Caris LeVert

Cavaliers Rumors: Sexton, LeVert, Trade Targets, More

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com recently spoke to Michael Scotto about a number of Cavaliers-related topics for the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.

Guard Collin Sexton, whose season ended prematurely after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee just 11 games into the season, will be an interesting player to watch this summer. Sexton will be a restricted free agent once Cleveland tenders him a $7,228,449 qualifying offer. As a restricted free agent, the Cavs will have the ability to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old, and since he’s coming off an injury and not many teams will have cap space to spend on free agents, a reunion seems likely.

When the Cavs were discussing a rookie scale extension with Sexton’s representatives last summer, the two sides floated a contract similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic received from Atlanta, which was four years and $72MM (with a player option in the final season), sources tell Fedor. However, he hears that the Cavs value Sexton in the $15-18MM per year range, while Sexton is seeking something closer to $18-22MM annually.

Although Sexton has undoubtedly been productive on the offense end, averaging 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 2020/21, Fedor notes that there were questions about Sexton’s fit entering ’21/22, and his injury and the team’s success without him didn’t help his case. Given that he’s a 6’1″ shooting guard and a subpar defender, some teams view the former No. 8 pick as more of a sixth man than a starter, which could hurt his leverage in contract negotiations.

Scotto wonders if the Knicks or Wizards might be interested in Sexton, noting that both teams are looking for guards, but neither team has cap space. As Fedor previously reported, he hears that Cleveland has been curious if the Pistons might pursue Sexton, but sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers don’t believe any team will end up offering him $20MM+ per season.

Here’s more from Scotto and Fedor:

  • Both the Cavs and Caris LeVert have expressed interest in reaching an extension this summer, and league executives tell Scotto that a shorter deal in the $19-21MM range might make sense for both sides. However, as Fedor observes, LeVert will be on an expiring $18.8MM contract in ’22/23, so if the Cavs don’t like the types of numbers Levert’s agents are throwing out, they could just wait it out and perhaps use him as trade bait next season.
  • Kevin Love improved his trade stock after a bounce-back, healthy season, and both Scotto and Fedor believe that his $28.9MM contract could be used as a trade chip if the team opts to pursue higher-paid veterans.
  • Noting Cleveland needs two-way wing scorers and a solid backup point guard for Darius Garland, Fedor hears the Cavs are interested in a number of veterans as potential trade targets: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Gordon Hayward, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, and Mike Conley.
  • Although there’s mutual interest in a reunion with Ricky Rubio, Fedor says money could become an obstacle to a deal being completed. Rubio is likely to miss at least a portion of next season after suffering a second torn ACL in his left knee in December, and using the mid-level exception to sign him would reduce the club’s flexibility while still leaving a hole on the roster until he returns.
  • Sources tell Fedor that if a deal with Rubio doesn’t come to fruition, the Cavs would be very open to using their full mid-level to sign Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones, assuming Memphis lets him walk in free agency and he’s unable to get more money elsewhere. Other guards Cleveland might look into in free agency are Delon Wright, Goran Dragic, and Raul Neto. If the Cavs pivot to a wing/forward, Kyle Anderson, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. Warren are possibilities, according to Fedor.
  • For potential draft candidates with the No. 14 pick, Fedor hears the Cavs are fans of Malaki Branham, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Tari Eason, TyTy Washington, and Jeremy Sochan. Those players range from Nos. 9-18 on ESPN’s big board, so some might not be available at 14.

Cavaliers’ Altman Talks Season, Sexton, LeVert, Lottery Pick

The Cavaliers‘ first winning season since 2018 ended in disappointing fashion with two play-in tournament losses. The club finished 2021/22 with a 44-38 record, the eighth best in the East, but was defeated by the Nets and Hawks in successive play-in contests after being hit with the injury bug. Another bright spot this year: two Cavaliers players, point guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen, made their All-Star debuts.

On Tuesday, team president Koby Altman sat down with reporters for an extensive end-of-season press conference. Kelsey Russo of The Athletic captured Altman’s comments in an excellent article.

Altman discussed his feelings regarding a disappointing conclusion to what had been an exciting year for the Cavaliers. “I’m still a little heartsick, to be honest with you,” he admitted. “It’s hard to process the season ending the way it did and that we’re not still playing, but such a remarkable year for so many reasons. A long runway ahead of exciting basketball. So, we’re excited, really excited for the future obviously, and the work continues.”

