Cavaliers Rumors

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant Named Players Of The Month

Two of the NBA’s early frontrunners for the 2021/22 MVP award have been named the Players of the Month for October/November. Warriors guard Stephen Curry has won the Western Conference award, while Nets forward Kevin Durant is the Eastern Conference winner, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Curry led Golden State to an 18-3 record in October and November, averaging 27.8 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 5.7 RPG with an impressive .452/.412/.943 shooting line in 20 games (34.3 MPG). According to the NBA (Twitter link), Curry beat out fellow Western nominees Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Ja Morant, and Karl-Anthony Towns for the award.

Durant, meanwhile, led the NBA in scoring in October and November, with 28.6 PPG. He also put up 7.5 RPG and 5.6 APG and shot .539/.389/.863 in 20 games (35.8 MPG). His Nets sit atop the Eastern standings with a 15-6 record. The other Eastern nominees for the award were Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LaMelo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Tyrese Maxey, and Trae Young.

The NBA also announced its Rookies of the Month for October and November today, awarding that honor to Thunder guard Josh Giddey in the West and Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley in the East (Twitter link).

Giddey has immediately slid into the starting lineup for the lottery-bound Thunder and filled up the box score with 10.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 5.8 APG in his first 20 games (29.4 MPG), though he struggled with his shooting efficiency (.391/.257/.654). Mobley, meanwhile, has been the most impressive of the rookie of the 2021 class so far, posting 14.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.8 BPG in his 17 games (33.8 MPG) in October and November.

The other nominees for the Rookie of the Month awards were Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Davion Mitchell, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in the West, and Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Chris Duarte, and Franz Wagner in the East (Twitter link).

Evan Mobley Expected To Return For Cavs On Saturday

The Cavaliers and Evan Mobley plan to have the rookie make his return from a right elbow sprain on Saturday vs. Orlando, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link).

Barring setbacks, Mobley will be back in Cleveland’s lineup earlier than anticipated. When he was diagnosed with an elbow sprain earlier this month, the Cavs announced that the big man would be sidelined for two-to-four weeks. That was just 10 days ago.

Mobley, who only has 15 NBA games under his belt, has already emerged as a key part of the Cavs’ game plan on both offense and defense. Even after going 0-for-11 from the floor in the November 15 game in which he sustained his elbow injury, Mobley has impressive averages of 14.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.6 BPG in 33.7 minutes per contest. The Cavs, who have lost all four games he has missed, have a 99.6 defensive rating when the 20-year-old plays, compared to 109.7 when he sits.

Still, it seems safe to assume Cleveland wouldn’t be rushing Mobley back into the lineup if he and the team weren’t both fully confident that he’s ready. While the 9-10 Cavs certainly want to end their five-game losing streak and re-enter the playoff picture, Mobley is a long-term centerpiece for the club, which wouldn’t risk his health to bring him back a little ahead of schedule.

Osman Comfortable As Sparkplug

Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman has settled in to his second unit role and is enjoying a bounce-back season, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Osman has made 43.6% of his 3-point attempts this season and has averaged 20 points over the last three games. He shot 30.6% from deep last year and averaged fewer points while playing more minutes.

And-Ones: Ferrell, Red Sox Owners, Mobley, Allen

Former NBA guard Yogi Ferrell has left Greece’s Panathinaikos in order to seek a better opportunity, per Stavros Barbarousis of Ferrell was unhappy with his limited role — he was averaging just eight minutes in five EuroLeague games. The 28-year-old point guard was waived by the Clippers in September after spending the last five years in the NBA.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Fenway Sports Group wants to buy an NBA team once its acquisition of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins is completed, Axios’ Dan Primack reports. FSG has been buying marquee franchises in different geographic markets. It not only owns the Boston Red Sox, it also has also acquired a NASCAR team and the Liverpool F.C. soccer club. Additionally, it has an investment in Spring Hill Group, a content production firm co-founded by LeBron James.
  • Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley tops ESPN’s first rookie power rankings this season. Writer Mike Schmitz ranks the Raptors’ Scottie Barnes and the Pistons’ Cade Cunningham second and third, respectively. Mobley is currently out due to an elbow injury.
  • Tony Allen has asked the Grizzlies to postpone his jersey retirement until next season, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Allen is currently dealing with federal charges for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar health insurance fraud scheme. Allen’s jersey retirement was scheduled for January 28.

Central Notes: Okoro, Turner, Bjorkgren, Caruso, McGruder

Collin Sexton‘s season-ending surgery has thrust Isaac Okoro into the spotlight for the Cavaliers, according to Chris Fedor of

The 20-year-old Okoro has had a terrible start to the season shooting the ball, with a slash line of .369/.176/.720 through 11 games. The team doesn’t expect Okoro to replicate Sexton’s offensive output; it’s not why they drafted him, and it’s not what he hangs his hat on, writes Fedor. The second-year wing is an athletic, defense-oriented hustle player who’s a good finisher in transition.

