Evan Mobley

Cavs Notes: Davis, James, Rubio, Garland, Rotation

The Cavaliers‘ signing of Ed Davis on Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise, given the timing of the move and the fact that Cleveland already has a good amount of frontcourt depth. However, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff pushed for the addition of Davis, who is considered one of the NBA’s best locker-room presences and mentors.

Davis’ one-year, minimum-salary contract is non-guaranteed, per Fedor. However, the expectation is that the veteran center will be part of the Cavaliers’ 15-man roster to start the regular season.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Justin James, who also signed with the Cavs on Wednesday, will likely play in the team’s preseason finale on Friday and will get a chance to earn one of the team’s open two-way slots, says Fedor. If James doesn’t get a two-way contract, he could still become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge.
  • In another story for Cleveland.com, Fedor takes an in-depth look at how the Cavaliers acquired Ricky Rubio early in the offseason and what role they expect him to play in 2021/22. Although Rubio won’t be part of the starting five, Bickerstaff will be counting on him for starter-type minutes, and one member of the organization told Fedor that he thinks the Spaniard will work his way into Cleveland’s closing five.
  • Fedor adds in the same story that Rubio has taken starting point guard Darius Garland “under his wing.” The two guards, whose lockers are next to each other, talk daily and watch film together, writes Fedor.
  • After indicating earlier this month that he planned on a 10-man rotation for the regular season, Bickerstaff now thinks the Cavs’ regular rotation could include just nine players, tweets Fedor. Bickerstaff believes the versatility of Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, along with his desire to have Rubio play starter minutes, reduces the need for a 10th regular.

NBA GMs Like Heat’s Offseason Moves, Nets’ Title Chances

Nearly half of the NBA’s general managers voted for the Heat as the team that had the best 2021 offseason, John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes in his annual survey of the league’s GMs. Miami got 14 of 30 possible votes, while the Lakers picked up five votes. The Nets, Rockets, and Wizards were the other teams picked by multiple GMs as having the best offseason.

The Heat’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade helped tip the scales in their favor. Asked which offseason player acquisition will make the biggest impact for his new team this season, GMs overwhelmingly chose Lowry — he received 23 of 30 votes. New Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was the only other player to get multiple votes (five).

Although the Heat and Lakers received high marks from rival GMs for their work over the summer, neither club is considered the title favorite entering the 2021/22 season. That honor belongs to the Nets, who earned 22 votes from GMs for the team that will win the 2022 Finals. The Lakers (five) and Bucks (three) were the only other teams to receive any votes.

Here are a few more of the most interesting responses from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • The Trail Blazers‘ trade for Larry Nance Jr. received the most votes (28%) for the most underrated acquisition of the offseason, with the Nets‘ signing of Patty Mills (17%) and the Wizards‘ addition of Spencer Dinwiddie (14%) also receiving support in that category.
  • The NBA’s GMs view Rockets guard Jalen Green (47%) and Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (40%) as the best bets to win Rookie of the Year, but voted Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley as the rookie who will be the best player in five years. Mobley (33%) narrowly edged out Cunningham (30%) and Green (23%) in that category.
  • The GMs voted the Magic‘s selection of Jalen Suggs at No. 5 (23%) and the Rockets‘ pick of Alperen Sengun at No. 16 (20%) as the biggest steals of the 2021 draft.
  • The Bulls (27%) are considered the best bet to be the most improved team in 2021/22, while Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (17%) received the most support as the top breakout candidate.
  • Following their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks (50%) were overwhelmingly voted as the team with the best young core. The Rockets received three votes, while no other team got more than two.
  • Only two players received multiple votes when GMs were asked which player they’d want to start a franchise with: Mavericks star Luka Doncic (43%) barely beat out Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (40%).

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Love, Valentine, Mobley

The Cavaliers want Darius Garland to become more of a team leader as he enters his third NBA season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Garland has emerged as a dynamic offensive player and appears to be part of the foundation for the rebuilding Cavs. He earned an invitation to the Select Team that scrimmaged the U.S. Olympic squad over the summer and appeared in exhibition games with Team USA.

Cleveland needs to find new leadership after parting with veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova during the offseason. It’s a role that Garland is eager to take on.