Here’s more from Altman’s media session:

  • Guard Collin Sexton, a restricted free agent this summer, was enjoying a solid start to the year before being sidelined with a season-ending meniscus injury just 11 games into 2021/22. The emergence of Garland may have made Sexton a luxury for the Cavaliers, depending on his sticker price. “He, in a lot of ways, was the start of not only the rebuild, but the culture that we have in place now,” Altman said of Sexton. “To lose him [with the knee injury], you can see throughout the year why we missed him or how we missed him. So, we owe Collin a great debt of gratitude for what he’s done, the work he’s put in and he continues to put in. An important part of his team.”
  • Trade deadline addition Caris LeVert battled injuries during his brief tenure with Cleveland. The wing has one season left on his current deal, and could be extended by the Cavaliers. “Caris, he got unfortunately derailed right after All-Star break,” Altman said. “He was coming to a place that had enormous success already, that had roles, defined roles, guys that are having a lot of success, All-Star seasons. To try to fit in was not easy. It wouldn’t be easy for anybody. But I love what Caris brought to the table — his competitive fire, he defended; he fit right in.”
  • Because Cleveland missed the playoffs following its play-in losses, the club will retain the 2022 lottery pick it acquired in its trade for LeVert. “I think we’ve done an incredible job through the draft, and taking a step back now and looking at the [upcoming] draft, I like the draft,” Altman said. “I’m not just saying that. Where our pick lands, can we get another … there’s nothing wrong with having another young player that you can develop.” Russo adds that Cleveland also possesses two second-round selections.

Central Notes: LeVert, DeRozan, LaVine, Bucks

An untimely injury prevented Caris LeVert from providing the help the Cavaliers needed for their injured backcourt, but he hopes to be part of the organization for many years to come, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert, who was acquired from the Pacers at the trade deadline, missed nearly a month with a sprained foot he suffered after just four games with his new team. He wound up playing 19 games for the Cavs and wants to be part of the long-term future in Cleveland.

“This is where I want to be,” said LeVert, who will be eligible for an extension this summer. “They know that. The front office knows that. My teammates know that. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is, I know where I want to be. We’ll see what happens going forward.”

After being traded twice during his six years in the NBA, LeVert likes the idea of stability. At 27, he fits in well with the rest of the Cavaliers’ young roster, although the team faces a decision on whether there’s room for both him and free agent guard Collin Sexton. The front office had been hoping to see how LeVert fits alongside Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen, but injuries kept that group from playing together until the final game of the Cavs’ season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan had several options in free agency, but he picked the Bulls because he wanted to help rebuild a franchise that had fallen on hard times, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. DeRozan posted a career-best scoring season and led the Bulls back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. “I’m big on the underdog mentality. A lot of people run from those challenges. Me, I really want to see what I’m made of in those moments. You leave your own mark that way. I’m always big on that,” DeRozan said. “I want to go somewhere and leave my mark or start something that hasn’t been done. To me, that’s more honorable. You started it and took on the challenge.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine is finally in the playoffs after seven years of playing for losing teams, notes Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune. LaVine hopes the postseason will be a regular occurrence after a chaotic start to his NBA career. “It was very mind-opening to me when I got here — this guy’s had six different coaches,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s played on different teams. And he hasn’t necessarily been a part of a lot of success. Zach’s has always wanted to win. It’s always been important to him. I’m happy for him because you see the work he puts in.”
  • Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscriber link) looks at three reasons why the Bucks can repeat as NBA champions and three reasons that they might not.

Central Notes: LeVert, Cavaliers, Bulls, Pacers, Westbrook

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert hopes to sign a contract extension and remain with the team long-term, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. LeVert, who was acquired by Cleveland in February, averaged 13.6 points on 43.5% shooting in his 19 games with his new club.

“Yeah, this is where I want to be. They know that,” LeVert said. “The front office knows that, my teammates know that. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is.”

LeVert, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, is set to earn $18.8MM next season in the final year of his current deal, and will be extension-eligible this summer. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 20.2 points with Brooklyn and Indiana in 2020/21, shooting 44% from the floor and 33% from three-point range.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

Central Notes: LeVert, Sexton, Pistons, Vucevic

The Cavaliers are working to re-integrate Caris LeVert into their lineup, starting him against the Bulls on Saturday, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. According to Fedor, the team may continue starting LeVert, who was acquired in a trade last month.