Coach J.B Bickerstaff says the Cavs aren’t concerned with Okoro’s poor shooting yet, but they need him to stay aggressive and make the right plays on offense to keep opposing defenses honest.

Not yet is there a level of concern,” Bickerstaff said. “We have to figure out how to help him. How do we put him in positions to be successful and what does he need to do to help this team? That’s the most important thing. We all need to make open shots. I think we have had open shots out there that we can knock down. But each guy has a different role. He has to make himself more difficult to guard. That’s something that we have been talking to him about. He is a really good mover, he’s a really good runner, he can catch and finish at the rim, he’s a good offensive rebounder. We have to get him to do more of those things. He just needs to impact the game the way he impacts the game. We don’t need him to score 20 points a night. We need to help this team win.”

The Cavs have lost four straight games and sit at 9-9. They’ve dealt with several injuries and illnesses to key players, including Okoro, who was sidelined for seven games with a strained hamstring.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner recently spoke about what went wrong under former coach Nate Bjorkgren last season, writes Matthew VanTryon of the Indianapolis Star. “Being a first-year head coach, there’s a lot of ego that comes with that. You have a lot of this, ‘I know what I’m doing. I got this.’ But in a sense, you don’t always know exactly what you’re doing. You have to accept that,” Turner said on the Noble and Roosh Show. “He kind of tried to accept that later in the year, but throughout the year, he wouldn’t let go of that ego in a sense. That’s one of the things that hurt him in his tenure in Indiana.” Bjorkgren was fired after his lone season in Indiana.
  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso gave an interview with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype that covers a number of topics, including his journey to the NBA, joining Chicago, his chemistry with Lonzo Ball, and more.
  • Pistons veteran Rodney McGruder is still popular in Miami, even as an opponent, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t surprised that Pistons coach Dwane Casey relies on McGruder for veteran leadership. “I don’t find it surprising at all, that Coach Casey has turned to him, because of that experience, because of his grit, toughness,” Spoelstra said. “He screams reliability and that plays well in this league.”

Cavaliers To Be Cautious With Mobley; Markkanen, Allen To Return Monday

  • Cavaliers big men Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen are set to return on Monday against the Nets, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter link). Markkanen has missed nine games due to the league’s health and safety protocols, while Allen has missed three due to an illness. Cedi Osman (back) and Lamar Stevens (ankle) are doubtful for the contest, Fedor adds.
  • Speaking of the Cavaliers, the team plans to be cautious with rookie Evan Mobley in his recovery from a sprained elbow, Fedor writes in a story for Mobley is making progress, but he was given a two-to-four-week timetable just under a week ago. In 15 starts this season, the 20-year-old has averaged 14.6 points, eight rebounds and 33.7 minutes.

Central Notes: Allen, Rubio, Simmons, Green

The Cavaliers‘ fast start has raised expectations in Cleveland, Jarrett Allen tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Coming off a 22-50 season, the Cavs were hoping to improve enough to contend for a spot in the play-in round, but the team is now 9-8 and has started to aim a little higher.

“We’re definitely shooting for the playoffs,” Allen said. “First, I think people thought, let’s just get in for the play-in game, be one of those ninth or tenth seeds. But now, I guess you’ve got to be in the play-in if you’re seven or eight, but we want to be in one of the old seven or eight playoff spots.”

Allen covers several topics in the interview, including the five-year, $100MM contract he signed during the offseason. Although he was a restricted free agent and the Cavaliers could have waited to match any offer on the open market, they were aggressive and reached a deal quickly to keep him in Cleveland.

“I never thought that would happen,” Allen said of being a $100MM player. “I’m not saying that I didn’t believe in my basketball abilities. I didn’t know that people saw that in me on the court. And you know, now that I have it, nothing’s really changed. I’m still who I am. I’m still going to be who I am on the court. There’s a reason I got the $100 million. I don’t think I need to go out there and shoot 20 threes a game. It’s a dream, and we’ll keep it that way.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers‘ offseason addition of Ricky Rubio has become more important with the loss of Collin Sexton for the rest of the season, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Rubio has ranked second on the team in minutes played in the four games since Sexton was injured.
  • Recent rumors about a possible Ben Simmons trade don’t make sense for the Pistons, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Primarily a ball-handler on offense, Simmons isn’t a good fit for a team that already has Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham, Beard points out. There are also questions about how Simmons would affect the culture of a young team and concerns about taking on his hefty contract.
  • Part of the Bulls‘ improvement on defense stems from more playing time for Javonte Green and the trade for Derrick Jones Jr., since both Green and Jones can guard multiple positions, observes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. They have been asked to contribute more to the team’s interior defense while Nikola Vucevic is sidelined with COVID-19. ‘‘Position-less basketball, right?’’ Green said. ‘‘That’s our job. We’re not here to completely shut down anybody; we’re here to do our part in making life hard on (opposing big men) while (center Nikola Vucevic) is out.”

