Kevin Love

Pincus’ Latest: Pacers, Mavs, Cavs, Blazers, Hawks, Avdija

As they weigh their options on the trade market in the next few weeks, the Pacers will be seeking shooting and players who fit head coach Rick Carlisle‘s system, sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As Pincus observes, this could make the Mavericks an intriguing trade partner for the Pacers. Reports have indicated that Dallas has interest in Myles Turner, and Carlisle may value some of his former players more than other teams would. According to Pincus, several rival executives had considered the Mavs the favorites to land Turner using a package that includes Dwight Powell as a salary-matching piece, plus either Jalen Brunson and/or Dorian Finney-Smith.

Turner’s health complicates matters, however. The Pacers’ big man is expected to be sidelined through the February 10 trade deadline due to a foot injury, which will likely temper enthusiasm among his potential suitors. Additionally, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link) that the Mavericks have recently backed off their pursuit of Turner as their defense has moved into the NBA’s top five.

While Turner may no longer be a top target, it’s still possible the Mavericks will consider moving Brunson or Finney-Smith for a roster upgrade, especially if they’re concerned about their ability to sign either player this summer, when they’ll reach unrestricted free agency. According to Pincus, there’s a sense around the league that Finney-Smith probably won’t get more than the full mid-level exception, whereas Brunson is “believed by many” to be seeking a four-year, $80MM deal.

Here’s more from Pincus:

  • Rival teams don’t get the sense that the Cavaliers are making Isaac Okoro or Kevin Love readily available, Pincus says. That doesn’t mean that either player – especially Love – is untouchable, but it sounds like they’re not being actively shopped.
  • There’s an expectation that the Trail Blazers will pursue deals that help them shed a few million dollars in salary to get under the luxury tax line, according to Pincus, who suggests Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, and even Larry Nance Jr. are among Portland’s potential trade candidates. The Blazers gave up a first-round pick for Nance last summer.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hawks acquired a first-round pick from New York in the Cam Reddish trade in an effort to improve a potential offer for Sixers star Ben Simmons, writes Pincus. Philadelphia wasn’t interested in Reddish, Pincus adds.
  • Multiple teams have interest in Wizards forward Deni Avdija, per Pincus. If Washington looks to upgrade its roster, it’s safe to assume Avdija is someone potential trade partners will ask about.

Central Notes: Grant, Pistons, Pacers, Love

The Pistons aren’t likely to make a series of major deals at this year’s trade deadline, but Jerami Grant looks increasingly like a candidate to be on the move, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, who hears from sources that contending teams are “routinely calling” Detroit to inquire on the veteran forward.

Edwards views Grant as the most realistic trade chip on the Pistons’ roster, since the team doesn’t seem interested in trading any of its top first- or second-year prospects and doesn’t have any other veterans who would generate as significant a return as Grant.

Within his story, Edwards considers what a Grant trade might look like, exploring scenarios involving Atlanta, Chicago, Indiana, and Memphis. While those ideas are merely hypothetical for now, Edwards notes within his section on the Bulls that the Pistons were high on Patrick Williams during the 2020 draft — Williams, who is expected to miss the rest of the regular season due to left wrist injury, could be available if Chicago wants to take another big swing at the trade deadline.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer also explores trade scenarios involving Grant, suggesting it makes sense for the Pistons to maximize their return for the versatile forward this season and further invest in their youth.
  • Within the same story for The Ringer, O’Connor cites sources who say the Pacers will listen to trade offers heavy on draft picks, but would prefer to make deals for players who can help them get back to the playoffs. While Indiana is said to be open to trading Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, and/or Caris LeVert, the team may be seeking players who are of “near-equal value” in the short term, says O’Connor.
  • Long viewed as a candidate to be traded or bought out, Kevin Love has once again emerged as a valuable contributor for the Cavaliers in recent weeks, writes Joe Noga of Cleveland.com. Since December 1, the veteran forward has put up 18.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG in just 22.3 MPG (16 games). That would be Love’s highest scoring average since 2016/17 despite a career low in minutes.

Central Notes: DiVincenzo, Love, Vucevic, Pistons

Donte DiVincenzo missed two early layups in his return to action on Saturday, but that didn’t take away from his joy at being back on the court for the first time since May, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. It has taken seven months for the Bucks guard to work his way back from a torn ligament in his left ankle that he suffered in the first round of the playoffs.

Milwaukee’s first championship in 50 years was more remarkable considering that it was accomplished without DiVincenzo, who became a starter last year in his third NBA season. He had been scheduled to return December 15, but was forced to wait 10 extra days after entering the league’s health and safety protocols.

