JaVale McGee

Cavaliers, Pistons Among Definite Deadline Sellers

Because there’s now a potential path to the postseason for the top 10 teams in each NBA conference (via the new play-in tournament), it’s taking longer this season for clear sellers to emerge on the trade market, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Most teams are still in the playoff chase, which makes everyone bunched together and the trade market less active,” a high-ranking team official told The Athletic.

However, as Charania reports, at least two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings look like definite sellers, according to rival teams. The 13th-seeded Cavaliers and the 15th-seeded Pistons appear to be open for business.

Cleveland’s most obvious trade candidate is Andre Drummond, who has been pulled from the rotation as the team looks to find a taker for him. According to Charania, there have been some exploratory calls on Drummond, with the Bulls among the teams to express some interest, but there’s still skepticism that the Cavs will find an appealing deal for the big man, who has an unwieldy $28.75MM cap hit.

Drummond isn’t the only Cavalier on the trade block. The club has also been open to discussing JaVale McGee, Cedi Osman, and Taurean Prince, according to Charania, who hears that multiple teams have inquired on the Cavs’ wing players. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro are viewed as the club’s core pieces and are presumably off-limits.

Like the Cavs, the Pistons have an expensive big man who is sitting out as the team attempts to move him. However, Blake Griffin, who is making more than Drummond ($36.8MM) and has another guaranteed year left on his contract, will be even harder to trade. Sources tell Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic that Detroit will likely work toward a buyout with Griffin.

Veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington is expected to draw interest from contenders on the trade market and should be a far more valuable trade chip than Griffin, given his affordable minimum salary and his strong production in 2020/21 (10.6 PPG, .435 3PT%).

According to Edwards, combo guard Delon Wright and big man Mason Plumlee have also registered interest from rival teams, but both players are under contract beyond this season, so the Pistons won’t necessarily feel compelled to move them. As Edwards explains, while Detroit will be a deadline seller, the sense around the league is that GM Troy Weaver won’t be as aggressive this month as he was during his first offseason on the job, when he remade nearly the entire roster.

Cavs Notes: Drummond, Trade Partners, Defense, Love

The Cavaliers would prefer not to take bad contracts with multiple years remaining in a potential Andre Drummond deal. However, they’re open-minded to that possibility if an asset is included that would justify a restricted future cap, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The front office would otherwise like to protect cap space with extensions for Collin Sexton and Jarrett Allen on the horizon.

Cleveland has received calls on Drummond, as well as Allen and JaVale McGee, but it is not interested in dealing Allen. Fedor explores potential trade partners for Drummond and what those deals could include.

We have more on the Cavaliers:

  • Spencer Davies of Basketball News also speculates where Drummond, an impending unrestricted free agent after the season, could be dealt. The Raptors, Mavericks, Knicks and Kings could be among the teams in the mix if a trade is completed, while the Nets would be the front-runner if Drummond winds up on the buyout market.
  • Drummond didn’t play on Sunday, but that didn’t solve any problems as the Cavaliers lost for the ninth time in 10 games. They were overwhelmed by a Clippers team playing without stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, demonstrating that the team’s issues go far deeper than Drummond, Fedor writes. The Cavs’ overall effort has been lacking, especially at the defensive end. “I think defensively we need to be better,” Cedi Osman said. “I mean, it’s just not enough, especially against these types of teams. We have to play harder.”
  • Kevin Love has been making progress from the right calf strain that has kept him out since December 27 and coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team could desperately use his veteran presence and scoring prowess, Fedor notes in a separate story. “There’s times in games when you can see ‘This is where Kevin would help us’ or ‘This is where he would help settle us in. I know right now he’d get a foul because we’re in the bonus.’ There’s those moments where you see,” Bickerstaff said.

Cavs Plan To Sit Andre Drummond As They Pursue Trade

The Cavaliers are planning to keep Andre Drummond on the bench as they work on finding a trade destination for the veteran center, according to Adrian Wojnarowsi and Brian Windorst of ESPN. As ESPN’s duo explains, Jarrett Allen is considered the Cavs’ center of the future and the team believes it’s unfair to Drummond to limit his minutes as the transition to Allen takes place.

According to Wojnarowski and Windhorst, general manager Koby Altman discussed the decision with Drummond and his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports. While Schwartz wouldn’t confirm or deny ESPN’s report, he offered the following statement:

“Whichever direction this goes, Andre is 27, in his prime, and I believe strongly that he has a great deal to add to a team building toward a postseason run.”

