Ante Zizic

Cavs Pick Up 2019/20 Option On Ante Zizic

The Cavaliers have exercised their third-year option on center Ante Zizic, a source tells Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The team had until October 31 to pick up the option, which guarantees Zizic’s salary for the 2019/20 season.

Zizic, 21, was one of the players acquired by Cleveland in last year’s Kyrie Irving blockbuster. The Croatian big man didn’t see much action in his rookie season, but could be in line for a larger role in 2018/19, particularly if the Cavaliers go into full-fledged rebuild mode. So far this season, Zizic has posted 3.4 PPG and 2.0 RPG in five games (7.2 MPG).

With veteran players occupying many of the roster spots in Cleveland, Zizic’s was the only rookie scale option decision the Cavs had to make by this fall’s deadline. The move will add another $2,281,800 in guaranteed money to the club’s books for next season.

Cleveland will have one more option decision to make on Zizic by October 31, 2019. Assuming the team exercises his fourth-year option for 2020/21 before that deadline, the young center will become extension-eligible during the summer of 2020 and would be on track for restricted free agency in 2021.

We’re keeping tabs on all of the 2019/20 rookie scale option decisions from around the NBA right here.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Nance, Smith, Lue

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue plans to have Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. share the starting center’s role depending on the matchup, according to Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon-Journal. Thompson will be the starter against teams with taller centers, while Nance will match up against smaller and quicker opponents.

“Last year it kind of wore Larry down trying to guard those big guys the whole game,” Lue said after today’s practice. “That’s a lot to ask for him to guard Dwight [Howard] and [Andre] Drummond and all those big guys, it’s not fair to him, DeAndre Jordan … I talked to those guys before camp started and kind of told them what the situation was. Larry loved it.”

Nance started 10 of the 24 games he played for the Cavs after being acquired from the Lakers at the trade deadline. He was used entirely in a reserve role during the playoffs. Thompson, formerly Cleveland’s full-time starter, appeared in just 53 games last season and started 22. He was the starter in 11 of the 19 postseason games he played.

Kevin Love, who started 48 games at center last season, will move back to power forward but will switch onto opposing centers on defense. Ante Zizic will also see time in the middle.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • A new tattoo may cost J.R. Smith some money this season if he doesn’t cover it up, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Smith has the logo of the Supreme clothing brand on the back of his right leg and reacted angrily to threatened disciplinary action from the league. “So you mean to tell me I have to cover up my tattoo for what?” he tweeted. “You don’t make people cover up Jordan logos, NIKE checks or anything else but because it’s me it’s a problem all of a sudden!!!”
  • Smith hopes his younger teammates can learn from some of the mistakes he has made in his career, Fedor writes in a separate story. Smith’s time in the NBA has been filled with questionable decisions, including a soup-throwing incident last year and a clock-related gaffe at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “If I ain’t a lesson teacher I don’t know who is,” he said. “Obviously I’ve made tons of mistakes throughout my life on and off the court. If you can’t learn from my mistakes and listen to what I have to say, then more power to you and God bless you.”
  • Lue announced a “no tanking” policy this week, but a rough start to the season could test that philosophy, Ridenour notes in another piece.

Central Rumors: Redick, Irving, Brown, Cavs

Sixers guard J.J. Redick nearly signed with the Pacers in free agency, he revealed during a podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Redick’s comment was tweeted by Scott Agness of The Athletic. Redick stayed with Philadelphia after the Sixers improved their one-year offer to $12.25MM but that was still less than the Pacers were willing to pay. “I wouldn’t have started but I felt like I fit what they needed,” Redick said. “I just envisioned playing two-man (game) with (Domantas) Sabonis.”

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ desire to sign Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving could have a negative impact on the Bulls’ free agency plans next summer, according to an NBC Sports Chicago post. The Knicks have reportedly made Irving their No. 1 target in free agency and it’s been previously rumored that Irving and Jimmy Butler might join forces. If the Bulls wanted to bring back Butler after trading him away last summer, Irving’s potential interest in the Knicks could sidetrack that plan, the report adds.
  • One of the officers involved in the Sterling Brown arrest last January has been fired, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story passed along by NBC Sports. The Bucks swingman filed a civil lawsuit against the Milwaukee police department after he was arrested and tasered for a parking violation. The officer was fired for violating social media policy and not for his conduct the night of Brown’s arrest, the city’s police chief told the Journal Sentinel.
  • The Cavaliers could be more interesting and successful without LeBron James than many people expect, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. The development of first-round pick Collin SextonAnte Zizic and Cedi Osman will be intriguing to watch and GM Koby Altman will likely make more moves during the season to reshape the team’s future, Pluto continues. Trading J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, who have seemed disinterested during the regular season during the James era, would move the process along, Pluto adds.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Lue, James, Zizic

Kevin Love has a chance to raise his trade value by the February deadline, which may explain why the Cavaliers aren’t putting him on the market now, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. GM Koby Altman said this week that the organization “doesn’t get better” by moving Love, and a rival executive that Pluto talked to agrees.

