Cavaliers Face Two Important Deadlines Monday

Monday is an important day on the Cavaliers’ calendar for two reasons, notes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.

It’s the expiration date for a trade exception the team acquired when it dealt Anderson Varejao to Portland last season. Currently at nearly $4.4MM, the exception started out at more than $9.6MM, but the Cavs used about $5.2MM when they acquired Kyle Korver from the Hawks in January.

Pluto speculates that Jazz point guard Shelvin Mack could be a good pickup with Cleveland searching for a veteran backup to Kyrie Irving. Mack has dropped out of the rotation in Utah, but he is averaging 7.3 points through 46 games and is shooting 36% from 3-point range, which would be an asset in Cleveland’s offense. Mack’s salary is a little more than $2.4MM, and he will be a free agent when the season ends.

Monday also marks the first day that Varejao could potentially return to Cleveland. NBA rules state that players who are traded must wait at least a full calendar year before rejoining their original team.

The Warriors waived Varejao two weeks ago to free up a roster spot to sign Briante Weber. Pluto writes that the 34-year-old big man could be on the Cavaliers’ radar as a fallback choice as they look for a replacement for the injured Chris Andersen. First they will see if any centers are realistic trade options, then they wait to see who gets bought out. Pluto says they prefer Andrew Bogut to Varejao, but it seems likely the Mavericks will keep him.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Heat Notes: Riley, Dragic, Trade Deadline, Waiters

The Heat’s recent hot streak hasn’t changed the fact that this will be a crucial summer for the organization, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami won 14 of its last 16 games before the All-Star break to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. But Winderman says team president Pat Riley will have bigger issues than the postseason to consider when he decides what moves to make before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Heat will probably enter the offseason with Chris Bosh‘s salary-cap space reclaimed and with the knowledge that Tyler Johnson‘s cap hit will balloon from $5.9MM next season to $19.2MM in 2018/19. That creates a sense of urgency for a big move this summer. Miami will also have its draft pick this season, although the team appears out of the running for a top choice, but two of the next four Heat first-rounders belong to the Suns from the Goran Dragic trade.

There’s more this morning out of Miami:

  • Dragic, who once seemed a likely trade candidate because of his contract and the Heat’s poor record, has become indispensable as a team leader, Winderman writes in a separate piece. With Miami contending for a playoff spot, Dragic’s salary of more than $54MM over the next three seasons doesn’t seem nearly as oppressive. “Winning means something to him,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. “And that’s where you start with leadership, is bringing other people with you to make winning that important. And it’s uncomfortable for the majority of leaders, to take that first step. And that’s where he’s been very open to his growth.”
  • The Heat are focused on making the playoffs and are more likely to be buyers than sellers as the deadline approaches, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald asked two Eastern Conference scouts to rate Miami’s roster. They believe Dion Waiters will get offers of $10MM to $12MM per year when he hits free agency this summer, James Johnson is better than anyone believed and will probably get at least $10MM per year as a free agent and Tyler Johnson’s production is warranting the four-year, $50MM offer that the Heat matched last summer.

Weekly Mailbag: 2/13/16 – 2/19/16

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com. Here are this week’s inquiries:

What’s your opinion of the Serge Ibaka trade from the Raptors’ perspective? They have Jonas Valanciunas, drafted Jakob Poeltl, as well as Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger. So why trade from the backcourt depth for something that doesn’t appear on paper as a need? — Matt Elliott

The Raptors believe they are in position to contend for a title this season, and the organization didn’t see Poeltl, Patterson or Sullinger as a difference maker at power forward. After losing to the Cavaliers in last year’s Eastern finals, Toronto didn’t want to enter the playoffs with basically the same roster. Ibaka is a better shooter and rim protector than anyone they had at the position and he got a ton of playoff experience in Oklahoma City. No matter how much the Raptors may miss Ross, it was worth rolling the dice on a deal that makes their starting lineup significantly better.

Who would Detroit give the hardest matchup to, Boston or Washington? Is there a player out there that would fit their biggest need before the deadline? — Mark Holmes

Despite their 27-30 record, the Pistons wouldn’t be an easy playoff matchup for either team. The Celtics, with their rebounding and interior defensive issues, would probably have a tougher time containing Andre Drummond in a seven-game series. Detroit has discussed a deal that would send Reggie Jackson to Orlando in exchange for D.J. Augustin and Jeff Green. While that may help with chemistry issues, it’s not a talent upgrade and it wouldn’t guarantee the Pistons a playoff spot. They could also revisit a deal with Minnesota for Ricky Rubio, who continues to be available. More likely, Detroit will save its most significant moves for the offseason.

