Indiana Pacers

Cavs Owner: Pacers ‘Could Have Done Better’ In Paul George Trade

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is perhaps most known among NBA fans for an angry farewell letter printed in Comic Sans that he published in the wake of LeBron James‘ departure from Cleveland in 2010. Seven years later, Gilbert and James are on much better terms, but Gilbert was still showing a penchant for saying things other team owners wouldn’t during a press conference today.

Asked about the Cavaliers’ pursuit of Paul George, Gilbert told reporters that the Pacers “could have done better than they did,” per Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). While that’s a view widely held by NBA observers, it’s still surprising to hear it coming in a public forum from a rival team’s owner. The Cavs were reportedly close to acquiring George last month before the Pacers opted to go in another direction, so perhaps Gilbert was conveying some lingering frustration from those discussions.

Here’s more from today’s presser in Ohio:

  • When pressed directly, Gilbert said he expects Kyrie Irving to be in camp with the Cavs this fall, but neither Gilbert nor GM Koby Altman would confirm that Irving won’t be traded, or even that he’s asked to be dealt. The duo referred to the situation as “fluid,” as Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details.
  • Altman called the idea that there’s animosity between Irving and James “overblown,” and added that the Cavs still believe they’re in great shape as a franchise, despite the offseason narrative of turmoil and drama.
  • James remains “deeply committed” to the Cavaliers, Altman said today, according to Vardon. Gilbert added that the four-time MVP has been “as helpful as he’s even been” this offseason, having helped recruit Derrick Rose and Jeff Green.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

The Suns were “very” close to acquiring Kyrie Irving on draft day, reports John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (via Twitter). Irving’s trade request reportedly didn’t happen until early July, but it appears the Cavaliers were having discussions about their star point guard as they explored ways to upgrade their roster in June, before he formally asked to be moved.

According to Gambadoro (Twitter links), the Suns still have the pieces to land Irving, but any deal would require the team to part with Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson, and more. Gambadoro isn’t sure exactly what else the Cavs would ask for in addition to Bledsoe and Jackson, but the price may be too steep for Phoenix.

Here’s more on Irving:

  • According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst on The Lowe Post podcast, the Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving around the time of the draft (hat tip to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk). Cleveland likely wouldn’t have accepted George straight up for Irving even after he made his trade request, given George’s expiring contract, but if they’d known Kyrie wanted out at that time, it could have made those discussions with Indiana much more interesting.
  • The Cavaliers have heard from virtually every team in the league in some capacity, though some are more interested in Irving than others, a source tells Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. According to Kyler, the situation is unlikely to get resolved quickly.
  • Kyler also suggests that Cleveland would like to reduce its projected tax bill in an Irving deal, with one source predicting that any team acquiring Irving will have to take on at least Iman Shumpert‘s contract.
  • Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com suggests that LeBron James is “eager to see [Irving] off,” but the four-time MVP denied that report in a tweet, suggesting that it needs “another source.”
  • Appearing on The Rich Eisen Show on Monday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver suggested that the Irving drama in Cleveland is “not necessarily the kind of drama that the league wants.” Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com has the details and the quotes from Silver, who called the situation “upsetting.”
  • Here are several of Monday’s Irving-related notes and updates.

International Notes: Fredette, Hamilton, Seraphin

After considering a possible NBA return, Jimmer Fredette will spend at least one more season in China, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Fredette has agreed to a one-year deal in the $1.8MM range to remain with the Shanghai Sharks. The 28-year-old is coming off an MVP season in the Chinese Basketball Association, averaging 37.4 points per game, along  with 7.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

The 10th player taken in the 2011 draft, Fredette started his career in Sacramento but never developed into the player the Kings had hoped. He also spent time with the Bulls, Pelicans and Knicks before leaving the NBA after the 2015/16 season. He reportedly turned down several 10-day offers at the end of last season.

There’s more news on the international front:

  • Justin Hamilton, who was waived by the Raptors last week after being acquired in a trade with the Nets, has signed with the Beijing Ducks of the CBA, according to Orazio Carcia of Sportando. Hamilton, who was part of the deal that sent DeMarre Carroll to Brooklyn, averaged 6.9 points and 4.1 rebounds in 64 games with the Nets last season.
  • Barcelona has interest in Kevin Seraphin if he isn’t retained by the Pacers, according to Dario Destri of Sportando. Seraphin’s $1,974,159 salary for next season doesn’t become guaranteed until August 1st, and the Pacers already have 14 players with guaranteed deals. He signed with Indiana last summer after spending five years with the Wizards and one with the Knicks. In his only season as a Pacer, Seraphin appeared in 49 games, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per night.
  • Ryan Arcidiacono, a former Italian league star who spent last season with the Spurs’ affiliate in the G-League, will return to Italy with Juvecaserta, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Arcidiacono was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Villanova.

