Cavaliers Rumors

Cavs Notes: James, Hill, Communication, Roster

LeBron James will hit free agency after the season and his next move has been – and will be – one of the biggest stories in basketball. Based on past and recent comments, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report examines the possibilities surrounding James’ third stint in free agency.

Most of Beck’s story focuses on James’ motives as he looks for his next NBA contract. With three championships to his credit, it’s possible LeBron will not choose his next solely based on his best chance to win a title. Other factors will be in play, such as James’ desire to play with his close friends — and fellow impending free agents — Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade; lasting long enough to possibly play with or against his son; and establishing a media presence in a larger market. One major factor this summer will also be James’ strained relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, Beck writes.

“Dan Gilbert’s not going to do what it takes to keep him,” one source speculatively said to Beck. “Not a chance in hell he’s going to give him a no-trade clause, or let him dictate contract terms.”

James has publicly said that any reports of his intentions this summer are false unless they come directly from him.

Check out other Cavaliers news below:

  • Veteran George Hill was one of several players the Cavaliers acquired at the trade deadline as the team restructured the roster. Hill is happy to be back with a contending team that is in pursuit of a title, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. “It’s a blessing,” Hill said. “I was in a tough situation. I thanked them for all they did, but I think my time there was done. To get another opportunity, not just to come and play but to possibly play for a championship is something that I’ve had early in my career going against him in Miami with the three-headed monster and the cat spoiling my summer. Now I get a chance to be a part of something special and get an opportunity to go to the Finals.”
  • With a huge chunk of the roster consisting of new talent, the Cavaliers are aware it will take time to integrate the new talent with the current crop, Fedor writes in a separate story.
  • After internal talks between front office personnel about a possible Kyrie Irving trade were relayed to Irving, it sealed his desire to be traded. For the future, the Cavaliers want to tighten up their communication channels to that private talks are not leaked, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/22/18

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

  • The Cavaliers have recalled rookie center Ante Zizic from their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website. In 15 games for the Charge, Zizic has averaged 15.7 PPG and 8.9 RPG.
  • The Magic assigned forward Jonathan Isaac to their Lakeland affiliate, according to Orlando’s PR Twitter. Isaac will attend Lakeland’s practice but he is expected to be recalled back to Orlando before the team faces the Knicks on Thursday. Isaac, who has missed almost three months with an ankle injury, is expected to see his first game action tomorrow for the G League squad.
  • The Heat have assigned guard Rodney McGruder to their G League affiliate, the Sioux City Skyforce, the team announced in a press release. McGruder has not appeared in a regular season game after undergoing surgery on a  left tibia stress fracture in mid-October. He is expected to play two G League games on Saturday and Monday before making his NBA return, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to the South Bay Lakers for their upcoming two-game road trip, according to the G League team’s Twitter feed. Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 27 games with South Bay.
  • The Timberwolves have assigned rookie center Justin Patton to the G League’s Iowa Wolves, according to the team (Twitter link). Patton has yet to make his NBA debut but has averaged 11.9 PPG for Iowa in 25 games.

Cavaliers Sign Marcus Thornton To 10-Day Contract

FEBRUARY 22: The Cavs have officially announced their 10-day deal with Thornton. However, it sounds like Thornton’s role with his G League squad won’t change much, as the Cavs’ announcement indicates he’ll be assigned to the Canton Charge before Friday’s game.

Meanwhile, Damion Lee of the Santa Cruz Warriors will replace Thornton on USA Basketball’s roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

FEBRUARY 21: The Cavaliers will fill one of their open roster spots by signing G League guard Marcus Thornton to a 10-day contract, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Cleveland had been carrying a 13-man roster since making three deals at the February 8 trade deadline. NBA rules require teams to have at least 14 players, but they are permitted to go below that number as long as they get back to 14 within two weeks.

Thornton was a second-round pick by the Celtics in 2015 and has played in Australia, Italy and the G League. The Celtics renounced their rights to Thornton over the summer and he signed with the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate, in November. The 25-year-old averaged 18.8 points in 37 games with Canton.

