Kevin Love

Bulls Becoming More Open To Jimmy Butler Trade

8:32pm: Butler’s preference to remain in Chicago has been made clear to the Bulls’ front office in addition to the Cavs, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today adds (via Twitter) that a trade between Chicago and Cleveland appears unlikely at this point. Still, Johnson tweets that the Bulls remain active in Butler talks.

7:28pm: The Cavaliers have been notified that Butler would like to stay with the Bulls and would be reluctant to commit to a long-term future in Cleveland, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. If the Cavs are able to complete a deal for Butler, I imagine they’d do so without a long-term commitment from the forward, but his desire to remain in Chicago is still a factor they’ll have to consider.

4:33pm: Just one day after Bulls sources suggested that the team likely wouldn’t move Jimmy Butler this week, the odds of a trade appear to be increasing. The Bulls have typically just been willing to listen on Butler inquiries to gauge his value, but they’re now making outgoing calls to teams about the star forward, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

According to Goodwill, the Celtics and Cavaliers are the frontrunners to land Butler if a deal gets done this week. The Suns have been “doing due diligence,” league sources tell Goodwill. The Nuggets were somewhat involved on Butler at the trade deadline, per CSN’s report, though it’s not clear if they’re jumping into the fray this time around. The Timberwolves were also mentioned on Monday as a possible trade partner for Chicago.

Butler has publicly expressed a desire to remain in Chicago, but Goodwill writes that the relationship between the All-NBA forward and head coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been “fruitful,” which is one reason the Bulls appear to be legitimately considering moving Butler. Goodwill also suggests that the club may be reluctant to pay Butler a super-max Designated Veteran Extension if he becomes eligible for one next summer.

According to Goodwill, the Bulls were “rebuffed” on an offer to the Celtics for the No. 3 overall pick, straight up. I would expect Chicago to be seeking more than just that one pick in return for Butler, so if that’s true, it’s a surprise. Goodwill adds that bringing the Cavs to the negotiating table figures to increase the quality of the offers for Butler.

An earlier report indicated that the Cavs were attempting earlier this week to work out a three-team Butler trade that would see a third team receive Kevin Love, with a high lottery pick going from that club to the Bulls.

Although the Suns were believed to be the third team in that scenario, and John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirms (via Twitter) that the Cavs had interest in Phoenix’s No. 4 pick, Gambadoro says those discussions didn’t involve Love (Twitter link). While that may be true, it would be virtually impossible for the Cavs to pry away a top-five pick for the Bulls without using Love, so I have to think he’d be involved somehow.

Those Butler discussions with the Cavs took place before GM David Griffin departed from the franchise. However, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Griffin left behind the framework for possible deals involving Butler or Paul George, so owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Koby Altman – essentially the Cavs’ acting GM – could continue to work on those deals.

Cavs Rumors: Griffin, LeBron, Butler, Love, Irving

In the wake of David Griffin‘s departure from the Cavaliers, rumors have been swirling about the circumstances that led the two sides to part ways, the deals Griffin was pursuing while he was still employed, and what the Cavs may do now that he’s gone.

We have a ton of Cavs rumors to pass along, so we’ll break them down into sections, focusing on Griffin, the front office, and trade-related reports…

David Griffin:

  • Griffin had become pessimistic about his future in Cleveland during the last few months of the 2016/17 season, and had kept an eye on other job openings around the NBA, according to Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. The ESPN duo suggests Griffin expressed interest in the Magic and Bucks jobs through back-channels, but wasn’t given permission to speak to those teams by owner Dan Gilbert.
  • According to Windhorst and McMenamin, Gilbert occasionally inserted himself into trade talks during Griffin’s tenure as GM, calling another team’s owner directly and derailing Griffin’s plans.
  • Gilbert and Griffin had a long meeting last Friday, which didn’t go well, per Windhorst and McMenamin. Griffin wanted a significant pay raise and a promotion, while Gilbert wanted better communication and more aggression from his GM.
  • LeBron James was “disappointed” by Griffin’s departure, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link). LeBron suggested as much on his own Twitter account, telling Griffin that he appreciated his work for the franchise even if “no one” else did.
  • Griffin was among the NBA’s lowest-paid general managers, per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Previous reports indicated that Griffin was making less than $2MM per year.

Front office:

  • League sources tell ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter link) that former Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik would be a strong candidate to work in the Cavaliers‘ front office if Chauncey Billups is hired. Zanik left Milwaukee this week after the team passed him over for a GM promotion.
  • LeBron is keeping an open mind about the Cavaliers‘ front office shakeup, according to David Aldridge, who tweets that James is “very serious about structure” and wants to see who the team brings in.

