape, Haynes writes.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Marcus Smart appeared in 67 games last season with 38 starts, but he is well aware that there is a competition for the Celtics‘ starting point guard job, A. Sherrod Blakely of relays. In addition to Smart, the Celtics are also giving serious thought to having Isaiah Thomas in the starting unit, Blakely adds.
  • With the Nuggets in search of a long-term solution at shooting guard, second-year player Gary Harris seems primed to receive more playing time, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays. “It’s a huge season,” Harris said. “I don’t think it because other people are saying it. I just think it’s going to be a huge season for myself personally, just for me.”
  • With the addition of Tyson Chandler, the Suns‘ defense has the potential to represent one of the team’s greatest improvements, along with perimeter shooting, from the offseason as Phoenix tries to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes.

Central Notes: Thompson, Bucks, Bulls

LeBron James urged that the Cavs and Tristan Thompson need to bend in order to work out a deal as soon as possible because the situation is becoming a distraction and told reporters, including Dave McMenamin of (Twitter links), that his Instagram post last night was meant to illustrate that thought.

“The last thing you need is a distraction when you’re trying to make a championship run and we have that,” James told reporters.

Thompson let the deadline pass without signing his qualifying offer earlier this week, which reduces his options to signing a long-term deal with the Cavs, signing an offer sheet from another team or continuing to sit out.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • Cavs coach David Blatt admitted that he needed to learn a lot last year in his first season in the league, but he seems much more comfortable and confident than he was at this point last year, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal details. “I feel more at home,” Blatt told Lloyd. “It wasn’t easy what I had to go through last year from the standpoint of a whole new environment and whole new way of doing things.”
  • The Bucks have a few options at point guard heading into this season so it will be interesting to see who emerges during the preseason and what Jason Kidd‘s lineup will look like, Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. The Bucks, who already had Michael Carter-Williams and Jerryd Bayless, acquired Greivis Vasquez in a trade with Toronto.
  • Players on the Bulls respect their former coach, Tom Thibodeau, but are, at least so far, seemingly happier with new coach Fred Hoiberg‘s player-friendly style, Nick Friedell of writes after speaking with several veterans.

Cavs Notes: James, Thompson, Jefferson

LeBron James has ended his silence regarding Tristan Thompson‘s contract situation, posting a picture of the two of them on his Instagram account with the caption, “Get it done!!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother.”

Thompson let the deadline pass without signing his qualifying offer earlier this week, which reduces his options to signing a long-term deal with the Cavs, signing an offer sheet from another team or continuing to sit out. However, if he does sit out the season, he will remain a restricted free agent next offseason. It was reported on Friday that Thompson and his camp prefer a three-year max contract to the five-year max they sought most of the summer, but Cleveland is uninterested in such a proposal.

Here’s more from the reigning Eastern Conference champs:

  • A five-year, $85MM deal would be a logical conclusion to Thompson’s stalemate with the Cavs, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post opines. Such a figure would allow Thompson to get a bigger contract than fellow restricted free agent power forward Draymond Green, who signed a five-year deal worth $82MM with Golden State this summer, while saving Cleveland a significant amount of money in luxury tax payments.
  • Kevin Love‘s first year as a Cavalier didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but James believes he will thrive in Cleveland this season, Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group writes. “I just think [Love’s] more comfortable in the situation that he’s in,” James said. “He’s got a year under his belt, he knows what he expects out of himself and what his teammates expect out of him. I expect big things from him this year with a year up under his belt.”
  • New addition Richard Jefferson hopes to give the Cavs 10-12 minutes each night, but the injury to Shumpert could force him to play more, Vardon writes in the same piece. The veteran is just excited to play alongside the four-time MVP. “With LeBron and his versatility … when you have that piece, kind of like the queen in chess, that can do everything, you realize that, ‘Hey if I can play the four and LeBron can go to the two, somebody else can play the three or vice versa, it makes everyone’s job a lot easier,'” Jefferson said.

Cavaliers Rumors: Thompson, Daye, Cook

Tristan Thompson‘s decision not to accept the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer may indicate that he overestimated the market for his services, writes Zach Lowe of Thompson and his agent, Rich Paul, had threatened to take the one-year, $6.8MM offer and pursue a max-level deal with another team next summer. Lowe speculates that their change of heart may mean they no longer expect that deal to materialize. The Cavs’ problem is that they won’t have cap space available to pursue a high-salaried replacement for Thompson if he does leave after this season. With only small cap exceptions, the columnist said Cleveland would be limited to chasing players such as Trevor Booker or Ed Davis.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Thompson’s asking price is out of line for a player of his production, according to Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders. As a reserve who averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game last season, Blancarte contends Thompson isn’t worth either the max deal he sought or the three-year alternative worth nearly $53MM that his representatives floated this week. He notes that Thompson ranked 116th in the league last season with a Real Plus-Minus Rating of 0.86 and sported a 15.6 Player Efficiency Rating (compared to 20 for Davis, who signed just a three-year, $20MM deal with Portland).
  • Coach David Blatt’s preference for power forwards who can make three-pointers gives Austin Daye hope of making the roster, writes Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. At 6’11”, Daye is a career 35% shooter from long distance. He has been with five teams in seven seasons and averaged 3.8 points per game last year in 34 games with the Spurs and Hawks.
  • Duke rookie Quinn Cook has been impressive during training camp, Pluto writes in the same story. Injuries to Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert have given Cook a larger-than-expected role, and although he isn’t especially athletic, the coaches like Cook’s ability to run a team.