Thornton will receive $46,080 for the 10 days, but his salary will count $83,129 toward the luxury tax, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The signing will cost the Cavs about $353K in luxury taxes, raising their overall bill to $50.3MM.

Once Thornton’s contract expires, Cleveland can sign him to another 10-day deal, keep him for the rest of the season or release him and make another move to stay at the 14-player limit.

Thornton’s signing also affects Team USA in its quest to qualify for the FIBA World Cup, notes Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Coach Jeff Van Gundy will have to find a replacement for Thornton before upcoming games on Friday and Monday.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/21/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA.

9:32pm:

  • The Warriors have recalled guard Quinn Cook and center Damian Jones from their affiliate in Santa Cruz, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Bay Area.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned center Ante Zizic to their Canton affiliate, the team announced on its website.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tony Bradley to their affiliate in Salt Lake City, according to the team website.

4:05pm:

Poll: Which Team Will Earn No. 1 Seed In East?

Like the Rockets in the Western Conference, the Raptors entered the All-Star break on a hot streak that allowed them to claim the No. 1 seed in the East. With Toronto on a seven-game winning streak and Boston having lost three in a row, the 41-16 Raps now have a two-game cushion on the 40-19 Celtics.

While the Raptors currently hold the top spot in the East, they’re not a lock to hang onto it the rest of the way. The Celtics figure to bounce back, particularly when Marcus Smart returns to their lineup. And the Cavaliers aren’t going anywhere either — after a midseason swoon, a series of deadline-day trades have revitalized the Cavs, who have won four in a row to increase their record to 34-22, 6.5 games back of Toronto.

It would take a major slump for the Raptors to give up a 6.5-game lead with just 25 to play, but if that slump happens, we probably shouldn’t rule out teams like the Wizards (33-24), Pacers (33-25), and Bucks (32-25) either. Still, those clubs are very long shots for the No. 1 seed. The race for the top spot in the East looks like it will come down to three teams — and possibly just two if the Cavs dug too deep a hole during the first half.

Unlike in the West, where the Rockets and Warriors have been just as successful on the road as at home, a pair of top Eastern contenders have been much better when they’ve had home-court advantage. The Raptors have an NBA-best 24-4 mark at home, compared to 17-12 on the road. The Cavs, meanwhile, are 20-7 in home games and having a losing record (14-15) as visitors. Claiming the No. 1 seed and gaining home-court advantage throughout the playoffs could be a huge factor for those teams.

What do you think? Will the Raptors hang onto the No. 1 seed? Will the Celtics reclaim it? Will the new-look Cavs go on a hot streak to get back in the race to the top? Vote below in our poll and then jump into the comment section to share your thoughts!

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NBA Players Weigh In On 2018 Free Agency

With a big offeason looming once the 2017/18 NBA regular season comes to an end, several ESPN writers spoke to NBA players to get their predictions on where they expect some of this summer’s top free agents to land. In total, 48 players weighed in. Here are some highlights from the results of ESPN’s survey:

  • LeBron James is considered likely to return to the Cavaliers, with 59% of the respondents picking Cleveland as his free agency destination, while 22% chose the Lakers. “He won’t leave after all the moves they made last week,” one Eastern Conference forward said of LeBron, referring to the Cavs’ trade-deadline deals. Asked where James should sign, even more respondents (66%) voted for Cleveland.
  • If James does decide he wants to join the Lakers, the LaVar Ball show won’t be a deterrent, according to 89% of the players surveyed. “If LeBron comes to L.A., then it’s the LeBron show. Not the Ball show,” said one Eastern Conference center.
  • Most of the survey respondents (80%) believe DeMarcus Cousins will re-sign with the Pelicans.
  • Only 33% of the players surveyed expect Paul George to be in the Thunder‘s opening-night lineup for 2018/19.
  • The respondents are slightly in favor (59%) of maximum salary contracts existing in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. “LeBron, Steph and KD, all those guys bring a lot more than what they’re getting paid,” said one Western Conference guard. “But being a lower-tier salary guy myself, if you pay those guys even more, the lower guys on the totem pole don’t really get anything.”
  • Asked which teams make the best pitches to free agents, players chose the Celtics (27%), Heat (15%), Lakers (12%), and Warriors (9%), with nine other clubs receiving votes. One Eastern Conference guard on Boston: “If you bring Tom Brady? That’s pretty damn cool.”

