Max Strus

Cavs’ Bickerstaff Talks Strus, Niang, Mitchell, More

Cleveland’s 51-31 record in 2022/23 was the best mark for a Cavaliers team without LeBron James since 1992/93 and resulted in the franchise’s first playoff berth since James’ most recent departure in 2018. Unfortunately for the Cavs, their postseason run was short-lived, as the Knicks quickly dispatched them in a one-sided first-round series.

Speaking to Chris Fedor of, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff admitted that the playoff loss “took some time to process.” But now that he’s a few months removed from it, Bickerstaff is more willing to focus on the Cavaliers’ regular season success and to find silver linings in their early postseason exit.

“I think when you sit back, look at the regular season – and I think the regular season was a test that was passed – and then you get to the playoffs where things ramp up a notch, it was the greatest learning experience our guys could have had, that I could have had,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s the opportunity to be in a position you have never been in before and a responsibility that you’ve never had before. Nothing worth having has ever come easy to anybody.

“At the end of the day, you sit back and look at it and the season was successful. The experience our young guys gained in the playoffs is only going to make them better. That’s the reality of it. We get caught up in the emotion of it all in the moment because we are all so competitive. But in reality, we’re not above the process either. There are steps that just can’t be skipped.”

As Bickerstaff notes, many of the Cavaliers’ core players – such as Evan Mobley and Darius Garland – are still young and were experiencing a playoff environment for the first time. He believes they learned important lessons during that five-game series and will benefit from the experience going forward.

Here are a few more highlights from Fedor’s interview with Bickerstaff:

On how adding Max Strus and Georges Niang as free agents will impact the Cavaliers’ playing style in 2023/24:

“I don’t want to give away too much. But the spacing on the floor becomes different. The attention that goes to those two guys because of Georges’ career 40% 3-point shooting and Max Strus’ ability to make shots off the move, defenses have to make different decisions now than they had to last year. Those are different dynamics that we added.

“Our offense can improve and be more dynamic and difficult to guard — even though we were a top-10 offense in the regular season. You learn from the playoffs about how to become more difficult to guard in that setting. I think there is a more dynamic nature that we can have offensively. Those are things I’m studying now and we will implement this coming season.”

On Donovan Mitchell‘s potential long-term future in Cleveland:

“He was with us in Las Vegas and stayed longer than most. He worked out with the guys and went to dinners. … There were conversations we had with him during free agency about trying to get the people we needed in here. There were conversations he had with the guys we were able to bring in.

“All those things tell you that Donovan is all in. If a guy is not attentive to free agency and how we are going to get better as a team, if he is not attentive to his teammates over the summer, if he is not attentive to working on the individual things that may make him uncomfortable but also are best for the team moving forward, to me that would be a guy who is not engaged. I have seen the opposite. I have seen a guy who is all in.”

On whether he’s feeling pressure to live up to increased expectations in 2023/24:

“Pressure from what? I think the funny thing for us coaches when it comes to pressure is you want to have a good team and you want expectations. If you have a team with no expectations, as a coach, competitor, and player, that is ultimately not the job you’re looking for. The word pressure is kind of comical, to be honest with you, because you have a good team and that’s what you want.

“… Pressure isn’t a word that coaches really think about because it’s our job to continue to get better. I think we have done that here. From where we started with this team to where we are now, there is no way to say we haven’t done the job building this the right way. Look at the environment. Look at individual development. Look at team development. There are no holes. Our job is to continue to do what we’ve already done but also continue to get better. That’s what we want.”

Cavaliers Notes: Mitchell, Roster Moves, Garland, Bates

Friday marked the first day the Cavaliers were permitted to submit an extension offer to Donovan Mitchell, writes Chris Fedor of The All-Star guard has two years left on his current contract, along with a $37MM player option for 2025/26. President of basketball operations Koby Altman hopes to iron out a long-term agreement this summer and shut down rumors that the New York native has an eye on eventually joining the Knicks in free agency.

Altman said the front office will have “internal discussions” about the details of an extension that he hopes will appeal to Mitchell. He added that keeping a competitive roster around Mitchell is the best way to make him want to stay in Cleveland.

