July 31, 2014

Anthony Bennett pulled from pro-am tournament in Toronto?

Anthony Bennett had been one of many Canadian basketball players participating in the second annual OVO Bounce tournament this week in Toronto. He played on Monday in the pro-am and he started playing again on Tuesday. Nothing seemed noteworthy, just the slimmed-down and finally-breathing 21-year-old Cleveland Cavalier playing in front of some fans.

But according to various reports, he was then oddly pulled out early tonight and lounged around at the tournament. The move was reportedly made by Bennett’s agent and he will not play the rest of the event.

The tournament, which is being played at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, is sponsored by Drake and named after his label, October’s Very Own. The eight-team tournament will conclude with Saturday’s fifth annual OVO Fest, also to be headlined by Outkast. Other participating players include Tyler Ennis, Jordan Clarkson, Sim Bhullar, Myck Kabongo and Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson.

Bennett’s agent was among the players in the tournament. So it’s certainly possible that there is nothing to be made of this little odd piece of news. But as always, we’re just passing along the update in case anything might be in the works. Of course, Kevin Love withdrew from Team USA amid his uncertain NBA destination status as well.

Kevin Love may not opt in, Cavs may not care

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While many continue to debate the merits of players involved in a deal for Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, the great unknown continues to be how long Love would call Cleveland home. There are rumors that he’s demanding a trade to Cleveland and wants to play alongside LeBron James; Cleveland would be the only place he would commit to in the way of a long-term deal, starting with an opt-in for 2015-16. But The Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto says not so fast:

Love is guaranteed $15.7 million this season, with a player option for $16.7 million in 2015-16. I wrote a column insisting the Cavs should demand Love pick up his option before making a deal. Talking to some NBA executives, that could be a problem. One executive explained how the best move for Love may be to come to the Cavs on the current deal — no changes. He becomes a free agent in 2015, then signs a five-year deal for the maximum (could be more than $100 million) to stay here. …

If Love picks up his option for 2015-16 this summer, the most that a team can immediately add is a two-year extension. I’m hearing Love will not pick up his option… I’m hearing the Cavs realize they may have to accept Love’s current deal and gamble on him enjoying playing in Cleveland and with James. Then they will try to sign him for a maximum deal in 2015. So don’t be shocked if a deal is made with his contract situation staying the same.

There has been plenty of Twitter angst surrounding this aspect of the deal. On one side is a group saying that you can’t gamble with a No. 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins if you’re only going to get one year out of Kevin Love. On the other side are those saying that Cleveland team’s have gone decades without swinging for the fences and have wound up empty-handed. The Collective Bargaining Agreement certainly only muddies the waters even more.

Do the Cavs trust Love? Does Love love Cleveland? Stay tuned. We’re about to find out, one way or the other.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Ray Allen leaning toward joining Cavs

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The Free Agency haul rolls on as Ray Allen is reportedly leaning toward signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This report is according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Allen is expected to have MRIs on his legs to make sure they’re healthy, so nothing will be official until after Thursday. Mike Miller, another recent addition, has been recruiting Ray Allen to join him and LeBron James—both teammates of Allen in Miami—in Cleveland.

“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said on ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd Show. “Now it’s about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes. Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”

The 39-year-old Allen was fielding offers from the Cavs as well as the Houston Rockets in addition to contemplating retirement. He is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point makes with 2973, and over 19 years of professional play, Allen has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Cavs “firmly in lead” to acquire Kevin Love

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Andrew Wiggins is one step closer to being an official member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether or not he ultimately reaches that destination remains to be seen.

The Golden State Warriors were long considered to be the Cavs’ lone rival in obtaining Love as they refuse to include swingman Klay Thompson in discussions given Love’s potential to leave after one season. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst report that the Chicago Bulls—one of the choice destinations for Love—have also entered into the fray1, but the Cavs remain “firmly in the lead” in a deal that would center around Wiggins. The Cavs are reportedly increasingly optimistic that they are progressing toward a trade framework that the Minnesota Timberwolves will accept in exchange for Love to pair him with his Team USA teammate LeBron James.

