Cleveland Cavaliers

Cavs Notes: Shumpert, James, Irving, Carmelo Anthony Rumors

The Cavs haven’t completely closed the door on Carmelo Anthony. According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavs are exploring “the very slight possibility” of acquiring ‘Melo by the Feb. 23 deadline. Vardon also notes the likelihood of Cleveland acquiring Shelvin Mack– a move not aimed at postseason depth, but helping rest LeBron James and Kyrie Irving as the season winds down.

While the Cavs hold “basement-level low” expectations of completing a deal for Anthony, the Knicks could consider offers for lesser players in an attempt to move him by the deadline.

More from Cleveland…

  • Iman Shumpert carries “real value” on the trade market, Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com writes. Capable of filling in at the Two or Three, Shumpert has improved his long-range shooting to a career-high 42.5% from beyond the arc. While Shumpert is due to make $10.3MM in 2017/18, Pluto reminds readers of his value- citing Matthew Dellevedova’s $38MM deal as a comparable example. As of this morning, the Timberwolves were thought to have “strong interest” in Shumpert’s services.
  • LeBron James’ heavy workload has been a point of contention this season, and it appears the four-time MVP is ready to accept additional rest in the second half. “Me being a competitor, me playing the game that I love every single day, I don’t always have the right assessment of me playing a lot of minutes,” James told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal. “That’s why I have Coach Lue and the coaching staff and the training staff to be like, ‘Hey, LeBron, you’ve played six straight Finals, you’ve played this amount of minutes, let’s take it easy today. Let’s take today off.’ That’s what they’re going to do.” James has averaged 37.5 minutes per game this season, compared to 35.6 MPG in 2015/16 and 36.1 in 2014/15.
  • Learning to play alongside James was a humbling experience for Irving, Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. “I was trying to figure it out all at once so it took a while, it didn’t look perfect. A lot of the arrogance I had and the aura that I had I had to let go of completely,” Irving said. “Let go of that complete ego, the selfishness that we all want to have it and being that player every single night. The truth is you can still be that player with other great players, you’ve just got to figure out how to do it.” Averaging a career-best 24.4 points, Irving will suit up for his fourth All-Star game tonight in New Orleans.

Cavaliers Face Two Important Deadlines Monday

Monday is an important day on the Cavaliers’ calendar for two reasons, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

It’s the expiration date for a trade exception the team acquired when it dealt Anderson Varejao to Portland last season. Currently at nearly $4.4MM, the exception started out at more than $9.6MM, but the Cavs used about $5.2MM when they acquired Kyle Korver from the Hawks in January.

Pluto speculates that Jazz point guard Shelvin Mack could be a good pickup with Cleveland searching for a veteran backup to Kyrie Irving. Mack has dropped out of the rotation in Utah, but he is averaging 7.3 points through 46 games and is shooting 36% from 3-point range, which would be an asset in Cleveland’s offense. Mack’s salary is a little more than $2.4MM, and he will be a free agent when the season ends.

Monday also marks the first day that Varejao could potentially return to Cleveland. NBA rules state that players who are traded must wait at least a full calendar year before rejoining their original team.

The Warriors waived Varejao two weeks ago to free up a roster spot to sign Briante Weber. Pluto writes that the 34-year-old big man could be on the Cavaliers’ radar as a fallback choice as they look for a replacement for the injured Chris Andersen. First they will see if any centers are realistic trade options, then they wait to see who gets bought out. Pluto says they prefer Andrew Bogut to Varejao, but it seems likely the Mavericks will keep him.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Timberwolves Interested In Iman Shumpert

The Timberwolves have “strong interest” in dealing for Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert, tweets Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.

Minnesota has been in the market for veteran wing help all season and tried to acquire Shumpert in October, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis (Twitter link). The Wolves have point guard depth with Ricky Rubio, Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn all on the roster and could help Cleveland with its search for a backup ballhandler.

Shumpert is under contract for two more years and will make $10.3MM next season and $11MM in 2018/19. The 26-year-old has played 51 games for Cleveland this season, starting 15, and is averaging 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per night. He has spent two years with the Cavs after being acquired in a 2015 deal with the Knicks.

Tyronn Lue Denies Knowingly Playing Kevin Love Through Injury

FEBRUARY 16, 8:31am: Lue has backtracked on his earlier comments, telling reporters late last night that he misinterpreted a question about Love, Vardon writes in a new piece for Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, Cavs sources reviewed Lue’s comments and told reporters that the head coach misspoke — he was apparently referring to when Love suffered the injury, rather than when he learned about it.

FEBRUARY 15, 8:00pm: Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue knew Kevin Love was having knee problems when he played in the second night of a back-to-back last week, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Love is expected to be out of action for six weeks after having surgery Tuesday to clean up “loose bodies” in his left knee. After the Cavs played last Wednesday, Lue indicated he would rest Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for the next night’s game, but later changed his mind and played all three.

