Cleveland Cavaliers

Life After Kyrie Irving; Cleveland's PG Situation

  • The Cavaliers will turn to Jose Calderon to fill a gaping hole at the point guard position, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The 36-year-old has only played 6.7 minutes per game for the Cavs this season.
  • It’s coming, but the Cavaliers are still adapting to life without Kyrie Irving, Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer writes. There has been a noticeable hole in Cleveland’s attack at the point, although injuries to Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose have played a large part of that.
  • The Cavaliers will turn to Jose Calderon to fill a gaping hole at the point guard position, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The 36-year-old has only played 6.7 minutes per game for the Cavs this season.
  • The rehabilitation process inherent with Isaiah Thomas‘ hip injury has helped the player build a unique sense of respect with the Cavaliers franchise. “I’m protecting myself, so, even if they wanted me to hurry back, I’m not going to hurry back, just because I’ve got a long career ahead of me and an important summer as well,” Thomas, a pending free agent, told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “So, I’ve got to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy before I step out on the floor. But these guys have not rushed me one bit. They’ve taken their time with me and I appreciate that. Because most teams, they want you out there, especially if things aren’t going well.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/19/17

Here are Sunday’s G League assignment and recalls from around the NBA:

8:30pm:

5:02pm:

  • The Lakers have recalled Ivica Zubac and Josh Hart from South Bay Lakers, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum Sportsnet tweets. In his latest two-game stint with Los Angeles’ G-League affiliate, Zubac averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
  • The Knicks have assigned Damyean Dotson to their G-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, per the team’s Twitter feed.
  • The Heat have recalled Derrick Walton Jr. from their G-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team announces via press release. Walton will continue to shuffle back and forth between the two clubs, as he’s on a newly established two-way deal.
  • The Hawks have recalled Nicolas Brussino, Tyler Dorsey, and Miles Plumlee, from the team’s G League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, according to a team press release.

Injury Notes: A. Davis, Thomas, Porzingis, Wall

Earlier today, we passed on the news that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz in making progress with his shoulder ailment. Here are a few more injury notes involving some of the NBA’s top players:

  • Pelicans forward Anthony Davis has cleared the concussion protocol and is probable for Monday’s game, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Davis was diagnosed with a contusion of the orbit bone above his right eye after a collision the third quarter of Friday night’s contest. He was removed from the game and didn’t re-enter.
  • Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas participated in some five-on-zero drills and worked on his shot today in practice, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).
  • Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has swelling in his elbow caused by bursitis, but says it isn’t the reason for his recent shooting problems, according to Ian Begley of ESPN (Twitter link). “At the end of last season, it was really swollen; it was really, really big,” he said of the elbow. “But it was never really bothering me. Now this season, kind of fell on it a couple of times. It wasn’t bothering me either. In Sacramento, I fell kind of on the side. It was a new spot. It was much more sensitive. Now I’m doing treatment. Today’s the day I’m almost back to normal. I almost don’t feel it at all anymore.”
  • Wizards guard John Wall will miss today’s game with soreness in his left knee, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Warriors forward Kevin Durant suffered a sprained ankle last night and will sit out today’s game in Brooklyn, tweets Warriors PR.

Central Notes: Cavs, Bradley, LaVine

The Cavaliers are essentially playing without a true point guard, as both Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose are out with injuries and Jose Calderon has been relegated to the bench, averaging only 6.7 MPG. Lately the Cavs have been using Iman Shumpert as their starting point guard, with LeBron James handling ball-handling duties as well.

However, according to a team press release, the Cavs will now also be without Shumpert for at least the next 5-7 days. Shumpert left last night’s game against the Clippers in the first half with left knee soreness. He was examined and did not return.

As first reported by Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the Cavs will likely recall two-way player John Holland from the Canton Charge to replace Shumpert on the Cavs’ active roster. According to VardonDwyane Wade could also see his role at point guard increase after he filled in admirably during the Cavs’ come from behind victory against the Clippers last night.

There’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the Central Division:

  • As detailed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.comKyle Korver has become an important centerpiece of the Cavaliers’ line-up so far this season. Perhaps most telling is James’ comparison of Korver to former teammate and 10-time NBA All-Star Ray Allen. “You’ve got two of the greatest shooters to ever play this game,” James said. “There’s a lot of similarities in their approach… they take that craft, that marksmanship very seriously.
  • In another piece for Cleveland.com, Fedor analyzes how James is beginning to accept the challenge of defending the opposing team’s best offensive player during crunch time. In the fourth quarter of the Cavs’ recent victories against the Knicks and the Clippers, James was the primary defender in the fourth quarter against both Kristaps Porzingis and Blake Griffin.
  • Avery Bradley is slowing becoming one of the best two-way guards in the NBA, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Bradley is averaging career-bests in PPG (17.8) and 3P% (45.2%) this season and Stan Van Gundy has been impressed. “He came in with the respect based on what he had done, but it grows a lot more when you’re out here every day and see the way he goes to work.” The Pistons are currently tied for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 10-5.
  • The Bulls’ Zach LaVine is expected to be cleared for practice on Monday, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. LaVine, who has not yet played for the Bulls this season after being traded from the Timberwolves as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, has been out with a torn ACL since February.