The Associated Press has confirmed an earlier report from Windhorst that states the Cavs’ No. 1 overall pick will sign his rookie contract with the team. Wiggins has been the topic of trade talks since being selected this past summer, the 6-foot-8-inch shooting guard being the top target of the Minnesota Timberwolves as they look to deal power forward Kevin Love before he reaches free agency. Last week, the AP cited two people familiar with the discussions in saying that the Cavs were still not willing to include Wiggins in a deal despite previous reports to the contrary.

Once the deal (said to be worth roughly $5.5 million in 2014) is inked, the Cavs would be prohibited from dealing the rookie for 30 days. Prior to being signed, Wiggins’ value in a trade was zero. If the Cavaliers do decide to part ways with the highly touted swingman, they would be $5.5 million closer to the required $12.56 million needed to acquire Love. Other players rumored to be involved include Dion Waiters ($4.06 million) and last year’s No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett ($5.56 million).

[Related: Mike Krzyzewski would trade Wiggins for Love “without hesitancy”]

(Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler appear to be their starting point. []

Conflicting reports surrounding Wiggins, Love

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Welcome to last week! While it’s not the constant refreshing of LeBron James dot com, the news surrounding a potential acquisition of Minnesota power forward Kevin Love is reaching new levels. In response to Thursdays reports that had the Cavaliers being willing to include No. 1 draft pick Andrew Wiggins in a deal for the All-Star, multiple reports are now being filed in the contrary.

The latest from Withers is noteworthy as the veteran AP scribe tends to only report concrete, multiple-sourced information, refuses to report on things coming from player representatives and has had direct lines of contact with team owner Dan Gilbert.

In an interview 850AM/WKNR, Withers told Tony Rizzo’s “The Really Big Show” that there have been multiple discussions between both teams, but Wiggins has not been mentioned as being available. (Withers also hinted that it may have been the Timberwolves who leaked this news in attempt to get Golden State to increase their offer.) Discussions are wildly different than negotiations and that could obviously change. For now, however, it appears that the teams are in a staring contest.

Wiggins, despite swirling rumors, tallied 21 points (3-5 FG, 15-20 FT), five rebounds and a block in Thursday night’s loss to the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League

[Related: All you need to know about trading for Kevin Love: WFNY FAQs]

LeBron has talked to Kevin Love about playing in Cleveland

The murmurs continue: LeBron James has reportedly talked to Kevin Love about the possibility of playing together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears reported the news on Thursday evening.

Love is enthusiastic about the idea of teaming with James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources said. James’ decision to sign only a two-year contract that affords him the option of again becoming a free agent at the end of next season has not tempered Love’s interest in joining James on the roster.

The report stated that a deal is still not imminent, but again cited sources on the topic of the Cavs’ willingness to include Andrew Wiggins. An interesting new caveat: A third team would indeed be likely for the deal to make plausible sense. Otherwise, the Cavs would likely be depleting their roster too much.

Golden State remains reluctant to include Klay Thompson in a potential trade for Love. Such a deal with the Warriors — including forward David Lee — would perhaps be a bit more logical. But with LeBron’s persistence, anything can change in a hurry.

We’ll keep you posted on anything new. Although a deal might not happen by the weekend, there’s certain to be continued buzz and updates.

Cavs now willing to deal Andrew Wiggins?

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So about all that ‘untouchable’ talk… It has taken a little over one week for the Cleveland Cavaliers to loosen their grip on No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins if in fact it were to net them Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love. Bob Finnan of The Morning Journal reports, citing a league source, that the Cavs are now willing to trade the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Up until this point, it was assumed the Cavs wanted to hang onto Wiggins, largely because of comments made by Coach David Blatt in Las Vegas. Finnan’s source, however, said that the recently signed LeBron James wants the 6-10, 250-pound Love on the Cavaliers’ roster. James’ pull has also netted the Cavs swingmen Mike Miller and James Jones, two former teammates of James during his time with the Miami Heat. (Miller recently told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd that he’s attempting to lure fellow shooting guard and former teammate Ray Allen to Cleveland as well.)

