Iman Shumpert

Eastern Rumors: Bulls, Celtics, Pistons, Sixers

Bulls GM Gar Forman wouldn’t rule out the idea of trading Jimmy Butler when asked Wednesday night, notes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Both Forman and Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson made it clear no one on the roster is truly off-limits for a trade, Johnson writes, and changes are coming to coach Fred Hoiberg‘s coaching staff, sources tell Johnson. Still, Hoiberg will be sticking around, Paxson confirmed, according to Johnson, and owner Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement backing Forman and Paxson. Paxson confirmed the Bulls would like to re-sign Joakim Noah, Johnson also notes.

See more from Chicago amid news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics refused to give up Jae Crowder in trade talks with the Bulls before the deadline, scuttling any realistic possibility of a trade, league sources tell Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago. Jimmy Butler‘s name reportedly was the center of those discussions, though Goodwill hears they spoke with teams about Derrick Rose and confirms earlier reports that they had Pau Gasol trade talks, too.
  • The Bulls were on board with a trade that would have involved Pau Gasol, Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich going out and Kosta Koufos and Ben McLemore coming in from the Kings, but Sacramento withdrew from those talks when the Sixers, who were to be included as a third team, insisted the Kings relinquish a second-round pick, Goodwill hears. Sacramento was also reluctant to give into the Bulls’ desire to reduce the top-10 protection on the 2016 first-rounder the Kings owe them, according to Goodwill.
  • The Cavaliers made it a priority to sign a perimeter defender like Dahntay Jones as insurance for Iman Shumpert instead of a point guard to offset the injury to Mo Williams because they envision LeBron James running the point in a pinch, accoriding to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The Cavs inked Jones earlier today as Williams reportedly headed to New York for further examination on his sore left knee.
  • Coach Brett Brown said the replacement of GM Sam Hinkie with new president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo won’t result in a change to the team’s playing style, and he called for the front office to focus on strong defenders and veteran big men as they seek offseason upgrades, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Brown also spoke highly of Elton Brand, Pompey notes. Brand is heading back into free agency and isn’t sure he’ll keep playing.

Eastern Notes: Colangelo, Harris, Johnson, Hawks

Bryan Colangelo, who was introduced today as the Sixers‘ new president of basketball operations, defended the controversial “process” championed by his predecessor, Sam Hinkie, writes Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer“I do think it has been a success, because we’re at a jumping-off point now,” Colangelo said. “The organization is poised to take a major leap forward because of what has transpired over these last few years of what I’m going to call a measured rebuilding process.” Brookover isn’t a fan of Philadelphia’s complimentary players, but says the franchise has three valuable pieces in Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, along with three or possibly four first-rounders in this year’s draft. He believes Hinkie was a poor communicator and claims the Sixers are in better hands now that Colangelo is in charge.

There’s more news from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers are eager to move past the avalanche of losing that has marked the past three seasons, according to Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. Philadelphia has sunk to a league-worst 10-70 this season after going 18-64 last year and 19-63 in 2013/14, all while Hinkie tried to stockpile draft picks and young players. “It’s been a tough three years,” co-managing owner Joshua Harris said at a press conference this afternoon. “I think we’ve been very honest with the city and the fans.  I think the fans have been very patient with us.  It’s not easy to build a winner.  It’s not easy to build an elite team.  Now it’s time to move to the next phase.”
  • Joe Johnson would have been a valuable addition to a Cavaliers team that is weak at the backup wing position, contends Jeff Kasler of AmicoHoops. Cleveland was considered an early favorite to land Johnson as he was negotiating his buyout with the Nets, but Johnson opted for Miami because he prefers the Heat’s up-tempo offense. Kasler says Johnson would have given the Cavs quality minutes that Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert aren’t providing and would have allowed more rest time for LeBron James in the postseason.
  • New Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler is planning a major upgrade to Phillips Arena, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Journal Constitution. Ressler, who bought the team nine months ago, claims Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told him the city could finance about half of a planned $200MM to $300MM project. The work is projected to begin in the summer of 2017 and be completed in 2018.

Cavs Notes: Shumpert, Johnson, Lue

The Cavaliers privately deny that they were making Iman Shumpert available in trade talk before the deadline last month, but some in the organization think he might be doing too much to justify the four-year, $40MM contract he signed last summer, reports Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. The fifth-year swingman is averaging career lows in points and field goal percentage since returning in December from a preseason wrist injury, and he often turns the ball over when he tries to drive to the hoop, Lloyd writes.

