Koby Altman

Cavaliers’ Altman Talks Season, Sexton, LeVert, Lottery Pick

The Cavaliers‘ first winning season since 2018 ended in disappointing fashion with two play-in tournament losses. The club finished 2021/22 with a 44-38 record, the eighth best in the East, but was defeated by the Nets and Hawks in successive play-in contests after being hit with the injury bug. Another bright spot this year: two Cavaliers players, point guard Darius Garland and center Jarrett Allen, made their All-Star debuts.

On Tuesday, team president Koby Altman sat down with reporters for an extensive end-of-season press conference. Kelsey Russo of The Athletic captured Altman’s comments in an excellent article.

Altman discussed his feelings regarding a disappointing conclusion to what had been an exciting year for the Cavaliers. “I’m still a little heartsick, to be honest with you,” he admitted. “It’s hard to process the season ending the way it did and that we’re not still playing, but such a remarkable year for so many reasons. A long runway ahead of exciting basketball. So, we’re excited, really excited for the future obviously, and the work continues.”

Here’s more from Altman’s media session:

  • Guard Collin Sexton, a restricted free agent this summer, was enjoying a solid start to the year before being sidelined with a season-ending meniscus injury just 11 games into 2021/22. The emergence of Garland may have made Sexton a luxury for the Cavaliers, depending on his sticker price. “He, in a lot of ways, was the start of not only the rebuild, but the culture that we have in place now,” Altman said of Sexton. “To lose him [with the knee injury], you can see throughout the year why we missed him or how we missed him. So, we owe Collin a great debt of gratitude for what he’s done, the work he’s put in and he continues to put in. An important part of his team.”
  • Trade deadline addition Caris LeVert battled injuries during his brief tenure with Cleveland. The wing has one season left on his current deal, and could be extended by the Cavaliers. “Caris, he got unfortunately derailed right after All-Star break,” Altman said. “He was coming to a place that had enormous success already, that had roles, defined roles, guys that are having a lot of success, All-Star seasons. To try to fit in was not easy. It wouldn’t be easy for anybody. But I love what Caris brought to the table — his competitive fire, he defended; he fit right in.”
  • Because Cleveland missed the playoffs following its play-in losses, the club will retain the 2022 lottery pick it acquired in its trade for LeVert. “I think we’ve done an incredible job through the draft, and taking a step back now and looking at the [upcoming] draft, I like the draft,” Altman said. “I’m not just saying that. Where our pick lands, can we get another … there’s nothing wrong with having another young player that you can develop.” Russo adds that Cleveland also possesses two second-round selections.

Cavs Willing To Deal This Year’s First-Rounder, Rubio’s Contract

The Cavaliers are willing to deal this year’s first-round pick and might also move Ricky Rubio‘s contract in order to acquire another guard or wing, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Cleveland has been the league’s biggest surprise, piling up victories despite losing Collin Sexton and Rubio to season-ending injuries. The Cavaliers have won eight of their last nine games and are 11 games above .500.

This week, the Cavaliers were granted an $8.9MM Disabled Player Exception — half of Rubio’s salary — due to the torn ACL he suffered last month. That exception would be nullified if they traded Rubio before using it. Rubio will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Cleveland owns all of its first-round picks and has eight extra second-rounders at its disposal, including a pair this season, while only owing two second-rounders to other clubs. The team also has a $4.3MM trade exception at its disposal.

But as Fedor notes, the team is approximately $3MM below the luxury tax threshold and also doesn’t want to wreck the chemistry it has built. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said those factors will come into play regarding any moves president of basketball operations Koby Altman might make.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about that,” Bickerstaff said. “We know how fragile chemistry is and how quickly it can be bothered. This is a very important time for our team, an opportunity — if they’re there — to improve itself, but also an opportunity to not feel rushed to do something that could impact the chemistry we’ve built. Our front office has a heavy understanding of how important that is. They are aggressive to improve this team. They do a lot of homework and understand the type of people you’re going to bring in if you do decide to make a move. We do have something good brewing here with the group. Definitely don’t want to do something that negatively impacts it.”

