J.R. Smith

Central Rumors: Redick, Irving, Brown, Cavs

Sixers guard J.J. Redick nearly signed with the Pacers in free agency, he revealed during a podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Redick’s comment was tweeted by Scott Agness of The Athletic. Redick stayed with Philadelphia after the Sixers improved their one-year offer to $12.25MM but that was still less than the Pacers were willing to pay. “I wouldn’t have started but I felt like I fit what they needed,” Redick said. “I just envisioned playing two-man (game) with (Domantas) Sabonis.”

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks’ desire to sign Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving could have a negative impact on the Bulls’ free agency plans next summer, according to an NBC Sports Chicago post. The Knicks have reportedly made Irving their No. 1 target in free agency and it’s been previously rumored that Irving and Jimmy Butler might join forces. If the Bulls wanted to bring back Butler after trading him away last summer, Irving’s potential interest in the Knicks could sidetrack that plan, the report adds.
  • One of the officers involved in the Sterling Brown arrest last January has been fired, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story passed along by NBC Sports. The Bucks swingman filed a civil lawsuit against the Milwaukee police department after he was arrested and tasered for a parking violation. The officer was fired for violating social media policy and not for his conduct the night of Brown’s arrest, the city’s police chief told the Journal Sentinel.
  • The Cavaliers could be more interesting and successful without LeBron James than many people expect, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. The development of first-round pick Collin SextonAnte Zizic and Cedi Osman will be intriguing to watch and GM Koby Altman will likely make more moves during the season to reshape the team’s future, Pluto continues. Trading J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson, who have seemed disinterested during the regular season during the James era, would move the process along, Pluto adds.

Central Notes: Pistons Lineup, Griffin, Smith, Paxson

Determining the two starters who will join Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson in the lineup is one of the things to watch for during the Pistons’ training camp, according to Keith Langlois of the team’s website. Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard are the three major candidates for those two slots. Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson and Zaza Pachulia will vie for the role of first big man off the bench, though Leuer’s status for training camp is uncertain due to recent knee surgery, Langlois adds.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Having Griffin as the focal point of their offense for a full season has created optimism around the Pistons franchise, Ansar Khan of MLive writes in his latest player profile. The Pistons had trouble incorporating Griffin into the offense following the blockbuster trade with the Clippers in late January. But he has developed his all-around game and become a better 3-point shooter and passer, Khan continues. New coach Dwane Casey plans on putting the ball in his hands more often, Khan adds.
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith was issued a desk ticket for misdemeanor criminal mischief after he allegedly tossed a fan’s cell phone into a construction site on July 26, according to an ESPN story. Smith spoke to police in New York City on Friday about the allegation and he will appear in Manhattan Criminal Court later this year.
  • Jim Paxson’s title with the Bulls has been changed from director of basketball operations to director of pro personnel, the team announced in a press release. The Bulls also promoted Brian Hagen to associate GM, Steve Weinman to assistant GM and and Miles Abbett to manager of minor league scouting and analytics.

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Korver, White, Love

The Cavaliers’ expected deal with free agent guard David Nwaba doesn’t change the status of J.R. Smith or Kyle Korver because both players were already on the trading block, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Appearing on a podcast with Chris Fedor from the same organization, Vardon says the Cavs would like to unload at least one veteran guard to cut down on their cap commitments. Smith will make $14.72MM in the upcoming season and has a $15.68MM player option for 2019/20. Korver has a $7.56MM salary with a $7.5MM player option the following year.

Cleveland is looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Korver, says Vardon, who adds that Philadelphia’s reported offer to swap Jerryd Bayless straight up for Korver wouldn’t have benefited the Cavs.

There’s more news from Cleveland:

  • Today marks a salary guarantee date for Okaro White, Vardon tweets. Half of the $1,544,951 he is owed for the upcoming season will become guaranteed if he isn’t waived by 5pm Eastern time. White, who missed much of last season with a broken foot, didn’t see any game action after signing with the Cavaliers in March, but he was able to play for their Summer League team.
  • LeBron James‘ departure has left Kevin Love as clearly the top talent on the roster, but he shouldn’t try to go back to being the player he was in Minnesota, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Although Love put up impressive numbers with the Timberwolves, averaging 26.1 PPG in his final season there, he was often lazy on defense and was never able to lead that team to the playoffs, Pluto notes. He suggests that Love should embrace the lessons he has learned in four years with the Cavaliers and become an example to younger players of how to play winning basketball.
  • While losing James is obviously a huge step back for the organization, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report identifies a few Cavaliers who could benefit from LeBron’s absence. He states that more playing time and a greater responsibility in the offense should help Love, along with Cedi Osman, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood.

Rockets Remain In Market For Wing Player

The Rockets are poised to finalize a deal with Carmelo Anthony after he clears waivers later today, but signing Anthony won’t necessarily complete Houston’s offseason. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe details in a recent podcast conversation with Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight, the Rockets remain in the market for at least one more wing player.

“They are going to get another wing,” Lowe said of the Rockets. “It’s going to happen.”