“That’s my whole goal this year,” he said. “And then just try to make it as easy as I can for some of the young guys that we have, even though I’m still a young guy. But I’m going to my third year, so I’ve seen a lot, played a lot of games. Just try to do some of the little things that make everybody successful.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Collin Sexton was reportedly on the trade market this summer, but the Cavaliers weren’t able to find the type of return they wanted, Russo states in the same piece. Sexton will be eligible for a rookie scale extension through October 18, and although general manager Koby Altman refused to talk about negotiations, he said the team hopes to be able to work something out. “We want him here long-term,” Altman said. “And he wants to be here long-term. We’re certainly working with his representation to see that through. But this is someone that’s been with us since the start of this thing, in terms of where we’ve been the last three years. And we love him; we want him here long-term. We’ll deal with that sort of behind closed doors. But the feelings are mutual in terms of something long-term.”
  • Kevin Love hasn’t talked to Altman or coach J.B. Bickerstaff about his role, but he’s expected to play fewer minutes per game, Russo adds. The team’s top priority for Love will be to keep him away from injuries after he missed 47 games last season.
  • Denzel Valentine is eager for a new challenge after spending the past five years in Chicago, Russo tweets. The 27-year-old guard signed a two-year deal with the Cavs last week. “I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities,” he said. “It’s been up and down, but I feel like the best basketball is ahead of me. I’m finally getting healthy, finally coming into my own, getting my routines down and I think it’s only up from here.”
  • The Cavaliers plan to be patient with rookie big man Evan Mobley, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We will be cautious of too much, too soon, but I think his game is going to dictate what too much is,” Bickerstaff said. “We don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. We’re building this team and then talent always rises to the top.”

Cavs Rumors: Simmons, Love, Frontcourt, Valentine, Mathews, Windler

The Cavaliers, who have been mentioned throughout the summer as a possible Ben Simmons suitor, continue to have interest in landing the Sixers star, writes Marc Stein of Substack.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com mentioned Cleveland’s pursuit of the three time All-Star today as well, adding that the Cavs could enter the fray as a third team in a Simmons trade in order to acquire either Simmons or a different asset, like they did in the James Harden trade to acquire Jarrett Allen (Taurean Prince was also acquired by the Cavs in the Harden deal, and was recently traded to the Timberwolves for Ricky Rubio).

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers continue to be in a tough spot with Kevin Love, Fedor notes. Love played just 25 games last season and his impact on the court has diminished over the course of his contract, which still has two years and $60MM remaining. Such a hefty sum will make it difficult to trade Love without attaching assets, which doesn’t interest the Cavs unless they feel the situation becomes untenable. Fedor adds that the previously rumored buyout talks went nowhere, which means the team and player are stuck with each other — for now.
  • Evan Mobley is the presumed starting power forward for the Cavs, with $100MM man Allen slotting in at center, Fedor opines, which would make newly-acquired Lauri Markkanen the team’s de facto sixth man. How coach J.B. Bickerstaff manages the frontcourt situation is worth monitoring for a number of reasons, particularly because Markkanen was disappointed about coming off the bench for the Bulls last season, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. According to Fedor, the Cavs have talked about having Mobley, Allen, and Markkanen each playing about 26-30 minutes per night.
  • The Cavs continue to look for wing depth and shooting, Fedor notes, which is crucial to the team’s offensive development. The Cavs were one of the worst shooting teams in the league last season, ranking 25th in FG%, 26th in FT%, 29th in 3PT made, 28th 3PT attempts, and 30th in 3PT%. Sources tell Fedor that Denzel Valentine is interested in Cleveland and that Garrison Mathews could be another possible target.
  • Dylan Windler, who underwent surgery in April on his left knee, isn’t a lock to be ready for the start of training camp, says Fedor.