Cavaliers Extending Koby Altman Through 2027/28

Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman has signed a contract extension through the 2027/28 NBA season and will get a new title in the process to boot, becoming Cleveland’s president of basketball operations, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Woj notes that the 23-18 Cavaliers have already surpassed their total win total from 2020/21, when they went 22-50. All of the team’s top young players – guard Darius Garland, power forward Evan Mobley, and center Jarrett Allen – were added under Altman’s stewardship. The Cavs GM also hired head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who recently inked a long-term extension of his own that could keep him with Cleveland through the 2026/27 season. Woj adds that Altman has emerged as a serious Executive of the Year award candidate thanks to the team’s exciting run thus far.

Altman also sagely traded for veteran point guard Ricky Rubio during the 2021 offseason. The 6’2″ veteran proved to be a key ball-handler and perimeter defender for Cleveland before going down for the season with an ACL tear.

Currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, Cleveland is without Rubio and fellow guard Collin Sexton for the rest of the season. The team has responded by adding veteran Rajon Rondo and new two-way guard Brandon Goodwin. The Cavaliers have the assets to make a splashier move for backcourt help at the trade deadline.

Altman has led the Cavs’ basketball operations since the 2017 offseason. The 39-year-old first joined the organization’s front office brain trust in 2012 under GM Chris Grant. Altman stuck around after David Griffin was elevated to the role of general manager in 2014, serving as director of pro personnel for Cleveland’s 2016 championship team, and saw his role elevated to assistant GM for the 2016/17 season. During his first season as GM, Altman oversaw roster construction for the final (for now) Cleveland team to reach the NBA Finals with LeBron James in 2018.

Eastern Notes: Mobley, Gores, Wizards, Bonner

The Cavaliers fielded calls for over a month regarding the No. 3 pick in the draft. However the team’s brass was more excited about adding a rookie with a very high ceiling than reconstructing the roster, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. The Cavs selected USC big man Evan Mobley with the pick. “We were able to draft a transformative talent, whose versatility, athleticism and physical gifts are qualities we covet in a player. Evan Mobley checks each of those boxes,” GM Koby Altman said.

We have more from the Eastern Conference

  • Pistons owner Tom Gores calls top pick Cade Cunningham a natural leader and feels giddy about the team’s future, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com“I’ve never felt better,” Gores said. “I woke up this morning and felt like we won already. We haven’t won a game yet. We felt like we won. I feel excited about where we’re at, but I also know through my life experiences we’ve got to go to work. We’ve got a great foundation.”
  • Zach Guthrie and Mike Miller will be part of Wes Unseld Jr.‘s staff with the Wizards, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets. Guthrie worked under Rick Carlisle in Dallas last season, while Miller is the former coach of the G League’s Westchester Knicks. Former Magic assistant Pat Delany had already agreed to join the Wizards.
  • Becky Bonner is expected to be a bench coach on Jamahl Mosley‘s Magic staff, Fischer adds in another tweet. She’s already the team’s Director of Player Development and Quality Control. Nate Tibbetts, Dale Osbourne and Kaleb Canales are expected to be on the front of Orlando’s bench assisting Mosley, according to Fischer (Twitter link).

Central Notes: Altman, Pacers, Forbes, Draft

The 2021 Cavaliers offseason could include front office changes, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Current GM Koby Altman has been leading the front office since the 2017 offseason.

Fedor reflects that former Cavs general manager Danny Ferry enjoyed the lengthiest run (five years) in power for Cleveland since Dan Gilbert became the team’s majority owner. Alhough the team remains in the midst of a multi-year rebuild, there is a chance that Gilbert’s impatience compels him to make a change and let Altman go, following a 22-50 season, Fedor notes.

Fedor also mentions that Knicks executive Brock Aller, who kicked off his NBA career as Gilbert’s personal assistant before moving up the ranks in the Cavaliers’ front office, could be a potential replacement for Altman. Fedor adds, however, that Aller recently sold his Ohio home, an indication that the exec expects to remain with the Knicks for the immediate future.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Though current Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren may not be long for Indiana, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic predicts that Indiana’s front office will not be making many significant changes to the team’s on-court personnel. Key players T.J. Warren, Caris LeVert, Jeremy Lamb, Malcolm Brogdon, and Myles Turner all missed significant time for Indiana this season. Kravtiz anticipates that team president Kevin Pritchard will want to assess what a healthy iteration of this lineup looks like before making major moves.
  • Bucks reserve shooting guard Bryn Forbes proved his value with a stellar shooting night in the second game of Milwaukee’s first round matchup against the Heat, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Forbes scored 22 points and connected on six of his nine long-range attempts. Forbes has a $2.45MM player option for the 2021/22 NBA season, and may command a raise on the open market should he opt out of his current deal.
  • The Pacers are returning to the NBA draft lottery for the first time in six seasons. Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files examines the team’s (slight) odds at landing a top-four pick this season. Ahead of the lottery, the Pacers possess the No. 13 pick in the 2021 draft, with a 1% chance of landing the top pick.

