Kevin Love

Northwest Notes: Morris, Hyland, Nuggets Draft, Minott, Wiggins

The impending trade of JaMychal Green to the Thunder portends a very busy summer for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

Denver is intent on maximizing Nikola Jokic‘s prime years, so the fact that the team now has two first-rounders in this year’s draft suggests more moves are coming. It’s unlikely two rookies would have an immediate impact on a team with championship aspirations.

With Jamal Murray returning this season, Monte Morris could be moved. He has an affordable contract and has generated significant interest around the league, a source told Singer. Alternatively, the Nuggets might consider moving Bones Hyland for a much-needed defensive wing player.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If Denver holds onto the No. 21 pick or trades up in the draft, which wings might interest the front office as it looks to improve the team defensively? Singer lists a handful of wing prospects, including Duke’s AJ Griffin and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.
  • University of Memphis forward Josh Minott visited the Jazz and that’s significant, given where Minott is projected to go in the draft, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Most of the prospects the Jazz have worked out are projected as late second-round selections at best. In contrast, Minott is expected to go higher in the second round and could even sneak into the first round. He’s rated as the No. 46 prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Utah doesn’t currently have a draft pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins followed the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love by winning an NBA championship after being dealt by the Timberwolves in a high-profile trade, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Reusse seeks out opinions from several sources as to why Wiggins has excelled with Golden State after underperforming with Minnesota.

Cavaliers Rumors: Sexton, LeVert, Trade Targets, More

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com recently spoke to Michael Scotto about a number of Cavaliers-related topics for the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.

Guard Collin Sexton, whose season ended prematurely after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee just 11 games into the season, will be an interesting player to watch this summer. Sexton will be a restricted free agent once Cleveland tenders him a $7,228,449 qualifying offer. As a restricted free agent, the Cavs will have the ability to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old, and since he’s coming off an injury and not many teams will have cap space to spend on free agents, a reunion seems likely.

When the Cavs were discussing a rookie scale extension with Sexton’s representatives last summer, the two sides floated a contract similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic received from Atlanta, which was four years and $72MM (with a player option in the final season), sources tell Fedor. However, he hears that the Cavs value Sexton in the $15-18MM per year range, while Sexton is seeking something closer to $18-22MM annually.

Although Sexton has undoubtedly been productive on the offense end, averaging 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 2020/21, Fedor notes that there were questions about Sexton’s fit entering ’21/22, and his injury and the team’s success without him didn’t help his case. Given that he’s a 6’1″ shooting guard and a subpar defender, some teams view the former No. 8 pick as more of a sixth man than a starter, which could hurt his leverage in contract negotiations.

Scotto wonders if the Knicks or Wizards might be interested in Sexton, noting that both teams are looking for guards, but neither team has cap space. As Fedor previously reported, he hears that Cleveland has been curious if the Pistons might pursue Sexton, but sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers don’t believe any team will end up offering him $20MM+ per season.

Here’s more from Scotto and Fedor:

  • Both the Cavs and Caris LeVert have expressed interest in reaching an extension this summer, and league executives tell Scotto that a shorter deal in the $19-21MM range might make sense for both sides. However, as Fedor observes, LeVert will be on an expiring $18.8MM contract in ’22/23, so if the Cavs don’t like the types of numbers Levert’s agents are throwing out, they could just wait it out and perhaps use him as trade bait next season.
  • Kevin Love improved his trade stock after a bounce-back, healthy season, and both Scotto and Fedor believe that his $28.9MM contract could be used as a trade chip if the team opts to pursue higher-paid veterans.
  • Noting Cleveland needs two-way wing scorers and a solid backup point guard for Darius Garland, Fedor hears the Cavs are interested in a number of veterans as potential trade targets: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Gordon Hayward, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, and Mike Conley.
  • Although there’s mutual interest in a reunion with Ricky Rubio, Fedor says money could become an obstacle to a deal being completed. Rubio is likely to miss at least a portion of next season after suffering a second torn ACL in his left knee in December, and using the mid-level exception to sign him would reduce the club’s flexibility while still leaving a hole on the roster until he returns.
  • Sources tell Fedor that if a deal with Rubio doesn’t come to fruition, the Cavs would be very open to using their full mid-level to sign Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones, assuming Memphis lets him walk in free agency and he’s unable to get more money elsewhere. Other guards Cleveland might look into in free agency are Delon Wright, Goran Dragic, and Raul Neto. If the Cavs pivot to a wing/forward, Kyle Anderson, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. Warren are possibilities, according to Fedor.
  • For potential draft candidates with the No. 14 pick, Fedor hears the Cavs are fans of Malaki Branham, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Tari Eason, TyTy Washington, and Jeremy Sochan. Those players range from Nos. 9-18 on ESPN’s big board, so some might not be available at 14.

