Connect with us

NBA

NBA PM: What’s Next for the Cleveland Cavaliers?

After continuing to struggle and firing their general manager, what’s next for the Cavaliers? … Are the Knicks ready to fire Mike Woodson?

Alex Kennedy

Published

on

What’s Next for the Cleveland Cavaliers?

The Cleveland Cavaliers decided to fire general manager Chris Grant today, which was somewhat of a surprise due to the timing of the move but not shocking at all given their struggles. David Griffin, the team’s vice president of basketball operations, will serve as the interim GM.

Cleveland entered the season with playoff aspirations, but they haven’t been very competitive throughout the first half of the season. The Cavaliers are currently 16-33, which puts them in the 12th seed in the dreadful Eastern Conference and five and a half games out of the playoff picture.

The low point of Cleveland’s season came last night as they lost to a depleted Los Angeles Lakers team that was ravaged by injuries. By the end of the game, the Lakers had just five healthy players. Robert Sacre fouled out, but L.A. didn’t have a healthy sub so he had to stay in the game with each of his fouls counting as a technical. After the loss, many Cavaliers fans used social media to voice their displeasure with the team and call for changes.

Grant took over as Cleveland’s general manager just before LeBron James decided to leave the franchise to sign with the Miami HEAT back in 2010. Grant helped the organization rebuild after losing James by ushering in a youth movement and acquiring draft picks. His best move was dealing Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Baron Davis and the first-round pick that became Kyrie Irving.

However, Grant didn’t use the draft picks he stockpiled wisely. Year after year, he made questionable selections at the top of the draft.

In 2011, he drafted Irving with the first overall pick and Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick. The latter was a shock since it was much higher than Thompson was projected, and he went ahead of players like Jonas Valanciunas, Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard among others.

In 2012, he drafted Dion Waiters with the fourth overall pick – another surprise since Waiters was a reserve in college and expected to go later in the first round. Waiters was picked ahead of Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes among others.

His most questionable selection came in 2013, when he picked Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick in the draft. Bennett has been awful throughout the first half of the season and he’s on pace to have the worst statistical season of any top pick in league history.

Now that Grant has been fired, what’s next for the Cavaliers? The timing of the move – two weeks before the trade deadline – suggests that changes could be coming in Cleveland. A new general manager won’t have any attachment to the players that Grant brought in to Cleveland. That means the Cavs could be shaking up their roster very soon.

Really, the only player who has any reason to feel secure is Irving. Irving is the face of the franchise and also one of the best young point guards in the game. The next GM has to win him over immediately and cultivate a winning culture around him.

While Irving is reportedly frustrated in Cleveland, the team has him locked up for the foreseeable future. He’s under contract for next season and the Cavaliers can match any offer he receives as a restricted free agent the following summer. The only way Irving can leave Cleveland anytime soon would be if he decided to play the 2015-16 season for the $9,191,949 qualifying offer, which would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent the following season. However, that’s unlikely since it would delay his lucrative payday and be a huge risk.

Every other player could be on the move.

Young guys like Waiters, Thompson, Bennett, Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix, Matthew Dellavedova and Henry Sims could be moved or included in a larger deal.

Veterans like Luol Deng, Anderson Varejao, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles find themselves in the same position.

Deng was acquired one month ago by the Cavaliers, and is reportedly unhappy in Cleveland (describing the team as a “mess” to friends). The veteran small forward can be traded again before the deadline, but he can’t be packaged with another player from the Cavaliers.

The new general manager should try to get Deng to buy in. If they can persuade Deng to stay, they should keep him because he’s a foundational building block and someone who can help this team on and off the court. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season and will have plenty of suitors, so the Cavaliers have a limited time to keep him interested in what’s about to happen with their franchise. If it’s clear that Deng isn’t going to consider staying in Cleveland, it would be wise for the Cavaliers to trade him before he can walk as a free agent in several months.

With where the Cavaliers currently sit in the standings, they could be buyers or sellers at the deadline. They could decide to sell players off and throw in the towel for this season, which would put them in the mix for a top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Or they could decide to be buyers at the deadline and try to make a splashy move that keeps their playoff aspirations alive. Either way, every player on the team outside of Irving could be mentioned in trade talks over the next two weeks.

