J.R. Smith

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.

Mannix’s Latest: G. Hill, Hornets, Hawks, Suns

The Cavaliers continue to engage the Kings about a possible George Hill trade, sources tell Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. However, the Cavs would like to include both J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in their package for Hill, and taking on multiple expensive non-expiring contracts doesn’t appeal to Sacramento. Meanwhile, the Kings are quietly looking to get a third team involved in a potential deal, according to Mannix.

Mannix’s latest trade rumor roundup features several more tidbits of interest related to Thursday’s deadline, so we’ll pass along the highlights…

  • The future of GM Rich Cho in Charlotte is uncertain, which may complicate the Hornets‘ deadline plans. According to Mannix, there are rumblings about former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak being a candidate to join the Hornets’ front office in the offseason. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times wrote last week that Kupchak is considered likely to be hired by an Eastern Conference team this summer.
  • Some teams with interest in Marcus Smart view the Celtics‘ asking price of a first-round pick as “unrealistic,” says Mannix.
  • The Hawks have made “everyone” available, and while much has been written about the club’s veteran trade candidates, second-year swingman Taurean Prince is another player who has drawn interest, according to Mannix.
  • The Magic have shopped Mario Hezonja “hard” in recent days, per Mannix.
  • According to Mannix, the Suns are willing to move veterans like Tyson Chandler and Jared Dudley. Neither player’s contract is particularly team-friendly though, so it may be tough for Phoenix to find any value.
  • The Clippers say they’re okay with holding onto DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams through the deadline, but rival clubs are skeptical, says Mannix.

Cavs Rumors: Nets Pick, Thompson, J.R. Smith

Most teams in the Cavaliers’ situation would do all they can to improve this year’s roster in an effort to make a deep playoff run and convince their free-agent-to-be star to stick around, even if that means putting the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick on the table in trade talks, Sam Amick of USA Today writes.

However, there’s a growing narrative that owner Dan Gilbert – perhaps due to emotional baggage related to LeBron James‘ 2010 departure – is prepared to keep that pick even if it means losing James this summer, according to Amick, who suggests that Gilbert “wants his team back.”

Within his USA Today report, Amick provides a few more Cavs-related tidbits, writing that the team is trying to shed the Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith contracts. The Cavs have also not offered more than their own 2018 first-round pick and unwanted salary to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, says Amick. That’s not surprising, as we heard earlier today that Jordan isn’t the type of player for whom the Cavs would surrender the Nets’ pick.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavs currently sit just five games ahead of the ninth-seeded Pistons in the East, closer to missing the playoffs than they are to the No. 1 seed. Still, the idea of somehow falling out of the playoff picture isn’t one head coach Tyronn Lue is willing to entertain — Lue says there’s “no doubt” the Cavs will make the postseason, as Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com relays.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Bobby Marks takes a closer look at the Cavaliers’ trade deadline options, noting that adding salary will be tricky due to repeater tax concerns.
  • At Cleveland.com, Vardon also discusses the Cavs’ luxury tax problems, suggesting that if LeBron James leaves as a free agent this summer, Dan Gilbert will want to make sure that team salary gets out of tax territory. According to Vardon, league sources also believe that Cleveland would try to trade Kevin Love if James leaves, though no team sources confirmed that.
  • Seth Walder of ESPN.com makes the case that the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick is actually a little more valuable than people think, even though it probably won’t land as high as Brooklyn’s last couple first-rounders have.
  • Appearing recently on NBA TV’s The Starters, former Cavs GM David Griffin dismissed the notion that LeBron James wants to be heavily involved in personnel decisions for the franchise, as Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports writes.

Cavs Rumors: Lineup, Love, Altman, Trades

Less than 24 hours after Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com once again made the case that Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue needs to change up his lineup, the club suffered its sixth loss in seven contests. After the game, Lue admitted that he had come around on the idea of a lineup shake-up, telling reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, that he intends to make a change.

Lue didn’t reveal on Tuesday night which positions or players he’ll target when he adjusts the Cavaliers’ lineup, but as McMenamin observes, LeBron James and Kevin Love are probably the only locks to remain starters. J.R. Smith told ESPN that he would accept a bench job if he’s demoted, but McMenamin notes that Jae Crowder and even Isaiah Thomas are also candidates to change roles.

In Pluto’s view, it would make sense for the Cavs to go back to starting Jose Calderon at point guard and Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, sending both Thomas and Smith to the bench. As Pluto argues, the Calderon/Wade combo would likely be more solid defensively, and would allow the Cavs to go to Thomas and Smith for instant offense off the bench.

