Cavaliers Rumors

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.

Larry Nance Jr. Talks Trade, Altman, Cavs

One of four players traded to the Cavaliers last Thursday, Larry Nance Jr. was almost certainly the one most familiar with the city of Cleveland. His father, Larry Nance Sr., played for the Cavs from 1988 to 1994, earning two All-Star nods during that time and eventually having his uniform number (22) retired by the franchise.

While the elder Nance said this week that he called up the Cavs after the trade to offer to unretire No. 22 for his son, Nance Jr. tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that he didn’t want to claim his father’s old number. As Nance Jr. tells it, he wants fans at Cavs game to be able to point to that number in the rafters while they’re watching him on the court.

In his conversation with Kennedy, which is worth checking out in full, Nance Jr. also went into more detail on his trade from Los Angeles to Cleveland, explaining how he found about being traded and what his expectations are for the Cavs this season. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

On how Nance found out he had been traded to the Cavaliers:

“Like everyone else, I was following Woj and had the tweet notifications set up just in case and just to find out what kind of stuff was happening. I had just woke up and I was going to wash my face, when I got the update that the Cavs and Lakers were in serious trade talks. I thought, ‘Oh? I don’t know who that could involve, but we’ll see.’ Not even 30 seconds later, I got a call from [Lakers general manager] Rob Pelinka and [head coach] Luke [Walton] and [president] Magic [Johnson] were in his office with him. They all broke the news to me and told me that I was going to Cleveland.”

On Koby Altman telling reporters that Nance was emotional about returning home:

“Yeah, I think he basically said I was crying and that’s a bit of a stretch (laughs). But I was excited! I don’t think anybody wants to get traded, but if I had to go anywhere, it doesn’t get much better than going home to play for a championship contender. I knew that it would probably be a good thing going forward, so I was definitely excited when I talked to him. Koby is a really good dude and we had a good talk.”

On his expectations for the Cavs this season:

“This team has been to the NBA Finals for three straight years and I think we got better with the trades. So, I mean, that’s where I’d love to end up. But, at this point, I don’t know [how good we can be]. I’ve been on one team for my whole career and that was the Lakers. Now, I’ve been on this new team for three days, so it’s kind of tough to tell.”

Chris Bosh Still Hoping For NBA Comeback

1:03pm: ESPN has now posted a lengthier video of today’s First Take discussion with Bosh, which includes the former Heat and Raptors star addressing concerns about his health.

“Medicine is like law, I’ve come to find out,” Bosh said. “It’s a very gray area. Some people say yes, some people say no. Usually it’s about what the majority agrees to, and sometimes it’ll take somebody to have some revolutionary plan or something like that. I’m not going to be in a position where I’m risking my life, so if I ever get back on the court like that and people are worried, it’s not going to be a life-risking situation.”

Asked later in the discussion whether he hopes to make a comeback in 2018/19, Bosh said he hasn’t closed the door on returning this season. He also identified the Warriors, Rockets, and Raptors as teams that would interest him, and didn’t rule out the Cavaliers either.

11:57am: It has now been more than two years since Chris Bosh last played an NBA game, but the 11-time All-Star still hasn’t given up on the idea of resuming his playing career. Appearing on First Take (video link), Bosh told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith today that he’s still making an effort to return to the NBA.

“I’ve been in the gym. I can still play basketball,” Bosh said.No, I’m not done yet.”

Joking that he can’t call it a career when he sees how many current players are getting by shooting three-pointers and not playing defense, Bosh repeated a sentiment that he has expressed several times since his medical retirement. As recently as November, the former Heat star said he was keeping his options open as a player.

Although Bosh is still physically able to play basketball, concerns about his history of blood clots have made him medically ineligible to return to an NBA team. Doctors and teams have been unwilling to risk those blood clotting issues resurfacing.

Bosh last appeared in the NBA in 2015/16 for the Heat, averaging 19.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 53 games and earning an All-Star nod. He played his last game on February 9, 2016.

Cavs Notes: 2018/19 Roster, Gilbert, New Additions

During their first round of trade talks leading up to the deadline, the Cavaliers’ front office was opposed in some discussions to taking on future salary, multiple league executives tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. However, the deals that Cleveland ultimately completed saw the team take on significant multiyear commitments — George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance will earn a combined $33.77MM in 2018/19, while Rodney Hood will be in line for a raise via restricted free agency.

As Windhorst details, the Cavs’ overall team salary and projected tax payments for next season will hinge on whether Hood is re-signed and – of course – on whether LeBron James returns. But if the club brings back both of those players, its total bill for 2018/19 could exceed $300MM, according to Windhorst, whose projections include a $12MM salary for Hood and a $4.4MM salary for the player selected with the Nets’ pick, currently set to be No. 7.

A lot could change between now and next season — not only do we not know exactly what the Cavs’ roster will look like, but the salary cap and luxury tax lines for next season won’t be set until the summer. Still, there are certain scenarios in which Cleveland’s 2018/19 roster could be its most expensive squad yet.

Here’s more on the Cavs, including a couple more tidbits from Windhorst’s piece:

  • As they evaluated the Cavs’ deadline deals, some rival executives believed that preparing for James’ departure was a motivating factor, says Windhorst. Keeping the Nets pick and taking on some younger talent that can be retained beyond 2017/18 set Cleveland up for LeBron’s possible departure, and ownership wouldn’t have to break the bank in that scenario. However, multiple Cavs executives insist that’s not Plan A, telling Windhorst that owner Dan Gilbert remains committed to paying the necessary cost to win.
  • Following Cleveland’s Tuesday win over the Thunder, head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, that the Cavs’ new additions have been better than he expected. “It’s changed our team, and we’re a lot faster,” Lue said. “Now I think we’ve got a chance to switch a lot of things with our size and our length. We can switch stuff defensively. I thought it would be a process; it’s still going to be a process. … But they exceeded my expectations.”
  • James was a member of a “Big Three” for several years in Miami, then again in Cleveland. When they traded Kyrie Irving last offseason, the Cavaliers looked to acquire a player capable of slotting into a “Big Three” spot alongside LeBron and Kevin Love, but Isaiah Thomas didn’t live up to that billing. Now, as Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes, the Cavs’ latest moves have James adjusting to life without a Big Three.

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.

With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.

Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Utah Jazz

Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.

Teams with one open spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.

Teams with two open spots:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.

Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.

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