Cavaliers Were Close To Acquiring Paul George

The Cavaliers nearly landed Paul George in a three-team deal in late June, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst.

The trade would have sent Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris and other assets to Indiana, but Pacers president Kevin Pritchard reportedly backed out before everything was finalized.

Prior to the draft, Cleveland made trade offers to the Pacers for George and to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. Once the Wolves acquired Butler on draft night, the Cavs stepped up their efforts for George, with the Nuggets agreeing to send Harris and the No. 13 pick to Cleveland, which would include those assets in a deal with Indiana. However, the Pacers put the trade on hold as they talked to the Trail Blazers about a deal to acquire all three of Portland’s first-rounders in exchange for George. Both proposals eventually fell through.

The Cavs continued to work on the trade following the draft, and an agreement was reached on June 30th. All three teams tentatively okayed to the deal on a conference call, and Cleveland began targeting free agents to fit with George. However, Pritchard changed his mind and the news broke soon after that George was headed to Oklahoma City.

The failed trade was part of a tumultuous offseason for the Cavaliers, as the ESPN authors examine in a lengthy piece. Cleveland also parted ways with GM David Griffin and was unable to land Chauncey Billups, who interviewed twice as a potential replacement. The team missed out on marquee free agents and had to settle for Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Then star guard Kyrie Irving held a meeting with owner Dan Gilbert on July 7th where he issued a request to be traded.

Irving was reportedly angry that his name had been included in offers for Butler and George, and has been unhappy for some time with how much James dominates the ball. He also believes the team defers too much to James, noting that LeBron’s friend, Randy Mims, was given a position as executive administrator and flies on the team plane, while none of Irving’s friends has a similar arrangement.

The front office and the players have been aware of Irving’s intentions for two weeks, and there is confidence in the organization that the team can get enough assets for Irving to remain a contender. The Cavs have been inundated with calls from interested teams since the story broke on Friday.

Multiple Teams Eyeing Brandon Rush

Several teams have checked in with Brandon Rush, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Mavericks, Heat, and Pacers are among the clubs to reach out to the swingman.

Dallas could use depth to fill out its wing rotation, especially if it intends to give Harrison Barnes minutes at the four spot, as it did for stretches last season.

Indiana lost Paul George this offseason and while the 32-year-old won’t be able to fill PG-13’s void, he could help to solidify the back end of the team’s rotation. Rush played for the Pacers for two seasons to begin his career before the franchise dealt him to the Warriors.

Miami would arguably be the worst fit out of the three teams. The Heat have Justise Winslow coming back from injury to join a rotation of James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder on the wing. If Rush wants to come to a place where minutes are guaranteed, South Beach may not be his destination.

Rush saw 21.9 minutes per game on the Wolves last season, which was his highest mark since the 2011/12 campaign. He shot an above league average 38.6% from behind the arc on 2.4 attempts per contest.

Pacers, Damien Wilkins Agree To Deal

9:08am: Wilkins’ deal will be non-guaranteed, tweets Nate Taylor of The Indianapolis Star. That suggests the 37-year-old won’t be assured of a regular season roster spot.

8:44am: Veteran swingman Damien Wilkins is making an NBA comeback, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders, who reports (via Twitter) that Wilkins and the Pacers have agreed to a one-year deal. It will be a veteran’s minimum contract, per Scotto.

Wilkins, 37, has 563 career regular season games on his NBA résumé, but hasn’t played in the league since he spent the 2012/13 campaign with the Sixers. Since then, Wilkins has bounced around various international and G League clubs, most recently spending the 2016/17 campaign with the Greensboro Swarm.

In 48 games last season for Charlotte’s G League affiliate, Wilkins averaged 14.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.8 APG, with a shooting line of .486/.358/.844.

While I wouldn’t expect Wilkins to have a substantial role for the Pacers in 2017/18, he’ll provide some veteran stability on a roster that has undergone significant changes this offseason, assuming he earns a spot on the 15-man regular season roster.

