Cavaliers Rumors

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

NBA Teams With Most, Fewest Guaranteed Salaries

At this point in the NBA offseason, most teams are carrying 14 and 15 players on guaranteed salaries. The clubs with 14 guaranteed contracts on their books will likely either enter the season with an open roster spot or allow camp invitees to compete for that 15th-man role. Teams with 15 players already on guaranteed deals have their regular-season rosters all but set already.

Still, several teams around the NBA have more than 15 or fewer than 14 fully guaranteed salaries on their cap for now. Using our roster counts tool, here’s a look at those teams, with details on what they might be thinking as the 2018/19 season nears:

Fewer than 14 guaranteed contracts:

  • Houston Rockets (11 guaranteed contracts): In addition to their 11 fully guaranteed contracts, the Rockets also figure to hang onto Michael Carter-Williams, who has a significant partial guarantee. Second-round pick De’Anthony Melton is a good bet to sign a guaranteed contract at some point too. That would increase the Rockets’ roster count to 13, with Zhou Qi the most likely candidate for the 14th spot.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (12): While they only have 12 guaranteed salaries on their books for now, the Cavaliers figure to increase that count by two once they officially sign David Nwaba and bring back Rodney Hood.
  • Miami Heat (12): The Heat continue to wait on Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem to make decisions on whether or not they’ll continue their respective careers. They’ll be penciled in to the 13th and 14th spots if they elect to return.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (12): Although he only has a partial guarantee, James Nunnally is a safe bet to make the Timberwolves’ roster as the 13th man. It’s not clear what the team intends to do with its last opening or two.
  • New Orleans Pelicans (12): Only 12 Pelicans have fully guaranteed salaries, but there are several legit NBA players – Emeka Okafor, DeAndre Liggins, Jahlil Okafor, and Troy Williams – vying for roster spots on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts. At least two of them figure to make the team.
  • Atlanta Hawks (13): The Hawks will increase their roster count to 15 guaranteed salaries once Vince Carter and Daniel Hamilton make their deals with Atlanta official.
  • Golden State Warriors (13): The Warriors plan to enter the season with 14 players under contract, leaving a spot open for flexibility. Their 14th man will likely be Patrick McCaw, who is still a restricted free agent for now.
  • Toronto Raptors (13): The Raptors may enter the season with a 14-man roster. Lorenzo Brown is currently the top candidate for that 14th spot, though Chris Boucher and others could provide competition.

More than 15 guaranteed contracts:

  • Sacramento Kings (16): When the Kings took advantage of their leftover cap room to sign Nemanja Bjelica and Yogi Ferrell, it created a roster crunch. If the club doesn’t trade a player before the season begins, Iman Shumpert, Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore, and Deyonta Davis are among the release candidates on the roster — all four are on expiring contracts.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (15 + Patrick Beverley): The Clippers technically only have 15 players on guaranteed salaries, but Beverley, who is on a non-guaranteed deal, will probably make the team. Assuming he does, that will mean trading or releasing another player, perhaps Wesley Johnson or Jawun Evans.
  • Memphis Grizzlies (15 + Andrew Harrison): Like Beverley in L.A., Harrison is on a non-guaranteed salary, but may not be expendable. If he remains on Memphis’ roster, the Grizzlies may end up releasing Dakari Johnson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavs Keeping Spots Open For Nwaba, Hood

The Pacers took the conference champion Cavaliers to seven games in their playoff series and feel good about their chances to contend in the upcoming season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Nate McMillan is especially encouraged by Indiana’s offseason moves, which included the free agent additions of Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn, along with drafting Aaron Holiday.

  • The Cavaliers have 12 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts and are keeping two spots open for David Nwaba and Rodney Hood, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cleveland was reportedly finalizing a deal with Nwaba at the start of the month, but nothing has been made official. Hood remains the top restricted free agent on the market, but has little bargaining power with so few teams having cap space remaining. Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who signed a non-guaranteed $1.5MM deal yesterday, will also compete for a roster spot, Marks adds.
  • The Cavaliers were the second choice for former Bulls forward Noah Vonleh, who signed with the Knicks this summer, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Bucks and Spurs were also in the running.

Cavaliers Sign Isaiah Taylor

AUGUST 17: The signing is official, according to RealGM’s transaction log.

AUGUST 9: The Cavaliers have agreed to a one-year deal with former Hawks point guard Isaiah Taylor, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Taylor saw action in 67 games during his lone season in Atlanta.

The Cavs, Charania adds, had been targeting an additional point guard for the past week and will welcome aboard a 24-year-old who averaged 13.2 points and 5.6 assists over the course of nine starts in 2017/18.

Taylor recorded 6.6 PPG and 3.1 APG overall in his 67 contests last season for the Hawks after initially debuting for the Rockets during the 2016/17 campaign. He appeared in just four games at the end of the season for Houston.

If he earns a spot on the Cavs’ regular season roster, Taylor will look to push veteran George Hill and 2018 lottery pick Collin Sexton for minutes at the point for Cleveland.