Goodwill’s Latest: Brogdon, Blazers, McGee, Heat, Oubre, More

Multiple teams have indicated that the Pacers are open to listening to pitches on Malcolm Brogdon, according to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Brogdon is only in the second season of a four-year, $85MM contract, but Goodwill suggests that Indiana is comfortable with the idea of Caris LeVert manning the point if the team gets a deal it likes for Brogdon.

In addition to Brogdon, another Pacers point guard – Aaron Holiday – is thought to be available. A report last week indicated Indiana was seeking a first-round pick for Holiday, which Goodwill confirms. According to Goodwill, Holiday seems to have “fallen out of favor” somewhat in Indiana.

Here’s more from Goodwill:

  • The Trail Blazers are among the teams with interest in Cavaliers center JaVale McGee, per Goodwill. McGee could be had via trade — it remains to be seen whether he and Cleveland would work out a buyout if he stays put at the deadline.
  • The Nets are dangling Spencer Dinwiddie and a second-round pick as they look to bolster their bench, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Brooklyn has discussed players like Avery Bradley, Kendrick Nunn, and Maurice Harkless with the Heat, Goodwill says.
  • Kelly Oubre‘s camp believes the Warriors forward is capable of getting a “top-10 deal” in free agency this offseason, per Goodwill. Presumably, that means one of the top 10 most valuable free agent contracts signed this summer.
  • Goodwill suggests that former Cavaliers executive Brock Aller – who is now the Knicks‘ VP of strategy – is worth keeping an eye on in the event that Cleveland moves on from current general manager Koby Altman at some point. Aller has a long-standing relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, Goodwill notes.

Central Notes: Giannis, Bucks, Carter, Cavs

After leading the NBA in regular season wins in each of the last two seasons, the Bucks have had an up-and-down start to the 2020/21 season. The team has now lost its last four games, dropping its record to 16-12, but reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t concerned about the slump, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN details.

“I kind of have a feeling that everybody is in a panic mode, which should not be the case,” Antetokounmpo said.

While the Bucks’ star isn’t ready to panic, he acknowledged that the team has to “be better,” and noted that the absence of Jrue Holiday – who is sidelined due to the league’s health and safety protocols – has hurt in the last week.

“Obviously, one of our best players on the team and playmakers and best defenders on the team is not playing with us,” Antetokounmpo said. “Obviously, it’s not an excuse. I’m not a guy that gives excuses. But it’s a big part of who we are, and we need him.”

The Bucks haven’t offered any specifics on Holiday’s status, but he has now been out for over a week and the belief is that he registered a positive COVID-19 test.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Tuesday’s game was the first this season in which the Bucks allowed fans into Fiserv Forum. According to a press release, the plan is to increase capacity to approximately 1,800 fans – 10% of the arena’s full capacity – by Sunday.
  • After missing 11 games due to a quad injury, Wendell Carter Jr. returned to the Bulls‘ starting lineup on Monday. Carter, who beat his projected recovery timeline, said after the game that he felt healthy, but admitted his conditioning could use some work, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I got winded pretty quickly which I knew was going to happen,” Carter said after logging 21 minutes.
  • Several Cavaliers players – including J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, Kevin Porter, and now Andre Drummond – have expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the organization in recent years, prompting Jason Lloyd of The Athletic to try to determine why it keeps happening. While Lloyd has no solid answers, he observes that general manager Koby Altman has been a common denominator and questions the front office’s culture-building ability.

Eastern Notes: Huerter, Bridges, Lowry, Sexton

Earlier this week, Kevin Huerter said he expects the Hawks to make the playoffs next season (h/t Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Atlanta is among the eight teams holding in-markets workouts this month.

