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NBA Rumors Round-Up

Rumors: Cleveland Cavaliers’ Implosion Pending?

The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be teetering on an implosion…

Yannis Koutroupis

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Blatt losing his team?

There is a growing level of worry within the Cleveland Cavaliers organization about first-year coach David Blatt and his ability to reach the team, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that there is rising concern in team circles about the level of response that Blatt is getting on the floor, with Blatt himself acknowledging that the Cavaliers “lost our energy and we lost our competitiveness” in Sunday night’s embarrassing home loss to Detroit.

The Cavs would prefer not to be forced into evaluating their new coach just 30 games into Blatt’s NBA career, cognizant that the job has quickly evolved into a much different one — after LeBron James stunningly decided in July to return to his home-state team in free agency — than it was when Blatt was hired from Israeli power Maccabi Tel Aviv in June with no NBA experience.

But the Cavs’ effort level, especially defensively, is eroding noticeably, raising the volume of questions about just how much the locker room is listening to the 55-year-old Boston native, who has enjoyed tremendous international success but began this season as a relative unknown to NBA players.

Via Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN

While it didn’t get talked about a lot when LeBron James made his decision to return to Cleveland, one of the byproducts of that was Blatt’s job security reducing drastically. He had some leeway, per say, beforehand. The Cavaliers were coming off of draft No. 1 overall for the third time in the last four years and knew that it was going to take some time to develop the team into the true contender they coveted.

Then James came, and his arrival was followed up by the acquisition of Kevin Love. That made Blatt’s job become the most pressure-filled in the league. While there are other coaches who are expected to win a championship this year, none of them are as likely to be fired like Blatt would if they fell drastically short. This is the downside of being a coach whose credentials have all been established overseas. Back with Maccabi Tel Aviv Blatt was nearing sainthood and had the security to weather bad stretches like this. In the NBA, he’s basically a rookie who could end up being first in the scapegoat line, just ahead of Kevin Love – who we’ll talk more about shortly.

Truthfully, Blatt deserves the season to prove himself. This team is going to be judged by whether they win a championship, so it’d be extremely unfair to dismiss Blatt before he even gets a chance to play a playoff game or have enough time to really get a grasp for how to coach this team. After all, coaching superstars is the toughest job for a NBA head coach. Blatt went from having a young team that he would have had the full attention of to a star-studded team led by guys who have had success in the league and think they know what it takes already. That’s a big adjustment for Blatt, but a fourth coach in three seasons is not the right move for the Cavaliers. They need to be a little bit patient. Championship contenders are rarely formed overnight and dismissing Blatt would create more work for the team in a short amount of time than they need on their plates right now. However, the report below is enough to send a fear into the front office that could spark panic moves.

LeBron open to leaving Cleveland?

If you’re waiting for a ringing endorsement from James on behalf of Blatt, it’s not happening. It’s much too soon.

“He’s our coach, I mean, what other coach do we have?” James said.

There is immense pressure to keep The King happy.

James, who turns 30 today, has no intention of compromising his prime years playing for a sputtering organization. He can opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent.

Given the massive scrutiny he would endure if he departed Cleveland a second time, if his hand is forced, I’m told he won’t hesitate to make the appropriate business decision if it means bolting.

via Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group .

All offseason James and his camp did a great job of easing the nerves that come with his signing of a short-term deal that allowed him to become a free agent this offseason. They said it was just so he can ensure that he earns the most allowed with a pending increase in the cap coming soon. However, it was hard not to think that it could really be a quick exit method for James if he didn’t like the way things were going.

So far, it’s safe to say he doesn’t like the way things are going. James seems to have underestimated how badly his four years away in Miami impacted the championship culture he helped establish during his first stint with the franchise.

This is a scary offseason for James to potentially head into free agency with the open market as nearly half the league could have the cap space to sign him to a max deal, and the other half would move mountains if they felt they had a legitimate shot at him.