“His biggest thing for us is defending the best player every single night,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “His shot is going to come and go. Some games, he’s going to get six or seven shots, some games he gets two shots. I’m not really worried about his shots and his scoring. He just has to step up and shoot them with confidence. But for the most part, for Shump and for us, his value is every single night guarding the best player, which he’s done a great job of.”

See more on the Eastern Conference leaders:

  • Some Cavs players were convinced that Joe Johnson would sign with the team and were already talking about the sort of lineup they could play with him on the roster, Lloyd writes in a separate piece. Johnson instead signed with the Heat after earlier reports that he envisioned joining the Cavs.
  • Tremendous weight is on Lue’s shoulders as he navigates his first NBA head coaching job and deals with immediate expectations of a title, but he’s keeping perspective, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com examines. “I want to win and I know I’m supposed to win, but I think the biggest thing for me is I have to do the best job I can do, but then also enjoy it,” Lue said. “I just can’t put the pressure on of winning a championship, winning a championship, because then I’d never be able to sleep.”
  • The “word is” the Cavs signed Sasha Kaun last summer to give since-deposed coach David Blatt an ally in the locker room, according to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Haynes reported last week that Cavs players were angry that the team decided against re-signing Kendrick Perkins to instead do the deal with Kaun. Perkins played the role of enforcer for Cleveland last season, and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving say having someone to fill that gritty capacity is vital, Haynes notes. Still, it’s “laughable” to suggest that Cavs players don’t think they have enough to win the championship as is, McMenamin opines.

Kings Interested In Iman Shumpert

10:27am: The would-be deal to send Shumpert to Sacramento is losing steam, Jones hears (on Twitter).

8:20am: The Kings would like to trade with the Cavaliers for Iman Shumpert, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, who indicates that the teams are working off of a proposal that would have Ben McLemore and Kosta Koufos going to Cleveland and Timofey Mozgov joining Shumpert on the Kings. Shumpert was unlikely to be traded as of late Wednesday, as Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reported, but McLemore and Koufos are reportedly of interest to the Cavs. Cleveland has apparently explored trading Mozgov but met with rejection on that front from Sacramento.

McLemore and Koufos are also part of a deal the Kings are apparently discussing with Chicago involving Pau Gasol. Both Sacramento and Cleveland are working on multiple fronts, and its unclear how much of a priority either side is making the other. The Kings-Cavs proposal would be a money-saver for Cleveland, since Shumpert’s salary of almost $8.989MM and Mozgov’s $4.95MM pay totals about $3.1MM more than the combined salaries of Koufos ($7.7MM) and McLemore (close to $3.157MM).

The Cavs would save many times that amount in projected luxury tax penalties. However, it would be a wash in terms of long-term salary commitments, since Mozgov is the only one on an expiring deal. Shumpert is fresh off signing a four-year, $40MM deal in the offseason, at about the same time Koufos landed a four-year, $32.879MM contract with Sacramento. McLemore is in year three of a four-year rookie scale contract and the Kings are reportedly “desperate” to find him a new home as they work with his camp to find a trade partner.

Cavs Expected To Keep Love, Shumpert, Varejao

Despite a flurry of last-minute trade rumors, the most likely outcome is that Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and Anderson Varejao all stay with Cleveland past the deadline, according to Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Lloyd adds that a minor deal is possible to improve the back end of the Cavs’ rotation.

That would be a blow to the Celtics’ dreams of adding Love in a rumored three-way deal with the Pelicans. It would also mean that Varejao isn’t headed to Orlando in exchange for Channing Frye, perhaps clearing the way for the Magic to ship Frye to the Clippers.

Lloyd writes that the Cavaliers want to take another shot at winning a title with Love and are reluctant to give up Shumpert, who is the team’s best perimeter defender. They have been trying for most of the season to find a taker for Varejao, who still has two years and nearly $19MM in guaranteed money remaining on his contract, but have been turned down repeatedly.

Lloyd confirms Cleveland’s interest in Frye, who spent time with Cavs GM David Griffin in Phoenix, but the writer believes other teams can put together better offers. The Cavaliers also have payroll concerns, already facing about $170MM in salary and luxury tax penalties.

Cavs Make Iman Shumpert Available?

TUESDAY, 12:05pm: The Cavs intend to keep Shumpert, barring an unforeseen major offer from another team, sources told Sam Amico of Amico Hoops.