Collin Sexton Out For Season After Meniscus Surgery

Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton will miss the rest of the season after having surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The team first announced Sexton’s injury on November 8, but there was no recovery timeline mentioned at the time. Now we know he’ll miss the remainder of the season.

It’s a devastating blow for the fourth-year guard, who’s eligible to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The Cavs were reportedly interested in a long-term contract with Sexton, but missing the rest of the season will hurt his leverage in negotiations.

Sexton had been quite healthy his first three seasons; he played in all 82 games as a rookie, all 65 of the team’s games in his second season, and 60 out of 72 games last season.

The eighth overall pick in 2018, Sexton was the Cavaliers’ leading scorer in each of the last two seasons, having put up a career-best 24.3 PPG in 60 games in 2020/21 with a solid .475/.371/.815 shooting line. He was off to a slower start this season, with his shooting line dipping to .453/.244/.744, but his 16.0 PPG is still the second-highest mark on the team, only trailing the 17.8 PPG of point guard Darius Garland.

Obviously it’s bad news for the Cavs as well, who are very undermanned at the moment. Rookie Evan Mobley, who looked like a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year, will miss the next two-to-four weeks with a right elbow sprain. Kevin Love just returned from a bout of COVID-19, while Lauri Markkanen is working his way back to shape after battling the virus. Starting center Jarrett Allen has missed the past three games as well with a non-COVID illness, so the Cavs have been without four of their five original starters the past two games.

The Cavs started the season 9-5 (7-4 with Sexton), but have lost their last three games and now sit at 9-8. Their next game is Monday, Nov. 22 against Brooklyn.

With Sexton on the shelf, Cleveland has leaned more heavily on Garland and veteran point guard Ricky Rubio, with Dylan Windler and Denzel Valentine receiving rotation minutes in recent games. Second-year wing Isaac Okoro has also seen heavy minutes since returning from injury.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link), the Cavs could eligible for a disabled player exception worth approximately $3.2MM (roughly half of Sexton’s salary) if Sexton is deemed likely to be out through June 15th.

Marks also relays that the Cavs are currently $3.1MM below the luxury tax threshold and have no open roster spots. Using a disabled player exception does not free up a roster spot, and if used, it counts against the cap. So, even if they were granted a DPE, there’s certainly no guarantee the Cavs would actually use it. 

And-Ones: Thomas, Anderson, Team USA, Offseason Moves, More

Since USA Basketball announced its 12-man roster earlier this week for the first qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup, two players have been removed from the squad — DaQuan Jeffries withdrew due to an injury, and Frank Mason wasn’t cleared to participate.

NBA veterans Isaiah Thomas and Justin Anderson will replace Jeffries and Mason on the Team USA roster, according to a press release. Thomas, who continues to pursue an NBA roster spot, represented the U.S. in the AmeriCup qualifiers back in January, so he’s no stranger to international competition.

The same is true of Anderson — the veteran swingman, who has appeared in 226 NBA games, played for Team USA in the AmeriCup qualifiers in 2020 and was part of the Select Team that scrimmaged against the U.S. team prior to the 2019 World Cup.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks identifies some of the offseason moves that been the most impactful during the first month of the 2021/22 NBA season, including the Cavaliers‘ acquisition of Ricky Rubio and Tommy Sheppard‘s reshaping of the Wizards‘ roster.
  • The NBA plans to increase COVID-19 testing during the Thanksgiving holidays next week, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski explains, the league is trying to avoid risking any team-wide breakouts after players participate in family celebrations.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) breaks down the pros and cons of the various pathways to the NBA for top prospects, taking an in-depth look at the G League, Overtime Elite, National Basketball League (Australia), and college basketball. As Givony writes, the NCAA remains “the most bankable path to the NBA” for top prospects, but those players have more options than ever to choose from.

Love Had Rough Time With COVID-19

The Cavaliers are hopeful they’ll be closer to full strength by Monday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Jarrett Allen missed the team’s game against the Lakers on Thursday with an illness. Lamar Stevens is rehabbing from a right ankle sprain and Lauri Markkanen is reconditioning after a bout with COVID-19, but there’s a belief that all three players could return early next week.

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love didn’t require hospitalization but his bout with COVID-19 was a rough one, according to Fedor“I went through it,” Love said. “The first four or five days were pretty tough. All the usual symptoms that I think people might get. Crazy muscle aches, sensitive skin, can’t smell, taste, muscle spasms, fatigue. Then just chest and head got hit pretty tough as well.” Love had 11 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes while playing for the first time this month on Wednesday.