Cavaliers Rumors

Cavaliers Eyeing LeVert, Gordon, Ross, Covington

Caris LeVert, Eric Gordon, and Terrence Ross are among the players the Cavaliers have been monitoring as potential trade targets, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The 29-19 Cavaliers, led by point guard Darius Garland and big men Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, remain firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but could use some extra help on the wing. They’re reportedly dangling Ricky Rubio‘s expiring contract and draft assets in trade discussions.

LeVert has been linked to Cleveland several times since word broke in December that the Pacers had made him available, but Gordon and Ross haven’t been mentioned as possibilities for the Cavs nearly as often. Both the Rockets and Magic are believed to be seeking a first-round pick in exchange for their respective wings.

LeVert, Gordon, and Ross are all under contract for at least one more season beyond 2021/22, which perhaps increases their appeal for the Cavs, who wouldn’t want to give up any significant assets for a rental.

Besides those three shooting guards, the Cavs have reached out to the Trail Blazers about Robert Covington, according to Scotto, who says the Timberwolves and Jazz are among the other teams to inquire on the forward. Covington is on an expiring contract and is a bigger wing who doesn’t play the two, so he may not place as high on Cleveland’s list of targets, but it’s worth noting that the team isn’t just looking at guards.

The Cavs also like Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, says Scotto, but a deadline deal involving Harris seems unlikely. His ongoing recovery from ankle surgery will likely limit what suitors are willing to offer, but Brooklyn wouldn’t want to give him up in a deal that doesn’t include an impact player, per Scotto.

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Bucks, Pistons, Washington Jr.

Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen suffered a sprained ankle on Saturday and multiple sources told Chris Fedor of that “The Finnisher” is expected to miss at least a couple of weeks. Markkanen left the arena on crutches and in a walking boot following Cleveland’s 95-93 win over New York on Monday.

In Markkanen’s absence, Dean Wade returned to the starting lineup. Although Wade has only seen sporadic action this season, appearing in 33 out of 48 games, coach J.B. Bickerstaff has entrusted the 25-year-old big man to be an injury-replacement starter. Wade has started 17 games, with the Cavs holding a respectable 9-8 record in those contests, Fedor writes.

We’re confident we’ve got guys who can fill that spot,” Bickerstaff said. “We will play some more traditional lineups because of who’s available, but the style that we play and the system that we play shouldn’t change much. We’re comfortable with Dean Wade in that position.

He takes care of business every single day. We have a trust in him that we know when his number’s called, he’s going to be ready to go. That’s not easy to do. You see guys who are in and out of the lineup, they have a hard time. He understands where his opportunities are gonna come and the job that he has to do, and what he needs to do to go out and handle that. Obviously, he made big shots for us down the stretch.”
Here’s more from the Central Division:
  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who’s out for the season following meniscus surgery in his left knee, is making solid progress in his recovery and hasn’t ruled out returning to the court if Cleveland makes the postseason, according to Fedor in a separate article for Sources within the team don’t expect Sexton to be back for a potential playoff run, but they also know not to count him out, as the fourth-year guard is known for having an outstanding work ethic.
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic provides a trade deadline primer for the Bucks, noting that Milwaukee is limited in potential deals by being a luxury tax team. He believes Robert Covington, Larry Nance Jr. or P.J. Washington could theoretically fit well with the team, but creating the frameworks for those trades is difficult. Goran Dragic, Thaddeus Young, Robin Lopez and Mike Muscala are names to watch on the buyout market, according to Nehm.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News explores five things to watch from the Pistons during the second half of the season.
  • Pacers rookie guard Duane Washington Jr., who’s on a two-way contract, set an Indiana rookie record with seven three-pointers in the team’s 117-113 loss at New Orleans on Monday, James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star writes. Washington brings positivity and enthusiasm wherever he goes, according to coach Rick Carlisle. “He has a real grateful vibe,” Carlisle said. “Every day he comes in with a smile on his face, a real positive view of the world in general and he loves to play basketball. He loves to work at being a great teammate, and he plays the game in a very pure way.”

Wes Iwundu Joins Cavs' G League Affiliate

  • After signing NBA G League contracts, veteran wings Treveon Graham and Wes Iwundu have new teams, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link), who hears from league sources that Graham has been acquired by the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s affiliate), while Iwundu has joined the Cleveland Charge (the Cavaliers‘ affiliate).

Cavaliers May Be Best Option For Schröder Trade

  • The Cavaliers may be the Celtics‘ best option in working out a deal for Dennis Schröder, John Hollinger of the Athletic says in a discussion with Jay King about Boston’s trade prospects. Hollinger proposes sending Schröder to Cleveland for Kevin Pangos, Ed Davis and a 2023 second-round pick in a trade that would leave both teams under the luxury tax.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Cunningham, Garza, Stephenson

The Cavaliers‘ improved play this season has put them in position to be unhappy after a win, writes Chris Fedor of Victories have been rare in Cleveland over the past three seasons, but with the Cavs in fifth place in the East at 28-19, coach J.B. Bickerstaff is stressing the importance of a strong performance every night.

That’s why he was upset Saturday after watching his team struggle to put away the Thunder. Bickerstaff was displeased over a lack of effort and an offense that produced 23 turnovers and only 22 assists.

