Isaiah Hartenstein

Cavs Rumors: McConnell, Caruso, Hart, Love, Hartenstein

Length, athleticism, versatility, and shooting are the traits that the Cavaliers will be prioritizing as they consider potential roster moves this offseason, Chris Fedor writes in a mailbag for Cleveland.com. A secondary ball-handler will be at or near the top of Cleveland’s wish list, whether that player is a point guard or a play-making wing, Fedor adds.

The Cavaliers don’t project to have cap room this summer, but intend to be “aggressive” with their mid-level exception, which should be worth nearly $10MM. Free agent point guards T.J. McConnell and Alex Caruso will be among the team’s top targets, according to Fedor. Both will be unrestricted free agents and are tough defenders who could be attainable with the MLE.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • One of the free agents Fedor mentions as a possible target for Cleveland is Josh Hart. Fedor, who notes that Hart is one of Larry Nance Jr.‘s best friends, hears from sources that the Pelicans wing may be seeking a fresh start. However, Hart is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Pelicans will have the ability to retain him if they so choose.
  • Addressing the Kevin Love situation, Fedor says that some people in the front office view the idea of waiving and stretching Love’s remaining salary (two years, $60MM) as a non-starter. There have also been no buyout talks so far, according to Fedor, who gets the impression that the Cavs would only be open to going down that path if Love initiates those discussions and gives up enough salary to make it worthwhile.
  • Fedor confirms Michael Scotto’s report that Cavs big man Isaiah Hartenstein will likely turn down his player option in the hopes of signing a multiyear deal with Cleveland.
  • The 2021/22 season isn’t viewed as a “playoffs-or-bust” year by Cavs leadership, but everyone feels the team will need to show “discernible on-court progress and take a few steps forward” in the fourth year of its rebuild, says Fedor. In a separate article for Cleveland.com, Fedor suggests that historical precedents show the Cavs’ rebuild is on schedule.

Scotto’s Latest: Magic, Hartenstein, Allen, Ennis, Theis

Appearing on the HoopsHype podcast alongside Yossi Gozlan, Michael Scotto identified Nets assistant Ime Udoka and former Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson as potential candidates to watch for the Magic‘s open head coaching position.

Clippers assistant Dan Craig and Bucks assistant Darvin Ham are among the other names Scotto has heard linked to the job in Orlando. If the Bucks lose their second-round series to Brooklyn, it could be the end of the road in Milwaukee not just for Mike Budenholzer, but for several members of his staff, including Ham, Scotto notes.

Here’s more from the podcast:

  • Scotto says Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein plans to turn down his player option, after hinting as much last month. Hartenstein will be eligible for restricted free agency and is a good bet to remain in Cleveland, either on a multiyear contract or on his qualifying offer, according to Scotto.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hornets and/or Mavericks could pursue Jarrett Allen, but Scotto expects the RFA center to ultimately remain with the Cavaliers, who gave up a first-round pick for him earlier this year.
  • James Ennis, who has played for seven teams since entering the NBA in 2014, will be seeking some stability as a free agent this offseason, per Scotto, who says Ennis is hoping for a deal that covers three years, or at least two. After knocking down 43.3% of his three-pointers in 2020/21, the veteran forward will be looking for a salary worth at least the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto has heard from people around the league that free agent center Daniel Theis could command a deal worth at least the mid-level exception. Theis would like to join a winning team, but also wants the opportunity to play regularly.

Central Notes: Holiday, LaVine, Hartenstein, Pistons

The Defensive Player of the Year conversation this season has primarily revolved around candidates like Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons, but Bucks guard Jrue Holiday believes he should be in that discussion. In fact, that’s an opinion he holds year in and year out, as he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“Man, I feel like I’m the Defensive Player of the Year every year,” Holiday said. “I’m not joking about that. And I know this is my opinion, and other people have different opinions and they’ll probably think I’m crazy. But I think what I bring defensively on the court, a lot of people don’t really do, to be completely honest.”

As Holiday points out, it’s rare for a guard to receive serious consideration for Defensive Player of the Year honors. The last time a backcourt player won the award was in 1996, when Gary Payton was named DPOY. But Holiday feels that his own performance and versatility on the defensive end of the court shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I think to be able to guard some of these guards night in and night out, every single night, and be able to move laterally, moving your feet, fighting over screens, fighting under screens, guarding them one-on-one 30 feet away from the basket,” Holiday told Haynes. “And there were a couple of years where I was blocking a lot of shots for a guard. So I even protected the rim myself. And then at that, I’m guarding positions one through four, and sometimes five. Defensively, I’ve pretty much done it all. That’s why I think I should be in the conversation every year.”