Finnan reports that the latest offer could include Wiggins, last years’ No. 1 pick in power forward Anthony Bennett and an additional first-round pick. Center Brendan Haywood, who was acquired on draft night, might be included in the deal to make it work contractually. USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt corroborates Finnan’s report regarding Wiggins being available.

This deal, if transacted, would be the exact opposite of what Grantland’s Bill Simmons recently coined “Don’t Do The Wrong Thing Every Time Anymore” movement.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?]

Cavs in talks with Larry Drew to join coaching staff

Former Atlanta and Milwaukee head coach Larry Drew has chatted with the Cleveland Cavaliers about joining the team’s coaching staff. The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn reported the news late Tuesday evening.

Drew was awkwardly fired two weeks ago as Milwaukee’s head coach. He was only 15-67 in his lone season with the Bucks, then the team went out and recruited the unhappy Jason Kidd away from Brooklyn to take Drew’s job. It was a pretty messy situation.

He coached the previous three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, bringing them to the playoffs each year. But then the team went in a new direction as well, bringing in Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer to work under Danny Ferry.

It’s possible that Drew has received a tad bit of bad luck in both draws. Milwaukee had a bunch of injuries last season amid their overall suckiness. Atlanta’s been a perennial playoff team that has never seemed to have enough talent to make any significant playoff noise. It’s possible Drew wasn’t too much to blame.

But on Twitter, many Milwaukee fans chastised Cleveland’s interest. And it’s important to note that we’re also talking about Gary Washburn here. Washburn, if you recall, was lambasted by the national media — including Deadspin — for voting for Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James for the 2013 MVP award. So take this report with a mild grain of salt, although he is a veteran reporter.

The Cavs have David Blatt as their new head coach and Tyronn Lue as their new associate head coach. The Cavs made Lue one of the highest-paid assistants in league history. On the team’s website, Bernie Bickerstaff, Jim Boylan, Igor Kokoskov and Bret Brielmaier are still listed as holdovers from the previous regime. It’s uncertain how many more assistants Blatt might be looking to still add.

Keep ‘em coming: James Jones signs with Cavs

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While Ray Allen deliberates his future, James Jones has reportedly jumped ahead of him in former members of the Miami Heat to join LeBron James in Cleveland.

Jones appeared in only 20 games for the Heat last season, averaging 4.9 points in 11.8 minutes of action, but he is a very close friend of James, both players’ respective families vacationing together as recent as this past summer. The 6-foot-8-inch space-creating swingman would likely just provide depth behind James and recent addition Mike Miller, allowing the four-time All-Star to potentially slide to the ‘stretch 4′ position with David Blatt at the helm.

It’s clear that the Cavs are pinpointing players who are not just friends with James, but those who can create the space needed for the Cavs’ offense to thrive. Jones led the NBA lasts season in catch-and-shoot situations, hitting 52 percent of his attempts. This past May, James went to bat for Jones, pleading for the three-point specialist to receive more playing time.

“It’s the space that he provides, and his ability to shoot the ball,” said LeBron. “You can’t do both when he’s out on the floor: You can’t help on my drive and try to contest the threes.”

Jones fielded offers from Golden State, Washington, New Orleans and Miami before choosing Cleveland. Your move, Ray. Everybody’s doing it.

Ray Allen deciding between Cavs, Rockets and Retirement

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The Cavs may have signed Mike Miller to a two-year deal, but they may very well find themselves with another former teammate of LeBron James as shooting guard Ray Allen contemplates joining the team versus outright retirement.

Allen is still undecided whether he wants to return for another NBA season, or retire after 18 years in the NBA. He has reportedly been in talks with both the Rockets and Cavaliers, but is yet to speak with his former team. Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 2973, and has shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc.

As recent as late June, reports swirled that Allen wished to continue playing despite being 39 years of age, hoping to do so alongside LeBron James, with whom he reportedly developed a close relationship with during their two seasons together in Miami, whether it is with the Heat or another team.

“I guess everything [is factored into the decision],” Allen told the Boston Globe during the most recent NBA Playoffs. “You get away from it, you sit down and get an opportunity to think about it. It depends on how my body feels. I love the condition I’ve been in over the last couple of years. It’s just a natural progression.”

