Channing Frye

Raptors Notes: Roster, Buyout Targets, Carter

With the NBA schedule set to resume following the All-Star break, the Raptors currently hold the No. 1 spot in the East and this year’s squad looks capable of setting a new franchise record for wins in a regular season. As head coach Dwane Casey tells Shaun Powell of NBA.com, the Raptors have built their roster without luring any big names to Toronto.

“It’s not like we’ve gone outside and got a superstar free agent,” Casey said. “We’ve done it organically by growing our young players and the rewarding part was people questioning what we were trying to do. We’re not there yet. We haven’t arrived. But we’ve done it the traditional way. A lot of guys around the league are partnering up, adding superstars, superstars and superstars. We’ve developed players, starting with DeMar [DeRozan].”

During the past couple postseasons, the Raptors’ lack of starpower has been an issue, with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers ending the club’s season in back-to-back years. While we wait to see if the Raps can get over the hump this spring, let’s round up a few more notes out of Toronto…

  • Within a piece on the Raptors storylines to watch down the stretch, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca discusses possible buyout targets for the club, noting that Toronto didn’t have interest in Joe Johnson or Brandan Wright, who landed with the Rockets.
  • The Raps are keeping an eye out for veteran wing insurance, since C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby have both battled minor injuries, according to Lewenberg, who noted earlier this week that Arron Afflalo may be a target for Toronto. Lewenberg adds that stretch fours like Channing Frye and Ersan Ilyasova may also be nice fits, but they probably won’t receive buyouts, and would be long shots to choose Toronto even if they do reach free agency.
  • After an early-February report indicated that the Raptors had interest in Vince Carter, Lewenberg recently suggested that idea is on hold for now. He goes into more detail in his latest article, writing that the club has decided “this is not the right time” for a Carter reunion. The organization doesn’t want the media coverage of such a signing to overshadow the accomplishments of this year’s squad, Lewenberg explains. The Raps haven’t ruled out the idea of an eventual reunion, but it’s “on the back burner for now,” tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Earlier this week, we asked whether the Raptors will hold onto the No. 1 seed in the East.

Channing Frye Undergoes Appendectomy

Veteran center Channing Frye, who was recently traded to the Lakers, underwent an appendectomy Friday night, tweets Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet. Frye is in Cleveland and will have his condition re-evaluated in a week.

Frye’s absence shouldn’t be an issue for the Lakers, who acquired him for his expiring contract and because he helped match salary in the deal that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cavaliers. Frye has appeared in just one game since coming to L.A., playing 11 minutes.

He missed the entire 2012/13 season after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart, but has been healthy since returning and played a full 82-game schedule for the Suns the following year. He appeared in 44 games in Cleveland this season before being dealt, averaging 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in about 12 minutes per night.

Frye, who turns 35 in May, will hope to return for at least a few games with the Lakers to remind teams of his value before entering free agency this summer.

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

Cavs Acquire Clarkson, Nance In Isaiah Thomas Trade

1:14pm: The trade is now official, the Lakers announced in a press release. The 2018 first-rounder acquired by the Lakers is top-three protected, which will protect the Cavs in the unlikely event that they miss the postseason and then get lucky in the lottery.Isaiah Thomas vertical

11:08am: The Lakers and Cavaliers are set to complete a trade that will send Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). In exchange, the Lakers will receive Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and the Cavaliers’ 2018 first-round pick, per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link). That pick will be protected, tweets Woj.

The deal is a fascinating one for two teams that have been heavily involved in trade rumors throughout the 2017/18 season. The move reflects the Cavaliers’ desire to get better right away, while the Lakers look ahead to the summer.

From the Cavs’ perspective, the trade looks like an admission that the acquisition of Thomas wasn’t going to work. After missing most of the first half of the season with a hip injury, the former Celtics star hasn’t been able to recapture his old form, and has publicly expressed his frustration during Cleveland’s recent slump. Thomas’ .361 FG% and .253 3PT% are easily career lows, and his average of 14.7 PPG is way down from the 28.9 PPG he put up last season in Boston.

“He’s worked too hard to get back, and he’s a ball-dominant player,” Thomas’ agent Aaron Goodwin told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It’s LeBron’s ball, and this clearly wasn’t working. [Cavs GM] Koby [Altman] and I have had enough conversations where it was clear, with the way the system was going, it wasn’t beneficial for either party. This is a good opportunity for Isaiah.”