Central Notes: Bulls, Garza, Mobley, Rubio, Lowe

As our latest roster count notes, the Bulls only have 12 players on guaranteed contracts. Veteran free agent forwards Paul Millsap and James Ennis are some of the candidates to fill a couple of those open roster spots, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. LaMarcus AldridgeJarred Vanderbilt and Svi Mykhailiuk are three other free agents that the Bulls could c0nsider, Schaefer adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Despite a strong showing in summer league action, Pistons center Luka Garza is unlikely to get rotation minutes during his rookie campaign, Rod Beard of the Detroit News speculates. He might get more of an opportunity if Detroit, which has one too many guaranteed contracts, opts to waive Jahlil Okafor. There’s also a good chance Sekou Doumbouya will spend a chunk of time this upcoming season in the G League unless he shines in training camp, Beard writes.
  • The Cavaliers improved their talent pool this offseason in the estimation of Zach Harper of The Athletic. The addition of lottery pick Evan Mobley gives them a potential star at both ends of the floor, and the acquisition of Ricky Rubio provides much needed veteran leadership in the backcourt. However, they’re still a little thin depth-wise at the wing and forward spots, Harper notes.
  • The Cavaliers have officially added Sidney Lowe to J.B. Bickerstaff’s coaching staff, according to a team press release. The news that Lowe was leaving the Pistons’ staff to join their Central Division rival surfaced two weeks ago. “Sidney brings a wealth of coaching experience and familiarity to our staff,” Bickerstaff said. “He is a great teacher of the game and his ability to build lasting relationships across the board is integral to the growth of our overall culture here in Cleveland.”

Cavaliers Notes: Mobley, Rubio, Allen, Schedule

Evan Mobley appears to be the best candidate to start at power forward when the Cavaliers open their season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. The No. 3 pick in this year’s draft showed during Summer League that he’s mobile enough to handle the power forward duties. The coaching staff is reluctant to use Mobley extensively at center until he adds more muscle, so he’ll probably play alongside Jarrett Allen, giving the team two seven-foot rim protectors on defense.

If Mobley is named the starter, that will mean bench roles for veterans Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers have already spoken to Love about reducing his time on the court, and he talked last month about no longer being the No. 1 option who plays 35 minutes per night. Russo notes that Love, who still has two years and more than $60MM left on his contract, can still be valuable as a floor-spacer and rebounder.

Nance is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he started 27 of the 35 games he appeared in and averaged a career-high 31.2 minutes per night. He’s useful as a big man who can pass and defend, and he provides a veteran on-court presence for a very young team. Nance is also under contract for two more seasons, but only at a total of a little more than $20MM.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Newly-acquired Ricky Rubio will probably be used off the bench, as the starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland remains together, Russo adds. Rubio is expected to run the offense with the second unit and can defend either guard position.
  • Allen left a contending team when the Nets traded him to Cleveland in January, but he didn’t hesitate to re-sign with the Cavs this summer, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Allen’s new five-year, $100MM contract means he will be a long-term part of the rebuilding process. “Seeing a team like this, knowing what it takes, we have all the right guys and the right mindsets to do it,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Hey, I’m willing to be part of this again, especially with these guys.’ I see a bright future here that I fit in perfectly.”
  • The new schedule that was announced Friday includes a tough early stretch that could set the tone for the Cavs’ entire season, Fedor notes in a separate story. Cleveland has one of the most difficult starts in the league, with eight of its first 11 games on the road and 11 of the first 12 against teams that were in the playoffs last season.

Central Notes: Markkanen, Diallo, Mobley, Stevens

The NBA’s investigation of the Bulls for possible tampering involving Lonzo Ball could complicate efforts to find a new team for Lauri Markkanen, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Because Markkanen is a restricted free agent, he will need cooperation from Chicago to go elsewhere, either by not matching his offer or working out a sign-and-trade, but Johnson doesn’t believe the league will permit sign-and-trade negotiations until the probe of the early agreement with Ball is wrapped up.

The Pelicans and Mavericks both have large trade exceptions, so they remain potential destinations for Markkanen, Johnson adds. The Bulls are asking for a first-round pick in any sign-and-trade deal, and they’re not willing to take on a large, lengthy contract in return. Another possibility is for Markkanen to accept his one-year, $9MM qualifying offer and remain in Chicago, but he has indicated that he prefers to play somewhere else next season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will face a roster crunch if they keep restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit already has 15 guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, and while Diallo is searching for a better deal than his $2.1MM qualifying offer, he will likely sign it if he can’t get more money elsewhere. Edwards expects Josh Jackson, Jahlil Okafor or Sekou Doumbouya to be traded or released if Diallo stays in Detroit.
  • Jordan Brink and Austin Dufault have been promoted to player development coaches with the Pistons, Edwards tweets. Brink has been with the team since 2016 and is the only remaining member of Stan Van Gundy’s staff. Dufault played collegiately at Colorado and spent six seasons as a player in Europe.
  • The Cavaliers were satisfied with their Summer League showing, which included the first on-court experience for No. 3 pick Evan Mobley, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In three games, Mobley showed off the skills that made him one of the top prospects in the draft, but also displayed areas where he needs work, as he shot just 1 of 8 from three-point range and didn’t have reliable moves in the post. Summer League also provided a showcase for Lamar Stevens, Fedor adds, who could end up fighting for the final roster spot with Mfiondu Kabengele and Damyean Dotson if the team makes more roster additions.

