The Cavaliers are not engaged in trade talks involving power forward Kevin Love, GM David Griffin said Monday during a radio interview, according to ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst. Love’s production has dropped since point guard Kyrie Irving returned to the lineup last month following his recovery from a knee injury. But Griffin believes he won’t find a deal for Love that would improve their chances of winning the title, Windhorst adds. “You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin said on ESPN 850 AM in Cleveland. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.”
In other news around the Eastern Conference:
- Sixers GM Sam Hinkie should have been fired long ago for the way he’s gone about rebuilding the team, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Dick Jerardi opines. Hinkie should have never drafted injured center Joel Embiid or acquired the rights to power forward Dario Saric, who is still in Europe, Jerardi explains. He also left coach Brett Brown without a competent point guard this season until Jerry Colangelo was added to the front office and Ish Smith was re-acquired from the Pelicans, Jerardi continues. All the first-round picks that Hinkie has stockpiled are just a marketing ploy, Jerardi adds.
- Smith’s impact on the Sixers shows up in advanced statistics, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders demonstrates. In the first 14 games Smith has played with the Sixers this season, their offense has scored 98.5 points per 100 possessions, compared to a league-worst 91.8 points per 100 possessions prior to his arrival, Taylor points out. The defense has also shown improvement, allowing 102.9 points per 100 possessions, which is 10th in the league since December 26th, Taylor adds. “I think we’re growing up – knowing what are good shots and what are bad shots, knowing the defensive schemes, what Coach [Brown] what really wants for us,” Smith told Taylor. “Offensively, moving the ball [and] playing off of each other. I think just overall, we’re playing good basketball.”
- Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas has shown improved passing skills this month, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports. Valanciunas averaged 1.7 assists in the team’s first 10 games this month, compared to his 0.5 average last season. “Our key of success is moving the ball, so I just want to be part of it,” Valanciunas told Wolstat. “I don’t want to just be the guy who is holding the ball too much. I’m trying to make everybody happy.”