Dean Wade

Central Notes: Rubio, Washington, Cunningham, Thompson

Ricky Rubio‘s decision to take time away from basketball and focus on his mental health leaves the Cavaliers with an uncertain situation at backup point guard, Chris Fedor of writes in a mailbag column. Rubio didn’t offer any indication of how long he might be inactive, so there’s no way of knowing if he’ll be available when training camp opens in seven weeks or when the season starts in late October.

There’s no urgency for Cleveland to make a roster move, Fedor adds. The Cavs signed free agent Ty Jerome in the belief that he can handle a larger role than he had with Golden State, and Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and two-way player Craig Porter Jr. are all capable of running the offense for short stretches. Fedor points out that there aren’t any strong options remaining in free agency, but Kendrick Nunn, Michael Carter-Williams, George Hill, Ish Smith, and D.J. Augustin are among the players still available.

General manager Mike Gansey scheduled a trip to Malaga, Spain, this summer to visit with Rubio and watch the Spanish World Cup team in action, according to Fedor. However, Rubio left training camp before Gansey arrived, so he devoted the trip to scouting instead.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have expressed interest in P.J. Washington and may be “lurking” as his standoff with the Hornets continues, Fedor adds. He notes that Cleveland was able to take advantage of a similar situation in a sign-and-trade with Lauri Markkanen two years ago by offering a contract beyond what the Bulls were willing to pay. Fedor states that Rubio and Dean Wade would be enough to match salary if Washington would accept about $15MM per year, but he’s not sure if that and a few second-round picks would satisfy Charlotte.
  • Cade Cunningham is the only untouchable player on the Pistons‘ roster, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his annual evaluation of the team’s most valuable assets. Even though he missed most of last season after shin surgery, Cunningham is still viewed around the league as a potential superstar, according to Edwards. Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and rookie Ausar Thompson follow Cunningham on Edwards’ list.
  • Overtime Elite general manager Gerald Wilkins believes Thompson has a bright NBA future, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Wilkins offered a glowing recommendation to Jarrett Jack, a new member of the Pistons‘ coaching staff under Monty Williams. “He would ask me things like what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, how can I get him the ball,” Wilkins said. “I would just tell him, ‘Just put him on the floor. Just put him in the game. They are basketball players, Ausar and Amen. They’re basketball players. You put him on the floor and a lot of good things are going to happen.’”

Cavaliers Continue To Eye Free Agent Market

The Cavaliers remain interested in adding at least one more free agent to their roster before training camp, sources tell Chris Fedor of (subscriber link). According to Fedor, the team isn’t targeting any specific position and is simply focused on “playable depth.”

As Fedor outlines, the Cavaliers currently have 12 players on guaranteed contracts, plus Sam Merrill on a non-guaranteed deal. The club has about $3MM in breathing room below the luxury tax line and has no interest in becoming a taxpayer, so the 15th roster spot will probably remain open to start the season. In all likelihood, the Cavs would add one more player on a minimum-salary contract (or two, if Merrill is cut) in order to set the regular season roster.

Sources tell Fedor that Cleveland has registered interest in some of the top unrestricted free agents still available on the open market, including forward Kelly Oubre and center Christian Wood. Oubre was viewed as the Cavs’ Plan B if they hadn’t been able to land Max Strus via sign-and-trade, Fedor adds.

Fedor also mentions restricted free agent P.J. Washington, noting that the Cavs might have enough expendable salary (starting with Ricky Rubio and Dean Wade) to build a sign-and-trade package for the Hornets forward. However, I don’t see a scenario in which Cleveland could put together an offer that appeals to Charlotte, pays Washington the sort of money he’s seeking, and keeps the Cavs out of the tax.

Cleveland’s next signing will probably be a “minor” one, Fedor acknowledges, with the team looking to land a “cheaper-than-expected” rotation player at the veteran’s minimum like Golden State did with Dario Saric.

Draft Rumors: Cavs, Pacers, Jazz, Warriors, Suns, Bucks

The Cavaliers currently only hold a second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2023 NBA draft, but they’ve been exploring ways they might be able to move into the first round, reports Chris Fedor of Sources tell Fedor that the Cavs have an “organizational desire” to trade up in the draft and have made calls to teams in the 20-30 range to determine what it would cost to move up.

As Fedor explains, there’s a belief that there will be some older prospects available in that range who might be ready to claim NBA rotation roles as rookies. Several of those players are wings, which would appeal to a Cleveland team that has been on the lookout for help at that spot for the last year. Fedor identifies UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez as one of several prospects who could intrigue the Cavaliers.

