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NBA AM: Are The Cavs Open To Trades?

Cavs GM David Griffin says he won’t trade Kevin Love, but is he looking for other deals?… Is it time to explore a Chris Paul trade?

Steve Kyler

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Not Moving Love, But Open to Options

Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin has heard the rumors and the speculation and while he’s not closed to the idea of making changes the roster, one part that he’s not open to is moving forward Kevin Love.

During an interview with ESPN 850 AM in Cleveland, Griffin was clear that the Cavs have not explored deals involving Love and are not trying to consummate one.

“You’d have to go a long way to convince me that we’re a better team winning in the Finals without a player like Kevin on our team,” Griffin said. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.

“We think very highly of Kevin, and we believe Kevin thinks very highly of this situation. But I can also tell you that we have been very clear from the beginning that there’s no such thing as untouchables.”

Griffin indicated that he was open to improving his team’s depth and bench situation, hinting that moving off a core piece like Love was really not in the plan, but that he was watching the situation and weighing things regularly.

“You’re either all the way in or all the way out in this process,” Griffin said. “We believe our guys are all the way in. If it remains that way, then we are going to try and augment the group at the bottom and try to get some additional depth, and that’s what we’ll do. We’re not going to be afraid to do what needs to be done if something more significant comes along.”

The Cavaliers have two fairly significant Traded Player Exceptions: a $10.522 million TPE from the Brendan Haywood trade with Portland and a $2.854 million TPE from the Mike Miller Trade with Portland, both of which expire on July 30.

Those TPEs can be used to absorb a salary from another team, which would add massively to the Cavaliers’ $109.27 million payroll, and balloon exponentially their league-high $61.988 million luxury tax bill.

The Cavaliers have been linked to Phoenix forward Markieff Morris and New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson; however, both seem unlikely additions given their enormous salaries.

The 2015-16 NBA trade deadline is February 18 at 3 p.m. EST.

Moving Chris Paul?

As we covered in this space yesterday, the lack of trade activity and the looming NBA Trade Deadline has sparked a lot of speculation, especially as some teams continue to falter or face unexpected setbacks due to poor play or injury.

The L.A. Clippers are reportedly going to lose forward Blake Griffin for what’s being characterized as “weeks” to what looks to be a broken hand in what’s being called a “team-related incident” – if that sounds weird and awkward, it is.

The Clippers have been without Griffin since roughly Christmas to a torn quadriceps muscle and were on the verge of getting him back before the latest hand setback.

Griffin’s injury makes a trade involving anyone of substance highly unlikely, but that hasn’t stopped some from speculating that with the state of the West and the age of the Clippers roster, would it be time to explore what Chris Paul’s trade value is?

Danny Leroux of the Sporting News went to great length to explain the logic of exploring a Paul trade. He is 31 years old, he is in the prime of his career and as healthy as he has been in years.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN took the idea a step further, suggesting not only should the Clippers consider Paul’s value, but offered up a Paul for Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving swap.

On the surface, this seems a little laughable. Why would the Clippers give up on Paul? But the more you consider the situation, there is at least a glimmer of logic to it.

As things stand today, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are the teams to beat in the West. Despite the Clippers’ recent success, are they really at the caliber of the Spurs or Warriors? Could they really win a seven-game series against either, even with Griffin at a 100 percent? If the answer is no, then your pounding your proverbial head against the playoff wall.

Paul is not getting any younger, and a trade that returned Irving (and others to work under the cap) would move the clock back for the Clippers.

It is often said in NBA circles that having a realistic understanding of where you really are in the grand scheme is important to roster construction. Understanding your window to win is also important.

The Cavaliers are spending north of $109 million because LeBron James is not getting any younger and the time to win a championship is right now – swapping out Irving for Paul might be the move that gets the Cavaliers over the hump right as the window is all the way open for the Cavaliers.

This is an amusing scenario to ponder, because it would solve some issues for both teams in the short term. However, like most speculative trades, there is not a lot of substance to it in reality.

Because of the names involved and the outlets choosing to comment on it, it’s going to get more and more play despite the fact that’s it’s not a deal under consideration.

It does raise the questions of how much longer should the Clippers hang on to this particular roster and conversely if the Cavaliers can’t get a championship this year should they too explore significant roster change to keep the window open during LeBron’s prime?

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @eric_saar and @CodyTaylorNBA .

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics

With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Ben Nadeau

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With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.

Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.

Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.

His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.

Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#26 – Landry Shamet – Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers select Landry Shamet with the 26th overall pick.

Dennis Chambers

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With the 26th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select guard Landry Shamet of Wichita State.

Shamet, if he is able to fulfill his potential, should provide the Sixers with some much-needed shooting, as their rotation was noticeably starved for another deadeye sniper.

A career 43.7 percent three-point shooter, Shamet sank 44.2 percent of his shots from downtown last season, and he did so while firing nearly six attempts from deep a game. Sliding Shamet at the guard position alongside franchise point guard Ben Simmons allows for another weapon at Simmons’ disposal.

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 21 years old, Shamet has the size to play either guard spot in the NBA (especially given Philadelphia’s lengthy and versatile lineup). Along with his shooting ability, Shamet also led the American Athletic Conference with 166 assists last season. With Markelle Fultz still a question mark for Philadelphia, Shamet provides a secondary ball-handler and playmaker, whether in the starting lineup or in the reserve unit.

The first round of the 2018 NBA Draft was a whirlwind for the Sixers, and they ultimately land two guards of very separate varieties: an upside-laden athlete in Zhaire Smith, and a skillful “veteran” rookie whose skillset is established.

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