Having lost Paul George, Jeff Teague, and C.J. Miles, Indiana has added Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Domantas Sabonis this summer.

Pacers Rumors: Joseph, Seraphin, Final Roster Spot

The Pacers have already expressed their desire to re-sign Cory Joseph to a long-term deal, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star reports. Indiana reached an agreement to acquire Joseph from the Raptors in a sign-and-trade swap involving swingman C.J. Miles. Joseph will make $7.63MM next season and can opt out of the final year of his contract next summer, which would leave $7.95MM on table.  ‘The great thing is we were able to obtain him and now we’ll start the relationship,” team president Kevin Pritchard said. “We want to reset our culture. … We’ll have the opportunity to early renegotiate as well.” The team believes Joseph can be the long-term solution at point guard, though the team also signed Darren Collison as a free agent, Taylor adds. Joseph averaged 12.2 points and five assists in 22 games when Kyle Lowry was injured last season.

  • Pritchard indicated the Pacers have 14 guaranteed contracts, which apparently means they will guaranteed Kevin Seraphin‘s contract for next season, Taylor tweets. The team has until Aug. 1st to decide whether to guarantee Seraphin’s $1,974,159 salary.  The power forward appeared in 49 games with Indiana last season, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 11.4 MPG.
  • Pritchard hinted that three players will compete for the 15th and last roster spot, Taylor reports in a separate tweet. Pritchard said there would be 17 players on the training camp roster and the final spot would be determined in camp.
  • Joseph is focused on improving his 3-point shooting, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. He made 35.6% of his long-range attempts last season but his career average is 31.7%. “I’m working on it every day,” he told Montieth. “Right now, that’s my next step, to get that better. I’ll continue to work on it and get better at it.”

Pacers Waive Georges Niang

The Pacers have officially waived 6’8″ forward Georges Niang, according to Adrian Wojnarowksi of ESPN (via Twitter).

The Iowa State product and 50th overall pick in last year’s draft appeared in 23 games with Indiana last season and averaged just 0.9 PPG and 0.7 RPG.

The 24-year-old’s $1.3MM salary for 2017/18 season would have become guaranteed tomorrow if the Pacers kept him on the roster, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks mentioned. Instead, the Pacers will incur a $100,000 cap hit and their room will increase to $5.7MM. Additionally, Marks added that Indiana now has 13 guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, including second round pick Ike Anigbogu.

Raptors, Pacers Finalize Cory Joseph Trade

The Raptors have officially sent Cory Joseph to the Pacers in a trade, the team announced today in a press release. In exchange for Joseph, Toronto acquired the draft rights to forward Emir Preldzic.Cory Joseph vertical

“We are very excited to acquire Cory,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said in his team’s announcement of the trade. “He has been on our radar for a while. With Darren Collison and Cory we have two solid, veteran point guards who fit our culture of playing hard and unselfish.”

Joseph was previously reported to be part of a swap that would send Miles to the Raptors in a sign-and-trade. However, Miles’ three-year contract was set to include a player option, and the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits third-year options on contracts completed in sign-and-trade deals.

As such, the Raptors will trade Joseph and sign Miles in separate transactions. Toronto will sign Miles using the mid-level exception, which starts at $8.406MM. By splitting up the transactions, the Raptors will no longer be able to retain that MLE for another signing, but they’ll pick up another traded player exception instead. After getting a $11.8MM TPE in their DeMarre Carroll deal with the Nets, the Raptors will create a trade exception worth Joseph’s salary ($7.63MM) in today’s swap.

Moving Joseph to Indiana before signing Miles will help the Raptors stay out of luxury tax territory for now. Joseph, who turns 26 next month, played in 80 games for the Raptors last season, averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.3 APG. He’ll team with the newly-signed Collison as Indiana looks to replace Jeff Teague at the point guard position.

Joseph’s contract includes a player option worth $7.945MM for 2018/19, so he could hit the free agent market a year from now if he has a solid season with the Pacers.

As for Preldzic, the 29-year-old forward was the 57th overall pick in the 2009 draft and has remained overseas since then. At this point, he seems unlikely to make the jump stateside, so his NBA rights were likely just included in the deal because each team has to send out something in a trade. This is the fourth time Preldzic’s rights have been traded since he was drafted.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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