Aside from shedding light on Tristan Thompson as arguably the Cavaliers' most valuable player (aside from Kyrie Irving), Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer makes the case that Cleveland will have to add a couple of experienced and productive veterans through trades or free agency if they are to make significant progress in 2013-14. We've got a few more notes to share out of Ohio tonight:
- Pluto finds it odd that Irving didn't comment on Byron Scott, especially considering that Thompson gave the head coach a strong vote of confidence. Even if Irving was wary of saying the wrong thing, it didn't seem to indicate that all was well between the two.
- The team will offer restricted free agent Wayne Ellington some type of contract for next year, and although they'd like for Marreese Speights to exercise his $4.5MM player option, they'll also take a look at the type of offers he'll get if he declines.
- After an injury-riddled season and one of his worst statistically, Daniel Gibson tells Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer that he doesn't want to end his tenure with the Cavaliers this way and would be willing to consider any offer that they'd give him this summer.
- Mary Schmitt Boyer (also of The Plain Dealer) answered a bunch of questions from her readers about the Cavs, saying that the team should look to add a defensive specialist this summer and isn't sure whether or not Byron Scott will be back. Boyer doesn't think Scott should be fired, and believes that the team will make the playoffs if they are healthy next season.
- Cleveland has four draft picks in June, and Boyer doesn't foresee them ultimately adding four rookies to an already young roster. With that being said, she expects some of those picks to be shopped.
The Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto believes that the Cavaliers will have to tread carefully with Kyrie Irving's health, as he says that the young star has missed a significant amount of time over his first two seasons due to several different basketball-related injuries. Whether it involves reducing his minutes or learning how to manage his game to take less hits, Irving's durability will have to take top priority for Byron Scott and the organization, opines Pluto. Here are a handful of more significant notes about the Cavs from his column on Cleveland sports:
- The team will likely part ways with Daniel Gibson this summer, when the 6'2 guard is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.
- Wayne Ellington, a restricted free agent, will probably be re-signed.
- C.J. Miles has a $2.25MM team option and will likely be kept.
- Whether or not the Cavaliers keep Shaun Livingston will depend on the price that the market sets for him.
- While Dion Waiters is still prone to making rookie mistakes, the rookie out of Syracuse has made noticeable improvements over the course of the season. With Kyrie out of the lineup, Pluto thinks this will be a key opportunity for Waiters to handle the ball more.
- Although the team's biggest needs include a small forward or a big man, Irving's injuries may prompt the team to draft a guard in June.
Last night was a tough one for the Central Division, as both the Bulls and Pacers lost competitive battles against the Celtics and Spurs. The exception to the rule was Kyrie Irving and his Cavaliers, who defeated the struggling Jazz at home. Here are a few notes from around one of basketball's toughest divisions.
Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey are the two Pistons players other teams ask about most, and sources tell Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press that while Detroit is likely to wait to make another major move until summer, a smaller deal isn't out of the question. "You have already had the main course. You aren't getting seconds," a source told Ellis, referencing the Jose Calderon/ Tayshaun Prince swap before adding, "You might get dessert."
While we wait to bite into the sweet spot of trade deadline chatter in the days to come, here's more of what we're hearing from the Eastern Conference:
No division race is tighter than the Central, where the Bulls hold a half-game lead over the Pacers, while he Bucks sit three back in the loss column. Derrick Rose and Danny Granger will soon return to Chicago and Indiana, respectively, so we'll see how that affects the dynamics of the race. In the meantime, here's what's happening around the division:
- The Cavs are open to using their $4MM in cap space to absorb an otherwise unwanted player in exchange for a draft pick, but Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal believes the team is done dealing this year. Signing Greg Oden is another possibility for that cap space, as Lloyd notes as he answers more questions from his Twitter followers.
- Cavs shooting guard Wayne Ellington, acquired in last week's trade with the Grizzlies, will be a restricted free agent this summer, and though he didn't address his future plans, he spoke to Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer about his Charlotte connections and mentioned that he's best friends with Bobcats swingman Gerald Henderson, who's also set to hit restricted free agency.