With the trading away of Jarrett Jack and the loss of CJ Miles, the Cavs continue to look for floor-spacing shooters who can hit open shots in the event defenses converge upon James or point guard Kyrie Irving. Miller and Allen would both fit this mold, the former recently turning down more money from the Denver Nuggets to join James in Cleveland.

[Related: What’s Next for the Cavs in Free Agency?]

 

WFNY Roundtable: Should the Cavs trade for Kevin Love?

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And you thought that the Cleveland Cavaliers were done with lightning-rod debates for the summer? No, my friend, they are just getting started.

During the four days since LeBron James’ letter, Twitter has been on fire with all sorts of takes on the potential for a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love. To get a sense of where we all stand, I asked my Waiting For Next Year colleagues for their brief responses to the current rumors. Stay tuned for more posts to come soon and share your thoughts in the comments.

Scott Sargent (@WFNYScott): This won’t make for great debate, but I somewhat feel that the Cavaliers—especially David Griffin—will be in a no-lose situation. The decision, reduced to its most simplest terms, comes down to winning more games sooner, or delaying potential dominance, but with the window open a bit longer. [Read more...]

LeBron did attempt to recruit players to Cleveland prior to The Decision

LeBron James Carmelo Anthony Amare Stoudemire Dwyane Wade

So, remember all of that “LeBron didn’t try to recruit” talk that swirled shortly after July 8, 2010? Turns out that may have been rooted entirely in inaccuracies.

In a story from Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne (who is quietly becoming one of the best NBA reporters in the world), James attempted to recruit Ray Allen, Chris Bosh, Trevor Ariza and Dwyane Wade as potential members of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Sure, they wanted to play with him. Who wouldn’t? But not in Cleveland. James was the one with a connection to the place, not them. If he wanted to win, he would have to sever those ties and go somewhere where other stars would join him.

The entire story is a must-read and features former Cavs guard Damon Jones who remains close to James, as well as current Cavs center Anderson Varejao. Every sentence is reported. You see just how important relationships are to the four-time MVP.

The waters continue to clear up. Some of it may already under the bridge, meaning little outside of the loose ends that get tied tight. Much of it, however, exists ahead.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images For Nike

 

How the CBA incentivizes LeBron to opt out next summer

lebron james cavsWhen news emerged of LeBron James’ contract details, most of Northeast Ohio was likely surprised and caught off guard. “He just committed to a long-term future in Cleveland, why only two years? Why an opt-out?” The clear-cut answer lies within the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed back in 2011.

LeBron is dead-on with his Cavaliers contract. If he truly wants to maximize his earnings – and as the best player in the league, he certainly deserves to – then he absolutely set up the right deal and his management team did a great job. Let’s start with the basics, all found via the fantastic Larry Coon CBA FAQ website.

Cleveland signed LeBron to the maximum possible salary for two years with a one-year opt out. They signed him as a free agent to their available cap space from the Miami Heat, meaning they signed him without owning his Bird rights. This is important when it comes to future raises.

Max deals signed without Bird rights carry only 4.5% annual raises from the first year’s salary. When signed with Bird rights, the annual raise is much higher at 7.5% (and contracts can include a fifth year, hence why players turn down money when signing away from their team). However, as a free agent, LeBron would guarantee himself at least a 105% increase on his previous year’s salary. Huh? Check out the math below.

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By opting out, LeBron guarantees a minimum 5% raise, not the set 4.5% raise for max deals signed without Bird rights. The added 0.5% of his salary guarantees him of at least $100K more for the 2015-16 season. But that’s not the only reason why this is advantageous for LeBron. He’s thinking bigger.

The NBA salary cap actually increased by 7.5% this summer to approximately $63.065 million for the 2014-15 season. If the cap increases by more than just 5% for next year, LeBron would be advised to re-work his deal in summer 2015 and make more money with a new maximum contract based on that year’s cap number.

It is expected that the cap number will increase to at least $67 million next season and perhaps skyrocket even further. With the NBA’s new TV deal taking place for the 2016-17 season, the cap could go over $80 million in summer 2016. If the year-over-year cap increase is larger than 7.5% (LeBron’s annual raise with a new max with Bird rights), then again LeBron would be advised to re-work another deal.

