Larry Nance Jr.

NBA GMs Like Heat’s Offseason Moves, Nets’ Title Chances

Nearly half of the NBA’s general managers voted for the Heat as the team that had the best 2021 offseason, John Schuhmann of writes in his annual survey of the league’s GMs. Miami got 14 of 30 possible votes, while the Lakers picked up five votes. The Nets, Rockets, and Wizards were the other teams picked by multiple GMs as having the best offseason.

The Heat’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade helped tip the scales in their favor. Asked which offseason player acquisition will make the biggest impact for his new team this season, GMs overwhelmingly chose Lowry — he received 23 of 30 votes. New Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was the only other player to get multiple votes (five).

Although the Heat and Lakers received high marks from rival GMs for their work over the summer, neither club is considered the title favorite entering the 2021/22 season. That honor belongs to the Nets, who earned 22 votes from GMs for the team that will win the 2022 Finals. The Lakers (five) and Bucks (three) were the only other teams to receive any votes.

Here are a few more of the most interesting responses from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • The Trail Blazers‘ trade for Larry Nance Jr. received the most votes (28%) for the most underrated acquisition of the offseason, with the Nets‘ signing of Patty Mills (17%) and the Wizards‘ addition of Spencer Dinwiddie (14%) also receiving support in that category.
  • The NBA’s GMs view Rockets guard Jalen Green (47%) and Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (40%) as the best bets to win Rookie of the Year, but voted Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley as the rookie who will be the best player in five years. Mobley (33%) narrowly edged out Cunningham (30%) and Green (23%) in that category.
  • The GMs voted the Magic‘s selection of Jalen Suggs at No. 5 (23%) and the Rockets‘ pick of Alperen Sengun at No. 16 (20%) as the biggest steals of the 2021 draft.
  • The Bulls (27%) are considered the best bet to be the most improved team in 2021/22, while Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (17%) received the most support as the top breakout candidate.
  • Following their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Hawks (50%) were overwhelmingly voted as the team with the best young core. The Rockets received three votes, while no other team got more than two.
  • Only two players received multiple votes when GMs were asked which player they’d want to start a franchise with: Mavericks star Luka Doncic (43%) barely beat out Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (40%).

Blazers Notes: Lillard, Nance, Nurkic, Billups

Despite plenty of speculation this offseason that Damian Lillard may request a trade from the Trail Blazers, the star point guard is still in Portland and indicated at the team’s Media Day on Monday that he remains committed to the franchise.

Lillard wanted to see signs from the front office that it was serious about competing for a title, and while the Blazers didn’t make a huge splash in free agency or on the trade market, the 31-year-old expressed enthusiasm about the team’s roster updates, as Jason Quick of The Athletic details.

“Obviously, at the end of last season I wanted to see our roster improve, I wanted us to have a better chance at winning,” Lillard said. “And we had our conversations throughout the summer about what that looked like and how we could take steps in that direction.

“… We’ve done some things that I like,” Lillard added, singling out the athleticism and versatility of newly-added big man Larry Nance Jr.. “I didn’t expect us to go out there and get Kevin Durant all the sudden. But I think the conversations we’ve had … I feel like it’s genuine that we are trying to move in the right direction and give our team a chance to actually go get another (title). That’s why I have faith — the fact that we’ve had real conversations and that’s what everyone’s intentions were.”

There was a sense that the Blazers might need to take a bigger swing – perhaps a trade involving CJ McCollum – in order to satisfy Lillard. However, as Quick writes, Lillard stressed that he didn’t want to see the team make a major move just for the sake of change and that he’s satisfied with the club taking smaller steps, as long as those steps are in the right direction.

“I think he knows we exhausted every opportunity to improve the roster through trade and free agency,” president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said. “And he knows we will continue to work on that throughout this early part of the season and up to the trade deadline like we always do.”

As for that persistent trade speculation surrounding Lillard, Olshey told reporters that the Blazers “will never be receptive of moving Dame,” according to Quick (Twitter link). The club may be willing to accommodate Lillard if he ever wants out of Portland, but that’s certainly not the case right now, per Olshey, who said the veteran guard is “fired up to be here.”