“We’ve got to do the best that we can to possibly help him,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We brought him here to be a big piece of what we were doing moving forward, and we’ve got to get him comfortable. His teammates have to be able to play with him.

“We’ve got to find longer stretches of minutes for him, where he can just go out and feel like he can be himself. His minutes have been kind of choppy. We want to find ways to get him longer stretches where he doesn’t feel like he has to press, press. press to get something done in a small amount of time.”

Cleveland owns the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference at 41-33. LeVert has averaged 12.6 points on 41.8% shooting since joining the team after averaging 18.7 points on 44.7% shooting with Indiana earlier in the season. The 27-year-old had also been dealing with a foot injury and no longer has a minutes limit.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is back in Cleveland taking shots, Fedor shares (via Twitter). Sexton, who suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee roughly four months ago, appeared in 11 games before the injury. He’ll become a restricted free agent this summer.
  • The Pistons’ centers have serious potential to improve their three-point shooting, head coach Dwane Casey said, as relayed by Steve Kornacki of The Detroit News. Detroit has been playing Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III significant minutes, but neither player is a good shooter. “They have the ability, too,” Casey said, “and it doesn’t matter which one. Marvin is coming up and setting the screens and Isaiah has the space in the corner. His next evolution in his pro career is that he has to be able to knock that 3-point shot down, and he will. I have no questions at all that either one of them is going to be able to. But we have to have that spacing when they’re in the game together.”
  • Bulls star Nikola Vucevic appears to be happy in Chicago and doesn’t want to discuss a potential trade, as relayed by Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. If the Bulls underwhelm the rest of the campaign, the team may consider making some offseason moves. ‘‘That’s something that’s totally out of our control as players,’’ Vucevic said. ‘‘Our job is to try and go as far as we can, then the front office makes the decision on the team going forward. I was in a limited amount of trade rumors in my time in Orlando, so it’s something I really don’t think about very much. What’s the point of me worrying about that when it’s completely out of my control? That’s how I approach things like that.’’

Central Notes: Caruso, DeRozan, LeVert, Bey

Bulls guard Alex Caruso admits he’s still not 100 percent healthy yet after returning from a fractured right wrist that sidelined him for 22 games, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

It just gets hit, banged up a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just sore. It’s just going to take time,” Caruso said. “We took a very aggressive rehab schedule and ramp-up schedule so I could get back with the team and try to play. It just kind of comes with the territory.

I’m not 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you. But it’s moreso just the rhythm of the game. Try not to make excuses, but that seven weeks is tough. I didn’t get any practices or anything. Just right back in the game. I got high standards for how I want to play, how I want the team to play. And I don’t think I’m doing my part as well I can right now, which is frustrating.”

Johnson notes the Bulls were a strong defensive team at the beginning of the season with both Caruso and Lonzo Ball healthy, but have slipped to 18th in the league in defensive rating following their injuries. The Bulls are just 2-7 in their last nine games, including consecutive road losses in Sacramento and Utah, where they gave up 112 and 125 points, respectively.

At 41-28, the Bulls are currently the fifth seed in the East. They have a difficult remaining schedule, with 11 of their last 13 games against teams vying for the play-in or the playoffs.

Here are a few more notes from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan‘s influence on the Bulls is similar to the way Chris Paul has impacted winning throughout his career, Johnson writes in a separate article for NBC Sports Chicago. Coach Billy Donovan has coached both players and compared their leadership qualities. “They’re two totally different players, two totally different people,” Donovan said. “But the impact that Chris made that I saw in Oklahoma and now seeing the impact that DeMar made, you can just see how they’ve kind of galvanized the group and they’ve got everybody together. It’s because of how humble they are, how team-oriented they are, how competitive they are and how much they both want to win.” For his part, DeRozan says he’s just focused on the grind. “I try to be the same person every day and carry that over to my teammates and to my work,” DeRozan said. “That’s how I lead.”
  • Kelsey Russo of The Athletic details how Caris LeVert has been acclimating to the Cavaliers. LeVert, who recently returned from a nine-game absence after suffering a sprained foot, admits it was difficult dealing with the injury, but he’s enjoying his time in Cleveland. “It’s been fun for me, to be honest with you,” LeVert said. “I try to look at it as a positive challenge for me; it’s just getting better. I know we’re playing for something, playing for the playoffs or playing for a championship. So that’s what gets me going in every morning.”
  • Second-year forward Saddiq Bey helped the Pistons snap a four-game losing streak on Thursday by scoring a career-high 51 points, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Bey became the seventh Piston to score 50-plus in a game and tied Hall of Famer Joe Dumars‘ franchise record with 10 threes made (on 14 attempts), Sankofa notes. Bey finished with an eye-popping 51 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals on 17-of-27 shooting in the team’s 134-120 victory over Orlando.

