Evan Mobley

Cavs Notes: Rubio, Mitchell, Okoro, Allen, Mobley

The Cavaliers still haven’t set a return timeline for veteran point guard Ricky Rubio, who is making his way back from ACL surgery, but he’s “continuing to take steps,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Monday, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“He has a doctor’s appointment coming up soon to see how everything is healing and where he is at from that standpoint,” Bickerstaff said of Rubio.

As Fedor outlines, if Rubio gets the green light from the team’s medical staff, he’ll begin to ramp up his activity. For now, he’s limited to one-on-one work, but he could progress to three-on-three and then five-on-five in the coming weeks, assuming he gets the go-ahead to move forward.

Sources tell Fedor that the Cavs have no intention of rushing Rubio back, and that they recognize there’s a significant difference between being in workout shape and game shape.

“Everything is progressing well,” Bickerstaff said. “Just a matter of proper healing and time before he comes back and plays.”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Bickerstaff has been impressed by how quickly Donovan Mitchell has become one of the locker room leaders in Cleveland after being acquired in an offseason trade, writes Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. “One of the things that has impressed me most is, Donovan doesn’t want to be different from his teammates. Donovan wants to be a part of it,” Bickerstaff said. “And because he’s embraced that mentality, like the guys see him as their peer, right, and it’s easy for him to say things because he’s not on the outside looking in with the group.”
  • Isaac Okoro has taken a step backward offensively in his third NBA season, averaging just 4.0 PPG on .375/.188/.821 shooting in 19.3 minutes per game. Still, the Cavs aren’t giving up on 2020’s No. 5 overall pick, according to Fedor at Cleveland.com (subscriber link), who writes that the team has continued to reaffirm its belief in Okoro’s potential.
  • While traditional centers aren’t as valued by NBA teams as they once were, versatile big men who can defend multiple positions are still as important as ever, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes in a look at Cleveland’s duo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. “You’ve seen the evolution of the big man,” Allen said. “The game has changed. Everything a big man does has evolved into something different. Teams are looking for a different type of big who can guard one through five. Like us.”

Central Notes: Haliburton, Mobley, Allen, Bogdanovic

The Pacers were expected to be one of the NBA’s worst teams before the season began, but they’re fourth in the East after 18 games, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. The turnaround that led to the 11-7 start began in February with a trade that brought Tyrese Haliburton from the Kings. The electrifying 22-year-old guard quickly took charge of his new team.

“He immediately saw the opportunity to be the leader of a franchise,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He never looked at if it was just his thing just by virtue of being here. He knew he had to do the right things, put the work in, not skip steps. He’s done everything we could have asked. … Haliburton has been a godsend for this franchise.”

Haliburton is putting up numbers that should have him in contention for an All-Star berth with 19.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and a league-leading 11.1 assists per game. He’s creating good shots for his teammates, and he’s running the show with a relaxed demeanor that keeps everyone at ease.

“There’s a lot of authentic people in this room,” Haliburton said. “And a lot of people who feel like we have something to prove. We don’t come with a lot of egos. We’re a lot of young guys who feel like we have a lot to prove to ourselves and others and understanding the best way for us to prove anything is to win. And obviously guys have a chip on our shoulder. Every major writer in America, it feels like, put us 15th in the East and 30th in the NBA.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo paid a huge compliment to Cavaliers second-year big man Evan Mobley after their meeting Friday night, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The two-time MVP suggested that Mobley might eventually be a better player than him. “I didn’t average what he is in my second season, so he’s already ahead of me,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s in his hands. If he stays humble, continues to work hard, focuses on the game and shows love to the game of basketball, he is going to be really good.”
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with a low back contusion, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Allen landed hard after attempting to block a shot in the first quarter Friday and was eventually ruled out.
  • Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic appears to have avoided a serious injury after a collision on Friday (Twitter video link from Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic). Bogdanovic is listed as questionable for Sunday with knee and ankle soreness, tweets Keith Langlois of NBA.com

Central Notes: White, P. Williams, Mobley, Bucks, More

Bulls guard Coby White, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, was eligible for a rookie scale extension up until Monday’s deadline, but he never really thought he’d sign a new deal this year, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“No, no. I didn’t,” White said on Tuesday. “I wasn’t really focused on that. Just play this year out. I put in a lot of work this summer, so let my work show, and take it from there.”

White also dismissed the idea that entering a contract year and playing for his next contract will provide any extra motivation this season: “Nah, I love playing basketball. That’s all the motivation I need. I love playing, I love hooping. I’ve had motivation my whole life. I ain’t gonna change nothing now.”