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • In a conversation with Alex Kennedy of, Nance spoke about making the “really difficult” decision to ask the Cavaliers if they could accommodate a trade to a win-now team, as well as the role he believes he can play on a club like the Blazers. “I didn’t come out here (to lose),” Nance said. “I had a comfortable, cushy situation in Cleveland; I lived close to my family, I was happy and it was all good. I did not come out here to half-ass this thing. I’m all in, and that means going for it all. Last year, we saw a few teams come out of nowhere; the Hawks came out of nowhere, the Suns came out of nowhere. There were teams that surprised some people, and that’s fully what I’m planning on doing here.”
  • At the end of the 2020/21 season, Jusuf Nurkic expressed frustration with his role and the situation in Portland, but he sounded far more optimistic on Monday about the future, as Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian relays. Echoing comments he made earlier in the month, Nurkic said he’s pleased that head coach Chauncey Billups envisions him taking on an expanded role. “I’m glad somebody wants me to be a bigger part of the organization,” Nurkic said. “… I’m looking for a big year personally for me and the team.”
  • Billups spoke on Monday about how he intends to prioritize accountability in Portland this season and will call out players who aren’t performing at the level they should be. “I think it does two things,” the Blazers’ new head coach explained, per Casey Holdahl of “One, it let’s that guy understand and know that he has to be better. And two, it puts everybody else on notice. Nobody wants that, nobody wants to be the star of the tape the next day because you’ve blown five coverages. But it’s a respectful way to do everything and at the end of the day, it’s just coaching.”

Northwest Notes: Nance Jr., Newton, Krejci, Giddey

Larry Nance Jr.,who was shipped to the Trail Blazers as part of the three-team blockbuster deal that landed Lauri Markkanen in Cleveland, believes he’s a piece that could change Portland’s postseason fortunes, as he told Blazers’ website writer Casey Holdahl.

“It’s a team I’ve been rooting for in the playoffs for a while now, just feel like it’s impossible to root against a guy like Dame and CJ (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum), seems like they have great guys on the roster,” Nance said. “I felt it was an opportunity where I really have a chance to step in and make a difference.

“This is a team that’s been on the edge of something special for a while now and the higher ups in the organization deemed me as someone that could help them get higher. I’m thrilled at the opportunity and I’m really looking forward to taking it. Getting a chance to play with players of this caliber doesn’t come around too often.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves have hired Jeff Newton as their G League coach, according to a team press release. Prior to taking the helm of the Iowa Wolves, Newton spent the last two seasons as an offensive associate/player development coach for the Timberwolves. “Jeff has proven throughout the last couple years that he is dedicated to the Timberwolves overall mission, including developing our young players which makes him a natural choice as the Wolves head coach,” Timberwolves assistant GM Gianluca Pascucci said.
  • The contract that Vit Krejci signed with the Thunder is a four-year deal, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Krejci’s first-year salary of $925,258 is guaranteed. The second year salary of $1,563,518 includes a partial guarantee of $781,759, while his $1,836,096 third-season salary is non-guaranteed. The final year of the deal is a team option at $1,988,598. The draft-and-stash wing was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft and acquired in a draft-night deal with Washington.
  • Thunder first-round pick Josh Giddey is already a big star in his native Australia, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman details. In Melbourne, Australia, his fans snapped up Thunder merchandise after he was drafted, his mother Kim Giddey said. “As soon as the draft ended they all went out to buy Oklahoma merchandise,” she said. “It sold out.”

Trail Blazers Notes: Markkanen, Nance, McCollum

The Trail Blazers were hoping to acquire Lauri Markkanen directly from the Bulls, but weren’t willing to part with the draft picks that Chicago wanted, sources tell K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Instead, they became a third team involved with the trade that sent the restricted free agent to Cleveland.

Portland offered Derrick Jones Jr. and a lottery-protected first-rounder, which it gave up in the three-team version of the trade, but balked when the Bulls asked for an extra second-round pick. Johnson explains that Chicago is trying to restock its draft capital after giving up three first-rounders in recent deals involving Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls may also lose picks if they are found guilty of tampering in an investigation regarding Lonzo Ball.