By sending a struggling Thomas to Los Angeles along with Frye, the Cavs will secure a pair of solid rotation players who are both just 25 years old and are under contract beyond this season. Clarkson has averaged 14.5 PPG with a .448/.324/.795 shooting line so far in 2017/18. Nance, meanwhile, has posted a career-best 8.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG, with a .601 FG%.

While Thomas and Frye are on expiring contracts, Clarkson and Nance will earn a combined $14.77MM in 2018/19, pushing Cleveland’s total guaranteed team salary for next year above the $100MM mark, not counting LeBron James. With or without James, it seems very unlikely that the Cavs will have cap room this summer, barring some major moves.

The Lakers, on the other hand, clear nearly $15MM in 2018/19 money from their books in this deal, taking on two expiring contracts and landing a first-round pick in the process. Despite recent rumblings that the team could be shifting its free agency focus to 2019, this deal puts L.A. in a great position to create enough cap room to make a run at two maximum-salary free agents this summer. Their top targets figure to include Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, and – of course – LeBron.

One of the most interesting aspects of this deal is that both teams could make the case that it improved their odds of signing James this summer — the Cavs acquired some players who can help them contend this season and can stick around next year, while the Lakers created more cap space and will be able to use their new first-round pick to add another player to their young core this offseason.

Some housekeeping notes on this trade: Cleveland will now be unable to trade the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick unless they acquire another 2018 or 2019 first-rounder. The Cavs have already traded their ’19 first-rounder, and can’t leave themselves without first-round picks in consecutive future seasons. They’ll reduce their projected luxury tax bill in this deal too, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks outlines. Additionally, the Lakers should create a modest trade exception in the deal worth $1,471,382, the amount of Nance’s 2017/18 salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Rumors: Warriors Needs, Mason, Ball, Hill

The Warriors’ top need is a shooting wing off the bench, and their most likely targets are Marco Belinelli of the Hawks and Tyreke Evans of the Grizzlies, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic opines. Patrick McCaw is the player Golden State will most likely move in order to get a wing who also has size and passing ability, Kawakami continues. Belinelli is on an expiring deal and Atlanta would have to believe in McCaw’s long-term ability enough to also take back Nick Young, Kawakami speculates. Evans would also be a rental and Golden State would probably have to pair McCaw with a first-round pick to get him, Kawakami adds.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • Kings point guard Frank Mason will not play until after the All-Star break, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. The rookie out of Kansas suffered a heel injury on December 31st. Mason, chosen with the 34th overall pick last June, has appeared in 29 games, averaging 7.6 PPG and 2.9 APG.
  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball was unable to ramp up his workouts last week without experiencing soreness in his sprained left knee, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. His workouts never progressed to lateral movement or running close to full speed, Oram continues. Ball has missed the last 10 games.
  • The Kings were close to dealing point guard George Hill to the Cavaliers but they won’t mind if he’s still on the roster beyond the trade deadline, Jones writes in a separate piece. Sacramento would have received Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert, and perhaps Derrick Rose, in return. The Kings would have to clear roster space to make that deal but their primary goals must be collecting picks, acquiring young talent and retaining financial flexibility, Jones continues. Hill has also endeared himself to the front office and the team’s young core despite losing his starting job, Jones adds.
  • Trade rumors are weighing heavily on the minds of Clippers players, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register relays. Coach Doc Rivers admits that trade talk has been a distraction. “Sometimes you go talk to a guy and the guy says, ‘Oh, I’m good,’ and that could mean he’s not good or good,” Rivers told Teaford. “You’ve got to read that. Sometimes it’s clear as day. I can tell you I’ve seen that over the last three or four days from a couple guys, and it’s obviously weighing on them.”

Cavaliers Notes: James, Gilbert, Trade Market, Love

The root of the Cavaliers’ problems lies in an adversarial relationship between LeBron James and owner Dan Gilbert, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. James has grown frustrated while watching star players change teams over the last eight months, with none of them coming to Cleveland. Cavs management counters that it lost $18MM last season because it paid $25MM in luxury taxes and points out that its bargaining position would be much stronger if James would commit to the franchise beyond this season.