Poll: Which Team Will Win Central Division?

The Cavaliers have won the Central division for four consecutive seasons, and the Cavs, Pistons, and Bulls have combined to claim 12 of the last 14 division titles. However, those clubs won’t enter the 2018/19 season as the frontrunners to finish atop the Central.

Currently, the Pacers and Bucks are viewed as virtual co-favorites for the Central crown in ’18/19. The opening over/unders from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had the Pacers at 47.5 wins and the Bucks at 46.5. Currently, however, betting site has both teams projected at 46.5 wins for the upcoming season. No other Central team is projected to get to .500.

Indiana and Milwaukee finished four games apart last season, as the 48-34 Pacers claimed the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the 44-38 Bucks came in at No. 7. Both clubs have also made modest upgrades to their respective rosters during the offseason.

Indiana lost Lance Stephenson, Trevor Booker, Al Jefferson, and Glenn Robinson III, but added Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn, and Aaron Holiday. In Milwaukee, the Bucks acquired Ersan Ilyasova, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo to replace Jabari Parker, Brandon Jennings, and Jason Terry.

As they look to leapfrog the Pacers in 2018/19, the Bucks will be relying on continued development from Giannis Antetokounmpo – potentially the best player in the East – as well as an immediate impact from new head coach Mike Budenholzer. As for the Pacers, they’ll count on continuity from a group that gelled quickly last season, as well as improvements from young players like Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis.

What do you think? Do you expect the Pacers to supplant the Cavaliers as the Central’s top team in 2018/19? Will the Bucks take home the Central crown for the first time since 2001? Or will the Pistons, Cavs, or Bulls make a surprise run to win the division?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Clarkson Permitted To Play In Asian Games

Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson and two other NBA players have been granted permission by the league to participate in the Asian Games. The story was first reported by CNN Philippines.

Clarkson was originally barred from playing in the event because it wasn’t sanctioned by the NBA and FIBA. The NBA has an agreement with FIBA to permit players to take part in the Olympics, the FIBA World Cup and Continental Cups, plus qualifying tournaments. The Asian Games do not fall into any of those categories, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN notes.

Clarkson will play for the Phillippines, while the Rockets’ Zhou Qi and Mavericks’ Ding Yanyuhang are expected to suit up for China, Windhorst adds. The Philippines will play their first game on Thursday when they face Kazakhstan.

Remaining Offseason Questions: Central Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

Over the next week, we’re looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic on Monday, we’re moving on to the Central today…

Chicago Bulls
Will the Bulls sign Bobby Portis to a rookie scale extension this year?

Even before Portis was technically eligible to sign a rookie scale extension, a report indicated that he and the Bulls were discussing the possibility of a new deal. That was a strong signal that there was legitimate interest on both sides in getting something done this year.

The Bulls will have cap room available next summer and may want to wait on Portis’ contract in order to maximize their flexibility in 2019. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not a huge concern for the team — Portis’ cap hold as a restricted free agent would be about $7.5MM, so if he signs a new contract now that goes into effect in 2019/20, it’s unlikely to significantly increase that cap charge and compromise Chicago’s cap space.

The Bulls and Portis have until October 15 to work something out. Last we heard, talks between the club and the forward’s camp were ongoing.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Will the Cavs eventually re-sign Rodney Hood?

The Cavaliers actually have several questions still to address. Will their long-rumored deal with David Nwaba be finalized anytime soon? Will Larry Nance get an extension this offseason? Will J.R. Smith or anyone else be traded before the season begins? Still, Hood’s status is the biggest question mark for the Cavaliers at this point, as he’s the most noteworthy free agent from the class of 2018 who remains unsigned.

Because Hood is a restricted free agent and there doesn’t appear to be a rival suitor out there ready to put an offer sheet on the table, Cleveland isn’t under pressure to get a deal done right away. The apparent standoff between Hood and the Cavs could last several more weeks. Last year, for instance, RFAs like Alex Len, Nikola Mirotic, and JaMychal Green didn’t resolve their situations until the last week of September when training camps got underway.

We’ll have to wait to see whether Hood will go the Len route – signing his one-year qualifying offer – or if he’ll be able to agree to terms on a multiyear deal with the Cavs, like Mirotic and Green did with their respective clubs last September.

Detroit Pistons
Is the Pistons’ roster set?

There are no burning questions looming over the Pistons as training camp approaches. Detroit has 15 players on guaranteed contracts and both its two-way contract slots filled. There are no major trade candidates on the roster. And it looks like the team is just about done making changes to its coaching staff and front office.

It remains to be seen whether senior advisor Ed Stefanski will officially get a general manager or president of basketball operations title, but there’s little intrigue there — he has led the Pistons’ front office this offseason and is the team’s effective head of basketball operations, even if he doesn’t have the usual title.

So our question for the Pistons is whether this is the roster that will open the season. Jon Leuer is hurt again, and there’s not a ton of depth in the frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and the oft-injured Blake Griffin. It remains to be seen whether Henry Ellenson is ready for major minutes or if Zaza Pachulia can still play them.