There’s more from Portland:

  • Larry Nance Jr. shared his thoughts about leaving the Cavaliers in a first-person piece on Nance says he asked Cleveland general manager Koby Altman to send him to a contender if he could work out a deal that would benefit the team as well. “Going to Portland is something that I am extremely excited about,” Nance wrote. “This is a team that has seen the biggest stages and is hungry for more, and I’m thrilled that they believe I can help them climb higher. This opportunity is one that I’m very ready to take advantage of and I have the Cavs to thank for preparing me for it.”
  • Adding Nance makes the Trail Blazers the winner of the three-team deal, contends Nekias Duncan of Basketball News. Duncan calls Nance “destructive” as a help-side defender and says he will help the offense as a screener and cutter.
  • In an appearance on J.J. Redick‘s “Old Man and the Three” podcast, CJ McCollum says he feels like he let down backcourt partner Damian Lillard in Game 5 of the playoff series with the Nuggets (hat tip to Marlow Ferguson Jr. of Blazer’s Edge). Lillard had 55 points and 10 assists, but Portland still lost in double overtime. “I have a full summer understanding what we went through, understanding how I performed at the beginning of the season, middle and the end, and I know how I need to perform for us to have success,” McCollum said. “Obviously, I want to win a championship. I have dreams, goals, aspirations, that’s the priority. But for any of that to happen, I need to be the best version of myself, and I have to be a version of myself that most of the world hasn’t seen. You talk about that irrational confidence again, and it’s still here.”

Cavaliers Acquire Lauri Markkanen In Three-Team Sign-And-Trade

AUGUST 28: The trade is official, the Cavaliers announced in a press release.

“We are extremely fortunate as an organization to be in a position to acquire another young and talented player with the skill-set of Lauri Markkanen,” said Cleveland general manager Koby Altman. “He has the proven ability to play multiple positions and stretch the floor from the perimeter and, at 24-years-old, we believe his best basketball is in front of him. We are committed to establishing a winning culture in Cleveland that can be sustained over time and Lauri helps elevate that description.”

AUGUST 27: The Cavaliers will acquire Lauri Markkanen from the Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Portland will receive Larry Nance Jr. in the deal, according to Wojnarowski, and will send Derrick Jones Jr. and a 2022 protected first-round pick to Chicago. The Bulls will also get a Nuggets 2023 second-rounder from Cleveland.

The trade ends a long wait for Markkanen, who had been looking for a new team since free agency began on August 2. He will receive a four-year, $67MM contract from the Cavs, Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link), and the Bulls get the first-round pick they were seeking in return for the 24-year-old restricted free agent. That pick from Portland will be lottery protected through 2028, Woj adds (via Twitter), and will become a second-round selection if it’s not conveyed before then.

Markkanen’s four-year contract is valued at $18MM in the final season, but only carries a $6MM guarantee, sources tell Chris Fedor of (Twitter link).

The deal leaves the Cavs $4.7MM under the luxury tax with 14 players under contract, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Blazers are $1.3MM above the tax threshold with 13 players signed and will likely be $3MM over once they add a league-mandated 14th player. The Bulls are $6.4MM under the tax and $11.8MM below the hard cap with 13 guaranteed contracts, Marks adds (Twitter link).

Markkanen’s outgoing salary only counts as $7.79MM, rather than the full amount, due to base year compensation rules, Marks notes (via Twitter). Chicago had hoped to get a player in the $9-10MM range, which it did by acquiring Jones. Markkenen’s incoming salary from the Cavs’ perspective will be the full amount of $15.58MM.

Markkanen fell out of Chicago’s starting lineup last season for the first time in his four years in the NBA and played a career-low 25.8 minutes per night. His averages of 13.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game were all the worst of his career.

He had been hoping for a “fresh start” and will get it in Cleveland, where he will likely be the new starting power forward. The trade allows the Cavs to solidify a position of need and gives rookie big man Evan Mobley more time to develop.