- Sam Young demonstrated why the Pacers re-signed him this week with his defense against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in last night's blowout of the Heat, observes Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. Wells writes that Young will have an impact the rest of the season, which suggests he isn't merely on a 10-day contract; when Young signed, the terms were unclear.
- MLive's David Mayo, in a pair of features, breaks down the impact that new starting point guard Jose Calderon will have on Detroit's rotation, and Matt Moore of CBSSports.com wonders why the Pistons aren't shopping Jonas Jerebko, who's struggled to find a role.
- Hunter Atkins of The New York Times looks at the rapid improvement of Larry Sanders, whom Atkins compares to Tyson Chandler. Sanders will be up for an extension on his rookie deal with the Bucks this summer.
Jacque Vaughn, whose quiet approach has been the polar opposite of Stan Van Gundy's, has provided patience and poise to a franchise that has been looking to move on after last year's turbulent atmosphere with Dwight Howard (Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel). Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel says that although the Magic are enduring some growing pains, the young club has been showing encouraging signs of development. We have a few more miscellaneous links to share out of the Eastern Conference tonight:
Marc Stein of ESPN.com has posted his latest Weekend Dime column, which features updates on a variety of trade-related topics from around the NBA. Here are the highlights:
- GMs around the league view the Celtics as likely to make a move. They have interest in J.J. Redick, and executives speculate that they may finally decide to move Paul Pierce or Rajon Rondo.
- Some GMs believe a three-team trade is possible that would send Pierce to the Grizzlies, Rudy Gay to the Lakers, and Pau Gasol to Boston.
- After their trade with the Cavs this week, the Grizzlies' roster is down to 11 players and they have 14 days to sign at least two players to meet the minimum requirement of 13. Memphis looked at Delonte West but decided against signing the veteran guard, Stein reports.
- Stein notes that Memphis received three separate trade exceptions in the trade. Marreese Speights landed them an exception worth $4.2MM, while Wayne Ellington's was worth $2MM and Josh Selby's was worth $762,195.
- Although the Cavaliers think highly of Speights and have wanted him for years, the forward is already drawing interest from other teams and could be moved before the February 21 trading deadline. Stein identifies Daniel Gibson and Omri Casspi as the other two Cleveland players most likely to be traded.
- The Suns are said to be shopping Jared Dudley, Marcin Gortat, and Luis Scola in light of the team's struggles this season. It should be noted that Scola, having been claimed after being waived with the amnesty clause, cannot be traded until after this season.
- Stein's column also featured a Q&A with 28-year-old former lottery pick Rashad McCants, who is playing with the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League in hopes of eventually making another run at an NBA career.
The Grizzlies and Cavaliers have offically finalized a deal that sends Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a protected first-round draft pick to Cleveland in exchange for Jon Leuer, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The Cavaliers have waived Jeremy Pargo to clear room on their roster for the incoming players.
Memphis has been at the center of a number of trade rumors this
month, a result of the team's reported desire to get below the tax line.
While most of those rumors have involved more expensive players like Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph, I noted last week
that Speights was another candidate to be dealt, since moving his $4MM+
salary would be enough to get the Grizzlies out of the tax. That's
essentially what Memphis is doing in this deal with the Cavs, moving Speights along with Ellington's $2.08MM expiring contract. Selby and Leuer are a wash, earning identical $762,195 salaries.
Cleveland has the room to absorb Ellington's and Speights' salaries under the cap, while the Grizzlies will move below the tax line for 2012/13. Memphis should also obtain a handful of trade exceptions in the transaction, worth the amount of Speights', Ellington's, and Selby's salaries -- $4,200,000, $2,083,042, and $762,195 respectively.