Trade rumors:

  • On Monday, Griffin called several teams about possible trades and told the Bulls he might be able to land a top-five pick if they were willing to trade Jimmy Butler, per Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. According to the ESPN duo, the Cavaliers were making an effort to work out a three-team trade involving Kevin Love and the Suns‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • Even after Griffin’s departure, talks involving Love remain ongoing and the Cavaliers continue to gauge the status of Jimmy Butler, says Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net (Twitter links).
  • Some Cavaliers players, including LeBron and Kyrie Irving, have reached out to Butler directly to gauge his interest in coming to the Cavs, and those players were encouraged by what they heard, Cleveland sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. One source tells Cowley that Butler may even push the Bulls front office to get a deal done, though as Cowley notes, that would be a major departure for Butler, who has talked about wanting to remain in Chicago.
  • Multiple teams have spoken to the Cavaliers about Irving, according to Amico, who adds (via Twitter) that Griffin was unwilling to move the star point guard. Cowley notes in his report that Irving has told some of his Team USA teammates that he might be open to a trade if it starts to look like LeBron will leave in 2018, and the Bulls are one team he’d be interested in. I’m extremely skeptical about the idea of an Irving trade — I think things would have to really go downhill in Cleveland following Griffin’s dismissal for that to be a realistic option.

Cavs Trying To Piece Together Trade For Butler

The Cavaliers are seeking to acquire Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler by putting together a multi-team trade, league sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. Cleveland needs to get at least one other team involved to obtain the assets Chicago would demand and have been working diligently to do so, Stein adds. (Twitter links)

The Cavaliers’ high payroll, plus their lack of draft picks, makes it difficult to swing a deal for any high-level player. The Trail Blazers own their pick in Thursday’s draft and they also owe the Hawks a first-rounder in 2019. They don’t have any first-rounders coming their way.

It’s logical to assume they’d have to include Kevin Love in any blockbuster deal. Whether the Bulls would be interested in Love is unknown. Perhaps a third-party would facilitate the deal by taking on Love’s contract, which has three years and approximately $74MM remaining, though the final year is a player option.

The Suns might be a team that would get involved in the Cavaliers’ quest for Butler, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

Butler’s name continues to swirl in trade rumors, even though numerous executives around the league believe Butler won’t be dealt during draft week. The Timberwolves, Celtics and Suns have all been mentioned as possible suitors for Butler. The Bulls’ asking price is high, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski noted, but there has been preliminary contact between Minnesota and Chicago. Boston has a bevy of first-round picks to offer the Bulls, adding another in its deal with the Sixers to swap the first and third overall picks, which was finalized today.

The Cavaliers have also been linked to the Pacers’ Paul George, who informed Indiana he won’t re-sign with the franchise when he becomes a free agent next summer. As is the case with Butler, the Cavaliers would likely to have to get a third party involved to pry away George.

Central Notes: Love, Bird, Caldwell-Pope

Matchups in the first two rounds have limited Kevin Love‘s role throughout the playoffs thus far but that could change in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tom Withers of the Associated Press writes. Currently the Cavaliers await the winner of the Wizards and Celtics.

After having averaged 19 points per game during the regular season, Love’s average dropped to 12 in the Cavaliers’ four-game sweep of the Raptors. What’s more, the power forward didn’t even play in the fourth quarter in two of those victories.

Some of it’s my fault because we haven’t really featured him a lot because of the matchups we had on other teams,” Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue said. “He has been great. His whole mindset is winning and that’s what it’s all about in the playoffs.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Although there’s been a transfer of power in the Pacers‘ organizational chart, Larry Bird remains involved in the offseason planning at the behest of newly appointed team president Kevin Pritchard, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes. Bird serves as an executive advisor with the franchise.
  • The Pacers will work out a batch of draft prospects early next week, the team announced on its website, including college stars Jordan Bell and Josh Hart.
  • The Pistons are in a tough spot with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency, Bobby Marks of the Vertical writes. The 24-year-old could sign a lofty offer sheet with another organization, forcing the club to flirt with the luxury tax if they wish to retain him. Choosing not to retain him, however, won’t free up enough cap space for a suitable replacement.

Cavalier Notes: Jones, Irving, LeBron

Discontent marinates within the Cavaliers‘ locker room and veteran James Jones recently spoke to the team to try to sort out the issues, sources tell Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. After the team’s loss to the Spurs, Jones rhetorically asked players what they wanted out of the season. Vardon adds that neither Kyrie Irving nor LeBron James addressed the team, but a source told the scribe that the losing and travel have “frayed nerves.”

Cleveland owns a record of 6-9 during the month of March and the team has the eighth worst Plus/Minus over that stretch, as I recently mentioned.

