Cavaliers Rumors

Examining How Hood, Burks Have Adjusted To Cleveland

Tristan Thompson Out 2-4 Weeks With Sprained Foot

12:04pm: The Cavaliers confirmed Thompson’s status in a tweet.

11:19am: Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson has a sprained left foot that will keep him sidelined for two to four weeks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Thompson suffered the injury in last night’s loss to the Bucks, leaving the game midway through the third quarter. He told Joe Noga of that it happened when he landed on Malcolm Brogdon‘s foot while chasing a rebound.

“I just fell forward on it, it’ll be all right,” Thompson said after the game. “It happens when you’re rebounding and the little guys are down there. It’s part of the game. I’m just glad I was able to walk off on my own two feet.”

Thompson had an MRI this morning that showed no fractures in the foot, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, there is enough swelling to keep Thompson out of action.

It’s the latest bad break for the 6-21 Cavaliers, who were already short-handed heading into Monday. Thompson has been one of the few bright spots this season in Cleveland, averaging career highs in points (12.0) and rebounds (11.6) through 27 games.

LeBron Never Considered Joining Knicks

There was plenty of drama as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade faced each other for the final time last night, but James’ postgame comments led to speculation that his summer decision came down to the Lakers and Knicks.

As the longtime friends hugged after the game, Wade said “I appreciate you for letting it end here,” meaning at the Staples Center, and James responded, “It was either here or at (Madison Square) Garden, that’s it.”

Although many are taking that as an indication that James was considering signing with New York, multiple sources close to him tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that isn’t true. The statement referred to the magnitude of their final game and how LeBron felt it deserved a special setting.

Vardon adds that apart from the Lakers, James gave serious consideration to staying with the Cavaliers or going to the Sixers, who were the only other team he met with before signing in L.A.

Although James heading to New York would have shaken up the NBA landscape just as much as joining the Lakers, the Knicks didn’t have the cap room available to offer anything close to a max contract. The team’s only significant free agent additions of the offseason were Mario Hezonja, who received a one-year, $6.5MM contract that came out of the Knicks’ mid-level exception, and Noah Vonleh, who got a partially guaranteed one-year deal.

On top of that, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James wouldn’t have considered New York because of how the front office, especially former team president Phil Jackson, treated his friend, Carmelo Anthony in his final seasons with the team.

Rockets Have Expressed ‘Exploratory’ Interest In J.R. Smith

The Rockets have expressed “exploratory” interest in acquiring veteran shooting guard J.R. Smith, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). We relayed last week that both the Rockets and Pelicans had expressed interest in Smith’s services.

Smith, 33, is currently away from the Cavaliers as they try to find a suitable trade partner. The Rockets are in the midst of a similar situation as Carmelo Anthony is currently on the roster but away from the team as both sides seek a resolution. We noted last month that Houston is seeking wing help.

The former NBA champion Smith has been vocal in his quest to be traded from Cleveland all season as he did not believe the team’s goal is to win games.

I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said in November. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

With the departure of LeBron James this past summer, the Cavaliers seemed intent to compete for the postseason regardless. Cleveland even inked Kevin Love to a massive extension, but entering play on Monday, the Cavaliers sport a 6-20, tied for second-worst in the Eastern Conference.

While it’s clear the Cavaliers want to move on from Smith, his contract — which includes a $14.72 MM cap hit makes that proposition difficult. Also, in just 11 games this season, Smith posted career-lows with 6.7 PPG and .342 FG%. However, Smith does have considerable postseason experience and he would not be a long-term risk as he has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20.

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Dellavedova, Hill, Sexton

The Cavaliers have traded veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver in the past two weeks, and J.R. Smith appears to be the next priority, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Rockets and Pelicans have expressed interest in Smith, according to O’Connor, who notes that both teams need to fortify their wing depth.

Smith hasn’t played since an “amicable” breakup with the Cavs on November 20, and his representatives are working with the team to find a trade. He fell victim to a youth movement in Cleveland and saw his playing time cut to about 20 minutes per night in the 11 games he has gotten into this season.

