Collin Sexton

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smith, Sexton

Ben Simmons‘ near-$170MM extension with the Sixers may sound like an exorbitant amount for the 22-year-old, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic argue that the deal could turn into a bargain.

Simmons’ 2020/21 salary (estimated to start at $29.25MM) currently places him 30th among his NBA peers that season. Surely other players will sign top-end deals next summer, dropping him lower in the rankings.

The point guard still needs to further develop his jumper to become great, Bodner cautions. However, Simmons has all the tools to easily become a top-10 talent for the Sixers and should that happen, he would be severely underpaid.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • If J.R. Smith signs with another team, the Cavaliers will recoup the $500K they agreed to give him for extending his guaranteed date via setoff, ESPN Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Cleveland waived Smith on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t play Collin Sexton in Summer League because the point guard didn’t have much to gain from the experience, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The level of competition in Las Vegas and Utah isn’t very high and it was much more prudent to allow Sexton to join the team in those locations but not risk injury during live action.
  • The Cavaliers are fans of Jaron Blossomgame, who played for their Summer League team, Fedor relays in the same piece. Blossomgame spent time with the club under a two-way deal in 2018/19 and is a candidate for a roster spot this upcoming season.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Rookie teams for the 2018/19 season. Luka Doncic of the Mavericks and Trae Young of the Hawks – widely viewed as the only two legit contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were also the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team, receiving 100 out of 100 possible votes.

Suns center Deandre Ayton nearly joined them as another unanimous First Team pick. However, he was listed on the Second Team on five ballots, with 95 First Team votes. Kings forward Marvin Bagley was the only other player to be named on all 100 ballots, receiving 56 First Team votes.

Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. rounded out the First Team, ensuring that all five players in that group were top-five picks in the 2018 draft.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2018/19, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

Second Team:

Of the players who missed out on All-Rookie honors, Suns forward Mikal Bridges came the closest, with 31 points, followed by Knicks forward Kevin Knox (22 points). None of the 10 other rookies who earned votes earned more than 12 points, though Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) and Miles Bridges (Hornets) each received one First Team vote.

The full voting results can be found within the NBA’s press release.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cavaliers Notes: Nwaba, Drew, Sexton, Frye

Having signed a one-year contract with the Cavaliers last summer in the hopes of playing a regular role, David Nwaba put up modest numbers in Cleveland, averaging 6.7 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 50 games (19.4 MPG) while playing solid perimeter defense. Now, he’s hoping for a longer-term stay with the Cavs, as he tells Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Nwaba said. “Hopefully everything works out where I’m back here. I don’t know what their plans are, but I want to come back.”

Nwaba, who missed time due to health issues in 2018/19, can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Cavaliers opt to issue a qualifying offer worth approximately $1.9MM. It remains to be seen if the team will do so.

Here’s more from out of Cleveland:

  • Prior to what could have been his last game as the Cavaliers’ head coach, Larry Drew sidestepped a question asking whether he wanted to keep the job in 2019/20, writes Fedor. “I really don’t want to get into that part of it right now,” Drew said. “What I really want to do is just finish this game tonight and (general manager) Koby (Altman) and I will sit down and talk about it. We’re going to give it a few days and we’ll sit down and discuss it.”
  • It has been mostly a lost season in Cleveland, but the development of rookie point guard Collin Sexton has been a major silver lining, as Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com details.
  • In an entertaining piece for Cleveland.com, Fedor spoke to several of Channing Frye‘s teammates, ex-teammates, and executives who know him well. Those sources shared their memories of Frye, who will retire after having played his last NBA game on Tuesday.

Eastern Notes: Knight, Sixers, Bucks

Brandon Knight, who was sent to the Cavaliers at this season’s trade deadline, is embracing his role as a mentor to Collin Sexton, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes.

