Jae Crowder

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.

Northwest Notes: D. Harris, Crowder, Harkless, Wolves

Devin Harris is happy to have another shot at the postseason in Denver, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. The veteran guard found his way back into the playoff race on Thursday when he was shipped from the Mavericks to the Nuggets in a three-team trade. Harris was preparing for a game at Golden State when he heard about the deal, then caught a flight to Dallas and then Phoenix to join his new team in time for Saturday’s game.

At age 34, Harris brings not just experience to Denver’s young backcourt, but playoff experience. He has been in 64 postseason games, including a trip to the Finals with Dallas in 2006.

“I don’t want to be playing golf right now,” Harris said. “I’d rather be playing meaningful basketball.”

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has been a longtime fan of Jae Crowder, who was acquired Thursday in a three-team deal, says Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Crowder made an immediate impact in his Utah debut with 15 points and four rebounds in tonight’s win over the Trail Blazers“He’s really versatile defensively and can play really two through four with switches and physicality,” Lindsey said. “His build is quite obvious and the systems that he’s played in with Dallas, Boston and Cleveland, we’ve seen enough to think that he can mesh very well in how we play. We’re really anxious to get him here.” Lindsay also said as many as 20 teams asked about Rodney Hood before he decided to send him to Cleveland in that deal.
  • The recent re-emergence of Maurice Harkless has created a dilemma for Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, according to Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. The team’s former starting forward got expanded playing time this week because of injuries to other players and has convinced Stotts to expand his rotation, at least temporarily. “I think it’s just being back in the rotation,’’ Harkless said in explaining his recent success. “It’s hard to not know if you are going to play, how much you are going to play, then get thrown out there for six minutes. It’s tough to play like that and be consistent.’’
  • The Timberwolves were quiet at the deadline, and Michael Rand and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune make a case for why that was probably Minnesota’s best option.

Cavs Acquire Rodney Hood, George Hill In Three-Team Trade

7:57pm: The trade is official, according to press releases from the Jazz and Cavaliers. The terms of the deal are as follows:"<strong

1:41pm: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst adds more details on this complex three-team deal, tweeting that the Kings will receive $2.1MM from the Cavs and $1.1MM from the Jazz. Utah will have the option of swapping second-round picks in 2024 with the Cavs. Cleveland also acquired the draft rights to Arturas Gudaitis from the Kings and surrendered the draft rights to Dimitrios Agravanis.

12:03pm: A busy day in Cleveland continues, as the Cavaliers have agreed to acquire Rodney Hood from the Jazz in a three-team trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). The Cavs will also receive George Hill from Sacramento in the deal, with the Jazz acquiring Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose.

The Kings will get Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert, per Woj (Twitter link). TNT’s David Aldridge tweets that Sacramento will also acquire a future draft pick and cash considerations, with Sam Amick of USA Today providing some details (via Twitter), reporting that the pick will be Miami’s 2020 second-rounder from Cleveland. The Kings will also get a little over $3MM in cash, Amick adds.

The move, which comes on the heels of the Cavs reaching a deal with the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr., further reshapes a Cleveland roster that will look a whole lot different by the end of the day than it did at the start of it.

By surrendering Crowder, Rose, and Shumpert in exchange for Hood and Hill, the Cavaliers will take on about $4MM in extra salary, and far more than that in projected tax payments. However, the cost of the deal may be worth it for the on-court impact, as Crowder, Rose, and Shumpert have all underperformed and/or battled injuries this season.

Hood will give the Cavs a young, perimeter scorer who has fought through some injuries of his own, but has enjoyed a career year when he’s been on the court. In 39 games, the 25-year-old has averaged 16.8 PPG on .424/.389/.876 shooting. As for Hill, the veteran point guard has struggled mightily in Sacramento this season, but has historically been a good shooter (.454/.384/.800 career shooting line) and a solid defender. His ability to play off the ball should make him a good fit to play alongside LeBron James.

Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer, while Hill remains under contract for two more years beyond this one. He’ll earn $19MM in 2018/19, and has a $18MM salary in 2019/20 that only features a very small partial guarantee.

From Utah’s perspective, the trade will allow them to get out from under Johnson’s $10.5MM salary — the veteran forward was viewed as a buyout candidate if he had remained on the roster through the deadline, and will likely remain a buyout candidate in Sacramento. The Jazz had to give up Hood as part of the deal, but he had been mentioned frequently in trade rumors in recent weeks and no longer appeared to be part of the club’s long-term plans.

In exchange, Utah will acquire Crowder, who has a reputation as a solid three-and-D wing on a team-friendly contract despite his struggles this season, and Rose, who may not be in the team’s plans. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets that the Jazz will likely release Rose.