It may be tricky for the Cavaliers to put together a package capable of getting them into the first round, however. They dealt several future first-rounders away in last year’s Donovan Mitchell blockbuster and would probably only be able to offer second-rounders along with a player or two. Lamar Stevens, Cedi Osman, Dean Wade, and Ricky Rubio are among the Cavs players who could be moved, Fedor writes, but none of them are likely to have substantial value on the trade market.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors from around the league:

  • The Pacers and Jazz are among the teams with multiple first-round picks who are worth keeping an eye on as the draft nears, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. According to Fischer, rival teams continue to mention that Indiana is interest in packaging some combination of No. 26, No. 29, and No. 32 in order to move up. Utah has talked to teams about various trade scenarios involving the No. 9, No. 16, and No. 28 picks, Fischer adds.
  • Sources who spoke to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic believe the Warriors may be focused on landing an older, more experienced prospect at No. 19 after getting mixed results when investing in young lottery picks in recent years. Meanwhile, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has heard that Golden State have some interest in trading down from No. 19 or out of the draft entirely.
  • Sources around the NBA have named the Suns and Bucks – in addition to the Cavaliers – as teams interested in trading up into the late-20s or early-30s to draft an NBA-ready player, Vecenie writes for The Athletic. Phoenix and Milwaukee would have to move up even further than Cleveland — their second-round picks are at No. 52 and No. 58, respectively.

Cavaliers Notes: Okoro, Wade, LeVert, Mitchell, Mobley

As the Cavaliers enter the final week of the regular season, they’re unsure if Isaac Okoro will be available when the playoffs start, writes Chris Fedor of Okoro is dealing with soreness in his left knee that has been bothering him for a while. He logged just nine minutes in last Sunday’s game and hasn’t been able to play or practice since then.

“We need to get him to a place better than he was,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “If Isaac doesn’t play, it’s because he’s in real discomfort. We’ve got to make sure we’re taking the steps to get him to a place of comfort and safety. That’s more important. It’s something we’re just monitoring every day and hopefully he continues to improve.”

Bickerstaff admitted last night that the team isn’t sure if Okoro will be able to recover in time for a first-round series. He’s the Cavs’ best perimeter defender and the first option to start at small forward, and Fedor states that his absence was notable as the defense struggled in this week’s losses to the Hawks and Knicks.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Dean Wade started in place of Okoro on Sunday as the Cavaliers try to keep Caris LeVert in his preferred role of sixth man, Fedor adds. Wade gives the team more size, but he’s still dealing with a painful shoulder injury that required surgery earlier this season. LeVert won the starting job in training camp and has started 30 of the 73 games he’s played, but he feels more comfortable in a reserve role. “With Don (Donovan Mitchell) and D.G. (Darius Garland), they have a good chemistry, especially when it comes to who is making the plays and things like that,” LeVert said. “I feel like me coming off the bench is kind of a good switch-up and keeps it balanced with myself and Ricky (Rubio). I know the responsibility of those guys and I know what I’m capable of, so I feel like me coming off the bench is kind of like a secret weapon in a sense just because we all know what I can do on both ends of the floor.”
  • Mitchell made history with his 40-point performance Sunday, Fedor states in another story. He became the first Cavaliers player with three consecutive 40-point games and broke LeBron James‘ team record with his 12th 40-point outing of the season.
  • Cavaliers players and coaches are touting Evan Mobley as Defensive Player of the Year, Fedor writes in a separate piece. It’s rare for a second-year player to be considered for that honor, but Mobley has been a difference maker no matter who he’s match up with. “He has the versatility to guard every position,” Bickerstaff said. “He’s been that for a team that’s been the number one defense for a majority of the year. Night by night his matchup changes, but his responsibilities don’t.”

Injury Notes: Brunson, Bulls, Cavaliers, KAT, Grizzlies

Knicks starting point guard Jalen Brunson will miss his second straight game on Monday with a sprained right hand, the team has announced (Twitter link).

The 6’1″ Brunson is enjoying a career season with his new club. Across 65 healthy games, he’s averaging 23.8 PPG on .489/.411/.833 shooting. The 26-year-old is also averaging 6.2 APG, 3.6 RPG and 0.9 SPG for New York.

Reserve guard Derrick Rose, who has been out of the rotation since the calendar rolled over to 2023, will also be inactive for this evening’s bout against the Rockets due to an illness, the Knicks add.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Bulls forward Javonte Green, who continues to recover from a January knee surgery after making a brief return to the lineup last week, will be out tonight against the Clippers, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Johnson adds that veteran Chicago guard Alex Caruso is considered questionable to play.
  • Several Cavaliers players comprise the club’s injury report ahead of the team’s game Tuesday against the Hawks, per Chris Fedor of (Twitter links). Starting center Jarrett Allen is questionable with a groin strain, while starting small forward Isaac Okoro is also questionable due to a sore knee. Swingman Danny Green and point guard Raul Neto will not play. Wing Dean Wade is doubtful to play through an illness. Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Dylan Windler are all going to be working with Cleveland’s NBAGL affiliate, the Cleveland Charge.
  • Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns will sit out tonight’s game against the Kings as he manages his right calf strain injury on the second night of a back-to-back, the team has announced (Twitter link). Two-way player Matt Ryan is out with an illness. All-Star shooting guard Anthony Edwards is questionable due to a sprained right ankle. Guard Jaylen Nowell is also questionable with a left knee tendinopathy.
  • At least five Grizzlies players will be shelved for Tuesday’s contest against the Magic, Memphis has announced (via Twitter). Beyond Brandon Clarke, who’s out for the year with a left Achilles tear, Ziaire Williams, Vince Williams, Jake LaRavia and Steven Adams are all also sidelined. All-Star point guard Ja Morant is considered doubtful to play due to a sore right thigh.