With LeBron James gone, Love will become the new focus of the offense in Cleveland and he has a good chance to raise the numbers of 17.6PPG and 9.0 RPG that earned him an All-Star berth this season. He also stretches opposing defense, which will give Jordan Clarkson and rookie point guard Collin Sexton easier paths to the rim.

Love will make $24MM in the upcoming season, then has a $25.6MM salary for 2019/20 that he is expected to opt out of, so the Cavaliers will likely decide to trade him at some point. The unidentified executive says he could be very popular around the deadline, especially in the Eastern Conference, where teams will see a wide open field with James now a Laker.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • The Heat, Hornets, Trail Blazers and Raptors stand out as potential trade destinations for Love, according to Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue will meet with Lakers coach Luke Walton and associate head coach Brian Shaw to discuss the experience of coaching James, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “I’ll just tell them LeBron’s easy,” Lue said. “People get this whole thing built up like he’s hard to coach. It’s not. LeBron’s not the problem. It’s the outside tension that’s the problem. Just put added pressure immediately on the coaches, on his teammates. Now everything you do is under a microscope. … So it’s going to be a totally different change for the Lakers. They’ll be able to handle it.” Lue adds that he spoke to James a number of times while he was making his free agency decision, but never pressed him to stay in Cleveland.
  • Pluto examines James’ legacy with the Cavaliers in a separate story. Through all he has accomplished, the enduring memory for James may be bringing an NBA championship to Cleveland. “Only people who are from there understand what that title meant,” said former Cavs coach Mike Brown. “To LeBron, I bet it’s worth more than all his MVP awards [four] and his other titles [in Miami] combined.”
  • Ante Zizic, an overlooked part of the Kyrie Irving trade, has been putting up huge numbers in the Las Vegas Summer League, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. He posted 25 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s loss to the Bulls.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Larkin, Zizic, Raptors

The Knicks are in the process of filling out David Fizdale‘s new coaching staff, and are engaged in serious talks with Lakers assistant Jud Buechler about a move to New York, sources tell ESPN’s Ian Begley. Buechler, who played in the NBA for 12 seasons and won three titles with the Bulls, has worked in a player development role on Luke Walton‘s staff since 2016. He also coached the Lakers’ Summer League squad to a championship victory in Vegas last summer.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are also in advanced discussions with Clippers assistant Pat Sullivan about joining Fizdale’s staff, says Begley. A veteran assistant, Sullivan has worked for the Wizards, Pistons, and Nets, and was in Detroit at the same time that current Knicks GM Scott Perry worked in the Pistons’ front office.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on Tuesday that there’s a chance injured guard Shane Larkin could return before the end of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Larkin is doubtful to play in Game 5 (Twitter link). Larkin, who is battling an injured shoulder, went through an individual workout on Sunday and said at the time that he felt like he was getting “pretty close,” per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. “The biggest part is just being able to protect the shoulder from another blow like that,” Larkin said. “Because another blow like that means more severe injury and surgery and all that.”
  • Despite barely spending any time under contract with the Celtics, Cavs center Ante Zizic says he felt like he was with the club for “a year or two” before being traded to Cleveland, he tells Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Zizic also spoke to Bulpett about being drafted and stashed by the C’s, and being included in last year’s Kyrie Irving blockbuster.
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News spoke to a league executive about the trade value of the Raptors‘ four highest-paid players, with that exec suggesting that Kyle Lowry would probably be the most appealing trade chip of the bunch.

Cavs Notes: Green, Zizic, Korver

The Cavaliers will start Jeff Green for the remainder of the season, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. Head coach Tyronn Lue cites the team’s recent success against some Eastern Conference contenders as the inspiration behind the 31-year-old combo forward’s promotion.

Lue likes Green’s ability to check opposing teams’ elite guards and certain metrics suggest that the Cavs are better both offensively and defensively with Green in the lineup alongside LeBron James.

I just like that we can switch a lot of 1 through 4 stuff and it gives us another ball handler on the floor too, so I just think it’s the right thing for us to start,” Lue said.