“He’s really, really happy here and he’ll tell you that,” Altman said. “All I can go off is Donovan’s actions and his intentions. He’s with us in Vegas right now. He’s super excited about the future. He’ll be at the game tonight. He’s been in Cleveland multiple times this offseason already. He’s worked out with guys, he’s bringing guys with him wherever he is. All you can go off are those actions and how genuine he talks about his experience in Cleveland. I think he sees the runway of the players around him and the youth around him. All I can go off is his actions and his intentions and they’ve all been really genuine.”

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • Altman told reporters that Mitchell helped with recruiting during free agency, Fedor relays. Cleveland was able to re-sign Caris LeVert, bring in Max Strus in a sign-and-trade and add Georges Niang and Ty Jerome, even though Fedor notes that they all had other options. “This is the team they wanted to come to,” Altman said. “They saw the fit. They saw the upside. They think that we can go a long way.” 
  • Altman pledged to keep the core of last year’s team together and dismissed speculation that he was considering offers for Darius Garland, calling it “the most crazy rumor you’ve ever heard in your life,” Fedor adds.
  • The Cavs are hoping for gradual progress from second-round pick Emoni Bates, Fedor states in a separate story. Bates, who was once considered the top high school prospect in the nation, is hoping to re-establish himself after struggling through two collegiate seasons. “There’s no expectation here,” Altman said. “Don’t have to come in here and shock the world. Really learn from this group and have fun again. If he blossoms into a rotational player down the road that can really help us space the floor and shoot, which I think is one of his best traits, that’d be great. But no expectation for him and certainly have patience and let him grow.”

Contract Details: Poeltl, Strus, Love, Robinson, Walsh, R. Lopez

Jakob Poeltl‘s four-year contract with the Raptors has a flat base value of $19.5MM per year, for a total of $78MM, tweets Blake Murphy of There are $500K in annual incentives currently considered unlikely to be earned — if Poeltl maxes out those bonuses, it’ll be worth $80MM. As previously reported, the fourth year is a player option.

Murphy adds that Jalen McDaniels‘ two-year deal is, as expected, worth the full amount of the bi-annual exception and is fully guaranteed, with no options on the second year.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts that Hoops Rumors can confirm:

  • Max Strus‘ four-year contract with the Cavaliers, which has a total value of $62.3MM, has a first-year salary of $14,487,684. That means the trade exception created by the Heat in the sign-and-trade deal is worth $7,243,842, half of Strus’ salary, due to base year compensation rules.
  • Kevin Love‘s two-year deal with the Heat is worth the full Non-Bird amount — $3.84MM in year one and $4.03MM in year two (with a player option). That represents 120% of his minimum salary.
  • Orlando Robinson‘s two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Heat is only partially guaranteed for $75K in 2023/24. That guarantee will increase to $425K if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season and to $850K if he’s not waived on or before December 1. Because Robinson’s current guarantee is only $75K, he’d be eligible for a two-way deal if he’s waived before the regular season.
  • Jordan Walsh‘s four-year deal with the Celtics is worth the minimum in all four seasons. It’s fully guaranteed in the first two years, with a $200K partial guarantee in year three.
  • Robin Lopez‘s minimum-salary contract with the Bucks is for one year.
  • We’re continuing to update our free agent tracker and our list of draft pick signings with contract details as we learn them.

Cavs Acquire Max Strus In Three-Team Sign-And-Trade

JULY 6: The trade is official, the Heat announced (via Twitter). As part of the deal, Miami will also swap second-round picks with the Spurs, with Miami receiving a 2027 selection and San Antonio receiving a 2026 pick. The Cavs are also sending cash to the Spurs.

JULY 1: The Cavaliers, Heat, and Spurs have agreed to a three-team deal that will land Max Strus in Cleveland via sign-and-trade, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Wojnarowski that Strus has agreed to a four-year, $63MM contract with the Cavs.

Miami will acquire a second-round pick and will create a trade exception in the deal, while San Antonio will receive Cedi Osman, Lamar Stevens, and a second-round pick, according to Wojnarowski.

