Koby Altman

Central Rumors: Ayton, Lue, Young, Jackson

DeAndre Ayton should be the Bulls’ selection if they win the lottery, Mark Strotman of NBC Sports argues. The Arizona big man is unquestionably the best prospect in the draft and the top center available since Karl-Anthony Towns, Strotman continues. His offensive game is more developed than any big man over the last decade outside of Anthony Davis, Strotman adds.

Also around the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue showed a lack of trust in the newcomers acquired by GM Koby Altman at the trade deadline during Game 4 against the Pacers, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report points out.  During the final six minutes, Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. were mostly spectators as Lue went with holdovers from previous playoff runs. “It was a close game down the stretch,” he told the media afterward. “So I wanted my veterans, the guys that I know.”
  • Pacers power forward Thaddeus Young has been quietly efficient in the series against the Cavs, as Mark Monteith of Pacers.com notes. He’s shooting 56% from the field and leads them in rebounding, blocked shots, steals and deflections through the first four games. Young has a $13.76MM option on the final year of his contract next season.
  • It’s crucial that point guard Reggie Jackson stay healthy next season for the Pistons to get into the playoffs, according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Jackson battled a knee injury throughout the 2016/17 season after missing the first month, then suffered a severe ankle sprain this season that kept him out for nearly three months. “It’s about getting healthy once again in the offseason and getting back to training,” Jackson told Beard. “I just want to be healthy again.”

Cavs Notes: Altman, Wade, Rose, James, Thomas

The Cavaliers had the busiest and most impactful trade deadline of any team, swinging three major trades and restructuring a faltering roster by the end of lunchtime on February 8. The behind-the-scenes and on-court struggles preceding the moves were a major talking point across the league, as Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon breaks down.

For starters, Cleveland’s rookie general manager, Koby Altman, deserves a lot of the credit for seemingly righting a ship that was on the verge of sinking. LeBron James addressed the changes and praised the general manager.

“It just wasn’t working out for us, and he felt like, obviously you guys saw his quotes, he made the changes that he felt best fits our team,” James said.

Yet, Altman had to correct an issue that brought upon by decisions made by him, owner Dan Gilbert, head coach Tyronn Lue, and James himself, Vardon writes. James never wanted the team to trade Kyrie Irving; when he was dealt, the Cavaliers tried to assemble the best roster possible and attempted to accommodate James despite him not committing long-term.

  • In the story, Vardon writes that the Cavaliers did not feel Dwyane Wade fit on the roster. However, once his buyout from the Bulls was complete, and at James’ urging, the team signed him anyway. While he adjusted well to the bench, Wade initially taking J.R. Smiths starter role had an adverse impact on Smith, who never got on track in the first half of the season. Also, Vardon notes that Wade — not Isaiah Thomas — was the first to question Kevin Loves illness that forced him to leave a game.
  • Derrick Rose was recruited to Cleveland by Lue and – despite his injuries – was expected to a valuable piece on a team-friendly deal. However, just a few games into the season, Rose suffered a sprained ankle that diminished his performance and he eventually left the team to evaluate his future. Upon his return, his teammates accepted him publicly but privately felt it was a matter of time before he was dealt.
  • A lot of was made of Isaiah Thomas‘ criticisms, which came while he was struggling himself. He admitted that he was not at full health as he recovered from the hip injury that kept him out to start the season. Lue felt he had to play Thomas as he was essentially Irving’s replacement but his performance never matched his output last season in Boston.
  • Without a commitment from LeBron, the Cavs were reluctant to surrender draft picks or take on significant salary beyond the current season. However, Gilbert took on future salary in multiple instances, adding Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and George Hill, who are all under contract beyond 2017/18. It’s an insurance net for Cleveland in case James does leave in free agency. For now, James is prepared to take on the leadership role that he seemed to vacate while the team struggled. “So it’s my job as the leader of this team to make sure that I acclimate the new four guys to be around a culture that’s built on winning and practicing championship habits,” he said.

