Kevin Love

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, James, Wade, Korver

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could return to action as soon as Tuesday but he’s lost his starting job, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Joe Vardon. Thompson has missed 19 games with a strained left calf. Kevin Love was moved to center in his absence and coach Tyronn Lue wants Love to remain there. Lue also told reporters that Channing Frye would stay in the rotation, which could also cut into Thompson’s playing time, Vardon notes. Lue said that the staff needs to “figure out how we got to use him,” referring to Thompson. At least publicly, Thompson doesn’t want to make waves about his role. “If I don’t play, that’s fine,” Thompson told Vardon and other media members. “As long as we’re winning I’m going to cheer my teammates on. If I play two minutes, three minutes, 20 minutes, it don’t matter to me. As long as we win.”

In other news regarding the Cavs:

  • LeBron James ability to defy the aging curve has been a rare and remarkable feat, as ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton details. His true shooting percentage of 65.8% this season is a career high, boosted by another career-best, his 3-point shooting (41.7%). That’s likely to decline as the season continues but he’s also taking more shots within three feet of the basket and converting a career-best 5.3 layups per game, Pelton continues. Additionally, he’s posting a career best in defensive block rate, something else that normally declines with age, Pelton notes. However, his overall defensive value has declined and his athleticism will also start to dip in his mid-30s, which could eventually become an issue for James, Pelton adds.
  • Combo guard Dwyane Wade knew from the beginning of the season he was more suited to a sixth man role with the club, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt writes. Wade is averaging 12.3 PPG, 4.0 APG and 3.8 RPG when he comes off the bench this season and Zillgitt points out that the Cavs have a net efficiency rating of plus-10.8 with Wade on the court as a reserve. “I knew for me to be successful and for me to come to this team and bring what I can to this team, the starting unit just wasn’t a unit for me,” he told Zillgitt. “So, I decided to go to the unit that was for me.”
  • Handing shooting guard Kyle Korver a contract extension over the summer drew criticism but now seems like a wise investment, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer opines. Korver, 36, signed a three-year, $22MM contract. He’s shooting 43.3% from long range and leads the team in plus-minus rating.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, James, Love, Thompson

Isaiah Thomas discusses his injury, the long recovery process, his trade to Cleveland and much more in a new docu-series on The Players Tribune, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Titled “The Book of Isaiah II,” it will trace his experiences from the 2017 playoffs through the present, but the part that should most interest Cavaliers fans is Thomas’ rehabilitation of his injured hip. January 1 has been floated as a possible return date, but Thomas is hoping to make it earlier.

“This is what I live for,” he said. “Every time something happens in my career, I always bounce back and it’s bigger than anything anybody ever thought. And this is just going to be the same thing. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited to be able to be on this stage playing and battling with the best player in the world. … I’m ready for all that, and I’m preparing right now for all of that, and I can’t wait.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The agent for LeBron James says the chance to compete for a title should drive his client’s decision when he becomes a free agent next summer, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “For anywhere – not Los Angeles, not Miami, not Detroit, Milwaukee – I think for LeBron, and for most athletes, the most important thing is about winning,” Rich Paul said in an interview on The Herd. “At his level, it should be. It should be about winning at his point in his career.” He noted that Cleveland has been very successful since James’ return, with three straight trips to the NBA Finals.
  • The Cavaliers should ask James directly about his plans for the future and explore a trade if he’s not fully committed to Cleveland, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. James has a contract provision that allows him to reject any deal, but Kyler believes it would be wiser to address the situation now than to have to launch another rebuilding project if James leaves again.
  • Cleveland needs to find an athletic swingman who can guard multiple positions and would be willing to trade Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson to obtain one, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. However, Mannix says that type of player isn’t on the market right now, with the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore being the closest available version. Mannix speculates that the Cavs would move any asset except James or the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder in the right deal, but nothing is close at the moment.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Jefferson, Irving, James

Kevin Love penned a farewell tribute to former teammate Richard Jefferson on Instagram, relays Hayden Grove of Cleveland.com. The veteran forward was traded Saturday to the Hawks along with Kay Felder to help reduce the Cavaliers’ luxury tax bill. Jefferson spent two seasons in Cleveland and helped the team win its only NBA title. “We would never have been able to celebrate our 2016 Championship without the contributions of RJ,” Love wrote. “He always stepped up to make our team better.”

