NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Reports: Bulls making push for Love as Cavs try to seal deal — Yesterday the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz pulled off what on the surface seemed to be a minor deal: Cavs guard Carrick Felix heads to Utah in exchange for John Lucas III, Erik Murphy and Malcolm Thomas. But unless you’ve been living on another planet the last few weeks, that deal was done to give Cleveland more salary-cap flexibility so it can work out a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves for All-Star big man Kevin Love. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst, the Cavs are confident they can pick up Love, but the Chicago Bulls are also trying to make a late push to get in on the Love sweepstakes:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are increasingly confident that they will eventually complete the acquisition of Kevin Love, but the Chicago Bulls are making a late push to try to get into the trade mix for the All-Star power forward, according to sources close to the process.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Cavs firmly believe they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love and enable Cleveland to pair the versatile big man with Team USA teammate LeBron James.
Cleveland’s offer, sources said, would be headlined by No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, 2013′s No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future first-round pick, with one source close to the process insisting Tuesday that the Cavs are destined to acquire Love. At least one more player might have to added to the package to satisfy NBA trade rules.
Sources say that the Bulls, though, have re-entered the race and would appear to be the biggest threat to the Cavs thanks largely to the Golden State Warriors’ resolute unwillingness to add longtime Wolves target Klay Thompson in any deal.
Although the full extent of the Bulls’ offer wasn’t immediately known, it is believed Minnesota would seek a package from Chicago featuring forward Taj Gibson and defensive ace Jimmy Butler in addition to other assets. The Bulls shelved their Love interest while trying to sign Carmelo Anthony away from the New York Knicks but, according to sources, have re-emerged as contenders.
The Cavs, though, rocketed to the upper echelon of Love’s wish list of potential trade destinations from the moment James agreed to return to Cleveland. ESPN.com reported this month that even James’ short-term contract with the Cavs — which spans only two seasons and includes a player option to return to free agency next summer — would not dissuade Love from committing to Cleveland.
Wolves owner Glen Taylor insisted again last week that he wanted to keep Love and that Minnesota is prepared to open the season with Love on the roster. But sources say numerous rival teams think that Minnesota will ultimately part with Love before the start of the new season, given the extremely public nature of Love’s unwillingness to commit to the Wolves beyond this season.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Cavs are solely focused on getting Love and are working hard to make that trade happen:
Cleveland has been determined to acquire Love since it signed LeBron James to a free-agent deal.
Those three players can be included in packages as preludes to a Love deal, or in a Love deal itself to give Minnesota salary-cap relief. The Cavaliers hold an interest in keeping Thomas, who could be an inexpensive role player to strengthen their frontcourt depth, sources said.
Cleveland has to be creative in solidifying a deal for Love, who the Timberwolves want to package with Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea, several front-office officials told Yahoo Sports.
Cleveland’s discussions with Minnesota have escalated with the Cavaliers’ willingness to include No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins in the deal, sources said. Without Wiggins, there’s no other combination of Cleveland players and picks that would interest Minnesota. Once Wiggins signs his rookie contract, a trade involving him can’t be formally completed for 30 days.
The Denver Nuggets have remained a strong contender for Love, offering a package that sources said has been the most appealing to Minnesota outside of the Cavaliers and a possible Golden State deal including Klay Thompson. So far, the Warriors have kept Thompson out of their offer to Minnesota.
Minnesota wants a package for Love to include Barea, who has $4.5 million left on his expiring deal – and possibly Martin, who has three years and $21 million left. As part of a larger deal, the Cavaliers want to include 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett and a future No. 1 pick for Love.
The Cavaliers have been offering future first-round picks for an experienced center, league sources said.
No. 2: Report: Mavs to meet with Nelson — Back in the 2008-09 season, then-Orlando Magic stars Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis joined Dwight Howard as members of the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Is there a chance that Nelson and Lewis, who haven’t been teammates since 2010-11, could be reunited in Dallas? ESPN.com’s Marc Stein writes that the Mavs plan to chat with Nelson about joining their squad come Thursday:
The Dallas Mavericks will host free agent Jameer Nelson on a recruiting visit Thursday, as part of ongoing negotiations with the former Orlando Magic point guard, according to sources close to the situation.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Mavericks are bringing Nelson to town in hopes of finally closing a deal with him, as Dallas continues to pursue a veteran point guard to help fill the void created by Jose Calderon‘s exit in June.
The Mavericks had to part with Calderon to reacquire center Tyson Chandler in a trade with the New York Knicks. Since then, they have been chasing Nelson and fellow veteran Mo Williams to give coach Rick Carlisle another trusted ballhandler.
No. 3: Ex-Baylor star Austin says NBA promised him a job — The undisputed hero of the 2014 Draft was former Baylor big man Isaiah Austin. Although he wasn’t picked that night — he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome days before the Draft and advised to not play basketball again — he was ceremonially picked by the NBA in a classy move. Austin is still working on his degree at Baylor and recently told TMZ.com that NBA commissioner Adam Silver promised Austin a job once he graduates:
Isaiah Austin — the projected 1st rounder who’s dream to play in the NBA was dashed when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome — tells TMZ Sports he’s got an NBA job lined up … just as soon as he gets his college degree.
The 20-year-old former college superstar was in D.C. yesterday and told us he’s even more motivated to go back to Baylor University in August to finish up his classes … after a conversation with NBA Commish Adam Silver.
Austin — who was ceremonially drafted by the NBA at the Draft back in June — tells us Silver already hooked him up with a part-time gig with the league’s NBA Cares program … and promised full-time work once he gets his degree.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: LeBron James apologized to his Akron neighbors for the recent media frenzy in their neighborhood the best way possible — with high-end, delicious cupcakes … Ex-Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik is expected to soon join the Memphis Grizzlies’ coaching staff as an assistant … Rockets rookie Nick Johnson is expected to soon sign a fully guaranteed, three-year contract … New L.A. Lakers big man Ed Davis is looking forward to his new opportunity there … Rashard Lewis‘ contract with the Mavs may end up getting voided because of the knee surgery he needs
ICYMI of The Night: It’ll be a while before we see NBA players on the court again, so soak in this All-Access video from 2014 Summer League in Las Vegas