Eastern Notes: Mozgov, Lee, Ujiri

Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov has seen himself go from a starter to a reserve this season, which has multiple teams inquiring about his availability via trade, Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports relays. Cleveland has not expressed any desire to move the center publicly, but the team’s daunting luxury tax bill, as well as Mozgov’s pending free agency, could eventually persuade the team to deal him, Spears adds. The 29-year-old has appeared in 30 games for the Cavaliers this season, including 25 as a starter, and he is averaging 6.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per night.

Here’s more from out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Wesley Matthews “badly wanted” this past summer to sign with the Raptors, who had mutual interest, but the thought of signing a player still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon was too much for the Raptors to bear, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange writes. That led Toronto to DeMarre Carroll, who’s since suffered injuries of his own, though GM Masai Ujiri played hardball, telling Carroll when he met with him that the team’s offer would come off the table if he didn’t commit before the end of the meeting. Carroll, of course, ended up signing with the Raptors for $58MM over four years. It’s much too early to say the Carroll signing was a mistake, but his injury illustrates how even seemingly safe choices carry risk, leaving the Raptors in limbo, Grange argues.
  • Ujiri said he was “torn” before he made the decision to turn down a “great offer” to stay with the Nuggets to become Raptors GM in the summer of 2013, calling Denver team president Josh Kroenke “like a brother” in an appearance on “The Vertical” podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (audio link at 21:30 mark). “It haunts you for a long time,” Ujiri said. “I know I made the right decision, but sometimes I don’t know if I failed with loyalty there.” Still, the lure of the Raptors, whom Ujiri called a top-three organization in the league, proved too strong.
  • David Lee chose his words carefully as he expressed frustration and disagreement to reporters about the decision Celtics coach Brad Stevens made to take him out of the rotation, making it clear that he still respects the coach and hadn’t requested a trade, as MassLive’s Jay King relays. Still, Lee said that his lack of playing time is more frustrating this year than it was in Golden State last year. The Celtics are already reportedly making him available in trade talk.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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