The Rockets lost two key forwards last month when Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute signed with new teams in free agency. Despite re-signing Gerald Green, adding James Ennis, and lining up a deal with Anthony, Houston could use another player with the ability to make threes on offense and guard talented perimeter players on defense.

Earlier this week, we heard that Houston has interest in Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore — Lowe and Herring discuss that possibility, with the ESPN analyst suggesting that the Rockets would likely offer Atlanta a package of Ryan Anderson and their 2019 first-round pick. However, the Hawks aren’t the only team the Rockets are keeping an eye on.

According to Lowe, the Rockets have also talked to the Heat. While Lowe doesn’t identify any specific Miami players that Houston is targeting, he speculates that perhaps the Rockets would be willing to offer that same package of Anderson and a pick for someone like Tyler Johnson.

The Rockets have also “kicked the tires” on Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith, per Lowe. At $14.72MM, Smith has a smaller 2018/19 salary than players like Bazemore and Johnson, so the Cavaliers wouldn’t be able to trade him straight up for Anderson ($20.42MM) and a pick. Smith also only has a modest partial guarantee on his 2019/20 salary, making his contract much more palatable than Anderson’s. That could complicate any trade discussions between the two teams.

Although Lowe doesn’t go into more details on any other trade talks the Rockets might be having, there are a handful of other players around the NBA who would be logical targets as Houston dangles Anderson and a draft pick. Nicolas Batum, DeMarre Carroll, Marvin Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Courtney Lee are other wings who make between $12-24MM in 2018/19 and are under contract for multiple seasons, though some players in that group are more realistic trade candidates than others.

Central Notes: Wade, Bucks, Casey, Lowe

The signing of Dwyane Wade just before the start of the season led to jealousy in the Cavaliers‘ locker room, according to Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were most affected, with Smith fearing Wade would take his starting spot and Shumpert believing Wade would cut into his playing time. Wade did start briefly, before asking to be moved to a bench role. Injuries limited Shumpert to just 14 games before he was traded to the Kings in February.

Pluto outlines other problems with the Cavs’ roster, including Tristan Thompson‘s distractions with the Kardashian family and his notoriety on gossip websites, Kevin Love‘s panic attacks and a team meeting where he felt he was being attacked by Wade and Isaiah Thomas, and Jae Crowder‘s ineffectiveness without the structured offense he had under Brad Stevens in Boston.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks contemplated a pair of draft night trades before selecting Donte DiVincenzo at No. 17, reports Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. They talked about swapping picks with the Pacers and moving down to No. 23, and discussed a deal with the Hawks involving the 19th and 30th selections. Atlanta, which planned to take Kevin Huerter with the 17th pick, ended negotiations when word that the Bucks were drafting DiVincenzo leaked on Twitter. The Hawks expected the Spurs to grab Lonnie Walker at No. 18 and were confident that Huerter would fall to them at No. 19. DiVincenzo was happy to wind up in Milwaukee, which he and his representatives had singled out as a preferred destination.
  • Developing young players will be a priority for new coach Dwane Casey in his first season with the Pistons, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. The front office believes improvement from Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard and Henry Ellenson is necessary for the team to return to the playoffs. “Three very talented young players,” Casey said at his introductory press conference this week. “That’s going to be on us, the coaching staff, to really draw as much of that as we can. The talent level on the roster is there. Getting it together and identifying how we’re going to play is very, very important. That’s the fun part of it because the talent base is there.”  The Pistons plan to experiment with Kennard as a point guard in summer league play, Ellis tweets.
  • After adding Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney to their coaching staff this week, the Pistons are now targeting Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

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 Rumors: Tolliver, Griffin, J.R. Smith, Markkanen

Power forward Anthony Tolliver would like to stay put but his future with the Pistons is uncertain at best, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. Tolliver, 32, quickly emerged as a rotation player in his second stint with the franchise and posted career highs in field-goal percentage (46.4) and 3-point percentage (43.6), Khan notes. But Tolliver becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Pistons still have Jon Leuer, who missed most of the season with an ankle injury, and Henry Ellenson at that spot behind Blake Griffin“I’ve been here longer than anywhere else in my career and would love to keep that going,” Tolliver told Khan and other beat writers. “But at the end of the day, got to see what’s up this summer.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Griffin told his Pistons teammates during their postseason meeting that he wants to be the leader of the team, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com relays. Griffin arrived in a late January trade with the Clippers and feels he needs to take more responsibility. “It’s a role that he should and does embrace,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s not he and Chris Paul. Clearly, he’s the most accomplished guy on our team to this point. Five-time All-Star. Guys look up to him, so people are going to be looking at him and I think he wants that.”
  • Former starters J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson are candidates to return to the starting five for Game 2 against the Pacers, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue confirmed to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other media members. Smith scored 15 points off the bench in Game 1, while Thompson made just a cameo appearance. “We’ve been talking about it as a staff,” Lue said. “I just know those guys have been through everything with us the last four years and we won a championship, went to three finals. Tristan and J.R. played a big part of that. We understand that and trust me, we know that.”
  • Bulls rookie forward Lauri Markkanen will play for the Finnish National Team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of June, Sportando reports. He averaged 15.2 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 29.7 MPG during his first NBA season.