Here are a few more items from around the Central:

  • While there has been a belief that Zach LaVine will look to maximize his earnings on his next contract, several sources who spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times believe LaVine could be persuaded to take a slight discount if the Bulls continue adding quality players around him. Still, a standard extension for LaVine could only be worth up to about $105MM over four years, so he seems unlikely to accept such a deal — Chicago could offer him significantly more in a renegotiation or once he reaches free agency.
  • Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who holds a minimum-salary player option for 2021/22, said he’d like to remain in Cleveland, but hinted that he’s leaning toward opting out in the hopes of signing a new deal. “So far everything has been good,” Hartenstein said of his time with the Cavs, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Can’t really say what’s going to happen in the future, but I hope we can renegotiate something this summer and I can grow with the young guys. I think that would be a good experience.”
  • In a mailbag for The Detroit News, Rod Beard says that he expects the Pistons to try to re-sign Frank Jackson in free agency, advocates for giving Sekou Doumbouya more time to develop, and addresses a few other Pistons-related topics.

Lowe’s Latest: K. Williams, Payne, Monk, Burks, Hartenstein

For the 10th year in a row, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has named his end-of-season “Luke Walton All-Stars,” honoring overlooked rotation players and NBA journeymen who have impressed him most over the course of the year.

Nets guard Bruce Brown, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Raptors teammates Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry are among the players who made Lowe’s list, which also includes a handful of interesting tidbits on some of his choices. Here are a few highlights:

  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, who resisted signing a two-way contract multiple times earlier in his career, has enjoyed a breakout year in Oklahoma City. Sources tell Lowe that several playoff teams expressed trade interest in Williams prior to March’s deadline, but he wanted to remain in OKC, where he’s under contract for two more years (both non-guaranteed).
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne told Lowe that he thought his NBA career might be over in 2020, when the Mavericks opted to sign Trey Burke over him for the summer restart after he had played well for Dallas’ G League affiliate. However, he got an opportunity shortly thereafter with Phoenix, in large part because head coach Monty Williams had gotten to know him during their time with the Thunder.
  • Another former first-round pick, Hornets guard Malik Monk, was concerned about his NBA career last year as well, following his suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, his brother Marcus Monk told Lowe. The former Kentucky standout has enjoyed a career year while trying to let go of tension about his role, Lowe writes. “Guys who have success in college think the NBA is going to go a certain way,” Marcus said. “You think you’re invincible. Malik fell victim to that. I’m proud of how he matured.”
  • Before he signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Knicks last fall, Alec Burks discussed a deal with the Bulls, according to Lowe. Burks’ familiarity with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant from their time in Utah was a factor in his decision to choose New York.
  • After an underwhelming stint in Denver, Isaiah Hartenstein has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 16 games (17.9 MPG). Lowe says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hartenstein turns down his minimum-salary player option for 2021/22 to seek a new deal.

Injury Notes: Porzingis, Hart, Adams, Hayward, Walker, Hartenstein, Hunter, Beverley

The Mavericks will hold center Kristaps Porzingis out of both games this weekend as he deals with pain in his right knee, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s going to rehab and work out,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “He’s doing better than he was two nights ago in Detroit. Things are moving in a good direction.”

Porzingis was also dealing with a sprained left ankle last week, so Thursday’s game against the Pistons marked the only time he has played since April 22. Carlisle said he had no other specifics to offer and no timetable beyond this weekend. He added that Porzingis is “very diligent” about rehab work.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Pelicans aren’t sure if guard Josh Hart will be able to return before the end of the regular season, according to Jim Eichenhofer (Twitter link). Hart had surgery April 6 to fix a torn UCL in his right thumb. “We knew going in that his timetable to get back (in uniform) would be the last week to 10 days (of the regular season), coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ll have to wait and see as we get later into next week.”
  • Pelicans center Steven Adams suffered a sprained toe this week, but Van Gundy said it’s a day-to-day issue and Adams should be available for the rest of the season (Twitter link from Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward no longer needs a walking boot for his sprained right foot, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
  • Celtics guard Kemba Walker is listed as doubtful for Sunday with a strain in his left side, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). It would be the fourth straight missed game for Walker.
  • Cavaliers center Isaiah Hartenstein was able to work out at the arena tonight for the first time since entering concussion protocol, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Hartenstein has missed the past four games.
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has been out since March 23 with a knee injury, hasn’t been able to work out for several days, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Coach Nate McMillan said he has no idea if Hunter will be able to play again this season.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley may be able to return in the “next couple games” if his left hand continues to improve, coach Tyronn Lue told Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Health Updates: Rockets, Nance, Cavs, Hachimura, Clifford