There’s more out of Cleveland tonight:

  • The Cavaliers saw a brief glimpse of what they acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade when rookie big man Ante Zizic was thrust into a more prominent role in the Cleveland rotation last month. Jason Lloyd of The Athletic talks about the Turkish pivot’s rise through the Adriatic League and the steps he’s taking to make a meaningful impact in the NBA.
  • The Cavs weren’t the only team interested in Kyle Korver when the veteran hit free agency last summer. Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes that among Korver’s suitors were the 76ers, Lakers and Spurs.
  • A commitment to a healthier diet and exercise has allowed Tyronn Lue to return to the sidelines after missing nine games related to chest pains he experienced last month. “This was the first time in 20 years where I really just had a chance to focus on me and get myself right and [Warriors coach Steve Kerr] reminded me of that,” Lue told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “We get so wrapped up in the game that we forget about real life, and it was the best advice I got so thank Steve for that.

Cavaliers Notes: Lue, Drew, Injuries, Zizic

The Cavaliers and Tyronn Lue announced on Monday morning that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence for health reasons, and that was just the start of another eventful day in the life of the 2017/18 Cavs. Later, Cleveland confirmed that Kevin Love would be making his long-awaited return from a hand injury on Monday night. The team later went out and grabbed a dramatic 124-117 win over the Bucks, with LeBron James posting a rare 40-point triple-double.

As Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post writes, the day was emblematic of the Cavaliers’ season as a whole, which has been filled with ups and downs, with one thing happening after another all year long. While the roster appears to be getting healthy as the regular season nears an end, the same can’t be said for its head coach, whose health will be the franchise’s top concern in the coming weeks. Lue hopes to return well before the playoffs get underway, according to Bontemps.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Before Lue’s leave of absence was announced, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote in a mailbag that he doesn’t think the Cavs’ head coach is on the hot seat. As long as Lue is healthy, Vardon assumes that he’ll continue to be the coach in Cleveland next season.
  • Interim head coach Larry Drew found out at 1:30 on Monday morning that he’d be taking over for Lue for the time being, Vardon writes in another Cleveland.com article. Vardon notes that the process of having Lue step down temporarily was initiated by GM Koby Altman, adding that it’s expected to take about a week for Lue’s body to become accustomed to the new medication he’s on.
  • With so many players set to return from injuries for the Cavs, Drew plans to give Lue a call to get his input on some lineup decisions, per Vardon. “We’ll talk about it,” Drew said. “He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make a decision.” Although Love is back, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance, Tristan Thompson, and Cedi Osman are all still dealing with various injuries.
  • Speaking of Thompson, given the way Ante Zizic has been playing during the veteran’s absence, the Cavs will soon have to figure out how to balance the frontcourt minutes, says Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Zizic posted 13 points and six boards during Cleveland’s win on Monday, and has been making a case for a more regular role.

Tristan Thompson To Miss Two Weeks

MARCH 6: Speaking to reporters on Monday night, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue provided a more specific recovery timeline for Thompson, suggesting the big man will be out for two weeks (Twitter link via Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal).

MARCH 4: Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could be out for an extended period after suffering a right ankle sprain, the team announced in a press release. Thompson will miss multiple games while undergoing a period of treatment and rehabilitation for the injury, the release adds.

Thompson was injured during the first quarter of Cleveland’s loss to the Nuggets on Saturday night when he stepped on the heel of a Denver player. He continued to play a total of 28 minutes and finished with 12 points and seven rebounds but the ankle swelled up overnight.

Thompson is averaging a career-low 6.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 42 games this season but had perked up since the Cavaliers remade their roster prior to the trade deadline. Thompson was averaging 7.8 PPG nd 8.2 RPG over the last 10 games.

Thompson’s season has been marred by injuries. He missed 21 games from early November through mid-December with a calf strain.

Thompson’s injuries robs the Cavaliers of their top two big men for the balance of the month. Kevin Love is not expected to return from his broken left hand until late this month. Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic will see their playing time increase until one or both return.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/2/18

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Timberwolves have recalled rookie big man Justin Patton from the G League, according to a team press release. Patton, who has yet to make his NBA debut, may provide some emergency frontcourt depth for Minnesota on Friday night, with Shabazz Muhammad gone and Taj Gibson injured.
  • Cavaliers center Ante Zizic continues to bounce back and forth between the NBA and G League, with the team announcing in a press release that he has been re-assigned to Canton. The Cavs’ G League affiliate will host the Grand Rapids Drive on Friday night, so Zizic should be in Canton’s starting lineup for that game.
  • The Spurs have sent guards Brandon Paul and Derrick White to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. The backcourt duo figures to suit up for the Austin Spurs on Friday night as San Antonio’s G League affiliate hosts the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
  • The Jazz have recalled Tony Bradley from the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s website. Bradley has had 16 trips to the G League this season.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/1/18

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic to the NBA, the team announced today in a press release. Zizic helped lead the Canton Charge to a win over the Maine Red Claws on Wednesday night, posting 15 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland’s G League affiliate.