George Hill

Cavaliers Notes: Nance, Clarkson, Hill, Leonard

The Cavaliers aren’t likely to launch a complete rebuilding project if LeBron James leaves in free agency, writes writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Three of the players Cleveland acquired at this year’s trade deadline — Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson and George Hill — are all under contract for next year, and the Cavs want to see what they can do when they’re with the organization from the start of the season.

Cleveland is likely to discuss an extension with Nance, who will make $2.3MM next season on the final year of his rookie contract. Teams have called about trading for Nance, Pluto states, but the Cavaliers seem committed to keeping him. Clarkson struggled in the playoffs, but was a valuable bench scorer during the regular season and the Cavs recognize that this was his first postseason experience. Hill has limited trade value with a $17MM contract.

The future is more unpredictable for Rodney Hood, who seemed like a good young player in Utah but had a miserable time after the trade. Pluto expects the Cavaliers to tender a $3.4MM qualifying offer, giving them the right to match any offer Hood receives in free agency.

There’s more Cavaliers news this morning:

  • Cleveland is among the teams trying to pry Kawhi Leonard away from the Spurs, but assembling a workable offer won’t be easy, Pluto adds in the same story. Kevin Love, who will make $24.1MM next season with a player option close to $25.6MM for 2019/20, would be useful for salary-matching purposes, but San Antonio seems more interested in acquiring young talent than an established player like Love.
  • Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t think LeBron James should let the pursuit of more championships guide his free agency decision, relays Scott Gleeson of USA Today. “My problem toward the end of my career was I was trying to shut everybody up and I was greedy [for more championships],” O’Neal said. “After I got to three [titles], everybody was saying I couldn’t get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn’t get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it. Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston.” O’Neal adds that it will be difficult for James to overcome the Warriors no matter where he goes.
  • James’ decision will dominate the summer, but the Cavs have some under-the-radar moves to make as well, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Cleveland has a team option on veteran center Kendrick Perkins that must be exercised by June 29. His $2.4MM salary for 2018/19 would be non-guaranteed. Okaro White, who was signed late in the season, will get a chance to show what he can do during summer league. Half of his $1.5MM salary for next year will become guaranteed if he is still on the roster Aug. 5.

Cavaliers Notes: James, Irving, Lue, Hill

As the Cavaliers prepare for Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors, the fourth consecutive meeting between the two franchises in the Finals, the journey for Cleveland was not easy. A midseason roster purge cast doubt over the Cavaliers’ ability to construct the team chemistry necessary for a deep postseason run.

In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, LeBron James acknowledged that, at certain points, there were doubts about the Cavaliers’ ability to reach the postseason.

“It was at points where, ‘OK, will the Cavs even make the playoffs?'” James said. “And I was like, ‘OK, I am not settling for that conversation. Now that is just ridiculous. Now I have got to get into the postseason.'”

James has been instrumental in leading the Cavaliers to this point as the team escaped tough series against the Pacers, Raptors, and Celtics to face Golden State. However, James also divulged that his doubts began forming last summer when the team decided to trade Kyrie Irving.

“Even if you start back to the summertime where I felt like it was just bad for our franchise just to be able to trade away our superstar point guard,” James said. “A guy that I had been in so many battles with over the last three years, and obviously I wasn’t a part of the communications and know exactly what went on between the two sides. But I just felt like it was bad timing for our team.”

Check out more Cavaliers notes below:

  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer looked back at the Kyrie Irving trade and the repercussions it had on the Cavaliers, Celtics, and even the point guard’s own career. Irving last played on March 11 before he was ruled out for the remainder of the year due to a knee injury which predates his Boston tenure.
  • George Hill was traded from the Kings to the Cavaliers just before the deadline and he said he’s excited to be suiting up for the NBA Finals after playing for a losing team in Sacramento, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. “You’re competing for an NBA Finals (with Cleveland),” Hill said, “In Sac we were just playing. I feel like my teammates in Sac, I love them to death. … But it’s a whole different feeling when you’re playing for something, totally different. We’re playing for something and that’s why we’re here today.”
  • Head coach Tyronn Lue temporarily left the team two months ago due to medical reasons and he revealed to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he’s been treated for anxiety. “I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious,” Lue said. “Just anxiety, and the medication I’m on is great. No more chest pains, so everything’s been great.”

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, D. Jordan, James, Draft Pick

J.R. Smith won’t face any repercussions from the league for a hard foul on Al Horford in Tuesday’s Game 2, according to an ESPN report. Horford was in the air late in the fourth quarter when Smith shoved him from behind, causing him to crash to the court. The officials called a flagrant 1 on Smith after a video review.