Speights, 25, was a productive rotation piece for the Grizzlies last year after the team acquired him from the 76ers, starting 54 contests for the club and averaging 8.8 PPG and 6.2 RPG. However, he has seen a reduced role in Memphis this season, with his minutes being reduced from 22.4 per game to 14.5. Because he was playing on a one-year contract (excluding his second-year player option) following his rookie deal, the forward had the rights to veto a trade, but he agreed to be dealt to the Cavs due to that lack of playing time in Memphis, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link).
For the Cavaliers, Selby and Memphis' pick act as sweeteners to compensate the Cavs for taking on salary, including Speights' $4.52MM player option for 2013/14. Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld wrote yesterday that Selby, who excelled in the Summer League in July, was waiting for an opportunity to try to translate that success to the regular season. He figures to have a better chance to receive that opportunity in Cleveland.
Meanwhile, the first-rounder heading to the Cavs is protected from 1-5 and 15-30 in 2015 and 2016, before being top-five protected in 2017 and 2018 and unprotected in 2019. Like the first-rounder that was traded by the Raptors to the Rockets (and eventually to the Thunder) over the summer, the unique protection makes it a likely lottery pick.
Despite clearing Speights from next year's books, the Grizzlies still project to be likely taxpayers in 2013/14 and '14/15, so as Grantland's Zach Lowe points out (via Twitter), the club could explore more cost-cutting deals in the summer. The trade also brings the Grizzlies' roster to 11 players, two below the NBA minimum, so free agent signings will be required. Memphis is currently considering Delonte West and Bill Walker, among others.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links), Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld (all Twitter links), and Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link) were all involved in breaking various details of the story.
This year's deadline for extension-eligible fourth-year players to sign new deals is just hours away, arriving at 11:00pm CT today. Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka, and Ty Lawson came into the day as the only players with new contracts, while Stephen Curry reached an unexpected agreement with the Warriors this morning and James Harden agreed to a maximum deal with the Rockets this afternoon. Will we see any other extensions signed before the night is out? We'll track today's extension-related rumors and rumblings right here:
- Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago reports Taj Gibson is seeking a four-year extension worth $40MM while the Bulls are offering $32MM. Sam notes a $36MM figure in the middle would be equal to what fellow forwards Ryan Anderson and Jeff Green got over the summer, and less than the $10MM or more Sam believes Gibson could command as a restricted free agent next summer (All Twitter links).
- The Cavs have passed on an extension for Omri Casspi, the Plain Dealer reports via Twitter.
- The Warriors had no intention of letting Stephen Curry go, regardless of whether they reached an extension, and the same is true for the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan, tweets Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.
- A league source told Kyler that Ty Lawson's extension "set some things in motion" regarding extensions for other players (Twitter link).
- In a piece discussing the team's decision to pick up Quincy Pondexter's option, Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes the Grizzlies never spoke with Arn Tellem, the agent for Wayne Ellington, about an extension for his client.
- Jrue Holiday is content however his extension negotiations with the Sixers turn out, writes John Finger of CSNPhilly.com. “I’m happy and I want to be here and if we wait until the end of the season there are more options. I’m happy either way,” Holiday said.
- The Bulls and Taj Gibson's camp are still talking, according to TNT's David Aldridge, and agent Mark Bartelstein told Shama Charania of RealGM.com, "Never say never" (Twitterlinks).
- Gibson told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune he doesn't think he'll change his mind and accept the Bulls offer after the game tonight. "I doubt it," Gibson said. "Gotta move on."
- A source close to talks between the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan expressed a hint of optimism that a deal will be reached, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
- The Bulls' offer to Taj Gibson isn't changing, and the two sides are separated by roughly $8MM on a four-year proposal, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).
- A deal between the Grizzlies and Wayne Ellington won't take place, tweets Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, who adds Ellington was well aware he wouldn't get an extension.
- Talks about extensions for Taj Gibson and Jrue Holiday are expected to go "down to the wire," Ken Berger of CBSSports.com hears (Twitter link).
- Jrue Holiday tells Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com that the Sixers have come back to him and his agent with a counter-offer regarding an extension. There's no indication of how close the team's offer is to getting something done, but Holiday says there's some reason for optimism, according to Moore (Twitterlinks).