Nance, 28, is under contract for two more year at $10.69MM and $9.67MM. He averaged 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season and will bring a defensive presence to Portland’s front line. New coach Chauncey Billups has spoken repeatedly about the need to upgrade the team’s defense.

Jones, 24, has an expiring $9.72MM contract for the upcoming season. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 58 games last season and adds another versatile forward to Chicago’s rotation.

Central Notes: Giannis, Sykes, Nance

Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has bought a stake in MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers, the Brewers announced on Friday (link via ESPN). He certainly has the means: the 6’11” reigning Finals MVP inked a five-year, $228MM+ supermax extension with Milwaukee ahead of his championship 2020/21 season with the Bucks.

“This is a dream come true for a kid from Sepolia, Athens, Greece, born from immigrant parents. I could have never imagined I would be in this position,” Antetokounmpo said during a news conference about the purchase on Friday. “I want to be involved in the community as much as possible. I know Milwaukee invested a lot in me, and I want to invest a lot of me back into the city of Milwaukee.”

For more on Antetokounmpo’s foray into MLB ownership, check out the story at MLB Trade Rumors.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

Cavaliers Notes: Mobley, Rubio, Allen, Schedule

Evan Mobley appears to be the best candidate to start at power forward when the Cavaliers open their season, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. The No. 3 pick in this year’s draft showed during Summer League that he’s mobile enough to handle the power forward duties. The coaching staff is reluctant to use Mobley extensively at center until he adds more muscle, so he’ll probably play alongside Jarrett Allen, giving the team two seven-foot rim protectors on defense.

If Mobley is named the starter, that will mean bench roles for veterans Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers have already spoken to Love about reducing his time on the court, and he talked last month about no longer being the No. 1 option who plays 35 minutes per night. Russo notes that Love, who still has two years and more than $60MM left on his contract, can still be valuable as a floor-spacer and rebounder.

Nance is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he started 27 of the 35 games he appeared in and averaged a career-high 31.2 minutes per night. He’s useful as a big man who can pass and defend, and he provides a veteran on-court presence for a very young team. Nance is also under contract for two more seasons, but only at a total of a little more than $20MM.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Newly-acquired Ricky Rubio will probably be used off the bench, as the starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland remains together, Russo adds. Rubio is expected to run the offense with the second unit and can defend either guard position.
  • Allen left a contending team when the Nets traded him to Cleveland in January, but he didn’t hesitate to re-sign with the Cavs this summer, per Chris Fedor of Allen’s new five-year, $100MM contract means he will be a long-term part of the rebuilding process. “Seeing a team like this, knowing what it takes, we have all the right guys and the right mindsets to do it,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Hey, I’m willing to be part of this again, especially with these guys.’ I see a bright future here that I fit in perfectly.”
  • The new schedule that was announced Friday includes a tough early stretch that could set the tone for the Cavs’ entire season, Fedor notes in a separate story. Cleveland has one of the most difficult starts in the league, with eight of its first 11 games on the road and 11 of the first 12 against teams that were in the playoffs last season.

Celtics Rumors: Richardson Trade, Fournier, Thompson, Parker

The Celtics may have been quiet on draft night, but they’re making noise now. After agreeing to trade Tristan Thompson for the Hawks’ Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando and sending Moses Brown to the Mavericks for Josh Richardson, the Celtics have given themselves some extra flexibility from both a financial and roster perspective, writes The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.

Evan Fournier‘s market seems to be in the range of $12-$20MM per year, according to Weiss, who points out that dealing for Richardson affords the Celtics the option of walking away if the bidding war gets too rich for them. It sounds like that’s a very realistic possibility, as Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald hears from a source that Boston is unwilling to meet Fournier’s asking price of $80MM over four years.

“It’s not looking good,” Murphy’s source said of the Celtics’ negotiations with Fournier.

Meanwhile, there’s no guarantee that the Celtics will hang onto Dunn, according to Weiss, who says the former lottery pick  could be flipped again. Weiss suggests that two viable options for dealing Dunn could be to the Cavaliers – along with one of the Celtics’ young players – in a deal for Larry Nance Jr., or to the Pelicans – with Marcus Smart – in a Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade.