Kevin Love Stung By Criticism From Colangelo

Following heavy criticism from his experience with USA Basketball prior to the Olympics, Kevin Love finally spoke out on the subject in an interview with Taylor Rooks posted on Twitter by Bleacher Report, and said some people “threw me under the bus.”

The Cavaliers power forward said he was still recovering from a calf injury when he committed to play. Love eventually withdrew from Team USA before the squad headed to Tokyo.

“I was not able to be in the best shape I could have been because I couldn’t fully run yet with my calf, I couldn’t really push off,” he said. “I still could really shoot the ball, I could space the floor, I could rebound but as far as switching one-through-five and how they wanted to play, it just wasn’t appropriate for me.”

Jerry Colangelo, the former managing director of USA Basketball, criticized the 2012 gold medalist last summer for not being in shape when he showed up to camp.

“I didn’t think Kevin Love was going to play. I wasn’t even sure he had much left to play,” Colangelo said. “He reached out to us and said he was in shape and said he felt he owed us. And on the basis of that, we’re looking at someone with international experience who at one time was a heck of a rebounder and could still shoot the ball. You know, being like a 12th man on a roster. Well, it didn’t work out. He wasn’t in shape. And he was way behind as it turned out. So you move on. Call it a mistake.”

Love said those comments stung.

“People that I’ve had relationships with throughout USA basketball for that long, threw me under the bus. And I didn’t like that,” Love said. “I felt that I did the right thing by coming to the landing spot and landing point that I eventually got to. I just thought it was very unfair and coming from this elite fraternity that we have in our 450 players. You would think, like, you take care of each other. … I hope I’m a part of that family from here on out.”

NBA Announces 2021/22 Award Finalists

The NBA has announced the 2021/22 season award finalists for the league’s six major awards: Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2022 NBA Award Picks]

The awards were voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The three top vote-getters for each award are the finalists. They are as follows:

Most Valuable Player:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Coach of the Year:

  • Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies)
  • Erik Spoelstra (Heat)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Winners will be announced during TNT’s coverage of the NBA playoffs, according to the league.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Future, Garland, Love

Collin Sexton is looking forward to training camp in September, whether it’s with the Cavaliers or somebody else, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. A meniscus tear knocked Sexton out of action 11 games into the season, and there’s still no timeline for him to resume basketball activities. A source told Fedor that Sexton will undergo several tests next week to determine his progress.

“I’m getting there,” he said after today’s exit meeting with coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “Every day is a grind. I feel better every day. As long as I get better 1% each and every day I wake up, then it’s a win-win. I just continue to know that some days are going to be better than others and just continue to know I will be full go and I know I’m going to be 100%. I have confidence in myself and I have confidence in the people that’s working with me to get me back to where I was — and even much better.”

Sexton’s contract status made his future in Cleveland uncertain before the injury occurred. He’s headed for free agency this summer and will be restricted if the Cavs make a $7.23MM qualifying offer. The team acquired Caris LeVert at the trade deadline, which means Sexton might be in a sixth-man role if he returns.

“I want to be here in Cleveland,” he said. “I love the organization, love my teammates and whatever happens I know that Cleveland was really good to me. I know this is the place that helped me get to where I am today, and I know I want to continue to be a part of this winning culture. I feel like me just being able to be at the start of it helped us get to yesterday and where we are right now at the present. I love Cleveland. I want to be here.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers had their season derailed by injuries and weren’t able to advance beyond the play-in tournament, but the mood was optimistic after Friday’s game, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Cleveland was among the most improved teams in the league, and there’s a feeling that the foundation is in place to be a long-term contender. “We’re still like, ‘Damn, it’s really over,’” Jarrett Allen said. “And then two seconds later, and it’s like, we’re laughing because we had a hell of a year. A lot has happened this year — positive, negative — but we look at all the times that we did play well, and we came together. And that was all positive.”
  • Darius Garland has made a strong case to receive a rookie-scale extension that could be worth up to a projected $181MM over five years, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. Garland became an All-Star in his third NBA season and took on a larger role as the team dealt with injuries, averaging 25.2 points and a league-high 10.8 assists per game after March 1.
  • Kevin Love‘s bounce-back season may cause the front office to consider an extension, Marks adds. Love has an expiring $28.9MM contract for next season, but there would be no restrictions on how much his salary could decrease in the first year of a new deal.

