Jae Crowder

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.

Central Notes: Collison, Cavaliers, Thompson

The Pacers have jumped out of the gates with one of the league’s fastest-paced and most potent offenses. Much of that is thanks to their newly acquired point guard, Darren CollisonJim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star writes. The guard has taken a substantial leap forward since his last tenure with the franchise.

I’m a much better player than I was in the past,” the Pacers guard said. “I know the game a little better. I’m more mature. I don’t think I’ve lost a step, but I’m not as fast as I used to be. But my basketball IQ is at higher level than it ever has been.

In five games with the Pacers so far this season, Collison has averaged 15.6 points and 8.4 assists per game. Indiana, as a team, has averaged 114.0 points per game, the fourth-highest total in the NBA.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are not in the mix to acquire Eric Bledsoe at this point in time, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes in a question-and-answer with readers. There are no Bledsoe trade scenarios that make sense for the squad so long as Isaiah Thomas returns healthy and Derrick Rose is accountable all season.
  • In his latest comments about the Nikola MiroticBobby Portis kerfuffle, Bulls executive vice president John Paxson reiterated that they’re feeling out the best way of handling the scenario but noted that they’ll do what’s in the organization’s best interest. As K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune writes, that’s a reminder that both players technically remain under contract, giving the franchise final say in what happens.
  • The Cavaliers will start Tristan Thompson for the next little while, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com tweets. Head coach Tyronn Lue opted to slot the familiar face in at the five, bumping Jae Crowder out of his role as the starting small forward.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Morris, Tatum, Crowder

At one point this offseason, the Celtics were carrying 16 players on guaranteed contracts on their roster, facing a potentially tricky preseason decision on which player to cut or trade. However, their three-for-one deal for Kyrie Irving solved that problem, and cleared a path for the club to maintain some flexibility to open the season. After making five cuts within the last week, the Celtics are set to open the season with just 14 players on their NBA roster.

With Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird also in the mix on two-way contracts, Boston should have more than enough depth to start the season. Keeping that 15th roster spot open will allow the team to save a little money and keep its options open in the event that a potential trade or free agent signing surfaces.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • A week ago, Marcus Smart indicated that the Celtics had yet to engage in talks with his agent about a possible extension. The deadline to make a deal is today, and Danny Ainge recently confirmed to NBC Boston that he and Smart’s agent have begun to discuss numbers for a possible extension (Twitter link via Adam Kaufman).
  • David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) suggests that Austin Rivers‘ three-year, $35MM contract makes sense as a template for Smart, but Aldridge hears that the Celtics guard is seeking a more lucrative deal. Rookie scale extensions are also required to run at least four years.
  • Marcus Morris is expected to be sidelined for at least the first week of the regular season with right knee soreness, writes Jay King of MassLive.com. While Morris rests and recovers, rookie forward Jayson Tatum may be in line to replace him in the starting lineup.
  • Jae Crowder, who says he’s thankful for the opportunity the Celtics gave him, still gets emotional when he remembers the day he was traded to Cleveland. Crowder was in Houston with his ailing mother, who passed away five minutes after he told her about the deal. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald has the story and the quotes from Crowder.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Jefferson, Crowder, James

Isaiah Thomas has hired a new agent in preparation for next summer’s free agency, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Aaron Goodwin will represent the 28-year-old point guard, who is expected to be out of action until January with an injured right hip. Goodwin served as the first agent for LeBron James and has other high-profile clients such as DeMar DeRozan and Damian Lillard. Thomas, an All-Star last season, has been open about his desire for a maximum contract. The Cavs own Thomas’ Bird rights because he came to the team in a trade.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • The battle for the final roster spot may come down to veterans Richard Jefferson and Jose Calderon, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers may not want to part with Calderon after signing him in July, so that could signal the end for the 37-year-old Jefferson, who has spent the past two seasons in Cleveland. Pluto notes that Jefferson’s salary is only $2.5MM, and 11 teams could accommodate him with trade exceptions, so the Cavs may try to make a deal rather than waiving him. Trading Jefferson could save the team roughly $10MM in luxury tax payments.
  • Former GM David Griffin tried for years to acquire Jae Crowder, whom the Cavs picked up in the Kyrie Irving deal, Pluto adds in the same story. James likes Crowder’s propensity to cut to the basket and score, and only Orlando’s Aaron Gordon ranked ahead of him in that category last season.
  • James will see his first preseason action Tuesday, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The Cavs have been careful with their star since he sprained his ankle on the second day of training camp, and coach Tyronn Lue wants to give his rotation players two games to get used to playing together. “If it was the season or the playoffs, he would have definitely been back by now, but it’s just being cautious,” Lue said of James’ status. “To start the season, you don’t want something like this to linger throughout the whole course of the season. So it was just smart for him to take some time off, get healthy and now he feels pretty good and we’ll try to give it a go on Tuesday.”