Drummond was ruled out of Sunday’s game for “rest” purposes, but sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic that the center sat on Sunday in part due to his recent “attitude and play.” Charania adds that head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has had multiple sit-down discussions with the 27-year-old, who has been frustrated by the Cavaliers’ recent slump.

According to Charania, the Raptors and Cavs are engaging in trade discussions about Drummond. However, a deal could take a while to come together as Toronto and Cleveland navigate through cap-related challenges and the possibility of incorporating other teams, so nothing is imminent.

Wojnarowski tweets that, while Cleveland is gauging the Drummond market, there are no “serious” ongoing talks taking place. Addressing the Raptors possibility specifically, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca confirms (via Twitter) that Toronto has interest, but says discussions have only been exploratory and notes that matching Drummond’s $28.75MM salary would be difficult.

Other teams, including the Nets and Mavericks, would have interest in Drummond if he’s bought out, sources tell The Athletic. It’s unclear how many clubs besides Toronto would be interested in pursuing the big man via trade.

Cleveland’s obvious preference would be to avoid a buyout, especially since the team remains in the hunt for an Eastern Conference playoff spot and wouldn’t want to essentially hand Drummond to a conference rival for nothing, Charania writes. No buyout discussions have taken place to this point, sources tell ESPN.

Meanwhile, Drummond may not be the only Cavs center who is traded prior to the March 25 deadline. Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reports that the club has received trade offers for all of its centers, though only Drummond and JaVale McGee are considered available — Allen isn’t going anywhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Reportedly Have Interest In JaVale McGee

The Nets, who are in the market for a veteran center after having traded Jarrett Allen to Cleveland, are said to be eyeing Cavaliers center JaVale McGee, according to a series of reports.

Sam Amico of FortyEightMinutes.com first tweeted that sources expected Brooklyn to pursue a trade for McGee, while Jason Dumas of KRON4 News said today (via Twitter) that the Nets are talking to Cleveland about a possible deal. Brian Lewis of The New York Post also indicated (via Twitter) that he has heard some chatter about the Nets and McGee.

The trade that sent Allen from the Nets to the Cavs left Brooklyn somewhat shorthanded at the five, while Cleveland now has an abundance of options in the middle. Besides DeAndre Jordan, the Nets’ potential fives – Nicolas Claxton, Reggie Perry, and soon-to-be-signed Norvel Pelle – are short on NBA experience. The Cavs, on the other hand, have nine-year veteran Andre Drummond starting at center, with Allen and McGee operating as backups.

As Dumas tweets, the Cavs don’t intend to flip Allen, but they could make Drummond, McGee, and/or power forward Kevin Love available before this season’s trade deadline. Dumas suggests Brooklyn has some interest in Love as well, but it’s hard to imagine how such a deal would work, given his $31MM+ salary and the makeup of the Nets’ roster.

McGee is a more realistic target for Brooklyn — his $4.2MM expiring contract could be absorbed using the Nets’ newly-granted disabled player exception if the team doesn’t want to send out any players to match his salary. The Nets still have multiple open roster spots, so making room on the 15-man squad wouldn’t be an issue either.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are expected to seek draft capital for any of the big men they move, per Dumas. Unless they’re willing to take on some unwanted salary, the Cavs probably shouldn’t expect more than a second-round pick for McGee or Drummond.

Cavaliers Notes: Allen, Prince, Drummond, McGee, Porter Jr.

The acquisitions of Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince from the Nets in the multi-trade trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn accelerated the Cavaliers’ rebuild, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic writes. Acquiring Allen, a restricted free agency, gives the Cavs a long-term answer in the middle if they re-sign him. Prince provides the team with a 3-and-D wing who could also see minutes at power forward.

We have more on the Cavaliers:

  • Once Allen is in uniform, coach J.B. Bickerstaff will have a pleasant dilemma of finding time at center for him as well as Andre Drummond and JaVale McGee, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes. However, that dilemma may not stretch beyond March’s trade deadline. According to Fedor, shortly after the blockbuster trade, the team received calls on Drummond and McGee, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents after the season. Drummond erupted for 33 points and 23 rebounds against the Knicks on Friday.
  • Second-year swingman Kevin Porter Jr. rejoined his teammates on the bench for the first time this season on Friday, according to Fedor. Porter hasn’t played or practiced since the season started due to personal reasons. In November, he was arrested after flipping his Mercedes SUV. He was charged with improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, a felony, in addition to misdemeanors for driving without a license and marijuana possession. All charges were dropped in December by a grand jury.
  • After facing the Knicks on Friday, the Cavaliers don’t play again until they host the Nets on Wednesday. Their two games in-between against the Wizards were postponed due to COVID-19 issues within Washington’s team.

