- Cedi Osman, Dean Wade, Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler are all vying for the small forward starting job with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “We’ve gone back and forth on that, I’ll be honest with you guys,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “But we’re gonna give it an opportunity and see exactly what works best and what is the most troublesome for defenses.”
- With the addition of Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers realize that they’re not going to surprise anyone this season, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “I think people know what we’re capable of now,” forward Kevin Love said. “If we put it together, we aren’t a team that’s really going to surprise anybody anymore. We’ve got some young stars that I think are going to make a lot of noise this year.”
- Fresh off signing a five-year extension, Darius Garland is looked upon as the leader of the Cavaliers, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. “He’s a guy that people want to follow, they want to see him be successful, so it’s his opportunity and his responsibility to lead those guys in that way,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.
SEPTEMBER 27: Wade’s extension is now official, the Cavaliers announced today (via Twitter).
Wade, who will make $1.93MM this season, had been on track to become a free agent next summer, so the extension will begin in 2023 and will keep him under contract through the end of 2025/26. The agreement was confirmed by Wade’s agents, Austin Walton and Adam Papas, according to Woj.
Wade, a 25-year-old small forward, has been with Cleveland for the past three seasons after earning a two-way contract in 2019. Much of his first year was spent in the G League, but he has been a part of the rotation the last two years and may be in contention for a starting spot heading into training camp.
Wade appeared in 51 games last season, making 28 starts, and averaged 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 45.6% from the field and 35.9% from three-point range. He underwent meniscus surgery in March, but he was cleared to resume basketball activities in early May.
The extension fully guarantees Wade’s contract for the upcoming season and gives Cleveland 14 players with guaranteed deals, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.
Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio, who suffered a torn left ACL last December, is hopeful he can return to action this December, but won’t put a timetable on it, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.
“I wanted to be ready for training camp but I knew it was impossible,” Rubio said. “Talking with my trainers and medical staff, they say 10-12 months but it’s a long range. It changes every week. At the end of the day, putting a date on it, for me personally, I need it. But I think it’s not good to put a date when I’m going to be back.”
Rubio returned to Cleveland on a three-year, $18.4MM contract.
We have more from the Central Division:
- Pistons general manager Troy Weaver believes that after a complete overhaul during his regime, the roster is well-stocked at every position, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. “I feel like we finally have a full complement of players,” he said. “The first two years, we didn’t. It’s my job to make sure we have a roster in place that can come out and compete. I feel like we have a full complement of players, so we can go out and compete now. We’ll be short in experience in some areas, but I’m excited about the roster and where we are.”
- Pistons second-year guard Cade Cunningham has added nearly 20 pounds and he believes he’ll be more prepared to handle the physicality of the league. “Having a stronger body … it’s a lot harder to get hurt,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to take more bumps and handle the physicality of the NBA. I’ll be a lot more prepared for it this year.”
- Patrick Williams is excited that the Bulls have high expectations for him after an injury-marred season. However, he’s not trying to approach it any differently, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. “I look at every year as a make or break year,” Williams said. “I looked at my rookie year that way, second year and this year is the exact same way.”
- Bucks forward Joe Ingles could return to action as early as December, according to general manager Jon Horst, ESPN’s Jamal Collier tweets. Ingles, who signed a one-year, $6.5MM contract with Milwaukee early in free agency, is recovering from a torn ACL.
The 25-year-old has had a busy summer. In addition to being one of the centerpieces in the deal that saw the Jazz shipping All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers, Markkanen also starred for his native Finland in Berlin for this year’s EuroBasket, racking up the second-highest scoring average in the tournament. The team ultimately fell in the quarterfinals.
This is the second consecutive offseason relocation Markkanen has undergone during his burgeoning pro career. In the summer of 2021, he joined Cleveland in a sign-and-trade deal, inking a four-year, $67.5MM contract. During his lone season with the 44-38 Cavaliers, the seven-footer, traditionally a power forward, started as the team’s small forward for the first time in his NBA career. In 61 games, all starts, he averaged 14.8 PPG on .445/.358/.868 shooting splits, 5.7 RPG, and 1.3 APG.
Walden’s interview is worth reading in full, but here are some select highlights from the conversation:
On Markkanen’s reaction to the trade:
“It was kind of a shock. I didn’t hear anything before, I didn’t see my name in any rumors… It was emotional. I understand the business side of it, so I’ve got no hard feelings. I thanked them for the opportunity that I had. But the first moments were really emotional for me, because we really liked Cleveland, and thought we’d found a home there.”
On playing for his homeland in this summer’s EuroBasket competition:
“[Finland’s standing among its EuroBasket rivals is] still a work in progress. But [rewind] to, like,  years ago when they made EuroBasket for the first time in a while at that point — it’s been on the rise since… They were part of the World Cup in . It’s been going up for a while. I’m happy to be a part of it, and I understand the history. … I’m trying to take this thing even further.”
On how close he came to attending the University of Utah as a college prospect in 2016:
“Utah was my first visit. I was on the visit with my dad, and I remember joking to him, ‘Do I have to go to the other two places? Because I feel comfortable there.’ I was pretty confident that I’m gonna go to Utah… But then we cleared our minds and took the other two visits. And my gut feeling [was strong] when I got to Arizona.”