Roster Moves Required This Week For Four Teams

As we noted last week when we identified the clubs with open roster spots, NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads (not counting two-way players). However, teams are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks.

At this month’s trade deadline, four teams ended up with multiple open roster spots and are currently carrying 13 players on their NBA rosters. The Cavaliers have 13 players after their plethora of deadline deals; the Wizards went down to 13 after sending Sheldon Mac to Atlanta; and the Trail Blazers are carrying 13 after trading Noah Vonleh to Chicago. The Hawks, meanwhile, waived Mac and Marco Belinelli after the trade deadline passed to get to 13.

As a result of those roster moves, Cleveland, Washington, and Portland have until this Thursday – two weeks after the trade deadline – to get back up to 14 players by signing a player to a 10-day contract or a rest-of-season deal. Atlanta has until Friday to do the same.

While we don’t know with certainty which players will be signed by these four teams later this week, there have been some clues. Veteran big man Kendrick Perkins published a tweet on February 8 suggesting that he was joining the Cavs, but quickly deleted it — Cleveland may be ready to finalize an agreement with Perkins later this week.

The Wizards, meanwhile, have been linked to several free agent point guards with John Wall sidelined and Tim Frazier banged up too. Ty Lawson, Derrick Rose, and Ramon Sessions are among the players said to have drawn some interest from Washington, so perhaps the club will pull the trigger on a deal with one of those vets this week.

Temporarily carrying 13 players has had a noticeable financial impact for the Cavs, Wizards, and Blazers, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter). Cleveland has saved $35K per day since the trade deadline in potential luxury-tax payments for that 14th roster spot, while Washington has saved $12K per day in taxes. As for the Blazers, the savings they’ve created by carrying 13 players will allow them to sign a 14th player, then eventually sign a 15th player – if they so choose – without going over the tax line.

Central Notes: Nance, Dinwiddie, Bulls

Less than two weeks after he was shipped to the Cavaliers, Larry Nance Jr. was back in Los Angeles for the Dunk Contest. Nance spent his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Lakers and admitted to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register that the trade still has not set in.

“It’s something that’s still kind of shocking,” Nance said. “But at the same time I can’t wait for all this to be done with so I can just get back to learning how to gel and mesh with my new teammates.”

Nance, 25, was the runner-up in Saturday’s dunk contest as Jazz rookie phenom Donovan Mitchell took home the trophy. After the All-Star break is complete, Nance is looking forward to being in a postseason race for the first time in his career.

“I like to think of myself as a very winning player,” Nance said. “Whether we were building gradually in L.A. or not, I was trying to win every single game. It just feels right. Now that we can, we’re in it, we have a chance to win every single game.”

Check out other Central Division news and notes down below:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie showed off his all-around basketball talents as he captured the Skills Challenge trophy on Saturday night, defeating Bulls’ rookie Lauri MarkkanenPeter J. Wallner of MLive.com recalls that Dinwiddie was once a member of the Pistons and now has the opportunity to shine as a member of the Nets.
  • The Bulls do not have any representatives in the All-Star game but the team’s young talent was showcased throughout the weekend, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Kris Dunn had an impressive performance in the Rising Stars Challenge, Markkanen was the runner-up in the Skills Challenge, and Zach LaVine impressed with his analysis during the Dunk Contest — he even teased performing in it for a third time.

Cavaliers Notes: LeBron, Irving, Love, Wade

Today’s All-Star Game will reunite LeBron James and Kyrie Irving as teammates for the first time since the trade that sent Irving to Boston for three players and two draft picks. They were on the court together at Saturday’s practice and neither made a big deal out of the reunion, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Irving told reporters it was “pretty awesome” to be back with James, but added that their interactions were “just normal.” “Sorry, I know that sounds like not a lot,” he added, “but it’s just normal.” 