Here’s more from The Land:

  • Irving holds himself accountable for the Cavaliers‘ struggles, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes. “I had to face it, had to face the music,” Irving said of his performance against the Spurs earlier in the week. “I think we all had to do it. But me more importantly, I had to look in the mirror and just wasn’t doing enough. I need to demand more out of myself and do it at a high level.”
  • Irving and James had an extended and emotional conversation after the Spurs loss, Shelburne adds in the same piece. Irving declines to comment on the nature of the meeting, calling it “private.”
  • Irving believes getting J.R. Smith and Kevin Love back up to speed has been problematic, but the Olympian said it’s his job to help them, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “I have to do my best as a point guard to integrate J.R. and K-Love and get our starting five back to having the continuity,” Irving said. “It hasn’t been perfect, to say the least. There’s definitely been some ups and downs and disagreements. But as adults and professionals we just have to figure it out.”
  • The Cavaliers have nine games left in the season, including tonight’s tilt with the Bulls, and coach Tyronn Lue feels it’s enough time to right the ship, Fedor adds in the same piece. “I feel like we can get it right,” Lue said. “We’re right anyway. We’re still right there.

League Unhappy With Cavaliers For Resting Stars

Cavaliers GM David Griffin got a call from the league office shortly after the team announced its decision to rest three stars for Saturday’s nationally televised game, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were all held out of the contest with the Clippers, which was shown in prime time on ABC. The Cavs made the move because they are facing a back-to-back situation with a game tonight in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

It was the second straight game that the network was missing star power, as the Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala last week, while the Spurs were missing Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge for medical reasons.

Griffin said an NBA representative called him “seven minutes after it was announced” to express displeasure with the decision (Twitter link).

The game turned into a rout early as Los Angeles pulled away for a 108-78 victory on a night where ABC was competing with the NCAA Tournament for the attention of basketball fans. The network’s broadcasting crew ripped the Cavaliers throughout, with Mark Jackson calling the mismatch “an absolute joke” and Jeff Van Gundy labeling it “a prosecutable offense.”

Shelburne passed along Griffin’s explanation in a series of tweets:

  • “The decision made itself. Kyrie left the last game with a knee injury so we weren’t going to have him play both games of a [back-to-back].” (Twitter link).
  • “Kevin Love is rehabbing from knee surgery so he’s not going to play both ends of a back to back.” (Twitter link).
  • “[Kyle] Korver is legitimately injured so u pick the game ur going to be the most competitive in and that’s the one Bron needs to play in” (Twitter link).
  • “I can’t make [Bron] drag himself through this tonight by himself and then have everybody else play tomorrow and still not win.” (Twitter link).

Griffin added that he sympathizes with the league, but injuries dictated the Cavaliers’ actions (Twitter link). When asked about the $24B in television rights being paid by ABC, ESPN and TNT, he responded, “Yeah, and they’re paying me to win a championship.” (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Love, Wade, Sanders, Pistons

Kevin Love has been activated and will be back in action on Thursday, according to team’s official Twitter feed. The Cavaliers have played without their starting power forward for over a month, as he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on February 14th. Love told reporters, including Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that he was anxious to return after practicing on Wednesday. “I’m 28 years old, I feel like I’m just coming into the league again because I’m so antsy to get back,” Love said. “It’s good. You’ve got to trust the process, respect the process and give that leg time to heal, give injuries time to heal. But it’s not for lack of wanting to be out there.”

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Bulls can hit the reset button if Dwyane Wade opts out of his contract, ESPN.com’s NBA analyst Kevin Pelton opines. The club could have significant cap space this summer if Wade, now out for the remainder of the regular season with a fractured elbow, turns down his $23.8MM player option and becomes a free agent again. That cap space could grow to approximately $50MM if the Bulls waive Rajon Rondo and stretch out his guaranteed money while also renouncing the rights to their other free agents, Pelton explains. Wade would probably have to settle for much less on the free agent market but opting out would allow him to join a contender such as the Cavaliers or Clippers, Pelton adds. The Spurs or even Warriors could be other possible suitors if Wade goes that route, according to the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney, and the Bucks and Nuggets would also check in on him since they showed interest last summer.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had to get permission to play newly-signed center Larry Sanders on Wednesday, according to Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Lue sent a ball boy into the stands during the team’s blowout victory over the Pistons to ask GM David Griffin if it was OK to play Sanders, who was supposed to get some work in the D League before making his Cleveland debut. Sanders wound up playing two minutes.  “I really just wanted to introduce him to the crowd and have him get in, give him a chance to have a standing ovation,” told reporters including Vardon. “I thought it was good for him.”
  • The Pistons have only two players — Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — remaining on the roster since Stan Van Gundy became head coach and president of basketball operations. The only current rotation player that he drafted is backup swingman Stanley Johnson. That’s not a coincidence, since Van Gundy is more comfortable acquiring proven players. “It’s easier with pro guys in trades and free agency than it is with college guys in the draft,” he told the assembled media, including Hoops Rumors. “You get these one-and-done guys and you’re trying to figure it out to what they’re going to be four or five years down the road. That’s a lot more of a challenge. At least [with experienced players], they’ve got a body of work and they’ve been in NBA systems. You’ve seen them play. You can get pretty good information on them, so you have a better idea of what you’re getting than you do when you go in the draft.”