“I don’t know what the process was before I got here … I do know since I’ve gotten here I try to talk to [Sexton] as much as I can,” Knight said. “I see myself a lot in him as a young guard having vets around me, having to learn when to score and when not to score, trying to use my speed but also trying to slow down. There’s a lot of things I had to deal with. So when I see him do certain things I’m like, ‘Man, I used to do that.’ ”

Knight and Sexton were each selected eighth overall in their respective drafts. Knight started for most of his career and he knows what it’s like to feel the pressure of being a top selection.

“It took me a couple years,” Knight said. “If we can get him to do that — what I learned year four — by year two, how much better will our team be? I just try to tell him those little things.”

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers assistant coach Billy Lange has interviewed for the St. Joe’s head coaching job, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Lange has been with the team for six seasons.
  • The Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks‘ G League affiliate, has fired coach Jordan Brady, according to the team’s Twitter feed. “We greatly appreciate Coach Brady and his staff for their efforts the past 2 seasons,” GM Dave Dean said. “While they have played a significant role in the organization’s growth on the court and in the community, we feel it’s in the best interest of the Herd to explore other options.”
  • Something needs to change in Boston, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports contends. Inconsistency has plagued the Celtics all season, prompting Forsberg takes a look at some potential lineup changes that coach Brad Stevens could make.

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Leonard, Porter, Casey

Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton has learned from his mistakes during his first NBA season, adjusting as the year progresses and becoming more comfortable in late-game situations.

As noted by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Sexton had several teachable moments earlier in the season that included getting his shot blocked late in Chicago, having a couple scoreless fourth quarters and more.

However, since the beginning of March, Sexton has managed to raise his play to a different level. By scoring 25 points in the team’s win over Milwaukee on Wednesday, he became the first rookie to score 23 or more points in seven consecutive games since Tim Duncan in 1998. No other rookie in Cavaliers history has ever achieved the feat.

“I think that has been a big help to him,” coach Larry Drew said, according to Fedor. “I think failure can be one of your best teaching tools. I really believe that with Collin because he has had the opportunity to sit over there and watch late in the game and also been in situations where he has been out there late, and it’s not always going to turn out positive, but the most important thing is you learn from it. I think as we have progressed through this season he has done that. Think he has learned a great deal being out there, whether it comes up positive or negative at the end.”

The Cavs have mostly been hammered with injuries this season, holding the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 19-53. Nevertheless, the impressive late-season play from Sexton has been viewed as a positive for the young team focused on its future, bringing a different level of tenacity on both ends of the floor as the campaign winds down.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Kawhi Leonard has been everything the Raptors could’ve hoped for when they traded for him last summer, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star opines. Leonard has averaged a career-high 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 52 games, shooting 49.6% from the floor and 37.0% from deep with his usual stellar defense. His production on both ends is a key reason why the Raptors have already clinched a playoff berth with a 51-21 record this season.
  • Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. won’t shy away from recruiting free agents to Chicago in the summer, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Of course,’’ Porter Jr. said. “Like I said, we’re going in the right direction, and once we continue to build and continue to grow here, I think when the league sees what we’re trying to do, people will want to join, for sure.’’ Chicago sports a talented young core alongside Porter that includes Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
  • The sudden turnaround of the Pistons might be Dwane Casey‘s greatest coaching job yet, Sean Deveney writes for Sporting News. Casey, who was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year last season, joined the Pistons in the summer and is in his first season with the franchise. Detroit is 14-6 since the start of February, working with the star tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond to generate success.

Cavs Notes: Thompson, Osman, Dellavedova, Payne

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson called out the team after suffering a 28-point blowout loss to Houston on Friday, detailing how they failed to execute a defensive game plan centered around James Harden during the contest.

The game plan, Thompson said, was to keep it 2-on-2 on the ball and force Harden and Clint Capela to score. It was designed to make sure other players weren’t effective behind Harden as a passer, which is when the Rockets are at their best.

“Obviously have to give Harden a lot of credit for his scoring ability, but we can live with him scoring all the points as long as other guys are not contributing,” Thompson said, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We didn’t do that tonight. Didn’t do that at all.”