“This has been a very difficult period for the franchise,” owner Dan Gilbert said in a statement. ‘We have severely underperformed against expectations. Just as this is completely unacceptable to our loyal and passionate fan base, season ticket holders and corporate partners, it is also just as unacceptable to our ownership group. I can assure everyone who supports and cares about the Cleveland Cavaliers that we will continue to turn over every stone and explore every possible opportunity for improvement to shift the momentum of our franchise in the right direction. There is no one in our entire organization who is satisfied with our performance, and to say that we are disappointed is an understatement. We all know the great potential of our young talent, seasoned veterans, as well as our recent all-star addition. We believe a change in leadership was necessary to establish the best possible culture and environment for our entire team to flourish.

“There is no move, nor any amount of capital investment, we will not make if we believe it will improve our chances of competing and winning in this league for both the short and long term. The fans of this great city have invested too much time, money and effort for the kind of product we have recently delivered to them. This must change.”

However, players aren’t the only ones who should be worrying about their future in Cleveland. It’s time to take a long, hard look at Mike Brown. He was a popular choice to fill the Cavaliers’ vacant head coach position because he led the team to the NBA Finals in 2007, but he has been a special kind of terrible this season. If Brown has lost the locker room, he should follow Grant out the door.

It’s not too late for the Cleveland Cavaliers to turn things around, but that turnaround must start immediately.

Bill Ingram contributed to this article.

Knicks Firing Mike Woodson?

The New York Knicks are another team that has failed to live up to expectations this season. After finishing last season as the second best team in the Eastern Conference, they have dropped to 10th in the East this season with a 19-30 record.

If a recent report by Steve Popper of the Bergen Record is accurate, the Knicks may be on the verge of firing head coach Mike Woodson. The Knicks have now lost three straight games, and it seems New York is ready to move on from Woodson. Here is what Popper reported:

While the Knicks remained mum on their plans, a league source indicated that the team has begun discussions with potential assistant coaches, plotting a new regime to finish out the troubled season.

According to the source the Knicks have plotted ending the tenure of head coach Mike Woodson and nearly his entire staff of assistants. With no high-profile coach interested in stepping into this situation right now, the source said that the team has discussed a plan to keep assistant coach Herb Williams and elevate him to the top spot in an interim, reaching out to a number of candidates to fill the staff out.

A notable name among the candidates for an assistant spot is Larry Johnson, who currently has served as a “basketball and business operations representative” for the organization. Johnson traveled with the team on a road trip to Detroit earlier this season and Woodson had him speak to the team before the game.

The Knicks are just two and a half games out of the playoff picture in the East, so there’s still hope for New York to right the ship.

The Basketball Insiders Trade Deadline Guide

Later this week, Basketball Insiders’ first Digital Magazine issue will drop, featuring the most comprehensive look at the NBA Trade Deadline you will find anywhere.

The magazine will be available on your smartphone, tablet or desktop. If you are an Apple user, you can grab the Digital Magazine app here. For our Android users, you can grab the Digital Magazine app here. When the issue is ready it will automatically appear in your App for purchase.

If you do not want to download the App, we will have a web-based solution for you that works great on the same devices. The links for that will drop when the issue is available.

Get ready for 110 pages of trade deadline knowledge, exclusively from Basketball Insiders.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Advertisement




3 Comments

NBA

A Few Good Free Agents Left

David Yapkowitz looks at several free agents still remaining on the market ahead of the season.

David Yapkowitz

Published

on

The start of the 2017-2018 NBA season is finally here, and teams are required to have their 15-man roster (plus two possible two-way contacts) finalized. Every year there are players that are left off a roster. Some are younger guys who maybe haven’t proven they belong in the league just yet. Some are older veterans looking for that one final hurrah.

A few of these players might take open gigs in the G-League or overseas in hopes of attracting the attention of NBA front offices as the year goes on. Others remain at home, working out and waiting for that call that might never come. And sometimes, the waiting and anticipating pays off as playoff teams come looking for veteran help and tanking teams are on the hunt for unrealized potential.

For most of the veteran guys, their opportunities will likely come later in the season when teams gear up for the playoffs. Here’s a look at a few of the top veteran free agents left that could certainly help a team at some point during this season.