Jefferson recorded an episode of his “Road Trippin'” podcast Saturday and said he knew his time in Cleveland was over when the team signed Dwyane Wade last week. Atlanta waived both players shortly after completing the deal, but the 37-year-old Jefferson has stated that he has no plans to retire and has already received interest from the Bucks and other teams.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • Jefferson was nearly traded last summer after unveiling the Cavs’ championship rings on his Snapchat account before the team was ready to make them public, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Former GM David Griffin was reportedly so angry that he wanted to move Jefferson to another team, but he eventually cooled down and accepted an apology.
  • Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving took a shot at his former home, saying there’s “a vast difference” between Boston and Cleveland, according to the Associated Press“Boston, I’m driving in and [thinking], ‘I’m really playing in a real, live sports city?” Irving said to reporters this week. Irving is also downplaying the thought of starting his Celtics career with a game in Cleveland, relays Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “I understand the magnitude … but I know what it is going to entail in terms of marketing, whatever the case may be, to garner up this energy to make people feel a certain type of way,” Irving said. “I get all that. It’s part of the game. It’s been a part of the game for a while, but it’s just two hoops and a basketball.”
  • The Cavaliers have been very cautious with LeBron James‘ injured left ankle during the preseason, but coach Tyronn Lue expects him to be ready for opening night, McMenamin posts on ESPN Now. “That would be a tough one for him personally to miss,” Lue said. “There’s a lot of hype behind the game but like I told him, we got to be smart about it. It’s just one game, but I think he’ll be OK.”

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.

Central Notes: Rose, Love, Robinson, Holiday

Enjoying a fresh start in Cleveland, Derrick Rose admits to being in “a dark place” last season with the Knicks, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Rose missed part of training camp because of a civil suit involving sexual battery allegations, then had a much-publicized disappearance in January when he missed a game without permission. His season ended early as New York shut him down in April with a torn meniscus in his left knee that required surgery. “By a dark place, I mean, I was playing, like, revenge basketball, and that wasn’t my way of playing basketball,” Rose explained.

Rose didn’t get the free agent offers he anticipated and wound up signing a one-year minimum-salary deal with Cleveland. It’s a big step down for a former Most Valuable Player, but Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sees it as a sign of character. “A guy who has been MVP, who started his whole career and to come here for the minimum knowing and thinking that Kyrie [Irving] is going to be here with him being the backup, it just shows he wants to win,” Lue said. “And that’s who he is as a person. You can see it every single day. He wants to be a winner. He wants to win. He works that way. So it’s just great to have him here.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The pickup of Jae Crowder in the Irving trade may prompt Lue to use a smaller starting lineup, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Heading into camp, Lue said he intended to keep Tristan Thompson as his starting center. But Crowder’s ability to stretch the court as a power forward may make entice Lue to use Kevin Love in the middle and make Thompson a reserve. “We did a lot of that last training camp, but as far as how the sets are put together right now throughout training camp I am seeing a pretty significant amount of time there,” Love said. “Depends on — now with so many guys on the team and so many lineups that we can throw out there it will probably change.”
  • Glenn Robinson III will miss two months with a severely sprained ankle, but the Pacers forward is relieved it wasn’t worse, according to Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star. Robinson and his teammates were concerned that he might have ended his season when he fell hard at practice Friday. “I’m young,” said Robinson, who was in a walking boot today at practice. “Hopefully I can heal a little faster.”
  • The Bulls appear headed for a high lottery pick, but that’s not how they’re approaching camp, relays Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “Regardless of what people might think or say, we’re here to win,’’ said Justin Holiday, who came back to Chicago this summer after spending one season in New York. “We’re not on this NBA team just to be here, just to hang out. We’re here to win games.”

Central Notes: Bucks, Mirotic, Bulls, Collins, Love

The Bucks are looking to improve on their 42-win campaign and they’re banking on continuity to give them a boost in the standings, Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel writes. Milwaukee has hardly made any changes to its roster this offseason, with 13 of 15 players who finished last season with the team still under contract.