In addition to his considerable playoff experience, Smith’s contract beyond this season could make him attractive to a contender. He has just a $3.87MM guarantee on his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20, so there is limited long-term risk in acquiring him.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers who played alongside Matthew Dellavedova during his first stint in Cleveland are thrilled to welcome him back, relays Chris Fedor of Reacquired from the Bucks in the Hill trade, Dellavedova was admired by his teammates for his intensity and competitiveness. “I think of his toughness and his ability to change the pace of the game and his familiarity,” Channing Frye said. “He’s a champion, consummate professional, good for our locker room.”
  • Coach Larry Drew’s decision to put Hill back into the starting lineup when he returned from a shoulder injury may have helped raise his trade value, Fedor suggests in the same piece. Drew has been experimenting with rookie guard Collin Sexton in an off-the-ball role and wanted Hill beside him to run the offense. The move showed the Bucks that Hill was fully healed and able to contribute.
  • Dellavedova will inherit Hill’s role as Sexton’s mentor, Fedor writes in a separate story. Those who remember Dellavedova’s spirited practice sessions with Kyrie Irving expect Sexton to get the same experience. “He will be good for Collin on the days that we do practice, he will be good for Collin because of the way he plays, how scrappy he is,” Tristan Thompson said. “When he gets in, it’s those kinds of plays that he makes, it’s momentum swings and high energy so we will definitely embrace that.”

Financial Impact Of Bucks/Cavs/Wizards Trade

While the three-team trade finalized by the Cavaliers, Bucks, and Wizards on Friday won’t have the same on-court impact as the blockbuster the Raptors and Spurs completed in the offseason, or the Sixers’ acquisition of Jimmy Butler last month, it’s a complicated transaction with many moving parts. So, as we did with those previous deals, we want to take a deep dive into all the financial and cap considerations going on for the three clubs involved in the swap.

Let’s dive right in…

How salary-matching works in the trade:

George Hill‘s $19,000,000 cap hit is the largest single salary involved in the trade. It would have allowed the Cavaliers to take back up to $24MM by itself (the outgoing salary, plus $5MM), so using it to absorb John Henson ($11,327,466) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9,607,500) together is no problem. That means the Cavs are essentially trading Sam Dekker for “nothing” and can create a traded player exception worth his salary ($2,760,095).

[RELATED: Outstanding NBA Traded Player Exceptions]

From the Bucks‘ perspective, neither of their outgoing players are earning enough to match Hill’s $19MM salary on their own, so Henson and Dellavedova need to be aggregated. Together, they earn $20,934,966, which allows the Bucks take back up to $26,268,708 (125% of the outgoing salary, plus $100K). That’s enough to absorb both Hill ($19,000,000) and Jason Smith ($5,450,000).

As an aside, it’s worth noting that the rules for the amount the Cavs can take back using Hill’s $19MM vs. the amount the Bucks can take back using Henson’s and Dellavedova’s $20.93MM are different because the rules change once the salaries cross the $19,600,000 threshold. We explain that in more depth in our glossary entry on the traded player exception.

Finally, the Wizards can use the $3,454,500 traded player exception they created in October’s Jodie Meeks trade on Dekker, whose $2,760,095 salary fits nicely and leaves just $694,405 on that TPE. As a result, Washington essentially trades Smith’s $5,450,000 salary for “nothing,” creating a new trade exception worth that amount.

Teams have one year to use their traded player exceptions, but the Cavs and Wizards will actually get a couple extra days to use theirs. Trade exceptions can’t expire on a weekend, so the expiry date for the new TPEs created by Cleveland and Washington will be December 9, 2019, since December 7 falls on a Saturday next year.

How the Ted Stepien rule affects this trade:

The Ted Stepien rule, which we explain in more detail in a glossary entry, prohibits teams from completing trades that would leave them without a first-round pick for two consecutive future seasons.

Read more

Bucks Acquire George Hill From Cavs

DECEMBER 8, 9:00am: As part of the deal, the Wizards also removed the protections on the 2020 second-round pick they owe the Bucks, reports Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). In summation, the trade looks like this, as Smith tweets:

  • Bucks receive George Hill, Jason Smith, cash considerations (from Wizards), the Wizards’ 2021 second-round pick (from Cavaliers), and the protections removed on the Wizards’ 2020 second-round pick.
  • Cavaliers receive John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick (protections detailed below), the Bucks’ 2021 second-round pick, and the Wizards’ 2022 second-round pick.
  • Wizards receive Sam Dekker.

DECEMBER 7, 9:25pm: The trade is official, according to a Cavaliers press release. as relayed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.

6:20pm: The Wizards have agreed to make it a three-team deal by acquiring Dekker for big man Jason Smith and a second-round pick, Wojnarowski tweets. The Cavs will swap a 2021 second-rounder with Washington for a 2022 second-rounder, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

5:05pm: The Bucks have agreed to acquire veteran guard George Hill from the Cavaliers in exchange for guard Matthew Dellavedova, injured center John Henson and first- and second-round picks in 2021, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Cleveland is also sending forward Sam Dekker to Milwaukee, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

As always, the deal is contingent on the players passing physicals.

The Bucks will save approximately $18MM for the 2019/20 season with this move, which will increase their flexibility to make more moves next summer, Wojnarowski notes in a separate tweet. With Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe both on track to become free agents in July, that extra flexibility could be crucial.