Woj’s Latest: Cavaliers, Clippers, Kings, Jazz

In his latest piece for ESPN.com, Adrian Wojnarowski goes into extensive detail on the deadline deals completed last week by the Cavaliers, and offers some fascinating tidbits on how those trades got done, and one potential blockbuster that didn’t get done. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • Before making his series of trades, Cavaliers GM Koby Altman got an elusive face-to-face sitdown with LeBron James to let his star player know what he was working on. Altman later met with LeBron again to tell him that the trades for Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, George Hill, and Rodney Hood were complete, and to ask for his blessing on the deal that sent Dwyane Wade to Miami, says Wojnarowski.
  • Altman had received ownership approval to trade Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, and the Cavs’ own 2018 first-round pick to the Clippers for DeAndre Jordan, according to Wojnarowski. Los Angeles was on board with the deal, but wanted to find a third team to take Shumpert and to give the Clips a center, since they didn’t want another shooting guard. Altman and Clippers GM Michael Winger weren’t able to find that third team, and since L.A. was unwilling to take on Shumpert (or Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith) and the Cavs had some reservations about extending Jordan’s contract in the offseason, the deal ultimately fell through.
  • The three-way trade between the Cavaliers, Kings, and Jazz nearly fell apart on deadline day when Sacramento insisted that Georgios Papagiannis be included in the deal. According to Woj, Cleveland and Utah were “adamant” that Papagiannis had never been discussed, but Kings assistant GM Brandon Williams insists that his notes confirm that either Papagiannis or Malachi Richardson would be included.
  • As an aside, Wojnarowski writes that Williams was handling negotiations because GM Vlade Divac “seldom gets on the phone for the trade-building parts,” even though any Kings trade requires his approval, along with the approval of owner Vivek Ranadive.
  • The Cavaliers were very much against Papagiannis’ inclusion in the trade, since taking on his $2.3MM cap hit would have cost the club significantly more than that in tax payments. Utah also had no interest in acquiring the former lottery pick, with Wojnarowski suggesting that Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey was “livid” about the insertion of Papagiannis and was ready to call off the trade. As for the Kings, they were hoping to move 2016’s 13th overall pick to avoid the embarrassment of waiving him themselves, says Woj.
  • Eventually, Altman was able to work out a solution and talked Lindsey into it, per Wojnarowski. Papagiannis’ rest-of-season salary for this year and his guaranteed salary for 2018/19 totaled $3.2MM, and the Cavaliers were willing to pay that amount to Sacramento, but Cleveland was limited to sending out $2.1MM for the rest of this league year. Altman convinced the Jazz to send the Kings the remaining $1.1MM, with Lindsey getting a little something out of the deal: the ability to swap 2024 second-round picks with the Cavs. The Kings, having been compensated for Papagiannis’ remaining salary, simply waived him rather than insisting he be a part of the trade.

Cavaliers Notes: James, Altman, Gilbert, Irving

The Cavaliers have struggled for the better part of 2017/18 and while they do, tensions continue to mount between LeBron James and the franchise’s management, Jason Lloyd of The Athletic writes.

Even before the club’s moribund loss to the Magic on Tuesday, Lloyd pulled the curtain back on the NBA’s most dysfunctional family in the days leading up to the trade deadline.

Here are some highlights lowlights from the worthwhile read:

  • The root of the Cavs’ problems, Lloyd says, can be traced back to two key issues that unfolded during the offseason. First and foremost, the club’s decision to part ways with woefully underpaid general manager David Griffin, and secondly, the Kyrie Irving trade that shook the foundation of the roster.
  • While James was vocal about his support for Griffin, team owner Dan Gilbert ultimately gave the job to young, in-house executive Koby Altman. Altman, Lloyd claims, is widely regarded as not ready for the task ahead of him.
  • The Griffin decision wasn’t the only time the Cavs went against James’ wishes during the offseason. They opted to sign draft-and-stash prospect Cedi Osman rather than pursue James’ preferred target, veteran Jamal Crawford.
  • One of the most substantial moves the Cavs made was to deal Irving after his trade request, fearing that his value would decrease if they waited closer to when he hit free agency (in the summer of 2019). James was convinced that he could mend his relationship with the young point guard if only the club held on to him long enough to go through training camp with the team.
  • According to Lloyd, James essentially has no relationship with either Gilbert or Altman. Griffin would often consult with LeBron and keep him apprised of major roster decisions, but that’s no longer happening — James was informed of the Irving trade about 20 minutes before word of the agreement leaked.
  • Multiple sources confirmed to Lloyd that James “cursed toward at least two team executives” during the now-infamous team meeting that began with players questioning Kevin Love‘s absence from a practice.

Cavs Rumors: Lineup, Love, Altman, Trades

Less than 24 hours after Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com once again made the case that Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue needs to change up his lineup, the club suffered its sixth loss in seven contests. After the game, Lue admitted that he had come around on the idea of a lineup shake-up, telling reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com, that he intends to make a change.

Lue didn’t reveal on Tuesday night which positions or players he’ll target when he adjusts the Cavaliers’ lineup, but as McMenamin observes, LeBron James and Kevin Love are probably the only locks to remain starters. J.R. Smith told ESPN that he would accept a bench job if he’s demoted, but McMenamin notes that Jae Crowder and even Isaiah Thomas are also candidates to change roles.

In Pluto’s view, it would make sense for the Cavs to go back to starting Jose Calderon at point guard and Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, sending both Thomas and Smith to the bench. As Pluto argues, the Calderon/Wade combo would likely be more solid defensively, and would allow the Cavs to go to Thomas and Smith for instant offense off the bench.

Here’s more out of Cleveland, as the Cavs attempt to get their season back on track:

  • Monday’s team meeting highlighted a division in the Cavs’ locker room that has become apparent over the course of the season, McMenamin writes in his piece linked above. McMenamin suggests that the players who were with the Cavs prior to this year aren’t always on the same page with the team’s newcomers.
  • In a more detailed look at that Monday meeting, which was described as fiery and emotional, McMenamin passes along quotes from Lue and from Love, who suggests he wasn’t the only “target.” Jason Lloyd of The Athletic corroborates that account, indicating that the meeting “escalated into something more” after initially focusing on Love’s weekend sickness. Wade and Thomas were the instigators, Lloyd hears.
  • Recognizing that Cleveland is still one of the few spots in the NBA where he has a shot at a title, Love hasn’t asked to be traded and has no plans to do so, he tells Lloyd. “The NBA is so fragile,” Love said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get this chance again in my career to win.”
  • Multiple Cavs sources told McMenamin that they hope communication will improve throughout the organization. Communication has reportedly been an issue both on the court – with players not talking enough on defense – and off the court, where first-year GM Koby Altman has yet to establish “protocol for open discourse.”
  • Speaking of Altman, he continues to work on potential trades for the Cavs, but Monday’s meeting didn’t affect his urgency on that front, sources tell McMenamin. We heard on Tuesday that Cleveland has made progress in trade talks involving Kings point guard George Hill.

Cavs Notes: Thomas, Altman, Lue, Irving

After missing nearly half of the 2017/18 season while he recovered from a hip injury, Isaiah Thomas is poised to make his debut for the Cavaliers tonight. The Cavs and their fans probably shouldn’t expect much right away from Thomas, who will be on minutes restriction and has already been ruled out for the second half of the club’s back-to-back on Wednesday. Teammate LeBron James acknowledged that the Cavs don’t yet know what to expect from Thomas, but they’re glad to have him back.

“We really don’t know. We know he’s excited to once again grace an NBA floor and actually play. We’re excited for him as teammates as well,” James said, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “We expect him to be gassed. We expect him to just be very emotional about the whole, just his journey, just getting back. As far as his performance, that’s the last thing that we’re thinking about.”