After missing the Rockets‘ last three games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, second-year wing Kevin Porter Jr. has rejoined the team and will be ready to play on Tuesday, head coach Stephen Silas said today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).

Rockets big man Christian Wood, who missed Saturday’s game with a minor ankle injury, is also in position to return on Tuesday, Silas said (Twitter link via Berman). The team should get further reinforcements prior to the end of the season, according to Silas, who expressed optimism that D.J. Augustin (ankle), Sterling Brown (knee), and Eric Gordon (groin) will also be back in the coming weeks.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who injured his right thumb on Sunday, has been diagnosed with a fracture in that thumb, according to a team press release. Nance has been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. Toronto and will be re-evaluated daily as he undergoes treatment and rehab. Sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Nance will probably miss at least a week or two. With less than three weeks left in the regular season, there’s no guarantee we’ll see him again in 2020/21.
  • Within the same release, the Cavaliers provided updates on several more players, announcing that Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion symptoms), and Lamar Stevens (concussion symptoms) have also hit the injured list and will miss tonight’s game.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (knee) is set to return on Monday after missing the last four games, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who registered a positive COVID-19 test, will remain out for Monday’s game vs. the Lakers, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who tweets that Tyrone Corbin will once again act as the club’s interim head coach. Clifford continues to be asymptomatic, Robbins notes.

Cavs, Nuggets Finalize JaVale McGee Trade

MARCH 26: The trade is official, the Cavaliers announced in a press release.


MARCH 25: The Cavaliers are finalizing a trade that will send veteran center JaVale McGee to the Nuggets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Cleveland will acquire big man Isaiah Hartenstein and a pair of second-round picks in the deal, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Mike Singer of The Denver Post first reported that the two teams were discussing Hartenstein.

According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), the picks headed to the Cavs are a top-46 protected 2023 second-rounder and an unprotected 2027 second-rounder.

The move represents a reunion for McGee, who was previously traded to the Nuggets at the 2012 trade deadline and spent the next three years with the franchise. The 33-year-old has played for Philadelphia, Dallas, Golden State, the Lakers, and Cleveland since then, averaging 8.0 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 33 games (15.2 MPG) this season for the Cavs.

In his return to Denver, McGee figures to slide into the backup center role behind Nikola Jokic. Hartenstein was penciled into that role at the start of the season, but had a somewhat underwhelming year, with 3.5 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 30 games (9.1 MPG). JaMychal Green, Zeke Nnaji, and Bol Bol have also seen some occasional minutes at the five, but McGee should be a more reliable veteran option for the Nuggets’ second unit.

As Singer observes (via Twitter), the Cavs were one of the teams with interest in Hartenstein before he signed with Denver last fall, so the 22-year-old should take on a bigger role in Cleveland. However, the second-rounders the Cavs are acquiring in the swap are probably a bigger factor in the team’s willingness to make the deal.

Although Hartenstein’s minimum-salary contract isn’t big enough to match McGee’s $4.2MM expiring deal, the Nuggets will be able to absorb that money using a trade exception created in last November’s Jerami Grant sign-and-trade and will still have about $5.33MM left on that exception, which expires in the offseason. The Cavs will create a $4.2MM traded player exception in the deal, while the Nuggets will generate a new $1.62MM TPE.

McGee will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hartenstein has a minimum-salary player option for 2021/22.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Wood, Durant, Zeller

At last season’s trade deadline, after agreeing to send Clint Capela to Atlanta, the Rockets pursued a deal for Christian Wood, offering the Pistons a pair of second-round picks and Isaiah Hartenstein in exchange for the big man, according to James L. Edwards III and Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Detroit rebuffed that offer and showed interest in re-signing Wood during the 2020 offseason.

The Pistons’ interest was reciprocated by Wood, and the team made him a contract offer, per Edwards and Iko. However, Detroit was pursuing free agents like Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee and wasn’t in position to use cap room on Wood as well.