9:12pm: Cleveland isn’t actively thinking about trading Shumpert, whose name simply came up because his contract was a fit for salary matching purposes in a larger proposal, reports Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links).

MONDAY, 2:42pm: The Cavaliers are making Iman Shumpert available for a trade, report Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Cleveland had been seeking a three-and-D wing to back him up, given his history of injuries, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported a month ago, but now it seems the Cavs would be willing to send out Shumpert himself. He’s making close to $8.988MM this season in the first year of a four-year, $40MM deal he signed with Cleveland just this past summer.

Shumpert is averaging a career-low 6.2 points this season, one in which he’s played in only 30 of Cleveland’s 52 games so far thanks to a preseason wrist injury. His 3-point shooting is off, at 32.2%, his lowest rate of accuracy since he shot 30.6% from behind the line as a rookie in 2011/12. Still, he’s the sixth best shooting guard in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus Minus and is having his finest season to date on D according to the Basketball-Reference Box Plus Minus metric.

Cleveland appears to be operating on multiple fronts in addition to the search for wing players, as they’ve been eyeing big man Kosta Koufos, Stein reported earlier today, while also reportedly shopping Kevin Love. The Cavs want a star in return for Love, and not the role players and draft picks the Celtics have offered in their recent talks, Stein and Windhorst hear.

Knicks Rumors: Lowry, Bryant, Fisher, Porzingis

Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry thought he was headed to the Knicks in a December 2013 trade, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The proposed deal, which would have solved New York’s ongoing problem at point guard, would have sent Lowry from Toronto to the Knicks in exchange for Metta World Peace, Iman Shumpert and a future first-round draft pick. “That deal was done,” said Lowry, but it was reportedly stopped by New York owner James Dolan, who was hesitant to make another trade with Toronto GM Masai Ujiri so soon after sending several assets to Ujiri in Denver in exchange for Carmelo Anthony. Toronto was willing to move Lowry at the time because the front office wasn’t sure it could keep him in free agency. Lowry is currently in the second season of a four-year, $48MM deal he signed in the summer of 2014. “At the end of the day, the decision was made for me to be here and it worked out equally, perfectly for both parties,” Lowry said.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Kobe Bryant understands the circumstances that got Derek Fisher, his former teammate, fired as coach of the Knicks, according to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Fisher was dismissed Monday with New York mired in a 1-9 slump. Bryant also has connections to Knicks president Phil Jackson and interim coach Kurt Rambis, who both used to be part of the coaching staff in L.A. “They felt they needed a change so they made a change. It’s pretty black and white to me,” Bryant said. “Derek’s like a brother, always has been. But still it’s hard to be a coach somewhere and last your entire career there. He’s had a good run there and now it’s time for a change.”
  • Rookie Kristaps Porzingis believes Fisher was let go to send a message to the team, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Porzingis said players occasionally lost focus and something had to change to make a late-season playoff run. He doesn’t question the decision to give Rambis a shot at turning things around. “They know what they’re doing,’’ he said of Knicks management. “They have a lot of experience. I’m nobody to judge their decisions. I felt guilty for that happening.”

Cavs Seek Three-And-D Wing Player

Influential Cavs players are open to trading for Markieff Morris, but the front office is instead looking for a defensive-minded wing player who can effectively shoot spot-up jumpers from long range, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer hears. Cavs higher-ups want that three-and-D wing to back up Iman Shumpert, concerned that the way Shumpert plays will again leave him injured, just as he was to start the season with a wrist issue that cost him the team’s first 21 games, Haynes reports.

The Suns have made Morris “very available” for a trade, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote last month, amid a losing season, a benching, and a back-and-forth that included a summer trade demand, a media day backtracking, and a suspension for throwing a towel at coach Jeff Hornacek. Cavs players nonetheless think he’d be solid if veteran voices LeBron James, Richard Jefferson and James Jones were in his ear, according to Haynes. However, the Cavs brass is worried Morris would upset team chemistry, Haynes hears. The players also like the idea of adding Morris as insurance behind Kevin Love, Haynes writes. Love, like Shumpert, has had trouble with injuries in the past.

