Larry Nance Jr.

L.A. Notes: Lue, Lakers, Nance, Clippers

The Lakers are seemingly poised to make Tyronn Lue their new head coach, as his representatives and the team are expected to touch base today to try to get a deal done, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

According to Turner, Lue has been the Lakers’ top choice throughout the process. Although Monty Williams was in contention as well, Williams’ decision to accept the Suns’ job didn’t change the Lakers’ plans — it just made them decide to act now, tweets Tania Ganguli of The L.A. Times.

Selecting Lue as Luke Walton‘s replacement figures to inspire plenty of skepticism and snark, given his ties to LeBron James, but sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic (Twitter link) that neither James nor agent Rich Paul told the Lakers whom to hire. Of course, the fact that LeBron would welcome a reunion with Lue, as Vardon notes, was certainly a strong point in Lue’s favor, but the former Cavs coach also received an endorsement from Phil Jackson and impressed the Lakers with his X’s-and-O’s knowledge, tweets Turner.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two L.A. teams:

  • Responding to a report that Lakers GM Rob Pelinka assured him he wouldn’t be going anywhere before trading him to Cleveland, Larry Nance Jr. tweeted this week to say “that is not the case.” According to Nance, “Rob and I had and still have a great relationship.”
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News takes an extended look at the Clippers‘ upcoming offseason, including exploring the team’s potential dream scenario: Signing both Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard in free agency this summer.
  • After his team dispatched the Clippers in the first round, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr raved about his opponents, suggesting it won’t be long before the Clips go from playoff upstart to bona fide contender. “I love their future,” Kerr told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I think it’s great for the league and I’m happy for their franchise.”
  • Earlier today, we broke down the Lakers‘ cap situation heading into the 2019 offseason.

Larry Nance Jr. To Miss 2-4 Weeks With MCL Sprain

Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. is expected to miss two to four weeks with a sprained right MCL, the team announced today.

Nance Jr. underwent an MRI and additional evaluation on Thursday which revealed the injury’s severity. He sat out of the team’s contest against the Pelicans on Wednesday with knee pain, originally injuring himself on Tuesday against Indiana.

Nance Jr., 26, signed a four-year, $44.8MM extension with the Cavs in October. He’s averaging 8.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest in 39 games this season, shooting 53% from the floor. Cleveland currently holds the worst record in the NBA at 8-34.

Central Notes: Bucks, Nance, Turner, Pacers

As part of their trade for Jodie Meeks, the Bucks received $1.5MM in cash from the Wizards, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Taking into account Meeks’ salary, Milwaukee essentially paid $1.4MM for a future second-round pick, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Washington’s tax savings as a result of the deal will be significantly larger than that.

As for the draft picks involved in the deal, the Bucks already owned the Wizards’ top-55 protected 2020 second-round pick. Milwaukee sent that pick back to Washington in the swap, and the Wizards essentially returned it with new protections, per Katz and Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter links).

That 2020 second-rounder now has 46-60 protection, so the Bucks will receive it if it falls between 31 and 45. If it doesn’t, Milwaukee will instead receive the Wizards’ 2022 second-rounder (unprotected).

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Even though both Larry Nance Jr. and the Cavaliers wanted to complete an extension before Monday’s deadline, negotiations were challenging, according to reports from Joe Vardon of The Athletic and Terry Pluto of Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Vardon that he and the Cavs were “still engaged with 10 minutes to spare,” while Pluto writes that Nance had trouble eating and sleeping in the days leading up to the deadline, since he was anxious to get a deal done. The two sides ultimately agreed to a four-year, $44.8MM extension.
  • Myles Turner‘s new $72MM deal with the Pacers was the other rookie scale extension finalized on Monday, and Turner was happy to secure his long-term future in Indiana, as Mike Williams of The Indianapolis Star details. “I love this city, I love the fans,” Turner said on Tuesday. “I just love how much the whole state takes a pride in basketball. … I can’t see myself anywhere else.”
  • Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star explores the connection between Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and Victor Oladipo, the star Pritchard acquired in last year’s Paul George trade.

Cavs Sign Larry Nance Jr. To Four-Year Extension

9:08pm: The signing is official, according to the transactions log. The contract is four years and $44.8MM, Joe Vardon of The Athletic tweets. Vardon adds (via Twitter) that the deal will have declining annual salaries, so year one will be worth $12.7MM while the fourth-year salary will be just $9.6MM.