In other Bulls news, the team’s 2020 lottery pick, Patrick Williams, will open the season as the starting power forward, head coach Billy Donovan confirmed today (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). Williams came off the bench in multiple preseason games as Javonte Green shone, but Green will be part of the second unit to open the season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers feel as if Evan Mobley has Hall of Fame potential and believe his development is the key to whether the team can become a legitimate championship contender, Chris Fedor writes in an excellent article for Cleveland.com. “Evan needs to be in a position where people look at us and say, ‘Evan is their best player,'” assistant coach Greg Buckner said. “It can’t be, ‘Donovan (Mitchell) is their best player, Darius (Garland) is their best player or J.A. (Jarrett Allen) is their best player.’ It has to be Evan.” That view is shared by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, according to assistant coach Luke Walton. “J.B. talks about it all the time with us: We need Evan to be one of the best players in this league, if not the best player in this league, if we’re gonna win championships,” Walton said. “That’s our mission coming from J.B. — help him get to that level.”
  • Hoops Rumors has confirmed that Didi Louzada is eligible to become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge after signing a two-way contract (rather than an Exhibit 10 deal) with the Cavaliers on Monday and being waived shortly thereafter. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype first reported the Cavs’ plan to secure Louzada’s G League rights.
  • With Khris Middleton and Joe Ingles already ruled out for the start of the season, the Bucks will also be without Pat Connaughton for a few weeks, prompting Eric Nehm of The Athletic to explore how the team will deal with all its injury absences. As Nehm details, George Hill, Jevon Carter, and Wesley Matthews all figure to play increased roles, with young wings Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp potentially seeing action too.
  • Pacers forward James Johnson was happy to earn the team’s final roster spot, beating out Langston Galloway and Deividas Sirvydis. However, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files relays, Johnson knows that he can’t get comfortable yet, since his contract still isn’t fully guaranteed for the season. “It’s an honor for this spot, but at the end of the day I’m still vulnerable,” he said.

Cavs Exercise Options On E. Mobley, Okoro; Waive Five Players

The Cavaliers are exercising their 2023/24 rookie scale options on Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). The team has officially confirmed the moves (Twitter link).

The news was expected, as both 21-year-olds are key members of a young Cleveland squad. Mobley will earn $8,882,640 in his third season, while Okoro will make $8,920,795 in his fourth. Exercising Okoro’s fourth-year option also makes him eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

Mobley was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in ’21/22 after averaging 15 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.7 BPG in 69 games (33.8 MPG). The 7’0″ big man was the third overall pick in 2021.

Okoro was the fifth overall pick in 2020. The 6’5″ wing is an impressive athlete and strong defender, but needs to develop his offensive game. He’s averaged 9.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.9 APG and 0.9 SPG over his first two seasons (134 games, 31 MPG).

In unrelated news, the Cavs have waived Mamadi Diakite, Sharife Cooper, Nate Hinton, Jamorko Pickett and RJ Nembhard, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. The team officially confirmed the roster cuts (via Twitter). The Cavs now have 14 players on standard contracts and one two-way spot open after waiving Nembhard.

The Cavaliers plan to keep their 15th standard roster spot open to start the season, according to Fedor (Twitter link), who adds that Cooper, Hinton and Pickett are expected to join the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate. If they spend at least 60 days with the Charge, they could each receive a bonus worth up to $50K due to their Exhibit 10 contracts.

Diakite had a strong preseason showing for the Cavs, and Fedor wondered last night if they might keep him around. Obviously he won’t receive the final standard roster spot right now, but there’s a chance they could re-sign him to a two-way contract if he clears waivers. He was on an Exhibit 9 training camp deal, which cannot be converted into a two-way deal.

Central Notes: Bulls, Mobley, Cavs, Diakite, Pacers

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan says he’s still tinkering with different lineup combinations and hasn’t decided which player will start at power forward, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Certainly, the rest of this week and going into next week, we’ll do that,” Donovan said when he was asked about experimenting with different looks and combinations.

Cowley writes that the Bulls are trying to determine whether Patrick Williams‘ development would be aided more by starting or coming off the bench. Javonte Green is his primary competition for the starting job.

Donovan has said “several times” during training camp that the power forward spot could fluctuate during the season, and it’s not clear if he’s prioritizing performance or matchups, according to Cowley.