Smith agreed with the call when interviewed after the game, admitting he “blatantly” shoved Horford.

“It wasn’t like I was trying to low-bridge him or something to make sure he didn’t get it. It was a good, hard foul,” Smith said. “I can understand why they gave me a flagrant.”

There’s more today from Cleveland:

  • Smith has been through a lot of scrapes in his 14-year career and doesn’t mind playing the role of villain in playoff road games, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “I don’t want the opposing fans to like me,” he said. “That’s not why I’m here. They can chant and scream all they want.”
  • LeBron James  and coach Tyronn Lue both wanted to trade for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan at the deadline, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Lue felt the team needed a rim protector to anchor the defense.
  • The trades the Cavaliers made instead in February are letting them down in the conference finals, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. George Hill managed just three points in 33 minutes of Game 2 and couldn’t contain Celtics guard Terry Rozier. Rodney Hood didn’t take a shot from the field in 11 minutes, while Larry Nance Jr. was scoreless and Jordan Clarkson didn’t play.
  • The Nets’ first-rounder the Cavaliers acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade will strengthen their position whether LeBron James stays or not, contends Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavs will have 14 of their 17 players under contract for next season if James returns, but they have minimal guarantees beyond that, which will make rebuilding easier if it becomes necessary. Vardon suggests the team might try to trade Kevin Love again this summer and speculates that the Hornets could be interested in the No. 8 pick as a way to part with Kemba Walker‘s contract.
  • A podcast on Cleveland.com examines whether James’ future with the organization is tied to how the team performs in the conference finals.

Central Notes: Hill, Prunty, James, Porter

The Cavaliers got their first real payout from the George Hill acquisition during Game 7 against the Pacers on Sunday, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Hill returned from a back injury to score 11 points in 19 minutes but his health remains an issue in the upcoming series against the Raptors, Pluto continues. Hill was a pricey acquisition from the Kings, as Cleveland picked up a contract that will pay the veteran point guard $20MM this season and $19MM next year.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Interim Joe Prunty will be a candidate to retain the Bucks’ head coaching job but there will be an open, active search to fill that spot, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. There’s no timeline on the coaching search, but the Bucks will likely make a decision prior to the free agency period in July, Velazquez adds.
  • LeBron James run of seven straight Finals appearances will end abruptly in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Martin Rogers of the USA Today predicts. James’ heroics won’t be enough against the top seeded Raptors, who are better, younger, fresher, and more technically sound than Cleveland, Rogers adds.
  • Landing Michael Porter Jr. in the draft would be a best-case scenario for the Bulls, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times opines. Chicago wants to improve at the wing and Porter would fill that need as long as the medical reports on the Missouri freshman are positive, Cowley continues. The Bulls are not far enough along in their current rebuild to attract a top-level NBA wing player, so the draft is probably the best place to upgrade that area, according to Cowley.

Cavaliers Notes: LeBron, Hill, Hood

LeBron James may be facing a unique “win or leave home” scenario in tomorrow’s Game 7 with the Pacers, writes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. No matter when the Cavaliers’ season ends, speculation will immediately begin about James’ destination in free agency. Considering the heavy load he has carried for his team in the regular season and playoffs at age 33, James may be looking for a situation where he has more help.

After Friday’s loss in Indiana, James said he hasn’t given any consideration to free agency or the potential magnitude of Sunday’s contest.

“The thought that if we don’t play well that it will be my last game of the year will probably hit my mind,” James responded when asked about the possible end to a second era in Cleveland. “But I haven’t thought about that.” (Twitter link).

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Count Marc Stein of the New York Times among the voices who expect James to leave the Cavaliers. In his weekly newsletter, Stein speculates that Philadelphia is the most likely destination for James, stating the Sixers have “growing behind-the-scenes confidence” that they can land this summer’s top free agent. He adds that the path to the NBA Finals remains easier in the East, which is why he expects James to pass on offers from the Lakers and Rockets.
  • Coach Tyronn Lue is “optimistic” that George Hill will be ready for Game 7, but his status may not be determined until game time, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Hill was able to participate in practice today and did extra shooting work afterward. “Moved around good today, played 5-on-5 with some of the guys and felt decent so just have to see how his back reacts after that,” Lue said. “Moved around pretty good, so we will see.” Hill has missed the past three games with back spasms.
  • Rodney Hood will draw on experience as he prepares for the second Game 7 of his career. In a video posted on the Cavaliers’ website, Hood reflects on going through the same thing with the Jazz last season when they topped the Clippers in a series-deciding game. “Last year’s Game 7 was on the road, so you know the type of atmosphere,” said Hood, who was acquired from Utah at the trade deadline. “It’s kind of different, but at the same time it’s win or go home. We don’t want our season to end, so we’ve got to come out ready to play. Play confident and I think we’ll be all right.”