The second-rounder going to Miami is the Lakers’ 2026 pick, while the one headed to San Antonio is Cleveland’s 2030 selection, reports Chris Fedor of

Strus had been repeatedly mentioned as a top target for the Cavs in the days and hours leading up to free agency. A report on Thursday indicated Cleveland hoped its $12.4MM mid-level exception would be enough to land the 27-year-old, but with rumors suggesting his market was above the MLE, a report on Friday suggested the Cavs were looking into three-team sign-and-trade scenarios.

Right before free agency opened, Marc Stein reported that a scenario in which the Cavs sign-and-trade for Strus and use their mid-level exception to add Georges Niang appeared “increasingly likely.” Sure enough, Cleveland is poised to add both players, having reached an agreement with Niang on Friday night.

A former undrafted free agent who had brief stints in Boston and Chicago early in his career, Strus blossomed into a reliable rotation player in Miami during the last two seasons. In 148 games since the start of 2021/22, he has averaged 11.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 26.1 minutes per night, with a shooting line of .423/.376/.845. He moved ahead of Duncan Robinson in the Heat’s rotation during that time in large part due to his more stable presence on defense.

The Cavs had been on the lookout for a wing to complement starters Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley for the better part of the year. Strus should slot into that role nicely along with Caris LeVert, who also agreed to return to Cleveland.

In moving off Osman and Stevens in this trade, the Cavs should still be about $12.5MM below the luxury tax line with 10 players on the books, tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype.

The Heat, who project to be a taxpayer in 2023/24, had been bracing for Strus’ departure, recognizing that they weren’t prepared to match his price on the open market. They reportedly didn’t want to take any salary back in a sign-and-trade and were able to achieve that goal. The traded player exception they generate as part of the transaction will be worth half of Strus’ first-year salary — based on the reported terms of his deal, that TPE should come in at about $7MM.

As for the Spurs, they entered the day with more leftover cap room than any other NBA team and will use a portion of it to add a second-round pick and two forwards who are on expiring contracts and who should be in the mix for rotation roles if they remain on San Antonio’s roster.

Osman, who will earn $6.7MM in 2023/24 before reaching unrestricted free agency, has been a rotation player in Cleveland for the last six seasons, averaging 9.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 2.0 APG with a .353 3PT% in 404 games (23.6 MPG) during that time.

Stevens, a solid defensive wing who doesn’t provide much on offense, has a $1.93MM non-guaranteed salary — some or all of that money will become guaranteed as part of this deal in order to satisfy the NBA’s salary-matching rules.

The Spurs will still have approximately $23-26MM in cap space available.

Knicks Rumors: George, Barrett, Hart, Embiid, Roby, Quickley

On June 22, the night of last month’s draft, the Knicks contemplated sending the Clippers a trade package that featured Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier and three first-round picks in exchange for star forward Paul George, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

When New York later agreed to trade Toppin to the Pacers for a couple second-rounders, the Clippers briefly brought up RJ Barrett to take his place in the aforementioned trade framework, says Scotto. The Knicks balked at that proposal, believing the asking was price too steep for George, who will make $45.64MM in 2023/24 and is eligible for an extension this offseason, per Scotto.

The Knicks control multiple protected first-round picks from other teams, so it’s unclear whether the first-rounders Scotto mentioned were protected in some fashion or were their own unprotected picks. Either way, apparently the talks didn’t advance.