Cavaliers Notes: Allen, Garland, Mobley, Love

The Cavaliers are still hoping injured center Jarrett Allen can return at some point, but he will miss Sunday’s regular season finale against the Bucks, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Allen, who hasn’t played since fracturing his left middle finger on March 6, is listed as “out” on Cleveland’s official injury report.

Allen went through a 15-minute workout before Friday’s game at Brooklyn, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. He wore a splint over the injured finger and did nearly everything one-handed as he simulated a variety of game situations. Every shot he took was with his right hand, Fedor adds.

A source told Fedor that a major concern involves Allen’s pain tolerance, particularly when he catches passes. Allen and the team remain hopeful that he’ll be ready for the Cavs’ first play-in tournament game, which will take place Tuesday if they’re in the 7-8 matchup or Wednesday if they fall to the 9-10 contest.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers have slumped lately amid a series of injuries, but Darius Garland believes they’re still a “scary” postseason opponent for anyone, whether or not Allen is able to play, Fedor writes in a separate story“We’re scary with him or without him,” Garland said. “There’s a lot of teams that don’t want to see us with him or without him. We get him back, great. If we don’t, great. We still got basketball games to play.”
  • Although Cleveland lost its third straight game Friday, there was some good news, Fedor adds. Rookie star Evan Mobley returned from a five-game absence with a sprained left ankle and contributed 17 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes.
  • In an interview with Chris Mannix of Sports IllustratedKevin Love said this season is the most fun he’s had since winning the NBA title six years ago. Love, who has been through disputes with management in recent years, credits the trust that coach J.B. Bickerstaff has shown in him. “J.B., he’s like, ‘I want you to play free,’” Love said. “You have the green light … so for me, there was no pushback. And from then on, it took me about, I’d say four to six weeks to really feel right and secure and find how I was going to play within our group and different matchups and who I was going to be playing with. I’d say around December is where I found myself within that sixth man role. And then it just grew from there.”

And-Ones: Jerebko, Canaan, China, Teammate Award, Future Rankings

While some former NBA players have left Russian teams following the invasion into Ukraine, Jonas Jerebko is resuming his career there. The ex-NBA big man signed with CSKA Moscow, the team tweets. That didn’t sit well with the Swedish National Team, who suspended him, according to Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops.net“Unfortunately, we are forced to state that there are no conditions for Jonas Jerebko to play for the Sweden basketball national team,” a Swedish Basketball Federation press release stated in part. Jerebko played for four NBA teams.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Another Russian team, Unics Kazan, has mutually parted ways with guard Isaiah Canaan, according to a EuroHoops.net story. Canaan is joining Turkey’s Galatasaray, EuroHoops tweets. Canaan appeared in 235 NBA games, most recently during the 2018/19 campaign.
  • Chinese TV has resumed broadcasts of NBA games, Sopan Deb of the New York Times reports. China had boycotted NBA broadcasts since 2019, when former Houston executive Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. China Central Television, its state-run TV network, broadcasted Tuesday night’s matchup between the Clippers and Jazz, which kicked off a full return of the league to China’s airwaves.
  • The 12 finalists for the league’s Teammate of the Year award have been announced, the NBA announced (via Twitter). DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green , Udonis Haslem, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Love, Boban Marjanovic, Chris Paul, Fred VanVleet and Grant Williams are the contenders. The annual honor recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.
  • The Grizzlies top the list on ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, according to Kevin Pelton, Bobby Marks, Andre’ Snellings, and Tim Bontemps (Insider link). They’re followed by the Heat and Suns. The Kings sit at the bottom of the pile.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Nets, Cavaliers, Bitadze

Nets guard Ben Simmons won’t play on Thursday in Philadelphia, but he’s expected to be with the team at Wells Fargo Center, reports Shams Charania of Stadium (video link). Simmons figures to face plenty of vitriol from the Sixers faithful, but it will likely be diluted to some extent by the fact that he’ll be on the bench rather than on the court. According to Charania, there’s optimism that Simmons will make his Nets debut later this month.

  • If the Nets were to win a title this year, it would be bad for the NBA, argues Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Brooklyn has “blatantly treated the regular season as a waste of time,” according to Bondy, who notes that Kyrie Irving essentially chose not to play in over half of this season’s games, while the team traded a superstar for a player (Simmons) who will require a ramp-up process of more than a month.
  • Having sustained both a quad contusion and a fractured finger in Sunday’s game, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen has reportedly been ruled out indefinitely. While the team hasn’t issued an update on Allen’s status, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen sound prepared to adjust their roles if the All-Star big man misses time, as Kelsey Russo of The Athletic relays. Kevin Love would play in my position; it would just shift down the line,” Mobley said. “Lauri could also play four more often because it would be less. But we still got like three bigs, me, K-Love and Lauri. So we’re still a very big team, and I feel like we can still play a similar way as we have.”
  • Pacers center Goga Bitadze had a career night on Sunday with 20 points on 7-of-7 shooting, as James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star writes. The third-year center, who hasn’t been a regular part of Indiana’s rotation since being drafted in the first round in 2019, has a chance to prove his value down the stretch before becoming extension-eligible this summer.