Instead, the Cavs trailed by as many as 44 points and lost their 12th game in a row. Cleveland’s record now sits at 8-35 on the season, with the patience of Thompson reaching a boiling point after the loss.

“How many games has it been? At this point, we’ve taught everything we can teach,” Thompson said. “Now it’s up to the players to come out there and just do their job. Do your job. Simple. Our players didn’t do their job.”

There’s more out of Cleveland today:

  • Cedi Osman quickly earned the respect of LeBron James last season, Fedor notes in a separate story for Cleveland.com. Osman accidentally injured James during one of his first scrimmages, but James appreciated his effort level and work ethic on the team. “For me, every practice with him, dinner, lunch, being together was special. It was my favorite,” Osman said of James. “I will say I was really proud when he was talking about me to the media. What he was saying about me, all that good stuff, that was really special to me.” Osman and James have remained in touch throughout the 2018/19 season despite mostly being thousands of miles apart, checking in on each other over text.
  • Matthew Dellavedova is focused on a new role in his second stint with the Cavs, Joe Gabriele of Cavs.com writes. Dellavedova joined Cleveland, a much younger team, via trade last month, mentoring Collin Sexton and others this season. “I’m just trying to talk with him about what I’m seeing out there, what he’s seeing out there – and just talk through the game,” Dellavedova said of Sexton. “We’ve watched quite a bit of game-tape together. But he works extremely hard on the court and in the weight room. So, as long as he keeps doing that, he’s going to have a really good chance.”
  • Cameron Payne is fighting to prove himself during his 10-day contract, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. Payne, remembered by some fans as Russell Westbrook‘s dance partner during pre-game rituals in Oklahoma City, has averaged 11.7 points in three games with the Cavs. “It’s crazy that that’s what people do remember me for,” Payne said. “Like I really haven’t, I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve had the opportunity, but I started out playing behind Russ and D.J. Augustin, now he’s starting with the Magic. Then I got hurt. Then I’ve been just out. I came back and I’d be able to play and just get sprinkled in, and I never really got back to my full potential.”

Cavs Notes: Love, Osman, Sexton, McCaw, Korver

Marc Stein of The New York Times predicted this week that trade talks involving Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love will heat up in advance of next month’s deadline, but sources reiterated to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Cleveland hasn’t had “deep discussion” about that scenario. Fedor added that it isn’t high on the club’s list of priorities.

Still, if the Cavs get an enticing offer for Love this season, they’ll have to consider it. That’s a possibility head coach Larry Drew is aware of and prepared for, even if it’s probably a long shot.

“Would I be surprised (if Love were traded)?” Drew said on Thursday, per Fedor. “As far as trades are concerned, I understand the nature of this business. Anybody can be traded. I’ve been in this league long enough where I’ve seen that happen. I think any deal that makes sense for any team, sure, they’ll be willing to pull the trigger. But that’s just the nature of our business.”

For now, Drew is simply looking forward to getting Love back in his lineup. The five-time All-Star has been sidelined since October due to a foot injury, but is said to be targeting a mid-January return.

“Our guys are ready for him to come back,” Drew said. “We miss him dearly. He’s our main guy, he’s our go-to guy. We’re missing a lot of points, we’re missing a lot of rebounds in our lineup. Whenever it’s time for him to come back, we’re going to be ready.”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton have two of the worst defensive ratings in the NBA, prompting Joe Vardon of The Athletic to explore whether the Cavs are asking too much of the young duo. For his part, Osman has appreciated the opportunity to work through his ups and downs so far this season. “This is really important for my development — even on nights when I’m struggling, it’s really important that coaches are trusting in me,” the second-year forward said. “Those crucial minutes, they always put me in the game and they want me to feel that pressure. I really appreciate that.”
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes a look at whether newly-added shooting guard Patrick McCaw, who made his Cavs debut on Wednesday, can help improve the team’s defense against opposing point guards. McCaw’s $3MM salary for this season will become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract with the Cavs through Monday.
  • Having been traded from Cleveland to Utah earlier this season, Kyle Korver won’t be looking for any sort of payback when he faces the Cavs on Friday, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News relays. Korver said he had too many “great experiences” as a Cavalier to be anything but appreciative for his time in Cleveland. “Some people come back with a chip on their shoulder and feel like they’ve got to give it to the other team, but it’s not going to be like that for me,” Korver said. “Just a lot of gratitude for the time I had there.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Thompson, Pistons, Carter