Gilbert went through a difficult rebuilding process when James left Cleveland for Miami in 2010 and doesn’t want to repeat that experience. The team could announce to the league that Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder is available if James agrees to re-sign, but he is committed to keeping his options open. Meanwhile, the relationship between James and Gilbert is getting worse, and it’s showing up in the Cavaliers’ performance on the court.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • None of the players currently available on the trade market could turn things around in Cleveland, contends Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would provide a much-needed defensive presence in the middle, but Lloyd doesn’t see him as a franchise player. Kings guard George Hill, whom the Cavaliers have also been linked to, would barely move the needle in the playoff race. Cleveland missed opportunities at major deals when Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony and others wound up elsewhere, and Lloyd believes it’s probably too late to save this season. After Saturday’s loss, James refused to comment on possible roster moves. “That’s not a question for me,” he said. “I show up to work every day. I bust my tail every day. I’m one of the first ones to get to the gym and I’m one of the last ones to leave. I do my part. I control what I can control and that is what I can control.”
  • The Cavs are suffering from a lack of locker-room leadership, Lloyd adds in the same story. In the past, that was provided by James Jones, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, but Jones retired, Jefferson was traded and Frye has lost influence as his playing time decreased.
  • Kevin Love plans to remain as active as possible while he’s sidelined for eight weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “Obviously I can’t use my left arm as much as I would like to but I’ll still be able to do some ball handling on the court and be dominant with my right hand quite a bit, but keep my legs underneath me for when I do get back,” he said. “It will be very meaningful to get back as quickly as I can. … I’m not rushing it but when the doctors say I’m good to go I’ll be able to get out there.”

Cavs Willing To Surrender Nets Pick

Despite rumors to the contrary, Terry Pluto of the The Plain Dealer hears that the Cavaliers have indeed entertained the idea or trading the Nets‘ 2018 first-round pick (currently 8th in our 2017/18 NBA Reverse Standings), but only for the right return.

Pluto reports that the Cavs will only trade the all-but-assured lottery selection in exchange for a younger player who is under contract for a couple of seasons. A short-term answer who can become a free agent this summer, like Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, will not entice the team to surrender Brooklyn’s pick.

On the other hand, an expiring contract like Jordan’s would make sense in exchange for the Cavs’ own 2018 first-rounder opines Pluto, who suggests a deal that would send Iman ShumpertChanning Frye, and their own first-round pick to Los Angeles in exchange for Jordan would work within the salary cap. Whether the Cavs or Clippers would be interested in such a deal remains to be seen.

As for the Brooklyn pick, a previously mentioned trade candidates from a rebuilding team who is relatively young, under contract through this offseason, and has already been linked to the Cavs is Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore. However, it’s hard to believe the Cavs giving up a potential lottery pick for Bazemore at this point.

Central Notes: Frye, Brown, Thomas

The Cavaliers entertained the thought of trading center Channing Frye in a package for George Hill last month. Now that full-time starter Kevin Love is out long-term, however, the club would be wise to hold off, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype writes.

Frye didn’t waste time stepping in to fill the void for the Cavaliers. In his first taste of action sans Love, the veteran posted 20 points and added six rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.

The 34-year-old brings more than just leadership to the Cavaliers locker room, his ability to knock down threes and generally play both inside and out will make him extra valuable until Love returns.

Well, we know what Channing brings to the game,” Cavaliers teammate LeBron James told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “He adds spacing with his ability to shoot the ball for one, and he attracts the defense. But his ability to finish in the paint as well helps us out.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • No charges will be filed against Bucks rookie Sterling Brown, Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Per Luthern, Brown had been arrested on a tentative misdemeanor charge of resisting or obstructing an officer. Brown has averaged 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 35 games for the Bucks this season.
  • The first-round pick headed to Chicago in the Nikola Mirotic trade is top-5 protected in 2018, top-8 protected in 2019, top-10 protected in 2020, and top-9 protected in 2021, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. If the Bulls, somehow, still haven’t received the pick by 2021, it will turn into second-rounders in both 2022 and 2023.
  • He’s been back for 12 games, but Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas still isn’t 100%. “I’m not confident out there as I usually am,” he told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “It’s a process getting confidence back mentally and physically in your body and doing the things you used to be able to do. And my body’s not allowing me to do that yet.”