The Cavs are showing a continued willingness to take on salary in order to acquire future assets, Wojnarowski adds.

There was a sense of urgency in getting this deal done on Friday. These players are now eligible to be aggregated on the February 7th trade deadline, Wojnarowski points out in another tweet. Thus, these players can be combined with other contracts in a deadline deal.

While Cleveland is technically acquiring Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder in the deal, it’s likely to get pushed back to 2022. That’s because the first-rounder that Milwaukee owes Phoenix next summer almost certainly won’t change hands until 2020, as it’s protected 1-3 and 17-30 for 2019. Since teams can’t trade future first-round picks in back-to-back seasons, the Cavs would have to wait an extra year to get their pick from Milwaukee.

There are protections on the first-round pick going to Cleveland, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). The first-rounder is protected 1-14 in 2021; 1-10 in 2022; 1-10 and 25-30 in 2023; and 1-8 in 2024. If still not conveyed by then, it converts to two second-rounders in 2025.

Hill is making $19MM this season but his $18MM salary for next season doesn’t become fully guaranteed until July 1. Only $1MM is guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Milwaukee will almost assuredly cut him loose before then, eating his $1MM partial guarantee. However, Hill can be a contributor this season on a playoff contender.

He joins a guard rotation that includes Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell. The addition of Hill would seemingly reduce Donte DiVincenzo‘s minutes.

Henson is making $11.3MM this season and has a $10.5MM guarantee for next season in the final year of his deal. He recently underwent wrist surgery and could miss the rest of the season.

Dellavedova, who will begin his second stint in Cleveland, is making $9.6MM this season and the same amount next season.

Dekker is making $2.76MM and Milwaukee would have to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer after the season to make him a restricted free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thompson Fined $15K; Drew Talks Sexton

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson has been find $15K by the NBA for making an inappropriate gesture toward a fan earlier this week, the league announced today in a press release. Thompson flipped off some Brooklyn hecklers in the wake of the Cavs’ win over the Nets on Monday.
  • Speaking of that Cavaliers win over Brooklyn, head coach Larry Drew – who removed rookie Collin Sexton from the lineup down the stretch in that game – explained later that he doesn’t believe sitting Sexton in situations like that will stunt the youngster’s development. “You can learn just as much sitting over there watching, so you can kind of get a feel and see what other guys are doing,” Drew said, per Chris Fedor of “But it’s a long season and we’re going to be in a lot of different situations where he’s going to be allowed to experience some of this stuff.”

Eastern Notes: Bledsoe, Cavaliers, Ross

The Knicks are expected to target superstar free agents this summer with Kevin Durant atop their wish list. Yet, they could be looking at the second tier of free agents if they miss out on one of the top stars and, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the team’s front office likes Eric Bledsoe‘s game.

The 28-year-old point guard is enjoying a career year for the Bucks and he would fill a major void for the Knicks should he sign with them in the offseason. New York has lacked stability at the position over the last few years.

Emmanuel Mudiay has shown flashes of potential this season, averaging 14.1 points per contest since becoming the starter 11 games ago. Still, the 22-year-old has flashed potential before, leading him to become the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, and it’s likely New York will at least consider upgrades once the season ends.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference.

  • The Cavaliers aren’t interested in trading Kevin Love unless they are blown away by an offer, Chris Fedor of writes. The franchise wants Love around for the long-haul when Collin Sexton is more seasoned and the team adds other young prospects.
  • Cedi Osman is still viewed as part of the Cavaliers‘ future, Fedor relays in the same piece. Osman has started 20 games for Cleveland this year and is averaging 11.2 points per game. However, he is shooting just 36.6% from the field.
  • Terrence Ross, who will be a free agent after the season, has evolved into a consistent threat for the Magic, John Denton of details. Steady production has always been the shooting guard’s weakness, though this season, he’s been able to contribute on a nightly basis.

Alec Burks Hopes To Remain With Cavs

Alec Burks, who was shipped to Cleveland in the Kyle Korver deal, has only played three games with the Cavaliers so far, though he hopes to remain with his new team.

“Hopefully,” Burks responded when asked if Cleveland is where he wants to be (via Chris Fedor of “That’s not up to me. We will see what happens.”

Burks has an $11.5MM expiring contract and he may be one of the Cavs’ better trade chips. Instead of worrying about his upcoming free agency or the possibility of another trade, he’s viewing the new situation as an opportunity to showcase his ability. The team feels Burks is a good fit thanks to his play-making skills and athleticism.

“That’s his game. He attacks the basket,” coach Larry Drew said. “Because he’s so athletic, he can maneuver to the basket and get a shot off.”