Central Notes: Haliburton, Wade, Bulls, Pistons, Giannis

After missing games on Saturday and Monday due to a left knee bruise, Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton sat out on Thursday as a result of a right ankle sprain he suffered on Wednesday in practice. According to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star, head coach Rick Carlisle expects that injury to keep Haliburton on the shelf for at least two more games, if not longer.

“Tyrese’s ankle is, it’s gonna be a while,” Carlisle said prior to Thursday’s contest. “I’m not gonna give a timetable, but he definitely will not play any of the next three games (including Thursday’s). I’m certain of that.”

With just 12 games left in the Pacers’ season and the organization not showing a whole lot of urgency to claim a spot in the play-in tournament, it wouldn’t be a surprise if we don’t see much more of Haliburton the rest of the way. For the time being, we can expect him to be unavailable on Saturday vs. Philadelphia and on Monday in Charlotte, with T.J. McConnell and Andrew Nembhard running the point in his absence.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade has struggled since returning from a shoulder injury in January, averaging just 3.3 PPG on .353/.283/.600 shooting in 21 games (17.3 MPG). Although he’s healthy enough to play, Wade’s shoulder is still bothering him, sources tell Chris Fedor of, who wonders if Wade also may be feeling some added pressure following Kevin Love‘s buyout last month.
  • While the Bulls remain on the outside of the play-in picture in the East, they’ve found success with a starting lineup featuring new addition Patrick Beverley, Alex Caruso, and their three stars (Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic). As Rob Schaefer of observes, no five-man unit that has played at least 150 minutes this season has a better net rating than Chicago’s group (plus-23.6).
  • Pistons centers Jalen Duren and James Wiseman displayed some surprising chemistry when they played together on Thursday, but having them both on the court did create some spacing issues, writes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). The Pistons, who would like to use both young big men going forward, are hopeful that Wiseman’s jump shot will continue to develop, helping to ease those spacing concerns, Sankofa notes.
  • In a conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo discussed the MVP criteria, his desire to win another title, and his belief that the team’s NBA-best record would be even better if Khris Middleton had been healthy all season. “If we played with Khris (all season)… I think we have 55 (wins) now,” Antetokounmpo said when Milwaukee’s record was 48-19. “I really do believe that.”

Cavaliers Notes: Allen, Garland, Bench, Mitchell

A right eye injury that Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen suffered in Friday’s loss at Miami may not be as bad as the team originally feared, writes Chris Fedor of Allen walked to the locker room with a towel over his eye after being swiped by Bam Adebayo during a battle for a rebound late in the fourth quarter. He’s listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game at Charlotte, but a source told Fedor that the eye “looked better than expected,” adding that Allen will “hopefully be back sooner rather than later.”

In his game story Friday night, Fedor asked coach J.B. Bickerstaff what a prolonged absence for Allen would mean to a team that’s battling to hang onto home-court advantage in the playoffs.

“Obviously, we would miss him,” Bickerstaff said. “We would miss all the things that he brings on both sides of the court. His ability to protect the paint, anchor our defense and just his spirit. Everyone would have to step up. A lot of that would put Evan (Mobley) at more of the 5 spot and he would have to take over those responsibilities. But we believe Evan is capable of doing so and we have other guys who can help as well. It’ll be opportunities for other guys to go and contribute, which is what they will want to do.”

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • A quad injury that forced Darius Garland to miss the game in Miami is considered minor, but it could prevent him from playing again Sunday, Fedor adds. Garland suffered the injury in the second half of Wednesday’s game and wasn’t able to take part in the team’s shootaround or his pregame workout on Friday.
  • The Cavaliers agreed to a buyout with Kevin Love because he fell out of their rotation, but Joe Vardon of The Athletic notes that several prominent bench players haven’t been as productive since Love left. Dean Wade, Caris LeVert, Ricky Rubio and Cedi Osman are all playing fewer minutes than their season averages and have struggled to contribute since the buyout occurred.
  • Playing two straight games in Miami allowed the Cavaliers to experience something close to a playoff atmosphere, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Cleveland won on Wednesday and the teams had an off day to make adjustments before playing again Friday. “That’s what the playoffs are going to be,” said Donovan Mitchell, one of just two Cavs starters with playoff experience. “If this was a playoff series, we still won one, and that’s kind of the mindset.”