So yes, it makes a ton of sense for LeBron James to go year-to-year for now1. It’s not necessarily an indictment on the Cavaliers by any means. It does mean that the circus of LeBron’s future will continue to be a topic and the Cavs will spend more money on his salary than if he had signed for the long term. But this is a pretty clear business decision.

William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

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Footnotes:

  1. It’s possible the cap’s growth will stall somewhat after summer 2016 and thus, LeBron might finally sign a long-term deal. []

Channing Frye to sign four-year $32 million deal with Orlando

Goran Dragic, Channing FryeAnd another free agent announces their decision: Channing Frye will soon sign a higher-than-expected four-year $32 million deal with the Orlando Magic.

The 31-year-old big man sharpshooter had a phenomenal comeback season for the Phoenix Suns last year. After missing all of 2012-13, he averaged 28.2 minutes in starting every single game for the surprise 48-win franchise. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. His best skill is his three-point shooting: He has shot 38.9% on 6.8 such attempts per 36 minutes in his last four seasons played.

Phoenix was tremendous with Frye on the court last season: They had a 110.4 offensive rating with him on the court, only 102.5 without him. He provided tremendous floor spacing and lineups with him, should-have-been All-Star Goran Dragic and fellow free agent P.J. Tucker were really, really good. Cavs fans likely were scarred by Phoenix after that infamous Sunday night game in late January.

Frye was another potential Cleveland frontcourt target, a logical connection because of his shared time in Phoenix with GM David Griffin. Frye would have been an excellent replacement for the similarly skilled Spencer Hawes. Over the weekend, the 26-year-old Hawes agreed to terms on a four-year $23 million deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. That deal includes a player option for the fourth season. No word yet on if Frye’s deal might include any options as well.

Orlando might seem to be an odd fit … but after investing heavily in Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon in recent drafts, they need to add complementary scoring. They also drafted Elfrid Payton and surprisingly signed Ben Gordon. Yes, four years is a lot for the 31-year-old Frye, but we knew it would be a very competitive market place for his services.

What’s next for the Cavs? Who knows right now. Their fully guaranteed frontcourt: Brendan Haywood, Tyler Zeller, Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett. Of course, Anderson Varejao has a partially guaranteed deal ($9.7 million total with $4M guaranteed) and they traded for second-rounder Dwight Powell. That’s not a very impactful unit right now. It’s very young and very raw. Everything changes with one certain free agent, but if not him? The secondary options are flying off the market.

Photo: AP Photo/Matt York

LeBron rumors and what’s next for the Cavs… While We’re Waiting

WWW_BulletinBoard_Cavs1A weekend recap and primer for the week ahead.

The LeBron James murmurs are at an all-time high after a crazy, crazy Sunday. While many of us were stuck in traffic driving back home after the holiday weekend, Twitter blew up. It was insane. I felt scared to tweet upon my arrival back in Akron. Nothing was sacred. [Read more...]

On Kyrie and Commitment

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Kyrie Irving walked the walk. After what seemed like an eternity of rumor and innuendo surrounding his disdain for Cleveland and the drain-circling direction of the Cavaliers, all of which were verbally rebuffed by the point guard, Irving took minutes—not days, or weeks, or even months—to provide the handshake that will keep him draped in wine and gold through 2020. For months, Irving was the subject of boundless speculation. For months, fans demanded a sign that he was, to borrow a phrase, “all in” on Cleveland. He could say whatever he liked—it was what he did that mattered.

Well, at the first chance he was given, Irving put his money where is mouth was. And so did the Cavs—$90 million worth.

[Read more...]

C.J. Miles to meet with Pacers, likely to leave Cavs in free agency

miles_mediadaySwingman C.J. Miles will meet with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the first day of free agency, reports Fox Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico. The 27-year-old is likely going to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and seek a larger role elsewhere, Amico later added.