3:55pm: The Cavaliers and Larry Nance Jr. have agreed to a rookie scale contract extension, beating today’s 5:00pm CT deadline, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). League sources tell Haynes that Nance’s new deal with Cleveland is worth $45MM over four years.

Nance, 25, was acquired by the Cavs at last season’s trade deadline as part of a deal with the Lakers that also sent Jordan Clarkson to Cleveland. The athletic young big man struggled a little to adjust to his new team, playing just 15.4 minutes per game in the postseason, but he provided the Cavs with the sort of energy and athleticism that their frontcourt had been lacking.

For the season, Nance established new career highs with 8.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and a .581 FG%, showing an ability to run the floor, finish at the rim, and guard multiple positions on defense. He appeared to have a noticeable impact on defense — the Cavs had a 102.7 defensive rating during his minutes, compared to a 110.9 mark for the rest of the season.

We heard all the way back in June that there was “mutual interest” between the Cavaliers and Nance in a long-term extension, so he always seemed like one of the likeliest candidates among the players eligible for rookie scale extensions to get a deal done. His connection to Cleveland – where his father played and earned multiple All-Star nods – was likely a factor in those extension talks too.

While an average annual value of $11MM+ may seem steep for Nance, it’s not far off from the rookie scale extensions we’ve seen comparable players sign in recent years. When I previewed Nance’s case for an extension in August, I estimated an annual salary in the $12-12.5MM range on a four-year deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Howard, Trier, Collins, Nance Jr., Taylor

Dwight Howard has been shut down since Oct. 6 after he received a second opinion on a buttocks injury, but he could return to the court for light training on Monday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes.

Howard, 32, has yet to practice with his new team as the injury has kept him sidelined for all of training camp the preseason. Given that the Wizards‘ regular season begins on Thursday, it’s highly unlikely their center will be ready to go by then. However, Washington’s plan is to make sure the veteran is healthy and ready before he returns to game action, per head coach Scott Brooks.

“We’re in no rush. It’s a long season and we would love to have him,” Brooks said.

Howard averaged 16.6 PPG and 12.5 RPG for the Hornets last season as he appeared in 80-plus games for the first time since 2009/10.

Check out more Eastern Conference notes below:

  • The Knicks will let Allonzo Trier use up all 45 NBA days on his two-way deal in lieu of waiving someone to create room on the 15-man roster, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “We have 45 days of him working with us to figure out what’s the next move,’’  head coach David Fizdale said of the undrafted guard. “We are in the process of working with that and finding the best way to stretch that out. Obviously the kid has shown he’s an NBA basketball player.”
  • The Knicks’ preseason schedule is wrapped up but New York will enter the regular without a defined point guard, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke and even the aforementioned Trier are all possibilities. “I am definitely undecided going into the first game,” Fizdale said. “I don’t feel a deadline for game one like everybody else does.”
  • Hawks big man John Collins underwent a non-surgical procedure on his injured left ankle on Monday and is scheduled for a re-evaluation on Oct. 22, the team announced. In addition to Collins, the Hawks will likely be without Dewayne Dedmon, Justin Anderson and Daniel Hamilton for the regular-season opener, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Cavaliers swingman Larry Nance Jr. suffered a right ankle sprain on Thursday and will undergo treatment before being re-evaluated, the team announced. Also, Isaiah Taylor received additional imaging on his left leg that revealed a stress fracture. Taylor could miss upwards of a month, putting his hope of making Cleveland’s roster in jeopardy, Chris Fedor of writes.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Nance, Frye, Playoff Race

Kevin Love, the only remaining member of the Cavaliers’ former Big Three, met with GM Koby Altman in June after the team was swept in the NBA Finals, writes Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Love said he made it clear that he wanted to stay in Cleveland no matter what else happened to the organization.

“We went over every scenario,” he said. “The first was if  [LeBron James] came back and we compete for a championship. Then it was trying to build with the young guys that we have.”

Love also wanted assurances that the Cavs wouldn’t tank and he wouldn’t be traded. The meeting helped convince him to accept a four-year, $120MM extension and a new role as the number one star on a team that has made four straight Finals appearances.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge,” Love said. “It’s definitely going to be a growth year for us. We feel like if we’re in shape, if we play physical, if we shoot the ball well, we’re going to give ourselves a chance.”