Still, the Knicks remain on the lookout for a third star to complement Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, according to Scotto.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • According to Ian Begley of, Josh Hart will sign a long-term extension with the Knicks in August once he becomes eligible. His maximum extension number would be $81MM over four years, and Begley hears the veteran wing will receive “slightly less” than that figure. It seems highly likely that Hart exercised his player option in order to give the team more financial flexibility in free agency, with a handshake agreement on an extension.
  • Begley hears from sources who say the Knicks haven’t budged on their asking prices for star players on the trade market, including Damian Lillard and James Harden, and both players are unlikely to wind up in New York. Like Zach Lowe of ESPN, Begley continues to hear the Knicks might be eyeing Joel Embiid in the future.
  • Prior to using their mid-level exception to sign Donte DiVincenzo, the Knicks were interested in several unrestricted free agents, including Bruce Brown, Max Strus and Yuta Watanabe, Scotto states. Brown signed with the Pacers; Strus landed in Cleveland via sign-and-trade; and Watanabe signed with Phoenix.
  • Losing Toppin means New York has rotation minutes available at backup power forward. Scotto hears Isaiah Roby will be given an opportunity to win the job, with Hart an option in small-ball lineups. Roby signed with the Knicks on the last day of the ’22/23 regular season, receiving a significant upfront payment ($400K) that suggested he could be in the team’s future plans.
  • Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Immanuel Quickley‘s floor in a rookie scale extension is expected to be $20MM annually, and Scotto’s sources say the Knicks would consider a deal in that range. However, if the two sides don’t reach an agreement and Quickley continues to improve next season, Scotto says New York might contemplate using him as part of a trade package for a star.

Heat Rumors: Strus, Robinson, Herro, Bouyea

The Heat didn’t go beyond their initial offer to Max Strus, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

Strus attracted plenty of attention on the free agent market and Miami eventually agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers that turned into a three-team swap. Strus wound up with a four-year, $63MM contract, far more than the Heat were willing to pay him. The Heat will get a traded player exception worth approximately $7MM in the deal.

Miami did make a counter-offer for Gabe Vincent, Winderman adds, but it couldn’t stop him from agreeing to a three-year contract with the Lakers for more money.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Orlando Robinson has signed a standard minimum-salary contract but he has some work to do to earn the full value for 2023/24, Winderman tweets. There are conditional elements to the contract, including guarantee dates. One of those stipulations is that he must make the opening-night roster.
  • The Nets have been contacted regarding the possibility of acquiring Tyler Herro in order to facilitate a Damian Lillard deal between the Trail Blazers and Heat, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. This confirms another report that the Nets were interested in Herro, whose four-year, $120MM extension kicks in next season.
  • Herro may be weary of hearing his name in trade rumors. For what it’s worth, Herro has removed “Miami Heat Guard” from the header on his Twitter feed and replaced it with “Slow motion,” NBA Central relays (Twitter link).
  • Jamaree Bouyea, recently signed to a two-way contract, believes he can become the next Heat success story among undrafted players, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Bouyea played on separate 10-day contracts with the Heat and Wizards as an undrafted rookie last year. “I like how they just invest, they invest in their young guys,” he said. “Obviously, they have a bunch of undrafted talent that got paid this offseason and offseasons before this, as well.”

Free Agent Rumors: Lopez, Banton, T. Davis, Strus

Multiple NBA clubs are awaiting word on the future of unrestricted free agent center Brook Lopez, who has spent his past five seasons with the Bucks, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Fischer reports that “increasing word” on Friday suggests the Rockets may bid in excess of the two-year, $40MM deal that has been floated as a possibility.

Lopez, 35, has enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Milwaukee. The seven-footer has been named to two All-Defensive Teams and won his first championship during his Bucks tenure, while totally transforming his game, from being a fringe All-Star post scorer while with the Nets to the gritty 3-and-D role player he is now.

In 78 regular season games for the 58-24 Bucks last season, the former Stanford big man posted averages of 15.9 PPG on .531/.374/.784 shooting splits, in addition to 6.7 RPG, 2.5 BPG and 1.3 APG. He was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Here are further free agent rumors:

  • Free agent point guard Dalano Banton met with the Celtics on Friday, according to Rafael Barlowe of NBA Big Board (via Twitter). The 6’9″ vet out of Nebraska had spent both of his NBA seasons to date with the Raptors. In 31 contests, last year, he averaged 4.6 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 1.2 APG.
  • The Celtics, Suns, Bucks, Mavericks and Raptors are among the teams with some level of interest in free agent former Kings shooting guard Terence Davis, according to Mark Jones of ESPN and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter links).
  • According to Fischer (Twitter link), the Spurs have emerged as a possible third team in a rumored sign-and-trade deal that would send Heat free agent shooting guard Max Strus to the Cavaliers. Sources tell Fischer that Cleveland has been looking to offload the contract of swingman Cedi Osman, whom Miami presumably has no interest in taking on. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that the Heat are aiming to create a trade exception and a future second-round draft selection in any sign-and-trade involving Strus.