“I was telling Jrue (Holiday) afterwards, it kind of felt like rookie year,” DiVincenzo said. “I had those little butterflies in my stomach, anxious being on the court, just running around, I was like, ‘I’m back!’ So, it took me a little while. Obviously, it’s going to take a while. I haven’t touched a ball in a little while and just trying to get a rhythm. I’m just happy that I’m back. You can’t do anything unless you have your health on the court, so that’s all I’m thankful for, and I’ll keep building off of that.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Brian Windhorst of ESPN looks at how the Cavaliers have found success by defying the league’s trend toward smaller lineups. In the space of less than a month, Cleveland drafted Evan Mobley, gave a $100MM extension to Jarrett Allen and traded for Lauri Markkanen. The Cavs have also benefited from a happier Kevin Love, who has accepted playing 20 minutes per night in a reserve role. “We’ve got a good thing going and I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s going to be great watching this young team develop.”
  • Nikola Vucevic has looked like a different player since the Bulls returned from their week-long break due to postponements and he credits advice from coach Billy Donovan, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times“One thing that when I spoke to Billy that has stuck out and helped me is he knew I was frustrated with shooting the ball and he was like obviously as a player you want to shoot the ball well,” Vucevic said, “but his main thing was I shouldn’t let that affect the rest of my game.’’
  • With eight players and three assistant coaches in protocols, the Pistons are enjoying the advantages of having a G League team close to home, observes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. The team has called up Cheick Diallo, Derrick Walton, Cassius Stanley and Deividas Sirvydis, along with Motor City Cruise coach DJ Bakker.

Central Notes: Allen, Markkanen, Love, Diallo, Carlisle

The Cavaliers are hopeful they’ll be closer to full strength by Monday, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Jarrett Allen missed the team’s game against the Lakers on Thursday with an illness. Lamar Stevens is rehabbing from a right ankle sprain and Lauri Markkanen is reconditioning after a bout with COVID-19, but there’s a belief that all three players could return early next week.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love didn’t require hospitalization but his bout with COVID-19 was a rough one, according to Fedor“I went through it,” Love said. “The first four or five days were pretty tough. All the usual symptoms that I think people might get. Crazy muscle aches, sensitive skin, can’t smell, taste, muscle spasms, fatigue. Then just chest and head got hit pretty tough as well.” Love had 11 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes while playing for the first time this month on Wednesday.
  • Pistons wings Hamidou Diallo and Josh Jackson have been fighting for minutes on the second unit. Diallo had five DNPs this month but played 14 minutes in the team’s win over Indiana while Jackson was benched. Diallo made a layup on the only shot he attempted and had two rebounds but coach Dwane Casey thought he was way better than the stat sheet indicated. “He played within himself, got the rebound, got it to the point guard and defensively, he was solid,” Casey said. “He did a great job in our traps, even forced (Indiana) to call a timeout.” Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and Diallo could return to free agency as well if the club declines its option on his 2022/23 contract.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle felt his team simply didn’t play hard enough in an eight-point loss at Detroit on Wednesday, James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star relays. “This isn’t a ball movement issue. This is a hard play issue,” Carlisle said. “(Detroit) played harder. They took us out of the majority of things that we were trying to do offensively in the first half, and we’ve just got to play harder and with more force at both ends.”

Central Notes: Bulls, Bagley, Mobley, Love

The Bulls have been subjected to frequent COVID-19 testing since they played the Sixers last week, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Nikola Vucevic is out at least 10 days after a positive test. The Sixers had several players test positive in recent weeks. “I feel like everybody has been pretty safe with us. We’ve been wearing our masks a lot,” Zach LaVine said. “Obviously, we have got a lot of tests done the last couple days and it seems like everybody has been safe. Fingers crossed.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons reportedly have some interest in Kings big man Marvin Bagley III, the former No. 2 overall pick who has been benched most of the season.  Their interest could heighten with Kelly Olynyk sidelined at least six weeks. The Athletic’s beat reporters for those teams, James Edwards III and Jason Jones, explore potential trade scenarios, suggesting that a package of Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles might work for both sides once Lyles, who was signed as a free agent this summer, becomes trade-eligible.
  • Pistons coach Dwane Casey offered high praise for Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. “The young man’s ceiling is off the charts, and not only that, he’s a great young man,” Casey said of the No. 3 overall pick. “He’s a student, he’s a sponge, he’s a quick-learner.” Mobley had 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks against Detroit on Friday, while top pick Cade Cunningham committed seven turnovers in Detroit’s 20-point loss.
  • Kevin Love has been cleared to return to the Cavaliers but it’s uncertain when he’ll suit up again, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Love entered the league’s health and safety protocols at the beginning of the month.