The Cavaliers have to walk the fine line of catering to James and making sure that he’s still happy while still operating in the best interest of the franchise. James may be the premiere player in the league when he’s fully engaged and active, but he’s not the general manager. David Griffin and company have to have the confidence to do what they need to, even if it may not be a James-approved move, if it gives the team a better chance to compete for a championship this year.

It’s long been assumed that there was no way James would break Cleveland’s heart again. But, he’s a business man and he’s in it to win championships. If the team comes up drastically short, he may be able to justify moving to himself again, believing that he can win all his detractors back as he’s did before.

Love on the block?

via Twitter

As mentioned above, if Blatt is scapegoat No. 1, Love is a very close No. 2. The All-Star power forward came in with much excitement and hype, but has proven to be an awkward fit alongside James and Kyrie Irving. Love’s defensive deficiencies have also been exposed at a level they never were in Minnesota, where he was always able to overshadow them with his offensive production. However, with his touches down, he’s become a liability nearly as often as he is not.

From a talent standpoint alone, Love would be too good to give up. It’s not easy to find a volume rebounding stretch four like him, but he’s proving to be a really bad fit on these defensively-challenged Cavaliers team and he’s likely going to be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end as well. He has a player option for next season, which he has long stated he plans to decline in order to test the market and sign a new long-term deal.

His desire to test the open market was seemingly taken care of when he got traded to a contender in the Cavaliers, but there’s already been rumors that both parties are open to a quick break up. Love, like James, will have a line of teams trying to pry him away this offseason if he does indeed hit the open market on a down note with the Cavaliers. He doesn’t have as much keeping him in Cleveland as James does, and could justify leaving much easier. The Cavaliers do have his Bird rights, so they could help facilitate a sign-and-trade deal, but if they think they’re going to lose him – or don’t want to keep him long-term – flipping him at the deadline for some defensive-minded role players who they need more than someone with his incredible set of offensive skills. That would ensure they get some value in return, but that seems like a worst-case scenario move for the Cavaliers that won’t become likely unless their struggles drag into February.

Cavaliers interested in Kenyon Martin

The Cavaliers also have some interest in Martin, a source said. Cleveland, however, is not in a rush to replace injured forward-center Anderson Varejao, who was recently lost for the season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon. If the Cavaliers do decide to open a roster spot to replace Varejao, either guard A.J. Price, forward Louis Amundson or center Alex Kirk is expected to be waived, a source said. Martin, who has averaged 12.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in a 14-year career, recently expressed interest in playing for Cleveland after Varejao was injured.

via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

This is really what the Cavaliers are hoping for, that they can make a couple of small moves that will give them the energy and defensive boost they need to get back on track. Martin is a veteran who always plays with a chip on his shoulder and will definitely bring up the intensity level if he were to join the club. He played last season with the New York Knicks, averaging 4.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in 19.8 minutes a night. He only played in 32 games, though, and is five seasons removed from the last season he was able to play more than 60 games in.

The Milwaukee Bucks, coached by Martin’s former teammate and good friend Jason Kidd, are also trying to bring him in, but he would serve as more of a mentor and leader on that team. With the Cavaliers he could have the chance to see more time on the floor, and compete at a higher level than the Bucks have the potential to play at.

The Cavaliers are equipped with a couple of sizeable extensions that they can easily fit Martin into, but as Spears points out – they’d have to create a roster spot for him first. They have also been mentioned in association with several other veteran big man through the trade market, including Kosta Koufos, Timofey Mozgov, Robert Sacre and several others.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Cousins’ Camp Doesn’t Want Karl Hired?

DeMarcus Cousins’ camp reportedly doesn’t want the Kings to hire George Karl and more NBA rumors here.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Cousins’ Camp Doesn’t Want Karl Hired?