The Pistons have plenty of depth at point guard and on the wing, so it will be interesting to see if they trade in any of that depth for one more frontcourt contributor. Even Detroit’s two-way players – Reggie Hearn and Keenan Evans – are guards, so perhaps the club will consider replacing one of them with a big man for insurance purposes.

Indiana Pacers
Will Myles Turner get a rookie scale extension from the Pacers this year?

Turner was expected to take a huge step forward last season with Paul George no longer in Indiana, but he was nagged by injuries throughout the season and had his role adjusted to some extent to accommodate Domantas Sabonis‘ breakout year. The 22-year-old Turner should still be a major part of the Pacers‘ future, but after a modest showing in 2017/18 (12.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, .479 FG%), it’s not clear if the two sides will be able to compromise on his long-term value this offseason.

I expect Turner’s representatives to push for a long-term extension at least in the Clint Capela range ($16-18MM annually). The Pacers, who are poised to open up major cap room next summer and still have to figure out if the Turner/Sabonis pairing can succeed, may be reluctant to invest that heavily quite yet.

Like Portis and the Bulls, Turner and the Pacers will have until October 15 to strike a new deal. If negotiations get serious, it’s likely to happen closer to that deadline. And if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, Turner will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019.

Milwaukee Bucks
Who will be the Bucks’ 15th man for the regular season?

It’s still possible that the Bucks will be able to work out a trade that sends out a player like Matthew Dellavedova or John Henson. Assuming the current 14 players on guaranteed salaries make the regular season roster though, that leaves just one open spot, with multiple candidates to fill it.

Tyler Zeller will be on a non-guaranteed deal and won’t necessarily be assured of a roster spot. The same goes for Shabazz Muhammad. Training camp invitees like Travis Trice, Brandon McCoy, and Jordan Barnett will likely end up with the Wisconsin Herd, but perhaps one of them becomes a contender for that 15th roster spot with a strong preseason.

Jason Terry also remains a wild card in the Bucks’ decision-making process. Terry has said multiple times that he wants to play one more NBA season, and he has spent the last two years in Milwaukee. In 2017, he didn’t sign with the Bucks until mid-September, so we can’t rule out the possibility of him returning to the team once more. If he does, he’d almost certainly have the upper hand for that final opening on the roster.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavs Receive Over $1MM In Cash From Clippers

  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson is unlikely to play for Philippines in this month’s Asian Games, according to a Sportando report. Clarkson was a late addition to their national team but won’t be able to join them in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Isaiah Thomas Apologizes For Remarks About Cleveland

Former Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas has apologized for making a profane reference to Cleveland in an Instagram video, according to an ESPN story.

Thomas, who had a frustrating 15-game stay with the Cavaliers last season, used a vulgar term to describe the city, then added, “I can see why LeBron left — again.” He later posted a second video to Instagram in an effort to smooth over those remarks.

“Nah, Cleveland was cool,” he said. “I shouldn’t have said that, that was my bad. I was just talking on IG Live, I didn’t think it was gonna get to where they’re posting it.”

Thomas was considered a key part of last summer’s blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. However, his hip injury forced him to miss about half the season before making his Cleveland debut.

He averaged 14.7 PPG during his time with the Cavs, but became a scapegoat for the team’s poor performance on defense and tensions in the locker room. Thomas was traded to the Lakers in February and signed with the Nuggets in free agency last month.

International Notes: White, Eriksson, Pasecniks, Radicevic

After being waived by the Cavaliers earlier this week, Okaro White is nearing a deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, according to Stavros Barbarousis of EuroHoops. White has prior overseas experience, playing in Italy and Greece before signing with the Heat in 2016.

He played in 41 games in a season and a half with Miami before being traded to the Hawks at this year’s deadline and then waived on the same day. He signed with the Cavaliers in March, but never made it on the court and was released before a partial guarantee on his 2018/19 salary kicked in. White played seven Summer League games for the Cavs, averaging 6.0 PPG and 7.4 RPG.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Marcus Eriksson, a draft-and-stash player whose rights are owned by the Hawks, re-signed with Herbalife Gran Canaria in Spain, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM. A 24-year-old Swedish forward, Eriksson was the 50th player taken in 2015.
  • Anzejs Pasecniks, a 2017 first-rounder whose draft rights are owned by the Sixers, also re-signed with Herbalife Gran Canaria, according to Smith (Twitter link). Orlando took the 7’2″ center with the 25th pick and traded him to Philadelphia.
  • Nikola Radicevic, a second-round selection in 2015, signed with Dolomiti Energia Trento in Italy, Smith adds (Twitter link). The Nuggets own the draft rights to the 24-year-old point guard.
  • Jonathan Holmes, who spent part of last season with Maine in the G League, has signed with Hapoel Tel Aviv, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. He averaged 7.3 PPG and 7.4 PG in 11 games with the Red Claws.