Central Notes: Theis, Wade, Pistons, Bucks

Pacers center Daniel Theis hopes to make his 2022/23 season debut this coming week, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required). Acquired from Boston over the summer, Theis was dealing with recurring right knee soreness entering the season and underwent surgery in November to address the issue.

Although Theis seems unlikely to be part of the Pacers’ long-term plans, he has another guaranteed season on his contract beyond this one, so it would be a challenge for Indiana to extract much – if any – value for him at the February 9 trade deadline.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade is getting an opportunity to show whether he can help solve the team’s issues on the wing, according to Chris Fedor of, who notes that Wade’s minutes restriction following his return from a shoulder injury has been lifted. Fedor explores what it means for the rest of Cleveland’s rotation if Wade is getting regular playing time and whether there might be an odd man out.
  • It has been an up-and-down week for the Pistons. While Detroit’s impressive road win in Brooklyn on Thursday served as a reminder that the team’s future is worth believing in, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, Saturday’s home loss to Houston was the worst of the season and signaled that a trade deadline deal should be welcomed, Edwards contends in another story for The Athletic.
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic evaluates a series of reader-proposed trades for the Bucks. Nehm considers hypothetical deals involving Cam Reddish, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Josh Hart, among others, but concludes that none of them quite work, with either Milwaukee or its proposed trade partner likely to say no.

Cavs’ Dean Wade Set To Return On Saturday

Cavaliers forward Dean Wade intends to return to action on Saturday when Cleveland hosts the Bucks, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wade hasn’t suited up for the Cavaliers since December 2, when he aggravated a prior left shoulder injury and was diagnosed with an AC joint sprain. The 26-year-old was expected to return earlier this month, but suffered a setback in his rehab process when he stepped on another player’s foot and injured his ankle. In total, he has missed Cleveland’s last 24 games.

Wade’s counting stats in a regular rotation role this season are modest — he has averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per night across 17 appearances.

However, the Cavs like Wade’s two-way skill set and there are reportedly people in the organization who believe he’s the right player to fill out a starting five that features two backcourt stars (Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland) and two impact big men (Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley). Wade was part of J.B. Bickerstaff‘s starting lineup in the five games leading up to his injury and could reclaim that spot now that he’s healthy, though perhaps not in his first game back.

As Wojnarowski notes, Wade has made 41.1% of his three-point attempts so far this season and has ranked in the top 10 in shot quality allowed on defense, according to Second Spectrum’s data.

The Cavs will be looking to bounce back on Saturday after falling on Friday to a shorthanded Warriors team that was without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green.

Injury Notes: Ball, Kleber, Wade, Okeke, Okogie

Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball suffered his third left ankle sprain this season in yesterday’s victory over Houston. Ball and teammate P.J. Washington were contesting a layup by Jabari Smith Jr. when Washington landed on Ball’s ankle (YouTube link via ESPN).

While the injury certainly looked painful, the 21-year-old sounds fairly confident he won’t miss as much time as he did with his previous sprains, which sidelined him for 13 and 11 games, respectively.

It feels a little bit better,” Ball said, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “It doesn’t feel like those other ones. … I can walk, so take it day-by-day and see what it is.”

Boone writes that the young All-Star didn’t require an X-Ray or other tests to determine the severity of the injury.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Maxi Kleber, who underwent surgery on December 20 to repair a torn hamstring, says he’s targeting a return to the Mavericks‘ lineup next month, though he isn’t committed to that timeline (Twitter video link via Bally Sports Southwest). “I’m not out for the season,” the German big man said. “I can’t give an exact date, but I hope I’m gonna be back… preferably before All-Star break, but I don’t want to jinx anything or say anything or make promises. … But that’s the goal.”
  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade, who has been sidelined since December 2 due to a shoulder ailment, suffered a setback in his rehab process earlier this month, injuring his ankle when he stepped on a player’s foot during practice, a source tells Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “He’s not (doing) five-on-five yet,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said on Tuesday. “Again, because of where he was before, it won’t need as much to get him back to going because it wasn’t as big of a setback.”
  • The return of Magic forward Chuma Okeke isn’t imminent, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscriber link). Okeke has yet to resume contact work after undergoing a procedure on his left knee in December. Price adds within the same story that forward Jonathan Isaac is expected to play in a third G League game for the Lakeland Magic on Thursday as he makes his way back from an ACL injury.
  • Suns wing Josh Okogie broke his nose in Monday’s game in Memphis when he took an inadvertent elbow from teammate Deandre Ayton, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Okogie is listed as out for Thursday — it’s unclear how much additional time he might miss.

Luke Adams contributed to this story.