“[Continuity is] going to be huge, I think, with training camp being a little shorter,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “The veteran teams are going to have the advantage — there’s not a lot of time before your first game. Just understanding that continuity is big for us. We’re still young, but hopefully, we feel we’re going in the right direction. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage early on in the season.”

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Nikola Mirotic remains on the market, albeit as a restricted free agent, and executive Bulls VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson indicates that the power forward’s qualifying offer is still on the table, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com tweets. The power forward will make approximately $7.23MM this upcoming season should he accept his qualifying offer, and has until October 1 to do so.
  • The Bulls hired Doug Collins as a senior advisor on Tuesday, and he expects to do just that — advise. During his introductory press conference, the former head coach indicated that he won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Bulls “under any circumstances,” and stressed that he won’t have decision-making power in the front office (Twitter links via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).
  • Tyronn Lue won’t commit to Kevin Love as his starting center, though the Cavaliers coach said the UCLA product will be more involved in the offense this upcoming season.“Right now we’re just trying to get all of our pieces together and right now Tristan [Thompson]‘s our starter,” Lue tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “I’m just thinking we’re going to run a lot more stuff through Kevin, more at the elbows, like we’ve done the last year and a half. Just trying to figure out with our new pieces and our new players and just see what works best for us.”

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Cavs Currently Have No Plans To Trade Kevin Love

While the Cavaliers have contemplated trading Kevin Love off and on in recent years, the club currently has no plans to shop or deal the big man, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Cleveland’s current stance on Love doesn’t come as a real surprise. The team already traded one of its Big Three within the last month, sending Kyrie Irving to Boston in a package that included Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. The Cavs lost some star power in that deal and likely don’t want to turn over their roster any more, with the 2017/18 season fast approaching.

While it’s easy to forget now, since the second half of the offseason in Cleveland was dominated by Irving trade talk, Love was one of the players most often mentioned in trade rumors earlier in the summer, particularly around the time of the draft. As Lowe notes – and as multiple other reporters have suggested – the Cavs nearly included Love in a three-team trade that would have landed Paul George in Cleveland in late June. However, the Pacers reportedly got cold feet on that deal, which was said to involve the Nuggets as well.

Now that Love is poised to remain in Cleveland, the Cavaliers are re-designing their offense to feature him more prominently, and may also re-work their rotation to get him more minutes at center, according to Lowe. Love has continued to play well in Cleveland, averaging a double-double (19.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG) last season. However, his numbers have paled in comparison to the ones he posted in Minnesota, where he was more of a focal point and – as Lowe details – he was used more creatively.

As Lowe writes in his in-depth feature on the four-time All-Star, the Cavs “are confident Minnesota Love still exists.” Whether the club’s new-look roster allows that old Love to resurface this season remains to be seen, but for now at least, he won’t have to deal with being the subject of constantly swirling trade rumors.

Cavaliers Were Close To Acquiring Paul George

The Cavaliers nearly landed Paul George in a three-team deal in late June, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst.

The trade would have sent Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris and other assets to Indiana, but Pacers president Kevin Pritchard reportedly backed out before everything was finalized.

Prior to the draft, Cleveland made trade offers to the Pacers for George and to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler. Once the Wolves acquired Butler on draft night, the Cavs stepped up their efforts for George, with the Nuggets agreeing to send Harris and the No. 13 pick to Cleveland, which would include those assets in a deal with Indiana. However, the Pacers put the trade on hold as they talked to the Trail Blazers about a deal to acquire all three of Portland’s first-rounders in exchange for George. Both proposals eventually fell through.

The Cavs continued to work on the trade following the draft, and an agreement was reached on June 30th. All three teams tentatively okayed to the deal on a conference call, and Cleveland began targeting free agents to fit with George. However, Pritchard changed his mind and the news broke soon after that George was headed to Oklahoma City.

The failed trade was part of a tumultuous offseason for the Cavaliers, as the ESPN authors examine in a lengthy piece. Cleveland also parted ways with GM David Griffin and was unable to land Chauncey Billups, who interviewed twice as a potential replacement. The team missed out on marquee free agents and had to settle for Jose Calderon and Jeff Green. Then star guard Kyrie Irving held a meeting with owner Dan Gilbert on July 7th where he issued a request to be traded.

