One Less Distraction for the Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a team stuck firmly on the fence, with one side being disastrous and the other being incredibly successful. Their season can still go either way, but there doesn’t appear to be any middle ground. They’re either going to meet expectations or fall drastically short of them; this team has that kind of boom-or-bust potential.
So far they’ve been a bust, playing .500 basketball through nearly the first half of the season. Cavaliers head coach David Blatt’s dominance has not followed him from overseas, injuries have been a plentiful and the chemistry has been sorely lacking. That forced Cavaliers GM David Griffin’s hand recently, as he made a couple of significant trades, bringing in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov to address team’s biggest needs.
While their troubles have persisted even after the moves (given, LeBron James has been out since they arrived and is just now close to making his return), they have at least one less thing to worry about today after the underperforming Kevin Love came out and talked about his contract situation. Like LeBron James, Love can become a free agent at season’s end and there’s been some rumblings that he could look to bail if things don’t improve by then. There’s also been talk that Love would just sign a short-term extension in order to maintain the flexibility James has so that he can capitalize on an increased salary cap when the new TV deal money kicks in. However, Love revealed to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he has a different plan all together:
“I think that we will figure it out here, so I don’t plan on opting out or any of that,” Love said. “I plan on being here. As far as leaving my options open, I mean sure, it’s always there. At the end of the day, it’s always good to have something but no, I plan on being here.
“I’ve said all along that I plan on being a Cavalier long-term. As we continue to evolve, my role will continue to evolve. It’s still a process where I’m figuring it out.”
Love’s intention to explore free agency this summer was always fueled by his desire to move to a winning situation and get out of Minnesota. Back in July when the Golden State Warriors were still in the running for his services, we reported that Love would be willing to exercise his $16.7 million option if it was the difference in a deal getting done or not.
Now, of course, in today’s day and age of sports reporting, speculation is only going to be delayed, not halted. The only way that Love could put an end to all whispers and murmurs about his potential departure would be to sign a long-term deal with the Cavaliers. When he was first acquired by the team there was a report that they had already agreed to the framework of a five-year extension. That’s forbidden by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, though, and would have led to the deal either being rescinded or the Cavaliers being sanctioned either financially or by the loss of draft picks.
If Love doesn’t find his comfort zone in Cleveland and they’re still underachieving at this point next year, talks will fire back up more feverously than ever because at that point Love will have invested enough time to where he knows whether he can truly fit in there alongside James and Kyrie Irving.
Along with Blatt, Love has been one of the scapegoats for the Cavaliers’ early shortcomings. His numbers are down across the board, but that was expected with a reduced role compared to the primary one he had in Minnesota. Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season, compared to 17.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists this year. At times, Love has found himself too content to just let Irving and James control the offense. He’s battling the same predicament that plagued Chris Bosh in Miami when James was there dominating the ball along with Dwyane Wade. It’s hard to be much more than a spot up shooter when you’re playing with such gifted ball handlers, but Love plans on being more assertive.
“In a lot of ways I have to demand the ball more, but a lot of it is being more engaged too,” Love said. “It’s a number of things that I can do in the second half, even moreso in the fourth quarter, to get more engaged. But I think LeBron coming back will help that and as time goes on, we’ll continue to evolve how we’re playing.
“I pride myself my entire career on being efficient, so I’m going to look to be more efficient in the second half of the season for my team.”
The Cavaliers are taking on the Phoenix Suns on the road tonight and the hope is that James will be back in the lineup. They’re currently 10.5 games off the conference lead, which will be quite difficult to make up barring one serious run to close out the season. Right now the Cavaliers’ goal should simply be to try to get into the top four, make sure they have homecourt to start the playoffs and ensure they’re playing their best basketball by time they enter the later rounds so that they can win the road games they will need to in order to survive and advance. One less distraction, even if it’s just pushed down the road a bit, certainly won’t hurt their cause.
Kings Eyeing Jordan Farmar
According to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee the Sacramento Kings are in the market for a new backup point guard and have eyes for Jordan Farmar of the Los Angeles Clippers.
After an injury-plagued return to the NBA last year with the Los Angeles Lakers in which he did look good when he was on the floor, Farmar has struggled to establish a role with the Clippers. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers recently talked about how much the team misses Darren Collison, who held Farmar’s role last year, and they’ve been active on the trade market. They’re targeting his son Austin Rivers, who just got moved to the Boston Celtics from New Orleans, but a Farmar-for-Ramon Sessions, who Jones reports the Kings are interested in moving, swap could make a lot of sense for both parties. Sessions, like Farmar, was brought in to man the backup point guard position and seemed to be an ideal fit, but just hasn’t met expectations.
Prince Buyout Coming
As expected, the Boston Celtics are working toward a buyout agreement with veteran forward Tayshaun Prince, who they recently acquired from the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-team trade featuring Jeff Green. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated was the first to report the buyout talks.
The Celtics are undergoing a full-fledge rebuild and youth movement, which Prince doesn’t fit into at all. He was acquired solely as a filler to make the salaries work in the Green trade. The Celtics have no interest in keeping him, nor does he have any interest in playing for a team that has no chance of contending at this late stage of his career.
Expect Prince to receive pitches from contending teams in need of depth at the small forward position, most notably the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers were one of the teams trying to land Green, but could view Prince as a nice, cheap contingency plan. The San Antonio Spurs, who have played much of the season without Kawhi Leonard as he’s been battling a variety of different injuries, also jump out as an intriguing destination for Prince. With his championship experience and defensive prowess, he could provide them the true backup for Leonard they’ve been searching for.
Prince will have to finalize his buyout agreement and clear waivers before being able to join his next team.
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