Pre-FA Updates: Toppin, Cavs, Niang, Strus, Draymond, Warriors, More

With just minutes before free agency begins and a flurry of contract agreements are reported, we have a few items to pass along:

  • The Pacers have emerged as the leading candidate to trade for Knicks forward Obi Toppin, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Ian Begley of, who confirms that the two sides have recently been in contact about a potential Toppin deal, says New York is seeking draft compensation and notes that Indiana could potentially acquire the forward and his $6.8MM expiring contract using cap room, so the Knicks wouldn’t have to take a player back.
  • A scenario in which the Cavaliers sign Georges Niang and acquire Max Strus – either via sign-and-trade or by signing him outright – is being viewed as “increasingly likely,” according to Stein (Twitter link).
  • The latest whispers Stein from has heard from his sources suggest Draymond Green may get a four-year, $100MM deal to re-up with the Warriors (Twitter link).
  • Former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker is back with the team that drafted him, at least for a few games in July. The Bucks announced today that Parker is on their Las Vegas Summer League roster.
  • The Timberwolves have hired former NBA forward Corliss Williamson as an assistant coach, they announced today in a press release. Williams was previously a member of coaching staffs in Sacramento, Orlando, and Phoenix.

Pacers May Offer Bruce Brown More Than $20MM Per Year

The Pacers may be prepared to offer Nuggets free agent Bruce Brown a contract worth more than $20MM per season, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Brown has become one of the hottest names on the free agent market, and several teams are hoping to land him with the $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Brown has reportedly scheduled meetings with five teams — the Knicks, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers as well as Indiana. The Cavaliers and Timberwolves also consider Brown their top target, according to Fischer.

The Pacers have roughly $30MM in cap room, so signing Brown would account for most of that and would take them out of the running for other free agents, such as Heat shooting guard Max Strus.

Returning to Denver is also in play for Brown, according to Fischer, although the Nuggets can only pay him $7.8MM next season. Brown would be eligible to earn more than $50MM over four years from Denver next summer, which is still well short of the Pacers’ reported offer.

Latest On Gabe Vincent, Max Strus

Free agent guard Gabe Vincent isn’t satisfied with the Heat‘s contract offer and will likely leave the team unless it improves, sources tell Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Jackson and Chiang report that Miami proposed a deal worth slightly more than the three-year, $20.6MM contract Caleb Martin signed last summer. Vincent was reportedly expecting a lot more after taking over as the Heat’s starting point guard and helping them reach the NBA Finals. Team president Pat Riley traveled to Los Angeles this week to meet with Vincent and urge him to re-sign, according to the authors.

Backcourt partner Max Strus seems certain to get a better deal that what the Heat can offer, according to Jackson and Chiang, who report that a three-team sign-and-trade swap has been discussed that would send Strus to the Cavaliers. They don’t identify who else would be involved, but Miami would receive a trade exception and a second-round pick in return. The Pacers, Pistons and Magic have also been identified as potential destinations for Strus.

Re-signing Vincent or Strus would be expensive for the Heat, who already have $179.3MM committed for next season, which is above the projected $165MM luxury tax line. The authors note that giving either player a new deal starting at $12MM would add more than $30MM to the team’s tax bill.

Marc Stein confirms in his latest Substack column that Cleveland is a legitimate threat to add Strus. Stein, who reported this week that Indiana was considering a three-year, $48MM offer for the 27-year-old shooting guard, has since been told that there are multiple suitors for Strus and that Indiana may not be his most likely destination. Cleveland is working to upgrade its outside shooting, Stein adds.

The Raptors could be an option for Vincent if Fred VanVleet signs with the Rockets, suggests Michael Grange of (Twitter link). Sources tell Grange that Vincent isn’t expected to return to the Heat and that an offer worth the full $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception should be enough to land him.