There’s more today from Cleveland:

  • Coach Tyronn Lue‘s plan to pick a starting center based on each night’s matchup is a hit with Larry Nance Jr., relays Chris Fedor of Lue plans to start Nance against smaller, quicker opponents and use Tristan Thompson against larger, more physical centers. “Having him start one night and I start the next, not having a definitive, ‘You’re a bench guy and you’re a starter,’ I think is going to be great for our team chemistry,” Nance said, “and I think we’re both deserving of the position. I think it’s a great idea.”
  • Lue has responded to the loss of James by installing an up-tempo offense, and so far the players are enjoying it, Fedor adds in a separate story. Veteran forward Channing Frye explained that the whole team is now approaching the game the way the reserves always did. “True basketball people are going to like the fact that we’re using the corner, we’re using the elbow, we’re using the top of the key,” he said. “It’s not just a lot of one-on-one stuff, it’s a lot of good actions, it’s reads and it’s going to be fun.”
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer believes James’ departure has changed the focus of the Eastern Conference playoff race, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN. “I think Boston, Philly, Toronto, Indiana, Miami, Washington — you just keep on going down, Detroit — everybody feels like they have a chance,” he said. “Maybe more so because LeBron is in the West now.”

Cavaliers Notes: Thompson, Nance, Smith, Lue

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue plans to have Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. share the starting center’s role depending on the matchup, according to Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon-Journal. Thompson will be the starter against teams with taller centers, while Nance will match up against smaller and quicker opponents.

“Last year it kind of wore Larry down trying to guard those big guys the whole game,” Lue said after today’s practice. “That’s a lot to ask for him to guard Dwight [Howard] and [Andre] Drummond and all those big guys, it’s not fair to him, DeAndre Jordan … I talked to those guys before camp started and kind of told them what the situation was. Larry loved it.”

Nance started 10 of the 24 games he played for the Cavs after being acquired from the Lakers at the trade deadline. He was used entirely in a reserve role during the playoffs. Thompson, formerly Cleveland’s full-time starter, appeared in just 53 games last season and started 22. He was the starter in 11 of the 19 postseason games he played.

Kevin Love, who started 48 games at center last season, will move back to power forward but will switch onto opposing centers on defense. Ante Zizic will also see time in the middle.

There’s more today out of Cleveland:

  • A new tattoo may cost J.R. Smith some money this season if he doesn’t cover it up, relays Chris Fedor of Smith has the logo of the Supreme clothing brand on the back of his right leg and reacted angrily to threatened disciplinary action from the league. “So you mean to tell me I have to cover up my tattoo for what?” he tweeted. “You don’t make people cover up Jordan logos, NIKE checks or anything else but because it’s me it’s a problem all of a sudden!!!”
  • Smith hopes his younger teammates can learn from some of the mistakes he has made in his career, Fedor writes in a separate story. Smith’s time in the NBA has been filled with questionable decisions, including a soup-throwing incident last year and a clock-related gaffe at the end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “If I ain’t a lesson teacher I don’t know who is,” he said. “Obviously I’ve made tons of mistakes throughout my life on and off the court. If you can’t learn from my mistakes and listen to what I have to say, then more power to you and God bless you.”
  • Lue announced a “no tanking” policy this week, but a rough start to the season could test that philosophy, Ridenour notes in another piece.

Central Notes: Pistons, Cavs, Nance, Portis, Hoiberg

Assuming they’re all healthy to start the season, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, and Reggie Jackson are locked in as three of the five players in the Pistons‘ starting lineup. However, head coach Dwane Casey hasn’t tipped his hand on which two wings will be joining them, per Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

“Guys are competing and it’s not going to be a quarterback controversy at all. We’re going to put the right people in the right positions, whether it’s the starting group or the second group that fit,” the Pistons’ new coach said. “That’s something we’re going to be watching over the next couple weeks to see. We have a good idea but nothing is concrete right now. There are guys who are defensive-minded and great defensively and guys who can shoot the lights out. We just have to figure it out.”

According to Beard, the early thought is that Casey will go with Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson. There are other contenders, including second-year sharpshooter Luke Kennard and newly-signed wing Glenn Robinson III, but Kennard is still recovering from a knee injury and Robinson will have to develop chemistry with his new teammates.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers announced a series of promotions and hirings within their ranks this week. Among other moves, Cleveland named Dan Geriot and Mike Gerrity assistant coaches and added Andrew Olson as a shooting coach.
  • The Cavaliers are confident about their chances of securing Larry Nance Jr. to a long-term deal prior to the October 15 deadline for rookie scale extensions, tweets Tom Withers of The Associated Press.
  • Speaking of rookie scale extension candidates, Bobby Portis is also eligible for a new contract up until October 15. The Bulls big man appears set to enter the 2018/19 season as the club’s sixth man, a role he’s comfortable with, as Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago details.
  • With the Bulls‘ still in the midst of their rebuilding process, top executive John Paxson declined to name a win total when asked about the team’s expectations earlier this week. However, head coach Fred Hoiberg knows he’ll be expected to show positive steps forward during the fourth season of his five-year contract with the franchise, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Extension Candidate: Larry Nance Jr.