- A source close to the talks between the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan is pessimistic about the chances of an extension agreement, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. However, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun hears that a deal, one in the neighborhood of four years and $34MM, is is still possible. Earlier this afternoon, we heard from Adrian Wojnarowski and Wolstat that the two sides were making progress (links below).
- Barring a late surge of momentum, an extension for Taj Gibson from the Bulls appears unlikely, says Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter).
- With an extension from the Bucks almost certainly not coming today, Brandon Jennings had mixed feelings, writes Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Wayne Ellington was prepared not to receive a contract extension from the Grizzlies, telling Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link): "It’s always something you think about. Now it’s something I’ve got to work for."
- While there's no deal in place yet, the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan have made progress in talks on a four-year extension, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun hears the same thing (Twitter link).
After initially expressing skepticism that a deal would get done,
Wolstat now thinks there's a 75% chance the two sides work something
out, predicting an annual salary of $8MM+ (Twitterlinks).
- All signals continue to suggest the Raptors won't be extending DeMar DeRozan today, tweets ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
- Jrue Holiday still isn't ruling out an extension, telling Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com "you never know what will happen" (Twitter link). One league source places the odds of the Sixers extending Holiday at 50/50, tweets Ken Berger of CBS Sports, while Moore hears the point guard is seeking $12-13MM annually (Twitter link).
- The Bulls "remain hopeful" that Taj Gibson will accept their extension offer by tonight, says Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com.
- James Harden has yet to sign an extension with the Rockets, but it's still expected to happen before the end of the day, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.
- Reports continue to suggest that Brandon Jennings will not be extended by the Bucks before tonight's deadline. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is the latest to say that Jennings isn't expected to receive a new deal, citing multiple sources.
- Jrue Holiday hasn't heard anything from the 76ers or his agent about a possible extension, tweets Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News. Holiday added that Lawson's $48MM extension doesn't affect him, since "I want what I want" (Twitter link via Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com).
- It appears the Sixers are at least still exploring a new contract for Holiday. Head coach Doug Collins told the media that Tony DiLeo didn't come to the team's shootaround, likely because the GM was in his office talking about a potential Holiday extension (Twitter link via Cooney).
In dealing James Harden to the Rockets, the Thunder ensured that the gold medalist will likely remain in the Western Conference for years to come. In his weekly Morning Tip piece at NBA.com, TNT's David Aldridge notes that while that may come as a surprise, there weren't many logical fits with Eastern Conference clubs.
The Thunder liked Bradley Beal, but the Wizards weren't interested in dealing the third overall pick. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, meanwhile, tweets that the Magic had some pieces that could have enticed Oklahoma City, but Orlando probably wouldn't have given Harden the max. The Magic ended up not getting involved in the Harden sweepstakes, tweets Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
Here are a few more Monday afternoon updates from around the Western Conference, with just over 24 hours until the NBA regular season gets underway:
- Within his NBA.com column, Aldridge reports that the final sale price of the Grizzlies to Robert Pera's ownership group was $377MM.
- Wayne Ellington remains unlikely to be extended by the Grizzlies before Wednesday, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
- Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com wonders if carrying so many players in contract years could blow up for the Mavericks.
- NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper spoke to Seattle mayor Mike McGinn about the possibility of the NBA returning to his city. McGinn said that he's rooting for Sacramento to keep the Kings, since he knows what it feels like to lose a team, but is still hopeful about professional basketball coming back to Seattle.
- Nuggets center JaVale McGee is going to have to learn how to deal with the burden of having a big contract and the attention that brings, writes Adrian Dater of the Denver Post.
- The Lakers and Clippers both head into the 2012/13 season hoping that revamped benches will help them contend for a title, says Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News.
- Sam Smith of Bulls.com believes that, even without Harden, the Thunder are the team to beat in the Western Conference.
- Luke Zeller's contract includes a $50K guarantee, so if he opens the season with the Suns, that doesn't mean he'll be with the team all year, says Mark Deeks of ShamSports (Twitter links).