Central Notes: Ball, Caruso, Williams, Vucevic, Love, Jackson

Bulls guards Lonzo Ball (knee) and Alex Caruso (wrist) did individual, non-contact work at the team’s practice on Sunday, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Joining them was forward Patrick Williams (wrist), who hasn’t played since October.

Caruso will need to be checked by a doctor again before being cleared for contact, coach Billy Donovan said. Still, all three players are now traveling with the team, Johnson adds (Twitter link).

Chicago next plays at Philadelphia on Monday. Johnson notes the club hasn’t decided if Ball, Caruso and Williams will continue traveling to Detroit on Wednesday, as they could benefit more from rehabbing at home before the team returns Saturday.

Here are some other notes from the Central Division:

  • Bulls star Nikola Vucevic didn’t practice on Saturday due to hamstring tightness, according to K.C. Johnson (Twitter link). Vucevic did weightlifting work and is listed as questionable to play against Philadelphia on Monday. He finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and two steals in a loss to the Bucks on Friday.
  • Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com examines how Kevin Love — a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year — found his basketball joy again. Love has revitalized his career with the Cavaliers this season, averaging 13.9 points and 7.1 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game. He’s also shot 38.9% from three-point range, which is his highest mark since the 2017/18 campaign.
  • Pistons guard Frank Jackson (spine) will see a specialist and miss at least one more week, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Jackson is receiving further evaluation after missing two straight games. He’s averaged a career-high 10.7 points per game this season.

Cavaliers Notes: DPE, Rubio, Love, Rebuild Over

The Cavaliers have been granted a disabled player exception worth $8.9MM – half of Ricky Rubio‘s salary – for the season-ending torn ACL that Rubio suffered last month, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (via Twitter).

A disabled player exception can be granted when a team has a player go down with an injury deemed to be season-ending (with the player more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15). The cap exception doesn’t open up an extra roster spot, but it gives the club some additional spending flexibility, functioning almost as a cross between a traded player exception and a mid-level exception.

We go into more detail on who qualifies for disabled player exceptions and how exactly they work in our glossary entry on the subject. But essentially, a DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.

The Cavs are currently only $3.5MM below the luxury tax threshold and already have a full roster, so they might not end up using the DPE by the March 10 deadline. Still, it’s another asset for the team to potentially utilize.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • Kevin Love is relishing his reserve role, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Love has been on a rocky path the past couple of years, transitioning from four straight NBA Finals appearances to a full rebuild. However, he’s enjoying the ride with the ascendant Cavs this season. “We may be the ultimate share-the-wealth team,” Love said. “That’s beautiful. We really pay it forward for the next guy. We trust the extra pass. We trust guys to make the right plays out there and understand that they have great intention in everything that they do and we do. That allows guys to play free.” Love is in contention for the Sixth Man of the Year award, averaging 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on .439/.408/.873 shooting in just 21.6 minutes per contest (41 games).
  • Jason Lloyd of The Athletic declares that the team’s rebuild is officially over and the Cavs are a team to be feared throughout the league after beating the defending champion Bucks 115-99 on Wednesday night. He notes that Cleveland is fourth in the league in net rating at plus-5.1, typically a hallmark of a contending team. Last season, the Cavs held a minus-8.3 net rating, so it’s been a 13.4 point turnaround. Lloyd believes GM Koby Altman and head coach J.B. Bickerstaff deserve a lot of credit for the year-to-year transformation and should be in the running for Executive and Coach of the Year, respectively. Altman recently received a long-term contract extension and a promotion to president of basketball operations.
  • Along the same lines, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes that the Cavaliers have the perfect blend of talent and chemistry, with a real shot at becoming the No. 1 seed in the East. “This is not the Cleveland we knew in the past years,” reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo said following Cleveland’s victory over Milwaukee Wednesday. “They’re a good team. They have a better record than us right now. It’s a team that we’ve got to be careful, we’ve got to scout better and make sure we respect them even more now. They’re a playoff team and they’re fighting for the title themselves.” The Cavs are currently in third place with a 30-19 record, one-and-a-half games back of the 31-17 Heat.