David Lee

Since being traded from the Golden State Warriors to the Boston Celtics three year ago, Lee has adapted to his new role as a veteran big man helping to anchor second units. He is no longer the automatic double-double machine and borderline All-Star he once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything left in the tank.

He didn’t really fit quite right in Boston, but in his stops with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, he still showed he can be a solid contributor off the bench. In 25 games with Mavericks in the 2015-2016 season, Lee put up 8.5 points per game on 63.6 percent shooting while pulling down seven rebounds per. With the Spurs last year, he averaged 7.3 points on 59 percent shooting to go along with 5.6 rebounds. For a playoff team that needs a little big man depth, he is a solid option.

Deron Williams

Much was made about Williams’ disappearing act in the Finals last year, and rightfully so, but lost in all the chatter was the actual solid job he did with the Cleveland Cavaliers leading up to that point. Once in the conversation for best point guard in the league, injuries and poor play in Brooklyn sort of made Williams a forgotten man. The Nets bought out his contract and he joined his hometown Dallas Mavericks.

After a so-so first year in Dallas, Williams looked rejuvenated last year to the point that he actually drew some interest around the trade deadline. With the Mavericks looking to get younger and head closer to that rebuilding path, they cut Williams and allowed him to join a contending team. Over the final 24 games of last season, including four starts, he averaged 7.5 points per game on 46.3 percent shooting, 41.5 percent from the three-point line, and 3.6 assists. Of course, his Finals performance is all anyone cares to remember, but if a team needs a veteran backup point guard, they could do a lot worse.

Monta Ellis

Last season in Indiana, Ellis posted some of the lowest numbers of his career since his rookie season. Heading into a rebuilding year, the Pacers waived Ellis and his name barely came up in free agent rumors during the summer. At his best, Ellis was a borderline All-Star talent who could put up points in a hurry. Despite his reputation as a gunner, Ellis was a bit of an underrated playmaker and was never as bad defensively as most made him out to be.

He never really seemed to find his groove in Indiana. In his first year with the Pacers during the 2015-2016 season, he posted 13.8 points per game, down from 18.9 the previous year in Dallas, and his shooting dropped from 44.5 percent from the field to 42.7 percent. His playoff numbers with the Pacers were down even more than his regular season numbers, despite exploding in the postseason a few years before with Dallas. His starting days are almost assuredly behind him, but as a sixth man type scorer bringing energy off the bench, he’s probably better than a lot of the players currently in that role.

Leandro Barbosa

The Brazilian Blur’s best days are behind him, but similar to Ellis, he can still help a team in need of additional scoring punch off the bench. It was only two years ago that he was a key contributor off the Warriors bench. Firmly on the rebuilding track, the Suns waived Barbosa during the summer. Despite still being a capable player, his name also rarely came up in the free agent rumor mill.

He didn’t play all that much last season for a Phoenix Suns team that is clearly rebuilding, but he still was able to average 6.3 points per game in only 14.4 minutes per. His role on a rebuilding team would be a veteran mentor, but for a playoff team, he’s not a bad option. He showed that he can still play at the NBA level despite losing a step or two. Perhaps later on in the season when teams start looking for playoff help is when he may find his phone starting to ring.

Derrick Williams

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 draft hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted that high. He’s only averaged double figures (12.0) in scoring once in his career and that was during the 2012-2013 season. When he came into the league, he didn’t really have much of a set position. He was a tweener, somewhere in between small forward and power forward. That was prior to the changes occurring in today’s NBA with more of a premium on stretch big men.

During Williams’ time in Cleveland last season, he played in 25 games and averaged 6.2 points per game. What stood out most, however, was his shooting. He shot 50.5 percent from the field, including 40.4 percent from the three-point line, both career-highs. Shooting from long range was always a bit of a weakness for him and prior to last season, he had never shot higher than 33.2 percent from downtown. He also didn’t register much chatter by way of free agent rumors, but if he can reproduce shooting percentages like that, he fits right in with the direction of the league.