Karl’s personal past with a number of influential members in and around the Kings organization remains relevant as well, as he previously coached Kings advisor Chris Mullin and has history with the two agents who represent franchise centerpiece DeMarcus Cousins as well. Cousins’ day-to-day agent, Jarrin Akana, worked with Karl in Denver and was re-assigned from assistant coach to scout when Karl took over for coach Jeff Bzdelik in 2005. Dan Fegan, Cousins’ lead agent, represented Karl’s son, Coby, as a player for years before he was eventually replaced. That circle, by all accounts, has been against the notion of adding Karl.

To that end, D’Alessandro’s ability to change their minds is key here as well. While it appears D’Alessandro is endorsing Karl with or without the support of his team’s top player or his representatives, he would prefer to have agreement on that front if Ranadive ultimately approves the hiring. There is some concern within the organization, however, that hiring Karl could create substantive conflict going forward when it comes to Cousins.

via Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday, reports surfaced that the Kings were seriously pursuing George Karl since they didn’t want to lose him to the Magic (who recently fired Jacque Vaughn). Even though the Magic have yet to contact Karl or his camp, the head coach’s interest in the Orlando job seemed to get Sacramento talking about a deal.

Now, however, it seems DeMarcus Cousins’ camp (and some minority owners, according to Amick) are trying to stop the Kings from hiring Karl due to past issues with the veteran head coach. It remains to be seen if Pete D’Alessandro will hire him anyway (and risk upsetting Cousins).

The Kings have dropped to 17-32 under Ty Corbin, and Cousins recently said he was more frustrated now than he’s ever been since joining the Kings.

In 2005, Karl took over the Denver Nuggets midseason and they went 32-8 after he got the job (which is the best record for a coach who has taken over a job midseason).

Karl has 25 years of head coaching experience and an NBA Finals appearance on his resume. He is 1131-756 in the regular season and 80-105 in the postseason.

Miami Hasn’t Told Johnson He’ll Be Signed

The Heat hasn’t told Tyler Johnson, who has impressed, if he will be signed for balance of the season when his second 10-day expires Monday.

via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

Miami needs to decide if they want to sign Tyler Johnson for the remainder of the season or let him go.

Erik Spoelstra has praised the young guard and recently described him as the “model of player development,” which suggests his head coach has been impressed and would like him to stick around.

Johnson has appeared in six games for Miami, averaging 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 18.8 minutes per game.

In his most recent game, he had 18 points (on 7-10 shooting from the field) and two steals in 25 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs. He also had a 13-point, nine-rebound, two-block and two-steal performance in 27 minutes against the Boston Celtics last week.

Johnson has already signed two 10-day contracts and his next deal would be for the rest of the season.

Bucks Sign Gutierrez to Another 10-Day

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed guard Jorge Gutierrez to a second 10-day contract, General Manager John Hammond announced today.

via Milwaukee Bucks press release

Jorge Gutierrez has appeared in four games for the Bucks and averaged 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.8 minutes per game.

He made one start for Milwaukee on Feb. 2 at Toronto, and on Feb. 6 at Houston, tied his career high for scoring with 13 points in the game.

Gutierrez signed his first 10-day contract on January 28. After this second 10-day deal expires, the Bucks will have to decide if they want to keep him for the remainder of the season or let him go.

 

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Kevin Garnett May Be On the Move

Kevin Garnett could be traded before the deadline, the Hawks are interested in Ray Allen and more rumors.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Kevin Garnett On the Move?

It’s also fun to watch the Nets figure out the present and future of their big-man rotation, which includes two pieces — Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett — who will be the subject of trade talks over the next two weeks. Garnett has a no-trade clause, but he holds some appeal to playoff teams who can use a boost off the bench and/or some long-term salary relief — Golden State, Charlotte, Toronto, and others. The Nets won’t engage in any series of deals that leaves them with more long-term salary, so it will be tough to find the right combination of trades that makes dealing Garnett’s expiring contract palatable. But the cranky one can still knock down a midrange jumper and play solid defense.

via Zach Lowe of Grantland

Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson have been mentioned quite a bit in trade rumors, but Kevin Garnett’s name hasn’t come up as much.