Kevin Love Enters Protocols, Expected To Miss Several Games

Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether Love has tested positive for COVID-19.

Love, 33, is the Cavaliers’ highest-paid player, but is coming off the bench and averaging a career-low 20.7 minutes per game through seven contests this season. He’s contributing 9.9 PPG and 7.3 RPG, but has struggled with his shot so far, making just 35.5% of his field goal attempts, including 20.8% from beyond the arc.

With Love unavailable, the Cavs may lean more heavily on backup forwards Cedi Osman and Dean Wade over the next few games.

Cleveland will visit Charlotte on Monday, host the Blazers on Wednesday, and play in Toronto on Friday.

Central Notes: Joseph, Hayes, Love, Caruso

The Pistons waived Cory Joseph this summer rather than guaranteeing the $12.6MM left on his contract. However, there was little doubt the team would re-sign him, as Keith Langlois of the team’s website explains.

Joseph not only excelled last season after coming over in a trade with Sacramento, he was a mentor for the team’s young guards. Joseph received a partial guarantee of $2.4MM from his previous contract before the Pistons re-upped him on a two-year, $10MM deal.

“He’s been a godsend to those young guys,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s always talking. I love Cory’s spirit.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Casey is thrilled with how second-year Pistons point guard Killian Hayes has looked in the early days of camp, Langlois writes in a separate story. Hayes’ rookie year was marred by a hip injury that kept him out for all but 26 games. “I think last season was weird – coming in as a rookie, everything going on with COVID, getting injured. He was feeling his way,” Casey said. “Now I think the number one thing, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s just hooping, playing free and being Killian. He had a great summer and he’s had a great start to training camp, as well.”
  • Kevin Love endured a tumultuous offseason that included rumors of a potential buyout as well as trade talk. The veteran Cavaliers power forward promises he’s not going to be distraction, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“Just putting my head down, keeping quiet and going about my business,” Love said. “The buyout had never even come up. I think that’s speculation…. I’m still sitting here Year 14 as a Cav. Listen, it’s a young team, this is obviously where this is headed and where this is going, but what I’m going to try to be, like I told Koby (Altman) and J.B. (Bickerstaff), is a positive force.”
  • Alex Caruso, who built a reputation of being a solid defender during his years with the Lakers, signed with the Bulls as a free agent and hopes his new teammates follow his lead in that area, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. ‘‘I think the things I’m good at, the team needs and the team can use,’’ he said. ‘‘I think that’s part of the reason they brought me here. Just trying to do my best to rub off on the other guys.’’

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Love, Valentine, Mobley

The Cavaliers want Darius Garland to become more of a team leader as he enters his third NBA season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Garland has emerged as a dynamic offensive player and appears to be part of the foundation for the rebuilding Cavs. He earned an invitation to the Select Team that scrimmaged the U.S. Olympic squad over the summer and appeared in exhibition games with Team USA.

Cleveland needs to find new leadership after parting with veterans Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova during the offseason. It’s a role that Garland is eager to take on.

“That’s my whole goal this year,” he said. “And then just try to make it as easy as I can for some of the young guys that we have, even though I’m still a young guy. But I’m going to my third year, so I’ve seen a lot, played a lot of games. Just try to do some of the little things that make everybody successful.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Collin Sexton was reportedly on the trade market this summer, but the Cavaliers weren’t able to find the type of return they wanted, Russo states in the same piece. Sexton will be eligible for a rookie scale extension through October 18, and although general manager Koby Altman refused to talk about negotiations, he said the team hopes to be able to work something out. “We want him here long-term,” Altman said. “And he wants to be here long-term. We’re certainly working with his representation to see that through. But this is someone that’s been with us since the start of this thing, in terms of where we’ve been the last three years. And we love him; we want him here long-term. We’ll deal with that sort of behind closed doors. But the feelings are mutual in terms of something long-term.”
  • Kevin Love hasn’t talked to Altman or coach J.B. Bickerstaff about his role, but he’s expected to play fewer minutes per game, Russo adds. The team’s top priority for Love will be to keep him away from injuries after he missed 47 games last season.
  • Denzel Valentine is eager for a new challenge after spending the past five years in Chicago, Russo tweets. The 27-year-old guard signed a two-year deal with the Cavs last week. “I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities,” he said. “It’s been up and down, but I feel like the best basketball is ahead of me. I’m finally getting healthy, finally coming into my own, getting my routines down and I think it’s only up from here.”
  • The Cavaliers plan to be patient with rookie big man Evan Mobley, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We will be cautious of too much, too soon, but I think his game is going to dictate what too much is,” Bickerstaff said. “We don’t want to put the weight of the world on his shoulders. We’re building this team and then talent always rises to the top.”