Here’s more on Thomas’ Cavs debut, along with some more notes out of Cleveland:

  • Benjamin Hoffman of The New York Times explores the potential impact of Thomas’ return on the Cavaliers.
  • According to Thomas, the long process of rehabbing his hip injury has made him a better basketball player and a better person, “mentally and physically.” The former Celtic believes that 2018 holds “something special” for him and the Cavs, as Fedor writes at Cleveland.com.
  • In an in-depth feature, Dave McMenamin of ESPN takes a closer look at Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman, who ascended to his new role in the summer of 2017. Altman called that offseason “chaotic and difficult, and at times agonizing,” with Kyrie Irving‘s trade request representing the most noteworthy issue the new GM had to address. According to McMenamin, head coach Tyronn Lue initially advocated for keeping Irving despite the trade request, but the team decided it’d be impossible to move forward with the point guard still on the roster.
  • Altman on Lue, from McMenamin’s story: “He’s a big part of our free agent acquisitions. If I have a player that we think is good, we put him on the phone with T-Lue, and there’s an automatic respect level.”

Cavaliers Notes: Irving, Altman, Future

Kyrie Irving posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists in Tuesday’s season opener against his former team, the Cavaliers. However, before playing his first game in Celtics green — against the Cavaliers on the road no less — Irving refused to give a straightforward answer on why he demanded a trade, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today writes.

“I kind of want to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to continue to dive into a narrative they have no idea about and probably will never, ever be divulged because it’s not important,” Irving said. “This was literally just a decision I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything because that’s not what real grown-ups do. They continue to move on with their life and continue to progress and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

Irving, 25, has avoided divulging specifics about his trade demand. Instead, he has reiterated his desire to evolve as a basketball player and be happy. Many have wondered why Irving wanted to leave a team that he helped lead to three straight NBA Finals along with LeBron James. But if Tuesday’s season-opener was any indication, Irving’s motives will remain private.

Read more notes surrounding the Cavaliers below:

  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton examines the trade that sent Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae CrowderAnte Zizic and rights to the Nets’ 2018 first-round draft pick. After a thorough examination, Pelton determined that Cleveland won the deal due to the team “improving their depth this season in obtaining an All-Star guard — assuming Thomas returns close to last season’s performance — and a high-level role player in Crowder.”
  • Cavaliers’ general manager Koby Altman joined Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon to discuss his real estate background, how that job prepared him for NBA GM and working for former GM David Griffin.
  • Earlier today, we passed along some noteworthy comments from both James and Dwyane Wade.

Central Notes: Wade, Bucks, Antetokounmpo

Speculation that Dwyane Wade could become a free agent this offseason hit a new level this week when the Bulls guard said that he’d be willing to sit down and chat about his future with the organization. If he were to be bought out in order to pursue a role elsewhere, what sort of impact could he reasonably expect to make? Frank Urbina of HoopsHype decided to take a look.

The two teams most often linked to Wade have been the Cavaliers and the Heat. A move to Cleveland would pair Wade with former teammate LeBron James while Miami is, of course, the place he spent the first 13 seasons of his career. Urbina, however, argues that the 35-year-old could have more suitors than just that and could end up being a game-changing reserve for a team’s second-unit if he parts ways with the Bulls.

In a comprehensive look at the type of value Wade is still capable of providing in the twilight of his career, Urbina writes that the Bulls vet has carved out a few reliable offensive moves that have helped him remain competitive despite dwindling athleticism, including an impressive post-up game and a potent fadeaway jumper.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Shortly after the news of Kyrie Irving‘s trade request broke, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman was formally offered his position. His first order of business, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes, was to gauge if the point guard was serious. “I think we were in information-collecting mode when stuff first broke,” Altman said. “We had numerous teams call about it.
  • The Bucks have seen their season ticket numbers rise this summer on the heels of a solid 2016/17 and the looming benefits of a new venue. James Nelson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that the franchise is selling multi-year packs that will give fans the chance to watch the team in the BMO Harris Bradley Center this season and the team’s yet-to-be-named new facility in 2018/19.
  • Ever wonder just how much of a physical advantage Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has over some of his opponents? A post on Reddit demonstrates just how big the 22-year-old’s hands really are.

