VIDEO: Highlights from games played Jan. 25
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Cavs GM says Love not a part of trade talks — A midseason coaching change will get just about any NBA team in the headlines. A team like the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers doing so made the news that much bigger. As new coach Tyronn Lue gets himself more and more acclimated with the big chair, there has been talk that the Cavs need other changes — to the roster, perhaps? — to fully realize their championship dream. Don’t count on Kevin Love being a part of any potential deals, though, not with the big vote of confidence GM David Griffin gave Love yesterday. ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst has more:
“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 in an interview on ESPN 850 AM in Cleveland. “We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin.”
Love has seen his offensive numbers dip since Kyrie Irving returned from injury last month. Love is averaging 15.6 points, his fewest since the 2009-10 season, and shooting 42 percent, the second-lowest of his career.
Griffin has shown he is not afraid to make major midseason moves, as he executed two major trades in January 2015 and fired coach David Blatt this January. Griffin has said the Cavs are open to making moves, and two weeks ago, he completed a minor deal to open a roster spot to use in a possible trade.
The Cavs own three trade exceptions, the largest of which is $10 million, that they could use in a deal. They have the league’s highest payroll, at $109 million, and are scheduled to pay more than $65 million in luxury taxes. That could limit them.
“We think very highly of Kevin, and we believe Kevin thinks very highly of this situation,” Griffin said. “But I can also tell you that we have been very clear from the beginning that there’s no such thing as untouchables.
“You’re either all the way in or all the way out in this process, and 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.”
Love’s numbers have not been helped by new coach Tyronn Lue’s up-tempo style as of yet.
Love finished with just 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting (1-for-7 from 3), six rebounds and two assists in Cleveland’s 114-107 win over Minnesota on Monday.
That performance was similar to his 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting (1-for-5 from 3-point range), five rebounds and two assists in Cleveland’s loss to Chicago on Saturday.
“Kev came to me today. He said, ‘Man, I’m so tired,'” Lue said afterward. “He said, ‘I’m tired.’ He said, ‘But I like what we’re doing.'”
One of Lue’s first conversations after taking over as coach of the Cavaliers included telling Love he would get the three-time All-Star more involved with elbow touches so he can facilitate the offense and more post touches so he can score. The problem is those types of sets require the team to slow down and play more of a half-court game.
“What I would like to do is get Kevin out early and let LeBron and Ky play, then bring Kevin back with the second unit, and we can kind of run our elbow actions and slow the game down for Kevin,” Lue said. “At times, playing fast, I guess he can get lost [in] the offense, so I got to do a better job of that.”
Love sounded open to testing the new substitution pattern.
“We want to get out and run with that first group, and especially with LeBron and Ky, we’re always talking about playing downhill,” Love said. “I think we’re better when we do that.
“The second unit will be able to play some of that elbow action, and I think that will evolve over time right now. You didn’t see it much tonight, but that’s something we can continue to work on in practice, and as we get in shape, getting better with those two styles.”
VIDEO: Relive Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game
No. 2: Report: Wizards’ Beal suffers broken nose, concussion — Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal has only been back in the team’s lineup for five games after he missed 16 games due to a stress reaction in his right fibula. That injury hasn’t given him much trouble, but last night in the second quarter against the Boston Celtics, he took a forearm to the face from guard Marcus Smart and had to leave the game. Beal did not return and now it’s looking like he may miss even more time with a broken nose. J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com has more:
Bradley Beal, just returned from a stress reaction in his lower right leg, is out again for the Wizards and it’s more than one injury. Monday, he took a blow to the face that resulted in a broken nose, CSNmidatlantic.com has confirmed with persons with knowledge of the situation, and is under the NBA’s concussion protocol.
Beal also did not make the trip with the team for Tuesday’s game at the Toronto Raptors.
The Wizards (20-22) only would officially confirm that he’s going through concussion protocol.
He underwent evaluation. Even if Beal is initially diagnosed without a concussion, he will be diagnosed a second time approximately 24 hours later.
Beal missed three games earlier this season with a right shoulder contusion and then 16 games because of a stress reaction on his fibula, a precursor to a fracture that would be season-ending.
VIDEO: Bradley Beal leaves the game after taking a shot to the face
No. 3: Report: Allen has standing offer from Heat — Were it not for a fortuitous bounce and the dead-eye shooting skill of Ray Allen, the Miami Heat might not have that 2014 NBA championship banner hanging in their arena rafters. His basket late in Game 6 of the 2014 series set up the Heat’s Game 7 title-clinching win and since then, Allen has been a hero in Miami. While the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, he seems to have an open offer to comeback to the Heat, writes Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald:
It’s one of the most common questions that I receive on Twitter, especially with the Heat ranking 26th in the NBA in made three-pointers, and 27th in three-point percentage:
Why doesn’t the Heat reach out to all-time three-point leader, and Miami resident, Ray Allen?