“It was already [hurt], loose bodies were already in there so he just played through it,” Lue explained to reporters tonight, “and then after it got to a certain point he got the MRI and he found out it was loose bodies floating around.”

The coach added that he didn’t regret his decision to play Love because he “was already heading for surgery.” All three players reportedly told Lue that they wanted to play.

An unidentified team source differed with Lue’s account, telling Vardon that Love banged his knee before Wednesday’s game, but the problem didn’t become fully evident until it swelled on Saturday.

Vardon notes that the incident raises questions about Cleveland’s stated commitment to giving players the proper rest before the playoffs. Lue said he will approach back-to-back situations differently through the rest of the season.

Knicks, Lakers Top Forbes’ NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have been one of the NBA’s most dysfunctional teams this season. On the court, the team has gone just 23-33, with $72MM man Joakim Noah failing to make a significant impact, and Jeff Hornacek and Phil Jackson not always on the same page when it came to the use of the triangle. Off the court, things have been even worse, with Jackson criticizing star forward Carmelo Anthony, and owner James Dolan at odds with former Knicks star Charles Oakley.

On the west coast, the Lakers haven’t been much better, racking up a 19-38 record, good for the No. 14 seed in the West. The team hasn’t made as many off-court headlines, but the structure of the front office is currently up in the air, with new advisor Magic Johnson publicly declaring that he wants to be the one calling the shots on roster decisions.

Despite the problems in New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and Lakers remain the NBA’s two most valuable franchises, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Knicks and Lakers are the only teams valued at more than $3 billion by Forbes.

Team valuations are up around the league, with the Warriors leading the way among this year’s increases — according to Forbes, the Dubs are 37% more valuable that they were at this time in 2016. In total, 18 teams have a valuation exceeding $1 billion, which is up from 13 teams last year and just three teams in 2015. The average NBA franchise is now worth $1.36 billion, according to the report.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $3.3 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $3 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $2.6 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $2.5 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $2.2 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers; $2 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $1.8 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $1.65 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $1.45 billion
  10. Miami Heat: $1.35 billion
  11. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.2 billion
  12. San Antonio Spurs: $1.175 billion
  13. Toronto Raptors: $1.125 billion
  14. Phoenix Suns: $1.1 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.075 billion
  16. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.05 billion
  17. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.025 billion
  18. Washington Wizards: $1 billion
  19. Orlando Magic: $920MM
  20. Utah Jazz: $910MM
  21. Detroit Pistons: $900MM
  22. Denver Nuggets: $890MM
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $885MM
  24. Indiana Pacers: $880MM
  25. Philadelphia 76ers: $800MM
  26. Memphis Grizzlies: $790MM
  27. Milwaukee Bucks: $785MM
  28. Charlotte Hornets: $780MM
  29. Minnesota Timberwolves: $770MM
  30. New Orleans Pelicans: $750MM

For comparison’s sake, Forbes’ 2016 valuations can be found right here.

Cavaliers Willing To Increase Payroll

Ownership has told the Cavs’ front office that it can increase payroll this season, a source tells Sam Amico of Amico Hoops (Twitter link). Cleveland currently has the highest payroll in league history, even after shipping Chris Andersen to the Hornets.

Amico adds that Cleveland is in trades discussions with several other teams, but he did not provide specifics. The Cavs are expected to be without Kevin Love for the next six weeks, so the team could consider adding a big man, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors wrote earlier today.

LeBron James was critical of the team’s ownership earlier this season and at the time, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the tension between the two sides was a result of the different viewpoints on team spending.

Part of the reason James returned to Cleveland in 2014 was the Cavs’ willingness to spend on talent, regardless of luxury tax repercussions, and owner Dan Gilbert reportedly agreed not to limit the team’s spending when James put pen to paper.

The Cavs currently have nearly $126.6MM in contracts on the books this season, as our Salary Cap Snapshot for the Cavs shows. That figure is roughly $13.4MM over the luxury tax line and the team is projected to pay slightly under $24.8MM in luxury tax penalties.

Kevin Love Expected To Miss Six Weeks

Injury issues continue to plague the Cavaliers, who will be without another key rotation player for the foreseeable future. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (via Twitter), All-Star big man Kevin Love will undergo a scope on his left knee, and is expected to be sidelined for the next six weeks. The Cavaliers confirmed the news this morning in a press release, announcing that Love underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a loose body from his knee.

The Cavaliers had already been missing J.R. Smith, whose broken thumb is expected to keep him out of action until sometime in March, and Iman Shumpert, who has been out for the last week due to a sprained ankle. The team also lost Chris Andersen for the season due to a torn ACL, though the Birdman is no longer on the roster, having been sent to the Hornets in a trade on Monday.