The Cavs have an open roster spot after trading Joe Harris to the Magic this week, a move that helped reduce Cleveland’s massive projected tax bill. The team is nonetheless in line to shell out about $170MM between payroll and taxes, and trading for Morris and his $8MM salary using its $10,522,500 trade exception would send that figure about $25MM higher, putting the Cavs in position to break the record of the 2013/14 Nets, who laid out more than $193MM, for the most money spent in a single season. The alternative would be to send matching salary to Phoenix, but either way, the Suns would likely want assets the Cavs simply don’t have, Haynes posits. The Suns are reportedly looking for young players or draft picks in exchange for Morris, and the Cavs have unloaded many such assets since going into win-now mode upon LeBron’s 2014 return.

Three-and-D wing players are tough to find on the trade market. The Suns have rugged defender P.J. Tucker, a career 35.5% 3-point shooter, but they’ve given no indication that they’re prepared to deal him yet.

Which do you think the Cavs need more, a three-and-D wing or Morris? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Cavs Notes: Williams, Jefferson, Smith, Shumpert

Having a healthy roster for the first time in more than a year is cutting into the playing time of some Cavaliers veterans, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon-Journal. It’s a situation that Anderson Varejao has been dealing with all year. Now Mo Williams is joining him and Richard Jefferson could be in the same situation, Lloyd speculates. Williams signed with the Cavs over the summer to handle the point guard duties while Kyrie Irving recovered from a fractured kneecap. Now that Irving is healthy, Williams’ playing time has plummeted. He was held out of a game against the Suns last week, then played just five minutes against the Warriors and 10 against the Blazers. Lloyd writes that it’s obvious Williams has fallen to third on the point guard depth chart behind Irving and Matthew Dellavedova“Guys gotta understand and I’ve told them this, only so many guys can play,” said coach David Blatt. “That’s just the reality of the limitations of the game. Some guys may find themselves for no other reason other than that not playing many minutes or not playing at all.”

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • Some veterans on the team weren’t happy with Blatt’s decision to not play Jefferson in the Christmas Day game against Golden State, Lloyd writes in the same piece. The writer believes Blatt will have to eventually decide between Jefferson and J.R. Smith for a rotation spot. Smith is currently a starter, but Lloyd expects Iman Shumpert to take over his role when Irving’s minutes restriction is lifted.
  • Williams showed up at the locker room barely an hour before game time Saturday, then seemed to be a reluctant participant in cheering his teammates, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The writer sees the Cavs as primed for another run at the NBA Finals, but warns a counterproductive influence could help derail that.
  • Cleveland’s renewed defensive prowess has coincided with Shumpert’s return to the lineup, Lloyd writes in a separate story. Since Shumpert came back from a wrist injury three weeks ago, the Cavs lead the league in defensive field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage and are behind only the Spurs in points allowed per 100 possessions.

Atlantic Notes: Lopez, Landry, Zeller

The emergence of rookie Kristaps Porzingis clouds the future of Knicks offseason signee Robin Lopez, surmises Marc Berman of the New York Post, who earlier reported that the team is thinking about taking Lopez out of the starting five. He’s played 20 minutes or fewer in seven of his last nine games, though he’s shown hints of more efficient play and says he’s beginning to get a handle on the triangle offense, as Berman relays.

“I’m starting to see the opportunities,’’ Lopez said. “I’m starting to see when I’m supposed to look for me — on the block. When I’m supposed look for the pick and roll, where the cuts are going to be. I know it will get better. I’m getting a better idea of what I’m supposed to do offensively.’’

See more on the Knicks and the rest of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Cavs are in first place in the Eastern Conference with J.R. Smith and a now-healthy Iman Shumpert, but the Knicks have seen strong play from Lance Thomas, and coach Derek Fisher doesn’t regret New York’s participation in last January’s three-way trade with Cleveland and Oklahoma City. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News has the details. “Seems like both for J.R. and Shump it’s worked out well. They seem happy,” Fisher said Tuesday. “We like our team as it is at this point.”
  • Sixers offseason trade acquisition Carl Landry, the only player on the team older than 25, made his season debut Wednesday after a wrist injury cost him the first two months of the season, and he’s embracing a leadership role, observes Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. The team has been in the market for additional veteran influences of late.
  • Tyler Zeller was an extension candidate this past summer, but the Celtics were reportedly interested in a deal only if it would come at a discount to them, and that hesitancy seems wise now that the center is averaging only 8.5 minutes a game. Still, the soon-to-be free agent posted a season-high 14 points Monday, and his lack of complaints about fluctuating minutes reveals a value, coach Brad Stevens contends, as A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNBoston.com notes. The Celtics organization is “even more endeared” to Zeller because of the way he’s handled the situation, Stevens said, according to Blakely.

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