Central Notes: J.R. Smith, Green, Van Gundy, LaVine

J.R. Smith doesn’t have much incentive to agree to a buyout if the Cavaliers decide they want him off the roster, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. On top of this week’s one-game suspension for a soup-throwing incident, Smith’s value is falling because of a second straight season of declining production. He is averaging 8.3 points per game, his lowest figure in 12 years, and is shooting just 39% from the field.

Smith has a fully guaranteed deal for next season at $14.7MM, but only about $4MM of his $15.7MM salary for 2019/20 is guaranteed. At age 31, he would be unlikely to approach those figures in free agency, so the Cavaliers will probably have to stretch the full guaranteed amount if they decide to waive him.

There’s more today from the Central Division:

  • An MRI on Cavaliers forward Jeff Green today showed no structural damage in his back, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Green has already missed one game with back pain and will sit out the next two, coach Ty Lue told reporters.
  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy says management hasn’t offered any indication about his job status for next year, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Van Gundy has one season left on his contract, and there’s a feeling that he might not return if Detroit can’t rally to claim a playoff spot. He is one of the few remaining coaches with front office power, and a report earlier this week suggested he might be replaced as team president even if he is kept as coach. “Nothing has been said, so I won’t even comment on that,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t have any idea. It’s [owner Tom Gore’s] team and he’ll make whatever decisions he wants to make and we’ll go from there.”
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine is putting a heavy emphasis on the final quarter of the season as he continues his comeback after ACL surgery, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The coaching staff is still refusing to allow LaVine to play in back-to-back games, but with only three sets of those left on the schedule he is handling almost a full workload. “I feel great,” he said. “I want to test it. I want to play as many minutes as possible. I’m a gamer. I don’t want to miss back-to-backs. It helps me, helps the team and helps me get back to where I need to be.”

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Green, Buyout Market

Injured Cavaliers big man Kevin Love is back on the court rehabbing from a broken left hand he suffered in late January, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. A team source tells Vardon that there is no anticipated change from the original eight-week timetable for Love’s recovery, putting his return on track for the end of March.

While the team may not see a change, Love hopes he can return ahead of schedule, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin writes.

“If I can get back before eight weeks, great,” Love said. “I’m hoping that is the case.”

Before the injury, Love was enjoying a characteristically strong season, averaging 17.9 PPG and 9.4 RPG in 48 games.

There is more Cavaliers news and notes below:

  • J.R. Smith made his first public comments since serving a one-game suspension for throwing soup at assistant coach Damon Jones, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. Smith said he has spoken to teammates and hopes to move on from the incident. “I talked to my teammates about it, everybody seemed cool,” Smith said. “We moved on from it as a team, so whether it warranted a suspension or not, that’s not my job. I’m just here to play basketball.” Smith noted that he does not remember what type of soup he threw but Jason Lloyd of The Athletic tweets it was chicken tortilla.
  • Since the Cavaliers restructured the team at the deadline, Jeff Green has seen his both his role and production diminish. With four name faces in Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Rodney Hood, and George Hill on board, the team is still trying to find the right balance, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.  “When Channing (Frye) and those guys were here, he had the ball in his hands a lot and making plays and he was orchestrating, and now we have a different team of guys who can score and the second unit can make a play so the ball hasn’t been in his hands as much,” head  coach Tyronn Lue said. “We have to find that balance still. Searching for that balance.”
  • The Cavaliers have been active in the buyout market in recent years but the market is razor thin this season, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops writes. Last year, Cleveland added Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams for the postseason run. Both those names are available now but would not be much of an upgrade to the current roster. As it stands, even with an open roster spot, the current Cavaliers roster is the one we will see for the remainder of the year, Amico notes.

Cavaliers Suspend J.R. Smith For One Game

MARCH 2, 9:34am: According to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin, Smith received his suspension after throwing a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones. Smith, who served his one-game ban on Thursday night, will return to Cleveland’s starting lineup on Saturday.

MARCH 1, 5:20pm: According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link), head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters that “something happened after shootaround” today, leading to the decision to suspend Smith. Hood will start at shooting guard today, with Smith regaining his starting job on Saturday, per Lue.

MARCH 1, 5:10pm: The Cavaliers have suspended J.R. Smith for one game for conduct detrimental to the team, the club announced today in a press release.

Word of the suspension broke just two hours before the Cavaliers are scheduled to host the Sixers in Cleveland. Smith will serve his suspension tonight, so he won’t be available for that game vs. Philadelphia.

With Smith sidelined, Kyle Korver, Rodney Hood, and Jordan Clarkson are among the Cavs who could see a few extra minutes of action.

Smith’s one-game ban will cost him $94,897, 1/145th of his $13.76MM salary for the season. However, Cleveland won’t get any tax relief, since the suspension is coming from the team rather than the league, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).