Cavaliers Rumors

LeBron James, Cavs Favoring Collin Sexton With No. 8 Pick?

What the Cavaliers do at No. 8 will be one of the more intriguing plotlines at the NBA Draft. Cleveland likely won’t yet have a solid grasp on what LeBron James is thinking in regard to his future with the club. He has until June 29, eight days after the draft, to make a decision on opting out, though if the Cavs feel they have a good chance at retaining LBJ, perhaps they trade the selection for a veteran playmaker.

Turning the draft pick into a player who can help James sooner may appease the four-time MVP, but if the Cavs keep the selection, James appears to have a preference on which prospect to select.

According to Joe Vardon of (via ESPN’s Jordan Zirm), James and his camp are high on Alabama’s Collin Sexton. It’s worth noting that owner Dan Gilbert was present during the team’s workout with the point guard.

Ashish Mathur of Amico Hoops hears that Sexton is a “strong possibility” for the Cavs’ top selection. The point guard averaged 19.2 points per game during his lone season in the SEC.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Sexton, Gilgeous-Alexander, Shamet

The names of several green room invitees for Thursday night’s draft have been leaked, relays Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Only college players will be in the room this year, as Luka Doncic is still involved with his season for Real Madrid.

The projected top picks will be well represented with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba, Alabama’s Collin Sexton, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr., Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Villanova’s Mikal Bridges, Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Michigan State’s Miles Bridges all on hand.

Joining them will be Kentucky’s Kevin Knox, Texas A&M’s Robert Williams, Miami’s Lonnie Walker, Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, Boston College’s Jerome Robinson, Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison and UCLA’s Aaron Holiday.

There’s more pre-draft news to pass along:

  • Sexton doesn’t have any more workouts on his schedule after completing today’s session with the Magic, tweets Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Sexton has been limiting his workouts to teams in his projected range, as the only others were for the Cavaliers (No. 8 pick), Knicks (No. 9) and Hornets (No. 11).
  • Gilgeous-Alexander is a rare mid-level prospect who hasn’t conducted a single publicized workout, notes Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype. Although a team or two may have brought him in for a secret session, there are also organizations that tried to work him out but were denied. Kalbrosky speculates Gilgeous-Alexander’s representatives may be trying to steer him to a large-market team like the Clippers, who hold the 12th and 13th picks.
  • The Sixers will work out Wichita State’s Landry Shamet on Tuesday, Kalbroksy tweets, adding that Philadelphia may consider him at No. 26.
  • The Suns held a workout today with Texas Tech’s Smith as the biggest name in the group. Also participating, according to a tweet from the team, were Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie, Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson, Wake Forest’s Bryant Crawford, Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks and Bosnia’s Markus Loncar. This is the Suns’ final scheduled session before the draft, tweets Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic.

Draft Notes: Porter, Bridges, Williams, SGA, Robinson

Michael Porter Jr. was evaluated by teams on Friday and the results were positive, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. Schultz noted that Porter’s results came back clean and that his previously ailing back was better than expected.

The Missouri product initially canceled his scheduled workout for lottery teams after a hip injury and spasms. Then, Porter was given the green light to be evaluated by lottery teams after an MRI came back clean. Porter is widely expected to be a top-10 selection in the NBA Draft, and it’s possible he’s taken among the first five picks.

Porter missed most of his lone collegiate season due to a back injury but the positive results from Friday should reinforce his standing as one of this year’s top prospects.

Check out more draft notes below:

  • Michigan State forward Miles Bridges landed in Cleveland on Friday night and is expected to meet with the Cavaliers later today, tweets Chris Manning of Fear The Sword. The Cavaliers own the eighth pick in the draft and Bridges will likely still be on the board.
  • The Clippers face an uncertain future at center with DeAndre Jordan and Montrezl Harrell so the team worked out Texas A&M’s Robert Williams on Friday, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes. The Clippers have the 12th and 13th picks and Williams could be a solid insurance policy if both Jordan and Harrell depart.
  • Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to be one of the top point guards available in the draft but his lack of workouts for other teams casts uncertainty on who may draft him, HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky writes.
  • The Nuggets will meet with Chalmette high school alum Mitchell Robinson on Monday, the team announced via press release. Robinson abruptly left Western Kentucky University last year and has prepared for the NBA by himself.