Derrick Rose To Miss At Least Two Weeks; Isaiah Thomas Makes Progress

The Cavaliers have been without Derrick Rose since November 7 and may be without him for at least two more weeks, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. The club has announced that the veteran point guard’s sprained ankle will be immobilized in a boot and that he’ll undergo treatment through the end of the month.

Rose’s tenure with the Cavaliers hasn’t gotten off to as a good as start as some may have hoped after a relatively successful year with the Knicks. The 29-year-old has averaged 14.3 points per game but has only seen action in seven of the team’s 15 games this season.

The injured ankle that’s been plaguing Rose is the same one that the Cavaliers guard missed nine days due to from October 20 to October 29.

  • Injured Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas stands by his decision to forego surgery on his hip, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. “Every week now, every week I’m getting better and better. I’m doing more and more. I’m getting closer to being back on the floor and being able to play, so the only thing that is the frustrating part is the time.

And-Ones: E. Okafor, Perkins, S. Brown, Wood

Two NBA veterans have been among the most impressive G League standouts early in the season, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Emeka Okafor, 35, has spent the past four years recovering from surgery on a herniated disc in his neck. He joined the Sixers for training camp and opted to stay with the organization’s affiliate in Delaware. He is averaging 14.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and is shooting better than 60% from the field.

Kendrick Perkins was the Cavaliers’ final roster cut and went to Cleveland’s affiliate in Canton. He is averaging 13.0 points and 10.3 rebounds through three games. He has dropped weight and may still be able to help an NBA team at age 33.

There’s more news from the NBA and the G League:

  • Today is an important day for four players who were claimed off waivers during the offseason, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The BullsDavid Nwaba and Kay Felder, the HawksNicolas Brussino and the BucksDeAndre Liggins are all now eligible to be traded.
  • The Sixers used the remainder of this year’s cap space for the renegotiation/extension with Robert Covington, leaving just eight teams with cap room, according to Marks (Twitter link). They are the Bulls [$15.1MM], Mavericks [$12.5MM], Suns [$8.9MM], Pacers [$6.1MM], Kings [$4.3MM], Nets [$3.4MM], Hawks [$589K] and Magic [$549K].
  • Veteran guard Shannon Brown has been claimed from the G League player pool by the Wisconsin Herd, tweets Chris Reichert of 2 Ways and 10 Days. The 31-year-old last played in the NBA in 2014, when he appeared in five games with the Heat.
  • Christian Wood has joined the Delaware 87ers as a returning player, according to Reichert (Twitter link). He played 13 games for the Hornets last year and ended the season in the G League.
  • International stars are having a greater impact on the NBA than ever before, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Many of the league’s best young players hail from overseas, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kristaps Porzingis, both considered early-season MVP candidates, along with Ben SimmonsAndrew WigginsJoel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. Ziller credits former commissioner David Stern for his focus on expanding the league to overseas markets. That strategy not only created more revenue, it exposed the NBA to an international audience and created a new reservoir of players.

Cavaliers Notes: Thomas, James, Love, Thompson

Isaiah Thomas discusses his injury, the long recovery process, his trade to Cleveland and much more in a new docu-series on The Players Tribune, writes Sam Amick of USA Today. Titled “The Book of Isaiah II,” it will trace his experiences from the 2017 playoffs through the present, but the part that should most interest Cavaliers fans is Thomas’ rehabilitation of his injured hip. January 1 has been floated as a possible return date, but Thomas is hoping to make it earlier.

“This is what I live for,” he said. “Every time something happens in my career, I always bounce back and it’s bigger than anything anybody ever thought. And this is just going to be the same thing. I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited to be able to be on this stage playing and battling with the best player in the world. … I’m ready for all that, and I’m preparing right now for all of that, and I can’t wait.”