Cooper, 21, was the 48th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The 6’1” point guard appeared in only 13 games at the NBA level, logging 39 total minutes and making just 3-of-14 shots from the field.
The former Auburn standout played regularly in the G League, averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.9 APG on .431/.361/.907 shooting in 22 regular season appearances (30.2 MPG) for the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s NBAGL affiliate.
Since the Cavaliers only have 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, Cooper could earn his way onto the roster with a strong showing. Otherwise, on an Exhibit 10 contract, he’ll be eligible for a $50K bonus if he’s waived and then spends at least 60 days with the Cleveland Charge, the team’s G League affiliate.
Vaudrin was signed by Cleveland to a camp deal earlier this month.
The Big South Player of the Year in 2021, Vaudrin had been on track to sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Cavaliers a year ago after going undrafted out of Winthrop. However, the 25-year-old point guard tore his ACL while playing for Cleveland’s Summer League team and missed his entire rookie entire season.
Vaudrin will likely wind up with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League team. He can become an affiliate player, since his G League rights weren’t previously held by another team. He could earn a bonus of up to $50K under the terms of the Exhibit 10 contract if he’s with the Charge for at least 60 days.
One of several free agents to work out for the Cavaliers earlier this month, Diakite has appeared in a total of 27 regular season games for the Bucks and Thunder since going undrafted out of Virginia in 2020. He spent most of his rookie season on a two-way deal with Milwaukee before being promoted to the standard roster down the stretch. In 2021/22, he signed three separate 10-day contracts with Oklahoma City.
Diakite has averaged 3.7 PPG and 3.4 RPG in his 27 NBA contests (12.2 MPG). He also put up 18.5 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 12 G League appearances (27.7 MPG) for the Lakeland Magic during the truncated 2020/21 season, earning a place on both the All-NBAGL First Team and the league’s All-Defensive Team.
There could be a path for Diakite to earn a regular season roster spot in Cleveland. The Cavs only have 12 players on fully guaranteed contracts, plus Lamar Stevens and Dean Wade on non-guaranteed deals.
The terms of Diakite’s agreement mean he can’t have his contract converted into a two-way deal, since it doesn’t include an Exhibit 10 clause. That absence of Exhibit 10 language also suggests the Cavs don’t anticipate him playing for their G League affiliate – the Cleveland Charge – if he doesn’t make the NBA squad.
Hinton is expected to compete for a spot on the 15-man opening night roster. While the Cavaliers have 16 other players on standard contracts, only 12 have fully guaranteed salaries. The team also has both two-way slots filled.
The Cavaliers’ G League squad, the Cleveland Charge, recently acquired Hinton’s rights in a trade with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in exchange for Norvel Pelle and a second-round pick in the NBAGL draft. Hinton will receive a bonus worth up to $50K if he spends at least 60 days the Charge, provided he doesn’t make the 15-man Cavs roster and signs a G League contract.
Hinton played 21 games with Dallas in his rookie season after going undrafted in 2020. He spent most of last season with Fort Wayne and averaged 18.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.2 steals for the Mad Ants in his second G League season. He also signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Pacers and appeared in two games, later inking a two-way contract to finish the season.
Killian Hayes has to make progress as a scorer to show the Pistons he should be part of their long-term plans, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. After injuries limited him to 26 games as a rookie, Hayes bounced back to play in 66 last season, showing the defensive and passing skills that made him the No. 7 overall pick in 2020.
However, his scoring development remained stagnant as he averaged 6.9 PPG in 25 minutes per night while shooting 38.3% from the field and 26.3% from three-point range. Edwards believes Hayes needs to become more aggressive in getting to the basket, noting that he made 74% of his attempts at the rim last season, but that only accounted for 16% of his shots.
Edwards poses questions involving other Pistons players, asking whether Isaiah Stewart has become a legitimate three-point shooter, whether Saddiq Bey can balance his performance from his first two seasons and whether Saben Lee can find a way to stand out on a roster loaded with guards.
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Lonzo Ball tops a list of Bulls players with the most to prove compiled by Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Ball may be held out through the start of the regular season because of pain in his surgically repaired left knee. The Bulls insist the knee is structurally sound, but his availability will play a massive role in where the team finishes in the Eastern Conference. Mayberry adds that the team also needs a bounce-back performance from center Nikola Vucevic, who’s heading into a contract year.
- Unlike most of their competitors in the East, the Bucks didn’t make major changes this offseason and can rely on continuity as they make a run at another NBA title, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. Milwaukee still has the defensive foundation to contend for a championship, Gozlan adds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo remains one of the best players in the world. One financial concern that Gozlan points out is that the Bucks appear destined for the repeater tax next season, while Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will both become unrestricted free agents in July if they don’t receive extensions.
- In a press release, the Cleveland Charge – The Cavaliers‘ G League affiliate – announced the trade of Norvel Pelle and the Charge’s second-round pick to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (the Pacers‘ affiliate) in exchange for Nate Hinton.