Isn’t Kyle O’Quinn a legitimate candidate for Most Improved? Who would be his competition? — Ed Fields

The 26-year-old center has stepped up his game this season and has helped the Knicks deal with a disappointing performance from Joakim Noah. However, the modest increase in his numbers (going from 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game a year ago to 6.4 and 5.6 this season) won’t be enough to take home the award. Bucks point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is almost a shoo-in for the honor, even though he was recognized as a star before the season began. His averages are up significantly in points (16.9 to 23.4), rebounds (7.7 to 8.6) and assists (4.3 to 5.4) and he has become an on-court leader for the Bucks. His most serious competition was probably Zach LaVine before the season-ending ACL injury. O’Quinn is having a nice season, but this year’s award belongs to the Greek Freak.

Timberwolves Interested In Iman Shumpert

The Timberwolves have “strong interest” in dealing for Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert, tweets Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.

Minnesota has been in the market for veteran wing help all season and tried to acquire Shumpert in October, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis (Twitter link). The Wolves have point guard depth with Ricky Rubio, Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn all on the roster and could help Cleveland with its search for a backup ballhandler.

Shumpert is under contract for two more years and will make $10.3MM next season and $11MM in 2018/19. The 26-year-old has played 51 games for Cleveland this season, starting 15, and is averaging 7.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per night. He has spent two years with the Cavs after being acquired in a 2015 deal with the Knicks.

Anthony Still Pondering No-Trade Clause

Carmelo Anthony is easily the most unhappy All-Star in New Orleans this weekend, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post.

Anthony was planning a Caribbean vacation when he got the news that he would be replacing the injured Kevin Love in tonight’s game. He told reporters that he can’t get a refund on the trip and would have declined the invitation if the NBA permitted it.

Anthony had been planning to spend his time “evaluating” his long-running feud with Knicks president Phil Jackson and considering whether to waive his no-trade clause if the team can find a suitable deal. Trading Anthony won’t be easy because his salary is nearly $25MM, plus a trade kicker that brings the total up to about $28MM.

New York has reportedly had talks with the Clippers, Cavaliers and Celtics, but Anthony says Knicks management hasn’t spoken to him about the situation. He was non-committal Saturday when asked about his future.

“It would be up in the air,” Anthony said. “Something I have a problem thinking about it. To say I don’t think about it, I’d be wrong, I’d be lying to you. I think about it. Think about it a lot. I think about what’s best for me, what’s best for the organization and what’s out there. I think about that stuff.’’

Asked whether he wants to remain with the Knicks for their first post-deadline game on Thursday, Anthony added, “I hope so. We’ll see what happens. I plan on being here.’’

Anthony, who has spent six years in New York, also stated that he plans to discuss any deals with his family before making a decision on the no-trade clause. He said his fellow All-Stars have been asking him about the situation since he arrived in New Orleans.

Silver Wants NBA’s Age Limit Reconsidered

Commissioner Adam Silver said tonight that the NBA should consider changing its minimum age limit. In his annual state-of-the-league address as part of All-Star weekend, Silver said the issue “needs to be studied more,” relays Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com.

He told reporters that players association Executive Director Michele Roberts agrees that the current minimum of 19 years old may need to be altered. No changes were made to the age requirement in the latest collective bargaining agreement that was agreed upon in December. That document takes effect July 1st, and neither side can opt out before the end of the 2022/23 season.

Silver said the issue may need to be addressed “outside of the bright lights of collective bargaining.”

“I think both of us, while our traditional positions have been the league would like to raise the minimum age from 19 to 20, and at least Michele’s stated position is that she’d like to lower it from 19 to 18, I think there’s an acknowledgement that the issue is far more complex than that,” Silver said. “And it requires sort of all the constituent groups to be at the table.

“And I will say — and maybe it’s a little bit of a different position from my standpoint — I think rather than standing here and saying league’s goal is to get from 19 to 20, I think I have a better understanding of the issue now as well as I talk to some of the young players who are coming into our league who have only completed a portion of their freshman year in college and have a better understanding of what the conditions are for them both academically and in terms of their basketball requirements.”

There were some other highlights from Silver’s speech:

  • Charlotte will be considered as a future All-Star Game host. This year’s game was moved to New Orleans because the league wanted to register its opposition to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Silver said Charlotte may be given the 2019 game if the law is changed.
  • The league will continue to monitor inclusivity when awarding events such as the All-Star Game. Texas is considering a similar proposal that would prevent transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice. “Our values, our league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion are paramount to this league and all the members of the NBA family, and I think those jurisdictions that are considering legislation similar to HB2 are on notice that that is an important factor for us,” Silver said. “Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game.”
  • The commissioner was disappointed that he wasn’t able to resolve the feud between Charles Oakley and James Dolan. Silver said the Knicks owner invited Oakley back to Madison Square Garden, but the former player hasn’t accepted. “The fan in me and someone who’s known Charles for a long time — I hope at some point he does return to Madison Square Garden,” Silver said. “But ultimately, that’s his decision.”