Injury Updates: Curry, Porter, VanVleet, Mbah a Moute

Stephen Curry is officially listed as questionable for the start of the Warriors‘ series with the Pelicans tomorrow night, relays Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

The star guard, who is recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, was able to go through a full-court scrimmage today for the first time since suffering the injury March 23. However, the team isn’t ready to commit to playing him in Game 1, and Curry calls his chances “50-50.”

“Still to be determined. They come up with those snazzy words for a reason – doubtful, questionable, probable,” he said. “Just trying to work my way up whatever I need to do with whatever [trainer] Chelsea [Lane], the rest of the athletic training staff and coaching staff need to see before I can get back out there.”

Curry and Lane spent about 20 minutes after practice talking to coach Steve Kerr, who said Curry will be re-examined tonight and after Saturday’s morning shootaround before making a decision.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Does he feel good? Then throw him out there,’” Kerr said. “It’s more about, ‘Let’s give him a few days and see how he responds from it.’”

There’s more playoff-related injury news to pass along:

  • Wizards forward Otto Porter, who is out indefinitely following a surgical procedure today on his left leg, has been experiencing pain since Game 4 of the series with Toronto, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The decision to perform a lower leg fasciotomy to address a build-up of blood flow in the contusion area was made after reviewing the results of an MRI conducted today. Kelly Oubre will take Porter’s spot in the starting lineup, with Tomas Satoransky and Ty Lawson both expected to get more playing time, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link). “We need Kelly on the floor,” coach Scott Brooks said to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Now that Otto is out, we need Kelly to give us great minutes. … It’s a great opportunity for him.” (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors will have guard Fred VanVleet available for tonight’s Game 6 with the Wizards, Lewenberg tweets. VanVleet has been limited to three minutes in the series because of soreness in his shoulder stemming from a collision on the final night of the season. “I don’t know what to expect,” said coach Dwane Casey, “but we’ll get him in.”
  • The Rockets had hoped to get Luc Mbah a Moute back for the start of their second-round series, but it appears that won’t happen, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, Mbah a Moute won’t be re-evaluated until next week, although he was able to participate in the non-contact part of today’s practice, said coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue still wasn’t sure of George Hill‘s  status when he met with reporters before tonight’s game, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill, who has been experiencing back spasms, warmed up before the game with a heat wrap on his back, notes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link).

Cavaliers Notes: Hill, Love, Hood, Korver

The Cavaliers still aren’t sure if George Hill will be available for tonight’s Game 5, according to Colton Jones of AmicoHoops. Hill sat out Sunday’s game with severe back spasms, even though he had four injections in an attempt to play.

Coach Tyronn Lue said Hill was able to do “some shooting” during Tuesday’s practice and will be reinserted into the starting lineup if he is able to go tonight. If not, veteran point guard Jose Calderon will get another start.

There’s more news today out of Cleveland:

  • Kevin Love won’t blame an injured thumb for his shooting problems against the Pacers, Jones relays in a separate story. Love suffered a partially torn ligament in his left thumb while breaking up a pass in Game 2. It’s the same hand that he broke late in the regular season, an injury that sidelined him for six weeks. “I’ve been able to get up a lot of shots,” said Love, who is shooting .362 during the series. “I think initially it was painful in the few days that followed, but now it’s kind of subsided, and just getting the feeling back in my left thumb.”
  • Rodney Hood is still trying to adjust to a less-structured offense in Cleveland, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Hood, who was acquired in a flurry of deals at the February deadline, saw his scoring average drop by six points per game after leaving Utah and his shooting percentage from 3-point range dipped from .389 to .352. He’s down to 7.0 points per game in the playoffs.
  • For all the roster changes the Cavs made this season, Lue relied on a group with experience playing together when he desperately needed a win in Game 4, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeBron James teamed with Love, J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver and Jeff Green to pull out the victory. “That’s not a knock on anything or anybody,” Korver said. “When you’ve been through something at a high level, there’s experience there and there’s something to draw from. When you’ve been through experiences in life, you’ve been through tough games, whatever it is, it gives you a comfort level to go with people you’ve kind of done it with before.”

Cavaliers Notes: LeBron, Calderon, Hill, Thompson

Only LeBron James can save the Cavaliers from an embarrassing first-round loss, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. James’ teammates haven’t been providing much help during the first three games with Indiana, hitting just 41% of their open shots, one of the worst percentages among playoff teams. Lloyd notes that youngsters Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood and veterans Jeff Green and Kyle Korver are all struggling with their shots, and even coach Tyronn Lue admits that James’ supporting cast isn’t doing enough.