With Love out of action, Tristan Thompson could see an uptick in his playing time, and newly-acquired Derrick Williams figures to get more minutes than expected. Still, the Cavs may have to consider adding a big man using the open spot on their roster. Channing Frye is currently the only other healthy big man on the roster, so the team will have to rely heavily on small lineups in the short term.

While Love – along with Smith and Shumpert – should be back well before the playoffs begin, the Cavaliers’ hold on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference looks increasingly tenuous. The Celtics and Wizards have been red hot in recent weeks, and are gaining ground on Cleveland, while the Raptors just fortified their roster by reaching a deal to acquire Serge Ibaka.

Cavs Notes: Love, Smith, James, Williams, Lue

The Cavaliers are concerned with Kevin Love‘s sore left knee and will pursue a second opinion, according to a report from Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Love, who has been ruled out of Cleveland’s match-up with the Timberwolves on Tuesday, underwent an MRI on Sunday. Love missed a pair of games on January 30 and February 1 due to a back issue, but has otherwise produced well of late- averaging 21.4 points with 11.8 rebounds over his last five games.

“Always concerned when guys are going down,” coach Tyronn Lue said of Love’s ailment. “And we’re already limited as it is. Definitely concerned, but gotta see how he feels. Just, get evaluated tomorrow and see how he feels.”

More from Cleveland…

  • J.R. Smith could make an on-court return sooner than expected, according to Chris Haynes and Dave McMenamin of ESPN. While Smith is targeting a mid-March return to the lineup, his timeline could be expedited during the All-Star break. Even if Smith returns in three weeks, the 31-year-old will only have 16 games to prepare for the postseason.
  • A Cavs source told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that Derrick Williams has already done enough to earn a second 10-day contract. One of Williams’ biggest advocates has been LeBron James, who told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that he’d like to see Williams stick with the team. “We hope that this is a long-term thing,” James said. “He’s 25-years old. It doesn’t seem like it because we’ve been hearing his name for so long. But he’s 25, he hasn’t even gotten to his potential, to his prime yet. So hopefully this group, this locker room, myself, my leadership — just want to see him grow every day, and it’s a good place for him.”
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com discussed Lue’s new lineup- LeBron James, Kyle Korver, Derrick Williams, Richard Jefferson, and Channing Frye. None of the players in this formation are under 6-foot-7, Fedor writes, while possessing athletic ability and above-average shooting. “Yeah, I did (like it),” Lue said. “And I got to figure out different ways to get LeBron the ball where we want to get it to when we’re running our other actions.” James echoed his coach’s sentiments. “It’s a fantastic lineup, so it worked well for us. We got up the floor, got stops, shared the ball, so it’s a pretty good lineup. It’s something that coach has in his back pocket if he wants to use it again.”

Hornets Acquire, Waive Chris Andersen

1:18pm: The Hornets issued a press release confirming their acquisition of Andersen, and announcing that they’ve already waived the injured center.

11:18am: The second-round pick Cleveland gets in the deal is top-55 protected for 2017, a league source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Based on the Hornets’ current record, there’s virtually zero chance of that pick changing hands, as expected.

11:04am: The Cavaliers have opened up a spot on their 15-man roster by making a trade with the Hornets, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Cavs, Cleveland is sending injured big man Chris Andersen and cash to Charlotte in exchange for a protected second-round pick.Chris Andersen vertical

Although the Cavs are receiving a second-round pick in the swap, that selection will likely be a heavily-protected pick that never actually changes hands. Andersen has no value this season, since he’s out for the year with a torn ACL, so Charlotte is doing the Cavs a favor by taking him off their hands. In return, the Hornets will likely get more than enough cash to cover Andersen’s remaining salary, so they’ll come out ahead in the transaction.

While Cleveland will probably never receive that protected second-round pick, the team had been motivated to move Andersen. By sending the Birdman’s contract elsewhere, the Cavs will ensure that they don’t have to pay an extra tax charge for him at season’s end. The club is currently so far into tax territory that every dollar spent results in an extra $2.50 tax charge — that means Andersen’s $980K minimum salary would have cost more than $2.4MM in tax payments. By trading him, the Cavs reduce their tax bill and create an opportunity to add someone new to fill that newly-opened 15th roster spot in the coming days or weeks.

Cleveland had previously sent out $2.75MM in cash in a few separate trades, and teams are limited to $3.5MM in outgoing cash for the 2016/17 league year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cavs sent out the rest of their available trade money ($750K) in this deal, though the specifics aren’t yet known. The Cavs will also create a modest trade exception in the swap, worth Andersen’s cap hit ($980,431). It will expire a year from today.

Charlotte, meanwhile, had an open roster spot after Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey saw their 10-day contracts expire overnight. McCallum already re-signed with the team, but Tobey hasn’t formally inked a new deal yet. The Hornets will likely waive Andersen shortly in order to make room to re-sign Tobey.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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