2022/23 will be an important season for both players. Williams will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer after the Bulls exercised his fourth-year option, while Green will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers rested several key players in Friday’s 114-108 loss to Orlando, but Evan Mobley looked good, and more importantly healthy, in his preseason debut after dealing with a sprained right ankle, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up will be a huge piece of the puzzle for the Cavs if they hope to return to the postseason for the first time since 2018.
  • Both Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert made a strong case for the Cavaliers‘ starting small forward job in the loss to the Magic, Fedor adds in the same piece. Okoro finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting and added three rebounds, while LeVert had 15 points (on 5-of-12 shooting), four rebounds, three assists and four steals.
  • The Cavaliers preferred to keep their 15th standard roster spot open to maintain flexibility, but Fedor wonders (via Twitter) if Mamadi Diakite might be forcing their hand after a strong preseason performance. According to Fedor, Diakite has intrigued with his mix of activity, energy and productivity. He’s on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 deal after playing for the Bucks and Thunder the past two seasons.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic previews the Pacers, projecting them to finish with a 27-55 record, 14th in the Eastern Conference. Though he expects them to be bad, Hollinger thinks the Pacers will be entertaining to watch and notes that they have a lot of interesting decisions to make, including potentially dealing away veterans and exploring ways to utilize their $29MM in cap space.

Injury Notes: Bagley, Bogdanovic, Mobley, Curry, Gallinari

The Pistons will find out the extent of Marvin Bagley III‘s right knee injury when he undergoes an MRI on Wednesday, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Bagley suffered a non-contact injury when he slipped during the opening quarter of the Pistons’ preseason game against the Thunder on Tuesday. He had to be helped off the court. Detroit re-signed Bagley on a three-year, $37MM contract this summer.

Another Pistons forward, Bojan Bogdanovic, acquired from the Jazz last month, is nursing a calf strain, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets.

We have more injury-related info:

  • Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley is making good progress in his recovery from a right ankle sprain and could appear in a preseason game, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Mobley underwent a lengthy workout after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re hopeful. We haven’t ruled it out,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “It’s always about tomorrow and how it responded the day before. But we have not ruled him out from playing in a preseason game.”
  • Nets guard Seth Curry will not play in the remaining two preseason games and his status for opening night is questionable, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. Curry is still working his way back from left ankle surgery in May.
  • The Celtics’ Danilo Gallinari, who is expected to miss the season due to a torn left ACL, started walking a few days ago and is receiving physical therapy on his knee, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets.

Eastern Notes: Mobley, Koloko, Raptors, Barrett, Terry

The Cavaliers announced on Monday that power forward Evan Mobley would miss one-to-two weeks due to a right ankle sprain. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff is confident that he’ll have Mobley back in action by opening night, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.

“We’ll always be safe with our guys, but right now there isn’t a concern that he would miss the start of the season,” Bickerstaff said.

In the meantime, Bickerstaff will look at different combinations during the preseason.

“It gives other people an opportunity to play different spots, and get more minutes and more reps and allows us to get more things on film that we can kind of dissect,” he said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors went most of last season with a rotation of players no taller than 6’9”. That could change this season if 7’1” Christian Koloko can establish a rotation spot, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. Coach Nick Nurse wants Koloko to become a shot-blocking presence. “For me, he’s a shot blocker, first and foremost,” Nurse said. “I’ll use the same analogy as I used (about) getting to the rim: If you want to block shots, you better take some swings out there. And I want to up his number of swings he takes at the ball.”
  • The Raptors might have to take a small step back this season to set up a bigger step forward in 2024 or 2025, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines in his season preview. Hollinger forecasts a top-six finish in the Eastern Conference with the possibility of the Raptors advancing out of the first round but no further.
  • Knicks guard RJ Barrett received his lucrative rookie scale extension this offseason but still feels he doesn’t receive the same accolades as his peers, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Besides the fans, which we do have a lot of fans, everybody else really doesn’t like us,” Barrett said. “Everybody else doesn’t like us. I mean, I don’t know. It’s weird. I’ve gotten respect, but at the same time, there’s a lot of disrespect. But that’s fine. All the guys that they want to put in front of me or whatever, I’m in their heads. So it really doesn’t matter.”
  • Bulls first-rounder Dalen Terry won’t mind going to the G League to develop his skills. He just wants to get playing time this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “Do whatever I can do to stay on the floor,” Terry said.

Eastern Notes: Mobley, Bridges, Clifford, Rose, Grimes

Cavaliers second-year forward Evan Mobley will miss one-to-two weeks due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. He’ll undergo a period of treatment and rehab before returning to action.