Central Notes: Mobley, Hartenstein, Garza, Bulls

The tenure of Cavaliers rookie center Evan Mobley in this year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas is over, confirms Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Fedor adds that the Cavaliers were only ever planning to have the former USC big man, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, suit up for three contests while in Vegas.

In 33 games for USC, Mobley averaged 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 2.9 BPG. He was named the 2020/21 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year as well as the 2020/21 Pac-12 Player of the Year during his lone college season. Mobley was also a consensus All-American selection.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • A Cavaliers team representative attended a Las Vegas workout for free agent center Isaiah Hartenstein this week, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Hartenstein played with Cleveland to conclude the season, as part of the team’s return package in the trade that sent center JaVale McGee to the Nuggets. Fedor notes that, though Cleveland may be open to a reunion, the club’s priority is adding wing depth. The seven-footer averaged 8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.2 BPG across 16 games for Cleveland after the deal.
  • Pistons rookie big man Luka Garza is aware that he may have to use effort to compensate for his shortcomings in speed. “I know every guy in the NBA can beat me in a 3/4 court sprint,” he said, per James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). “But is everyone going to run that hard in the game? No, but I’m going to.” The 6’11” Garza was the No. 52 selection out of Iowa in this year’s draft.
  • New Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan anticipates that his All Star teammate Zach LaVine will see his play improve thanks to a galvanizing Summer Olympics stint in Tokyo this year, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“Just being around the greatest players in the world, the greatest minds, the greatest coaches, it does something unconsciously to you that gives you the ultimate confidence, the ultimate work ethic, makes you realize that you belong in the elite category of guys,” DeRozan said. “You see their work ethic, the way they approach the game, the winning mentality that they have and what it feels like to win. And something like that carries over whether you realize it or not. It goes a long way.” DeRozan won a gold medal with Team USA during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Central Notes: Pistons, Bucks, Dosunmu, Mobley

The Pistons have a logjam and will need to make some moves to create roster space, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. They’re already at the 15-player limit for standard contracts and a decision on restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo is still looming. They also have only one two-way contract slot available and have yet to sign second-round draft picks Luka Garza and Balsa Koprivica.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks gave up two second-round picks in the Grayson Allen deal with the Grizzlies. The picks they’re giving up are owed to Milwaukee from previous deals, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian tweets. The first of those picks will either the Pacers’ pick or the less favorable of Cavaliers’ or Jazz’s pick in 2024. The second will be conveyed in 2026, the highest of either the Pacers’ or Heat’s pick.
  • Bulls second-rounder Ayo Dosunmu is off to a rough shooting start in the summer league, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. He’s shooting 7-for-24 (29%) from the field through three games. “The advice I got was go out there and play hard,’’ said Dosunmu, the 38th overall selection. “Just try to learn something new each game. That’s the best way you’re going to get better.”
  • The No. 3 overall pick, Evan Mobley, is showing the Cavaliers in summer league play how he can impact their offense in a number of ways, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. His passing ability, in particular, can diversify their attack. “He’s going to be an extremely integral piece for us throughout the season and his willingness to share the ball and then also be able to get his own shot when he wants it is extremely important,” Cavaliers summer league coach J.J. Outlaw said. “But as you can see his teammates trusted that he would deliver the ball on time, on target when they would cut and they just kept cutting.”

Cavaliers Sign Evan Mobley To Rookie Contract

The Cavaliers have officially signed No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley, per a team press release.

The former Trojan averaged 16.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.4 APG and 2.9 BPG in his lone season at USC, showcasing impressive versatility on both ends of the floor. His combination of ball handling and passing ability, flashes of shooting potential, and general defensive dominance firmed up his status as a top-three pick early in the year.

The Cavaliers, after agreeing to sign Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100MM contract, are locking in their long-term core around Mobley, Allen, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Collin Sexton.

Mobley’s rookie contract is expected to start at around $8.075MM in year one, and the deal is expected to pay him upwards of $36.6MM through its duration.