Cavs Rumors: Thomas, Gilbert, Frye, Wade

Speaking to reporters over the weekend, Isaiah Thomas shared his two cents on a handful of topics, suggesting that he has received a disproportionate amount of blame for a struggling defense that has been ranked in the bottom five all season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Thomas also bristled at the idea that anyone with the Cavs would be questioning his shot selection, and said that he hasn’t been approached about coming off the bench, calling the idea “disrespectful.”

While Thomas remains in the starting lineup, head coach Tyronn Lue has experimented with a new rotation in an effort to stagger the minutes that Thomas and LeBron James play. As McMenamin details in a separate story, the former Celtic has no issues with that strategy.

“We talked about it, so I think that needs to happen,” Thomas said. “My minutes just can’t be with LeBron at all times. We got to play to our strengths. Just like Chris Paul and James Harden, they don’t play together at all times.”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • In an in-depth piece for Bleacher Report, Ken Berger passes along several interesting tidbits on the Cavs. Among those details: The Cavs didn’t initially communicate to their players why Kevin Love left last week’s loss to Oklahoma City or why he was absent from practice the next day; Thomas and owner Dan Gilbert are said to be close, and frequently exchange calls and texts; Gilbert appears to be playing a much larger role in roster decisions than he was when David Griffin was the team’s GM. “The word is out that Dan is running things,” one rival executive told Berger. “Frankly, that’s where he’s happiest and the role he’s most comfortable in.”
  • Channing Frye‘s expiring contract and his modest role in the Cavs’ rotation make him a prime trade candidate as the deadline nears. However, Lue was against including him in a near-trade for George Hill, league sources tell McMenamin. As long as he remains in Cleveland, Frye will do all he can to help the Cavs win, but he knows there’s still a chance he’s sent to the Kings or another team, joking that his pay checks will “transfer to Sacramento” if it comes to that. “If they feel like George Hill or if they feel like Anthony Davis or whoever else is out there they’re trying to get is going to upgrade them? Do it. I understand,” Frye said. “So there’s no personal or hurt feelings.”
  • Dwyane Wade has rejoined the Cavaliers after taking time off to mourn the death of his friend and agent Henry Thomas, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Wade won’t be at 100% though, as he’s dealing with a previously undisclosed left shoulder injury, Vardon writes.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com identifies 10 trade candidates who could make sense for the Cavaliers.

George Hill Trade Between Cavs, Kings Not Imminent

Despite multiple reports earlier this week suggesting that momentum was building toward a trade that would send George Hill to Cleveland, the Cavaliers and Kings are further apart than initially believed, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, there are still “significant hurdles” to clear before a deal can be completed.

Reports on Tuesday indicated that the Cavs and Kings were making progress on a trade that would include Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, and perhaps Derrick Rose and/or a second-round pick. However, one source tells Vardon that the two teams were speaking “conceptually” and weren’t on the verge of pulling the trigger. Another of Vardon’s sources said that the Cavs wanted to change the parameters of a potential deal.

As I noted on Tuesday, a deal involving Hill, Shumpert, Frye, and Rose would make sense for both clubs. Shumpert, Frye, and Rose have a combined cap hit of $19.23MM this season, which nearly matches Hill’s $20MM cap charge. Both Frye and Rose are on expiring contracts, which would appeal to the rebuilding Kings, who would subsequently be on the hook for Shumpert’s $11MM player option for 2018/19 instead of Hill’s fully guaranteed $19MM salary. The Cavs, meanwhile, would add a veteran guard who has had a down year but would be a good fit in their rotation if he can recapture his previous form.

The Cavs still have two weeks until the February 8 trade deadline, so there’s plenty of time to work out the specifics on a trade for Hill. If the two teams can’t reach an agreement and the Kings don’t find another taker for the veteran guard, a buyout isn’t out of the question, according to Vardon, who writes that Sacramento is ready to move on from Hill.

As they weigh the merits of a deal, the Cavs are also making changes to their lineup in the hopes of busting out of their current slump. Head coach Tyronn Lue said today that Tristan Thompson will replace Jae Crowder in the club’s starting lineup, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

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