With league rosters pretty much set, there likely won’t be much roster movement, if any at all, for the next few months. Teams are looking to see how their new summer acquisitions work out. But after a few months of real game action, other roster needs start to become more apparent. Don’t be surprised if come the new year, teams start knocking on a few of these player’s doorsteps.

Continue Reading

NBA

NBA PM: The Wizards Are “More Than Ready” For A Big Year

Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal says his team is “more than ready” for the start of the NBA season.

Buddy Grizzard

Published

on

With several teams in the Eastern Conference taking a step back, the Washington Wizards will be one of the beneficiaries due to roster continuity. Shooting guard Bradley Beal, one of several key Wizards signed to a long-term contract, said the team is “more than ready” for the season and has large expectations.

“This is going to be a big year for us,” said Beal after a Monday practice. “We’re healthy. There’s no excuse for us [not to] get off to a good start.”

Beal added that, while health is a key for the entire roster, it’s especially important for him after struggling with injuries in the past.

“It’s really a confidence booster, realizing my potential, what I can be, the type of player I can be when I had a healthy season,” said Beal of last year’s campaign. “That’s probably what I was more proud of than anything, playing 70-plus games and then playing in the playoffs every game.”

In Basketball Insiders’ season preview for the Wizards, we noted that Beal was Washington’s most efficient ball handler in the pick and roll last season. Beal said that creating for teammates is something he’s worked on in the offseason and will continue to be a point of emphasis.

“That was great for me and the strides I made throughout the year, working on my ball handling, working on creating for other guys and getting my own shot,” said Beal. “Those are the primary things I’m focused on … being able to create better, getting guys easier shots than before, getting more assists and improve everywhere.”

Wizards coach Scott Brooks said after Friday’s preseason finale in New York that he’s been encouraged by the ball movement he has seen since the start of camp.

“I thought a lot of good things happened in training camp,” said Brooks. “The ball movement was outstanding. Guys were sacrificing for one another on the offensive end.”

One thing that should help the ball movement of the second unit is the arrival of backup point guard Tim Frazier, who missed most of the preseason due to a strained groin. Frazier had nine assists and no turnovers in his preseason debut against the Miami HEAT.

“I feel very comfortable with Tim,” said Brooks. “He finds corner threes, which we like.”

Beal added that one area he hopes to improve, both individually and as a team, is rebounding.

“I think I only had like three rebounds [per game] last year,” said Beal. “I obviously love scoring the ball. That’s something I never worry about. I want to continue to fill up the stat sheet a little bit more and contribute to the game in different areas. I think rebounding was something that hurt us a little bit last year.”

The Wizards host the Philadelphia 76ers to open the season Wednesday, and Brooks said it will take a team effort to defend emerging star Joel Embiid.

“He’s a problem,” said Brooks after Sunday’s practice. “His athleticism is off the charts. We’re going to have to do a good job of staying in front of him. You’re talking about a guy that can put the ball on the floor, that can get to spaces and spots that normally a 6-10 guy doesn’t.”

With a revamped bench, roster continuity and good health entering the season, the Wizards look like a team that could challenge the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors for supremacy in the East. Beal certainly seems to think so.

Continue Reading

NBA

NBA Opening Night Storylines

Hours before the 2017-18 season gets set to tip off, here are some storylines to follow for Tuesday’s games.

Dennis Chambers

Published

on

The long summer is over. We finally made it. NBA opening night is upon us.

Rejoice, hoop heads.

Because the NBA is a perfect concoction of chaos at all times, Tuesday’s opening night slate has some can’t-miss built in headlines that the entire league is going to be glued to.

With a new year set to begin, everyone is on the same page. Whether that page includes the likes of Kevin Durant and Steph Curry or Doug McDermott and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a different story. But still, Tuesday marks day one for all teams and as it stands they’re all equal.

As we get set to sit down and dissect these opening game matchups on Tuesday, let’s highlight the most intriguing storylines that will be followed for the rest of the season. There’s nothing like watching a story grown in the NBA from its inception, right?

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — 8 p.m. ET (TNT)

This is the game we’ve all been waiting for since late June, when Kyrie Irving let it be known to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out from under LeBron’s shadow.

Three years of NBA Finals appearances, the greatest comeback in basketball history, and a ring to show for was all Irving wanted to walk away from. For him, he felt it was his time to shine.