Tristan Thompson Aims For Sixth Man Award

Tristan Thompson is embracing his bench role and will aim for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award, as he told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and other media members. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue has opted to move Thompson to the bench and insert Kevin Love at center with LeBron James and Jae Crowder at the forward spots. Thompson started all 78 regular-season games he played in last season.

I’m going to go for Sixth Man of the Year, put myself in position to do that,” Thompson said. “I’m not going to look too much into it, but if you’re going to come off the bench, might as well have a little goal — and I feel like with the second unit we have and the energy that I bring off the bench, I’ll put myself in pretty good position. Especially when you win.”

Lue already sees the benefits of having the offensively-gifted Love in the post, as he expressed to McMenamin and the assembled media.

“Just gives us spacing on the floor,” Lue said. “[Love] is a great passer; 5s have to get out and try to guard him on the pick-and-roll with LeBron and D-Rose (Derrick Rose) and those guys making plays, so it’s going to be tough for those guys.”

The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd also notes that Love’s ability to stretch the floor will pose matchup problems for many centers. Crowder will improve the Cavs’ defense, according to Lloyd, not only with his man-to-man prowess but also by allowing them to switch on most pick-and-rolls.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Crowder, Zeller

While the Celtics won’t struggle to replace the statistics that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder posted, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the toughness and temperament they brought to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England writes.

Both Thomas and Crowder took their careers to a new level in Boston, blossoming into substantial core pieces for the rejuvenated Celtics. Some of the franchise’s best moments from the past few seasons, Blakeley writes, can be attributed directly to the twosome.

That underdog mentality was and is a major component for any team looking to unseat LeBron James and Cleveland in the East. Now Thomas and Crowder will bring that tough, scrappy frame of mind with them to a Cavaliers squad that’s looking like an underdog itself — at least compared to the champions in Golden State.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Prior to signing Tyler Zeller this week, the Nets had just two players taller than 6’8″ on their roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes.
  • The Raptors doubled down on a winning formula this summer but it may be for naught, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. Toronto’s core is intact, but what they could really benefit from is the development of some of their young assets.
  • Count former Celtics great Paul Pierce among those high on Jayson Tatum. The future Hall of Famer told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England that the rookie, with his footwork and step-back, reminds him of himself toward the later stages of his career.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Crowder, Griffin, Raptors

Is Carmelo Anthony resigned to the prospect of heading to training camp with the Knicks? David Pick tweets that he has begun interacting with some of his teammates on social media. Anthony has been sending encouraging texts to Kristaps Porzingis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez and following their progress in the EuroBasket competition.

Anthony and his representatives have made it clear throughout the summer that his first choice is a trade to the Rockets, where he could join forces with James Harden and Chris Paul on one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Knicks management has expressed a willingness to move Anthony, but won’t take on the three years and $61MM remaining on Ryan Anderson‘s contract. Houston hasn’t found another team to help facilitate the deal, and with camp just 17 days away, Anthony appears to be preparing to remain in New York for a while.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics‘ offseason moves gave Jae Crowder reason to think he wouldn’t be in Boston much longer, writes A. Sherrod Brown of CSNNE. Crowder, part of the package sent to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving deal, was the Celtics’ starting small forward in all 72 games he played last season. However, he watched the team draft Jayson Tatum in June and sign free agent Gordon Hayward a few days later. “There was some concern because you have a lot of wing players stacked up,” Crowder said. “And I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it and wanted some direction. They showed me what they wanted to do and I respected it.”
  • Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin thinks the Celtics are facing an adjustment period and might not see the benefits right away from their offseason maneuvering, relays Kevin Spain of USA Today. Although Boston picked up two All-Stars in Irving and Hayward, Griffin believes the loss of Crowder and Isaiah Thomas will be difficult to overcome, along with Avery Bradley, who was traded to the Pistons to free up cap room to sign Hayward. “Losing Bradley, Crowder and Isaiah is losing a lot of grit and overachievers that identified that team,” Griffin stated. “So they’ve had so much change. I think they’re going to be better in the long term, but I think in the short term you can make the argument that they’re going to be worse.”
  • Former Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn will join the Raptors as director of prospect strategy, the team tweeted.

