Windhorst: Cavs extremely active in trade talks

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UPDATE 1:16 AM: ESPN.com’s Marc Stein: “Yes: Brendan Haywood is potential S-and-T piece for Mavs. But Mavs sources insist there is ‘no chance’ he moves in sign-and-trade for Shaq.”
Just after 12 AM Eastern on Thursday morning, Brian Windhorst’s twitter feed absolutely blew up with Cavalier-related rumors. The Cavaliers are obviously waiting on LeBron James’ free agency decision with bated breath, but they’re not just sitting around while they wait for his decision. Cleveland knows that it will have to make some real changes to its roster if they want to keep LeBron, and they don’t seem to be wasting any time in trying to improve. 
According to Windhorst, the Cavalier front office has been speaking to other teams about making the following moves:
-After watching Shaquille O’Neal struggle to keep up on defense during the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Cavs are reportedly discussing a “double-sign-and-trade” that would send O’Neal to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for center Brendan Haywood. 
O’Neal’s post scoring was supposed to give the Cavaliers a new dimension, but more often than not he stopped the ball on offense. Defensively, Shaq struggled to keep the faster players in the league in front of him, particularly when he was put in the pick-and-roll. If the Cavs move Shaq for Haywood, it would be a step towards the defense-first/drive-and-kick mentality that Cleveland had during the 2008-09 season. 
-The Cavs are also looking for an upgrade at the two; according to Windhorst, the Cavs are looking at Ray Allen, John Salmons, and Mike Miller in free agency. Allen would likely be their #1 choice, but with Doc Rivers returning it seems unlikely that Allen will leave Boston. 
Delonte West was a revelation at the two-guard position during the 08/09 season. Unfortunately, he never returned to his 08/09 form last season, and Anthony Parker was merely passable as a starting two-guard. Parker was a solid defender and made open threes, but the Cavs are clearly looking for more scoring punch in their backcourt. 
-Cleveland has interest in Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire, but it is unlikely that either would come to Cleveland if LeBron doesn’t re-sign with the team. Since LeBron may leave Cleveland unless the Cavaliers get a player like Bosh or Stoudemire, this could become something of a Catch-22. 
-The Cavaliers have also reportedly shown some interest in contacting Al Harrington. I can’t think of a very compelling explanation for that one. 
These rumors help to confirm what most NBA fans suspected: The Cavs are looking to make moves, and everything can be made available for the right price. That’s what can happen when a team finds itself in an all-or-nothing situation. 

Report: Former Magic teammates had ‘real issues’ with Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, reacts after being called for a foul while defending a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 125-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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In trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors, the Magic didn’t just get assets (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick) for a player who seemed increasingly likely to leave in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Orlando apparently also got rid of a headache.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Going from the winning Thunder to the lowly Magic probably didn’t bring out the best in Ibaka, and thats understandable, though not entirely excusable.

I also wonder how much of this was situational rather than anything Ibaka actively did wrong.

His presence forced Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green from their ideal position of power forward to small forward. That narrowed Mario Hezonja‘s path the the court. Any minutes Ibaka received at center cut into Bismack Biyombo‘s and Nikola Vucevic‘s playing time.

Both elements probably worked in concert. Ibaka disrupted the play of several teammates just by being there, which likely led to them giving him less benefit of the doubt about his attitude.

Don’t absolve Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though. He built a roster overloaded with bigs. He asked for leadership from a newcomer who was third banana at best on his previous team and is entering a contract year. It’s not a huge shock this dynamic soured on and off the court.

 

 

 

Jarrius Robertson hits layup at Celebrity Game, hangs with Draymond Green (VIDEO)

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It’s likely you’ve seen Jarrius “J.J” Robertson before. The 14-year-old came into public view as a New Orleans Saints superfan that deals with a liver disease called biliary atresia. Robertson has shown up at NBA All-Star Weekend this year, and he’s been a big hit.

On Friday, J.J. showed up and played a spot in the 2017 NBA Celebrity Game. He even dropped a layup during gameplay.

Via Twitter:

But he’s not just been around the court. Robertson has been just about everywhere thus far, hanging out with NBA athletes, meeting Charles Barkley, and telling Russell Westbrook that the Oklahoma City Thunder need more shooters.

J.J. even hung with Draymond Green courtside, where the Golden State Warriors forward tried to trade his watch for J.J.’s chain.

Should have made the trade dude! But I’m glad he’s got run of the place.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.