But it makes sense that teams are expressing interest in the veteran big man, as he could bolster a frontcourt and provide championship experience. Brooklyn is just 21-28 and barely staying in the playoff picture in the weak Eastern Conference.

As Zach Lowe writes, Garnett’s no-trade clause and contract could make things a bit difficult. Garnett is under contract for $12,000,000, and the Nets don’t want to take back any long-term deals in exchange for KG.

Still, it’s interesting that he’s coming up in trade talks. He could certainly help a team like the Warriors, Hornets and Raptors, among others.

This season, Garnett is averaging 6.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and a steal in 20.7 minutes per game for the Nets. He is 38 years old and he’s in his 20th NBA season. If Garnett isn’t traded, a buyout could also be a possibility.

Hawks Pursuing Ray Allen

It’s no surprise to hear that the Hawks are interested in Ray Allen. Just about every contending team has reached out to Allen at some point, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and many others also being linked to the veteran shooter as well.

With all of that said, it remains to be seen if Allen will even play this year. He has been working out in Miami, but that doesn’t mean he’s making a comeback. Allen is a fitness freak who will be working out every day for the rest of his life – NBA career or not.

He isn’t sure if he wants to play this season and is enjoying time with his family (and golfing). Some people around the league have assumed he’s just waiting for the right time to sign and will definitely play, but sources close to Allen insist that he really hasn’t made a decision one way or the other.

Allen averaged 9.6 points per game last year on the Miami HEAT and hit perhaps the biggest shot of his career the year before, which helped Miami go on to win the championship over the San Antonio Spurs. Atlanta is already a very talented team with a balanced attack, and thinking of them with Allen (who would fit in perfectly) also providing shooting off of the bench is scary.

Mavericks Would Be Favorites to Land Stoudemire

The Dallas Mavericks would be considered front-runners to sign Amar’e Stoudemire if the 13-year veteran opts to pursue a contract buyout from the New York Knicks, according to league sources.

Stoudemire made it clear in his public comments that he’s not yet sure if he wants to seek a buyout from the Knicks to join a contender for the stretch run, but sources told ESPN.com that Dallas has quickly emerged as a prime landing spot if he becomes a free agent.

via Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN

Dallas makes sense as a landing spot for Amar’e Stoudemire, as they’re a very talented team and he could play a significant role there since their frontcourt needs depth.

The article also mentions that the Mavericks still plan to sign Jermaine O’Neal, who recently had Orthokine treatment and is trying to get in playing shape.

Dallas is “prepared to make the needed roster room to accommodate both O’Neal and Stoudemire,” which would be huge for the franchise. If they were to add both players, frontcourt depth would go from a weakness to a strength for the Mavericks.

As we covered in this space yesterday, Stoudemire isn’t sure if he’s going to ask for a buyout, but it’s something he’s going to think about over All-Star weekend.

Stoudemire is making $23,410,988 this season and may be willing to leave some of that money on the table in order to become an unrestricted free agent. New York is just 10-39, which is the worst record in the Eastern Conference. This year, Stoudemire has averaged 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.5 minutes.

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NBA Rumors Round-Up

NBA Rumors: Stoudemire May Ask Knicks for Buyout

Amar’e Stoudemire may ask Knicks for buyout, George Karl would be interested in coaching Magic and more rumors.

Alex Kennedy

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Stoudemire May Ask Knicks for Buyout

Amar’e Stoudemire plans to use the All-Star break to decide whether to ask the New York Knicks for a contract buyout that could free him to potentially sign with a playoff contender.

“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Stoudemire told Yahoo Sports. “Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. …That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season.”

“All possibilities at this point are still open,” Stoudemire said of a possible buyout. “The door is still open for that. But at the same time, I am with the Knicks now. I got to stay optimistic about things and what we are doing here. I can’t really focus on the future because it’s not here.