“It’s an understanding of the bigger picture of what we’re trying to get done and the seriousness of every game for us and what it means,” he said. “That’s part of our growth and maturation. There’s games like this where if you lose these games, you’re looking back in April and they matter.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey wants to take some of the ball-handling duties away from Cade Cunningham, who is running the offense and handling much of the scoring for the short-handed Pistons, per Keith Langlois of Injuries to Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk and Killian Hayes have resulted in Cunningham taking on a larger-than-expected share of the offense. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting him off the ball,” Casey said. “Find another ballhandler. When we get Kelly (Olynyk) back, get his time up as a point five, allowing Cade to play off the ball a little more and that’ll take the pressure off Cade, because to bring the ball down the floor, create his own shot, that’s too much.”
  • Pistons rookie center Luka Garza has cleared the health and safety protocols and is focused on reconditioning so he can start playing again, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The Pacers have to make a decision on Lance Stephenson, whose 10-day contract expires tonight, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Stephenson joined the team under the hardship provision at the start of January, but because all of Indiana’s players cleared protocols by the time that deal expired, he had to sign a standard 10-day contract. The Pacers have the options of giving him another 10-day deal or signing him for the rest of the season. He has averaged 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 11 games.

Lauri Markkanen Believed To Have “Pretty Significant” Ankle Sprain

Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen left tonight’s game with what trainers believe is a “pretty significant” sprain of his right ankle, according to Chris Fedor of

Markkanen was injured on a collision with four minutes left in the second quarter and had to be helped to the locker room. A source tells Fedor that the team’s medical staff examined his ankle, but not his knee or Achilles. More information won’t be available until further testing is conducted.

Markkanen was trying to defend Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on a drive to the basket, but landed awkwardly on his right leg and fell to the court. He was on the floor for a while, grabbing the ankle in pain, and couldn’t put much weight on it as he headed to the locker room.

The 24-year-old has been an important part of the turnaround for the Cavs, who were fifth in the East at 27-19 entering tonight’s game. Markkanen is averaging 13.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 37 games this season, and Fedor notes that he is shooting 41.4% from three-point range through 10 games in January.

Lauri Markkanen Plays An Imporant Role In Success Of Big Lineups

  • Lauri Markkanen‘s versatility has enabled the Cavaliers to succeed while starting three big men, per Chris Fedor of“People get so caught up in his offensive game — shot-making, shot-taking — that they don’t pay attention to all the other things that he does for us,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We would not be able to play the lineup and the size that we play without him. Us being unique and different is because of him and his ability to do that. We don’t lose sight of that. We don’t let him lose sight of that.”

Should They Trade Collin Sexton?

  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who underwent season-ending knee surgery two months ago, will be a restricted free agent after the season. Bryan Fonseca of Basketball News explores the pros and cons of Cleveland trading Sexton before next month’s deadline. Fonseca ultimately concludes the Cavs should retain Sexton, providing another shot-creator and catch-and-shoot option on a team with playoff aspirations beyond this season.

Kyrie Irving Fined $25K For Interaction With Fan

Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25K by the NBA for directing obscene language toward a fan, the league announced today (via Twitter).

The incident took place during Monday’s game in Cleveland. Irving responded to a Cavaliers fan who was heckling him by saying, Got y’all a championship and motherf—–s still ungrateful” (video link).

A $25K fine is a drop in the bucket for a maximum-salary player like Irving. Still, Kyrie won’t come close to earning his full $35MM base salary this season, since he’s also being fined 1/91.6th of his salary for each game he misses due to a local vaccine mandate. Today’s $25K penalty will be tacked onto the $380K+ he’s losing for each Brooklyn home game (and a select few road games).

Irving is the second Nets star to be disciplined within the last week for his choice of words. The league hit Kevin Durant with a $15K fine last Friday for using profane language during a media interview and failing to comply with an NBA Security interview as part of the review process.

Pincus’ Latest: Pacers, Mavs, Cavs, Blazers, Hawks, Avdija

As they weigh their options on the trade market in the next few weeks, the Pacers will be seeking shooting and players who fit head coach Rick Carlisle‘s system, sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As Pincus observes, this could make the Mavericks an intriguing trade partner for the Pacers. Reports have indicated that Dallas has interest in Myles Turner, and Carlisle may value some of his former players more than other teams would. According to Pincus, several rival executives had considered the Mavs the favorites to land Turner using a package that includes Dwight Powell as a salary-matching piece, plus either Jalen Brunson and/or Dorian Finney-Smith.

Turner’s health complicates matters, however. The Pacers’ big man is expected to be sidelined through the February 10 trade deadline due to a foot injury, which will likely temper enthusiasm among his potential suitors. Additionally, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link) that the Mavericks have recently backed off their pursuit of Turner as their defense has moved into the NBA’s top five.

While Turner may no longer be a top target, it’s still possible the Mavericks will consider moving Brunson or Finney-Smith for a roster upgrade, especially if they’re concerned about their ability to sign either player this summer, when they’ll reach unrestricted free agency. According to Pincus, there’s a sense around the league that Finney-Smith probably won’t get more than the full mid-level exception, whereas Brunson is “believed by many” to be seeking a four-year, $80MM deal.

Here’s more from Pincus:

  • Rival teams don’t get the sense that the Cavaliers are making Isaac Okoro or Kevin Love readily available, Pincus says. That doesn’t mean that either player – especially Love – is untouchable, but it sounds like they’re not being actively shopped.
  • There’s an expectation that the Trail Blazers will pursue deals that help them shed a few million dollars in salary to get under the luxury tax line, according to Pincus, who suggests Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, and even Larry Nance Jr. are among Portland’s potential trade candidates. The Blazers gave up a first-round pick for Nance last summer.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hawks acquired a first-round pick from New York in the Cam Reddish trade in an effort to improve a potential offer for Sixers star Ben Simmons, writes Pincus. Philadelphia wasn’t interested in Reddish, Pincus adds.
  • Multiple teams have interest in Wizards forward Deni Avdija, per Pincus. If Washington looks to upgrade its roster, it’s safe to assume Avdija is someone potential trade partners will ask about.