Cavs Notes: Irving Trade, LeBron, Crowder, IT

The Cavaliers and Celtics were able to complete the Kyrie Irving trade before Thursday morning’s deadline after Boston agreed to send an additional pick to Cleveland. While Boston did well to draw the line at a future second-round pick, it’s not a great look for the Cavs, who let the saga play out very publicly for more than a week before settling for a 2020 selection that may not even fall in the top 45.

Although the move represents the first major trade completed by new Cavs GM Koby Altman, it was team owner Dan Gilbert who was calling the shots on the deal, multiple sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says that Gilbert’s “fingerprints were all over” this week’s drama. The Cavs owner, who publicly questioned the Pacers for their return in the Paul George deal, was very aware of the public perception of the Cavs’ return for Irving, O’Connor adds.

According to O’Connor, the Nets‘ first-round pick and Jae Crowder were the assets the Cavs management valued most in the swap, but LeBron James and head coach Tyronn Lue cooled somewhat on the trade when they learned that Isaiah Thomas could miss part of the 2017/18 season. The front office had sold James and Lue on the deal by making the case that Thomas and Crowder could help the club contend immediately, so Thomas’ health was a major concern, even if he wasn’t necessarily the centerpiece of the deal.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • While O’Connor suggests in his piece that the Cavs are preparing for the possibility of LeBron signing elsewhere in 2018, we can count Kevin Durant among those who don’t believe the King will leave Cleveland again. As Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details, Durant told Bill Simmons on his podcast this week that he can see James remaining with the Cavs for the rest of his career.
  • With the Irving deal done, former Cavs GM David Griffin, who was replaced this offseason by Altman, can envision the Cavs making another move before the trade deadline, as he said on NBA TV (h/t Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com). “One of the real blessings of this is Koby and his team don’t need to be done (trading) at this point,” Griffin said. “They can continue to try to build the team. The value-to-production of Jae Crowder and his contract are incredible. As you move closer to the trade deadline, the assets they’ve acquired may be able to be put to work again in continuing to improve the team. I think they clearly wanted to get some sustainability so that lottery pick was really important because in the absence of LeBron that’s the piece that helps them rebuild rather quickly.”
  • Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com takes a closer look at where the Cavs stand now that the Irving era is officially over in Cleveland, and wonders whether the deal will end up helping or hurting the club’s quest for a second title in the last three years.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Cavaliers Hire Koby Altman As GM

The Cavaliers have named Koby Altman their new GM, according to the team’s website.

Altman, who spent the last five seasons with the franchise, was promoted to Assistant GM in September of 2016. He’s been serving as the interim GM since the team parted with David Griffin.

“Over the past month, Koby Altman has led our front office group through this transition period, impressing many inside the franchise and outside the organization, as well,” Owner Dan Gilbert said. “We are very excited that he will now be officially leading the basketball side of our franchise. Koby has the credentials, knowledge, experience and instincts to be an outstanding General Manager.

“In addition to these positive attributes and outstanding relationships around the league, Koby will inspire and impact the best possible culture throughout the organization. We are going to see a capable and passionate leader who will also cultivate new ideas and innovation. The speed of the game is ever faster on the court and in the front offices around our league. I am confident that Koby is equipped and prepared to lead and succeed in this dynamic environment.”

Gilbert added that other front office moves are expected to take place. “We are looking forward to announcing additional restructuring involving these remarkable executives in the very near future,” said Gilbert.

Altman has his work cut out for him in Cleveland. Kyrie Irving recently requested a trade and as Austin Kent of Hoops Rumors noted, the organization may have helped itself in trade negotiations by legitimizing Altman’s role.