We have more rumors on the Celtics:

  • According to Weiss, while Thompson was beloved by teammates, he butted heads with the coaching staff and the organization throughout the year and was widely expected to be moved this offseason.
  • In the same piece, Weiss cites The Athletic’s Danny Leroux, who explains that the Celtics now project to be about $4.36MM below the tax line if Jabari Parker (who has a non-guaranteed contract) is waived.
  • The Celtics wanted to send more guaranteed money to the Mavericks in the Josh Richardson deal, but Dallas initially didn’t want to take any money back, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Moses Brown was the compromise found, given the low guarantee on his deal ($500K).
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets that the Celtics’ front office, especially Brad Stevens, has long been a fan of Richardson, who will be looking to get back on track in Boston after a down year in Dallas.

Cavs Rumors: McConnell, Caruso, Hart, Love, Hartenstein

Length, athleticism, versatility, and shooting are the traits that the Cavaliers will be prioritizing as they consider potential roster moves this offseason, Chris Fedor writes in a mailbag for A secondary ball-handler will be at or near the top of Cleveland’s wish list, whether that player is a point guard or a play-making wing, Fedor adds.

The Cavaliers don’t project to have cap room this summer, but intend to be “aggressive” with their mid-level exception, which should be worth nearly $10MM. Free agent point guards T.J. McConnell and Alex Caruso will be among the team’s top targets, according to Fedor. Both will be unrestricted free agents and are tough defenders who could be attainable with the MLE.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • One of the free agents Fedor mentions as a possible target for Cleveland is Josh Hart. Fedor, who notes that Hart is one of Larry Nance Jr.‘s best friends, hears from sources that the Pelicans wing may be seeking a fresh start. However, Hart is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Pelicans will have the ability to retain him if they so choose.
  • Addressing the Kevin Love situation, Fedor says that some people in the front office view the idea of waiving and stretching Love’s remaining salary (two years, $60MM) as a non-starter. There have also been no buyout talks so far, according to Fedor, who gets the impression that the Cavs would only be open to going down that path if Love initiates those discussions and gives up enough salary to make it worthwhile.
  • Fedor confirms Michael Scotto’s report that Cavs big man Isaiah Hartenstein will likely turn down his player option in the hopes of signing a multiyear deal with Cleveland.
  • The 2021/22 season isn’t viewed as a “playoffs-or-bust” year by Cavs leadership, but everyone feels the team will need to show “discernible on-court progress and take a few steps forward” in the fourth year of its rebuild, says Fedor. In a separate article for, Fedor suggests that historical precedents show the Cavs’ rebuild is on schedule.

Health Updates: Rockets, Nance, Cavs, Hachimura, Clifford

After missing the Rockets‘ last three games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, second-year wing Kevin Porter Jr. has rejoined the team and will be ready to play on Tuesday, head coach Stephen Silas said today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).

Rockets big man Christian Wood, who missed Saturday’s game with a minor ankle injury, is also in position to return on Tuesday, Silas said (Twitter link via Berman). The team should get further reinforcements prior to the end of the season, according to Silas, who expressed optimism that D.J. Augustin (ankle), Sterling Brown (knee), and Eric Gordon (groin) will also be back in the coming weeks.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who injured his right thumb on Sunday, has been diagnosed with a fracture in that thumb, according to a team press release. Nance has been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. Toronto and will be re-evaluated daily as he undergoes treatment and rehab. Sources tell Chris Fedor of that Nance will probably miss at least a week or two. With less than three weeks left in the regular season, there’s no guarantee we’ll see him again in 2020/21.
  • Within the same release, the Cavaliers provided updates on several more players, announcing that Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion symptoms), and Lamar Stevens (concussion symptoms) have also hit the injured list and will miss tonight’s game.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (knee) is set to return on Monday after missing the last four games, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who registered a positive COVID-19 test, will remain out for Monday’s game vs. the Lakers, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who tweets that Tyrone Corbin will once again act as the club’s interim head coach. Clifford continues to be asymptomatic, Robbins notes.