Central Notes: Bradley, Cousins, Cavaliers

There haven’t been many people outside of Detroit praising the Pistons for how they handled their offseason, a Detroit News report claims, but one move that’s gotten recognition is the addition of Avery Bradley.

Bradley joins a Pistons team that got off to a slow start in 2016/17 and never fully recovered. When the club breaks camp this October, they’ll look to Bradley as a featured contributor both on and off the floor. The vaunted perimeter defender will step into what could be the largest offensive role of his career and could even, according to at least one reporter, make a case for an All-Star berth.

The report draws attention to a recent feature from CBS’ Brad Botkin. In the piece, Botkin compiled a list of five under-the-radar NBA moves from the summer and thinks that the 26-year-old entering into a contract year could be a major upgrade for the Pistons over the outgoing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • In his list of five under-the-radar offseason moves, CBS’ Brad Botkin writes that the Cavaliers will get a perimeter defender, the likes of which they lacked last season, in recently acquired forward Jae Crowder.
  • The Cavaliers will remain contenders following the Kyrie Irving trade but uncertainty abounds for the franchise. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com dredges up some of the instabilities that the organization will have to address in the coming months.
  • We’ve written about how the Pelicans have at least a passing interest in Iman Shumpert. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype has taken things one step further, amalgamating various hypothetical deals that could unfold between the Pels and Cavaliers. It’s unlikely that a Shumpert trade would escalate to the point of DeMarcus Cousins and the Brooklyn first-rounder changing hands but there’s at least some merit to the speculation.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, Crowder, Calderon, Draft Picks

New Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas will begin working with doctors and the team’s training staff on Tuesday, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Thomas, whose lingering hip injury held up his trade from the Celtics for more than a week, says he is “fully committed” to playing for the Cavs this season. Several sources told Vardon that the team will take Thomas’ return to the court slowly, but he is expected to return to an All-Star level at some point.

Dr. James Rosneck, a hip specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, will oversee Thomas’ rehab work with help from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Parker, who serves as the Cavaliers’ lead doctor. The team plans to gauge how Thomas responds after a week and then a month of the process before creating a timetable for his return. He suffered a partially torn labrum in his right hip in a March game, then aggravated the injury in the Eastern Conference Finals.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • A source with experience in similar hip problems suggests Thomas may not be able to play until January or possibly after the All-Star break, relays Jason Lloyd of the Athletic. Lloyd notes that the injury hasn’t healed enough for Thomas to begin running.
  • Jae Crowder plays the same position as LeBron James, but the Cavs don’t view him as a backup, Vardon adds in the same story. Coach Tyronn Lue is developing lineups with James and Crowder on the court together, assuming the new addition remains in Cleveland. Crowder’s versatility, combined with team-friendly salaries of $6.8MM, $7.3MM and $7.8MM over the next three years, could make him a valuable piece in a future trade.
  • Free agent addition Jose Calderon started working out in Cleveland more than a week ago, Vardon notes. The 36-year-old could be facing an increased role as the primary backup to Derrick Rose if Thomas is out for several months.
  • It didn’t take long for the Cavs to get calls about the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder for next year, Vardon shares in the same piece. With its own pick as another possible trade chip and several second-rounders and trade exceptions available, the Cavaliers’ front office believes the team is in good position to deal for another title chase or for a rebuild if James leaves in free agency next summer.
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