And because the NBA is the perfect mix of beautiful insanity, it would only make sense that Irving would get dealt to the very team that is jostling for position to unseat the Cavs and King James.

The Irving-led Boston Celtics will have to wait a grand total of one second in the new NBA season to begin their matchup with their point guards old teammates and the team that stands in between them a Finals appearance. With Gordon Hayward and Irving together for the first time against meaningful competition, there’s no better way than to check their fit from the jump than by challenging the conference champions in their building.

But Irving’s homecoming isn’t the only storyline heading into the first game of the season. There are some changes on Cleveland’s end as well.

While the main return for Irving — Isaiah Thomas — won’t be suiting up for the Cavs anytime soon due to injury, there are still plenty of new faces to keep an eye on Tuesday night. First and foremost, Flash is in town. After having his contract bought out by the Chicago Bulls, Dwyane Wade joined forces with his buddy in The Land in hopes of recapturing some of the magic that led them to two championships in South Beach.

By teaming up once again, James and Wade provide some of the best chemistry in the league. Yes, Wade isn’t the player he once was when he and James were winning rings. But something is to be said for knowing exactly where someone will be on the court at all times, and that’s the trait exactly that Wade and James share.

Along with Wade, James and the Cavs are hoping to get some type of resurgence from Derrick Rose and Jeff Green off of the bench. Once Thomas returns to the court for Cleveland, this is arguably the deepest team James has ever been around in Cleveland.

Even with Irving and Hayward on board, Boston will be relying on some role players of their own — namely Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The back-to-back third overall picks will occupy most of the time at the forward spots opposite of Hayward. As the season moves on, the development of both of these wings will be crucial to how dangerous the Celtics can be past their two star players.

Tuesday night will be must-see television at Quicken Loans Arena. New eras for the Eastern Conference heavyweights are about to begin.

And as James told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, “The Kid” will be just fine.

Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors — 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)

On the Western side of the basketball landscape Tuesday night, the potential conference finals matchup will see its first act when the revamped Rockets head to the Bay Area.

Last season at this time, the basketball world was bracing for what the Warriors would look like after adding Kevin Durant to a 73-win team. And as expected, they dominated. Not even LeBron James could put a stop to them, managing just one win in their finals bout.

This year brings in more of the same questions. Can anyone stop the Warriors? Will Golden State just steamroll their way to another championship, effectively sucking the fun of competition out of the entire league?

Well, a few teams this offseason did their best to try and combat that narrative. One of them being the Rockets, who they added perennial all-star point guard Chris Paul to their backcourt.

Putting Paul in the same backcourt as superstar James Harden has the potential to create some of the biggest headaches for opposing teams. The constant ball movement and open looks the two star guards can provide are nearly endless.

While the league swoons over the Warriors’ ability to hit shots from well beyond the arc, it should be noted that it was Houston last year that led the NBA in three-point shooting, not Golden State. It’s certainly not wise to try and go toe-to-toe with the Warriors at their own game, but if there’s ever a team equipped to do it, it’s Houston. Tuesday night will provide a nice preview look at how things in the Western Conference could shake out in the coming months.

Aside from the barrage of scoring that will take place in this matchup, what would a big game be for the Warriors without a little Draymond Green trash talk?

After Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni told ESPN that, “You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us, either,” Green clapped back with a comment of his own, as he always does.

“I don’t know how serious they take defense with that comment,” Green said. “But they added some good defensive players.”

It’s true, the Rockets aren’t considered a defensive stalwart by any means. Last season, Houston was 26th in points allowed, compared to second in points scored. Green may be onto something when it comes to questioning how serious his opponents take defense.

That being said, last year’s Rockets didn’t feature Paul. Even at the age of 32, Paul is still one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. And no matter his age, he’ll always possess that competitive fire he’s been known for over the last 12 years.

Going up against the Warriors at Oracle is usually nothing short of impossible, but if there’s going to be a team to challenge their supremacy this season, we’ll get a good look at how they stack up on night one.

With all of this in mind, let’s not forget that the world’s best league is finally back in action. Give yourself a pat on the back, you made it. Now, go enjoy some basketball.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Now