Kevin Love Eyes Possible Weekend Return

After missing over a month with a knee injury, Kevin Love could be back in uniform for the Cavaliers as early as their upcoming road trip beginning this Saturday, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

Love underwent arthroscopic surgery last month to clear loose bodies in his left knee. At the time, Vardon says, the forward was expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

The addition of Love – who has already returned to practice in some capacities – would be a welcome one for a Cavs team struggling to hold on to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. In 46 games with the squad this season, Love has averaged 20.0 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Though his return will hinge on how he feels following Wednesday’s practice and even today’s work out, the fact that general manager David Griffin is the one who told the media bodes well.

Vardon notes that as long as Love returns before the end of the four-game road trip that concludes on March 24, he’ll have beaten the initial six-week estimate.

Community Shootaround: Will Cavs And Warriors Hang Onto No. 1 Seeds?

Following tonight’s loss to the Pistons, the Cavs are 42-21- having played to a .500 record over their last 10 games. The return of J.R. Smith bolsters the team’s depth, but Tyronn Lue’s squad continues to miss Kevin Love‘s presence in their rotation. The Celtics aren’t far behind Cleveland’s trail, sitting two games behind the Cavs for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

It’s been a similar story for Golden State, whose fourth quarter struggles have been well-publicized. The Warriors hardly have a comfortable hold of the Western Conference’s #1 seed, as San Antonio is riding a torrid 9-1 streak. The Warriors have long clinched a playoff spot, but Steve Kerr said he isn’t obsessed with the top seed.

“We still have the No. 1 seed, but I won’t run guys ragged to get it,” Kerr told Connor Letourneau of SF Gate. “We have to manage this stretch right here and get through this week.”

Fox Sports editor Brett Pollakoff has recently predicted the Spurs to overtake Golden State for the top seed, citing the Warriors’ difficult schedule through the rest of the regular season.

“The Warriors lead the Spurs by 2.5 games in the standings but are playing without Kevin Durant for at least a little while longer and have an absolutely brutal schedule this week, which ends with a game in San Antonio on Saturday,” Pollakoff writes. “The Spurs might be able to make up some ground during that stretch and are capable of playing consistently enough to overtake Golden State for the West’s No. 1 seed.”

Five Thirty Eight currently gives the Warriors a 79% chance of hanging onto the #1 seed, and Cleveland a 40% chance. We want to hear your opinion: Do you think each team will hold onto the #1 seed? If not, what will get in their way? Are the injuries to Kevin Durant and Kevin Love ultimately too much to overcome?

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

Tyronn Lue Denies Knowingly Playing Kevin Love Through Injury

FEBRUARY 16, 8:31am: Lue has backtracked on his earlier comments, telling reporters late last night that he misinterpreted a question about Love, Vardon writes in a new piece for Cleveland.com. According to Vardon, Cavs sources reviewed Lue’s comments and told reporters that the head coach misspoke — he was apparently referring to when Love suffered the injury, rather than when he learned about it.

FEBRUARY 15, 8:00pm: Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue knew Kevin Love was having knee problems when he played in the second night of a back-to-back last week, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Love is expected to be out of action for six weeks after having surgery Tuesday to clean up “loose bodies” in his left knee. After the Cavs played last Wednesday, Lue indicated he would rest Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for the next night’s game, but later changed his mind and played all three.

“It was already [hurt], loose bodies were already in there so he just played through it,” Lue explained to reporters tonight, “and then after it got to a certain point he got the MRI and he found out it was loose bodies floating around.”

The coach added that he didn’t regret his decision to play Love because he “was already heading for surgery.” All three players reportedly told Lue that they wanted to play.

An unidentified team source differed with Lue’s account, telling Vardon that Love banged his knee before Wednesday’s game, but the problem didn’t become fully evident until it swelled on Saturday.

Vardon notes that the incident raises questions about Cleveland’s stated commitment to giving players the proper rest before the playoffs. Lue said he will approach back-to-back situations differently through the rest of the season.

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