Central Notes: Grant, Simon, McGee, Bucks

After signing a $60MM deal with the rebuilding Pistons this offseason, forward Jerami Grant is getting the increased offensive role he was hoping for when he left the championship-contending Nuggets, per Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s definitely a bigger role for me, that’s one of the reasons why I came here,” Grant said. Through his first four games for the Motor City, all losses, the versatile wing is tops among the Pistons in minutes played (149), three-point attempts (30), and free-throw attempts (21), as well as shot attempts and makes (66 and 31). He is also averaging a career-high 37.3 MPG.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Central Division:

  • After 79-year-old Pacers executive Donnie Walsh announced he would be vacating his position as team consultant, team owner Herb Simon released a statement praising the longtime Indiana staffer. “Over my thirty-year relationship with Donnie, I have been amazed to watch him help lead this organization to what it has become,” Simon said in part.
  • New veteran Cavaliers reserve center JaVale McGee adds championship pedigree in Cleveland, writes Joe Gabriele of Cavaliers.com“I didn’t realize how good of a passer he was, I didn’t realize the touch he has around the rim with the little floaters and the hooks,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff commented. “I think he’s definitely been a pleasant surprise all the way around.” The 7’1″ big man is averaging 10.5 PPG on 63% shooting from the field during the club’s 3-1 start this season.
  • The Bucks are striving to develop consistency after an offseason roster overhaul, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN. The club is currently off to a bumpy 2-3 to start their 2020/21 season. “I can speak for my team and for myself: I really feel like us having this different variety of teams and games really helps us,” new starting point guard Jrue Holiday said. “Even just having a back-to-back in a playoff-type atmosphere, early, is very, very good for us.”

Central Notes: Markkanen, Giannis, Pacers, McGee

The Bulls and Lauri Markkanen have both expressed interest in working out a rookie scale extension for the fourth-year forward prior to Monday’s deadline, and conversations between the two sides are ongoing, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he’ll leave those negotiations to executive VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and Markkanen’s agent, but referred to the former lottery pick as an “important piece to our team.” For his part, Markkanen confirmed that there have been contract discussions, but couldn’t offer any additional updates, telling reporters, “We’ll see what happens.”

With or without an extension in place for Markkanen, the Bulls project to have a significant chunk of cap room available in 2021, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Now that a number of potential top 2021 free agents have signed extensions and will be unavailable, the Bulls’ new front office regime may have to get creative when it comes to using that cap room, Johnson observes.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Michael Scotto of HoopsHype spoke to eight executives from around the NBA to get their reactions on Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s super-max extension with the Bucks, while Eric Nehm of The Athletic relays that head coach Mike Budenholzer learned of the agreement from his sons while he was driving. “It was a don’t-run-the-red-light moment and kill yourself (moment),” Budenholzer said with a laugh. “In the midst of the excitement, I was able to honor the red light and stop and do a little screaming and yelling with my boys.”
  • In his review of the Pacers‘ offseason and preview of their coming year, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes that there are still two big lingering questions hanging over the franchise: Whether Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner can thrive alongside one another, and whether it makes sense to trade Victor Oladipo before he reaches free agency.
  • Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said he received glowing reviews on JaVale McGee from Warriors assistant Mike Brown and Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details. McGee told reporters on Thursday that he was surprised to be traded, but is looking forward to being “a great example of a hard-working vet” for his new team.

Cavaliers Unsure When Kevin Porter Jr. Will Report To Camp

Cavaliers forward Kevin Porter Jr. continues to work through his legal issues and there’s not a definite date for him to join the team for training camp, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Porter was arrested last month after a single-car accident in which police allegedly found a .45-caliber handgun and suspected marijuana in his vehicle. A judge dismissed the marijuana charge Wednesday, and a grand jury will determine what to do with the gun charge.

The Cavaliers are working with Porter, his agents and the league to try to resolve the matter and are hoping he will eventually be able to return with a clean record. However, there’s no way to know when that might happen. The organization is committed to helping Porter get through this incident, Fedor adds.

“We’re in the human being business. And no matter what our ups and downs are, our responsibility is to look out for one another and take care of one another and try to help one another as best we possibly can. And we’ll continue to do that,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “So we won’t give up on anybody. We’ll continue to give people the best opportunity to make themselves into the best version of themselves that we possibly can until you leave that door, and then even then we’ll maintain relationships with you and try to help you if we ever possibly can. But we’re all in on all of our guys. And that won’t change.”