The Cavaliers open the regular season on Oct. 19 against Toronto, so it remains to be seen whether Mobley will be ready to go by that point. Mobley appeared in 69 regular season games during his rookie year.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets did not extend the deadline for Miles Bridges‘ $7,921,300 qualifying offer, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on The Rally TV show (Twitter link). Charlotte had an Oct. 1 cutoff date to extend the offer or allow it to expire. However, Bridges remains a restricted free agent. Bridges’ legal issues have made his free agency a moot point at this stage.
  • Steve Clifford, who is in his second stint as the Hornets’ coach, said he did a “poor job” in his most recent season with Charlotte, he told Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The 2017/18 team won 36 games and failed to make the playoffs. “That was a team I did a poor job with as much as anything, because we had always been good defensively, and I thought if we could get better on offense we’d really have a chance to be good,” Clifford said. “We spent training camp doing a ton of offense, and we were never good defensively.”
  • Derrick Rose played just 26 games last season due to ankle issues that required surgery but the Knicks guard vows to stay on the court this season, Peter Botte of the New York Post writes. “I feel very healthy,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to play in a lot of games — I mean, I know I’m going to play in a lot of games this year. … I feel lighter. I’m moving a lot better. I’m not worried about my shot. My shot looks great.”
  • Quentin Grimes won’t play in the Knicks’ preseason game against Detroit on Tuesday due to a foot injury, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets.

Cavs Notes: Mobley, LeVert, Mitchell, Wade, Gibson

The Cavaliers will open the season with three 2022 All-Stars – Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland – on their roster, but it’s a fourth player who may ultimately determine how far the team goes, in the view of head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

As Kelsey Russo of The Athletic details (via Twitter), Bickerstaff identifies second-year big man Evan Mobley as a crucial ceiling raiser for the franchise. As Bickerstaff explains, among the Cavaliers’ core players, Mobley is the one who still has the most room for growth.

“Without trying to put too much on him, he is the guy who can help take us to the next level,” Bickerstaff said. “We understand the value of the guys who have done it, right? Darius has been an All-Star. Jarrett was an All-Star. Donovan has been an All-Star. (Caris) LeVert, Kevin (Love), like we understand and have an appreciation for those guys.

“… His skill set and tools can help take us to the level where we want to go. And the expectation that it happens overnight, probably not. But I expect from year to year, and month to month, you’re going to see improvements from him because that’s who he is.”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Caris LeVert feels as good as he has in years, following a “transformative” summer that saw him reevaluate everything from his diet to his workout regimen, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert said he battled some nagging injuries last season and during the summer, but finally feels fully healthy entering the fall. As Russo writes for The Athletic, LeVert wants to prove to the Cavs that his down year in 2021/22 was a fluke.
  • Improved conditioning and an attention to detail are keys for Donovan Mitchell as he attempts to show this season that he can be a reliable defensive player, Russo writes in a separate story for The Athletic. “It’s not the ability,” Mitchell said this week. “I can play defense. I know that for a fact. I haven’t shown that and that is what I’m looking forward to doing here.”
  • Dean Wade‘s three-year, $18.5MM contract extension features cap hits of $5,709,877 in 2023/24, $6,166,667 in ’24/25, and $6,623,456 in ’25/26, Hoops Rumors has learned. Wade’s third-year salary is currently only partially guaranteed for $4,623,458, but that figure will increase if Wade meets certain performance-based criteria in the next three seasons — he can boost the third-year guarantee by up to $666,666 per year, based on three separate achievements worth $222,222 apiece.
  • Former Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson will be working this season with the Cleveland Charge, the team’s G League affiliate, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Gibson’s exact title and role are unclear.

And-Ones: Top Under-25 Players, Wade, EuroLeague, More

Fifteen NBA executives polled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype unanimously picked Mavericks star Luka Doncic as the NBA player under 25 years old whom they’d most want to build a team around. While Doncic’s selection comes as no surprise, there are some interesting picks further down Scotto’s list, which was derived from asking those 15 NBA execs to name the five players under 25 they’d most want to build around.

Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant ranked second and third, with Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley following them at No. 4. Former first overall picks Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves) and Zion Williamson (Pelicans) came in at Nos. 5 and 6, with last season’s Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes (Raptors) rounding out the top seven. You can check out Scotto’s full story to see the other seven rising stars who received votes.

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

  • After spending three years in an analyst role with the network, Dwyane Wade won’t return to TNT for the 2022/23 NBA season, reports Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. According to Marchand, TNT made an offer to retain Wade, but he decided to leave his position to focus on other business ventures.
  • Euroleague Basketball has appointed Dejan Bodiroga as its new president and Marshall Glickman as acting CEO, per a press release. They’ll replace Jordi Bertomeu, who served as president and CEO for 22 years and was a co-founder of Euroleague Basketball, which operates and oversees the EuroLeague and EuroCup, two of the world’s biggest non-NBA basketball leagues.
  • Former NBA star Baron Davis and ex-NBPA executive director Michele Roberts are among the backers of the new Fan Controlled Hoops league, which is scheduled to launch in February of 2023, as Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic outlines. The league, which will follow in the footsteps of Fan Controlled Football, will feature 4-on-4 games played on an LED floor, with fans getting the opportunity to illuminate parts of the court to create zones where players get extra points when they score.