The second-year wing player added that the Hawks are not far away from competing for a playoff spot, especially with the talent they have acquired. “There’s definitely teams that we think we can jump ahead of going into next year and we’re trying to make the playoffs,” said Huerter. “That’s kind of the main focus for us. It’s something we talked about even at the beginning of this training camp is a lot of individual stats and individual accolades have to be put aside and we have to really try to come together as a team.”

When the NBA postponed its season back in March, the Hawks had a record of 20-47,  which was the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, behind the Cavaliers (19-47).

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Heading into his third season, Hornets forward Miles Bridges is looking to establish consistency, writes Sam Perley of Hornets.com. This season, the former Michigan State standout averaged 13 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 1.8 APG. Charlotte head coach James Borrego said that the team gave Bridges more responsibility on the defensive end, which he earned. However, he also wants the small forward to be consistent offensively. The 22-year-old agrees with those statements and feels he has room for improvement. “I always want to improve on my defense,” he stated. “My off-ball defense, I feel like that’s gotten better with my communication. I feel like my on-ball defense is pretty good, but if I get better on my off-ball and my communication, I feel like I’ll be good.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at some potential trade ideas for Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, noting that Toronto does not have to trade the veteran point guard – who is scheduled to make $31M next season – unless something drastic happens in the offseason. One trade that Koreen proposes is Lowry and a couple of draft picks to the Wizards for Bradley Beal. However, that proposal, among others, is tough and extremely unlikely.
  • Cavs general manager Koby Altman was impressed with second-year point guard Collin Sexton as in-market workouts wrap up, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Altman, who drafted Sexton two years ago, said that the young guard is the cultural leader of the team. “It’s really hard to compare him with other guards as that physique, that just speaks to his work ethic,” Altman explained. “It’s all him. We have certainly given him plans for how he wants to grow from a skill standpoint on the basketball floor, but everything off the floor, he’s locked in.” This season, the former first-round pick averaged 20.8 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 33 MPG.

Central Notes: Wood, Brogdon, Cavs, Bulls

Christian Wood will be reaching the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 on the heels of a career year, and the Pistons‘ big man isn’t pretending that he hasn’t thought about what the offseason might bring, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details.

“I know it’s a big summer for me,” Wood said on Tuesday. “I actually think I’m one of the best bigs in this free agency coming up with my ability to shoot and space the floor and be able to play the five and be able to guard and switch on the perimeter. I’ve just got to stay focused. I’ve got to keep with the same mindset, same attitude what I’m doing right now.”

While Wood should draw a good deal of interest on the open market this summer, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Pistons. The fact that Detroit is the team that finally gave him an opportunity to play a regular role is something he won’t forget as he considers his options, per Langlois.

“It’s a huge factor,” Wood said. “Especially with this team being one of the first to actually give me a legitimate chance and playing in games and believing in me and believing in what I do. Especially with (head coach Dwane) Casey, with us establishing a relationship early and throughout right now. It plays a big factor.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Cavaliers Notes: Porter Jr., Johnson, Avdija

The Cavaliers have had a rough season, with a coaching change and struggles in their young frontcourt among the issues. However, they may have stumbled onto something special in their 2019 No. 30 overall pick.

“There’s no one on the [Cavaliers] with real All-Star potential,” a former scout told Hoops Rumors. “If you told me one player will take his game to that level, I’d bet on Kevin Porter Jr.

Porter was expected to go much higher in the 2019 draft but the Cavaliers happily scooped him up with the last of their three selections in the first round. KPJ has appeared in 45 games for Cleveland this season, assuming a scorer/facilitator role off the bench.

The Cavaliers’ new coach J.B. Bickerstaff has impressed since taking over the role and he has the organization’s full support, as many believe in his ability to develop the young talent on the roster, which includes Porter.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavs had interest in coach Avery Johnson prior to inking John Beilein to a contract this past offseason, as I relayed on Heavy.com. Johnson previously played in the NBA in addition to coaching for the Nets and Mavs.
  • Bickerstaff believes the future is bright with Porter and No. 4 overall pick Darius Garland on the team, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com said. “I think the sky’s the limit for both of them,” Bickerstaff said.
  • GM Koby Altman is traveling overseas to scout draft prospect Deni Avdija, Fedor relays in a separate piece. Avdija, who is a 6’9″ wing playing in Israel, could be one of the top picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.