J.R. Smith, and not Iman Shumpert, was the player whom LeBron James most wanted the Cavs to obtain from the Knicks, according to Brian WIndhorst of ESPN.com (audio link), who spoke on the B.S. Report podcast with Grantland’s Bill Simmons, as RealGM transcribes. Of course, Cleveland traded for both in the January deal that sent out Dion Waiters.
“He [James] is so excited about the talent on this team,” Windhorst said. “He loves playing with [Timofey] Mozgov. He loves Smith. He was the guy who pushed for that trade. The Cavs were trying to get Iman Shumpert; that’s what the conversations were and of course the Knicks were saying ‘We’ll give you Shumpert, but you have to take J.R.’ They went to LeBron and he said ‘No, you get J.R. and if you get Shumpert with him that’s great.’ He, I think, really loves their top seven.”
Here’s more from around the league:
- Lance Stephenson says that despite his struggles during his first season in Charlotte, he doesn’t regret signing with the Hornets, Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes. “I love this system. I love my coaches. I love my teammates,” Stephenson said. “Some people come into systems and fit right in. Some people it takes time. I feel like with me I’m going to take time.” In 58 appearances this season Stephenson has averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 26.4 minutes per night.
- Murray State sophomore guard Cameron Payne is leaning toward entering this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports. Payne averaged 20.2 points and 5.7 assists while shooting 37.7% from three-point range this season. The 20-year-old is ranked No. 23 by Chad Ford of ESPN.com and No. 32 by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
- New No. 1 prospect Karl-Anthony Towns, Justise Winslow, Frank Kaminsky and Jerian Grant are among those who helped themselves during the second week of the NCAA Tournament, according to Ford, who writes in an Insider-only piece. Still, no prospect has boosted his stock more during the tournament than Sam Dekker, whom Ford believes has risen into the back end of the top 20 prospects.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.