Woj: Butler Trade To The Celtics Still Possible

A potential trade sending Jimmy Butler from the Bulls to the Celtics will loom over deadline week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link).

In a video interview, Wojnarowski says the teams have discussed a deal involving Butler, but talks haven’t progressed very far. He adds that Chicago officials have to to fully commit to the rebuilding process before they would be willing to give up Butler.

Wojnarowski says the trade would involve one of the Nets’ first-rounders — but probably not both — that Boston owns in the next two drafts. If the Bulls get this year’s pick, Wojnarowski states they can find a replacement for Derrick Rose, who was traded to the Knicks last summer. Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball are point guards mentioned as likely choices at the top of the draft.

Teaming Butler with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would give the Celtics enough firepower to challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East, Wojnarowski states, not just this season but for years to come.

Other highlights from the interview:

  • The Clippers and Thunder are both potential landing spots for Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler. However, both teams are low on draft picks and may not have the assets that Denver would want in return.
  • The Thunder were trying to acquire Kings forward Rudy Gay before a season-ending Achilles injury.
  • The Wizards would like to add another wing player to their bench, with the LakersLou Williams and the NetsBojan Bogdanovic as possibilities. Wojnarowski says Washington is willing to part with a draft pick to get veteran help.
  • The Suns have been shopping P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, hoping to get picks or young players in return.
  • Chandler is one of several centers on the market, along with the SixersJahlil Okafor, the MavericksAndrew Bogut, the BucksGreg Monroe and the NetsBrook Lopez. However, there is limited interest in back-to-the basket centers. Wojnarowski speculates that one or two of them may be traded this week, but cautions that there aren’t enough buyers for all of them to be moved.
  • Unless something changes, Carmelo Anthony will remain with the Knicks. New York management hasn’t presented him with any deals that would tempt him to waive his no-trade clause. Most of the teams that were interested in dealing for Anthony are now “looking in other directions,” but Wojnarowski thinks the Clippers might revisit their attempt to land Anthony this summer.

Georges-Hunt’s 10-Day Deal With Heat Expires

The 10-day contract that Marcus Georges-Hunt signed with the Heat expires today and the team currently doesn’t have a roster spot to keep him, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.

The 6-5 shooting guard signed with Miami on February 8th after the Heat were granted a hardship exception. The league approved the exception because Miami had four players — Chris Bosh, Justise Winslow, Josh McRoberts and Josh Richardson — sidelined by long-term injuries. However, Richardson is expected to return after the All-Star break, so the team no longer qualifies for an extra roster spot.

The exception could be granted again if another player suffers an injury that will keep him out at least two weeks. The Heat could also open a roster spot via trade before Thursday’s deadline or by waiving Bosh, who hasn’t played all season because of ongoing problems with blood clots. Bosh has been out of action for more than a year, so Miami can seek a medical retirement at any time, but the Heat are expected to wait until after March 1st so Bosh won’t be eligible for the playoffs with another organization.

Georges-Hunt didn’t see any court time during his 10 days with Miami. He was sent to the Heat’s affiliate in Sioux Falls on Thursday so he would be eligible for today’s D-League All-Star Game, where he had eight points and four assists.

Hunt went undrafted in 2016 after four years at Georgia Tech. He signed with the Celtics in August, but was waived before the start of the season.

Trade Deadline Outlook: Pacific Division

In the days leading up to the February 23 trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. We’ll be identifying each team as a buyer, seller, or something in between, and discussing which teams and players are most likely to be involved in deals this month. We’ve already covered the Atlantic, Northwest, and Southeast. Today, we’re examining the Pacific.

Buyers:

As the odds-on favorite to win the 2017 NBA championship, the Warriors (47-9) are undoubtedly buyers rather than sellers, but the team may not be overly active within the next few days. Adding another reliable guard or rim protector would provide the roster with a little additional depth as the playoffs approach, but Golden State doesn’t have any glaring holes that need to be filled, and the team isn’t brimming with expendable trade assets. With huge max deals for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant looming, the Warriors may need to rely on young, inexpensive players like Patrick McCaw, Kevon Looney, and Damian Jones to assume regular rotation roles in future seasons, so it makes sense to hang onto them rather than to dangle them in search of a minor upgrade.

The Clippers (35-21) will likely look a little harder for an upgrade than the Warriors, but like Golden State, their trade assets are limited. A 2021 pick is the earliest first-rounder Los Angeles could move, and as the Carmelo Anthony rumors proved, adding an impact player would probably require giving up one or more rotation players out of a group that includes Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and J.J. Redick. If the Clippers were willing to make Blake Griffin available and really reshape their roster, things could get interesting, but there’s no indication that’s on the table at all. If L.A. makes a move, it’s far more likely be a small one.

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