Central Notes: Thompson, Rose, Gansey

Tristan Thompson has become a virtual outsider for the Cavaliers as his training camp holdout continues, Dave McMenamin of writes. “Right now, my thoughts are just about the guys that are here and how hard and how well they are working and no specific expectation otherwise,” said coach David Blatt when asked for his reaction to Thompson not signing the team’s qualifying offer. “Just happy to see our guys working as well as they are.” The coach noted that he isn’t losing any sleep over the situation literally, with Blatt admitting that he was fast asleep when Thursday night’s deadline for Thompson to accept the qualifying offer passed, McMenamin adds. “I was liking the dream I was having,” Blatt said. “Usually I don’t go to sleep that early, but [that] night I was tired. We’re just back at it. We’ve got to focus on the now and here and that’s what we’re doing.

Here’s what else is happening around the Central Division:

  • The city of Chicago’s love for hometown star Derrick Rose is waning rapidly, and the story between him and the Bulls may not have a happy ending, Scoop Jackson of writes. Outside of his numerous injuries the past few seasons, Rose didn’t help public perception of himself with his comments saying that he was looking forward to becoming a free agent in 2017, Jackson notes. “What is interesting about Derrick Rose’s career is the public has seen him grow as a man and a spokesperson for himself and the team. For someone who has played in so little games, he is still the face of the team. He has gone from a shy introvert to an aggressively vocal [player] on the court and defender of himself and team to the media,” communications strategist Micaeh Johnson of Carte Blanche LTD, a Chicago-based public relations firm, told Jackson. When asked what Rose could do to help the public’s perception of him, Johnson said, “In short: Recover, stay away from the media, don’t respond to the sport of media and fan [expletive] talking, speak to his fans with humility and confidence when he returns and play ball.
  • The Pacers have officially named Steve Gansey as the head coach of their new D-League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced. Gansey spent the 2014/15 season as associate head coach for Cleveland’s affiliate, the Canton Charge.
  • The Pistons have been hit by the injury bug at the point guard spot early on in training camp, which will give 2014 second-rounder Spencer Dinwiddie a chance to show what he can do, and potentially earn himself a slot in the team’s regular season rotation, Aaron McMann of writes.

Latest On Tristan Thompson

FRIDAY, 8:07am: Thompson and his camp prefer a three-year max contract to the five-year max they sought most of the summer, league sources tell McMenamin. Thompson reportedly became willing to do a three-year max deal last week, but the Cavs are uninterested in such a proposal. The full value of the three-year max for Thompson would be precisely $52,914,188.

11:04pm: Thompson let the deadline pass without signing the qualifying offer, a source tells McMenamin (Twitter link). So, his choices are either to sign a long term deal with the Cavs, sign an offer sheet with another team, or continue to sit out. March 1st would be the last day for him to sign an offer sheet this season, if the saga dragged on that long, and if he held out all season, the Cavs would have the chance to issue another qualifying offer to renew his restricted free agency next July. Both the Cavs and Mark Termini, the negotiator for Paul and the Klutch Sports agency, which represents Thompson, have a history with holdouts, as Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports points out.

2:54pm: The Cavaliers had until last night to extend tonight’s deadline, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks points out (Twitter link), and they decided against it, reports USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link), so the clock ticks for Thompson.

THURSDAY, 2:36pm: The Cavs are operating on the assumption that Thompson will be with team in camp Friday, Griffin said today on NBA TV, according to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The qualifying offer disappears if Thompson doesn’t accept it by midnight Cleveland time tonight. He would remain a restricted free agent in that scenario. He would be free to re-sign with the Cavs or sign an offer sheet with another team, and Cleveland would retain the right to match any offer he signs. He would simply be unable to sign Cleveland’s qualifying offer.

“We fully expect he’ll be here in some form or fashion [on Friday] and we’re excited to get going,” Griffin told NBA TV. “We’re hopeful that he wants to move forward with his teammates in the same way we want to have Tristan here. If we can come to some agreement we will.” 

MONDAY, 4:12pm: LeBron James expressed optimism that Tristan Thompson, who continues to linger in restricted free agency, will work out a new deal with the Cavaliers, and GM David Griffin conveyed similar sentiments at media day today, an event that Thompson didn’t attend. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt rounds up comments from Griffin and James.

“€œWe feel very good about where this is because of who Tristan is and because of the competitor he is and because of the relationship he has with his teammates,” Griffin said.

Griffin said “nothing is lost by what Tristan is doing right now” and said that he doesn’t find his ongoing free agency a distraction, as Zillgitt also relays. Thursday is the final day that Thompson may accept his qualifying offer of nearly $6.778MM before it expires, barring the unlikely event that Cleveland decides to push that deadline back.

“Double T is a huge piece of our team, and he showed to the world how important he is in the postseason,”€ James said, according to Zillgitt. €“œI’€™m optimistic about him being back. All sides —€“ the team, the organization, Tristan and myself“ — would love to have him for the long term.”

James, a fellow client of agent Rich Paul, added that he would not get involved in the negotiations, notes Dave McMenamin of (Twitter link), a stance he has maintained for months. James was reportedly planning to delay his signing until after Thompson signed his deal, but the four-time MVP instead inked a new contract with the Cavs in early July.

Griffin admitted he would have loved to have come to a deal with Thompson around that time. It appeared on the opening day of free agency that the sides were close on a five-year, $80MM deal, but the power forward instead has sought the max of around $94MM over five years. It again appeared the sides were close to a signing last week, but Thompson and the team still don’t see eye-to-eye. Thompson has threatened to sign his qualifying offer, which would entail a one-year contract, with Paul insisting he won’t re-sign with Cleveland as an unrestricted free agent if it comes to that. I broke down a handful of contract scenarios for the former No. 4 overall pick earlier this week.

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