NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Cavs looking forward to Love’s upcoming season — The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t exactly gotten the All-Star version of power forward Kevin Love since they traded for him two seasons ago. But, Love hasn’t exactly been awful either, averaging 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds while sinking 302 3-pointers while playing a crucial role in Cleveland’s 2015-16 championship run. As the Cavs prep for their training camp in a few weeks, Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto reports the team is looking forward to Love being fully healthy and continues to refute trade talk:
The Cavs are very excited about Love this season. They talk about him “being in the best place” mentally and physically since being traded to the Cavs in 2014. Once again, he spent much of the off-season at the U.S. Olympic ski training facility in Park City, Utah. The Cavs like how Love dropped 15 pounds last summer and added flexibility — and I hear Love is in excellent shape right now.
But just as important, Love endured a very rough NBA Finals. He made a key defensive stop on Stephen Curry in the final minute of Game 7 over Golden State, finishing with nine points and a team-high 14 rebounds. In his 30 minutes on the court, the Cavs out-scored Golden State by 19 points. That was the best plus/minus mark of any Cavalier in Game 7.
He gave up his scoring to concentrate on rebounding, defense and doing what was needed to help win a title.
As someone close to the situation told me, “Kevin learned about what it takes to win. He really matured last season.”
Love evolved from the 26-point scorer and lazy defender on a Minnesota team that never had a winning record or made the playoffs in six seasons. He turns 28 on Wednesday. He is in the prime of his career and feeling very comfortable with his spot on the team.
Once again, there are some silly trade rumors. I’ve been told since the middle of last season the Cavs have no intention of trading Love. And the same is true after the title.
Had the Cavs collapsed in the playoffs, certainly a trade of Love or almost anyone not named LeBron James would have been possible. But the goal for General Manager David Griffin has been to “bring back the band,” as he’s called it several times.
Love is not going anywhere as the training camp looms late in September.
No. 2: Gallinari says he declined trade from Nuggets — The 2012-13 Denver Nuggets were one of the surprise stories of the NBA that season, finishing with the third-best mark in franchise history (57-25). It was a cast of players whose sum was often greater than its parts and seemed primed for a solid playoff run until forward Danilo Gallinari went down with a torn ACL. Gallinari has been trying to get back to full speed ever since. He played in 53 games last season and averaged a career-best 19.5 ppg. According to a recent interview he did overseas, Gallinari says he turned down an opportunity to leave Denver last season. DenverStiffs.com’s Jeffrey Morton has more:
Danilo Gallinari is in his native Italy, talking in a press conference about a partnership between the NBA and UBI Bank (United Bank of India) called NBA-Evolution. What would normally be a ho-hum presser about corporate sponsorship and partnerships was very notable for Denver Nuggets fans. In particular a revelation that no one had heard about before now.
In regards to a question about playing in Italy once again (not for the national team)
On the market and the opportunity to return to Europe
< In Denver I am very well, there was a chance last year to go to some other team before the deadline in February, but I refused. If I return to Italy would be back to Olympia but with the intention of winning, I don’t like the idea of nostalgic revisiting
(Translation courtesy of Bing Translation, and confirmed by individuals who were at the press conference)
This is something that, in the very least, no one had reported on prior to now, and it’s a bit of a shocking revelation, similar to Darrell Arthur declining to be traded at last year’s deadline as well. Gallo seems to be saying the Nuggets asked if he wanted to go somewhere else, and he refused.
Gallo seems exceedingly confident about the Nuggets prospects next season. Next segment in reporting of the press conference by our friend Laura Cristaldi from the Spanish site Somosbasket:
(Translated from Spanish)
“I’ve been in the United States for eight years, this will be my ninth season in NBA, I consider myself fortunate to have realized the dream of all children who play basketball. Now my goal is to win something in Denver, I’ve played there for five years now and I love it. I am very well and I hope to win with the Nuggets. Although “Super Teams” are now fashionable such as Golden State and Cleveland, to win in Denver this season will be very difficult for everyone.”
Interesting stuff from Danilo Gallinari. He seems to clearly love being in Denver, which is a rarity in the NBA. Hopefully plays such as Gallo and DA can influence other players to have such dedication to stay in the city.
Our Friend Laura Cristaldi referred us to this quote from Gallo in May
So Gallo was opposed to a possible move in February, when Clippers and Celtics showed a strong interest in acquiring his services .
“It made no sense to go at that time”
No. 3: Yannick Noah: Playing for Knicks ‘means the world’ to Joakim — The 2016-17 edition of the New York Knicks will have a decided Chicago Bulls-type flavor to them after they traded for ex-Bulls Derrick Rose and Justin Holiday and signed another former Bulls, center Joakim Noah, in free agency. Noah was born in New York and starred at Poly Prep Country Day in Brooklyn and The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey before his path took him to the University of Florida and then, the NBA. Noah’s father, former tennis pro Yannick Noah, says his son is more than excited to suit up for his hometown squad. George Willis of the New York Post has more:
Yannick Noah was proudly wearing a Knicks cap, but for the moment he was all about tennis as he cheered on fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille, the 24th seed, to his magnificent upset victory over fourth-seeded Rafael Nadal on Sunday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The match lasted four drama-filled hours, but it won’t be long before Noah, the former tennis star, is all about basketball and cheering on his son, Joakim, the Knicks’ 6-foot-11 free-agent acquisition from the Bulls.
“It means the world to him,” the elder Noah said of Joakim joining the Knicks. “We used to go to the Garden when he was a kid, watching games, watching Patrick [Ewing] play. To know that he’s going to play in the Garden, we feel so blessed. He’s preparing hard. He has a lot of hope and he can’t wait. And I’ll be there.”
“He knows the city,” Yannick Noah said. “He was born here. It’s not like he’s coming from the countryside and he’s coming to New York City. He lived here for a long time. Of course, it can be dangerous for an athlete. But he knows and he’s so motivated. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going to give all he has for the city.”
“It’s a great team,” Yannick Noah told The Post. “If they find the chemistry, I think it’s a great team. I think he’s very happy to have his friend [Rose] here and a lot of great players. He feels very privileged and very honored to play for Phil Jackson, too. I used to give him all of Phil’s books. He read all the books.”
Once the U.S. Open concludes, talk in the Noah home will turn to basketball, the red of the Bulls replaced by the orange and blue of the Knicks. Joakim was a mainstay of the Bulls during his nine years in Chicago where he won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2014. But he played just 29 games last season because of shoulder surgery and was hampered by a bad knee the year before. Change can be a good thing.
“You have to take whatever is given to you,” Yannick said. “He was very happy in Chicago. Now it’s changed and he has this opportunity to come to New York. So he’s not taking it for granted, believe me. He can’t wait to play and compete and dominate for the Knicks.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Denver Nuggets have reportedly added Robbie Hummel to the roster … According to a report, Zhou Qi is set to meet with the Houston Rockets soon … Nebraska football recruits got to hang out with Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union over the weekend … LeBron James and Mark Wahlberg, getting a workout in together … Ayesha Curry takes a page out of her husband’s book and shows she’s got a nice jump shot, too …