Irving was reportedly angry that his name had been included in offers for Butler and George, and has been unhappy for some time with how much James dominates the ball. He also believes the team defers too much to James, noting that LeBron’s friend, Randy Mims, was given a position as executive administrator and flies on the team plane, while none of Irving’s friends has a similar arrangement.

The front office and the players have been aware of Irving’s intentions for two weeks, and there is confidence in the organization that the team can get enough assets for Irving to remain a contender. The Cavs have been inundated with calls from interested teams since the story broke on Friday.

Latest On Paul George

There’s a near-unanimous view around the league that Paul George will sign with the Lakers next summer despite Friday’s trade to the Thunder, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. Lowe states that the chances of George heading to L.A. are about 75%, and the Celtics and Cavaliers had that in mind as they were working to obtain him.

The Lakers also subscribe to that view, which is why they weren’t willing to part with Brandon Ingram or Lonzo Ball to get George from the Pacers now. Lowe adds that Indiana didn’t have any interest in former Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell, who was subsequently dealt to the Nets.

The ESPN writer shares more information about Friday’s major deal:

  • The Celtics wanted to see if they could land Gordon Hayward in free agency before completing a trade for George. They were reluctant to deal two starters in exchange for George without knowing whether they were getting Hayward.
  • Boston’s last offer for George didn’t include Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the 2018 Nets pick or the Lakers/Kings pick that Boston received from Philadelphia. There were reports that the Celtics offered Indiana three picks at some point, but Lowe believes those were a combination of Boston’s future selections and protected 2019 first-rounders from the Grizzlies and Clippers. All of those draft choices could have fallen into the 20s, Lowe notes, and the Pacers wanted something more likely to be in the top 10.
  • A three-way trade involving the Pacers, Cavaliers and Nuggets was discussed on Friday. The deal would have sent George to Cleveland, Kevin Love to Denver and Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and a protected first-rounder to Indiana. Lowe describes the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Celtics as “stunned” when news broke that George was headed to Oklahoma City.
  • The Trail Blazers tried to get George on draft night, offering a package that included several picks and at least one player, but the Pacers turned it down.

Celtics ‘Stunned’ By Thunder’s Paul George Trade

Like the rest of the NBA world, the Celtics were “stunned” by Friday’s news that the Pacers agreed to send Paul George to Oklahoma City in a trade for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Pacers to trade Paul George to Thunder]

Boston had been planning to put a formal, competitive offer on the table for George, but the team wasn’t ready to try to finalize a deal with the Pacers until Gordon Hayward made a decision, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (link via RealGM).

According to Wojnarowski, the Pacers were interested in a package of Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, and multiple picks from the Celtics. Sources told Bulpett that the Celtics were “more than ready” to propose a deal that included multiple players and picks, suggesting that Boston’s best offer probably would have been Crowder, Smart, and three future first-rounders (likely some combination of the Celtics’ own picks and the Grizzlies’ and Clippers’ picks).

Previous reports had suggested that the Celtics were unwilling to include their 2018 Nets and Lakers first-rounders, or recent lottery picks Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Between Wojnarowski’s and Bulpett’s accounts, there seems to be a little ambiguity about whether what was actually on the table for the Pacers from the Celtics. I get the impression that Boston likely would’ve been willing to offer Crowder, Smart, and multiple first-rounders eventually, but weren’t prepared to make a commitment yet, prompting the Pacers to move on to make a deal with the Thunder.

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com, many NBA executives he has spoken to believe that Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard was too “hell-bent” on keeping George out of the Eastern Conference. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) confirms that he has heard this too, though he adds that some Western teams are confused because they felt their offers were better than Oklahoma City’s.

According to Wojnarowski, one scenario involving a Western team that the Pacers turned down was an offer of Gary Harris and a protected first-round pick (which likely would’ve become a second-rounder) from the Nuggets. George would have gone to Cleveland in that scenario, with the Nuggets getting Kevin Love.

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