Lonzo Ball The ‘One Constant’ In LeBron James Talks

Lonzo Balls name has been the one constant mentioned as an outgoing trade piece in the event that LeBron James decides to join the Lakers, per ESPN’s Chris B. Haynes (Twitter link).

While it’s possible that James declines his $35,607,968 player option to become a free agent, that salary actually exceeds his projected maximum salary based on a $101MM cap ($35.35MM). James could conceivably opt in and then be shipped elsewhere and the Lakers have long been connected as a potential suitor.

Ball, 20, posted a solid rookie campaign in 2017/18, averaging 10.2 PPG, 7.2 APG, and 6.9 RPG for the Lakers. However, Ball is not the lone young asset the Lakers wield as Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and even RFA Julius Randle are all potential trade chips.

After yesterday’s news that Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard is seeking a trade, the Lakers once again jumped to the forefront of trade discussions. To potentially acquire either one or both of Leonard and James, the Lakers will need to part with significant young talent. Those discussions likely begin with their starting point guard.

Leonard Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kings, Knicks, Celtics, Odds

It would be a tight squeeze financially but the Lakers could conceivably acquire Kawhi Leonard in a trade and sign both LeBron James and Paul George as free agents, according to Kevin Pelton of Leonard’s desire to be traded from the Spurs, with Los Angeles being his preferred destination, was made public on Friday. The trade would have to be completed before any free agent signings and the Spurs would have to be willing to take back Luol Deng‘s bad contract, Pelton continues. A package of either Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma might be enough to entice the Spurs to do that, though a third team might be needed in order to match up salaries. The Lakers could then sign James and George, and fill out the roster using their room mid-level exception along with veterans agreeing to minimum contracts, Pelton adds.

In other notes involving Leonard trade chatter:

  • The Kings could be a darkhorse to land Leonard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets. Sacramento is desperately seeking a star-level talent and is willing to part with the No. 2 pick in the draft to get one, according to Mannix.
  • The Knicks would have to part with Kristaps Porzingis to have any chance of securing Leonard, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. The only other major assets the Knicks possess are their lottery pick (No. 9 overall), their potential lottery pick in 2020 and last year’s lottery selection, point guard Frank Ntilikina. But the Knicks could only trade one of those picks under CBA rules and they’d also have to give up another big salary to make the trade work, Berman notes.
  • The Celtics are expected to express interest in Leonard in their quest to land superstars, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. However, a league source told Himmelsbach that the timing of the leak might actually be a negotiating ploy to secure a five-year, $219MM maximum extension from the Spurs.
  • The Lakers are the heavy favorites to land Leonard, according to the Bovada Sportsbook as relayed by Adam Zagoria of the New York Times (Twitter link). The Lakers are less than even money at 5-7 to have Leonard in their opening-night lineup. The Celtics are rated at 15-4, a little less than 4-1, to acquire Leonard. The Sixers and Spurs are next as 5-1 proposition, followed by the Cavaliers and Clippers at 10-1.

Taking A Closer Look At LeBron James’ Future

One of the NBA’s all-time best players can become a free agent this summer, and despite rumors about which cities he does and doesn’t like, or where his kids might be attending school next fall, LeBron James‘ next team remains a mystery.

We will, of course, be covering all the latest news and rumors on James’ decision in the coming weeks, but before he decides on his home for the 2018/19 season, we want to take a look at several key factors which will help determine where LeBron will continue his career.

Let’s dive right in…

Why June 29, not July 1, may be the most important LeBron-related date of the summer:

Discussing James’ upcoming “free agency” is getting a step ahead of ourselves, since there’s a very real chance that the four-time MVP won’t become a free agent at all. James currently holds a player option for the 2018/19 season.

Star free agents usually decline player options because doing so gives them a chance to earn a larger salary and to potentially secure a long-term deal if they so choose. However, in James’ case, his $35,607,968 player-option salary actually exceeds the projected maximum salary based on a $101MM cap ($35.35MM). As such, there may not be a strong incentive to opt out of his contract.