Well, the Heat has.
Through multiple channels.
According to several sources, the Heat has not only had a standing offer to Allen to return to the team ever since the 2014 offseason, but it made additional overtures as recently as this summer.
Allen, however, has never bit.
This shouldn’t be all that surprising, if you were aware of his frustration during his final season in Miami, the one that ended with a five-game Finals loss to the Spurs; he made that frustration, about everything from scheduling to rotations, well enough known to Heat teammates, coaches and officials, that it has been frequently relayed to reporters (like this one) since.
All of that aside, if anyone could return at age 40 after a 19-month absence, and still perform at a high level, it would be Allen, one of the best-conditioned athletes the sport has ever seen. And he appears to still be in excellent shape, judging by all the running he’s doing on South Florida’s roadways, as displayed on his Instagram account.
But, at this point, all of the Allen acquaintances that I’ve surveyed, including former teammates, uniformly expect him to remain retired.
No. 4: All quiet on the Durant free-agency front — Before the season got started, rumors circulated that free agent-to-be/Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant had interest in signing with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. Durant squashed that talk and let the media know that he wouldn’t be addressing his offseason plans during 2015-16 and, to be careful who you believe as a source. Durant and Co. are in New York for tonight’s game against the Knicks (7:30 ET, NBA TV) and the Big Apple should be bubbling with Durant-to-New York chatter. Yet as Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman points out, there’s little of that (or any other) Durant free agency talk this season:
On Monday, Durant sat smack in the middle of the Nets and Knicks, both geographically and on the NBA schedule. His Thunder played in Brooklyn on Sunday and will play in Manhattan on Tuesday. It’s his lone trip to New York this season. And Monday provided the best chance for any NYC-based reporters to get Durant in a reflective state.
Following OKC’s practice in Basketball City, Durant held court for 10 minutes, fielding questions on the current state of the Thunder, Knicks rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis and the historically good Spurs and Warriors.
Fine questions. Honest, thoughtful answers. But no free agency related topics. The subject wasn’t even broached. It hasn’t been for awhile now.
Durant was in Miami in early December, a franchise with rumored interest. Three media availabilities, zero free agency questions. He was in Los Angeles for four days right before Christmas. Five media availabilities, more than 10 questions about Kobe Bryant, zero about his impending decision. A return trip to Los Angeles a few weeks later. Much of the same.
KD got out in front of the rumor mill this summer, proclaiming at Team USA’s annual camp that if a sourced story wasn’t linked to him, his agent (Rich Kleiman) or his manager (Charlie Bell), then it wasn’t accurate.
Since then, there have been stories exploring Durant’s free agency. Hey, what if the Warriors maneuvered their cap this way? How about the connection between Roc Nation and the Nets? Did you know he was close to Derek Fisher?
But nothing newsy, no anonymous sources linking him to a particular spot. His people have remained quiet. And even when Durant has been quoted, like in Houston in early November or Brooklyn earlier this week, the comments came from innocuous pregame questions about his brief thoughts on the home team. He likes this guy’s game. He likes this team’s arena.
Then there’s Washington D.C., the one place this season where he actually faced the avalanche of free agency questions that was expected. His hometown media came direct in early November, peppering him after shootaround. Durant deflected most everything and reiterated that he felt it “disrespectful” for D.C. fans to cheer him and not their home team. So a conflicted Wizards crowd remained tame that night and even spouted a small smattering of boos. It was nowhere near the circus he faced at home one year earlier.
Which has been the strange part of this all. As Durant’s free agency decision has inched closer, the talk about it has thinned.
Each day, July 2016 moves closer. But it still feels so far away. The Wizards are staggering through injuries, still searching for playoff footing. The Lakers are planning 29 more Kobe Bryant retirement parties. The Thunder is trying to link consistency with its talent to maximize a shot at an elusive title.
OKC has plenty of issues to solve. But dealing with the distractions of Durant’s impending free agency has, surprisingly, not been near the top of the list.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: New Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue wants Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to focus on their ‘brand’ less … Forget “The Zinger” as a nickname for New York Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. Kevin Durant is instead comparing him to a unicorn … The hate in Israel toward LeBron James in the wake of the firing of ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv (and Cavs) coach David Blatt is getting intense … New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis suffered a concussion last night … Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose left last night’s game with hamstring and knee issues … Utah Jazz point guard Raul Neto suffered a concussion last night, too … There’s no love lost between ex-Sacramento Kings big man Spencer Hawes and his former franchise …