James is responsible for bringing them back together. As one of the team captains for today’s game, he made the decision to select Irving, saying, “If he was available I was taking him.” James was originally angry that Irving requested a trade, but didn’t do much to talk him out of it, Vardon writes, even though he asked Cleveland’s front office not to make a deal. James said he still has fond memories of their partnership.

“Those thoughts still go into my head of how great it was to break the drought in our city, over 50-plus years,” James said. “The both of us had magical Finals runs and, so it’s always special.”

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers got rid of a bad situation on and off the court with three deals just before the trade deadline, Kevin Love tells Vardon in a separate story. Several players the Cavs sent away were reportedly affecting team chemistry, although Love says he didn’t see any “friction” with Dwyane Wade. “It might not have been a bad thing to get some fresh faces in there and guys from situations where they really wanted to win,” Love said. “I think first and foremost, seeing those [new] guys in Atlanta, they didn’t play, but they got there right after the trade and they just said they want to win. You can tell when somebody says it, you can tell when somebody means it. They really meant it and it felt good to have that there.”
  • Love offered a medical update on the broken left hand that has sidelined him since late January, Vardon adds. Love has started running again and plans to have his cast taken off at the four-week mark, which will be in early March. His prognosis has him out of action for eight weeks.
  • James has been able to make about $20MM extra since rejoining the Cavaliers by signing one-year contracts with player options, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. The team wanted James to agree to a four-year max deal when he returned to Cleveland that would have been worth roughly $88MM. By opting for shorter commitments, James maximized his flexibility and will have earned $108MM by the end of this season.

Cavs Notes: Altman, Wade, Rose, James, Thomas

The Cavaliers had the busiest and most impactful trade deadline of any team, swinging three major trades and restructuring a faltering roster by the end of lunchtime on February 8. The behind-the-scenes and on-court struggles preceding the moves were a major talking point across the league, as Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon breaks down.

For starters, Cleveland’s rookie general manager, Koby Altman, deserves a lot of the credit for seemingly righting a ship that was on the verge of sinking. LeBron James addressed the changes and praised the general manager.

“It just wasn’t working out for us, and he felt like, obviously you guys saw his quotes, he made the changes that he felt best fits our team,” James said.

Yet, Altman had to correct an issue that brought upon by decisions made by him, owner Dan Gilbert, head coach Tyronn Lue, and James himself, Vardon writes. James never wanted the team to trade Kyrie Irving; when he was dealt, the Cavaliers tried to assemble the best roster possible and attempted to accommodate James despite him not committing long-term.

  • In the story, Vardon writes that the Cavaliers did not feel Dwyane Wade fit on the roster. However, once his buyout from the Bulls was complete, and at James’ urging, the team signed him anyway. While he adjusted well to the bench, Wade initially taking J.R. Smiths starter role had an adverse impact on Smith, who never got on track in the first half of the season. Also, Vardon notes that Wade — not Isaiah Thomas — was the first to question Kevin Loves illness that forced him to leave a game.
  • Derrick Rose was recruited to Cleveland by Lue and – despite his injuries – was expected to a valuable piece on a team-friendly deal. However, just a few games into the season, Rose suffered a sprained ankle that diminished his performance and he eventually left the team to evaluate his future. Upon his return, his teammates accepted him publicly but privately felt it was a matter of time before he was dealt.
  • A lot of was made of Isaiah Thomas‘ criticisms, which came while he was struggling himself. He admitted that he was not at full health as he recovered from the hip injury that kept him out to start the season. Lue felt he had to play Thomas as he was essentially Irving’s replacement but his performance never matched his output last season in Boston.
  • Without a commitment from LeBron, the Cavs were reluctant to surrender draft picks or take on significant salary beyond the current season. However, Gilbert took on future salary in multiple instances, adding Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and George Hill, who are all under contract beyond 2017/18. It’s an insurance net for Cleveland in case James does leave in free agency. For now, James is prepared to take on the leadership role that he seemed to vacate while the team struggled. “So it’s my job as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that’s built on winning and practicing championship habits,” he said.
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