As for the Kings, they’ll get out from under Hill’s expensive multiyear deal, acquiring Johnson’s expiring contract as well as Shumpert, who has a $10.3MM+ player option for next season. The deal creates nearly $9MM in 2018/19 cap flexibility for the Kings, and also nets them that aforementioned 2020 pick and some cash. Sacramento had committed to playing its young players over its veterans down the stretch this season, so Hill’s playing time had been sporadic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

George Hill Trade Between Cavs, Kings Not Imminent

Despite multiple reports earlier this week suggesting that momentum was building toward a trade that would send George Hill to Cleveland, the Cavaliers and Kings are further apart than initially believed, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, there are still “significant hurdles” to clear before a deal can be completed.

Reports on Tuesday indicated that the Cavs and Kings were making progress on a trade that would include Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye, and perhaps Derrick Rose and/or a second-round pick. However, one source tells Vardon that the two teams were speaking “conceptually” and weren’t on the verge of pulling the trigger. Another of Vardon’s sources said that the Cavs wanted to change the parameters of a potential deal.

As I noted on Tuesday, a deal involving Hill, Shumpert, Frye, and Rose would make sense for both clubs. Shumpert, Frye, and Rose have a combined cap hit of $19.23MM this season, which nearly matches Hill’s $20MM cap charge. Both Frye and Rose are on expiring contracts, which would appeal to the rebuilding Kings, who would subsequently be on the hook for Shumpert’s $11MM player option for 2018/19 instead of Hill’s fully guaranteed $19MM salary. The Cavs, meanwhile, would add a veteran guard who has had a down year but would be a good fit in their rotation if he can recapture his previous form.

The Cavs still have two weeks until the February 8 trade deadline, so there’s plenty of time to work out the specifics on a trade for Hill. If the two teams can’t reach an agreement and the Kings don’t find another taker for the veteran guard, a buyout isn’t out of the question, according to Vardon, who writes that Sacramento is ready to move on from Hill.

As they weigh the merits of a deal, the Cavs are also making changes to their lineup in the hopes of busting out of their current slump. Head coach Tyronn Lue said today that Tristan Thompson will replace Jae Crowder in the club’s starting lineup, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link).

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: Jordan, Rose, Thomas, Crowder

Trading for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan might be the answer to the Cavaliers’ defensive woes, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Although they have a 26-13 record, defense has been a problem all season for Cleveland, which is allowing 107.2 points per game and ranks 28th in the league in defensive efficiency. One of the issues is the lack of a shot blocker in the middle, which Jordan would immediately solve.

There were reports last month that the Cavs “quietly explored” the possibility of trading for Jordan, who has spent the past decade with the Clippers. He has a player option worth slightly more than $24MM for next year, and L.A. may want to get some value for him now rather than risk losing him in free agency.

Pluto notes that Tristan Thompson at $16.4MM and Channing Frye at $7.4MM would provide a workable salary match for Jordan, and said sources have told him the Clippers would “strongly consider” the deal if Cleveland includes the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder for this year’s draft. However, the Cavs don’t plan to part with that asset given LeBron James‘ uncertain future. Pluto suggests an offer of Thompson, Frye and the Cavs’ draft pick, which falls at No. 25 in our latest Reverse Standings.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Depth at point guard is the most valuable thing Derrick Rose will provide when he returns from his ankle injury, Pluto adds in the same story. Coach Tyronn Lue would like to reduce the minutes for Dwyane Wade, and Rose may take some of his playing time.
  • In just two games since returning from a hip injury, Isaiah Thomas is having a profound effect on the Cavaliers’ offense, notes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Thomas came off the bench Tuesday, scoring 17 points in 19 minutes, then added 19 points in 22 minutes in his first start with the team Saturday as Cleveland scored a season-high 131 points in a win at Orlando. “I’m able to push the pace a little more, get the ball out of Bron’s hands and show the defense something different that they haven’t seen all year,” Thomas said. “I think with me being out there it definitely gives us another level that we can reach.” 
  • After being acquired as part of the Kyrie Irving trade, Jae Crowder is enjoying his surroundings with older, more accomplished teammates in Cleveland, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe [subscription account].

Revisiting The Paul George Trade

Paul George is back in Indiana tonight for the first time since the blockbuster trade that sent him to Oklahoma City. The deal was supposed to signal the start of a rebuilding process for the Pacers and the creation of a title contender in Oklahoma City, but things haven’t worked out that way. Indiana enters tonight’s game 16-11 and in fifth place in the East, while the Thunder are a disappointing 12-14 and stuck in ninth place in the West.

George was shipped to OKC in early July in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, who are both putting up career-best numbers in Indiana. Oladipo is scoring 24.5 points per game, while Sabonis is averaging 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, both more than double his totals from last season.

Meeting with reporters today, George expressed joy in seeing the Pacers playing so well and said the reason he had his agent tell the team he was unlikely to re-sign after this season is so it could start preparing right away, according to Matthew VanTryon and Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star.

“When we reached out to the front office, to tell them our plans, our future plans, it was to help them along the way,” George said. “And it was bad at first, so to speak, that maybe this trade wasn’t going to pan out. But it obviously did. They got two great, young pieces.” 