Central Notes: LeVert, Marsh, Bey, Pistons

Cavaliers swingman Caris LeVert returned to action on Monday after a nine-game absence, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. LeVert sprained his right foot last month. LeVert averaged 13.3 PPG and 3.8 APG in his first four games since he was traded from Indiana to Cleveland.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers assistant Tyler Marsh will be joining Becky Hammon‘s staff with the Las Vegas Aces, the WNBA team tweets. Marsh will remain in Indiana until the end of the season, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Another Pacers assistant, Jenny Boucek, turned down a chance to join Hammon’s staff late last month.
  • Saddiq Bey is one of five players who have appeared in every game this season. The second-year Pistons forward has earned great respect from his coach for his toughness, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “I love him,” Dwane Casey said. “He’s an iron man. He plays with bumps and bruises. He plays with hangnails. Some guys are out with a hangnail, but Saddiq is there every night.”
  • The Pistons have been much more competitive since the All-Star break but they still need another top three pick to facilitate their rebuild, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. The risk factor increases drastically outside of the top three in this year’s draft class, according to Edwards’ sources, and it’s possible for Detroit to wind up picking as low as sixth or seventh if the team doesn’t finish with the worst record. The Pistons currently have one more win than Houston and the same amount as Orlando.

Central Notes: Diallo, McGruder, Bagley, LeVert, Brown

The Pistons won in Boston just before the All-Star break but they’ll be shorthanded when they visit for the second time on Friday. The team has ruled out starting center Isaiah Stewart and key reserves Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder and Frank Jackson due to an assortment of injuries, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Diallo (finger sprain) and McGruder (hamstring strain) were injured during the loss to the Bulls on Wednesday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Marvin Bagley III‘s athleticism has given the Pistons a new dimension, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. Bagley, who will enter either restricted or unrestricted free agency this summer, provides a major lob threat that the team was sorely lacking. “We’re really happy with the way he’s playing, the way he’s fitting in, and he’s creating a lot of options offensively, and defensively, he’s giving us another rebounder,” coach Dwane Casey said.
  • Caris LeVert won’t play against Miami on Friday but he’s making some progress from the right foot sprain he suffered last month. He went through a portion of the Cavaliers’ practice in Miami on Thursday and took some shots on the court afterward, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets.
  • Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff believes Moses Brown can help the team with his interior presence, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. Brown was signed to a 10-day contract on Thursday. “He’s long. He’s rangy. He has good athleticism,” Bickerstaff said. “He knows how to patrol the paint at both ends of the floor. Really good rim roller and lob threat, so he’s a similar build to what we have and what we value.”

Cavs Notes: Garland, Point Guards, LeVert, Sexton, Pangos

After playing in the last two games before the All-Star break, Darius Garland has missed the Cavaliers‘ first three games since the break due to lower back soreness. The player and team have faced some scrutiny for Garland’s participation in the All-Star festivities in Cleveland, but general manager Mike Gansey said on Monday that it wouldn’t have made sense for the point guard to skip All-Star weekend, given how he was feeling at the time.

“No, because he played in Philly and Atlanta and was feeling good,” Gansey said, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “The Skills Competition was like getting some shots up or playing H-O-R-S-E. The shooting stuff for him was fun. Then the team had a practice which wasn’t a practice and he played in the All-Star Game, and I don’t even know if he tried to defend or even touch someone.

“You watch him run around and see him in pregame and he’s fine. It’s a bone bruise. A day-to-day thing. Nothing long term. He needs rest. Obviously, rest is not on our side right now.”