There’s more news out of Cleveland:

  • The agent for LeBron James says the chance to compete for a title should drive his client’s decision when he becomes a free agent next summer, relays Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “For anywhere – not Los Angeles, not Miami, not Detroit, Milwaukee – I think for LeBron, and for most athletes, the most important thing is about winning,” Rich Paul said in an interview on The Herd. “At his level, it should be. It should be about winning at his point in his career.” He noted that Cleveland has been very successful since James’ return, with three straight trips to the NBA Finals.
  • The Cavaliers should ask James directly about his plans for the future and explore a trade if he’s not fully committed to Cleveland, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. James has a contract provision that allows him to reject any deal, but Kyler believes it would be wiser to address the situation now than to have to launch another rebuilding project if James leaves again.
  • Cleveland needs to find an athletic swingman who can guard multiple positions and would be willing to trade Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson to obtain one, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. However, Mannix says that type of player isn’t on the market right now, with the Hawks’ Kent Bazemore being the closest available version. Mannix speculates that the Cavs would move any asset except James or the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder in the right deal, but nothing is close at the moment.

Celtics Notes: Monroe, Okafor, Irving, Kerr

The Celtics could become an option as Phoenix tries to find a taker for Greg Monroe, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical. The Suns acquired Monroe in the Eric Bledsoe trade, but don’t have any long-term plans for the 27-year-old, who is on an expiring contract. Boston is getting by with Aron Baynes and rookie Daniel Theis at center, but the team might view Monroe as a better alternative.

Mannix says the decision will come down to a choice of keeping the chemistry that has propelled the Celtics to a league best 13-2 record or going after a proven scorer and rebounder. There’s also the question of what Phoenix might want in return for Monroe, who hasn’t played since the trade was finalized. If he winds up agreeing to a buyout with the Suns, the Celtics have an $8.4MM disabled player exception that might be enough to bring Monroe to Boston.

There’s more Celtics-related news this morning:

  • Boston’s preference is to hold onto the DPE through the buyout deadline to see which players become available, Mannix adds in the same story. That means the Celtics wouldn’t use it to acquire benched center Jahlil Okafor from the Sixers, although they remain interested in Okafor if he gets bought out.
  • Following a summer of change for Kyrie Irving, the star point guard is trying to prove to the league that he made the right choices, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN. In addition to asking for a trade away from LeBron James and the three-time Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers, Irving switched his number to 11 and adopted a vegetarian lifestyle. The early results have been promising as he ranks third in the league in clutch-time scoring. “I feel absolutely amazing,” Irving said. “My energy, my sleeping patterns, just my intellect and everything that I’m awake to now — I’m very much aware. My awareness is a lot better now that I’m not eating all the GMOs and pesticides and all that they put in our food, man.”
  • The Celtics’ young talent has caught the attention of Steve Kerr, whose Warriors will be in Boston tonight, relays Chris Haynes of ESPN. The game is being hyped as a possible preview of the NBA Finals, and Kerr suggests that the Celtics could be in that position for many years to come. “It sure looks like Boston is the team of the future in the East,” he said, “with the assets that they still have and their young talent and their coaching, and Kyrie is amazing. “That looks like a team that is going to be at the top of the East for a long time to come. Whether their time is now or the future, that’s to be determined, but they sure look like they want it to be right now.”

Nuggets Were Close To Eric Bledsoe Trade

Denver was in the “red zone” on a potential trade for Eric Bledsoe last month, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Complete details aren’t provided, but Lowe believes Phoenix would have received Emmanuel Mudiay and a first-round pick.

Negotiations with the Suns eventually fell apart and the Nuggets moved on, leaving them with an extremely young point guard duo in Mudiay and Jamal Murray.

“We chase every opportunity to improve ourselves,” said Denver GM Tim Connelly, who refused to comment directly on the Bledsoe talks. “We’ve had a lot of excellent players offered to us for our young talent. There’s a fine line between overvaluing your own players and being too aggressive chasing short-term results.”

The decision not to give up too much for Bledsoe is understandable, writes Lowe, who says he wouldn’t have made made the Nuggets title contenders this season or next. After that, he will be seeking a huge contract as a free agent in his 30s with a history of knee problems.

Lowe also notes that Denver had an opportunity to make a run at Kyrie Irving over the summer, but refused to include Murray in a potential deal. He believes a package of Murray, Wilson Chandler and a minimally protected first-rounder would have gotten the Cavaliers’ attention.

The experience issue at point guard was created just before the season started when the Nuggets elected to waive Jameer Nelson, who played 75 games last season and started 39. Denver worked out a deal to trade him to a lower-level team in exchange for a protected second-round pick, but pulled out because the front office didn’t want Nelson to be stuck on a team with no shot at the playoffs. He eventually signed with the Pelicans after clearing waivers.

“It was tough to see Jameer go,” coach Mike Malone said. “The players trusted him. I find value in veteran mentors. In our meetings, of course I brought up all the reasons it made sense to keep him. But you have to think big picture. It wasn’t like I was kicking and screaming. By the end, we were all on board.”

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