We rounded up a few more reactions as writers revisited the July deal:

  • The Pacers should receive an apology for the initial negative reaction to the trade, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The general feeling was that Indiana didn’t get enough in return for George, with Cavaliers owner Dan Snyder saying, “I will say [the Pacers] could’ve done better,” and the Oklahoma City police department tweeting about the theft of George. Deveney adds that the deal turned out to be better than some other offers the Pacers received, including Gary Harris and draft choices from the Nuggets, and Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and some non-lottery picks from the Celtics.
  • The Thunder had to take the gamble when a star like George became available, contends Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Even if Oladipo turns out to be an All-Star, he wasn’t a good fit with Westbrook during his lone season with the Thunder, Tramel writes, with some observers contending he was out of shape and others saying he couldn’t adjust to Westbrook’s ball dominance. George can be a dominant player on both ends, and his acquisition may have been what inspired Westbrook to agree to a five-year extension in September.
  • The Pacers should be elated with the results of the deal, according to a consensus of writers on an NBA.com Blogtable. Indiana could be headed for a playoff spot, while George may be joining the Lakers next summer — if not earlier.

Central Notes: Mirotic, Jordan, Parker

Not only does the return of Nikola Mirotic give the struggling Bulls an extra offensive weapon,  he provides a calm confidence that the young team can benefit from. Nick Friedell of ESPN writes that Mirotic has set the bar high upon his return, taking particular pleasure in the fact that the 5-20 team is 2-0 since he returned to the court.

Friedell adds that Mirotic has been playing particularly well alongside frontcourt teammate Bobby Portis. Together the pair who’s training camp skirmish made national headlines is rocking a 115.6 offensive rating with a 103.8 defensive rating. The pairing alone has yielded 59 of the Bulls’ 223 points over the last two games and they’ve only been on the floor together for 24 minutes.

The Bulls may be in the midst of a rebuild, not particularly committed to any specific player, but Mirotic has shown plenty of potential when asked to take on a large offensive role. From March 22 on last season, Mirotic averaged 17.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in just under 30 minutes per game.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The fact that DeAndre Jordan hired an agent with a close connection to Jason Kidd could give the Bucks an advantage in any trade negotiations with the Clippers, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report writes. Agent Jeff Schwartz represented Kidd for much of his playing career.
  • A big three on Saturday night could help Jae Crowder bust out of his shooting slump, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The Cavaliers forward has struggled from long-range, particularly in the fourth quarter, and has ceded some minutes to reserve Jeff Green. “Y’all know I’ve been struggling. It feels good to finally see one go down, especially late in the game,” Crowder said. “I’ve made quite a few of those in my career, but I haven’t made them like I wanted to here. I just want to build off this win.”
  • If Jabari Parker‘s future with the Bucks is uncertain given his health, contract status and the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, one team that could be in play to acquire him is the Jazz. Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News details Parker’s connection to the The Church of Latterday Saints which has famously strong roots in Utah. Parker, it’s worth noting, had BYU in his top five potential colleges coming out of high school.

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.

Central Notes: Mirotic, Cavs, Rose, Tolliver

Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic will not have surgery on the facial fractures he suffered when teammate Bobby Portis punched him, team vice president of basketball operations John Paxson told George Ofman of WBBMNewsradio (Twitter link). Mirotic will have a light workout at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday, Ofman adds.

Mirotic was expected to miss 4-6 weeks in the aftermath of the altercation, but this development suggests a four-week absence is more likely. There has been speculation that the Bulls’ power forward would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to escape the tense situation but he cannot be traded until January 15.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue believes some of his players are too timid because of LeBron James presence, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com relays. Lue expressed those feelings after an embarrassing loss to the Knicks on Sunday. “Guys have got to understand that LeBron, he’s a giving person, he’s a giving player,” Lue said. “You’ve got to come in and play your game and we’ll adjust. I think a lot of times we defer to LeBron or guys are scared to be aggressive because of that.” Vardon speculates that Lue was referring mainly to former Celtics forward Jae Crowder, who’s averaging 7.3 PPG on 6.6 shots per game.
  • Lue said that re-inserting Derrick Rose into the starting lineup was an easy one, as he expressed to Vardon and other media members. Rose scored 15 points on Sunday in his return from an ankle injury that cost him four games. “I thought those first two games we were really playing well, and especially defensively,” Lue said. “After that it’s been tough trying to maneuver guys in and out of the point guard position.”
  • Reserve power forward Anthony Tolliver has carved out a defensive role in the Pistons’ rotation, Rod Beard of the Detroit News notes. Though coach Stan Van Gundy has said publicly that second-year forward Henry Ellenson deserves steady playing time, Van Gundy has turned to Tolliver to guard the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin in recent games, Beard adds. Tolliver is in his second stint with the team after signing a one-year, $3.3MM free agent contract during the summer.