As the Bulls continue to navigate their way through the early stages of a rebuild, their core players have struggled most of the time they have been on the floor together. Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes that the core of Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen look confused when sharing the floor together and at this point, still have more questions than answers.

A big reason for this confusion is the injuries that have plagued each player. In fact, Cowley points out that the three players have only played in 15 games together, despite joining together after the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017.

The Bulls have since added Wendell Carter to the mix and have changed coaches, which will surely continue to create confusion among their growing core. Of course, as the rebuild continues, there will be more faces added to the mix to compliment this core.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson played a key role during Collin Sexton‘s recent stretch of promising play, but has missed the past ten games due to a foot injury. As Chris Fedor points out, Sexton has struggled in recent weeks without his pick-and-roll partner alongside him.
  • After their blowout loss to the Pacers, Rod Beard of The Detroit News reveals that the Pistons held a team meeting last week, with coach Dwane Casey and some of the team’s veterans sharing some positive words about how it went.
  • Wendell Carter has continued to prove he belongs in the league, providing energy and hustle plays on both ends of the floor. Sam Smith of the Bulls team website writes about how Carter is focusing on growing and learning each time he steps on the court.

Bulls Notes: Record Loss, Hoiberg, Dunn, Arcidiacono

New Bulls coach Jim Boylen didn’t hold back his criticism after Saturday’s 56-point loss to the Celtics, the worst defeat in franchise history, relays Malika Andrews of ESPN.

“I think your play is embarrassing,” said Boylen, who pulled his five starters for the night three minutes into the third quarter. “… I worked for [Spurs head coach] Gregg Popovich. He subbed five guys a ton of times. Nobody says a word to him about it. He felt that was best for the team. I felt that was best for the team where we were at. I wanted to give the other guys a chance to see if they could right the ship a little bit. If I don’t like the five guys out there, if I don’t like the combination, I’m going to look at a new combination. Take them all out, let them sit there and think about it.”

There was plenty to think about, and none of it was good. Chicago fell behind 17-0 and went more than six minutes of the first quarter without scoring. The deficit was 32 points when Boylen decided to pull Ryan Arcidiacono, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, who combined for 27 points on the night, the lowest total for a Bulls starting lineup in 11 years. Fans booed loudly throughout the game as the team fell to 6-21.

“We don’t have that internal toughness yet to play at this level consistently,” Boylen said afterward.

There’s more this morning from Chicago:

  • Bulls management claims that former coach Fred Hoiberg was dismissed because he lost his influence with his players, but the real reason was a deteriorating relationship with GM Gar Forman, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Bobby Portis was the latest player to come to Hoiberg’s defense Saturday. “He’s a players’ coach, lets guys go out there and do what they do, get better,” Portis said. “Me, personally, he helped me develop my game a lot, so I credit a lot of things toward him. To say that he lost the respect of the locker room, I don’t think that’s a good way to put it.’’
  • Portis and Kris Dunn are both close to returning from knee injuries, although neither played Saturday. Dunn’s return will mark a critical time in his career, as he becomes eligible for a rookie contract extension at the end of the season, Cowley notes in a separate story. Dunn has been effective since coming to Chicago last year, but it’s not clear if the front office is fully invested in him as the point guard of the future. Cowley states that the team had a private workout with Trae Young before the draft and considered taking Collin Sexton with the seventh pick before opting for Carter.
  • Arcidiacono’s high-energy game has made him an effective fill-in during Dunn’s absence, writes Sam Smith of NBA.com.

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 Cleveland.com. 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.”