Exercising that player option would open up more doors for James this offseason. There are barely any teams around the league that project to have $35MM+ available in cap room to sign him outright as a free agent, but virtually any club could put together a trade package to acquire him if he opts in.

This situation is very reminiscent of Chris Paul‘s 2017. Widely expected to reach free agency, Paul instead picked up his 2017/18 player option before his late-June deadline in order to accommodate a trade to the Rockets, who didn’t have the cap space to sign CP3 outright.

A looming June 29 player-option decision deadline means that James and his representatives may ultimately have to make a decision on his next destination before the end of the month. If LeBron wants to go to a team that will need to trade for him after he opts in, he’ll have to reach an understanding with the Cavaliers by June 29 to ensure that they don’t just keep him for next season once he picks up his option. Additionally, in that scenario, the Cavs would need to feel comfortable that they’ll be able to work out an acceptable trade with the team James wants to join.

It’s an unusual situation, and one that could mean we find out James’ 2018/19 destination even before the new league year begins on July 1.

Read more

Notable Trade Exceptions Available This Offseason

For NBA teams lacking the cap room to make impact additions to their roster this offseason, traded player exceptions represent one tool available to accommodate that sort of acquisition.

As we explain in our glossary entry, traded player exceptions are created when a team trades away a single player without immediately taking salary back in return. The club then has up to one year in which it can acquire one or more players whose combined salaries amount to no more than the traded player’s salary (plus $100K).

That means sizable traded player exceptions created during the 2017 offseason are on track to expire in the coming weeks or months, so teams will have to use them or lose them during the 2018 offseason. Trade exceptions generated during the 2017/18 regular season prior to the February deadline will be available through the offseason and into the 2018/19 season.

The full list of available traded player exceptions can be found right here, but here are a few notable TPEs worth keeping an eye on during the coming offseason:

Portland Trail Blazers
Value of traded player exception: $12,969,502
Expiry date: 7/25/18
Created when they traded Allen Crabbe to the Nets.

The Trail Blazers already have more than $110MM in guaranteed salaries on their books for 2018/19, and that figure doesn’t include a potential new contract for Jusuf Nurkic. So unless they’re able to significantly cut costs elsewhere, it may not be realistic for the Blazers to use their $13MM trade exception to take on another sizable contract.

Still, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey talked earlier this offseason about feeling as if Portland has been too “protective” of some of its assets, including its trade exception. So it sounds like he’ll explore possible uses for it, even if the club ends up not finding a viable deal.

Chicago Bulls
Value of traded player exception: $12,500,000
Expiry date: 2/1/19
Created when they traded Nikola Mirotic to the Pelicans.

The Bulls have been in an odd spot from a cap perspective for the last year, having carried a variety of exceptions that technically made them an over-the-cap team even though their players salaries have never exceeded $99MM. Chicago will have another opportunity to dip below the cap this offseason, and it seems likely that the club will do so, which would mean forfeiting this exception.

Toronto Raptors
Value of traded player exception: $11,800,000
Expiry date: 7/13/18
Created when they traded DeMarre Carroll to the Nets.

The Raptors, who also have a $6,125,440 exception left over from last July’s Cory Joseph deal, are in a similar spot to the Blazers. While their TPEs are good tools to improve the roster in theory, the Raptors have a potential luxury-tax bill to worry about. As such, adding salary without sending out any in return probably isn’t practical for Toronto, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these exceptions expire.

It’s worth noting that are ways for the Raptors – and other teams on this list – to roll over at least one significant TPE for another year. For instance, let’s say Toronto dealt a player like Norman Powell for someone making about $10-11MM in 2018/19. In that scenario, the Raps could acquire the incoming player with the Carroll TPE and create a new exception worth Powell’s salary.

Los Angeles Clippers
Value of traded player exception: $7,273,631
Expiry date: 6/28/18
Created when they traded Chris Paul to the Rockets.

The Clippers have less than two weeks to use this exception, created in last June’s CP3 blockbuster. This limits their options, since many deals won’t be made until the new league year begins in July. I think this exception is a good bet to go unused.