Twenty-three players became eligible for rookie scale extensions when the 2018/19 NBA league year began in July. One of those 23, Devin Booker, quickly finalized a new deal with the Suns, leaving 22 other players who could sign rookie scale extensions before the October 15 deadline. In the weeks leading up to that deadline, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the strongest candidates for new contracts.

Our examination of this year’s candidates for rookie scale extensions continues today with Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. Let’s dive in…

Why the Cavaliers should give him an extension:

The Cavaliers liked Nance enough at last season’s trade deadline that they were willing to give up a first-round pick and take on Jordan Clarkson‘s contract – not exactly a bargain – to acquire him from the Lakers, despite the fact that the deal helped pave the way for LeBron James to eventually sign with L.A.

Nance struggled a little to adjust to his new team, playing just 15.4 minutes per game in the postseason, but he provided the Cavs with the sort of energy and athleticism that their frontcourt had been lacking. For the season, Nance established new career highs with 8.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and a .581 FG%, showing an ability to run the floor, finish at the rim, and guard multiple positions on defense.

While the sample size wasn’t huge and his numbers were certainly boosted by playing major minutes alongside James, Nance’s on/off-court stats for the Cavs were impressive — the team had a 102.7 defensive rating during his minutes, compared to a 110.9 mark for the rest of the season.

Taking into account his on-court ability, his age (25), and his familial ties to the franchise – Larry Nance Sr. was one of the best players in Cavs history – it makes sense that the Cavs would view Nance Jr. as a long-term building block.

Why the Cavaliers should avoid an extension:

Nance has yet to enjoy a true breakout season, and it’s not entirely clear what such a year would look like. He doesn’t have an outside shot and probably isn’t the type of player who will ever average 20 PPG in a season.

Of course, that same sentiment applies to Clint Capela, who just secured a five-year deal with the Rockets worth between $80-90MM, so it’s not as if Nance doesn’t have value. But unlike Capela, who has developed into one of the NBA’s best interior defenders, Nance isn’t an elite rim protector. While he’s solid on that end of the floor, Nance may not be capable of anchoring a defense.

Even if the Cavs do view Nance as part of their future, the team may want to see what he looks like in a LeBron-less rotation during the 2018/19 season before making a significant financial investment in him. After years of the Cavs’ game plan revolving around James and Kyrie Irving, it remains to be seen how the leftover pieces will fit together going forward.

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Ongoing Extension Talks Between Cavs, Nance

Weeks before LeBron James officially announced his decision to head west, a report indicated that the Cavaliers and Larry Nance Jr. had mutual interest in working out a long-term contract agreement this offseason. According to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), the Cavs and Nance’s camp are now engaged in ongoing discussions about a possible extension, with both sides still hoping to get something done.

Nance, acquired from the Lakers by the Cavaliers in a trade-deadline deal in February, set new career-highs in PPG (8.7), RPG (6.8), FG% (.581), and several other categories during the 2017/18 season in 66 total games (24 for Cleveland).

Although Nance looked good down the stretch for the Cavs, he struggled to make a consistent impact in the postseason, particularly after the club’s first-round series against the Pacers. In Cleveland’s final three series, Nance averaged just 13.0 MPG in 13 contests, averaging 4.6 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

Still, the Cavs liked what they saw from the 25-year-old big man after surrendering a first-round pick to trade for him and Jordan Clarkson. Having already locked up Kevin Love to a long-term extension this summer, the club apparently views Nance as another potential future building block. If they want to get an extension done with Nance, the Cavs will have to do so before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

Nance entered July as one of 23 players eligible for a rookie scale extension. That number is down to 22 now that Devin Booker and the Suns have finalized a new deal. Nance looks like one of the prime candidates from the group to sign an extension before the deadline — Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Bobby Portis (Bulls), Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks), Myles Turner (Pacers), and Justise Winslow (Heat) are among the other players who figure to at least engage in extension talks with their respective teams this offseason.

If Nance doesn’t sign an extension in the coming months, he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in 2019, at which point the Cavs would retain the right of first refusal if they extend him a qualifying offer. That qualifying offer can be worth up to about $4.92MM if Nance starts at least 41 games for Cleveland next season.