Miles was an efficient shooter with the Cavs the past two seasons, averaging 10.6 points in 116 games with 38.8% three-point shooting. He was signed to a very reasonable two-year $4.45 million deal back in 2012. The signing was likely the best contract handed out by the Cleveland organization in the post-LeBron James era.

Throughout the 2013-14 season, the Cavs played very well with Miles’ much-needed floor-spacing. Although he only played 984 minutes, the Cavs were +2.4 per 48 with him on the court. He battled a handful of injuries and played in only three games after the All-Star Break.

In Indiana (or nearly anywhere else), Miles could provide excellent bench scoring. The Pacers offense stagnated throughout the year and he’d play a nice complementary shooting role alongside the scrappy Lance Stephenson, if he re-signs.

There’s no doubt going to be a market for C.J. Miles in the shooting-crazed NBA world of 2014. I’m a bit disheartened that the Cavaliers don’t seem to be that interested just yet. His $2.89 million cap hold is currently on the team’s books. The Cavs have expressed early interest in Washington’s Trevor Ariza, another active shooter who should have a much more expensive price tag.

Cavs show early free agency interest in Trevor Ariza, Spencer Hawes

 David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

NBA free agency officially began at midnight Tuesday. Within the first hour, flurries of rumors hit the Twittersphere. Although no key news has surfaced yet, the Cavaliers have been linked to a few understandable targets.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Cavs are among those showing “significant interest” in Wizards forward Trevor Ariza. Washington’s brass will be meeting with the 29-year-old Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Ariza just finished up a five-year $33.5 million deal he signed way back in 2009 with the Houston Rockets. The Cavs were one of his suitors back then, right after he had finished up a few nice seasons off the bench for the Lakers. Ariza is one of the top available wings this offseason after averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 40.7% three-point shooting.

ESPN’s Marc Stein said the Cavs remain interested in retaining big man Spencer Hawes, who has a host of bidders. The Blazers, Clippers, Rockets and Mavericks were mentioned in Stein’s tweet. Portland could be an intriguing fit as Hawes is from Seattle.

Hawes, who only is 26, just finished a two-year $13 million contract. He averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in his 27 games with Cleveland last season after the midseason trade from Philadelphia. A prolific long-distance threat, he shot an incredible 41.6% on 308 threes last year after shooting 31.5% on only 359 attempts in his first six NBA seasons.

We’ll keep you posted on further rumors and developments. Luol Deng, as expected, is a hot target for many other teams besides the Cavaliers.

No, it’s not that difficult for the Cavs to have max contract space

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There appears to be quite a deal of confusion about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ salary cap situation. Let’s try to clear the air with some math, shall we?

Just last week, GM David Griffin said the team could clear space for a max contract “just by waving our hand and making it happen.” Seems simple enough, no?

And then today, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst grouped the Cavs with the Rockets and Bulls that would “need to execute significant shuffling and perhaps even offload star players to clear [the maximum] $22.2 million.” Well that’s a bit of a different picture. [Read more...]

Is Kyrie Irving “all in” on Cleveland? While We’re Waiting…

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Griff dropping subtle hints? In the 24 hours immediately following the NBA Draft, Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was carefully selecting his words, seen by many to be verbal warning shots. When the Cavs used the No. 1 pick on Andrew Wiggins, Griffin—in what was a change from previous years—immediately addressed the pick via conference call. During said address, he made sure to mention that Wiggins wanted to be in Cleveland, which was seen by many to be a jab at Jabari Parker, the player taken with the No. 2 pick, who allegedly tanked his workout with the team.

But was this a shot at a player he didn’t draft? A day later, Griffin used the term “all in on Cleveland” to describe Wiggins, a descriptor he used to describe himself just weeks earlier when he won the team’s general manager job. In his Sunday column, Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto iterated that Griffin’s word choice may in fact be aimed in the direction of one of his current players in Kyrie Irving.

Irving is reportedly on board with the selecting of Wiggins. He was one of the first to usher in David Blatt as the team’s new head coach. The Cavs will offer him the maximum contract extension allowable by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. If Irving is “all in,” he’ll accept the deal. If he tries to be cute, Pluto believes the team will try to trade him. This leads to an intriguing, if not potentially agonizing, topic that has gone a bit under-discussed: The extensions signed by John Wall and Paul George last season were not inked until July 31 and September 22, respectively. Just because Irving doesn’t sign on July 1 doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland.