Garland’s back soreness is an issue he’ll likely have to deal with off and on for the rest of 2021/22. However, according to Gansey, the Cavaliers are hopeful that the rest Garland has gotten since the All-Star break will help him stay on the court for the final stretch of the season.

“I think with him, like, it’s just like a day-to-day thing,” Gansey said, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “And, we just hope we can get through it, with him here taking a week. Who knows, maybe Wednesday, he’ll wake up and feel good. I don’t know. I just think this proper rest here will only help him. There’s nothing structural or anything there. It’s just something he’s got to deal with the rest of the year, unfortunately.”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Cleveland finds itself shorthanded at point guard with Garland, Rajon Rondo, and Caris LeVert all sidelined, but Gansey doesn’t think the team made a mistake by not acquiring more depth at the position at the trade deadline. “I don’t think we regret (not adding another) because I didn’t think we would see doomsday with our point guard situation,” Gansey said, according to Fedor. Brandon Goodwin has been awesome for us. A great find. He’s keeping us afloat right now. Gotta give him credit for that.”
  • Gansey, who acknowledges the Cavaliers have exceeded expectations this season, would consider it a “huge success” if the team even gets a single playoff series, as Russo relays. “If you would have told us (prior to the season), I guess with just the way we’re progressing, if we were in the play-in game, I think we’d be very, very happy with that,” Gansey said. “And I guess you could say we’re ahead of schedule. But the exciting thing is we’re so young. Everyone talks about Darius, Evan (Mobley), and Jarrett (Allen), but, like, Lauri (Markkanen)‘s 24. Isaac (Okoro)‘s 22. Collin (Sexton)‘s (23). Like, there are six guys under 25 that hopefully are our core moving forward. … Hopefully, with the young guys we have, they’re just only going to get better like they’ve shown and see what we can do.”
  • There has been some speculation that acquiring LeVert means Sexton’s days in Cleveland could be numbered, but Gansey believes there’s room for both guards on the roster going forward, according to Russo. “I mean, based on what we’ve seen this year, you can’t have enough playmakers and ballhandlers,” the GM said. Sexton will be a restricted free agent this offseason, while LeVert is under contract through 2023.
  • Waived on February 19, Kevin Pangos is one of four NBA players who has reached a buyout agreement since the trade deadline, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Marks tells Hoops Rumors that Pangos gave up $100K in his deal with the Cavs. The 29-year-old could afford to sacrifice a little money because he had an agreement in place with CSKA Moscow, though he still hasn’t traveled to Russia since signing his new contract due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to a Mundo Deportivo report (hat tip to BasketNews.com).

Central Notes: LeVert, Garland, Williams, Caruso, Haliburton, Brogdon

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert will be out at least a week or two after spraining his right foot during Tuesday’s practice, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer relays.

LeVert underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which confirmed the sprain. All-Star point guard Darius Garland also missed Thursday’s loss at Detroit due to lower back soreness. He’ll undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation, according to a team press release.

Garland’s injury is muscular and will need to be managed throughout the remainder of the season, according to Fedor.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Patrick Williams is getting closer to returning from wrist surgery but the 2020 lottery pick won’t automatically return to the Bulls’ starting lineup, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Staff-wise, as players get closer and closer to coming back, I think Javonte [Green] has done a really good job with that group in terms of how he’s fit in, what he’s been able to bring to the table in Patrick’s absence,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. “I’m not opposed to bringing Patrick off the bench and I’m not opposed to starting him. I think a lot of it is going to be once he can get back to practice, is there a minutes restriction on him, how many minutes can he play at a time, and what’s the best role for him to help our team?’’
  • Alex Caruso underwent surgery to repair a fractured right wrist on January 24th and had an six-to-eight week reevaluation timeline. The Bulls guard appears to be on schedule, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re hoping by the end of this week, certainly early next week, that he’ll have a ball in his hands and be able to do things,” Donovan said. Williams has begun doing some dribbling and shooting work but Donovan said he needs to strengthen the wrist further before facing live contact.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle believes the backcourt pairing of Tyrese Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon will produce big results, Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com writes. “I think they’re perfect compliments to one another,” Carlisle said. “They both have had their share of playing with and without the ball so both positions come naturally to them. I’m looking forward to it. Really with those two guys and their knowledge of the game, feel for the game, I should never have to call a play. “