“We still have a couple weeks left before it’s all said and done. It’s a decision I have to make with my family to figure out the best scenario for the near future.”

via Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports

Amar’e Stoudemire isn’t sure if he’ll ask the Knicks for a buyout, but according to this interview it’s definitely something he’ll consider and discuss with his inner circle during the All-Star break.

Stoudemire is making $23,410,988 this season and may be willing to leave some of that money on the table in order to become an unrestricted free agent and then join a contending team. New York is just 10-39, which is the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Our own Steve Kyler discussed this possibility last week in a video about potential buyouts, calling Stoudemire “a prime candidate” to be bought out.

If Stoudemire does become available, expect plenty of teams to express interest in the veteran big man. He may not be the star player he was earlier in his career, but he’s still a talented big man who can bolster a team’s frontcourt.

The L.A. Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are mentioned by Spears as teams that may pursue Stoudemire if he becomes available, since they have been interested in adding a big man.

This season, Stoudemire has averaged 12.2 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.5 minutes. Spears adds that the Knicks’ top priority seems to be buying out Andrea Bargnani, who is making $11,500,000 this year.

Karl Would Be Interested in Magic Job

One name to watch is George Karl. Sources didn’t mention him as a target for the Magic initially, but I’m told that Karl would have interest in coaching Orlando and possibly joining the team midseason.

Karl had previously said he’d prefer a job out West, but sources say he would be interested in the Magic since they’re an attractive team with their youth and talent.

via Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders

Scott Skiles and Mark Jackson are the two head coaches who keep coming up when discussing the Orlando Magic’s targets, but George Karl may emerge as a possibility as well.

As I wrote yesterday, sources say Karl would be open to coaching the Magic – possibly even taking over midseason. Remember, back in 2005 he took over the Denver Nuggets midseason and they went 32-8 after he got the job (which is the best record for a coach who has taken over in the middle of a campaign).

Sources say that the Magic want a proven head coach, and Karl has 25 years of coaching experience and an NBA Finals appearance on his resume. He is 1131-756 in the regular season and 80-105 in the postseason.

The Magic are currently 15-37, which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference, but they have plenty of young players with a lot of potential such as Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn among others.

Last night, Karl had some fun with Magic fans on Twitter:

Anthony Ready to Recruit During All-Star Weekend

“Everybody will be in their own kind of zone on All-Star weekend. The real effect that they will feel will be during the game here at the Garden, kind of seeing what the Garden has to offer, not just for New York Knicks but for everything,” Anthony said. “And that is a big moment — that Sunday in the All-Star Game.

“The Garden will be lit up, it will be bright, there will be a lot of people in there, it will be loud and it will be exciting. So for other players to see that, I am pretty sure that will be impressive,” Anthony said.

Anthony mentioned no names. So we will: Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Atlanta’s Paul Millsap are the most prominent 2015 free agents who will play in the All-Star Game.

“For the most part, guys pretty much know New York. Especially veteran guys who have been in the league for a long time,” Anthony said. “People come here in the summertime, in the offseason, they spend time here. When they come to play, they spend time being out and about and just experiencing different things. I am pretty sure people already know New York. It is just a matter of kind of knowing and learning the Knicks organization at that point.”

via Fred Kerber of the New York Post

As the article mentions, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Paul Millsap will be among the All-Stars that Carmelo Anthony can try to recruit while hosting the league’s elite during All-Star Weekend in New York.

This summer, the Knicks are expected to be huge players in free agency, as they currently have just $32,717,391 in guaranteed commitments for next season (and could lower that number even more by making moves before the trade deadline).

They will have a ton of money to throw around at the available stars, and they’re hoping that Anthony and Phil Jackson will be able to lure players to Madison Square Garden.

This kind of recruiting often happens at All-Star Weekend, so it’s no surprise Anthony will be trying to sell the city to players. In the past, he has been on the opposite end of the recruiting pitch and said, “Now it’s my turn to extend the favor.”

The Knicks are just 10-39 right now, but it’s likely that New York’s roster will look very different next season after free-agent additions and the selection of a top prospect from the 2015 NBA Draft.

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