Cavs Rumors: Sexton, Love, Vaccinations, Windler, Valentine

Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton was the subject of some trade rumors earlier in the offseason, but he remains in Cleveland and general manager Koby Altman said today that he wants Sexton to stay with the team for years to come, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

“We want him here long term. He wants to be here long term. We’re working with his representation to see that through, but this is someone that has been with us since the start of this thing and we love him,” Altman told reporters. “We will deal with that behind closed doors. The feelings are mutual in terms of something long term.”

Sexton is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until October 18, the day before the regular season begins. While Altman didn’t go into much detail about those negotiations, Fedor suggests that De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, and Jaylen Brown have been brought up in those talks as possible financial comparables. Fox and Mitchell signed maximum-salary deals, while Brown received slightly below the max.

If the Cavs and Sexton don’t reach an extension agreement in the coming weeks, neither Altman nor head coach J.B. Bickerstaff expects the fourth-year guard’s contract situation to affect his performance on the court this season, for better or worse.

“I don’t think (the contract) will ever affect Collin’s internal drive,” Altman said, per Fedor. “I don’t think contract or anything else will ever affect that. He just innately loves this game and wants to get better.”

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • According to Fedor (Twitter link), Kevin Love told reporters on Monday that there were never conversations this offseason about him accepting a buyout, and he has yet to have a conversation with Bickerstaff about his role for the upcoming season.
  • Altman said his expectation is that everyone on the roster will be vaccinated against COVID-19 within the next few weeks (Twitter link via Fedor).
  • Multiple sources tell Fedor that Dylan Windler‘s left knee is “feeling good” following April surgery, and the third-year wing is expected to be available for training camp. As one of the team’s better shooters, Windler could be in line for a regular role this season, but he’ll have stay healthy, writes Fedor.
  • Denzel Valentine‘s two-year, minimum-salary deal with Cleveland has a $500K partial guarantee in 2021/22, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Valentine’s second-year salary is fully non-guaranteed.

Central Notes: Cavs, Simmons, Bucks, Pistons

Given how frequently the Cavaliers have been linked to Ben Simmons during the past few months, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com contemplates what it might take for the Cavs to acquire Simmons — and whether they should.

Fedor notes that the Cavaliers, as currently constructed, aren’t an ideal fit for a player with Simmons’ skill set, because they lack the shooters necessary to open the floor for his open-court driving and passing. So even if they did acquire him, they would almost certainly have to make more moves in order to build the team around him.

Fedor speculates that a package of Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, and a pair of protected first-round picks might not entice the 76ers more than other offers they’ve received, or ones they could receive in the weeks ahead. He also adds that while the Cavs have no “untouchables” on the roster, rookie Evan Mobley and improving point guard Darius Garland are the closest bets, and are considered very unlikely to be moved.

Fedor says that there are ultimately more questions than answers to the issue of whether the Cavs should go all-in for Simmons, adding that the team should be patient in its approach to see if the 76ers’ asking price might lessen over time. The article is worth checking out in full.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • The Bucks recently held a free-agent minicamp for their last remaining training camp spot, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Former NBA players Allonzo Trier, Antonio Blakeney, Chris McCullough and Josh Gray were among the participants. The Bucks currently only have 13 players with fully guaranteed contracts, so winning a training camp battle could very well be a viable pathway to making the team.
  • The Bucks‘ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, recently named Chaisson Allen as their new head coach. Allen was a highly regarded college player for Northeastern and spent five seasons playing internationally. He spent last season as an assistant for the Long Island Nets. In the same press release, the Herd also announced that Tony Bollier will serve as the team’s general manager and Arte Culver will be the new assistant general manager.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com explores what the Pistons should do with their open roster spot. The team currently has 14 players under guaranteed contracts after acquiring and buying out DeAndre Jordan. Langlois posits the team could convert Luka Garza from a two-way contract to the main 15-man roster, though the plan is for him to spend significant time in the G league. Langlois notes that converting Garza would free up a two-way spot for summer league standout Jamorko Pickett, who’s currently on an Exhibit 10 deal. Langlois also says the team could keep the spot open for maximum roster flexibility, perhaps adding a 15th man later in the season.