Detroit Pistons
Value of traded player exception: $7,000,000
Expiry date: 1/29/19
Created when they traded Boban Marjanovic to the Clippers.

With nearly $112MM in guaranteed money on their 2018/19 cap, the Pistons have a little more flexibility than teams like the Blazers and Raptors, but not by much. For instance, Detroit likely wouldn’t be able to use its full mid-level exception and acquire a $7MM player using this TPE. However, if the Pistons can’t find a player they like on the free agent market worth a mid-level investment, this exception could provide an alternate path to adding a bench piece.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Value of traded player exception: $5,811,114
Expiry date: 8/22/18
Created when they traded Kyrie Irving to the Celtics.

There are a ton of moving pieces in play for the Cavaliers‘ offseason, so this modest exception will get overlooked. Still, it could be a useful tool to try to acquire help for LeBron James if he stays — or to help accommodate some roster reshuffling if he departs.

Heat Notes: Richardson, James, Wade, Ellington

Heat forward Josh Richardson is confident that Miami can put a contending team around LeBron James if he decides to come there in free agency, relays Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Richardson, who is working out in Santa Barbara, California, and trying to add bulk to his 205-pound body, believes James could be the “transformational player” that team president Pat Riley has talked about acquiring.

“I think we have great pieces to offer to play around him,” Richardson said. “We play with a lot of intensity. We’ve got a lot of dog in us. You need that in the trenches. That’s all I can really say about it.”

The dilemma for Richardson is that trading him might be James’ only path back to Miami. The Heat have 11 players under contract next season totaling about $120MM, putting them close to the projected $123MM tax line. Their only realistic hope to acquire James through a trade, and Richardson would be among their most desirable assets in any deal.

There’s more today from Miami:

  • Richardson, who has quickly developed a reputation as one of the league’s best defenders, was angry about being overlooked for this year’s All-Defensive team. He thought he earned the recognition after recording a career-best 121 steals during the season. “I still think I’m one of the best defenders in the NBA, but I can’t sit around and sulk about it,” Richardson said. “I’m not too bent out of shape about it anymore. But it’s definitely one of my goals to make those teams.”
  • Dwyane Wade, who is one of James’ closest friends and a former teammate in both Miami and Cleveland, said he can’t provide any insight into the thought process of the Cavaliers star. “Let’s let the record show … I don’t have any inside information whatsoever about his decision!” Wade tweeted this week.
  • Shooting specialist Wayne Ellington, who set an NBA record for most 3-pointers by a reserve in a single season, may be too expensive for the Heat to re-sign given their cap situation. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype looks at potential destinations for Ellington, naming the Hornets, Pistons and Warriors as possibilities if he leaves Miami.

Cavs Still Like Hood

Sources tell Vardon that the Cavaliers still like Hood and can envision a future with him on the team. The shooting guard fell out of the rotation during the latter half of the team’s postseason run before playing 52 minutes over the team’s last two NBA Finals contests. He finished the postseason with a plus/minus of -92 in a total of 260 minutes.

Cavs, Larry Nance Jr. Have Mutual Interest In Long-Term Deal

The Cavaliers and Larry Nance Jr. can begin negotiating on a rookie contract extension when the new league year begins in July and multiple sources tell Joe Vardon of that both sides have “a ton” of interest in striking a deal. However, the team will hold off on any non-LeBron James matters until the four-time MVP makes a decision on his future.

Cleveland’s front office has told Nance Jr. that it views him as a foundational piece to the franchise, Vardon adds. The 25-year-old was the centerpiece for the team in the deal that sent Isaiah Thomas and 2018 No. 1 pick to the Lakers at this season’s trade deadline.

The power forward has roots in Ohio, attending high school in Cleveland. His father, Larry Nance Sr., played for the Cavs for nearly seven seasons, earning a pair of All-Star nods with the club.

During 24 games with the Cavs this season, the younger Nance scored 8.9 points per contest while pulling down 7.0 boards per night. The big man is set to make slightly over $2.72MM next season.