Without dipping into their cap space, the Pistons had the ability to use Wood’s Early Bird rights to offer him a contract that started at $10.05MM, and – according to The Athletic’s duo – they didn’t go over that amount. That meant they were outbid when the Rockets presented Wood with a three-year offer that started at $13MM+.

Here’s more on Wood, along with a couple more Eastern Conference notes:

  • With Wood’s Rockets set to face Detroit on Friday, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said he’s proud to see the big man enjoying success in Houston, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press writes. “We tried to get him here, we just didn’t have enough in the bucket,” Casey said. “He’s a special kid and I think good things for him and wish him well, except for (Friday) night.” Wood has been ruled out for the game due to a sprained right ankle.
  • Nets star Kevin Durant, who played 50 minutes in Wednesday’s double-overtime loss to Cleveland, will be held out of Friday’s rematch due to injury management, per the team (Twitter link). Friday’s game is the first half of a back-to-back set, so Durant should be available on Saturday vs. Miami.
  • After having missed most of the season with a hand fracture he suffered on opening night, Hornets center Cody Zeller is listed as probable for Friday’s game vs. Chicago and is expected to be available. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer examines what sort of impact Zeller can have on a Hornets team in need of frontcourt depth.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Campazzo, Hartenstein, McCollum

Following a 2-0 start, the Timberwolves have lost four straight games and are struggling to stay competitive without star center Karl-Anthony Towns available. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details, head coach Ryan Saunders attempted to jump-start the club on Sunday by shaking up his starting lineup, inserting Juan Hernangomez and Ed Davis in place of Ricky Rubio and Naz Reid.

According to Hine, the plan was to help Russell establish some pick-and-roll chemistry with Davis, his former teammate in Brooklyn, and to reduce Reid’s minutes against Nikola Jokic in the hopes of avoiding foul trouble.

Jarrett Culver, playing the three instead of the four in the new-look lineup, had his best game of the young season, and Davis led the team in rebounding, but the Timberwolves still lost by 15 points and Hernangomez’s early struggles continued. Still, Saunders said after the game that he saw some positive signs from the fifth-year power forward.

“I did think he had some good defensive possessions. I thought that helped us,” Saunders said of Hernangomez. “His size and length helped us a little bit even though we got beat on the glass, I thought he was able to get his hands on a few. He had some good looks, missed a couple that he’ll usually make around the basket. So for that reason, I see progress with Juancho as well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Former Real Madrid star Facundo Campazzo had looked relatively invisible in his first five NBA games, but he showed on Sunday why the Nuggets brought him over from Spain this offseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I thought this was the best version of Facundo Campazzo that you could imagine,” head coach Michael Malone said of the 29-year-old point guard, who had 15 points and three steals in Denver’s win over Minnesota.
  • Before he signed with the Nuggets as a free agent in November, Isaiah Hartenstein drew interest from the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Wizards, league sources tell Singer in a separate Denver Post story.
  • Typically a slow starter, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been excellent so far in 2020/21, having averaged 28.0 PPG with a .431 3PT% in six games. Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at what has fueled the hot start for McCollum, who said he’s motivated by wanting to secure a postseason berth without having to take part in the play-in tournament again.

Northwest Notes: Russell, Jerome, Hartenstein, Pokuševski

With Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns still out of commission due to a dislocated wrist, starting guard D’Angelo Russell has struggled as the new focus of the club’s offense, writes The Athletic’s Jon Krawcyznski. The Wolves have lost three straight games in which they have been down by at least 30 points.

Russell has recently been moved by Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders to the shooting guard position to play in tandem with distributor Ricky Rubio at the point. “It can’t be different every night. It’s going to be something we’re running with and we’re sticking with and we build from it,” Russell said.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • Second-year Thunder guard Ty Jerome continues to recover from an ankle injury he incurred in training camp this season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets“I think [it happened] in the first practice,” head coach Mark Daigneault. said. “He’s back in OKC on a return-to-play, getting his work in.”
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post details how the Nuggets signed Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal in free agency this offseason. Hartenstein discusses his frustration with a lack of consistent chances on his prior squad in Houston. “With the Rockets, every time they gave me an opportunity I performed,” Hartenstein said.
  • Rookie Thunder power forward Aleksej Pokuševski has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol after suffering a concussion in a team practice today, according to a team press release. He has appeared in all five of the Thunder’s outings so far, and is averaging 16.0 MPG.