J.R. Smith

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).

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

Central Notes: Bulls, Nelson, J.R. Smith, Pacers

The Bulls need to get more serious about tanking and start making moves to improve their lottery chances, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com argues. Cristiano Felicio, Paul Zipser, Noah Vonleh and Cameron Payne should receive a lot more playing time, while veterans like Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday should have their minutes reduced, Friedell says. Holding out Zach LaVine on the second game of back-to-backs would also facilitate the cause, Friedell adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Small forward James Ennis and point guard Jameer Nelson have jumped right into the Pistons’ rotation after being acquired just before the trade deadline. Ennis, who was traded by the Grizzlies for forward Brice Johnson and a future second-round pick, has averaged 9.5 PPG and 17.5 MPG over the past two games. Nelson, who was traded by the Bulls for Willie Reed and future draft considerations, has averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.0 APG in 19.5 MPG during his first two games with Detroit.
  • Nelson, 35, told Hoops Rumors and other reporters that he’d like to continue playing after this season. The Pistons point guard be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  “I never want to put a limit or a time frame on my career,” he said. “My body feels good, my mind is right. So I’ll just continue to work. My body and mind will tell me when it’s time for me to go. I think there will be a lot of teams that will need a guy like me next season.”
  • Pacers players lobbied GM Kevin Pritchard to stand pat during the trade deadline, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star relays. Pritchard was approached by six players, who told him they wanted to see what they could accomplish with the current mix. “They feel like they are overachieving and had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Pritchard said during a press conference. “They wanted to have the opportunity to finish this out and try to get into the playoffs. … That carried a lot of weight with me.”
  • Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith held onto his roster spot and retained his starting job, but he admits he was sweating out the deadline, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports. “My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve-wracking for sure,” Smith said. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.” Smith is owed $30.3MM over the next two seasons, which made his contract difficult to move, McMenamin notes.

Cavs Notes: Smith, Gudaitis, Roster Improvements

J.R. Smith‘s 2017/18 season has been a difficult one, but head coach Tyronn Lue‘s loyalty to Smith dates back to Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. In defense of his shooting guard, Lue referenced Smith’s eight straight points in the third quarter of that decisive seventh game and his overall value to the team.

“Sometimes your shot is going to come and go, that’s just part of the game,” Lue said. “For the most part, his effort is there every night. That’s why I wanted to stick with J.R. and I don’t want to lose J.R. Make sure keep him in good spirits, going in the right direction. He’s big for us. When he’s making shots, when he’s being aggressive, our team is a whole different team.”

Leading up to the trade deadline, Smith’s name was floated in several trade scenarios as the Cavaliers — who ended dismantling and restructuring the roster — looked to improve. Smith has played better recently, posting 15 points in Cleveland’s win over the Celtics on Sunday.

There’s more news out of the Cavaliers organization:

  • As part of the three-team deal that netted the Cavaliers veteran George Hill, Cleveland also acquired the rights to Lithuanian big man Arturas Gudaitis. Gudaitis was a second-round pick of the Sixers in 2015 but he has been stashed away overseas. Per basketball journalist David Pick (via Twitter), Gudaitis is on track to strike a lucrative deal with Italian team Olimpia Milano that runs until 2021 and will include flexible NBA opt-outs.
  • It was just one game with the Cavaliers‘ reshaped roster, but the early results are promising, Chris Mannix of Yahoo! Sports writes. LeBron James look re-energized, the new players seemed to play their roles properly and the flow of the game was consistent. There are still several months to go in the regular season but, as Mannix notes, the opportunity the other Eastern Conference contenders had to bury the Cavaliers in the standings has likely dissipated.

Cavs, Clippers Continue To Discuss DeAndre Jordan

FEBRUARY 8, 7:48am: The Cavaliers and Clippers continue to discuss the possibility of a Jordan trade, and have had conversations with possible third teams as they explore ways to make a deal, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 7, 5:59pm: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is the “number one target” for the Cavaliers in advance of tomorrow afternoon’s trade deadline, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Appearing on a podcast with Chris Mannix, Charania says Cleveland’s front office continues to hold out hope of a deal.

The Cavs’ dream scenario is for L.A. to accept an offer that includes what Charania calls one of their “bad contracts” — either J.R. Smith or Tristan Thompson — along with Cleveland’s first-rounder in exchange for Jordan. The Clippers reportedly won’t consider the deal unless Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick is included.

Smith is signed for $14.72MM next season plus a non-guaranteed $15.68MM in 2019/20, while Thompson will make more than $36MM over the next two years. The Nets’ pick is No. 8 in our latest Reverse Standings, and Cleveland’s falls at 24th.

Jordan is putting up typical numbers in his 10th season with the Clippers, averaging 11.5 points, 14.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. He could be a difference maker for a porous Cavaliers team that is 28th in the league in defensive rating. Jordan can opt out of his more than $24MM salary for next season and become a free agent this summer.

Trade Deadline Notes: Evans, Hill, Hood, Mavericks

One of the most important deadlines on the NBA calendar is less than 24 hours away, and teams are preparing their best offers as we head for 2:00pm Central. We’ll find out soon if any more franchise-altering moves are in store for this season, but in the meantime here are some Wednesday night trade rumors:

  • The Celtics remain in the running for Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, but there’s a sense that Memphis is getting better offers elsewhere, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. A GM from another team tells Bulpett that Boston is waiting to swoop in if talks with those other clubs fall apart. Evans’ value figures to have increased after Lou Williams agreed to an extension with the Clippers today, taking one high-scoring guard off the market.
  • Multiple teams have shown interest in George Hill, but the Kings don’t want to take on bad contracts, reports Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Cavaliers have been the team most prominently linked to the veteran guard, but Jones says the Rockets and others have contacted Sacramento about Hill. Houston could match salaries with Ryan Anderson, but he is owed more than $41MM over the next two seasons and the Kings want to avoid cutting into their future cap space. They are seeking young players and draft picks in return for Hill.
  • Teams have also called the Kings about veterans Garrett Temple, Vince Carter and Kosta Koufos, Jones adds in the same story. Both Temple ($8MM) and Koufos ($8.74MM) have player options for next season, while the 41-year-old Carter is on an expiring deal.
  • Jazz swingman Rodney Hood told Shams Charania of The Vertical that he expects to be traded. “I’ve had great times in Utah, but regardless of where I’m playing, whether it’s there or somewhere else, I’m going to stay professional,” Hood said. “I’m going to stick with it. My gut feeling is that I won’t be here by the deadline. I’ve enjoyed my time here, but I’ve felt isolated the past month and I would not be surprised if I was moved.” 
  • The Mavericks are being offered players by teams trying to unload salary, but they aren’t getting enough incentives to make the deals worthwhile, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Sefko lists Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle of the Lakers and J.R. Smith of the Cavaliers as players who would be available if Dallas doesn’t mind committing the cap space.
  • The Knicks may be in the market for more deals after sending Willy Hernangomez to the Hornets, writes Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Kyle O’Quinn and Courtney Lee are the most likely players to be moved.