The dangers of an early exit are obvious, giving James more than two months to ponder whether he wants to return to a team that couldn’t get past the first round. Lloyd adds that several Cavs veterans told him in January that the team wasn’t good enough to compete for a title and they didn’t expect it to be by June. If they turn out to be right, it could make James’ next decision a lot easier.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers will start Jose Calderon at point guard if George Hill is unable to go tonight, relays Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Hill is listed as questionable with back spasms, tweets ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, and will receive treatment prior to the game. Hill, who had an MRI Saturday, first hurt his back in Game 1, then aggravated it chasing a loose ball Friday night. Lue chose not to put Calderon into a “tough spot” in the fourth quarter after not playing all game, Pluto adds, which meant James never got a break in the second half. He is averaging more minutes than anyone through the first three games of the playoffs.
  • Lue plans to give backup center Tristan Thompson a greater role in tonight’s game, Lloyd tweets. Thompson played just two minutes at the end of Game 1 and hasn’t gotten off the bench since. However, Lue made similar comments before the past two games, then elected not to use Thompson at all.
  • Larry Nance Jr. is chronicling his first playoff experience in a postseason blog for NBA.com. “I haven’t been surprised by anything so far,” he wrote. “I knew it was going to be a bunch of guys flying around, playing hard – and it’s been exactly that. It’s just, a couple of shots here and a couple there fall differently and it’s a completely different series. But that’s Playoff basketball.”

Injury Updates: Smart, Curry, Hill, Turner

Celtics guard Marcus Smart may be getting closer to a return, writes Marc D’Amico of NBA.com. Smart, who had surgery on his right thumb and has been sidelined since March 12, will be re-evaluated next week, coach Brad Stevens told reporters today.

“He’s doing everything in a workout that you can do,” Stevens said. “It’s just a matter of being cleared for live play.” He added that the Celtics intend to use Smart as soon as he is cleared for full contact.

Smart has been going through workouts with coaches, but is not permitted to do anything competitive until he receives medical clearance. Doctors are concerned with limiting the risk that his thumb will be re-injured once he returns to the court.

“I think it’s just a matter of you have to have that post-surgery healed enough to be able to take a hit even with a brace on it,” Stevens added. “That’s the hold up.”

There’s more injury-related news to pass on:

  • The Warriors welcomed Stephen Curry back to practice today, but have no intention to use him in the series with San Antonio, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s coming along well, but don’t expect him to be Willis Reed tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Curry, who has sat out the past four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, completed several non-contact drills today without any setbacks. Doctors will re-evaluate him next weekend in hopes of a second-round return.
  • Cavaliers guard George Hill is questionable for Game 4 after experiencing back spasms Friday night, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill had an MRI today after playing just 30 seconds in the fourth quarter because of back soreness. Coach Tyronn Lue said veteran Jose Calderon will probably start Sunday if Hill can’t play.
  • Evan Turner was able to start today for the Trail Blazers after having a titanium plate placed in his right shoe to protect his big toe, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner suffered a bruise in Game 2 when he was kicked in the toe while chasing a loose ball.

Injury Updates: Embiid, Bullock, Hill, Ross

Joel Embiid has been cleared to begin light non-contact conditioning as the Sixers center continues his recovery from a concussion and orbital fracture, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. If he’s symptom-free from there, he can resume
on-court activities without contact, Pompey continues. The injuries occurred on March 28th and he had surgery on March 31st. The team is hopeful he can return at some point during the opening round of the playoffs, Pompey adds.

In other injury-related news from around the league:

  • Pistons shooting guard Reggie Bullock has been shut down for the rest of the season due to a swollen left knee, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Coach Stan Van Gundy has Bullock’s knee had gotten worse in recent weeks. “First, they want to see how he responds to rest, but then it’ll be anything from an injection to a scope, which would be the most serious, at four to six weeks, but nothing long-term,” he said. Bullock emerged as a starter this season, averaging 11.3 PPG and making 44.5% of his 3-point tries.
  • Cavs guard George Hill is hopeful of returning to action Monday after participating in practice on Sunday, according to AmicoHoops.net. Hill sat out the last two games with a sprained left ankle. “It was good to get back out there and get up and down the floor a little bit,” he said. “So, we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
  • Magic swingman Terrence Ross played 10 minutes Sunday and had a 3-pointer and two assists in his first game since late November, John Denton of the Magic’s website reports. Ross has been sidelined most of the season with a right knee injury and bone bruise. “I felt good and it was a tribute to all of the workouts and the work with the strength (and conditioning) coaches,’’ Ross said. “Just being able to play is the victory. It felt really good.’’