Porter, 20, was the last pick of the first round in the 2019 draft. He showed flashes of promise during his rookie season, averaging 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 50 games.

The Cavs also started camp without JaVale McGee, Matt Mooney and Levi Randolph, Fedor adds. McGee, who was acquired in a trade with the Lakers, is expected to join the team soon and Bickerstaff believes he will be able to contribute right away.

“JaVale is a guy who has helped teams win titles and protects the paint and I think he benefits our young guys in a major way,” Bickerstaff said. “His ability to protect them on the defensive end of the floor and then his ability to roll to the rim, I think he fits. Obviously Dre (Andre Drummond) can do those things as well so we think it’s a really, really good pairing.

Randolph played in the AmeriCup Qualifying tournament and didn’t sign with Cleveland until Tuesday. New NBA guidelines require anyone with a new contract on December 1 or later to undergo separate COVID-19 testing protocols before being cleared for workouts. Fedor states that his restrictions could be lifted in a few days. Mooney, who inked a two-way contract, may join the team today.

Lakers Trade McGee, Future Second-Rounder To Cavs

NOVEMBER 23: The deal is official, according to a press release from the Cavs. Cleveland acquires McGee and the Lakers’ second-round pick in exchange for McKinnie and Bell, as expected.


NOVEMBER 22: The Lakers are set to send center JaVale McGee and a future second-round draft pick to the Cavaliers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). This will create flexibility below the hard cap to allow the Lakers to sign veteran center Marc Gasol.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the second-round pick will be from the 2026 NBA draft. Fedor reports in a separate tweet that small forward Alfonzo McKinnie and big man Jordan Bell will be headed to Los Angeles in the deal.

McGee has a $4.2MM cap charge for 2020/21, which the Cavaliers have no way to absorb without sending out some salary themselves. McKinnie ($1.76MM) and Bell ($1.76MM) are currently on non-guaranteed deals, but their salaries will have to be at least partially guaranteed to make the deal work. The Cavs have to send out about $2.34MM and non-guaranteed money doesn’t count for salary-matching purposes.

Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the likely outcome will see McKinnie being fully guaranteed, while Bell gets about a $600K guarantee. The Lakers could then waive and stretch Bell to create a little extra flexibility.

McGee started at center for most of the Lakers’ 2019/20 championship season, but was supplanted in the starting lineup during the last two rounds of the playoffs by the more mobile Markieff Morris or Dwight Howard most of the time, with Anthony Davis shifting from power forward to center to close out the Heat in Game 6 of the Finals. McGee is a three-time champion thanks to tenures with the Warriors and Lakers.

It doesn’t sound as if the Cavaliers view McGee as a mere salary dump. The team wanted a veteran big man with experience coming off the bench behind Andre Drummond, according to Fedor, so McGee will replace Tristan Thompson on the roster. Cleveland continues to explore possible free agent deals involving the mid-level, with a focus on backup point guard, per Fedor.

Luke Adams contributed to this story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Knicks, Lakers Exploring JaVale McGee Trade

As the Lakers look to clear some salary to strengthen their offer to free agent center Marc Gasol, the Knicks have emerged as a potential trade partner in a possible deal involving JaVale McGee, sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Due to their hard-cap constraints, the Lakers are probably limited to only offering Gasol a one-year, minimum-salary deal for the time being. Clearing some salary would allow them to offer Gasol more than the minimum if the Raptors are willing to do a sign-and-trade. It would also allow them to offer a two-year minimum deal (which carries a higher first-year cap hit), as John Hollinger of The Athletic notes (via Twitter).

If the Knicks are going to take on McGee’s contract using their cap room, they’ll need some sort of sweetener. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype points out (via Twitter), New York got two second-round picks from Utah for taking on Ed Davis‘ $5MM expiring deal and would likely seek a similar haul for accepting McGee’s $4.2MM expiring contract.

The Lakers, who will probably only make a deal if they have an agreement lined up with Gasol (or another free agent), would have to decide how much they’re willing to pay in extra assets to upgrade from McGee at center.

The Knicks have been prioritizing 2023 second-round picks in trades this week, having already acquired – or agreed to acquire – three of them. The team reportedly expects that to be the first draft that high school players will once again permitted to enter, which would make for an extra-talented class. I imagine if a McGee deal gets done between the two teams, the Knicks may well come out of it with the Lakers’ 2023 second-rounder.