The two-time All-Star has a crazy summer ahead of him—Team USA responsibilities will keep him in Las Vegas (OMG LAS VEGAS!?) in late July, Chicago and New York (OMG NEW YORK!?) in mid-August, Spain in late August through the middle of September. Sure, Jeff Wechsler (his agent) will be the one doing the bulk of the work, but it’s not like Irving will be sitting in Independence deliberating until a decision is made. These things take time—just enough for the rumors to swirl in countless directions, whether he’s “all in” or not.

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Bringing back the ground and pound? The writing is on the wall for the Cleveland Browns to pull a 180 this season and become a run-first team. Several local papers focused an ample amount of coverage on Ben Tate and what he brings to the fold (we’ll throw the ABJ a bone here) as the team reverts away from being one that led the entire NFL in passing attempts a season ago. Browns OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense will reportedly be “predicated on being able to run effectively while mixing in the pass,” which means that Tate and his colleagues (Terrence West, for starters) will be seeing plenty of work while Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel will be asked to keep the defenses honest. After a season of having nary a run game, the zone-blocking scheme mixed with talented running backs could make for an interesting season on the lakefront.

The Browns’ offense will never be confused for the Broncos or Saints, but if things go according to plan, there will be some methodical movements of the ball as they wear down the opposition and strike when the time is right.

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These photos of this weekend’s Rock Hall yoga event from Ariel Agents over at Cleveland Scene are worth your time.

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So remember that “fan advisory board” the Browns were putting together? Apparently they sounded off during their first meeting. Topics of disdain? The lack of care for season-ticket holders (compared to the Cavs and Indians, the Browns are AWFUL when it comes to taking care of their top clients), the constant turnover within the franchise, and the way FirstEnergy Stadium is constantly overrun with opposing fans. There are some interesting tidbits that err on the side of vague regarding the Dawg Pound—a concept that it appears the team would like to have transcend just one section of the stadium. The Browns appear to be “all in” on modeling themselves after the Seattle Seawhawks and their incredible fan base. We’ll see if this initiative helps.

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Flush those listicles, folks. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportsWriting:

How Scott Kazmir came back” by Tim Keown (ESPN The Magazine): “He needed silence as an asylum from judgment and expectation. He needed to be alone with his doubts and embarrassment and confusion, to retreat from the well-meaning cacophony of advice, away from the Angels’ stadium parking attendant who told him he needed to keep his front side closed a bit longer, away from the usher who thought his stride was too short, away from even his father, who said he’d be every bit as proud of his son if he never threw a baseball again. Yes, Scott Kazmir needed the noise — the infinite chirping of an infinite number of birds — to cease. He needed the only voice in his head to be his own.”

From St. Louis to Recife in search of “the spot” by Chris Jones (ESPNFC blog): “A man called simply The Mustache unlocked the gate for Steven Lange, and he took his first few steps onto the grass, still wet from Thursday’s calamitous rain. By Friday morning there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the high sun lit every quiet corner of Estadio Ilha do Retiro, the storied home of Sport Recife, a local first-division side.”

Astro-Matic Baseball” by Ben Reiter (Sports Illustrated, with bonus points for production): “It is one thing to commit to only making decisions that will lead to a long-term goal, and another to figure out how to make those decisions. Blackjack is an exercise in hard probabilities. Evaluating baseball players is something else. Some information you can gather about a baseball player is hard: how fast he can throw a fastball, how quickly he can reach first base. But much of it is soft: how diligently he will work, how his power stroke might develop, how likely he is to become injured.”

A century of American Soccer anxiety” by Ian Crouch (The New Yorker): “Haven’t we reached a point where it is enough simply to watch the games? Millions of people do, taking pleasure in seeing top-flight soccer and in the tournament’s distinctive global drama. For newcomers, it can be met with curiosity, even wonder, rather than contempt dressed up as national pride. We can be shy about soccer, but we don’t need to be afraid.”

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And just because: Bartolo being Bartolo…