Here’s more out of Cleveland, as the Cavs attempt to get their season back on track:

  • Monday’s team meeting highlighted a division in the Cavs’ locker room that has become apparent over the course of the season, McMenamin writes in his piece linked above. McMenamin suggests that the players who were with the Cavs prior to this year aren’t always on the same page with the team’s newcomers.
  • In a more detailed look at that Monday meeting, which was described as fiery and emotional, McMenamin passes along quotes from Lue and from Love, who suggests he wasn’t the only “target.” Jason Lloyd of The Athletic corroborates that account, indicating that the meeting “escalated into something more” after initially focusing on Love’s weekend sickness. Wade and Thomas were the instigators, Lloyd hears.
  • Recognizing that Cleveland is still one of the few spots in the NBA where he has a shot at a title, Love hasn’t asked to be traded and has no plans to do so, he tells Lloyd. “The NBA is so fragile,” Love said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this chance again in my career to win.”
  • Multiple Cavs sources told McMenamin that they hope communication will improve throughout the organization. Communication has reportedly been an issue both on the court – with players not talking enough on defense – and off the court, where first-year GM Koby Altman has yet to establish “protocol for open discourse.”
  • Speaking of Altman, he continues to work on potential trades for the Cavs, but Monday’s meeting didn’t affect his urgency on that front, sources tell McMenamin. We heard on Tuesday that Cleveland has made progress in trade talks involving Kings point guard George Hill.

Cavaliers Notes: Lue, Smith, Defense, Blatt

The Cavaliers are in their worst position since LeBron James returned and nobody is sure what’s coming next, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Dan Gilbert is known as an emotional and reactionary owner, and giving up 148 points to the Thunder on Saturday may push him to make a move. That could be a trade, alterations to the lineup or changes on the coaching staff.

Head coach Tyronn Lue is probably safe because there is no obvious choice to replace him. If Lue is dismissed, assistants Larry Drew and Mike Longabardi would probably follow, and Jim Boylan isn’t viewed as a potential head coach, according to Lloyd. The other assistants, James Posey, Phil Handy and Damon Jones, don’t have the experience to handle a high-profile team like the Cavaliers. Someone outside the organization would be put in a difficult position trying to install a new system in the middle of a season, Lloyd adds.

There’s more news out of Cleveand:

  • The Cavs aren’t getting much production from J.R. Smith, but they don’t have a good option to replace him until Iman Shumpert returns from knee surgery, Lloyd adds in the same story. Kyle Korver isn’t an option to start at age 36, and Cedi Osman isn’t a long-term solution. Dwyane Wade began the season as a starter, but has settled into his role as the leader of the second unit. Another problem is the poor play of Jae Crowder, Lloyd writes, which could force Lue to reinsert Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup and put Channing Frye back in the rotation.
  • Personnel changes are the only thing that can fix the mess in Cleveland, contends Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. The Cavaliers aren’t as good as they appear on offense, he writes, with poor ball movement and too much one-on-one play that leads to too many 3-pointers. They’re even worse at the other end of the court, with no rim protectors and no strong defenders on the perimeter. “I think it’s tough for us one-on-one [to defend],” Lue said Saturday when asked whether the issue was personnel or effort. “Look at the final score — you score 124 and still lose by 24, that’s tough to swallow.”
  • The Cavaliers’ problems haven’t escaped the notice of former coach David Blatt, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. “I hope we don’t give up as many points as Cleveland did last night,” Blatt said before the Turkish All-Star Game.

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Monroe, Crowder, Smith

The Cavaliers should offer Tristan Thompson to the Suns for Greg Monroe, suggests Sam Amico of AmicoHoops. Amico reported last night that Cleveland is interested in Monroe, who was traded from Milwaukee to Phoenix this week and apparently has no long-term future with the Suns. The 27-year-old has averaged 14.0 points and 8.7 rebounds throughout his career, but fell out of the rotation in Milwaukee and has appeared in just five games this season.

Their salaries are similar, with Monroe making $17.8MM this year compared to Thompson’s $16.4MM, but Monroe has an expiring contract while Thompson is owed more than $36MM over the next two seasons. Acquiring Monroe would provide immediate help as Thompson is out for the next few weeks with a strained calf. Amico also notes that Thompson’s romantic involvement with actress Khloe Kardashian could bring an unwanted distraction to the Cavs’ locker room.

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • Jae Crowder had a lot of adjustments to make during his first few weeks in Cleveland, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. One of the key pieces in the Kyrie Irving trade, Crowder has seen his role change several times in 13 games, starting at small forward and power forward and coming off the bench at both positions. Teammates have noticed how well Crowder has been able to handle all the different roles being thrown at him. “He’s such a huge X factor for us and can do so many things, it’s just tough because we’ve been asking him to play the 4, play the 3, guard the other team’s best player, score the basketball,” said Kevin Love. “He just has to find a way to go out there and play and compete because tonight that’s what he did and he was great for us.”
  • J.R. Smith seems comfortable in the starting lineup again, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Smith started the season in a reserve role after the signing of Dwyane Wade, but was reinserted as a starter after Wade asked to come off the bench. Smith struggled with his shot throughout October, but has strung together three straight games in double figures. “I’m shooting the same shots, it’s just, they’re starting to fall,” Smith said. “For whatever reason it is, just happened earlier. Being aggressive earlier, trying to put the ball on the floor, get to the basket. Trying to get to the free-throw line. Just trying to be more aggressive, as opposed to waiting for it to come to me.”
  • Kyle Korver, who re-signed with the Cavs for $22MM over three years, is providing more than just his play on the court, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. He is also serving as a shooting coach, helping Crowder and others with their mechanics.
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